Automation on shell cores dipping for automotive castings without robot on ALL-in-ONE
2021 / 2023
William Lee Ltd, https://www.wmlee.co.uk/
2 x ARENA All-in-ONE DT10X8 Custom with manipulator
Repeatable coating layer thickness
Lower cycle time
Optimized ergonomics for the operator, no manual dipping by operator
Some additional benefits
Reduced casting defects
Some significant data
+ coating cost
types of cores produced
min to change tools on ProserviceTech manipulator
on spare parts after 2 years of use
Part of Castings Plc a dedicated foundry group made up from two UK foundries and a dedicated in-group machinist (CNC Speedwell). Whether taken as a part of a group or taken as a stand-alone company Wm Lee is one of the UK’s most successful foundries, following the demise of the UK foundry industry due to lack of investment, productivity and intense Worldwide competition. It is continual investment in plant, processes and a dedicated workforce that has enabled the company to remain in business..
William Lee produces parts for just about every truck manufacturer; Scania, Volvo, Daimler etc. Parts ranging from exhaust manifolds, exhaust pipes, chassis brackets, spring brackets, bearing caps etc. Today 70% of production on the site is for commercial trucks; that is 20,000 tonnes p.a. of iron castings on trucks moving goods around the World. Automotive parts include suspension, steering, and braking components for some high end passenger cars such as Bentley and JLR, along with braking parts for companies such as Alcon and turbo charger housings for Borg Warner.
William Lee foundry recently received new orders for pipe castings that required the use of coated shell cores. A single shell core machine was purchased specifically for this project, along with a ‘coated core’ drying oven. An existing coating tank of a simple nature was used, and the cores dipped and shaken by hand. Two operators were engaged in this small production cell; with one operating the core machine and the other coating, drying and packing cores. Shortly after the cell became operational the company won a further order for a similar variant of core. The combined annually quantity of coated shell cores to be 400,000. Both the current shell core machine and coating facility only had capacity and capability of achieving 250,000 cores p.a. But, whilst the shell core machine operator was only utilised 45%, the coating operative was just keeping up. Core quality was also variable because the coating quality control was not robust enough, hand shaking cores produced run marks, and the potential for operative repetitive strain injury to wrists.
The company purchased a second shell core machine, and the 55% spare operative time from operating the first core machine was put to good use, with the operative able to easily run two machines. The bottleneck would then be the coating facility, but the operative efficiency would be reduced if a second core coater was introduced. The company needed to find a solution to remove the bottleneck of the single coater.
The company purchased an ALL-in-ONE DT10X8 with automated core manipulation and it was installed successfully in 2021 and, based on the positive experience, a second one has been installed in 2023. This reduced the work content involved with:
- Testing the density of the coating liquid.
- Topping up the water and coating liquids to correct viscosity.
- Collecting the material for the above.
- Hand coating cores individually.
The operator now just hangs the cores on to the ALL-in-ONE manipulator, allowing the machine to dip and manipulate cores automatically based on the recipe set in the machines HMI. The ALL-in-ONE continuously checks the coating density and automatically adjusts by the opening and closing of valves for water and coating material.
Whilst the ALL-in-ONE is preparing coated cores the operative now has time to load/unload cores to and from the drying oven, and pack. This being achieved in the same output rate of the operator running two shell machines.
- The cell has achieved double output with the same number of operatives.
- The coating thickness on the core is consistent.
- There are no run marks from shaking of the core.
- The operatives do not complain about aching wrists.
- The bulk coating material plumbed into the ALL-in-ONE means the operative does not need to top up manually.
- Investment costs have short payback period.