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Engineering History and Moulding the Future

Sixty years of innovation dating back to parent company Baker Perkins, a 35-year anniversary for the Omega brand and a year on from becoming part of the largest global manufacturer of foundry equipment, Omega Sinto Foundry Machinery Ltd is looking forward to welcoming visitors at GIFA and showcasing the vast legacy of technological development the industry has come to expect from this world-leading entity.

It all began in 1960 when Democratic US Senator John F Kennedy was elected President of the United States, the European Free Trade Association was established, a newly named British pop group, the Beatles, commenced a 48-night residency at the Indra club in Hamburg, West Germany and the then Baker Perkins developed the ribbon-flo mixer, which was primarily for sodium silicate, with a dribble-bar binder addition at the top, a manually adjusted gear pump and a trough full of mixed sand – the rest as they say is legendary.

Over the following 24 years, Baker Perkins continued to develop mixer technology that would help to dictate how foundries would achieve improved production capabilities.

By the mid-sixties the advent of the furan process had spearheaded faster, more efficient mixers, by which time BP developed a range of twin trough mixers with a final vertical mixing chamber. The furan process was also used for high speed core making with the BP ‘APK’ system.

The 1970s heralded a period of complexity that enabled mixer technology to be fine-tuned and introduced the Omega name to ‘the melting pot’.

The economic need to reclaim the used silica sand and re-use at the mixer inspired BP to develop the ‘Alpha’ sand reclamation system enabling sand to be transported back to the mixer for re-use.

By the end of the decade BP had established the Omega 1-series mixer to benefit fast setting furan chemically bonded sand. The single trough design only mixed ‘on-demand’ and could instantly switch from new sand to reclaim sand at the flick of a switch, the resin and acid additions also instantly changing to suit the sand type being mixed. Mixing outputs as high as 60 tonnes per hour were now achievable, which meant larger floor moulds could be produced using the no-bake process.

Productivity also increased due to the use of faster setting times and the high efficiency mixing blade design gave very low chemical addition rates. The no-bake system was now a viable option to all foundries!

The Omega 1-series was well ahead of its time, employing many state-of-the-art features that are still in use today such as the introduction of the chemicals from the bottom of the mixing trough and the use of air injection to keep the chemical inlets clear and to atomise the chemicals into the trough – allowing very low chemical addition rates to be achieved.

The Gamma range of attrition units was developed in 1978 to replace the old Alpha units.

There was an increasing demand for faster, higher output and easier to clean continuous mixers, so in 1980 BP launched the Omega 2-series mixer which addressed these issues. The Omega 2-series now had an extended output range from 5 tonnes per hour (Omega 21) up to 60 tonnes per hour (Omega 26).

BP next turned its attention to improving the sand reclamation plant and developed the first ‘G’ type cooler classifier. The main innovation of the ‘G’ type was the use of copper finned cooling tubes in the heat exchanger module.

The end of the beginning of the story!

In 1984 a management buyout at Baker Perkins led to the creation of Omega Foundry Machinery. Two years later the first of the revolutionary range of Spartan continuous mixers was introduced, heralding a new era of continuous mixer designs.

In the 1990s Omega turned its attention to the sand reclamation plant. The first machine to be enhanced was the Gamma High Level (HL) range of vibratory attrition units.

There was a clear need for a reclamation plant that did not need a pit as they were expensive to prepare. Omega had the revolutionary idea of a combined shake-out and attrition unit that could be installed at floor level and so avoid the expensive pit. Thus the trendsetting Gamma Low Level (LL) attrition unit was created.

A further management buyout in 1996 saw Mark Fenyes FICME CEng take ownership of the company and drive the progression into mould handling equipment, offering a total package which included – carousel, fast loop, manipulators and flood coating units.

Omega next designed and developed a highly innovative system for mould identification, tracking and data logging called IRIS (Intelligent Radio Identification System). This could be installed on any mould handling system and remains an industry leader to this day.

A new millennium

To overcome the logistical issues and expense of very large concrete pits for conventional shake-out based reclamation plants with the associated vibratory feeders and attrition units, by the start of the new century Omega had designed a combined shake-out/attrition unit called the GammaMajor, which reduced the size of the pit required by eliminating the separate attrition unit. Again, incorporating a shake-out deck, perforated screen and wedge wire screen, the GammaMajor was a first within the industry.

The following year the Spartan mixer was re-evaluated with the introduction of the Spartan 2-series, incorporating many new features.

On the back of the success of the Gamma Low Level (LL) range, Omega decided to ‘beef up’ the LL unit with upgrades.

The Transatlantic call saw Omega join forces with Wil Tinker to establish Tinker Omega LLC in 2001 – a manufacturing and sales base in the USA.

In 2003 Omega expanded into new, larger premises on home shores in Peterborough (UK) totalling 2,220m2.

In the same year the Spartan 3-series is launched, benefitting from a full set of tungsten carbide tipped mixer blades, strainers on all chemical lines before the pumps, three-way calibration valves fitted at each chemical inlet, air pressure monitoring, a new touch-screen operator HMI, and sliding safety bars at the sand discharge area. There was also a ‘Basic’ model added to the range that was basically a ‘no-frills’ entry level mixer.

In 2008 after the signing of a manufacturing agreement with Sintokogio for the USR Secondary Attrition unit, Omega began to promote and build the hugely successful USR – high levels of reclamation could now be achieved, even with alkaline phenolic binders. The patented ceramic roller technology was unique in its field and was even successful with furan where the foundry wanted to reduce LOI’s to reduce the fume content of the sand. It also later emerged that the USR could be used to reclaim the waste greensand and re-use back at the core shop.

Once Omega started to sell more and more automated moulding lines it became clear that the one piece of equipment missing was a fully automatic mould closing machine. The first unit was sold in Turkey and on the back of that, many more units were sold. This machine eliminated the need for two operators to close a mould and, especially where deep cores or very large moulds were concerned, it eliminated damage to the core whilst closing and any mould miss-match.

Soon after the acquisition of Richards Engineering, Omega decided to take certain features of the REL Cooler and integrate them into a new design of cooler classifier. The ‘Mark 2’ cooler classifier was thus born in 2010.

By 2014 it had become clear that the half-moon mixer blade design did not suit all applications and so there was a need to be able to offer the ‘turbo’ style mixing blade and the Spartan 4-series was just such a mixer, a project undertaken with sister company Tinker Omega.

Another project involving both companies was the no-bake core shooter which was able to use either furan or self-setting phenolic urethane to produce cores. This eliminated the need for cold-box resin cured by amine gas and the subsequent emissions problem associated with that process.

The acquisition of Warill Engineering (WES) gave Omega access to WES’s range of cold box core shooters.

Omega Connect was launched in 2014 – this is a web based monitoring system that enables Omega equipment to be monitored and adjusted remotely, providing production and maintenance benefits.

At GIFA 2015, Omega showed the latest series of Gamma HL.

Omega had already produced auto-mould closers, but the need arose for a double station unit and so this machine was designed and installed in 2016. The GM Plus range was also launched in 2016.

World’s largest rollover

Following a record order in China in 2017, part of the spec was for a rollover stripping unit that could handle a mould 3500mm x 2500mm x 875mm high. This unit was developed from a standard Size 9 unit with extended openings and was recorded as the largest rollover stripping unit ever built!

In the same year and to maximise the available space, Omega also developed a mould stacking system.

A series of accolades have been bestowed on the company over the years with much recognition coming from industry peers. Throughout the decades, the company has adapted and responded to the industry’s desire for more sustainable and efficient production processes.

Acquisitions

In 2009 a joint venture company Omega Sane Foundry Machinery PVT Ltd was established in Pune, India to serve the local market and in the UK Richards Engineering, a pioneer in the development of thermal reclamation plants, was acquired.

In recent years Omega has further strengthened its global reach through acquisitions and the opening of local branches around the world.

In 2013 Warill Engineering Services (WES) is acquired in Australia by Omega to service the local market and also to introduce their core shooter range into Omega. In 2015 engineering company ENDECO was acquired in South Africa along with Italian design house ‘Tecnostudio’ based in Treviso. The company specialises in specialist equipment design as well as greenfield projects for the industry. Two years later Omega acquired well-known UK manufacturer of foundry equipment FTL Foundry Equipment (formerly Foundry Technical and Liaison) to further strengthen their position in the market.

In addition WES Omega Malaysia was formed in 2014 to support the South East Asian market and Omega also established a wholly owned foreign enterprise in Shanghai, China.

The Future

In 2018 Sintokogio Corporation of Nagoya, Japan, acquired a majority interest in the company. 

Omega and Sinto have enjoyed a long working relationship together (since 2006) and this move has enabled both companies to benefit from an expanded equipment range in the field of chemically bonded sand.

One year in chairman Mark Fenyes FICME CEng explains why the Omega Sinto brand continues to dominate: “Being part of the world’s largest manufacturer of foundry equipment has opened up opportunities both geographically and technically for Omega. However, we haven’t forgotten our roots and the company still operates as a customer orientated and driven entity. Perhaps the fitting cliché is; small enough to care, (more than) large enough to cope.”

Contact: Omega Sinto Foundry Machinery Ltd, Tel: +44 (0) 1733 232231, email: sales@ofml.net web: www.ofml.net