Driving sustainability in automotive die-casting

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With an increasing number of vehicles on the roads, there’s more demand than ever to reduce CO₂ emissions and increase fuel efficiency. We found out how, with help from industrial connectivity specialist Brainboxes, CastAlum, a leading global supplier of cast aluminium and machined components, is utilising eco-friendly die-casting of easily recyclable and cost-effective materials to produce lightweight automotive parts that reduce waste, save time and lower costs for manufacturers and customers.

Manufacturers can reduce emissions by using automotive die casting, which uses a metal moulding process to produce parts from molten metal. The metal is cooled down and solidified into parts, which are then machined into shape. This process enables cars to be as lightweight as possible due to the manufacturing of lightweight components through die-casting.

CastAlum produces steering gear housing, transmission cases, and safety-critical suspension knuckles. Using devices from Brainboxes, the company is continuing to develop a factory management system in-house to help it further automate and improve its die-casting processes. Remote IO Brainboxes capture production events and remotely collect real-time data to maintain high productivity levels and prevent delays.

For one element of this bespoke system, CastAlum needed a mechanism to send signals from the die-casting machines to the software’s database via an API. Communicating directly with the machines and their software controls was not only technically difficult and expensive, but also came with increased security and safety risks. Relying on human interaction with a digital system would always mean a degree of latency in communication.

The industrial design of the Brainboxes makes them suitable for the harsh environments of automotive die casting, whilst the devices provide a perfect interface between CastAlum’s machines and bespoke software. The Brainboxes are capable of monitoring any input from the machines, from TTL to high-voltage, high-current industrial devices. This provides CastAlum with a simple interface to capture and visualise production events in real time, instantly reducing communication latency on the shop floor. The system creates an immediate flow of information as all staff members are able to know the state of each machine at any given moment.

In addition to tracking production events, CastAlum has also been able to implement the tracking of shots as they are happening. This provides engineers with a wealth of information, from simply logging parts produced, to cycle times, shift efficiency, and tooling life. This data is collected in real time and presented on digital signage throughout the factory. Utilising remote IO, CastAlum has clear visibility of parts-production data to improve management of the shop floor.

“People can view the data, at all times, on their own devices. So, everyone, wherever they are, can always know how each machine is performing at any given moment during the course of a shift, day, week, month, or production run,” explained Nathan Field, Innovation Lead at CastAlum

By using Brainboxes remote IO devices, CastAlum is continuing to achieve its goal of attaining the highest levels of productivity and quality. Supervisors and engineers are freed from the administrative requirement to update systems manually and can instead rely on receiving real-time information from the machines themselves to quickly identify issues and gain a more holistic view of the production floor.

www.brainboxes.com

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