VDMA Metallurgy supports the development of intelligent and sustainable machinery and equipment to strengthen technology and markets, as well as the industry's position in times of crisis. Today, VDMA Metallurgy has over 3,500 members and includes almost all types of suppliers in the foundry industry, such as furnace builders, manufacturers of hydraulic systems, automation and robotics technology, air cleaning systems, tool cooling systems, machine tools and many others.
"Nowadays, foundry machines require a high degree of automation, whereby unfinished castings have to be further processed, e.g., by heat treatment, deburring, surface treatment, CNC machining, coating, assembly and quality inspection," reports Joachim Kahn. The mechanical engineer has more than 30 years of professional experience in the foundry industry (as consultant, project manager, team leader and auditor for Tier1 suppliers in the automotive industry) and joined the VDMA Metallurgy team in Frankfurt am Main in summer 2022 as consultant for technology and standardisation for foundry machinery, metallurgical and rolling mill equipment. Furthermore, he is Managing Director of the Research Association for Industrial Furnace Construction.
Innovation as necessity to achieve sustainability and zero emission targets
Innovations in the fields of electric heating, burner technologies, thermal insulation, furnace materials and process simulations are currently the focus of research projects running with FOGI (Research Association for Industrial Construction). The target is that the foundry industry achieves its sustainability and zero emission goals in the future.
Due to their robust and solid construction, foundry machines are very economical and base on environmentally friendly technologies. They also feature high level of technological development and largely closed metal cycles for product materials. Furthermore, they have short supply chains with comparatively low transport costs.
"In order to improve productivity, key figures are often gathered during industrial processes and are systematically corrected in ongoing improvement programs," states Kahn. This proven method can also be used to increase the sustainability of foundry machines and thus meet the requirements of the ISO 50001 standard.
Megatrends - digitalisation, innovation, business development and sustainability
According to Kahn, digitalisation, innovation, business development and sustainability are the current megatrends in the foundry industry. At GIFA, the VDMA Metallurgy unveiled a "Guide to the Sustainability Assessment of Foundry Machinery", which was created together with the THM in Friedberg.
In cooperation with the Institute of Industrial Furnaces and Thermal Engineering (IOB) of RWTH Aachen University and the traditional Thermprocess Forum of the Ecometals Forum, VDMA Metallurgy organises a presentation about "Green Thermoprocess Technology". The main topics are flexible and resilient processes and technologies for new and global challenges; energy efficiency - sustainable and low-pollution; thermoprocess technology for effective climate protection; digitalisation of processes and plants; contribution of thermoprocess technology for recycling in order to achieve an integrated circular economy; as well as the development of productivity potentials through innovative technical solutions. "We are looking forward to very interesting presentations by renowned researchers and industrial pioneers," emphasises Kahn, referring to the collaborative industrial research in which Germany has a unique selling proposition.
Special presentation of the Research Association for Industrial Furnace Construction (FOGI)
Well-known university research institutes, universities of applied sciences and private institutes from the fields of energy, heat, process, and combustion technology were presented at GIFA as part of a special event, organised by the Research Association for Industrial Furnace Construction e. V. (FOGI). The FOGI special show was a hub of competence in the field of industrial furnace construction and provided an overview of the current know-how state.
A further issue that is being realised through innovation in foundry technology is compliance with future EU regulations though stricter specifications. To meet the latest requirements of the European reference document BREF, for the forging and foundry industry, the VDMA wants to publish the best available technologies of foundry machinery manufacturers by the end of June 2023. Environmental benefits are mainly obtained through the following criteria: the selection of an energy-efficient furnace type, technologies to avoid peaks in electrically heated furnaces, furnace automation and advanced process control, processes with low casting yields and lower scrap generation, improved preheating practices, optimisation of the compressed air system and heat recovery technologies.
Digitalisation of die casting technology
Digitalisation is advancing in the field of die-casting technology. OPC UA - based on internet technology - will become "the main standard for machine builders" in the future, according to Jahn. Thus, VDMA Metallurgy, in cooperation with the OPC Foundation, defined numerous new Companion Specifications in the last few years. The main drivers for this development were mining, plastics, rubber, and machine tools. For example, 2022 were released: OPC 40210, UA CS for Geometric Measurement (GMS), OPC 40001-2, UA CS for Machinery or Part 2: Asset Management and Condition Monitoring. Based on OPC UA for Machinery (40001-1:2022), three accompanying specifications for the die casting cell are submitted as release candidates: HPDC Machinery-Identification, HPDC Machinery state, HPDC Alarms plus Warnings. Subject of future work are further OPC UA specifications for the individual devices as follows: HPDC Machinery, HPDC Ovens, HPDC Metering Equipment, HPDC Nozzle Spray Equipment, HPDC Thermal Control Equipment and HPDC Vacuum Equipment.
ISO/TC 306: the standardisation of foundry machinery
ISO/TC 306 contains the standardisation of foundry machinery, including terminology, classification, specifications, test methods and safety requirements for machinery and equipment. ISO/TC 306 standards are relevant to permanent mould casting processes, such as die casting machines, low pressure casting machines, gravity die casting machines and centrifugal casting machines. However, casting in lost moulds, e.g., with moulding machines, core making machines, mould preparation machines, shake-out machines and casting machines for investment casting processes are also significant for ISO/ TC 306. As well as for cleaning and finishing processes, e.g., by blasting and grinding. Another area of application for ISO/TC 306 are copol furnaces and casting devices, as well as heated and unheated ladles used in foundries.
Six ISO standards have already been published by the Chinese standardisation authority. Two others are still in preparation. As confirmed by Rudolf Wintgens, Chairman of WG2, ISO 23062 for foundry machinery - Safety requirements for moulding and core-making machines and associated equipment - were published in July 2022. For EN ISO 23063 - Foundry machinery - Safety requirements for die casting machines, Norbert Erhard, WG3 convenor, reported that FDIS 23063 must comply with both ISO and CEN. The verification by HAS consultants is currently in progress.
New version of the Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC
The new version of the Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC is currently still in the trialogue negotiations with the EU Council and will be published as an EU regulation for machinery products. VDMA Metallurgy will actively accompany the end of the negotiations and maintain intensive contacts with all parties to further promote the position of engineers.