The Rolls-Royce of foundries2010-07-14
A new foundry which will complement the old one was recently inaugurated. At the present time, it is producing cylinder heads for the 9- and 11-litre engines.
“This is a huge improvement. Just look at the new electric furnaces. They are four times as efficient as the old ones. We produce better quality at a lower cost,” says Tommy Aronsson, the person who co-ordinated the construction of the new foundry.
The environment in the 123-metre-long, 45-metre-wide building is also striking. There is no black layer of coal-tar dust that is found in most foundries. The surfaces are shiny and white and the light pours in through the large, high windows.
“The change in the working environment is like night and day. In addition to being so clean, many of the processes are enclosed and so there is very little noise inside the foundry,” says Roger Andersson, a team leader at the new foundry, and Gert Karlsson, head of the smelting plant, agrees.
“We have visited a number of new foundries in different parts of the world, but this one is unique. This is the Rolls-Royce,” he says.
The reason why there is no coal-tar dust is an in-house invention that the foundry in Skövde has patented. The coal-tar dust is the residue of the black sand, made of coal and the binder, bentonite, which is normally used in the production of casting forms. This foundry has, however, developed a method that presses and hardens the sand without needing to mix in these additives. The method has been in use for several years on one of the lines in the old foundry, but it has been developed and refined in the new one.
Right now, a group of around 15 people are working in the new foundry. The fact that much of the production process is automated is one of the reasons for the small number.
“There are 13 different robot stations here compared with one in the old foundry. It’s important for us to have employees who are both familiar with the new technology and able to operate the smelting furnaces,” says Per Dahlgren, an operator at the smelting plant.
The financial crisis struck in the midst of the planning and construction work and the employees in Skövde were naturally worried that everything would be put on ice.
“At the same time, we knew how important the new foundry would be when the crisis came to an end. We are now equipped for the future,” says Tommy Aronsson.