LB Foster Materials Handling has recently manufactured and installed an overhead conveyor system for Investment Castings, a leading precision castings company.
Designed to transport ceramic coated wax moulds during the drying process, the new conveyor has enabled Investment Castings to double its production of precision castings.
Paul Clarkson, co-director of Investment Castings - a family-run company which has been based in Congleton for 25 years - comments: “UK manufacturing is coming out of recession at last, and customers are returning who we haven’t heard from for the last three years.
“This increased demand highlighted the fact that we didn’t have sufficient capacity to process as many moulds as we needed and, as a consequence, we were getting bottlenecks in production. To overcome this problem we decided to invest in a second overhead conveyor that would enable us to process more moulds.
“We’d purchased an overhead conveyor from LB Foster 17 years ago. Since then, it’s been working virtually without fault or maintenance for 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“Back in the late 1990s when we acquired the first conveyor, we’d carried out the necessary research into LB Foster and visited its facilities in Leicester. This time we just ordered an identical conveyor from the company as we knew it would not only be fit for purpose and simple to operate, but it would also be entirely reliable.
“The LB Foster team proved to be very flexible with their delivery date. We had ordered the conveyor several months in advance; however, it could only be delivered and installed when we were completely ready in our factory.
“Once we’d made the necessary preparations, the whole delivery and build process went very smoothly. We received the conveyor on a Monday, then it was assembled and commissioned by Thursday of the same week.”
The new overhead conveyor from LB Foster is situated inside a temperature controlled room. It is used to dry out the ceramic coated wax moulds, transporting them in a continuous loop around three large central fans.
There are 26 rotating jig locations on the conveyor and each jig can hold two ‘runners’. Each runner can support one large mould or numerous small moulds with a total weight of up to 30kg.
It takes two days to process the moulds, with four ceramic coats applied to the wax mould on the first day, and four further layers on day two. Drying takes place after each coat is applied. After a long overnight dry on the conveyor, the wax can be removed from the mould. The ceramic shell is then fired and filled with molten metal to create the precision casting.
“With the addition of the new conveyor we now have a very efficient mould processing operation with double the production capacity,” concludes Clarkson. “This is important to us as our company is experiencing growth which I anticipate will be as much as 35% over the next 12 months.
“We’ve always maintained a good relationship with LB Foster, they supply a quality product and we would absolutely recommend them.”