Furnance Tech Keeps Energy Inside, Reduces ConsumptionFri, 09/01/2017 - 23:30
Aluminum component manufacturers begin with first step, casting parts that will be later machined to the perfect geometry and tolerances. But companies need industrial furnaces to melt aluminum and other metals, which is one of the main sources of natural gas consumption in the industrial sector. The Ministry of Energy reported the Mexican automotive manufacturing sector alone was responsible for using 1.6TWh of energy from natural gas in 2015.
“The furnace is the core of any melting process for which StrikoWestofen can guarantee a considerable reduction in energy consumption,” says Arturo Dávalos, Director General of StrikoWestofen de México. Working with his company’s equipment can reduce natural gas consumption by 30 percent, which is 10 percent more than competitors can offer. “Our furnaces are designed to keep as much energy as possible inside, minimizing heat breaches,” says Dávalos.
Not all manufacturing operations are the same so StrikoWestofen customizes its services to each client’s operations. Dávalos explains that the company has an innovation department that is constantly working on improving the equipment’s geometry and its internal capabilities. For every new project, StrikoWestofen performs an analysis to determine needs and specifications within the client’s plant. “We approach the engineering, production and maintenance departments to have a clear perspective on how the client’s operations work,” he adds.
The sophistication of StrikoWestofen’s equipment not only results in savings related to energy consumption but also in reducing metal losses during melting. The company sets standards of achieving 98 percent or better metal yield but Dávalos says the goal is to reach 99.9 percent efficiency. For the last 12 months, aluminum prices have increased by approximately US$400/t, reaching US$1,865.75. “The price of aluminum varies every day, which means that the less material you lose, the more cost-efficient your operation will be.” Energy and material savings are part of the Green Foundry concept driving StrikoWestofen’s global operations. The automotive industry is underpinned by strict goals in terms of efficiency and productivity and according to
Dávalos, “the Green Foundry concept has been attractive for companies looking for a quick return on investment.” StrikoWestofen holds over 50 percent of the industrial furnace market in Mexico and the automotive industry 205 represents more than 80 percent of its operations. The company already has a strong global presence and Dávalos says the next step is establishing offices in Mexico. “The country is now the sixth-largest aluminum market, so there is potential to expand our business,” he says. “We have European, Asian and American clients that are already in the country or have plans to open a manufacturing facility, which means that our regional support is mandatory.”
The company found its home in Queretaro and has big expectations for its development in Mexico. Although it already had a commercial presence, everything was managed from the US and Germany. Dávalos says that clients had to resolve their problems by telephone or wait for a technician to come from the US, Germany or another international branch. “Many companies did not know how to reach us but now, doors are opening for StrikoWestofen.” With its new offices, the company is now projecting 30 percent growth in sales in 2017, compared to the numbers obtained in 2016. The priority for the company at the moment is to strengthen the relationship with its existing client base, while looking for new clients. The company already works with OEMs like GM, Volkswagen and Nissan, as well as large Tier 1 suppliers such as Martinrea, Grupo Bocar, Nemak and American Axle.
As part of a larger holding named Light Metal Casting Solution, the company can offer a wide portfolio of melting, casting and metal injection processes. One service missing from its portfolio was heat treatment solutions but after the acquisition of BPR-Engineering, StrikoWestofen completed its offering. With a complete portfolio, the company feels confident about attacking the Mexican market and Dávalos’ next goal is to bring equipment construction activities to Mexico. “The country has the necessary infrastructure to manufacture its own furnaces. This is the next logical step for the company.”