Casting trends in the foundry industry will feature among the crucial focal themes of the world’s leading foundry trade fair GIFA 2023, which is being held as part of the Bright World of Metals in Düsseldorf from 12 to 16 June 2023. Further on in the magazine you can read up about the links of suppliers to South Africa that will be exhibiting, where to find them at the exhibition and who you must contact to buy locally. There are three South African companies exhibiting directly and NFTN will showcase the industry on a stand in Hall 13. At the time of writing, I had a list of 103 names of South Africans that would be visiting the exhibitions this year.
The foundry industry is one which is directly and indirectly affected by an incredibly diverse range of industries in the global economy. From automotive to hospitality, there is a requirement somewhere in the supply chain for the products and materials produced in foundries. There is no sector of industry that could do without cast components of iron, steel or non-ferrous metals ranging from aluminium to zinc. For export sectors such as automotive and machine tool production the foundry industry is a key sector within their value chains.
Disrupted supply chains during the Covid pandemic and the dependencies on countries such as China have placed the issue of securing raw material supplies on the agenda. The war in Ukraine and the resulting economic sanctions against Russia have additionally fuelled the debate about supply security and the circular economy.
However, after an incredibly challenging period for industries and organisations worldwide, we look to be heading towards the ‘next normal’. With additional geopolitical pressures and massive global issues like climate change adding more complex challenges, the foundry industry will require investment and development over the next few years to remain sustainable and profitable.
While the environmental concerns and the push towards big data have been around for some time, reading all the articles prior to this year’s exhibition, they are all pointing towards these topics even more so. The shortage of skilled workers, the requirements for environmental protection and resource conservation, the increased quality requirements as well as the higher demands on ergonomics, autonomous engineering to help optimise your value chains, eco-conscious innovations, and sustainability and energy efficiency are just some of the buzz words and topics to be discussed.
But none more so than digitalisation. Digitalisation has arrived in the foundry industry. While still standing in the shadow of their sibling sector, the steel industry, foundries have now also realised the potential of digital transformation, driven by the wish to improve the margins of existing business and increasingly by the challenges of decarbonisation. It is first and foremost improved earnings and extension of the service portfolio rather than disruptive new business models that feature on the agenda of foundries. New digitalisation solutions – from the transformation of the blast furnace to the vision of an autonomous steel mill, from digital melting operations to foundry 4.0 – will be a focal theme at the forthcoming metallurgy trade fairs.
Particularly in demand are the energy-intensive sectors. “Our advanced technology, coupled with our focus on digitalisation, offers unprecedented levels of control and optimisation in production processes,” will be a stock phrase on most equipment manufacturing stands. “We have taken a significant step towards eco-friendly manufacturing practices. These solutions aim to reduce energy consumption and lower carbon emissions, contributing to a greener future,” will be another one.