Greener green sand? Why DISA is serious about sustainability.

Sustainability is something all foundries should strive for and, as a supplier DISA can play a vital role in helping customers achieve this goal. Here, Ulla Tønnesen, President at DISA, explains how DISA’s innovation both promotes sustainability and helps foundries lower their cost per casting – and how sustainability is built into DISA’s own manufacturing operations.

Ulla, thanks for taking the time to talk to us today. Could you start by telling us why is sustainability important for foundries?

Ulla: The most obvious reason why sustainability is important is that foundries have to ensure they can comply with increasingly stringent environmental legislation while also creating a modern, clean, ergonomic and rewarding foundry working environment – increasingly vital in recruiting the next generation of foundry workers.

But they are also looking to us for sustainable solutions that help improve their efficiency and lower their cost per casting.

How can foundries increase the sustainability of the metal casting process itself and move closer to a “circular economy”?

Ulla: Rather than "take, make, dispose”, thinking in circular systems promotes reuse, sharing, repair, refurbishment, remanufacturing and recycling. This is exactly in line with our sustainable approach of waste reduction and maximum efficiency combined with long lasting, easily-repaired-and-upgraded machinery. It’s also worth remembering that foundries already buy in millions of tons of scrap metal every year for re-use, which makes them major enablers of recycling. Re-using sand and re-melting scrap castings are other ways in which foundries have already adopted a circular approach. Around 97% of green sand is reused, making the green sand process circular and sustainable.

Also, a sustainable casting process is one that uses the minimum of resources and reliably produces the highest quality castings – at the first attempt, without scrap. Metals production and processing is extremely energy-intensive and minimising energy use – and therefore CO2 emissions – is the biggest issue facing foundries today. Minimising scrap cuts down on re-melting and so saves huge amounts of energy as well as minimising other resource use.

Are there any particular DISA or Norican innovations that you would like to highlight here?

Ulla: Norican’s Monitizer® suite of digital tools helps minimise waste by applying cutting-edge technology to classic foundry challenges like casting quality, downtime and throughput.

The Monitizer | PRESCRIBE Artificial Intelligence tool is our latest weapon in the fight against waste. By constantly optimising process parameters, it’s proven to significantly reduce casting defects and scrap. One foundry cut defects by 50% in the first month of deployment and pushed defect rates in shipped castings close to zero after just three months – just think of the energy they’ve saved both in their factory and in transport too.

DISA’s Mould Accuracy Controller (MAC) is another a great example of a product that boosts sustainability and reduce scrap. It measures mould string inaccuracies in real time, before pouring – making it possible to react to mismatch problems before the moulds are poured and therefore saving energy by avoiding both re-melting and lost production.

Choosing equipment like a DISACOOL is another way to minimise resource use and cost. Because it performs three functions (shakeout, sand cooling and casting cooling), you only need one machine instead of three.

Are there any other aspects to sustainability that foundries should consider?

Ulla: As well as the environment, sustainability has complex social and commercial dimensions. For long-term commercial viability, small and medium-sized companies in particular must be able to access new technologies and adopt new techniques. Otherwise they will fail which, in turn, jeopardises jobs. That is not sustainable at the social level.

What that also means is that operating more sustainably can’t be a luxury only certain foundries can afford. Our goal is to enable any foundry to become more sustainable by moving from older technologies to newer, automated vertical, match or horizontal moulding solutions, and to be able to easily upgrade and retrofit their existing DISA equipment to bring down energy consumption, reduce waste and ultimately lower their cost per casting.

In recent years, we’ve put a lot of effort into making state-of-the-art technology available to all types of foundries, in all regions. We’ve increased local manufacturing and design capability across the globe to produce new moulding lines like the DISAMATIC® C3 which make entry-level vertical moulding accessible to a much wider range of customers.

You’ve talked about making your customers’ operations more sustainable – what about DISA’s own products, services and operations?

Ulla: Of course, sustainability starts at home. We apply our lean, waste-free principles to make every aspect of DISA’s business more sustainable: the ultra-efficient new foundry equipment and digital tools that improve the whole casting process for our customers are mirrored in the sustainability of our own production methods.

We build sustainability into our design process to produce products that are cleaner, safer, higher performing and will last for decades, along with an evolving range of aftermarket upgrades that allow owners of legacy machines to exploit the latest features and technologies for cost, energy and materials savings.

We make our own operations more sustainable by reducing energy consumption, recycling and re-using materials at our Taastrup manufacturing and R&D centre. Taastrup is only half the size of our previous facility, but we now produce more machines, more quickly, and use 60% less energy.

Watch the video to see how we create sustainable innovations from our DISA HQ

Sustainability at DISA

We lead by example, creating sustainable innovations and always striving to be better

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Centre for Product Innovation for Aerospace and Automotive Peening, Charleville, France

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