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Metal Casting Technologies : March 2008
Mould preparation at Investment Castings Qld foundry, a participant in the CAST CRC's Best Practice program. www.metals.rala.com.au 28 TECHNOLOGY FEATURE etal component manufacturers such as die casters need to reduce costs in response to changing customer demands and increasing competition often associated with the globalisation and deregulation of markets. Companies are under pressure to continually improve processes and products, integrate new technologies and ensure their workforce has the appropriate skills and knowledge. The small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) who make up the Australian casting industry often do not have the capacity to meet these challenges by themselves. Through local programs and research activities Australian metal component manufacturers are gaining access to the best expertise and cutting edge research to increase sales and productivity. They are also using solidification software and more sophisticated automation processes to gain a competitive edge. ISSUES WITH SKILLING AND STAFFING It seems the SMEs in the Australian casting industry are in a bit of a Catch-22 situation. Much of the capital expenditure in the metals sector is aimed towards achieving greater efficiency, a trend also seen in many OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries, but there are only select types of automation that can be applied to SMEs and there are also barriers to their introduction. Part of the reason for a focus on greater efficiency is due to the increasing costs and availability problems of skilled labour. "Usually the next step after a skills issue is that automation is taken up more strongly, however with the volume of componentry produced in Australia it's hard to justify the investment," industry consultant Doug Harland told the MCT magazine. Technology uptake by Australia s metal casters M By Paula Wallace