Ferrous Castings breathes new life into foundry

Danie Cronje took over Mustang Foundry in April 2023, changed the name to Ferrous Castings and immediately set about not just improving the foundry’s working space, but also the general workflow of operations on the foundry floor.

Part of the acquisition of the foundry included the purchase of various equipment and assets. “As part of the deal we took over the furnace and various other equipment. These comprised of a one ton induction furnace, an Endeco five ton an hour sand mixer on the one side – the heavy bay – and in the medium bay, we’ve got a Endeco three ton an hour sand mixer. We took over all the machinery, the reclamation plant, the compressors, and all the cranes that we needed. All the basic equipment that we needed to run a foundry,” explained Cronje.

Danie Cronje took over Mustang Foundry in April 2023, and changed the name to Ferrous Castings

Ferrous Castings are casting 80 tons as cast and 60 tons net a month

“So we actually got off to a good start with all of this equipment ready to use. We only had to put money in to buy materials and scrap metal and start the foundry.”

“Luckily for us we also took over the customer base. The majority of them have stayed with us and because of them we have been able to keep going. We still have some work to do in the foundry and acquire more clients but in general it’s been going well.”

“Also on the positive side we have employed more staff. We decided to go through a labour broker and we now have 38 people working for us. Some of the people that we have employed worked for the previous company. About 10% of them we re-employed – the good, willing to work staff.”

“Of that total we have seven women working for us. They are running the moulding lines. I had an interview with one of the qualified female moulders, and I thought she was not going to make it. She said to me, please just give me a chance. And I did. We’ve actually taken this whole department and replaced all the men with women. We used to get three cycles out of the male employees per day, and that was a fight. We’re now running at seven cycles a day with ten patterns on a line, quite easily. A big difference in productivity.”

A selection of castings manufactured by Ferrous Castings

Casting weights vary from about 10kg to 800kg net weight

“We’re using the silica and alkaline phenolic process on the two lines. Sizes are from one square metre up to 1.4 square metres. Casting weights vary from about 10kg to 800kg net weight. We have also recently bought a new 1 ton induction furnace from MUR Industries. Once it is fully up and running, we will take the old furnace out of production because it’s so old now, it’s just not viable to use anymore.”

“We have also done other improvements throughout the whole foundry and the buildings that we occupy. What you see here now is what we’ve done to improve all aspects in the foundry. We have replaced the whole roof and included panels that allow in more light, we purchased a transformer and a Bruker spectrometer from SPS.”

“We cast all the ferrous materials including the irons but I don’t do stainless steel as we are not keen on the contamination. The same goes for manganese. We also cast all the tool steels.”

The castings ordered are mainly gears, sprockets and mill liners and similar castings

Moulds being coated

“We believe that the foundry area is going to be too small for us going forward. Additionally, we would like to have a complete separation of all the processes. To accommodate these plans we have purchased the building and we are busy formulating our plans. The facility consists of this building that houses the foundry and some office space. There is a separate building at the back that currently has tenants in it. It is in our plans to move the pattern shop into this building and we’re going to look at maybe buying a CNC machine to manufacture the patterns. We need to remain price competitive so these ideas are forming part of our plans for the future. Ultimately we are also looking to purchase the building and the business next door, which is also in the foundry industry but as a supplier. So you could say that we are in the process of completing the first phase of the project.”

“Going forward my children are going to be joining me so as to have a succession plan in place. My son has already joined me and my two daughters will be starting at the beginning of June. My son qualified as a pattern maker while working at Knights Foundry. My one daughter will take over the financial side of the business and my other daughter will help with the general management of the business. If we are successful in acquiring the business next door she and her husband will take over the running of the business.”

“We have also applied for our emissions licence but this is a long process especially as the previous owner operated without one and the authorities want to impose a fine on us.”

The melting platform where the new 1 ton induction furnace will be installed

A general view of the foundry

“Most of the components that we manufacture here are ultimately used in the mining industry. This includes wear parts. We also have smaller customers that want the one’s and two’s cast but really our market is the mines. The castings ordered are mainly gears, sprockets and mill liners and similar castings. The bigger size castings that we produce are the gears for the mines and also the clamps for the pipe industry and components for pumps. We also cast small valve bodies.”

“At the moment we are a bit slow because of the general state of the economy and it sounds like everybody’s waiting to see what will happen after the election. I heard that some of the mines are going to start production at the end of the month, so yeah, we’ll be fine.”

“We are casting 80 tons as cast and, 60 tons net a month. We’re currently running one shift only, so this capacity can be pushed to 100 tons if we really go for it. Twice a month we reline the old furnace where you’re losing a day or two whereas with the new furnace it’s going to be totally different. We are not going to remove the old furnace just yet as it will on standby for emergencies.”

The company purchased a Bruker spectrometer from SPS

Ferrous Castings has an Endeco five ton an hour sand mixer in the heavy bay and in the medium bay they have an Endeco three ton an hour sand mixer

“We are currently quoting for a job that would see us casting between 5 000 and 10 000 components a month. If we are successful with this order we are going to have to do some more changes in the foundry to meet the expectations. At the moment it is looking positive and it will not take long to re-arrange the flow in the foundry.”

“It has been a year since we acquired the business and it has been a busy year with the amount of changes and improvements that we have done in this year. Besides purchasing the new furnace, which is currently being installed, purchasing the spectrometer and purchasing the building, we have also purchased a new truck and a new forklift.”

“The building and the working area were in a mess when we arrived. This has all had to be cleaned and tidied up to make it workable and presentable. So we have been very busy. It takes time to put the plan in place.”

“Like with any manufacturing business the foundry can’t be left alone. The more you don’t invest in it the more likely you are going it to fall behind. With the older equipment you are going to lose production time and clients. So that is why I said, let’s put money into this place and make improvements to our production processes. Fortunately we had a decent and understanding customer base. They really helped us in the beginning and continue to do so,” concluded Cronje.

For further information contact Ferrous Castings on TEL: 083 321 1172