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Proven Technology Lowering the Customer''s Cost Per Part

To be a successful and conscientious ‘complete foundry supplier’ you need ability, proven technology, continued development, innovation, vision and determination – qualities which have encapsulated one premium equipment supplier since it was established in 1900.

DISA has long been a market-leader for vertical moulding technology and also offers solutions for horizontal moulding and core technology, however when the company joined forces with Wheelabrator – experts in surface preparation technology - in 2009 to form the much larger Norican Group, the message became about working together to lower a customer’s cost per part. But straplines and marketing speak can make any company sound impressive – what really helps this global powerhouse stand out is its endemic culture. President and COO of DISA Industries, Peter Holm Larsen, and the rest of his team are clear about the objective – “We want to be world-masters at lowering the cost of the casting for the customer and the wider industry so they can make money,” he told Foundry Trade Journal.

Sten Haunstrup, vice president R&D, is just one of the team who is championing the concept: “How do you innovate for those who want to make a living in the foundry industry? That’s the challenge. The basic costs are sand, raw materials, equipment and labour then you add in the cost of operating the equipment. You have to take care of money. We work towards providing the best equipment with the highest uptime and we guarantee systems and a network which can support this.”

The Norican Group can now offer customers a broader solution but with the benefits of proven technology and Holm Larsen says the merger has “revitalised” all parties involved.

The Danish Philosophy
Speaking as they celebrated one year in their new, purpose-built facility in Copenhagen, the DISA team welcomed Foundry Trade Journal editor Lynn Postle into the fold and were keen to highlight how the concept of reducing costs for all is playing an enormous part in future plans. “Of course it is a challenge to retain our main production in an expensive economy like Denmark,” Holm Larsen agreed. “But in a company like ours development and production go hand-in-hand so it is important to have the majority of the physical production of the equipment right here where our R&D facilities are. Denmark is one of the most expensive countries in the world to manufacture things but it must be possible to do so – we just work smarter and harder. The real value for someone in the supply chain is not the cost of the equipment; throughput on what you have invested in is the important thing.

“Longer term value creation is what’s important for a company when buying equipment. We are a market leader in our core markets because we make sure our customers are getting better and better. If we and our customers work in partnership together we all make money.”

Whilst moving the company 25km from its established site was a risk worth taking to get a state-of-the-art facility, the decision was not undertaken lightly. It took a great deal of planning to realise Holm Larsen’s dream of creating a sustainable and efficient factory and offices which both employees and customers could be proud of. Around 60 people served on 19 working groups to design the concept and logistical planning of the new site. “It says something about the high competencies and skills of this company that the whole building came in on plan and on budget. As they had influence over the decision they also had responsibility and many people at the company took responsibility for this.”

The infrastructure is of course relevant – 30km from the airport, close to a major train centre for Denmark’s capital city, a dedicated bicycle lane for the many cyclists who work at the company, a green and scenic setting and an environmentally-friendly building with solar panels, LED lighting and full wireless connectivity. But perhaps the greatest difference to the previous site, which the company had out-grown, is the transparency of the new environment – open plan offices, glass walls and total visibility of all areas of the business. Even the production department has a floor to ceiling glass wall separating it from the canteen so everyone can see the equipment being made and appreciate the full scale of the business. You may work in accounts or in administration but there’s no doubt about what it is all about! There are also no telephone landlines – just mobiles so everyone is accessible.

“The major savings in CO2 emissions we have made since moving here equates to that of 1,000 family homes,” Holm Larsen says proudly. 

Global Experts
The concept of producing in Denmark and competing with low-cost economies is something DISA is determined to do but embracing globalisation is also high on the company’s list of objectives. “The battle we need to win is that of keeping knowledge and still competing.” DISA does have production facilities in a further three countries and transfer of the world-renown Danish engineering and technology skills to other cultures is a part of the wider plan. “We need to attract good engineers throughout the world and have spent much time developing our company outside Denmark in India and China but we have to provide very high quality so we supply experts to these regions. We have been very experienced in India for 25 to 30 years and in China for 10 to 15 years with close collaboration at all levels,” Holm Larsen told Foundry Trade Journal.

Vice president of global OEM sales, Flemming Juel Jensen explained: “We have localised our DISA MATCH® machine for the Indian market which is produced in India for small and medium sized Indian foundries, whilst the DISA 030 is a cost-effective solution for the Chinese market. Using our global production facilities and over 50 agents around the world, which have exclusive agreements with DISA, we can provide tailor-made solutions for many foundries which are making the technology transfer from manual to automated processes.”

All For One and One For All 
Although known for DISAMATIC®machines for high-volume, flaskless vertical production with speeds up to 555 moulds/hour and DISA MATCH® - flaskless matchplate technology for high-quality production of castings in shorter runs with frequent pattern changes - the company is now offering a more extensive range for those foundries which previously felt the technology was beyond their requirements.

DISA FLEX® is a horizontal flask turn-style moulding machine for foundries wanting a flexible solution for production of high quality, medium and heavy near net shape castings and DISA ARPA® provides jolt squeeze technology for smaller foundries.

The company is always looking for alternatives and ways to drive not just moulding technology but complete solutions for the whole foundry forward and there are always ways to improve. In a recent presentation Mr Akira Yoshida of Nissan showed how the automotive giant had reduced energy consumption to 22 per cent of the company’s previous figures when it switched from horizontal to DISA vertical moulding. 

Foundry Optimisation
The best equipment can only perform to the greatest ability if it is treated correctly and aftersales is an important part of DISA’s customer service commitment. DISA experts are available around the clock to provide advice and guidance and company service engineers are on call at short notice if on-site assistance is required to help reduce unscheduled downtime to a minimum. Remote diagnostic access is also available for equipment to enable online support for troubleshooting.

Customers can also take advantage of the DISA Total Optimization Production Service (TOPS) which provides an exclusive customer inspection, service and maintenance programme to ensure optimum performance, cost-effectiveness and customer satisfaction. This is also supported with a remote monitoring system giving DISA direct access to monitor the performance of the machine and provide weekly and monthly reports to the customer. “This allows us to look from the inside,” Steven Romer, manager foundry optimization, said. “It means we have a strategy of being in partnership with the customer.” Ulla Hartvig P Tonnesen, vice president global services, agrees that having access to customers and their equipment, wherever they are in the world, is vital to help DISA stay at the top of its game. “It is a challenge selling to new customers if they are not experienced with our machines so we need to make sure they run the equipment so it performs at its optimum. Our customers are frequently in touch with us so we are constantly in a dialogue to be able to work with them on solutions to their production issues such as upgrades or new machines.”

Looking to the future the team is aware that the end goal of making more money for their customers is only possible if everything around the DISA equipment also performs well. Romer takes up the story: “In our foundry optimization team we have nine people who were all previously application engineers. They take care of everything around the DISA equipment. It’s not enough to be good at repairs – we have to offer a more detailed perspective which crosses processes and the culture of the foundry. 

“For foundry optimization to work we have to provide systems and software which supports equipment in the whole of the foundry. This is moving the foundry from active maintenance to predictive maintenance. Today we are experts in our machines and semi-experts in complementary machines – now we must become experts in everything. This is how we will become a complete solutions provider.”

To a man, and a woman, everyone at DISA is striving for the same objective – to lower the customer’s cost per part. For this company it is not about selling lots of machines but about shaping the industry. “We have proven technology. We deliver machines that companies are still using 35 years later. We are proud of our brand,” marketing manager Ulla Pollas told Foundry Trade Journal. “But that doesn’t mean we don’t respect our competitors because we do.”

It seems DISA has it covered – friend or foe the company is aware of the wider issues and their commitment to working as part of a larger foundry family is testament to the longevity of the company and its world-class engineers who are now working in a building which lives up to their very high expectations.

Contact: DISA IndustriesA/S, Hojager 8, DK-2630 Taastrup, Denmark, Tel: +45 44 50 50 50,