Foundry on Wheels: Interview with Bernardo Macedo (Chairman Sonafi - Sociedade Nacional de Fundição Injectada S.A.)
1. Does the need for weight reduction in automobiles and the replacement of cast iron by aluminium in many of its components ensure by itself that the aluminium foundry industry will continue to grow?
I think the aluminium industry will continue to grow because the current internal combustion engines will last for many years and the number of vehicles is also expected to grow in the world for at least the next 10-15 years. So I think the aluminium industry is not threatened. I think the cast iron industry, from what I've heard in these last lectures, will also not be threatened, will continue to take its place.
2. Is access to raw materials still relatively easy?
Yes it is. Aluminium is a product in great abundance on the planet. There is always the inherent problem that is the energy cost to get that same aluminium. But rather than that no other issue is opposed like in other materials. No threats are felt in terms of sources of supply or technology.
3. What must foundries do to be more innovative and keep up with changes in the automotive sector?
Be very attentive to the market. And, therefore, to develop the necessary technologies for the components that will come in the future. Which is what we are doing: adapting processes, increasingly monitoring the casting processes, introducing some changes in these processes and, in the machining part, making machining more and more accurately and with greater stability.
4. So Sonafi is on its way to industry 4.0?
Yes, in fact we were pointed out as a company which is quite advanced in this area. I happened to find interesting this latest statement from the engineer from Sakthi quoting someone from Volkswagen that said: "In fact we did not know that we were already doing industry 4.0. We started in 1989 when we fitted our injection machines with process control systems that did not exist; before, the product was only controlled in the end, only then did one know if it was good or bad."
5. Do you think these forums, these debate congresses are interesting, are important for companies like Sonafi?
They are important, they are very important. And much more important are the moment we live in which there is a disparity of opinions in the market about what is going to be the future of mobility - I am not just talking about the future of automobiles. And so, the opinion exchange helps to clarify all the players that exist in the market. These meetings are very useful.
6. Can we count on you for the next one?
Of course you can, with great pleasure.