08 Nov West Midlands foundry Members enjoy visit to leading UK foundry group

Members of the CMF West Midlands and Wales Ferrous Section were able to enjoy a tour of the Castings plc facility at Brownhills, Walsall, following their last meeting.

The company, which principally supplies finished components to the commercial vehicle market, uses high volume production methods to produce parts efficiently in low to medium volumes. The use of vertical and horizontal high-volume greensand moulding lines, with quick tool changes, careful planning of the melt scheduling and manual pouring by skilled casters, enables the foundry to optimise production.

The company has invested heavily in automation and robotics to enable 24 hour production, employs electric melting with full extraction to improve the working environment and is currently upgrading lighting in the foundry: the visitors were particularly impressed by the clean and organised environment in the foundry. Following its policy of continual improvement, investment is continuing in machining capabilities so that machining of castings for its own customer needs can also be achieved as well as enabling a sub-contract machining service which is offered to other UK foundries for both ferrous and non-ferrous components. The storage and dispatch area, which enables the foundry to supply its customers to their just-in-time requirements, is also being upgraded to facilitate more automation and rapid loading of the transport trailers.

Training and development is also very important with a greater need for higher skills due to the demands of customers, and the company invests in 3 or 4 new apprentices each year to support the 1200 strong workforce, who are split across its three group companies, Castings plc in Brownhills, Wm Lee and CNC Speedwell.

In thanking Oliver Nichols and Glen Elmy for their time showing the visitors around, committee chairman Andrew Siddons, said ‘We have been able to visit a world class facility today – it has been really interesting and informative and I can’t believe that more of our member foundries did not take up this offer – and I think robots might be on a lot of Christmas lists this year!’

Angela Mason
Angela Mason