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Metal Casting Technologies : September 2005
TECHNICAL FEATURE he almost became part of the family. As time went on the store where we normally kept the shovels, bricks and patching mud soon filled up with drums labelled 'FANSCO'. These products were essential to turn good metal into good castings. Fred always gave credit when it was due, and it is true to say that the FANSCO products did work okay and good machineable castings started to roll out. THE SALES REPS HONEY POT Our foundry started to become popular. Every couple of days a new smart bloke in a shiny new car would arrive representing a supply company, selling something we hadn't heard of, but apparently was an essential product we needed. This resulted in us having to build a bigger store and we got tired of eating Chinese food as more reps arrived with essential products. Keeping the induction furnace going required us to carry stocks of, Lining material, Capping refractory, Coil Grouting, Slip plane mica, Earth leakage probes, and a Steel former. The water cooling unit needed chemicals to keep the Ph in check. It's important to carry basic stocks of these materials because if you need them urgently, or over a weekend, sometimes the supplier can't deliver because they are in the middle of a stock take or something. We don't have to worry about stock control because the reps always tell us when we need something. COSTS -- CUPOLA X INDUCTION Possibly we didn't listen hard enough when initially told the induction furnace can be a bit thirsty on electricity. Probably we got into our comfort zone when we were advised electricity supply will be deregulated and individual supply contracts will be able to be negotiated with different suppliers. From all the friendly suppliers that now visit us we had learnt that suppliers can always dream up a better deal when their opposition is sniffing around. What a load of recycled horse food that turned out to be. Electricity must be the only consumable used in a foundry where the cost goes up when the consumption rate goes up. The only option is to screw the other suppliers down. Good steel scrap is getting harder to buy and the price is going up. It may be a proposition to go back to Pig iron and cut back on the special additives. I'm glad I was sitting down when the Pig iron price was faxed through. After the first full 12 months of running on the induction furnace we did a comparison costing on what the Cupola used to cost. We couldn't believe it so we did it again and had to go to the pub. The next day we adjusted the costs to allow for inflation and did it again. The result was worse, so we decided not to be pretend accountants, and stay as foundry men and blamed the calculator for not being able to add up. However, we seemed to be making consistently good castings and everything was now going quite smoothly. The foundry was now in effect batch melting and casting, compared to the Cupola days of continuous casting. The flexibility of induction batch melting was almost exiting, in that we could keep more accurate control of metal quality, and if necessary slip in a rush job, and make an existing customer happy or satisfy a need and pick up a new customer. If the cupola metal got out of whack during a melt campaign, it was panic stations, or we didn't find out until the castings were inspected. A cultural change had taken place and everybody was happy again. In addition we had acquired all these new sales rep friends. CUPOLAS DON'T BREAK DOWN IN THE MIDDLE OF A MELT Cupolas have a heart and personality, something like a draft horse. Strong reliable and don't complain. INDUCTION furnaces have a personality as well, something like a spoilt child. Constantly needing attention and liable to explode if neglected and mistreated. However if the Induction furnace is correctly treated and cared for, it probably becomes a better work horse. Any time a major change is made people tend to resent and distrust everything about it, especially if it's not their idea. Management usually make changes for sound financial reasons and that is why Fred wanted a 'lectric Induction furnace. Initially Fred was wondering if his logic was correct until finally it was clear the Induction furnace was a good decision. Old Charlie and Burt 5 76 www.metals.rala.com.au