The “foundry of the future” remains subject of much debate and anticipation, but a German company, Kurtz Ersa Corporation, unveiled its new "Smart Foundry" earlier this month, a year and a month after the groundbreaking in Hasloch. The foundry is one business unit of an organization that has been in business since 1779, and now includes Electronic Production Equipment (soldering tools and systems) and Molding Machinery (particle foam machines, low-pressure casting, gravity casting) as well as cast products from its two foundries, the original operation and the Smart Foundry.
The castings it produces include planetary carriers, machine beds and pump housings used in mechanical engineering, drive systems, power engineering, vehicle construction, vacuum engineering, and wind energy, among other market sectors.
Kurtz Ersa has said the Smart Foundry represents “a strategic reorientation intended to secure the long-term continuity of the iron foundry and the over 100 jobs at the Hasloch site.” The project involved 1,700 sq.m. of “ground-up” renovations plus 2,580 sq.m. of new buildings.
Furthermore, it stated the new foundry demonstrates the manufacturing-design trend known as "Industry 4.0" (extensively networked production systems and process control) and claimed it will double productivity, with increased efficiency.
The concept of the Smart Foundry involves “a completely new material flow and continuous clocked hand molding production, in keeping with the Toyota production system.”
An SAP-controlled production concept, parceled production areas, and an unmanned, universally mobile transport system are some of the design elements in a flexible process chain that combines manual production phases and an automated logistics system.
"Nobody walking around the factory yard today can possible imagine the situation here on the site between January and August 2014,” noted CEO Rainer Kurtz, during opening events in early March. “It was often a question of split-second timing to ensure that cranes, diggers, low loaders, cement trucks and drilling equipment could be accommodated in the very scant space while operations continued. The construction schedule foresaw September 1 for the commencement of production, with a planned two-and-a-half week interruption of operations. Apparently impossible, but we succeeded - without a single accident. And that warrants a big "thank you" to all involved," Kurtz said.