Wholesale conversions are uncommon, especially in manufacturing operations that prioritize reliability and productivity. Still, those are two of the factors that guided a Chinese diecasting company to revamp its aluminum pouring process to more efficient ‘dosing’ technology.
Greater process efficiency and metal quality improvements were the principle reasons given by Hongbang Die Casting Co. to adopt StrikoWestofen’s Westomat dosing furnace process for its new operation in Tianjin, Jiangsu province, as well as for its established plant in Nantong. In all, the company ordered 41 Westomat dosing furnaces.
While Hongbang has been melting and pouring with StrikoWestofen systems for several years, the switch still required proof of the advantages of the dosing process, which included a series of test runs on its own premises. Its decision to install new dosing furnaces at its two operations resulted in the largest individual order to-date for Striko in Asia.
Hongbang Die Casting specializes in tooling design and casting aluminum parts for automotive manufacturers, including Mercedes and Tesla Motors. Until recently, all of its output has been produced by ladling aluminum into a pouring system.
However, as the demands for improved product quality and reproducibility increased from such customers, and for lightweight parts in general, Hongbang set its sights on the more advanced dosing process, including Striko-Westofen’s ProDos 3 process control platform.
The furnace technology group redesigned the Westomat system recently to account for space restrictions around furnaces and diecasting machines, which is frequently a considerable problem for foundries. The revised design reduced the space requirements by about 15% versus the earlier model, and the smaller footprint allows the dosing furnace to be positioned closer to a diecasting machine.
At the same time, Striko introduced the ProDos 3 control package, featuring more dosing precision and process reliability than the previous controls. The new program also offers better resistance to electromechanical disturbances, according to the developer, and is operated via a capacitive touchscreen. This means the controls no longer need to be calibrated, and they are effectively protected in everyday foundry operation via a pane of reinforced glass.
Hongbang had been operating Striko melting furnaces for several years. Having seen the Westomat system in operation at a rival aluminum automotive diecaster, the foundry’s decisiomakers recognized the potential for a more efficient operation, with better metal quality and process reliability. The efficiency of the dosing furnaces then was demonstrated in test runs at the Hongbang operation, cementing the decision to convert from ladle processing.
For the total of 41 Westomat vessels, Hongbang selected four different sizes: the Westomat 900, 1200, 2300 and 3100. “All four sizes allow cost-optimized operation thanks to their advanced technology,” explained Nanzhou Zhang, the group’s regional sales director. “They all allow energy consumption and material loss to be reduced considerably.”
The developers noted that the Westomat process requires one-third as much energy as ladle systems typically consume, and its metal loss of 0.06% amounts to only 20% of the usual metal loss. Other arguments encouraging Hongbang’s selection were the process reliability and the high temperature stability of the metal in the dosing process. In addition, the dosing function and updated process design and controls make a significant contribution to resource-saving initiatives, in China or anywhere. Whereas Chines manufacturers are now increasing their efforts at environmental awareness, metalcasters there have the technological options now to fulfill those objectives.