Continuous improvement a mantra at Atlantis Foundries

Like so many industries around the world, the local manufacturing sector came to a standstill in March 2020 when national lockdowns were implemented around the world. Quite simply, the world cannot be as it is, especially during a pandemic, without manufacturing, and so it didn’t take long for COVID-19 safety standards to be implemented and foundries like Atlantis Foundries were able to resume production. Albeit there haven’t been many visitors to the foundry for quite a while because of the pandemic, this publication was permitted a chance to view some of the changes implemented during this time that will further Atlantis Foundries’ ambitions toward the achievement of increased production capacity and a culture of superior quality.

The new Roper LP-14500 geared crane lip-pour ladle with 14.5MT capacity. The ladle is fitted with a Roper gearbox size M8, one of the most reliable ladle gearboxes available

Atlantis Foundries has a melting capacity of 100 000 tons per annum and with an upswing in demand for trucks now that the world can see a way out of the pandemic, the foundry is busy, reports Mike Hartung – Manager Projects. The foundry is currently operating three shifts, five days a week. Like most companies, Atlantis Foundries has adapted its workforce’s shifts with strict safety protocols and those that can work from home work a hybridised version of coming into the office when necessary. But for someone like Hartung, being onsite to oversee projects, is vital. As it is for those on the foundry floor.

Atlantis Foundries uses cold box technology to facilitate the full spectrum of shapes and sizes across its engine blocks, operating fully automated core dipping facilities to connect to its tunnel indexing core drying oven and using green sand moulding techniques to be able to cast as many as 160 000 moulds a year and catering for the full range of automotive component grey cast iron grades.

Atlantis Foundries have installed radiation portal monitors that detect radioactive sources in trucks tasked with transporting iron and steel scrap to site

These grey iron castings are currently produced in two variants at Atlantis and are supplied to Daimler Truck AG. The foundry is currently focused on the production of large heavy-duty cylinder blocks weighing between 400kgs to 450kgs (depending on engine size).

Operational improvements
A number of processes were implemented during the pandemic to further organise the various areas of the foundry and to streamline the operations. This included purchasing new equipment, as well upgrading and refurbishing existing equipment, and even the installation of radiation portal monitors that detect radioactive sources in trucks tasked with transporting iron and steel scrap to site. This certainty in planning and the rolling out of projects at the foundry has been aided by the recent reacquisition of the foundry by the Daimler Truck AG.

New A1 Roper
A new A1 Roper 14.5 ton capacity lip pour ladle with extended sidearms has been delivered for use, supplied by Mondeco. This is now the third ladle in the stable. Like many things during the pandemic, there was an effect on its delivery schedule but its use for liquid metal transport between the ABP melters and the holding furnaces will allow for sustained production demand and capacity. There are plans for a monorail system for the transfer ladles but this is still in the planning phases.

Environmental management and compliance
“We have also installed a new bag house for the new South African Standards and Regulations for Emissions for foundries that dictate minimum emission standards for particulate matter. These levels were legislated to decrease from 100mg/Nm3 to 30mg/Nm3. The first phase of this project was linking a number of our chimney stacks to a central extraction system to which we have also added a burner system to burn off moisture and oil residue. This bag house system is now operational and the emissions are fully compliant.”

A view of a section of the baghouse at Atlantis Foundries

Waste management
Waste management is always a hot topic and as the environmental pressures and associated challenges place manufacturing under the spotlight, management teams around the world are being forced to come up with solutions. Foundry operations are constantly looking for ways to reduce their overall operating costs, and waste foundry sands, which often cost more to dispose of than to beneficiate, constitute the largest amount of waste in the foundry industry.

Back in 2017, GUT installed a 4-step chromite separation plant with a capacity of 2.0 TPH at Atlantis Foundries. With GUT plants chromite sand can be separated and sorted from waste silica. The separation of single grained and dust-free sands occurs in four steps by a combined technology, two magnet-steps and “density-separation”, as well as screening technology.

The 4-step chromite separation plant with a capacity of 2.0 TPH at Atlantis Foundries

In the first separation step silica sand is separated by a high power magnetic drum from the magnetic particles. The remaining silica sand is diverted to waste, and possibilities of reuse are planned for the future. The magnetic particles pass through the next three steps of the plant, where the chromite sand is refined. During this process step subversive elements like exothermic riser material are eliminated to a large extent from the sand. This procedure makes an important contribution to the amelioration of the casting’s surface. Unique GUT separation technology allows for maximum purity of the separated chromite sand in combination with removal of degenerated chromite, which can cause surface defects if they remain in the sand system.

This system has so far been successfully applied to the waste of the decoring line as well as reuse of scrap cores, but Hartung says that the foundry is now planning to add this system to its moulding line too and this is in the planning phases. There are also plans to develop a sand waste-to-silo system to provide a more efficient way of transporting the waste away from site.

Side view: A computer generated schematic of the new sand reclamation plant being installed for the moulding line at Atlantis Foundries

Overhead view: A computer generated schematic of the new sand reclamation plant being installed for the moulding line at Atlantis Foundries

The idea is to decrease the waste stream from the plant as a whole – in the future there may be the possibility of further refining the sand waste so that it can be beneficiated and used by other industries instead of going to landfills.

Atlantis Foundries uses the extensive modelling software programme Autodesk Inventor, and projects can be planned in 3D. Hartung says that 3D scanning of the whole factory provides them with reference data to create accurate models of the foundry for new project installations, and vastly improves operational planning.

For further details contact Atlantis Foundries on TEL: 021 573 7200 or visit