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Casting is Forever

In the build up to the World Foundry Congress in Japan in May, recently elected WFO president Prof Myungho Kim of Incha University, Incheon, South Korea, spoke exclusively to Foundry Trade Journal about his aspirations for the future of the global organisation and the cast metals industry in general. For more information on the 72nd World Foundry Congress (21st to 25th May 2016, Nagoya, Japan) visit www.wfc2016.jp or www.thewfo.com)

FTJ: What role do you see the World Foundry Organization (WFO) playing in the global foundry industry?
Prof Kim: As we know, with nearly 90 years of history since the foundation of CIATF, the WFO as it is now known, is recognised as a centre of strategic knowledge which is designed to develop, enhance and improve the production of metal castings.
One of the most important functions of the WFO is to unite the foundry industry and disseminate appropriate technical information to the foundry industry.
To ensure this end, the World Foundry Congress is held bi-annually to present technical papers and provide an adequate networking opportunity for those wishing to have a thorough understanding of the latest innovations in foundries, research and developments in the cast metals industry. That is why the World Foundry Congress is one of the most important events among the activities of the WFO. In addition, the WFO will also take the leading status in trying to overcome the environmental issues and energy consumption problems in the casting industry.

What are your primary objectives during your two-year presidency of the WFO?
As president of the WFO, the priorities I would like to emphasise are:
• As a way of uniting the world foundry industry, try to significantly increase the number of member countries [the WFO currently has 29 member countries]
• As a way of facilitating education and training of young foundry engineers and technicians, and try to revive the metal casting event in the World Skills Competition. 
• For effective disseminating of foundry technical information, try to activate the WFO’s international technical commissions. 
• For supporting the activities of the WFO, the financial status of the WFO should be stable and good. So, try to increase the number of sponsoring companies.
• Try to offer various practical services to our members and to foundry people in general, which enable every member to feel a sense of belonging and to recognise the existence and importance of the WFO. 

What do you consider the main opportunities for foundries in various parts of the world?
Nowadays, various trade agreements destroy the traditional national borders in the foundry industry. However, what we have to understand is that global production has increased to more than 100 million metric tons in 2014, and in particular, more than 65 per cent of the global products come from Asian countries, according to the MODERN CASTING Census of World Casting Production. Therefore, I would like to urge all the foundry equipment manufacturers and producers of foundry consumable materials in the advanced countries to try to support those developing foundries by introducing better technical practices and by supplying improved production equipment and consumable materials for producing greater quality castings. 

What do you think are the threats that the industry faces currently?
Although the foundry industry has been essential for maintaining and developing the civilization of humankind, it is considered as a difficult, dirty, and dangerous technology. Accordingly, the young generation rarely enters into the industry nowadays. In addition to that, there have been a range of problems such as environmental issues caused by the casting process, huge energy consumption for the melting process, it is our task to change this perception and show that we have a high technology, environmentally friendly and exciting industry for young people to join.

I know that global skills is something that is very close to your heart, can you tell me more?
As mentioned above, the training and education of young foundry engineers and technicians is very important and is an urgent matter that we have to face at this moment in time. I believe the revival of the metal casting event in the World Skills Competition is necessary to showcase our industry and help to overcome the labour shortage problem in the foundry industry, and to boost the training of young technicians. I also believe the competition will result in standardisation and benchmarking of the quality of casting skills. 

How do you believe the WFO can help develop skills in different parts of the world?
The education and training of young foundry engineers and technicians is very important for maintaining and further development of the foundry industry. In addition, the transfer of foundry technologies from advanced countries to underdeveloped countries is an important step if we are to raise the standard of quality in cast components all over the world.
In the case of high-quality education and continuing professional development for those working in the industry, the WFO Technical Forum and WFO World Foundry Congress are important and we should continue to develop the activities of the WFO technical commissions. Furthermore, we must revive the World Skills Competition to train young professionals and to promote the metal casting industry. For all these matters, the WFO should stand at the centre and try to play the leading role.

What is the current status of the industry in your country - South Korea?
The amount of casting production in 2015 is rather tragic for the Korean foundry industry. Although an accurate survey for the casting production of Korea is not available, total casting production is expected to be around 2 million tons in 2015 - 80 per cent of which is iron and steel castings and 20 per cent non-ferrous castings.
The number of foundries in Korea is around 900 with approximately 45,000 employees. 
Currently the main issues for Korean foundries are: a reduction in energy due to high energy consumption and low energy efficiency (specific energy consumption is about 900KWh/ton); and environmental problems due to dust, noise, etc. - as in other countries.

What are your thoughts on the upcoming World Foundry Congress in Japan?
I am fully convinced that the 72nd WFC in Nagoya will be a successful event. The congress offers the perfect prospect for our members to gather all together and share knowledge and ideas. Throughout this opportunity, I hope our members exchange technical knowledge for boosting the competitiveness of the foundry industry, and provide a chance for expanding international networking.
In particular, this 72nd WFC will be held in Nagoya Aichi, which is known to be the starting point of the Japanese automotive industry and the MONOZUKURI (Japanese craftsmanship) movement actively prevails. During the congress, I hope our members will not only visit the Japanese automotive industry but also visit foundries to see their pursuit of high-end technology in manufacturing fostered by the MONOZUKURI movement. With this, our members have the chance to contribute more to the foundry industry.

Lastly, I would like to say that the casting industry is forever as long as human beings are alive.