Reengineering Casting Production Systems in Steel Foundries / Ergonomic Improvements
Production practices are being analyzed to identify opportunities for foundry re-engineering which will decrease casting production costs and reduce work-in-process. In addition, ergonomic improvements will increase productivity, lead time, and safety. The goal of the project is to develop solutions that are applicable to the entire foundry industry.
Foundry work involves various manual operations. The wide mix of products, particularly in the steel foundry industry, makes automation infeasible for many segments. In addition, many foundries suffer from poor facility design and large work in process inventories.
In this project, a team from Iowa State University is investigating the entire casting production system to identify re-engineering and ergonomic improvements. Data were collected from participating steel foundries and analyzed. The team also is building simulation models to test these re-engineering recommendations. Recommendations are being made to improve scheduling, inspection and rework practices, plant layout and material handling.
Researchers are seeking to integrate ergonomic thinking into the steel foundry industry. Workshops were held and teams of students are performing ergonomic evaluations at participating foundries and introducing ergonomic concepts. The extensive use of students is training future foundry professionals in ergonomics so that benefits can be transferred to industry when those students enter the workforce.
The objective of this project is to provide recommendations for re-engineering casting production systems and to identify ergonomic improvements.
This is a multi-phase project. The first phase, Re-engineering Casting Production Systems, is a three year project which began in March 1998. Follow-on work, Ergonomic Improvements in Foundries, is a two-year project which began in January 2000. A number of promising results have already been seen. In one foundry, the relocation of a piece of equipment by 200 feet has introduced the potential to save 1,500 miles of material movement per year.