Changes at Malleable Castings: Now part of West Rand Engineering Group

Installation of automated jolt squeeze moulding machine reduces scrap and ups productivity.

When Ben Dyson joined Malleable Castings as Managing Director at the beginning of 2011, one of his briefs was to look at all areas of the foundry and to come up with solutions to improve productivity, improve quality, reduce costs and scrap rates. The foundry was established in May 1963 to manufacture malleable iron castings by Ben’s grandfather Joe Peers. Ben’s father, also christened Ben, worked for the company from 1963 until retiring in 2006, so there was a strong family connection to Malleable Castings.

The history of the company shows that Joe Peers sold the company to General Mining in the 1970s and remained on as a consultant. The company was then sold to Malbak Limited and then this group sold it on to EC Lennings, a foundry group with a long history in South Africa. In 1992 two private investors, Mike Jolly and Terry Burgess, purchased the company.

“It was kind of déjà vu for me joining Malleable Castings. With all the family history I felt as though I was ‘coming home’. It was an opportunity I could not miss.”

Malleable Castings have recently introduced a new 2-ton 8kW induction furnace that was supplied by M.U.R. Industries into the foundry

“The foundry has operated from the same location since my grandfather purchased the land in 1961 and started the foundry in 1963. There have been additions and changes to buildings but basically the foundry has operated as a green sand foundry since the beginning. The company did make some major equipment purchases in the ‘80s and we still have most of this equipment operating today.”

“The biggest change in the company came when management, which included minority shareholder Joe Fletcher who retired two years ago, made the decision to change from manufacturing malleable iron castings to SG/ductile iron castings in 2005.”

“I had been given a very tough brief especially when you consider that the foundry looked as though it was operating in the 19th century and there was a reluctance to provide funds for expenditure on modern foundry manufacturing equipment. Prior to joining Malleable Castings I had been employed for a few years in the control and automation industry before working for a well-known induction furnace manufacturer where I was exposed to European training and international installations of modern equipment.”

New Solid State 1.5 megawatt furnace
“My first task was to convince the shareholders to invest in the melting department. When I joined we had an 8-ton furnace with a Crescenzi power pack and BBC ITMK5 cradle and two Lowenstein 3-ton furnaces, all of which were power hungry, especially during holding when not running production, which is one of the disadvantages of mains frequency furnaces. I convinced management to invest in a new Solid State 1.5 megawatt furnace.”

Malleable Castings have also invested in a HMF automated jolt squeeze moulding machine, which was installed in November 2017

“The arrival of the new medium frequency furnace in 2013 could not have come sooner. To accommodate the new furnace we removed one of the 3-ton mains frequency furnaces. I also introduced gas pre-heating of the scrap and this made a significant difference to our power consumption costs. We also now constantly monitor our power usage online and make every effort to be judicious during the peak periods, especially on winter tariffs. The other important factor in using modern furnaces efficiently is that there is a reduction in scrap because you are generally pouring at a constant temperature and as a result your production rate increases. And of course the golden rule is keep the lid closed on your furnaces to reduce your power consumption even more.”

Pillans Investments buys company
“Even though the Directors had seen a reduction in costs and an increase in production as a result of the investment in the new furnace they were still reluctant to invest more money into the foundry because in the last few years the manufacturing industry in South Africa had not been as buoyant and because of all the other uncertainties that were effecting the country at the time.”

“However, this outlook changed when Malleable Castings was sold to Pillans Investments towards the beginning of 2017. Pillans Investments is an investment holding company with investments in West Rand Engineering, Africa Thermal Insulations, Glen Valve, Wilco Howard and Klambon Water, which is based in Sydney, Australia.”

“West Rand Engineering (WRE), one of the companies within the Pillans Investments Group, had for some time been one of our biggest customers. Some months we could supply them with up to 50 tons of castings and still they would import another 70 to 80 tons of castings. With a national emphasis on local procurement through enabling legislation and strategic designations to attain the goals of the industrial policy action plan (IPAP) picking up speed in South Africa, Malleable Castings became a viable option for Pillans Investments to purchase. Additionally, the company could secure its supply chain and not be reliant on imports.”

The new HMF automated jolt squeeze moulding machine that can produce between 60 and 80 moulds in an hour

West Rand Engineering manufactures and supplies mining consumables for use in underground hard rock mining applications. The company offers air/water gun valves, ball valves, blow guns, brass water valves, dirt traps, hose grip magnets, manifold with valves, screw down valves, self-closing taps, shower valves, throttle valves, water blasts, hose connections, screw type hose connections, hose clamps and hose menders, laterals, and claw couplings, manifolds, rock drill lubricators, air whistles, hopper couplings, rail adjusters, and rope pullers. It also provides snatch blocks used in scraping of ore in narrow stope mining for hard rock, gold, platinum and chrome mines, incline shaft rollers, mono rope tensioners, pineapple rollers, return wheels, rope pulleys, and urethane rollers, taper knock off bits for underground rock drilling and yokes for PTO shafts used in the agricultural industry. The company was founded in 1928 and is based in Krugersdorp, Gauteng.

Installation of automated jolt squeeze moulding machine
“From the time that I joined the company one of my priorities has been to improve our moulding department. In total we have 10 jolt squeeze moulding machines in this department. We have regularly serviced and maintained this equipment and the machines still operate as though they are new, but because of the human involvement consistency has always been a problem, as well as the productivity levels, which have slowly been declining.”

“I took my time in deciding on which machine to purchase and it was only after a few visits to international foundries using a similar machine that I was looking for that I decided on a HMF automated jolt squeeze moulding machine, which was installed in November 2017. The hydraulic pressure operated machine has been custom built to suit our needs and we have already reduced our scrap rates enormously with the consistent and reliable manufacture of the green sand moulds. Productivity is also reaching record levels with between 60 and 80 moulds being manufactured in an hour.”

“The automated line is also equipped with a mould manipulator and conveyor system for easy handling of the moulds. Our casting sizes and weights range from 0.1 kilogram to 30 kilograms, shell cores are produced in-house to satisfy the full range of castings produced and our pattern plate dimensions are 460mm x 160mm and 500mm x 160mm.”

The new M.U.R. Industries furnace body

“Markets supplied include mining, overhead line, agriculture, small tools, building and scaffolding, railway and automotive. Malleable Castings is a flexible foundry capable of producing cost effectively, both long production runs and shorter, lower volume orders to satisfy the full range of customer needs.”

“We specialise in the production of relatively small parts, with tight tolerances, excellent machining characteristics and very good surface finishes. On request we can have the castings painted, galvanised or electro plated.”

Melting procedure
“We have also changed the procedure of our melting practice by introducing a new 2-ton 8kW induction furnace that was supplied by M.U.R. Industries. The new furnace now allows us to melt less metal per heat as well as have a shorter melt time whereas with the 8-ton furnace we had to melt too much metal in a heat and then had to reheat. Coupled with the Solid State furnace we could more than cope with our daily melt requirements.”

“Our capacity depends on how many shifts we run but at the moment we are pouring 160 tons of metal a month and depending on orders we are supplying about 120 tons to group companies. The synergy within the group has certainly been beneficial to us but we are not entirely reliant on it.”

“Other developments within the foundry have been the installation of a dust extraction system to meet our environmental license requirements and the introduction of a new core machine which, even though it is a manual machine it has taken our core output from 160/180 cores per shift to 720 cores per shift.”

“Going forward we are looking at introducing a second automated jolt squeeze moulding machine. More importantly we are going to pay attention to our sand reclamation plant which needs an upgrade.”

For further details contact Malleable Castings on TEL: 011 822 1503 or visit