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Metal Casting Technologies : September 2005
ASIAN OVERVIEW By Dr. P. C. Maity INDIA Scope of Indian foundries in the domestic and export market has increased in recent years due to a significant change in the scenario of foundry industries all over the world. Most of the developed countries have started outsourcing engineering products mainly due to high wages and shortage of highly skilled technical personal and stringent environmental, safety and health regulations. Out of about 4700 foundry units in India, more than 250 units are directly exporting to USA, Canada, Australia, Japan, Russia, Germany, U.K., France, Italy and other Asian and African countries. Indian foundries are now being flooded with export orders from developed countries. After a few years of doldrums in order situation, financial year 2004-05 turned out to be one of the brightest years in the recent past. The country's metal casting sector is now poised for revival and growth. The sixth largest casting producing country in the world, India aims to raise production level from 4.03 million tonnes to 5.5 million tonnes by 2007-08, beating Germany, to be in the fifth position, says an expert. To meet the growing demand for exports, many foundries have embarked on capacity expansion. Ennore Foundries, Nelcast, Sakthi Auto Components, Brakes India, Sundaram Clayton are a few names that are in the process of expanding their production capacity either by setting up new units or by installing additional facilities within the existing unit. Around 400 auto component manufacturers in the country have invested Rs. 400 million in order to boost production and to cater the needs of the growing market. Auto components are a major product of foundries. In spite of stiff competition with China and Mexico, India is increasingly becoming a sourcing base for auto components. Global auto majors such as Hyundai, Ford, Skoda, Suzuki have made India a manufacturing base and others like Toyota, General Motors and Daimler Chrysler are making India a hub for auto components. Out of the total global auto components trade of $18.5 billion, India's share is 0.4% only, China's 1.2% and Mexico's 5.9%. The trade of global auto component industry is expected to reach $1.9 trillion by 2015 and about 4.0% of it, i.e. $ 700 billion is expected to be sourced from low cost countries like India. One of the large foundries in India currently exports more than $4 million worth of manhole covers to US, Canada, France, Italy, U.K., Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and West Asia. Other exporters of this casting are Mexico and Brazil. Only 10% of India's 4700 foundries are large, modern and globally competitive for export, producing 70% of the castings. The remaining 90% of the foundries are traditional, small scale, some of them are family-owned accounting for 30% of total production. These small scale foundries are plagued with poor infrastructure. To alleviate the problem, concept of foundry clusters has evolved in recent years. Clustering of industries is not a new concept; it has existed for many years in the name of industrial complex. Now it is being implemented for foundries with a view to install common expensive facilities to be shared by members of a cluster. Chemical analysis of metals and alloys, binders, additives and other raw materials, testing and consultancy, pollution monitoring, design and development of castings, die etc. using computer simulation are the examples of facilities that can be availed by the foundries in a cluster. It would also lead to saving of transportation cost, say, for supplying same raw materials to a few foundries. Use of such common facilities by small foundries would enable them to adhere to quality norms, to reduce production cost and pollution level. The foundries in a cluster are not necessarily located close to each other, rather the units enroll to a cluster to access the common facilities. Six foundry clusters are under development at present at Belgaum, Chennai, Coimbatore, Batala & Jalandhar, Kolhapur and Rajkot. Number of foundries in a cluster ranges from 70 to 500, that produces castings for pumps and valves, automobiles, food processing, textile industry and agricultural machinery mostly in gray iron. 10-25% of the castings from the clusters are exported. It is expected that using the common sophisticated instruments for testing and analysis and simulation software etc., the quality of the castings produced in the clusters will improve to meet the norms required for export. The problem of non-availability and high cost of foundry grade pig iron of required quality has been overcome to a considerable extent. Tata Metaliks and IISCO, for example, are producing various grades of pig iron required particularly by iron foundries. Total production of pig iron in India during April-May, 2005 has been estimated at 0.6 million tonnes compared to the output of 0.46 million tonnes during April-May, 2004 indicating an increase of 30.7%. Consumption of pig iron increased by 23.25% during this period. Higher cost of pig iron probably due to intervention of traders affected the export of castings in the recent past, which has been controlled largely at present. Most small foundries melt iron in cupolas using foundry grade pig iron and coke. Medium and large scale foundries are gradually replacing cupolas by induction furnaces to reduce pollution and to have flexibility in liquid iron temperature and composition. Since many iron foundries are producing S.G. iron castings, induction furnace has become essential for them in terms of high metal temperature and low sulfur and phosphorus content in liquid iron. High pressure molding machines are being installed in more numbers in the medium and large scale foundries due to its unique advantages. The other latest trends in technology changes are increasing use of computer-assisted design of casting and dies, automation in molding and pouring line etc. In general, large foundries have their own casting 28 www.metals.rala.com.au