Boschpick Engineering upgrades foundry operations to increase capacity and productivity

Anniversary milestones reached in foundry and machine shop.

It sounds like a law or accounting firm when you say Boschpick Engineering is run by Peens, Peens & Peens. But you couldn’t be further from the connotation or perception associated with these professions when you visit or engage in business with the company. Brothers Fred, Carel and Johnny Peens are passionate about the business that their father started as a general engineering machine shop in 1973. Moreover their disposition and willingness to please and offer excellent service to their clients, rather than bill huge fees as we know the professions can, is evident from the time you meet the brothers.

The company, which has just reached the 40 year milestone, is based in Newcastle, KwaZulu Natal and despite its remoteness services clients that are located in Gauteng, KwaZulu Natal and the Western Cape.


Boschpick Engineering has upgraded its foundry operations with a shakeout and cooler classifier with an attrition unit supplied by Lauds Foundry Equipment

“Dad identified a need for an engineering company to provide quality machined components for companies in the Newcastle area so opened up a machine shop, which is still an integral part of the business,” said Fred Peens who is the eldest of the brothers and has been working for the company since 1975.

“However the company has since changed its service offerings and today Boschpick is heavily involved in manufacturing mechanical parts, spares replacement and components for light and heavy industry, from raw castings to supplying a fully machined casting or component,” continued Fred, who is a qualified fitter and turner.

The foundry
The brothers have been able to accomplish this because in 1988 they decided to commission their own foundry.

“That was 25 years ago. I had only been with the company just over 10 years when we made a strategic and collective decision to start the foundry. This decision was taken because of our location in Newcastle and where the foundries, our suppliers, were situated. At the time there was not another foundry within a 200 kilometre radius of us. This presented many supply problems,” said second eldest brother Carel who is a qualified blacksmith and is responsible for production, manufacturing and human resources.


The Peens brothers Carel, Fred and Johnny

The foundry houses two 400 kilowatt 750-1000 kg furnace bodies which are powered by an Inductotherm high frequency induction source. At maximum capacity the foundry is able to produce up to 105 tons of castings per month but is currently producing 80 tons per month, up 100% from when I visited the foundry 12 years ago.

“We concentrate mainly on the steels which make up about 70% of our production. The remaining 30% is made up of cast iron and SG castings. We have cast specials that include 26% chrome and manganese, but the call for these types of castings in our area is relatively small,” explained Carel.

Since Peens Senior retired, the brothers have broadened and diversified the base of their clients and are no longer dependent on the needs of the few well serviced clients who had become reliant on the quality of the castings supplied by Boschpick.

In choosing to diversify, the company hasn’t tied itself down to a specific line of products. Boschpick’s philosophy is rather to operate on a professional basis, based on the individual strengths of each brother and their flexibility in adapting to the circumstances each project presents. Strong partnerships have thus been formed with their increased but small base of 30 clients, which has lead to excellent customer satisfaction, and in most cases Boschpick is the sole supplier to their clients.


The melting platform has two 400 kilowatt 750-1000 kg furnace bodies which are powered by an Inductotherm high frequency induction source

Clients include the large internationally recognised steel manufacturing company ArcelorMittal, whom Boschpick service nationally, Natal Portland Cement and state owned enterprises Eskom and Transnet.

Foundry upgrade
A few years back Boschpick upgraded and refurbished their foundry facility. With limited floor space and needing to do more melts per day, and unable to accommodate more boxes on the floor, a holding bin was installed to hold hot sand, which was allowed to cool before being transferred for reclamation. It included the addition of a vibrating table with a special belt to feed the hot sand into the holding bin before it was transferred into the main sand silo. This allowed the floor to be cleared for more casts.

“This met our needs at the time and was an innovative solution. However we found that we were being hampered by the time the sand was taking to cool. Additionally the dust and fines that were emanating from this system did not meet environmental standards,” explained Carel.

“A foundry is a building that works like a big, complex machine with many subsystems, all integrated together. If one of the subsystems is not operating to its potential then the other areas in the foundry will be affected,” continued Carel.

“We have now replaced this system with a shakeout and cooler classifier with an attrition unit (lump reducer). This is all done at ground level and the reclaimed sand, which is now all the right size and cooled, is then transferred via a closed pneumatic conveyor directly into the main sand storage silo.”

“We have also added a dust collection plant and we now work in a virtually dust free environment and have the right temperature sand in a fraction of the time that we use to operate under.”

“In addition we have added a 20 ton an hour continuous mixer that is fitted with an auto calibration unit.”


Boschpick Engineering has invested in a 20 ton an hour continuous mixer that is fitted with an auto calibration unit, supplied by Lauds Foundry Equipment


The company has a 25 litre coreshooter

“As a result our efficiencies have rocketed but it left us with another problem. Due to the lack of floor space we were getting bottlenecks in certain areas. The six ton overhead crane was not coping so we have now purchased a four ton and a three ton swing crane. This allows us to speed up the process of closing the mould boxes and also move the boxes on for cooling, while the overhead crane is busy on the hot metal side.”

“We are very satisfied with the outcome and as a result of this upgrade we have increased our capacity by 30%. The shakeout, cooler classifier and mixer were supplied by Lauds Foundry Equipment,” said Carel.

Being a niche jobbing foundry, although long runs are also undertaken for clients, all projects engaged by Boschpick are well managed with traceability being of the utmost importance. In this respect they are presently going through the steps of an ISO management certification.

“Our optimum operational level is around about the 70 kilograms per casting where we can cast two castings per box. But if requested we will cast smaller castings,” said Fred.

Facilities offered in the foundry include the pattern shop, shot blasting, a Spectro SpectroMax spectrograph and fettling. The company also operates a small forge with a maximum capacity of 300 kilograms. Heat treatment is outsourced.

Machine shop
In the machine shop section machines include CNC milling, turning, and machining centres, gear cutting and supply milling, as well as conventional turning and milling operations. Vertical and horizontal boring milling is also available.

The latest additions in the machine shop have been three Kiheung CNC milling machines, supplied by Machine Tool Promotions, with the largest of them having a six ton load capacity and a XYZ of 3500 x 1500 x 2000 mm.


A closer look at the new shakeout

The company has also purchased two Victor Fortune CNC lathes – a Vturn 26 and a Vturn 36.

In the fabrication division, which is run as a separate but complimentary section, they have a 400 ton press and offer CO2 welding and normal welding. Boschpick assemble all components manufactured by the company, and are able to strip and quote on repairs such as those for gearboxes. The company also manufactures new gearboxes which are installed with a guarantee.

Another speciality of the company has been in the paper industry, where they will refurbish printing presses. The presses are dismantled wherever they are in the country and brought back to Newcastle, where they are stripped. A detailed quote is prepared to include new and reconditioned parts and if accepted, Boschpick re-install the press, commission and run it.

Boschpick can now rightly say they add value to all castings and products produced, which is an essential focus of the business. This also offers their clients the satisfaction that they do not have to ship components from one facility to another.

Today Fred looks after the management aspect of the company. He took on this responsibility when father Fred Senior decided to retire and immigrate to New Zealand in 2002.

As said previously, the second oldest brother looks after production, manufacturing and human resources. The youngest of the brothers, Johnny, joined the company in 1994 and he looks after sales and marketing.


The machine shop is equipped with three Kiheung CNC milling machines, supplied by Machine Tool Promotions. The largest of them has a six ton load capacity and a XYZ of 3500 x 1500 x 2000 mm


A machined valve box casting

“With our clients based all over the country it does entail some hectic travelling every now and again but we believe in service and if you don’t get to see them you will soon lose them,” said Johnny who likes a game of golf every now and then. “But that is part of the sales and marketing function!”

“Although we all have our specific areas that we look after in the company we are all very au fait with each others positions and can easily adapt or fill in if one of us is away on business or holiday,” explained Fred.

“This is important in terms of the security of the company and assurance that clients need. They know that they can speak to any one of the three of us and get action.”

The future looks bright for Boschpick and the company sees new developments that include a bigger foundry with the installation of a larger furnace, moulding area and sand production to enable it to expand. Boschpick would also like to introduce new CNC machines to double up production as the growing need to export to international markets beckons. Although already meeting local South African needs of for example 100 000 items, the international market will require greater volumes, delivery and quality.

For more information contact Boschpick Engineering on TEL: 034 375 7281