06 Jun Future Trends in the Industry – Customer Demands to Increase.

Gotthard Wolf, Professor and Institute Director of Geisserie-Institut at the Technical University of Freiberg presented ‘The Present Situation and Development Trends of the Worldwide Foundry Industry’ at the recent WFO Technical Forum held during the BRICS (Brazil, Russia India and China) Conference and South African Metal Casting Conference. Outlining some of the production trends around the globe over the last 20 years, he highlighted the trend towards regional, as opposed to global supply chains and the factors that influence these trends, noting that logistics, and particularly shipping times and costs are leading to a move towards 5 main regional markets, USA, Europe, Asia, India and Central America (more specifically the north part of the South American continent). He also identified the main industrial sectors where growth in casting production and use is to be expected based on these regions, with Asia having the greatest prospects for growth. In Europe, growth is anticipated to be in the automotive and energy management sectors.
In terms of passenger cars there is anticipated to be 19.5 million extra units over the next 15 years, with most of this increase (>60%) being in Asia, but with some growth predicted in all regions. Electric drive powered vehicles, as opposed to combustion engines, are anticipated to account for 21% of the total by 2025. He anticipated that foundries will see a continued enlargement of the added value chain, with the foundry increasingly acting as a development partner, in-house machining being offered and increased optimisation of production and process planning. The trend towards complex lightweight castings, with minimum wall thicknesses, is continuing with a rise in the number of patterns – because assembly variants will disappear – and a greater demand for individual material properties.
There will also be increasing automation of foundry processes, condition monitoring of foundry machines and demand for traceability of castings would continue, he predicted, as well as a trend towards efficiencies through reductions in all non-value-added steps in production (an example was less post-processing such as fettling by reduction in fins and joint flash or the elimination of steps in heat treatment to reduce energy consumption).
Foundry customers will expect support in component development, the ability for data handling, guaranteed component properties and costs at the time of quotation (series production readiness), process and component optimization during serial production, cooperation with customers and service providers (with specialist know-how) and an understanding the design criteria of the product.
Summarising, Gotthard said he anticipated that:
• Regional casting markets will dominate.
• Volumes will follow regional Gross Domestic Product trends as well as local market developments.
• European and American markets remain but economic growth will be in Asia.
• Following the OEMs, international companies will build their new foundries in emerging markets.
• There will be a regional casting market but with global enterprises.
A shortening of the ‘time to full production’ is already being seen with a reduction in the planning stage and start-up time, through greater use of simulation and additive manufacture, developments in production flexibility and new patterns in logistics and increasing levels of high capital assets in automation and mechanical processing. The skills and qualifications of staff must grow accordingly.

The full presentation, as a pdf, may be seen here – http://www.castmetalsfederation.com/document/gotthard-wolf-wfo-forum
A write-up from the event was also published in the May issue of Foundry Trade Journal and is available here – http://www.castmetalsfederation.com/document/foundry-trade-journal-write-up-wfo-forum-april-2017

Angela Mason
Angela Mason