- on the way to the perfect foundry
The fourth industrial revolution is characterized by the increasing process connectivity and digitalization, value chains and business models. Industry 4.0 is expected to increase business productivity significantly and hence profitability. This revolution is also the foundation of emerging digital business models, often disruptive, that add significant value to consumers through tailored solutions.
Knowing that previous industrial revolutions have boosted production, through concepts and techniques never seen before - assembly lines, serial production, and automation - we can easily say that the current digital revolution has arrived to severely change the industry.
The introduction of sensors in the various equipment that integrate the different stages of production, allows the gathering of a wide amount of data, to monitor and to adjust processes. It is this type of interaction between the equipment and the artificial intelligence that results in an efficiency increase, allows predicting problems in the process and indicates ways to solve them, optimizing the production.
Techniques such as additive manufacture, where the material is continuously added to a part until the final product is reached, which is in consonance with this concept since the waste of raw material is minimal (e.g. 3D printing), instead of what happens in the subtractive manufacture present in milling machines and mechanical lathes usually used. Another tool that reflects Industry 4.0 is augmented reality, which allows a merger of the real and virtual worlds, leading to a higher level of interaction and information management.
All of these factors - connectivity, data acquisition, data management, new manufacturing and interaction techniques – result in a combination that leads to increased production efficiency and the appearance of new products.
Industry 4.0 is reflected transversally, the foundry sector is no exception. In the foundry industry, the effects of this revolution are beginning to be felt in the predictive capacity. Through the placement of sensors in various equipment and advanced measurement equipment (temperature, chemical composition analysis, thermal analysis) that integrate the casting process, it is possible to collect data in a constant and continuous way that, after being compiled and analyzed, they transform themselves in a complete database which together with advanced mathematical models, is able to predict, in real time, the final quality results of the castings by comparing the current data of the process with stored data. Thereby, it is possible to predict the final result and increase the efficiency of the process - by adjusting different variables throughout the process in order to reduce / eliminate the production of defective castings and, consequently, to reduce / eliminate waste.