Metallurgy Research Centre

  • 12 de mayo de 2017

Representatives of IK4-Azterlan, Betsaide, Fuchosa, Fundiciones Garbi and the Provincial Council of Bizkaia present the results of the "Factory of the Future" project

Framed in the development and application of 4.0 technologies in the foundry industry, this important project has allowed participating companies to deepen in the main keys of the so-called fourth industrial revolution, with the main objective of improving their technological and competitiveness level.

The "Factory of the Future" pilot project launched by IK4-Azterlan Metallurgy Research Center in close collaboration with the foundries Betsaide S.A.L., Fuchosa S.L. and Fundiciones Garbi S.A., has developed an intense working program with a high level of satisfaction on the results achieved during these two years.

Mr. Imanol Pradales, Deputy Council for Economic and Territorial Development of Biscay, considered this project as a clear reference for the industry, both by the successful development level achieved, as well as for the capacity of this working methodology to be transferred into other industrial sectors. Mr. Pradales emphasized that the digitization of the industry is a "train that the companies from Biscay must take to keep their competitiveness level within a global market". The Provincial Council of Bizkaia has supported and monitored as well this project .

Mr. Ramón Suárez, R&D Director of Metallurgical Processes of IK4-Azterlan considered the project as "a necessary development for companies to increase their technological and competitiveness level in a global market". Mr. Suárez also highlighted the collaborative work carried out by the participating companies and their capacity to generate and to share knowledge.

The three foundries involved in the project highlighted as well several key factors and advantages of the work performed:

Mr. Lorenzo Martín, Production and Industrial Technology Manager of Fuchosa S.L., emphasized the opportunities and the decision-making capacity that real time data offer to improve their productive process.

Mr. Juan Silvestre Gastelu-Iturri, General Manager of Fundiciones Garbi SA, agreed with this idea and said that the project "has allowed Fundiciones Garbi to enter the era of digitization, capture and interpretation of data in the casting processes, which are extraordinarily complex".

Mr. Raúl Cámara, Production Manager of the company Betsaide S.A.L. highlighted the huge outcome his company has obtained from developing and optimizing the design of a significant number of references with the technological support of IK4-Azterlan. These optimization works have had a great impact on reducing the riser removal and finishing operations. He also confirmed that the project has allowed Betsaide to integrate sensor technology in the key elements of their process.

The final results achieved during the project in the different companies include, among others: up to 20% reduction on internal rejection rates, 30% reduction of current product stock compared to the actual storage space, 25% reduction of in-progress-material transport operations, substantial manufacturing cost reductions in 120 different references, 60% decrease in product maturation timing, improvement in the quality and in the health and safety conditions of certain jobs (50% reduction of injuries in the finishing area), along with the generation of qualified jobs within the companies

From left to right Mr. Ramón Suárez (R&D Director of Metallurgical Processes of IK4-Azterlan), Mr. Imanol Pradales (Deputy Council for Economic and Territorial Development of Biscay), Mr. Juan Silvestre Gastelu-Iturri (General Manager of Fundiciones Garbi S.A.), Mr. Lorenzo Martín (Production and Industrial Technology Manager of Fuchosa S.L.) and Mr. Raúl Cámara (Production Manager of the company Betsaide S.A.L.).

Industry 4.0 applied to the foundry sector

The "Factory of the Future" project has allowed the integration of information and communication technologies in the iron transformation processes. Innovative computer tools, such as Predictive Control Models (MPC), have been developed and implemented in metallic transformation processes. The main objective of the project was very clear: to raise the technological level and improve the productivity and the competitiveness of the participating companies.

IK4-Azterlan has carried out the technical leadership of the project with the 3 foundries (all of them exporting more than 60% of their production and providing cast components to the most demanding sectors such the automotive, wind energy, railway ….) in the development and implementation of metallurgical control tools and new intelligent manufacturing systems that would allow them to enter into emerging levels of advanced manufacturing.. 

Some of the objectives achieved in the project are:

  • Improvement of the competitiveness level of the three of companies in a global and extremely dynamic environment..
  • Upgrading of the technological development of the productive processes and their resulting products by integrating in information and communication technologies, data capture and mass analysis systems and metallurgical control predictive tools.
  • Transference of technologically advanced products and methodologies that require industrial development and implementation, as well as a change of mentality to improve the current manufacturing processes.
  • Implementation of real-time data capture and management tools adapted to the individual needs of each company.
  • Integration of high technology concepts, linked to company’s competitive improvement (increase of productivity and reduction of costs).

A total of 90 persons have been involved in the various multidisciplinary working teams defined for the development of this ambitious project.

A global budget of 5,700,000¤ has been compromised in the development of the project, exceeding by 40% the initial forecast for the implementation of that 2015-2017 pilot phase (initial budget was estimated at 3,960,000 ¤)..