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 Johannes Messer

Johannes Messer

Owner, Johannes Messer-Consulting GmbH

Foundries and Mold Making Corona Crisis Requires Partnerships

Author / Editor: Johannes Messer / Nicole Kareta

The long-standing development of entering into partnerships has gained additional momentum as a result of the transformation in the automotive industry. With a view to the corona crisis, more intensive cooperation or the establishment of partnerships is also required in the foundry industry.

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Partnerships between foundries and mold makers are - under consideration of technological and economic goals - an ideal constellation.
Partnerships between foundries and mold makers are - under consideration of technological and economic goals - an ideal constellation.
(Source: gemeinfrei / Pexels )

In the long term, many experts agree that there are virtually no alternatives to partnerships in the automotive industry. The time, when the only driver for such alliances was the desire to reduce costs, is over. Cost reductions are still playing a role, but a much higher dimension was already reached. The bare fight to survive. It is currently impossible to predict where the journey will lead. However, it is probable that the worldwide corona crisis, including the expected aftermath, will intensify the necessity and thus the trend towards further mergers.

In the foundry industry, this development is also visible. In the early days, the main reason for foundry mergers was also total cost optimization and access to growth markets. Today a new dimension has also been reached in the foundries. The complex challenges that lie ahead can no longer be mastered alone. The increased need for development (product and process development), the necessary presence in all major world markets, and the high investment costs of upcoming new projects are the main drivers of further mergers and partnerships in the foundries.

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However, the high risks associated with these changes also offer opportunities. Foundries that use the current opportunities to reposition themselves will be the winners at the end of the day. One of the most promising future opportunities for foundries is partnerships. An ideal constellation under consideration of technological and economic goals are partnerships between foundries and mold makers. Traditionally, mold making has been an integral part of die casting foundries. This has changed in recent years for various reasons. Many foundries have continuously reduced their internal mold, making activities, or have not adapted to the increased mold requirements. Today, small and medium-sized foundries limit themselves almost exclusively to the internal repair of purchased molds. Large foundries have only partly their own mold making department, which also only builds a part of the required molds themselves. The "rest" is bought on the (world) market.

Regardless of this development, the die-casting mold remains essential in the entire process and value-added chain of foundries. The economic and technological success of a die casting foundry is still strongly defined by the subject of molding. This is highlighted by the following list:

  • Up to 14 % of the turnover (depending on the product portfolio) of a die casting foundry is accounted for by mold turnover
  • Up to 8% of turnover (depending on the product portfolio) is spent on mold repairs
  • With the average availability losses in a die casting foundry of approx. 30%, approx. 15% are due to mold malfunctions, 10% to mold set-up and only 5% to machine malfunctions.
  • The quality and technological demands of a casting are significantly influenced by the mold filling (sprue and overflow system), the solidification (mold cooling), and thus by the mold.

To use the essential technological and economic success levers, the mold costs, the mold repair costs, and the foundry OEE must be defined as project goals already in the development phase of the mold. The existing potentials can only be fully exploited if the entire process chain (product development → mold design → mold construction → casting process → machining) is used.

The decisive success criterion at this point is the cooperation between the foundry and the mold making department. The particular importance of the die casting mold has been partly lost from focus in recent years. Other economically and technologically less relevant topics have been in focus. A correction seems urgently necessary.

The current situation is of historical significance for foundries. It is foreseeable that the increasing need for development (product and process development), the necessary presence on all major world markets, and the high investment costs of pending new projects (product portfolio changes) will present foundries with previously unknown challenges. This new dimension of challenges in the context of the expected after-effects of the current crises requires new approaches. Finding the right partners can make a difference at the end of the day. Cooperation or partnership between the foundry and the mold shop is part of the solution.

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