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MONOZUKURI and Foundry: an industry committed to its social and environmental context and to a high quality production

The Japanese word Monozukuri captures the true spirit of companies like Toyota and Nissan in relation to the concept of sustainable manufacturing. The literal meaning of Monozukuri is “production” (“Mono” is the thing which is made and “Zukuri” means the act of making it), but this concept implies more than simply making things. It can be best compared to “doing things well”.
In Japanese Monozukuri tradition, the craftsman takes great care using resources not to be wasteful or futile, as well as is aware that when an item or human effort is taken into use, there needs to be a benefit for the society as a result. The attention is on the thing that is being made, not in the person doing the making (the craftsman). It is not only about making things, but about producing well and endowing production with a sense of responsibility for the use of tools and efforts, having so a balance between production, resources and society. The individuals working through Monozukuri do not act by mindless repetition, but empowering themselves on those things produced, creating so a high sense of ownership in the process and the produced good which sets the way for a constant improvement.
It has been Aichi, Nagoya, where this Monozukuri movement still lives on and the starting point for Japanese Automotive industry, the place that has gathered the global Foundry industry during May 2016 around the activities of the 72nd World Foundry Congress.
Under the topic “High Quality of Castings” and during the four days of the official programme of the congress, international professionals were allowed discovering the latest technical innovations, making business and networking with worldwide renowned experts, in this event organized by the World Foundry Organization (WFO) and the Japan Foundry Engineering Society. The preliminary balance offered by the organizers of the event remarks the presence of near one thousand attendees from the Foundry industry, from which nearly 300 attended from outside Japan. In words of Mr. Andrew Turner, General Secretary of the WFO: “With over 160 papers being presented and 35 countries represented it was the right place to be in 2016”.
The technical programme of the 72nd World Foundry Congress gathered near 1000 professionals from foundry industry
Regarding the challenges for the industry and in words of Mr. Yoshitaka Shindo, Japanese politician and member of the house of representatives in Japan: “Casting greatly contributes to world economics but has three important challenges – innovation, as it is very important to adjust to change; the avoidance of price competition at the cost of quality, which requires long-term investment and training; and environmental considerations. The industry must address these three challenges on a global scale”.
Mr. Tsuyoshi Tohyama, from the Manufacturing Industries Bureau of the Ministry of Economy, added to these challenges “new materials, IT and Big Data and new technology, like multi-layer techniques, which would prove more and more important in the coming years”.
Another key point, repeated along different speeches during the event, was referred to environmental and sustainability issues. As expressed by Mr. Hidehiko Kadono, General Manager of the Foundry Engineering Division of Toyota Motor Corporation: “We’ve got a comfortable life at the cost of the environment”. Thus, it was discussed during the Congress about the EU target of 30 per cent reduction of CO2 emissions and the changing on consumers’ attitudes, predicting that customer demands were set to change “drastically”. Also about the way this industry always looks to innovate but that sometimes at a cost that is prohibitive. 3D printing was remarked as a key technology, with its order, product design, printing, sand coring and casting process which could enable companies to satisfy customer demands more quickly. As expressed from Toyota, “Demands for lighter and more compact will require us to develop new materials – combination, replacement and control. In many ways a combination could enhance strength. We must also optimize the design process.”
Several lecturers pointed out the characteristics of the Foundry of the future along their presentations. As remarked by Mr. Richard Sims of EURAC Poole Ltd (UK), “It is no longer good enough to just supply castings any more. OEMs want a foundry to be a tier 1 supplier and own the design process”. The use of technologies around Industry 4.0 will be a key game changer for the development of the sector, as seen in a good number of presentations.
World Foundex 2016 was held as a parallel activity to the Congress, being a meeting point for worldwide technicians and professionals and a place where they could showcase their latest innovations, services and products. Moreover, the Japanese foundry-related-companies introduced technologies and products associated with the topic “Manufacturing Technologies in Japan”, and set up booths displaying leading-edge technologies in industry-academia-government collaborations. The official programme also included a comprehensive plan of working visits to top level foundries, research facilities and universities.
The activities of the Congress were completed with an interesting International Exhibition and a comprehensive programme of first level working visits
During the event, the World Foundry Organization held its management board meeting, attended by 13 executives from around the world, and also the General Assembly meeting, which was subject to one of the best attendances for many years, with 23 countries represented.
The relevance of this international event is also highlighted in the words of Mr. Myung Ho Kim, actual President of the WFO: “The industry has a pile of problems: energy, recruiting young people, competition from other technologies. We recognize these problems and are together working for a solution. The World Foundry Congress is a great opportunity for international networking and a source of knowledge for our Member Countries”.
IK4-AZTERLAN Metallurgical Research Center presented in the Congress some of its latest research progresses through several technical presentations within the official programme, in the fields of “Kinetics of nucleation of graphite in nodular cast iron”, “Development of ADI materials” and “Advanced feeding systems for cast components”. First of these works was recognized and awarded as the second Best Technical Paper of this Congress. The Center had also an active agenda with the World Foundry Organization, with which keeps cooperating in a strong relationship and involvement.
Some of the lecturers and technicians from IK4-AZTERLAN and the TABIRA Foundry Institute attending the Japanese Congress
This new edition of the World Foundry Congress of the WFO confirms itself as a worldwide technical reference for the foundry industry. In words of Mr. Shindo: “Manufacturing is the foundation of the economy and casting is the core of manufacturing. We need to be connected throughout the world to bring about success. The global casting industry contributes to a brighter world”.
The inspiration transmitted by the host country of this event, through examples like Monozukuri philosophy and its deep respect for the world surrounding manufacturing processes, remind us the necessity of working for a high innovative yet sustainable and responsible industry. And it allows us bringing back an often forgotten sensation of a Foundry industry which, as a craftsman, feels responsible and highly proud of its goods produced for the society.
Jose Javier González
José Javier González

Secretario General
Instituto de Fundición Tabira

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