Cast Iron success for foundry workers on new training programme

An innovative new training programme, which improves the competitiveness of the foundry sector, has been completed and is looking to recruit its next cohort.

The Certificate in Cast Iron Production, Metallurgy and Quality Control – delivered as a joint venture by ICME and The Cast Metals Federation (CMF) – has helped increase the knowledge and progression of nine staff at four different companies.

Delivered over an 18-month period, the course has combined focused learning through a mix of classroom delivery, practical sessions, and workplace projects.

The results have been fantastic with many of the shopfloor improvement exercises delivering cost savings and efficiency gains, whilst several new processes have been introduced to rectify material failures and reduce defects.

Pam Murrell, CEO of the Cast Metals Federation said: “The value of this course for our industry speaks for itself in the positive responses from all those involved and the fact that the costs of putting employees through it has already been recouped from bottom-line benefits.

“It’s been a real team effort, with input from the CMF, ICME, companies on their specific training needs, then from our tutors and some industry suppliers who have helped with technical content and delivering the programme.”

She went on to add: “The key to success has been the ‘in-company’ projects, which have ensured that the business get additional value from the course.

“Clearly the professional development of their teams and their ability to ‘problem solve’ and deal with process and quality improvements though their improved understanding of cast iron is important, and the face-to-face teaching and practical hands-on learning in the ECMS National Foundry Training Centre will have contributed hugely.”

A special celebration event was held to mark the culmination of the learning, with ICME Junior Vice President Antony Evans (CEng FICME) presenting students with their certificates.

He praised the quality of presentations from all candidates and reinforced the importance of staff receiving a sound understanding of metallurgical best practices and how it is fundamental to the success of cast metal companies going forward.

Dorset-based Eurac Poole, which specialises in high volume iron castings and grey cast iron brake discs, enrolled 3 students on the programme.

They gave a presentation showcasing how the learning from the course had allowed them to complete a project on ‘investigating a suitable replacement for wire inoculation’, helping to reduce casting defects and identifying processes that will cut scrap and has already led to cost savings.

The company was joined by Thomas Dudley, who used it as a key progression tool for two of its employees involved in technical and quality positions.

Results from the project have been implemented by the Dudley-based company, with additional staff trained in best practice leading to productivity gains and a host of financial savings secured.

WM Lee is are an iron foundry based in Dronfield, specialising in parts for truck manufacturing.

The students undertook a project based on ‘identifying issues causing sub-standard ductile iron conversion treatments and redefining the operating parameters for the HWS plant sandwich process for ductile iron treatment’. The completion of this project has resulted in substantial financial savings that have more than paid for the training.

Amy Worrallo, Training and Quality Manager for ICME, concluded: “This course was developed in response to a clear need from industry for a practical programme, focused on the metallurgy and production of the suite of cast irons.

“It included modules on melting and shop floor quality controls, raw material selection, metal treatments, as well as testing and quality assurance.

“From meeting the students at the start of the programme it is rewarding to witness first-hand the positive impact the training has had not only on the individuals, but the companies involved.”

The Cast Iron Production, Metallurgy and Quality Control course is ICME approved and comes complete with ICME-accredited CPD hours.

A new cohort is currently being recruited for a start date of March 2024, with more information available by emailing training@icme.org.uk.

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