In today's manufacturing market, foundries are under increasing pressure to produce product faster, with closer tolerances, with reduced labor content, with higher flexibility — and with lower operating costs. They must incorporate and install equipment that is simple, versatile, low-maintenance, rugged, and automated. And, all this must be done at investment costs that are affordable. Mold handling is one area of the foundry where these operating pressures are easily recognized, as the latest generation of matchplate molding machines continue to get faster and faster, some approaching 200 molds/hour.
With the patented mold-handling Truflo loop, this higherquality production requirement is easily handled with integrated mold loading, mold transfer, bottom-board return (if needed), and automated weight/jacket set/positioning. It also offers a large number of molds for pouring with extended cooling times, all these capabilities allowing the molding machine to run at top speeds.
The Truflo loop mold-handling system not only addresses speed, it reduces labor and improves mold quality by being fully automatic from mold loading, to weight/jacket set, to pouring, to mold dump off. Total integration reduces manpower and production waste because of the smooth, careful handling of the molds via coupled gondolas and consistent, accurate weight/jacket positing/set. Neither un-poured nor poured molds are ever pushed against another mold, and typically the weight/jacket dwell is longer on poured molds. Systems also may be fitted with weight/jacket cleaners, as well as being full weight/jacketed systems, if desired, which can further reduce manpower, improve quality, and overall housekeeping.
With the large pouring zone available with the Truflo loop mold-handling system the metalcaster has flexibility to queue molds for pouring, allow for intermittent metal delivery, or facilitate alloy change without stopping the molding machine. The large pouring zone offers the foundry a choice to pour from a single point or an extended straight line, with multiple pouring ladles or autopour.
The Truflo loop's simple, patented design has fewer operating components, by eliminating transfer cars, drivers, end transfers, and other hardware required with traditional mold-handling systems, the design minimizes maintenance requirements and optimizes uptime. The systems are designed to be completely hydraulic, with PLC, touch-screen HMI diagnostics, and are offered with a built-in modem for online troubleshooting from the factory. These "foundry duty" systems readily couple to any matchplate molding machine now available, and are easy to install above the floor with no custom foundations or pit required.
The Truflo loop system is designed for rugged, reliable operation, to meet the increased production and quality demands of today's foundries. The loop optimizes matchplate molding, but can also compliment cope and drag machines, investment casting operations, shell, and no-bake installations. As well, many of the Truflo loop's proprietary design features and components can be incorporated into other mold-handling styles to custom fit specific applications, floorspace restrictions, and process flow or production requirements.
Kevin Crawford is director of foundry systems design and development for Vulcan Engineering Co. Visit www.vulcangroup.com for more information.