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Metal Casting Technologies : March 2008
18 www.metals.rala.com.au BRIEFINGS employing between 100 to 500 people. Nevertheless industry still has concerns over the appreciation of the Baht, increasing oil price, cheaper competition from China, the sluggish world economy and the Thai political arena following the recent elections and formation of a new government. The Office for Small and Medium Enterprises Promotion has said that 2008 will be a difficult year for a number of SME sectors notably glass & ceramics, wood products and furniture, textiles and seafood -- at present, other than rising raw materials costs, no particular worries are being expressed regarding metal castings and the metals industry as a whole. The new Thai Minister of Industry, Mr. Suvit Khunkitti, has already stated that further development of SMEs, attracting increased foreign investment and reducing industrial pollution, notably on the Eastern seaboard, are his main objectives. [There are around 2.3 million SMEs in Thailand and they employ about 75% of the total Thai workforce]. He said that the Board of Investment will begin a "Thailand Investment Year" initiative to attract more overseas investors with incentives being offered to some sectors, e.g. renewable energy industry. NEW WASTE REDUCTION TECHNOLOGY FOR GAS-CURE FOUNDRIES American scientist Steve Smith has announced the development of a new gas-curing technology that will benefit all foundries using gas-cured foundry sands. "Amine-cured, Ester-cured, Acid- cured chemistries all generate significant amounts of waste from their inherently poor gas utilization", said Steve Smith. The capture, neutralization and waste disposal costs add to the excessive raw material costs to reduce foundry profit margins. Greater chemical usage contributes to greater employee chemical exposure and presents a continuing challenge to keep worker exposure within safe limits and minimize health related costs. Increased profits and improved operating margins are the top priority for any foundry, especially as world economies become more turbulent. A foundry, like any other business, has at least the purpose of making a reliable profit and creating a stable future for its customers, its employees and its community. "Waste reduction if the key to maximizing the profitability of any activity. "The new patent-pending technology can be implemented by an gas-curing foundry without any capital equipment expense", said Smith. "That's the big surprise, how affordable it is to start saving money. A License fee of a small percentage of past use of consumable gas chemicals ensures that this will increase the profitability of any foundry using gas-curing foundry sands." For more information contact Steve Smith at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.consultingscientist.us. JIM WEST - 50 YEARS IN THE FOUNDRY INDUSTRY On Tuesday 19 February 2008, a tribute evening was held in Queensland for Jim West, to celebrate his 50 year career in the industry. Jim reviewed the journey that has been his working life, which covered 20 foundries on 4 continents. He took the audience through the good times and the bad, and detailed some of the many interesting castings and projects he has been involved with over the years. Jim also paid tribute to his wife Betth, for her support. At the end of the evening, a token of appreciation was given to Jim, on behalf of the entire industry, for his dedication and service to the Australian foundry industry. FOREIGN SUPPORT FOR THAI ENGINEER TRAINING Two recent reports in the Bangkok Post (6th February 08) highlight the continual need for greater engineering skills, both in Thailand and across the SE Asia region. Through the Southeast Asia Engineering Education Development Network (SEED-Net) the Japan International Co-operation Agency (JICA) is providing 32 million USD over five years to improve engineering skills and quality. It is planned that SEED-Net will develop 40,000 new engineers during this five year period. In Thailand the current demand for engineers is said to be 10,000 per year but only around 4,500 are being produced. Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok will be the centre for the Asean Federation of Engineering Organisations (AFEO) which has 19 member universities in 10 countries (www.seed-net.org/info). In Thailand the Ministry of Education will also provide additional funding to the scheme. Over the next five years the SEED-net alliance will focus on interdisciplinary engineering research in the following areas: Biotechnology, Disaster Mitigation & Management, Global Environment, Natural Resources & Materials, and New or Renewable Energy. At the technician level, General Bob Murray, AFI Qld Treasurer (at left), presenting Jim West with commemorative plaque