At SGK digitalization merges with heavy industry
SME partnership enables the first complete digitization of a foundry furnace plant in Germany
Krefeld, July 20, 2021
The Krefeld based world market leader for hand-molded casting solutions, Siempelkamp Giesserei GmbH (SGK), is digitizing its entire furnace operation with the help of two innovative partner companies. Such a digitization of induction furnaces of this size and level of detail, planned as a complete concept, has never been seen in Germany to date. The foundry works closely with the Dortmund based furnace manufacturer ABP Induction Systems GmbH and the Potsdam start-up Zorc Technology GmbH as a technology and software provider. At the beginning of June, the three partners contractually agreed to redesign the furnace as a state-of-the-art project for heavy industry.
Experiences are forged together
The Siempelkamp foundry acts in the partnership as the client and operator of the furnace systems to be digitized. In addition, the long-established company contributes its extensive operating experience from the production of iron components weighing up to 320 tons. In addition to the installed control hardware, ABP also provides the necessary interfaces to the foundry's operating system. The new control technology ensures a clearly measurable increase in productivity, reliability and efficiency in the complex casting process. The centerpiece is the myABP portal, which gives an overview of all relevant company-owned systems and processes - all elements from furnaces and scales to sensors are integrated across manufacturers. Thanks to its data quality and transparency, it provides the basis for a continuous improvement process. In addition, with Digital Expert on Demand, it establishes direct contact with ABP experts for virtual problem solving, enables direct spare parts orders and even the planning of the necessary employee training.
ABP supplies the complete infrastructure of the ZORC Foundry Cloud for the start-up Zorc Technology. This new software for monitoring the metallurgical control and documentation stores the operating parameters of the foundry and sends experience- and AI-based suggestions for optimizing production directly to the employees. By continuously documenting the operating parameters, thanks to the software, a steadily growing data set is built up with each casting, from which subsequent casting processes in the metallurgically highly complex process benefit qualitatively. “With the input and close exchange with our two highly specialized partners, the complexity of such a first-time project is significantly reduced. We are pleased to be able to work together so closely,” explains Dr. Georg Geier, managing director of the Siempelkamp foundry.
Advantages for Siempelkamp's customers, employees and the environment
In the past, each casting was primarily dependent on the smelter's background of experience, but now he is supported in monitoring and documenting the parameters and can concentrate fully on interpreting them for the correct course of action. The operating parameters to be monitored are complex and varied: loading, start and target temperature, process times and, last but not least, the optimal use of energy all play a major role. "The collection and mapping of data alone does not result in a qualitative increase," says SGK managing director Dr. Georg Geier. "The leap in process quality only results in the interaction between humans and algorithms, which is why we will also train our employees intensively in the use of the new digital possibilities."
Although the project is only part of a major digitization offensive by SGK, which includes a more comprehensive retrofitting of the operating systems and production machinery, the digital upgrade ensures significantly more energy sustainability and thus CO2 savings in one of its central operations, which accounts for two-thirds of the energy consumption of the company.
SGK is also pleased to be able to implement increasingly demanding customer requirements in terms of material safety and component quality faster, more efficiently and more sustainably in the future - and to offer its employees a workplace that is both more exacting and safer.
High tech from Germany for Germany and the world
With the modernization of the induction furnace planned together with ABP and Zorc, SGK is breaking new digital paths and setting completely new standards in its industry - ultimately also to secure the production location in Germany.
With the innovative digitization package, the project partner ABP is pursuing the goal of establishing more environmentally friendly production processes in foundries, as return material and energy consumption can be greatly reduced. Shorter and less frequent system downtimes are intended to increase productivity in the factories and also ensure more work safety. This also includes better training of employees in the companies, who are trained in all process-relevant work steps in the ABP Virtual Academy, which is part of the concept, sustainably, comprehensively and - thanks to the ABP Virtual Classroom - regardless of location and time.
Zorc Technology also contributes to security in a system-relevant industry on another level: Thanks to the integrated solution, the data obtained remain with the company and data loss is prevented. Now that the contract has been concluded, various installation and test phases will be carried out over the summer.
With the regular shutdown of the furnaces at the end of the year, the final installation takes place for a fully digitized resumption of operation from January 2022. In the digitized regular operation, regular optimization loops are planned as a result.Download press release (Ger.)
About the cooperation partners
Siempelkamp is a globally active group of companies with the business units Mechanical and Plant Engineering, Casting Technology, and Engineering and Service. Nearly 3,000 employees worldwide ensure that the Siempelkamp Group is represented among the world leaders with its technologies. Siempelkamp Giesserei GmbH in Krefeld specializes in the production of hand-molded large castings of up to 320t made of cast iron with nodular graphite and is one of the largest hand-molding foundries in the world. The comprehensive and customer-oriented service package includes the entire production process from design, calculations, pattern making, molding and casting to mechanical processing as well as packaging and transport.
ABP Induction Systems GmbH is a leading manufacturer of induction furnaces and systems for inductive melting and heating for the metal and metal processing industry. With planning, production, assembly, service and digitization services for foundries, forges and steelworks, ABP is an expert in the melting, casting, holding and heating of iron, steel and non-ferrous metals. The ABP Induction Group with over 400 employees has companies in the USA, Mexico, Sweden, Germany, South Africa, Russia, India, Thailand and China. It is represented by service and sales partners in most of the industrialized countries of the world.
Zorc Technology GmbH from Potsdam is a young, innovative company that, in addition to its core competence in the metallurgical control of casting processes, also focuses on the complete digitization of foundries and other production companies. The FoundryCloud software, specially programmed for iron foundries, controls entire production processes, while recording all relevant production data for optimization and making them available for documentation.
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