WFO Technical Forum 2017 & MCC 2017

The above conferences have just taken place at Emperors Palace, Gauteng, South Africa from 13 to 17 March 2017. It was the first time that South Africa hosted the World Foundry Organisation Technical Forum.

There were many aspects that came together over the five days that also included the BRICS Foundry Forum. Whether you were a delegate, speaker or one of the exhibitors I am sure you have an opinion as to whether it was worthwhile attending and / or participating.

There were a host of technical lectures / talks / papers presented that were given by government officials, academics, suppliers and others that you and your company could have benefitted from.

There were also social and official functions that were included over the five days. The question is whether the lectures / talks / papers presented were of the quality you expected or was it just a forum for academics and similar that had a platform to present and further enhance their endeavours?

Was the mix of attendees of the right quality that represent the hard working foundry industry or could there be more done to attract foundrymen and women to such an event? What about the costs to attend? All these questions need to be answered and evaluated. One way of doing this is asking for independent opinions.

We gave delegates the opportunity to express their views and as usual these are varied. As the organisers are very cagey on attendance figures and, the designation of those that attended, it has to be assumed by the comments below that very few delegates from the South African foundries attended. Cost of attending is a big factor according to the comments. My personal observation was that less than 20 foundries were represented. This has to be addressed for future ventures of this type.

Talking about costs one has to wonder who benefitted from the occasion. Outside suppliers, or the foundry industry?

Timo Wuerz and Ines Polak, VDMA Metallurgy

“VDMA Metallurgy was proud to be part of the Metal Casting Conference 2017 in Johannesburg as an Industry Partner. The event was perfectly well prepared and organised.”

“With the Metal Casting Conference 2017, the SAIF and its partners provided the highly professional framework to help everyone concentrate on the exchange with so many enthusiastic participants from universities, research institutions, foundries and foundry suppliers from South Africa and abroad.”

“The truly international spirit of the foundry community became tangible as presenters from South Africa and all parts of the world spoke about their approaches to step up efforts creating resource and energy efficient solutions. It goes without saying that the member companies of VDMA Metallurgy are ready to contribute their mite.”

“We felt that MCC was held just at the right time to raise the participants’ awareness of the fact that sustainability issues are really gaining momentum. And our conversations with interested visitors, partners and friends at our booth gave us plenty of insight into how South African foundry people are living up to the motto ‘World Cast in Africa – innovate for sustainability’.”

“Thanks again to our hosts in Johannesburg who created the atmosphere that you only feel when there is more passion than routine.”

Donald Osmond, IMP Scientific Analytical

“The conference was well worth attending. It gave us an opportunity to meet new potential customers and chat to existing ones. Unfortunately we did not attend any talks. The venue was central and catering was great. Wi-Fi was fast and enough. The expo did not run for too long.”

“It was a shame that there were not more local suppliers and foundry personnel that attended.”

Zimalco attendees

“We only attended the first day of the conference, seeing that it was the most relevant for an aluminium industry member. Generally speaking the occasion was well organised and some last minute changes to the conference programme were made seamlessly.”

“There were some good presentations made during the conference. MRT Castings Ltd’s paper dealing with environmental management impressed us the most and mirrored Zimalco’s own quest for energy optimisation for which it was awarded the SEIFSA Awards for Excellence 2016 Most Innovative Company of the Year.”

“But by contrast the paper entitled: ‘The 5-year strategic plan for China’s foundry industry’ by Wei Gao was very difficult to follow.”

“Perhaps the exhibitions should have included more of the latest technology and shown greater participation by the foundries themselves, rather than the standard marketing fare from suppliers. We had also hoped to see a 3D printer in action, but this didn’t feature.”

Clayton Anderson, Managing Director, Thomas Foundry

“I only attended four presentations, three of which I was disappointed with.”

Anonymous – delegate

“We sent three delegates to the conference even though we are in the non ferrous foundry industry, and attended all three days of the conference with the hope that we would benefit from at least some of the presentations.”

“The range of topics presented at the conference was very broad, too broad, so many papers had no relevance to our business / industry.”

“The quality of some of the papers left a lot to be desired especially those presented by staff from the academic institutions (for this reason you better make this anonymous).”

“My gut-feel is that only between 10 to 20% of the delegates that attended were from foundries with the rest of the delegates made up from academic and other institutions and quasi government departments.”

“Personally I think the conference could have and probably should have been squashed into a conference that was held over two days.”

“Other than that the venue, gala dinner and facilities were great.”

Barry Butler, Operations Director, Thomas Foundry

“I attended the MCC from 15 to 17 March and I only attended the conference lectures and did not attend any of the social events. My take away was that about 50% of the talks I listened to were reasonable to good, but the balance that I attended were not good or not well presented. Thursday’s conference programme was too full and I missed some talks that interested me because of the plenary split. Then I felt Friday was a waste of time and a number of the Thursday talks could have been scheduled for Friday.”

“I do not believe we got value for money. In my opinion, the location should have attracted many more local foundry people but I think the cost turned a number of them off. There possibly could have been an option to pay per lecture so that local foundry people could have popped in and out to those talks that piqued their interest.”

“I also felt the main conference room was badly laid out, it could have been smaller, and I think it was difficult for the speakers to talk to the whole hall as the attendees were widely spread and they had to talk to two projectors.”

“The question I suppose we have to ask is would I attend again following my comments above? If the structure and cost were exactly the same then the answer is no I would not. If the conference were restructured and the cost more palatable, my answer would be maybe.

Terence Stopforth, McWade Productions

“Firstly, it was good to see some old colleagues once again. It’s great how these conferences bring the foundry and related industries together. The stands were small and basic but more than suitable for networking with suppliers. The supplier base was also well represented between sand, chemical, consumable and equipment suppliers.”

“The presentations on day one were most interesting. In particular the two presentations focusing on the support that government intends on offering the foundry industry to revitalise the sector. This is positive news and I truly hope this materialises into opportunities for growth in our industry, which is a key sector in the economy.”

“Mark Krieg from AFSA once again gave an informative presentation on aluminium casting supply forecasts into the automotive sector. You could see from his statistics that AFSA have put a lot of work into analysing previous stats and predicting future demand. It was quite positive to see there is an opportunity for growth in this sector.”

“Various technical presentations on Profitability in Die Casting, Metal-Die interface heat transfer in squeeze casting and coating systems had some good content relating to our industry. Farai Banganayi from the Metal Casting station presented his sand control systems project run at McWade Productions last year. Obviously we had a keen interest in this presentation and his content was not only interesting but informative as well. The project run at McWade was a great success and the assistance from UJ and CSIR most definitely made a positive impact in process control on our sand moulding line, in particular.”

“For those interested in organic and inorganic binder systems, Dipak Ghosh from Forace Polymers gave an informative presentation on foundry binders. Although in some cases it was difficult to understand him the content was quite thoroughly covered. Interesting to see how the move to inorganic binders is gathering momentum. Quite strong on the subject of inorganic binders was Dr Harmut Polzin. For me this was one of the strongest technical presentations of the conference and it is most evident that strong advances have been made by the University of Freiberg regarding inorganic binders.”

“Apart from those mentioned some of the presentations were woeful!”

Lance Zikalala, Managing Director, nCoded Solutions

“The purpose for our company to attend and exhibit was to introduce ourselves and also gain an understanding of the foundry industry. The MCC 2017 gave us an opportunity to see what works and what doesn’t work in this market, and most importantly, we were able to showcase our services to the delegates.”

“There were 30 exhibitors in the conference, with most of them offering consumable products and parts for the foundry industry. Out of those 30 exhibitors, only two, including ourselves, were offering Business IT Solutions.”

“nCoded Solutions interacted with many attendees where we demonstrated how our production scheduling and production tracking software can be applied within their industries. In addition to us showcasing our software, we also did a bit of informal research where we asked about 40 people, that came to our stand, a few of our questions about the conference.”

“80% of the people we presented to were hearing about our service offering for the first time. Only 15% of the people we spoke to expressed an immediate interest in our software and services.”

“Our overall impression of the Metal Casting Conference was that it was well organised and represented a broad spectrum of the South African foundry industry and specialists. Although it was a conference of diverse groups it enabled us to gauge the position of foundry companies in the country.”

“We saw that the foundry business in South Africa is dominated by white “old-generation” males who seem to be operating in a space where all of them pretty much know one another’s businesses.”

“We got a sense that these businesses were still happy with the production methodologies and technologies that their companies adopted many years ago. Notwithstanding the evidence that most or some of them do require new technology and change, the attendees we spoke to are still locked in their ‘old ways’.”

“This observation made it clear to us that the foundry industry in South Africa requires massive support and education on concepts such as lean manufacturing, productivity improvement, automation, systems engineering, etc. especially because most of the guys we spoke to want to implement cost cutting measures.”

“It was refreshing to see some government-affiliated organisations and some universities telling us that they have started to address some of the challenges experienced by the South African foundries around these areas.”

“As nCoded Solutions on the other hand we have identified a need to partner with the University of Johannesburg in the implementation of productivity improvement programmes.”


Brad Venter, High Duty Castings

“I, unfortunately, was only able to attend the opening day of the MCC and, as such, could only attend the opening presentations and a few of the other high-level talks given throughout the day.”

“I found it a day well spent and a great opportunity to catch up with people with whom I normally only have contact with via email. The conference also brought quite a number of prominent (obviously subjective) international guests (from Rio Tinto, Omega, Inductotherm and ABP Induction, for example) within my reach and I was able to have a private dinner the preceding night and lunch and dinner on day one with them. I found these opportunities very valuable.”

“For me, the most impressive talks were the two given by the representatives from the DTI and CSIR. They were both great speakers and quite a refreshing change from the stereotypical government representative flipping through a previously unseen presentation that had been prepared by someone else. I admired the honesty of their presentations as they didn’t butter up the status of South Africa’s foundry industry. They made me aware of a few initiatives and made a number of good points and suggestions. We can only hope that they make it off the paper and are put into motion. At least there is an acknowledgement of the state that our industry is in. Hopefully a good starting point?”

“I do think the tickets were pricy. Although difficult to manage and administrate, perhaps they could have had different ticket options available e.g. one day, half day, gala event only etc. I just found it a bit costly to send a few people from our company as the majority of them would only be interested in one or two papers on any particular day. Perhaps a company “pass” that allows X amount of people to attend per day instead of having to buy everyone an individual ticket.”

“As a result I think the ticket prices perhaps limited the attendees to mostly management and owner level attendees. Easy to criticise but I’m sure there’s a way to ‘open it up’ to foundry employees. It would also be valuable for them to attend and learn something.”

“As with the previous MCC, I really like the flash drive handout with all the presentations. Great idea, as I often refer back to those papers and use them as part of internal training here at the foundry. I haven’t had a chance to go through the papers but the titles are very relevant and topical and the presenters seem to have been of a high calibre.”

“I do wish I was able to attend a few of those papers. It didn’t have the intimacy of the previous MCC but that’s the symptom of it growing into a much bigger event? The venue of the previous MCC also ensured that there was a more captive audience and more participation. I didn’t get a chance to walk through the exhibition hall so cannot give my opinion there.”

Jaco le Roux, National Sales Manager, United Scientific

“United Scientific (Pty) Ltd recently attended the Metalcasting Conference that was held at Emperors Palace. United Scientific took the opportunity to participate as an exhibitor to further promote our range of analytical instruments and metallographic sample preparation equipment.”

“Some of the observations were that the attendance across all three days that the exhibition was running was on the low side, and with so many technical papers being presented I guess the attendance of the delegates visiting the exhibition was limited, although during the tea breaks and lunchtime it did get busier.”

“Overall the attendance wasn’t what we expected from such an event and we did not really gain all the traction we wanted to in this sector. This is my only real complaint. The event organisation was very good overall.”

Dr Kasongo Didier Nyembwe, Department of Metallurgy UJ

“This serves to commend the organisational committee of the 2017 SA MCC for a successful event at Emperors Palace from 13-17/03/2017. Conference and exhibition arrangements to meet the needs of attendants in terms of venues, facilities, accommodations and technical level of presentations were executed impeccably.”

“The event also provided an excellent opportunity for networking between local and international role players in the foundry industry. The conference depicted a pragmatic picture of the current state, challenges and progress of the local and global foundry industry. Finally, this conference showcased once again the traditional hospitality of South Africa as a host country for international visitors.”

The HA Group was a gold sponsor at the conference and sponsored the gala dinner. Representatives that attended included Dr. Ion Bacanu, Director Global Product Management HA Group, Manual Vargas, Key Account Manager HA Group, Dr. Carsten Kulhgatz, President and CEO, HA Group, Peter Groning, Product Management EMEA Cold-Box Process, HA Group, Antoinette Swanepoel, Foundry Sales Manager SI Group – South Africa and Guy Dockray of SI Group – South Africa

Anonymous – delegate

“I was only there for a day and a half and don’t really have too much to contribute. Whether or not the conference was a success remains to be seen.”

“Personally there were maybe four presentations that I found any value in, which were part of the Wednesday Plenary. Thursday was really challenging as I listened to four or five presentations, two of which were of some value.”

“To say it was a disappointment would not be fair as we knew up front that the majority of presentations were not applicable to us but rather were aimed at steel or sand or both.”

Anonymous – exhibitor

“On the technical front nothing new was presented in the papers. This was disappointing as we were hoping to see more international innovations and applications from the other countries.”

“As an exhibitor you can never quantify what you get out of a conference like this in terms of sales, marketing exposure and market presence. The feet through the exhibition stands area was very low and the suppliers ended up having more meaningful conversations with each other (hopefully there was no one there from the competition commission).”

“The local foundry industry turnout was very low and we would have liked to see more local foundry industry personnel at the conference. Maybe ticket prices were too high?”

“If I have to compare the money spent on a simple 3 by 3 metre stand (in excess of
R50 000.00) to the exposure to local or international delegates, I would say it was not worth it. But as we are a committed industry player we felt that we were damned if we do or damned if we don’t spend the money on the exhibition. I also noticed that there were no alloy suppliers exhibiting. Why? Hopefully the meetings inside (BRICS) were more fruitful and will benefit the local industry going forward.”

Jan Nagel – General Manager, Auto Industrial Group

“Generally the conference was ok. Some technical papers were good and relevant to areas of concern e.g. the paper on bentonites, core coating, permeable coating for gas defects, cupola furnaces and flow simulations.”

“The down side was that there was virtually no time allocated to allow people to switch conference rooms in between papers and that there was no strict adherence to the time schedules. Some presentations would finish ahead of time resulting in the following presentation starting ahead of time. This disadvantaged someone switching conference rooms and we missed targeted papers as a result.”

“The exhibition centre was well arranged though minimum technology was showcased.”