For us, a sustainable casting process is one that cuts out waste (in the many senses of the word), is energy efficient, minimises scrap and finishing work, and enables greater casting precision for an optimum use of resources. But it is also one that creates a modern, clean, ergonomical and rewarding working environment. All of these aspects address environmental, commercial and social dimensions of sustainability – and all of them are about a direction of travel, rather than a finishing line.
Every foundry’s journey is different, but what we are trying to do with the foundry equipment and solutions we offer, is to enable any foundry to become more sustainable. To move from older technologies to newer automated vertical, match or horizontal moulding solutions; to move from repetitive to value-added work for its workforce; to upgrade and retrofit to bring down energy consumption and reduce waste.
A lot of the values that have always guided us in making foundry equipment are also connected to sustainability. Building castings machines that lasts, but that can be upgraded with latest technology, ensures the best use of resources (including transport). Reliable foundry equipment makes it easier to plan, which tends to allow for a more efficient use of energy, manpower and material.
New features and technologies we develop are designed to continuously perfect the sand casting process, delivering cost, energy and materials savings that add up. Making these new features available for retrofit means foundries can keep improving, always.
In our introduction, we highlighted the fact that long-term commercial viability is also a facet of sustainability – and it’s certainly the one all foundries naturally subscribe to. That’s why coupling commercial benefits with environmental and social ones is something we believe in firmly. As a foundry equipment manufacturer, we can make being good easy, balancing short-term commercial pay-offs and longer-term, softer benefits.
A big part of this is making state-of-the-art technology available to all types of foundries, in all regions. We’ve focused specific efforts on this area in recent years, with new moulding lines like the DISAMATIC® C3, which offers entry-level vertical moulding, and by increasing local manufacturing and design capability across the globe. With these developments, we hope to already have improved the ease of adoption of better, more sustainable sand casting processes and we are determined to continue on this path.
Finally, we believe that sustainability begins at home. And the home of our headquarters in Taastrup, Denmark,
embodies the comprehensive, holistic understanding of sustainability that I have outlined above. The building itself requires only a sixth of the heating energy of the old facility; solar panels on the roof reduce our reliance on external electricity supplies; all-LED lighting uses a fraction of the energy of conventional light sources. The layout of our assembly workshop has been completely rethought for short distances and better energy consumption – a key learning: what’s lean is often also green! For example, we have introduced a highly efficient centralised, low-energy cooling system for our CNC machines, and have installed automatic switch-offs for workshop lighting and air compression systems.
But most importantly, we are committed to continually improving our environmental credentials. We forensically monitor our energy consumption across 12 areas of the company, so we can see where we can improve. We are working towards sorting and recycling 90% of our waste – from steel, cables and cardboard in the workshop through to paper and packaging in the office part of the building. And avoiding the creation of waste is just as important, even in the most unexpected places: after lunch in our canteen, we can get left-over food packed up to take home for dinner, cutting down on food waste and making our lives easier.
In conclusion, I guess my message in all of this is that the foundry industry is a big global industry in which sustainability is playing an increasingly important role. But we all approach it differently. At DISA, we try to understand, collect and serve all these different takes on sustainability. The ultimate goal: securing the economic future of foundries in a way that reduces their environmental impact and ensures they happily evolve along with the societies they are embedded in.