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Technology

Automatic Pouring Systems Boosts Output at Mahindra Hinoday Ind


By: Sanjay Paranjape, Vice President - Operations, Mahindra Hinoday Industries Ltd.; and P .D. Chaubal, Product Manager, Inductotherm India Pvt. Ltd decade ago, there were just two or three automatic pouring systems operating in India. Even five years ago, you could count these systems on one hand. But today there are more than a dozen automatic pouring systems in operation at Indian foundries. These automatic pouring systems are found at the most innovative and quality-oriented foundries in India. And their success is leading the way for a more widespread adoption of this modern technology. Automatic pouring allows foundries to eliminate the armies of workers needed for the dangerous work of manual pouring. While this is a major economic advantage where labor costs are high, it is not the most significant consideration in India. Increased casting production, higher casting quality and enhanced worker safety made possible by automatic pouring technology are the most important advantages.

automotive electrical components and industrial DC motors; and ferrite cores for electronics, telecommunications and special applications. As early as 2003, Mahindra Hinoday Industries began investigating the advantages automatic pouring technology might provide. The company was particularly looking for a system to pour ductile iron at the company's automotive castings foundry. The system would be used with an existing +GF+ flask molding line. The search for the best system to meet Mahindra Hinoday Industries' requirements included a visit to the 2003 GIFA foundry show in Germany and to several automatic pouring system manufacturers. Ultimately, the company ordered an Inductotherm automatic pouring tundish system with Visipour vision-based control

technology. Commissioned in early 2004, the new automatic pouring system featured a well-insulated, unheated tundish with a 2 ton capacity, an accurate stopperrod pouring mechanism and precise, responsive vision-based controls. Because it was to be used to pour ductile iron, the automatic pouring system also included in-stream inoculation and Inductotherm's automatic reaming system to reduce slag buildup in the pouring nozzle. Installed on the 96 mold per hour +GF+ line, the automatic pouring system poured molds as large as 120 kg for automotive castings including turbine housings, engine brackets, exhaust manifolds, power and mechanical steering housings, crank shafts, differential cases, carrier housings, hubs and knuckles.

The Mahindra Hinoday Industries Case History


Mahindra Hinoday Industries is a very good example of an Indian foundry benefiting from automatic pouring technology. With 40 plus years of manufacturing experience, Mahindra Hinoday today is a highly regarded name in ductile iron castings and ferrites worldwide. Staffed by more than 800 employees and with US$55 million US dollars invested in two manufacturing plants at Pune, India, the company casts ductile iron parts for the automotive industry, ceramic magnets for

This highly productive automatic pouring system at Mahindra Hinoday Industries automotive castings foundry uses Inductotherms highly responsive stopper-rod pouring mechanism and Visipour vision-based control technology for precise pours, mold-after-mold, without operator intervention.

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Production Immediate

Increases

Were

Prior to installing its automatic pouring system, Mahindra Hinoday Industries managed an average daily production of 100 tons per day, running 24 hours, using manually poured ladles to fill the molds. It also experienced an average metal loss of 3 percent as a result of splashing and over pours during manual pouring. Overall, casting yield was about 61 percent. A significant limitation that prevented average daily production from surpassing 100 tons was the frequent need to stop the line waiting for iron. Much of this delay occurred because metal in the pouring ladles had become too cold. But production time was also lost in exchanging or refilling pouring ladles, changing operators, rest breaks for metal pourers, etc. However, within just six months of switching to automatic pouring, Mahindra Hinoday Industries started routinely achieving production levels of 120 tons per day with an overall increase in casting yield to 67 percent. Mahindra Hinoday Industries attributed this one-third increase in production to a number of factors directly related to its Inductotherm automatic pouring system: l More efficient management of the transfer of molten metal for pouring As noted earlier, with manual pouring it was difficult to keep the molten metal in the many pouring ladles within the proper pouring temperature range. Often, the mold line would be stopped to allow the cold metal in the pouring ladles to be replenished with metal at the proper temperature. This does not happen with the automatic pouring system. Every 10 minutes the 1100 kg transfer ladle brings hot liquid metal from the foundry's two 6000 kg Inductotherm induction furnaces to the tundish. Furthermore, the well-insulated, thermally efficient tundish limits the

metal temperature drop to between 2C and 2.5C per minute, assuring a proper pouring temperature between refills. At Mahindra Hinoday Industries, this also meant that it was no longer necessary to superheat metal in the furnace to offset the losses incurred during metal transfer using the manual ladles. Typically with manual pouring, the temperature drops about 70C from the transfer at the holding furnace until the last good casting is poured. The larger, more thermally efficient transfer to and through the automatic pouring tundish was calculated to suffer only half that loss, a drop of just 45C. This resulted in a savings in furnace power costs. l metal loss - Metal Reduced splashing and over pours while filling the mold were greatly reduced due to the precision of the pouring mechanism and vision-based controls. This cut the metal loss from upwards of 3 percent to less than 1 percent l Smaller sprue cup and optimized runner system - Manual pouring necessitated a large, oblong sprue cup and it had to be brought all the way to

front of the mold. However, fully computerized, vision-based pouring controls are able to automatically adapt pouring to a variety of variables. These included the size, shape and position of the sprue cup; the changing viscosity of the metal as the temperature varied; and changes in the nozzle opening. This control adaptability allowed each mold's sprue and runner system to be optimized. A smaller sprue cup and more efficient runner system in the mold reduced metal use. lFading When working Limited with molten ductile iron, magnesium fade must be controlled in the processes used. Automatic pouring makes it simpler to limit magnesium fade due to the carefully controlled timing of metal replenishment in the tundish.

Automatic Pouring Improves Casting Quality


The way a mold is poured has a significant impact on casting quality. With hand pouring, even the most skilled workers cannot fill every mold with an ideal pour. And anything less than the ideal pour could produce a casting that does not meet the quality

Perfectly filled molds move from the automatic pouring system along the now empty manual pouring line. Overall production jumped from 100 tons per day to 120 tons per day shortly after the automatic pouring system was commissioned. When more melting/holding capacity was added to the melt shop, the automatic pouring system was able to process 160 tons of production per day.

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Technology

standards for that product. Casting defects can be caused by all of the following problems directly attributable to manual pouring: l did not fill the mold with The pourer enough molten metal, producing an incomplete casting. l interrupted the pouring The pourer stream and allowed the sprue to empty before continuing. This would cause voids in the casting. l was poured too fast, The mold producing excessive turbulence in the mold and interfering with metal flow. This could cause inclusions in the casting or misruns. l was allowed to become The metal too cold and did not flow properly in the mold causing misruns, cold shunts and round corners. A high casting rejection rate caused by any or all of the above manual pouring difficulties is very costly for foundries. At Mahindra Hinoday Industries the rejection rate due to pouring averaged 0.75 percent before automatic pouring was installed. However, Mahindra Hinoday Industries' automatic pouring system eliminated most of the casting defects caused by problems inherent in manual pouring. The system's visionbased control technology prevented both metal wasting over pours and quality robbing under pours. Moreover, it precisely maintained the optimal pouring profile needed to maintain the desired metal level in the sprue cup throughout every pour. Finally, simplified management of pouring temperature eliminated a common source of misruns, cold shunts and rounded corners. It is key to note that with automatic pouring, all the molds in a particular pattern are poured exactly alike, providing a high level of consistent quality in the foundry's casting output. As a result, automatic pouring reduced the casting rejection rate due to

pouring at the Mahindra Hinoday Industries' automotive castings foundry from 0.75 percent to 0.15 percent, a significant reduction and important cost savings.

Enhanced Safety
The automatic pouring system at Mahindra Hinoday Industries' automotive foundry completely eliminated the need to expose large numbers of workers to the many dangers associated with manual pouring molds. These common hazards included metal splash, exposure to radiant heat, inhalation of smoke and fumes, burns from contact with hot surfaces, back injury, etc. The reduction in tapping temperature made possible by automatic pouring also significantly increased the operating safety margin for furnace overheating errors. This, in turn, resulted in longer refractory life and a commensurate reduction in refractory costs.

required by the furnace operator and the bottom pour tundish is relined periodically, this represents minimal work when compared to the job of maintaining the large number of manual-pouring ladles that were used with manual pouring. l working environment Improved With automatic pouring there are fewer workers in close proximity to the heat of molten metal and less exposure to smoke and fumes. l Commitment to quality and productivity The use of automatic pouring technology demonstrates to customers that Mahindra Hinoday Industries is a modern, quality conscious, production oriented casting facility. Increased Melting Capacity Increases Automatic Pouring Production When production at the Mahindra Hinoday Industries' automotive castings foundry grew from 100 tons per day to 135 tons per day after operation of the automatic system began, the decision was made to add more metal production capacity to the foundry's melt shop. It was clear that the automatic pouring system could pour additional molds if more liquid metal were available. Therefore, a 2000 kg, 1000 kW induction melting furnace was added to the two 6000 kg induction melting furnaces sharing a 3500 kW power supply. The operational efficiencies provided by the additional holding furnace enabled the number of 1100 kg ladles supplied to the pouring tundish to be increased from 5 per hour to 6 per hour. This resulted in production being increased from 120 tons per day to 140 tons per day using the same automatic pouring setup. And when the 2000 kg, 1000 kW melting furnace was later replaced with a 3000 kg, 1500 kW melter, 7 ladles were supplied to the tundish each hour and overall production increased to 160 tons per day, again using the same automatic pouring system. This high

Reduced Labour Costs


While reducing labour costs is not the most important reason for a foundry in India to install automatic pouring, it is, nevertheless, an important advantage. While operating with manual pouring, Mahindra Hinoday Industries' automotive foundry required four pourers on each shift. Today, however, only a single operator on each shift is responsible for setting up and monitoring the automatic pouring system. And since the system, under computer control, functions largely without operator intervention, that single operator is able to perform multiple other tasks.

Other Savings Generated By Automatic Pouring


The fundamental operational changes brought about by automatic pouring produce savings and efficiencies in a number of areas in the foundry. These include: lmaintenance - While the Reduced stopper rod and nozzle are changed as

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level of production, coupled with a casting yield that had grown to 69 percent, has allowed Mahindra Hinoday Industries' automotive castings foundry to produce 2750 tons of casting each month.

Rapid Payback Expense

of

Capital

As a direct result of the financial benefits accruing to Mahindra Hinoday Industries from the increased production, higher casting quality (and reduced rejection rate), enhanced safety and lower labour costs resulting directly from the installation and operation of its new automatic pouring system, the payback period for the system proved to be just over six months. Few capital investments in the foundry industry would be able to match this payback record.

The Visipour console in the control room (center) is linked to a video camera to monitor each pour. The computer then adjusts the pour to adapt to current conditions, producing the desired pouring profile even if there are changes in variables, such as the nozzle opening or metal temperature. With Visipour, little or no operator intervention is required and the operator can attend to other duties during much of his shift.

Conclusion
While automatic pouring seemed to get a slow start in the Indian foundry industry, wider recognition of the principal benefits of this technology, including increased production, higher casting quality, enhanced safety, reduced labour costs and a quick investment payback are now speeding the adoption of these important foundry production systems.

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