Foundry-Planet Interview: Patrick André Shares Latest News From GIFA

André, CEO of Vesuvius, talks about GIFA, Newest Technology and Reducing Greenhouse Emissions

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We welcome Patrick André, CEO of Vesuvius. It is a pleasure to meet you here in Düsseldorf for the GIFA.

1) What sets GIFA (GMTN) apart from the other major industry events in the world?

GMTN is considered the most important trade show for the businesses Vesuvius operates in, with a wide range of international congresses, symposia, forums and special events. Vesuvius participates in three of the exhibitions – THERMPROCESS (Fused Silica), METEC (Flow Control, Advanced Refractories and Sensors & Probes) and, of course, GIFA (for Foundry and Sensors & Probes). We use this unique opportunity to communicate to and exchange with our customers and suppliers on our latest technological solutions, new products and service offerings. 

Our core competitive strengths are our market and technology leadership as well as our strong customer relationships. GMTN allows us, in a single location, to meet our customers, address their technological challenges and foster our partnerships.

2) Vesuvius is one of the really big global players. What are your highlights for the foundries at this show?

Vesuvius is proud to be a leading supplier of technology solutions for foundries through our brand FOSECO. We continuously invest into Research & Development to develop ever more advanced solutions that allow our customers to improve their products or processes.

We showcase 14 new technologies at GIFA 2019 which is evidence of our strong commitment to Research & Development and of our close customer relationships in developing new applications and solutions. 

To name just a few examples:

In feeding systems, we will feature the new, patented range of FEEDEX K feeders alongside SCK (sleeve construction kit) modular feeders for large castings.

The new HOLLOTEX Shroud filtration system application for large, high value steel castings offers unparalleled levels of inclusion removal and reoxidation reduction.

Automotive coatings offering the highest levels of internal casting cavity cleanliness will be featured together with our Intelligent Coating Unit coating control system.

Finally, for aluminium foundries, FOSECO will be promoting the latest generation of SMARTT Melt Treatment Stations and ENERTEK ISO crucibles that offer enhanced insulation and reduced power consumption.

Customers that are visiting our booth will be able to find about these and many other advanced technologies in our portfolio.

3) Foundries are facing major challenges and the global economy seems to be weakening. How do you see the current situation and which markets have the best development potential?

Foundries face cyclicality from their end-markets and international competition has intensified. However, the past year has been positive for many foundries (ferrous and non-ferrous) given the strong economic development globally. 

But yes, the global economy is currently softening, particularly in automotive. This of course presents a challenge to foundries, but we do not yet consider this situation worrying. For example, some geographies as well as some segments, such as mining and agriculture – which drive high casting volumes – continue to grow. Nonetheless, there is uncertainty how the economy will evolve in light of the ongoing global trade conflicts.

However, in such environments, casting innovation becomes even more important to help sustain the business and increase competitiveness. Our latest innovations provide differentiating solutions that bring value to our customers and help them withstand potential headwinds.

4) Additive manufacturing is also becoming an increasingly important topic at GIFA. To what extent have foundries already embraced and integrated 3D printing equipment, and what contribution does your company make in this context?

We are monitoring the continuous advancements in additive manufacturing. In fact, additive manufacturing is already widely used in casting production: while not for high volume castings it is used to create moulds and cores and also for rapid prototyping.

Foundries are evaluating the benefits of 3D printing versus traditional manufacturing. In our view, both production routes will coexist alongside each but for high-volume castings, traditional castings will likely remain the most cost competitive route in the near future.

In Vesuvius, we monitor the needs of this segment and drive projects that use 3D printing in the development of new casting consumable technologies.

5) In Europe, climate change and the right approach to addressing it are a hot topic. How does Vesuvius view the problem?

Climate change is a global phenomenon that affects all businesses and every individual. We at Vesuvius consider climate change as a real and very serious issue.

The metals industry is energy intensive which drives CO2 emissions and, as a result, there is increasing pressure to improve this CO2 footprint. 

Most importantly, Vesuvius’ contribution to reducing emissions and achieving the goals set by the Paris agreement will come from our products and services. Our products help improve the sustainability footprint of our customers’ production processes by increasing yields, reducing scrap, lowering energy consumption and improving the quality of their end products.

At the same time internally, Vesuvius has been working to reduce our emissions of greenhouse gases and energy consumption for many years. In the last 5 years, we reached our goals of 10 percent improvement. We are in the process of defining our targets for the next 5 years and continue to optimize our operations, focusing on maximizing the utilization of raw materials and recycling. For example, FOSECO’s new ENERTEK ISO crucible is designed to save energy in induction furnaces.

However, given the global nature climate change, we must tackle it at a global level. All measures taken have to ensure that foundries in Europe can continue to compete with non-European suppliers, which potentially have lower environmental standards in their respective region. 

6) Thank you Patrick, we wish you a successful exhibition. Finally, can you give us a tip - what should visitors to the GIFA make sure not to miss?

GIFA is a high-quality industry fair for foundries with key decision-makers present. Visitors should use this unique setting to discover new solutions for the foundry industry and not miss the opportunity to network with customers present from around the world during day and evening events.