Looking back at GIFA 2023
After two years of preparation and five non-stop days of tradeshow action, Foseco wrapped-up GIFA 2023 on a high. Visitors to its 900m2 stand were treated to a display of the company’s latest technology, with 29 new product and service innovations showcased, including 11 new market-leading sustainability offerings. In total, 51 products were highlighted through 37 customer case studies, 47 new videos and animations, and two hourly live shows.
The breadth of solutions on display – both at Foseco and throughout the show – are what makes this quadrennial meeting of the global foundry industry unique and highly valued by foundrymen and women around the world. As Çağri Yamanturk, CTO of Güris Industrial Group, which operates the largest iron foundry in Turkey, told Foseco as he visited the stand, there is always “something new and interesting” at the show. “It’s never a wasted trip!”
“It is a great opportunity to gain a broader picture of what is available, and how we could implement it to improve our operations and product quality,” agreed Darren Preece, Foundry Technical Manager at Weir Minerals’ Artarmon foundry in Sydney, Australia, and another visitor to the Foseco booth.
An industry in flux
There can be no denying that attendees came to Düsseldorf after some particularly challenging years for the global foundry industry. The global pandemic was followed by substantial rises raw material and distribution costs and topped with a global energy crisis the likes of which hasn’t been seen in a generation. The industry has also been hit by structural issues, including a chip shortage in the auto industry, and a shortage of both skilled and unskilled labour.
At the same time, the industry is evolving in response to sustainability and environment-related issues. For example, the electrification of transport will have deep impact on the sorts of castings required by the auto sector. The environmental impact of foundry operations is also in focus as never before. “I see an industry going through a period of profound change,” said Karena Cancilleri, Business President of Foseco, as she visited the show. “This will bring new opportunities and new challenges, even as the traditional issues of quality, yield, and cost control remain.”
Sustainability is integral to how Foseco and its parent company, Vesuvius, approach the foundry industry. “We are fortunate to serve industry where economic objectives and environmental objectives are strongly aligned,” explained Alexander Laugier-Werth, Vice President of Sustainability at Vesuvius.
“What does that mean in practice? It means that, by helping our customers improve their operating key performance indicators – be that energy consumption, scrap and re-work rates, yield and quality – we are also helping reduce their environmental footprint,” Laugier-Werth continued. “It also tells us what we should be prioritising in terms of new product development.”
The SEMCO family of water-based coatings is a case in point. The range includes a number of features that combine to offer a best-in-class eco-friendly foundry coating technology. SEMCO FD is a fast-drying formulation that reduces oven drying times by 50%; SEMCO CC coatings change colour when dry to help avoid over-drying; and SEMCO FF eliminate coating-related formaldehyde emissions. In combination, they deliver a coating that reduces energy consumption, optimises drying times, improves core and casting performance – and thus facilitates a broader switch from solvent-based to water-based coating solutions.
Tradeshow organisers, Messe Düsseldorf, recognised the SEMCO range of coatings with its ecoProcess Award for solutions that save energy, materials and resources in foundry operations. The Foseco stand also featured on the ecoMetal Trail, which highlighted exhibitors that invest in innovative, sustainable, and economically competitive technologies.
Innovation and technology
Foseco has spent more than nine decades supporting the foundry industry with the solutions it needs to succeed. It is a mission implied by the company’s original name: Foundry Services Company. “We were founded in 1932 and, from the early days, Foseco was about innovation,” said Rob Welland, Vice President of Marketing and Technology for Foseco. “That hasn’t changed,” he continued, pointing to the number of new products that Foseco launched at GIFA 2023. “We invest heavily in R&D and innovation to stay ahead of the curve and continue to deliver the cutting-edge solutions our customers have come to expect of us.”
For example, the company’s new ECOLOTEC biopolymer-based binders were presented at tradeshow. Highlighting the overlap between sustainability and innovation, these novel binders offer an alternative to petrochemical-derived phenol-based organic binders. Biopolymers – in this case, lignin, a by-product of the pulp and paper industry – are used to replace phenol in binders that possess similar qualities as traditional solutions, such as excellent strength, high dimensional accuracy, and excellent surface finish, but are obtained from renewable raw materials.
In addition to the Foseco stand itself, the company’s innovative drive was on display at the GIFA Forum. Organised jointly by the BDG and VDG, the forum addresses technical challenges across the metal casting process via expert presentations from solutions providers. Foseco contributed three papers to this year’s schedule:
- Sand binders with innovative water-soluble binder systems developed for various types of non-ferrous casting processes (Vincent Haanappel, R&D Manager, Binders).
- The incorporation of additive manufacturing technology (3D) in casting filtration, providing optimised efficiency and customisation (Nick Child, International Marketing Manager, Clean Iron & Steel).
- Highly exothermic sleeves for non-ferrous applications reducing CO2 emissions and energy costs (Arndt Fröscher, European Product Manager, Non Ferrous Methoding).
Knowledge and partnership
One of the videos on the Foseco stand showcased the development of the SEMCO IC coating for improved inner cleanliness. The coating was developed in partnership with the Volvo foundry in Skövde, Sweden, which is responsible for casting large industrial engine blocks and heads for the vehicle sector. That process of development was “an amazing journey,” recalled Tore Nilsson of Volvo foundry in Skövde, Sweden when he visited the Foseco stand. “Working together with Foseco, we were able to get inner cleanliness to a level that, just ten years ago, I would have said was impossible. But we have done it.”This success story aptly sums up the third theme of the Foseco stand and the company’s collaborative approach to problem solving: knowledge and partnership. “No one company has all of the answers to the challenges facing the foundry industry today,” added Foseco’s Vice President for Marketing and Technology, Rob Welland. “By building strong partnerships with our customers and leveraging our extensive knowledge and expertise, we are able to deliver the innovation the industry needs.”
Foseco also announced it was becoming a lifetime legacy sponsor of the World Foundry Organisation (WFO) at GIFA, further affirming its support for industry-wide collaboration. “It is important for us to contribute to the ongoing success of the foundry industry,” concluded Welland. “By elevating our involvement with the WFO, we believe we can further engage with and support the industry as it works to recover and flourish in today’s sometimes-difficult market conditions.”
On to GIFA 2027?
There is no doubt that putting on an event like GIFA is demanding work. More than 166 Foseco people attended the show from 26 different countries. GIFA – alongside its sister shows, METEC, THERMPROCESS and NEWCAST – attracted 63,000 visitors from 133 countries. So, as we look back at this year’s event, and look forward to 2027, is it worth it?
“Of course it is!,” concluded Foseco President, Karena Cancilleri. “GIFA is the meeting point for everybody in the foundry industry. It is where the industry comes to find answers; it is where the industry comes to glimpse the future. And we are proud to be a part of that. I’m excited to see what the next four years will bring – and what will be on the Foseco stand at GIFA 2027.”
Foseco win ecoProcess Award at GIFA 2023 for SEMCO water-based coatings
Foseco has been awarded the ecoMetals ecoProcess Award at GIFA 2023. Recognising the company’s SEMCO range of water-based coatings, the award highlights solutions that save energy, materials, and resources in foundry operations. It was presented by show organisers, Messe Düsseldorf, at a ceremony on Thursday 15 June at the GIFA ecoMetals Forum.