• 14 th Nov, 2021

Major milestones in our casting journey – Part 1

The Industrial Company for Casting and Sanitary Fittings, also known as Saudi Cast, was established in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia in 1972. From the beginning the foundry started off with green sand moulding system and oil-based binder system to produce cores. A coke based cupola furnace was installed for melting. Gray cast iron was the only metal produced in the foundry. For making moulds the company depended on manual ground moulding since no moulding machine was available at that time. Although, as the name suggests, we were producing cast iron sanitary fittings in the beginning, but later municipal castings such as manhole covers, gully gratings, and channel grating.

Eventually municipal castings replaced everything else.

Molding Machines: In the following years a set of BMD, German-made, simultaneous squeeze-jolt machine was installed together with an Erich green sand mixer. The company continued to progress and the time came when in 1982-83 these machine was replaced with semi-automatic BMM molding line, made in the UK. The operation was based on the green sand system, using pallet-type molds conveyor. This was the first step towards mechanized production.

The next big step towards fully automatic molding came in 2008, when a Japanese-made SINTO high pressure moulding line was installed. This machine produces horizontally-parted 100 molds per hour.

In parallel with molding line, we also achieved full automation in sand preparation. Now, except for placing the core, and pouring, the whole operation is mechanized.

The impact on the quality of the products was immense that we had not witnessed on the conventional machines. These castings became smooth, more dimensionally accurate and free of internal and external defects.

Shot Blasting: To clean the castings, we were relying on sand blasting process, which was extremely dusty and difficult. In 1985, a German- made, George Fischer conveyer-type shot ballast machine with its own dust filtration system, was installed. We can call this the ‘first step’ towards a cleaner foundry.

Rotary Furnace: The installation of two, 5 Ton-diesel fired Rotary Furnaces in 1981, was the first major change in the production processes. In 1983 a 20-ton rotary furnace was added to the melting facility. The growth of the company continued, and saw the addition of another 20 T rotary furnace in the year of 1986. By this time our installed melting capacity reached 50 tons per day. One set of furnace i.e. 1×5 ton and 1×20 ton were in-use, and the other set remain in maintenance, or re-lining. Therefore, both furnaces were charged twice to melt 50 tons a day.

Although the operation of these furnaces was very easy, the life of the refractory lining and the quality of the metal were two big challenges.

Electric Induction Furnace: During mid-90s, we decided to invest in environmentally-friendly, and technologically-advanced medium frequency induction furnaces. In 1998 the first 1000 kg per hour furnace was commissioned and just 3 years later in 2001, another 1500 kg per hour with dual-tracking furnace was added. Also by this time, Saudi Cast had already started to produce Ductile Iron castings which require a tighter control over chemical composition and temperature, and both were difficult to achieve in a Rotary furnace. Therefore, the introduction of the Induction furnaces not only improved the environment, inside and outside of the foundry, but helped to reduce the casting rejection to a great extent which ultimately contributed to the over-all economy of the foundry.

In Part 2 of this series, we will highlight other aspects of our casting journey, when we talk about core making, quality control, and pattern making.