Interviews

With the new circular economy trend, we trust there is room to increase recycling within a primary and secondary aluminium producer ecosystem - EPIQ Machinery

INTERVIEWEE
interview Image
Category
Interview
Date
09-Mar-2024
Source
AL Circle
Detail

AL Circle : What kind of solutions do you provide for aluminium casthouse handling systems and casting lines? Can you please share a case study where your solution has significantly benefited a casthouse in material handling?

EPIQ Machinery: Under the BROCHOT brand, EPIQ has produced fully automated aluminium Foundry Ingot Stack Handling Systems. These systems considerably reduce the route of mobile equipment and, proportionally, the co-activity in this often-congested sector. It also avoids stopping the production line if there is a delay or failure in removing the ingots’ piles from the conveyor.

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The Foundry Ingot Stack Handling Systems are designed to handle foundry ingots from the casting to the discharge conveyor and onto the packaging area. The bundles are then handled by forklifts equipped with special clamps at the shipping dock.

Thanks to its partnership with DTA, EPIQ can offer automated electric mobile equipment solutions designed for aluminium producers. For example, instead of using standard forklifts, the bundles could be transported by fully electric Automated Mobile Robot (AMR) equipment, branded EPIQ DTA.

AL Circle: How do your smart casthouse solutions increase casting efficiency and reduce downtime?

EPIQ Machinery: Our MECFOR Smart Casthouse solution operates upstream from the casting line. The solution articulates having one specialised Multifunctional Casthouse vehicle covering most, if not all, furnace operations, such as charging, tending, cleaning, stirring, and skimming.

With the Furnace Protection System (FPS) on our vehicles and the SmartConnect tool, the Smart Casthouse Solution helps prevent downtime, ensuring continuous aluminium remelting to feed the casting line. One of the many features of our SmartConnect tools is its ability to log hours of tool use. This will help the operations or maintenance departments determine and plan when a tool is scheduled for repair or to order a replacement.

AL Circle: What technological trends do you observe in the aluminium casting industry? How do you think artificial intelligence will influence the casting equipment sector?

EPIQ Machinery: Automation, automation, automation—our BROCHOT Casting line already offers a great level of automation. However, we believe that greater integration with other types of equipment or systems will be required. For example, an AMR can be added to move loads and bring them to the AD fully automated material handling for extrusion billets for homogenising, on to sawing operations, and then to shipping with reduced human intervention.

As for artificial intelligence (AI), drawing trends for industrial practices is complex. For repetitive tasks, a great automation program will handle various situations. We think that AI could become of interest at a critical path, but technologies are too new to raise the required level of confidence in a high-risk industrial environment.

AL Circle: Do you offer customised solutions for casting lines based on clients’ requirements? How easy is it to implement your customised solution in existing casting lines?

EPIQ Machinery: As an OEM, we design our equipment. Our solutions are customer-driven! When developing a cast line solution, we look at all variables, from production needs to available floor space. We may have some “standard” items in our overall cast line, but each line is tailored to the end user. We believe that developing a solution with customer engagement ensures that no stone is left unturned and all points are well thought out.

A casting line is made up of several sections: molten metal supply, casting conveyor, cooling conveyor, sheet conveyor and handling robot, bundle conveyor, strapping, ingot stack conveyor, and finally, handling to shipping.

Each section can be replaced, upgraded, and modernized independently. In fact, modernizing a casting line by promoting a step-by-step approach for each section helps reduce intervention time on site.

As stated above, we may use some features from robots and tooling commonly used in the casting process. However, each robot cell may have additional functions or features to optimize the process. EPIQ robots play a role in foundry ingot lines, reducing repetitive work in hot and potentially dangerous areas.

Finally, to guarantee the quality of ingot required by customers, numerous factors must be controlled. This expertise allows us to respond to requests for modernising existing lines.

AL Circle: How do you handle technical issues or challenges faced by clients using your casting solutions? What kind of support and maintenance services do you offer to clients?

EPIQ Machinery: EPIQ Machinery is committed to the ongoing process of quality improvement, reliability, maintainability, and durability. We provide our customers with world-class technology, innovation, and added product value.

Our team will handle technical issues or challenges just like we do with any other sector or industry. We are an ISO-certified company. We follow processes to handle customers’ requests and to seek improvements to our solutions to meet or exceed up-to-date industrial best practices.

We support equipment until the end of its useful life. The delivery of equipment is the beginning of a journey, whereas we offer a comprehensive suite of services and solutions designed to provide our customers with unprecedented value and cost savings throughout the equipment's life span.

AL Circle: What is your outlook on the future of the aluminium casting equipment market?

EPIQ Machinery: Aluminium is a 100% recyclable material. It is used everywhere, in aerospace, in automative as well as in packaging and in many other areas.

The carbon footprint to produce primary aluminium is certainly significant, but it decreases drastically during recycling. We believe that this area should grow and will follow the measures that are taken by states in favour of the climate.

AL Circle: How have you observed the aluminium casting industry evolving in recent times? How do you anticipate industry dynamics to change in the coming years?

EPIQ Machinery: With the new circular economy trend, we trust that there is room to increase recycling within a primary and secondary aluminium producer ecosystem.

Sow casting is a very efficient way to convert aluminium from the smelter to a product that can be used as prime material for re-melters. Primary foundry ingots or secondary foundry ingots are an excellent way for smaller producers of finished goods, such as the die-cast industry, with an easy-to-use form for their process.

Industrial recycling of clean aluminium cuts approach has been seen in a few places. It seems to be profitable for all stakeholders. However, although EPIQ Machinery provides key equipment to make the implementation of these new practices possible, we are an observer, and we cannot draw conclusion to whether it brings great yield and benefits to producers from initial investments.

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A world class equipment designer specialized in developing innovative & effective solutions for heavy equipment, vehicles, and material handling systems

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A supplier of proven systems and an expert adviser in aluminum casthouse technology, offering its services worldwide to the aluminum industry.

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IBAAS​-IIM 2024

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