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Maximise aluminium yield and cut casting costs with a focus on furnace efficiency

Metal loss and excessive energy consumption are two of the biggest threats to aluminium diecasting profitability. Depending on aluminium grade, a metal loss of just one per cent of an annual melting output of 5,000 tonnes could equate to an average financial loss of €70,000.00, while around 25 per cent of the total cost of die cast parts is associated with energy consumption. Both are common issues that can be readily addressed by focussing on melting and dosing furnace processes and efficiency. 

New guidance developed by StrikoWestofen seeks to help aluminium diecasters tackle these specific cost drivers by identifying where problems can occur and the technical solutions available to help remedy them. The free resources are part of its Foundry Efficiency support series and can be found at www.strikowestofen.com/foundry-efficiency.  

Speaking about the series, Dr Theodoor van der Hoeven, VP product development, StrikoWestofen, said: “Any metal loss that occurs between melting and casting reduces the available yield which in turn negatively impacts return on investment. Complete elimination of metal loss still is an impossibility, but what many aluminium diecasting foundries don’t realise is that with the right measures and optimal conditions, yield can be much higher. Using our StrikoMelter furnace, for example, it can in fact be as high as 99.75 per cent. 

“This is exactly why we wanted to produce a simple and informative guide which looks at each distinct process from furnace to casting, explains what might lead to metal loss at each stage, and presents measures diecasters can implement to mitigate that risk.” 

The metal yield guide spans melting, transfer and dosing, and examines how losses due to oxidation, spillage and contamination (impacting quality and therefore potential scrap rate) can all be minimised. The guide also includes advice on how aluminium diecasters can cut metal loss by reducing the overall number of processes involved. 

Also featured in the resource series, ‘5 ways to save energy when melting and transferring metal’ provides advice on reducing energy consumption. 

Theodoor continued: “Aluminium diecasting is an energy intensive process and given that the melt shop alone can account for as much as 77 per cent of the overall energy costs involved, identifying energy hot spots and having practical tips on improving energy efficiency in those areas can make a big difference to a foundry’s bottom line.”

The downloadable guide looks specifically at savings linked to data monitoring, optimising melting furnace shaft fill, melting periods during low utilisation, energy efficient metal transfer and dosing and at maintenance measures. www.strikowestofen.com