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Newby Foundries Steels itself for the Future

The installation of a new sand reclamation plant has helped a British foundry meet increasing demand for its castings by improving both efficiency and capacity at one of its West Midlands plants.

Traditionally casting in grey  and SG iron, Newby Foundries Ltd of Wednesbury is now also in the steel casting business thanks to the recent acquisition of Gabriel Foundry in Smethwick. Since the purchase, in December 2012, focus at the Smethwick site has been on improving production to allow sand to be processed with greater speed thus enabling the company to increase volumes and respond to rising demand for steel castings.

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Time is of the essence

The dilemma saw the new venture – Newby Foundries Steel Division – embark on a major investment to update equipment whilst maintaining a busy forward workload without losing existing production levels. The tall order saw them commission FTL Foundry Equipment Ltd of Willenhall to supply a full turnkey plant upgrade over the Christmas shutdown period with just an eight-week lead time.

Newby Foundries Ltd managing director Phil Grubb explains the rationale: “We knew the problem and felt sure the new equipment would provide a solution, but with order books like ours we couldn’t risk a plant shutdown. If we hadn’t been able to complete the installation over the Christmas period we would have had to wait until Easter and that’s a long time away. We knew the deadlines were tight but felt confident FTL could deliver what we asked of them.”

 All in the details

The steel foundry's existing sand reclamation equipment - a 3tph (1000mm x 1000mm deck) attrition unit, cooler classifier and blowing vessel were removed to allow the installation of a 9tph sand reclamation plant along with a new dust extraction system and updated cooling water system.

The new FTL CA9 low level attrition deck is rated for 9-10tph with a 2000kg deck load and 2m x 2m deck area. The attrition deck is turned through 90° to the existing position to enable the new unit to be installed in the same area and still utilise the manual transfer car from the box-less mould line. The new vibratory elevator and the fluidised bed cooler are located in-line underneath the existing platform giving more useable foundry floor space than before, which allows production to continue rather than halt as space is cleared. The attrition deck is positioned within the reach of the overhead crane for handling the boxed moulds over the attrition deck and that of the swing jib for handling the moulds over the attrition deck from the transfer car.

The attrition primary deck has built in grid bars to add strength and to increase the attrition rate. A further section of woven wire screen is mounted prior to the discharge chute. The unit is mounted on flexible rubber buffers and is driven by two unbalanced motors.

Technical Director Steve Smith said the installation had revolutionised the way the steel foundry operated. “We are short of space on the floor so if we can’t move the moulds, they take up room which prevents us from making any more. The new system can now handle the biggest moulds we make, which are 2m x 2m and, as we are reclaiming, which we couldn’t do before, we don’t have to throw sand away, so we have extra capacity and we can produce in a more efficient manner.”

The FTL CC9 cooler classifier unit is rated at 9-10tph. Sand enters the cooler classifier through the inlet chute into the cooling / fluidisation chamber, it then flows in a fluidised state through an over and under weir system and is discharged through a flanged outlet to the FTL CV200 pneumatic conveyor and then blown to the receiving hopper. The fluidised bed depth can be adjusted to control the dwell time and fraction of fines removal. Water cooling is provided by banks of finned heat exchanger tubes immersed within the fluidised sand bed, the water is then pumped through a new adiabatic forced draught cooler rather than using an evaporative cooling tower. As it is totally sealed, the water cooling system does not require water treatment for the control of legionella and removes the risks associated with open water cooling towers, something Phil and Steve are particularly keen to promote for their sites.

 Staff welfare – an important factor

 “It’s important that our people are working in a good atmosphere and clearly the health, safety and well-being of our employees and visitors is an important factor in our decision to improve the working environment at the Smethwick site,” Phil Grubb said.

 Part of this was the upgrading of the foundry’s existing dust extraction system. This was achieved by FTL replacing the existing equipment with a new extraction system with the capacity to extract from the attrition hood, vibratory ladder and classifier. This extractor had to be placed inside the foundry building and exhausted within the building therefore it was designed by FTL with an integral HEPA filter section to comply with the latest regulations in respect of dust emissions.

Steve said this had been of particular benefit to all concerned: “The dust extractor has also helped with our efficiency but something we should also remember with all the equipment is that it is not only very efficient but also very quiet. It can become very wearing when something is loud and you have to work with it every day. The new plant provides a much more pleasant environment for everyone.”  

The new sand reclamation plant and associated equipment is now controlled from one new FTL control panel incorporating PLC and HMI visual display making the system user-friendly for both operators and engineers.

The equipment was installed over the Christmas shutdown and commissioned during the foundry’s first two days back to work without any loss of production. Such was the success of the venture that Newby Foundries Steel Division is now looking to bring forward the next phase of the investment, which will see them add additional reclaimed storage silos in response to the current insufficient capacity to keep up with the increased rate of production and sand reclamation.

“FTL came in on time and the equipment works well and, let’s face it, it was a challenge to complete with such tight deadlines but they did exactly what they said they would and we are very happy with the price and how they worked with us to adhere to the timescales,” Phil Grubb enthused. “We now have extra capacity and a more efficient working environment so it has answered our original desire to make the plant run more smoothly. Now we are looking to the future and working towards satisfying our customers’ needs. I am delighted that a reliable supplier has helped us with our quest to do this.”

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