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Metal Casting Technologies : September 2006
www.metals.rala.com.au 26 INDIA India Increases Quality Production And Export Despite Skilled Labour Shortage By Professor PC Maity The production of Indian foundries in the year 2004-05 attained the peak of 4.623 MT of grey iron, ductile iron, steel and non-ferrous castings and the turnover of the industry was $4.4 million at the highest point. The production of grey iron castings has increased from 2.4 MT in 1999-2000 to 3.18 MT in 2004-05. During this period, the production of ductile iron has almost doubled from 0.235 MT to 0.442 MT. Comparatively less increase has taken place in the production of steel castings from 0.31 MT to 0.581 MT. The growth in the production of non- ferrous castings has been steady from 0.22 MT to 0.38 MT. The growth rate of ductile iron and non-ferrous castings fit with the trend in global production of these castings. Out of around 4500 foundries in India, more than 80% are small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Nearly 600 foundries in the large-scale sector could afford to acquire ISO 9000 certification. The encouraging revelation is that some of them have been issued QS 9000 and TS 16949 certification. To capture the domestic and export market, many more foundries are striving to acquire these quality certifications and at least 1000 foundries are expected to acquire it in the next few years. Current focus on export of castings India's merchandise exports grew by a record 29.5% to $9.35 bn in May 2006 in comparison to $ 7.2 bn during May 2005. This trend in growth is reflected in the export of castings that has increased from $0.194 bn during the year 1999-2000 to $0.583 bn in 2004-05. The export of industrial castings has increased from $0.118 bn to $0.307 bn and for the sanitary castings the increase is from $0.076 bn to $0.276 bn during this period. There is gradually increasing demand for industrial castings, from MNCs all over the world for finished castings as well as sub-assembly, particularly in the sectors of automotive, pumps and valves and other medium size machinery. The increase in domestic demand appears to be sluggish, when compared to the demand for castings from the west. It has resulted from the fact that the overseas manufacturers need for global sourcing is mainly from China and India. However, the Indian foundries are facing various challenges to export such as currency fluctuation, reduced export incentive and stricter pollution control norms from government demand for product warranty from many overseas customers and shortage of quality technical staff. Foundries have their own shortcomings too, that includes high lead time for development of castings, lack of process consistency, failure on delivery commitments and preference of supply to domestic market. Improving on these aspects would be helpful to enhance the export market further. Indian foundries should emphasize to export value added end products such as machined components and even sub-assemblies. Continuous cost reduction measures and training of manpower to upgrade their skills are also essential to compete in the global market. Shortage of technical manpower in Indian foundries Foundries employ technical manpower at top and middle management level as well as in the supervisory level. In recent years, there has been an acute shortage of technical manpower, especially in the middle management and supervisory level with the majority aspiring for jobs with a clean environment and higher pay packages, e.g. in the computer, IT and financial sectors. In many instances, undergraduates and diploma holders in foundry technology and allied subjects switch over to software and financial organizations after a short span of service. Hence the crisis of quality engineers in the entry and middle level. A number of technical institutions in India offer courses on foundry technology at various levels. National Institute of Foundry and Forge Technology at Ranchi offers one and half years' Advanced Diploma in foundry technology and two years' graduate degree in foundry-forge technology. Short term courses of one and two weeks duration are also conducted on topics related to foundry technology. The Institute of Indian Foundrymen (IIF) conducts Grad-IIF (equivalent to undergraduate) examination for employment of the passed candidates in senior positions. To compensate the shortage of technical manpower in foundries at the entry level, IIF has decided to start a pre-diploma certificate course in foundry technology. Similarly, Institute of Technology, Nirma University of Science and Technology has started a one year Advanced Diploma course in foundry technology which started last year. It is expected that such programs would meet the demand of quality technical manpower, at least partially. Casting Simulation Software penetrates Indian Foundries Various casting simulation packages have been installed in large-scale foundries. ProCAST (18 users), Magmasoft (30 users), Solidcast (19 users), Autocast are the software being used by the foundries to simulate metal flow, solidification and stress in castings. The SME foundries are not able to provide the high price of these packages and the required personnel to operate it. However they are availing of such facilities from the service group of concerned organizations, where a part of the simulation of a particular casting is sourced. The recent trend observed is that the meritorious students study in the areas of electronics, computer science and IT rather than in mechanical, metallurgical and other areas directly related to foundry technology and the majority of them are employed in computer hardware and software organizations. Hence the foundries are deprived of talented engineers. In turn, such meritorious students actively participate in the production and development of hardware and software. The hardware and software are used by various industries including foundries who realize its benefits. Therefore, no frustration due to lack of talented engineers on the shop floor! Talent percolates back to the foundries with a distinct manifestation through simulation of casting processes. Professor P. C. Maity of the National Institute of Foundry and Forge Technology Ranchi 834003 India, provides an overview of the present state of play in the Indian Foundry market AsianFoundryOverview