Metal Casting Technologies : MCT-DEC-2014
22 www.metals.rala.com.au METAL casting Technologies December 2014 23 FEATURE FEATURE Subcontinental standards As one of the main drivers of the national economy, Indian MSMEs will play a key role in shaping the country’s GDP growth over the coming years. Responsible for 45% of India’s total manufacturing output and 40% of exports, they currently provide employment for over 60 million people. Today, however, many are increasingly uncompetitive and struggling under the burden of issues such as energy efficiency, pollution control and workplace health and safety. Recognizing the significant role that MSMEs play in the Indian economy, a European Union-led study was conducted in 2010 to map out the country’s less sustainable MSME sectors. This showed the country’s foundry industry to be one of the least sustainable, highly energy-intensive, environmentally polluting and socially detrimental Today India is a major metal caster, ranking third in the world for production volume behind China and the United States, with an annual output of around 10 million metric tons. Indian casters produce a wide range of foundry products for a diversified market, both domestic and international. There are currently more than 6000 Indian foundries, with around 95 percent of these classified as MSMEs. A large number are aggregated in around 20 areas; major Indian foundry clusters can be found in Howrah in West Bengal, Kolhapur in Maharashtra, Belgaum in Karnataka, Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu, Rajkot in Gujarat, and Batala and Jalandhar in Punjab. The industry directly employs 500,000 people, with a further 150,000 in foundry industry-related jobs. While India’s GDP growth has ranged between 5 and 8 percent over the last few years, the country’s foundry industry has recorded growth of around 15 percent, largely due to the increasing demand for vehicles from second and third tier cities. With India’s domestic consumption of castings currently running at around 20 million metric tons, there is a significant gap between supply and demand. The Indian foundry industry can therefore look forward to accelerated growth, with many existing foundries now looking to ramp up productivity and capacity. However, erratic iron ore and power supplies still constrain growth. Energy equation Today many of India’s MSME foundries lag behind in melting technology, which results in a high consumption of coke, high carbon emissions, a high rejection rate, problems of solid waste disposal and multiple issues relating to the health and safety of workers. While a single MSME foundry may consume a relatively small amount of energy, taken together in a cluster they become highly energy intensive. For instance, the total energy consumption of the Kolhapur foundry cluster in western India is 178,777 tonnes of oil equivalent (toe) per year, whereas energy consumption per foundry is around 510 toe. While energy generally accounts for 15 to 20 percent of total production costs in small scale Indian foundries, the energy consumed to manufacture one ton of good castings varies considerably from foundry to foundry. “Indian foundries must adopt the latest environment-friendly technologies to further consolidate their position and enhance production,” says C.R . Swaminathan, Chairman of India’s National Foundry Conclave. “Many energy studies have been conducted in the Indian foundry sector to improve specific energy consumption but there still remains vast scope for further improvement,” adds Vishal Dev, general manager at the Foundation for MSME Clusters in New Delhi. “The pressing need is cleaner production strategies for reducing energy consumption and thereby improving resource efficiency.” Seeing the light Despite the numerous problems facing India’s MSME foundries, times are slowly changing. While most still employ cupolas using Low Ash Metallurgical (LAM) coke, a steadily growing environmental awareness means many foundries are now switching over to induction furnaces. Some MSMEs are even changing over to cokeless cupolas. In addition to this, a growing number of foundries are taking steps to conserve energy and natural resources. The proper selection of equipment, adoption of best practices for shop floor operations and regular maintenance of equipment are slowly but surely increasing competitiveness and shrinking the environmental footprint. “When considering the Indian foundry industry it really depends on your perspective,’ says Brian Wilson. “At the lower end of the MSME sector there is little change or even understanding of what needs to be done to be green. However, at the upper end there is a growing realisation that there has to be a change in attitude towards environmental issues.” “I would say that the general level of environmental awareness is now ‘good’ amongst many Indian foundries,” adds Prosanto Pal, Senior Fellow of The Energy and Resources Institute (TERI) in New Delhi. “However, there is scope for further education and training in this regard. Sometimes concepts which are not scientifically proven are propagated by vendors and local consultants and adopted blindly by foundry units. In general, the industry is willing to adopt green technologies that have an attractive return on investment or practices where no or low investments are required.” Legal issues India’s MSME foundries are now dealing with increasingly strict environmental regulations, especially with regard to emissions (the entire industry is classified as a “red” or highly polluting industry). However, due to the geographical spread and size of foundries (many of them are melting just once in a week), the challenge is not only stricter enforcement of environmental standards, but to develop innovative environmental policies and cleaner technologies which are affordable for such financially challenged enterprises In India emissions are monitored by state pollution control boards, which are more of a policing agency which grants certificates for the foundry to operate. These certificates need to be renewed periodically. “Unfortunately these boards do not provide any guidance or support relating to the technologies or practices which need to be adopted for the foundry industry to become greener,” says Prosanto Pal. “In the absence of any such guidance foundries are often left at the mercy of unscrupulous vendors and local service providers.” To be able to move forwards and avoid closure, India’s small foundries clearly need more support. This includes setting up local green technology demonstration projects and delivery systems for replicating cleaner technologies, the provision of financial incentives to upgrade, the improvement of pollution control boards in terms of advice and guidance, and more government support for the establishment of downstream industries for the recycling, recovery and reuse of foundry waste products. Leaner and cleaner Producing four times as many castings as India, today China is a global casting heavyweight. China produced 16.3 million tons of castings in 2002, equal to the combined output of the United States and Japan. Since then this figure has increased by over 10% per year, reaching nearly 45 million tons last year. The sustained increase in Chinese casting production is not without its challenges. As it attempts to move up the value chain and crack down on pollution, the Chinese foundry industry is currently undergoing a major transformation. More than 90 while MSME foundries make up the bulk of India’s casting industry they often lag behind in technology and casting quality. iNDiAN fOUNDRiEs MUsT ADOPT THE LATEsT ENViRONMENT-fRiENDLY TEcHNOLOGiEs TO fURTHER cONsOLiDATE THEiR POsiTiON AND ENHANcE PRODUcTiON ...