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Advancing Accuracy in Pouring

Jan. 16, 2009
Computer-controlled automatic pouring systems have significantly reduced labor costs, improved worker safety, increased production, reduced scrap rates, and reduced wasteful overpours and underpours.
P3™ Control technology uses process information to make the pouring process more precise and to maintain optimal pouring speed.

At many foundries, computer-controlled automatic pouring systems have significantly reduced labor costs, improved worker safety, increased production, reduced scrap rates, and reduced wasteful overpours and underpours. But, due to reliance on operator input, few of these systems have consistently delivered the maximum performance of which they are capable. Now, that situation is changing, as smarter and easier-to-use pouring control systems are becoming available.

To eliminate the need for operator adjustments and to optimize pours continuously, Inductotherm’s Visipour® vision-based automatic pouring system is now available with the company’s new P3™ control system. P3 stands for “Predictive Pour Performance,” and this advanced technology adds both a high level of artificial intelligence and an empirical database of optimal pouring parameters to the control structures of both unheated tundish and heated pressure-vessel pouring systems with stopper-rod pouring mechanisms.

The empirical database is a library of optimized pours that is accessed automatically by the control computer when a mold change is made. Based on parameters including pour weight, pour time, metal type, bath temperature, and other key factors, the control computer selects the closest match from the database, and the system’s built-in intelligence further optimizes the stored pouring parameters for the current mold.

A database of pouring data and historical information ensures all operators achieve optimal results.

These new control technologies will serve to eliminate reliance on operator-initiated adjustments which, at best, tend to reflect individual preferences and, at worst, produce poor pours. In all cases, operator-initiated adjustments reduce pouring consistency over time and even between shift changes. But, by incorporating intelligent control and an empirical pouring database, automatic pouring control technology can eliminate reliance on operators’ skill levels and style differences and variables, while providing an optimized and consistent pour.

The empirical pouring information stored in the database provides the key settings and ensures good early pouring results. These are further enhanced by the Visipour® system’s performance controls that automatically adjust for continuing changes in metal head and nozzle opening diameter.

Working together, these systems make it possible to automatically and consistently deliver precise control for each pattern — control that is tuned to provide as closely as possible a critically damped response in the initial choke region of the pour, control that accurately throttles the normal filling phase to maintain the required sprue level and intelligently anticipates the end of pouring when the mold is full, not when time is up. And, all of this is accomplished without human intervention in manually tuning the system.

Eliminating the need for operator-initiated adjustments brings automatic pouring technology to the next level of pouring speed and accuracy — eliminating quality-robbing underpours and wasteful overpours, producing higher production rates, increasing mold yields, and minimizing casting defects, resulting in higher profits for the foundry.

Mark Eckert is vice president - International Sales, and William Pflug is manager - Automatic Pouring, both with Inductotherm Corp.