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Planning for a Successful Visit to the Foundry

Dave Charbauski

Visiting your foundry supplier can be a very productive experience for you and your extended team. For those who have never been to a foundry before, the visit can be an exciting and potentially overwhelming experience. The environment can be hot (or cold depending on the time of year and geographic location), noisy, and some things can be on fire!  

Safety is by far the most important thing to keep in mind when you go on a foundry visit.  Every member of your team should be wearing the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) when they visit a supplier. Make sure everyone has the proper footwear—steel-toed safety shoes may be required by the foundry, and some could require metatarsal protection, as well. Safety glasses and ear plugs are mandatory items, and hard hats may also be required. Discuss the PPE requirements with your foundry contact well before the visit date to make sure everyone has time to prepare for the visit. Keep the following safety points in mind:

Moving metal always has the right of way. Foundries often transport ladles of molten metal via overhead monorails or with forklifts. These transportation methods are safe and effective, but as a visitor, you need to be aware of your surroundings and watch for moving metal.  

Watch for pinch points. Whenever you are visiting a foundry (or any manufacturing facility) make sure you don’t get yourself caught in a corner where there is only one point of exit. Pinch points also refer to moving parts of machines where you can get your hand or arm caught. Again, be aware of your surroundings and try to keep yourself from getting in a dangerous situation.

Assume that anything you may touch will be hot. Castings removed from molds or shotblast machines can be very hot, even if they don’t appear to be. Always hover your hand above a casting to feel if there is heat radiating from it before you touch it. 

Consider wearing gloves. Be aware that raw castings can have sharp fins and parting lines. Dust from the sand molding process is also prevalent, so holding onto a railing is a sure way to get your hands and everything you touch afterwards dirty—that’s why gloves can be handy to have on the tour.

Wear clothing that can get dirty. Blue jeans are considered business casual attire in a foundry! Clothing can pick up odors—especially in green sand and furan nobake foundries— that can stay with you for a long time; washable clothing is a must. 

Watch out for sparks. Molten metal can drip from furnaces or ladles during pouring, and when these drips hit the floor, the splash (sparks) can travel some distance. If you will be spending time in the melting, pouring, or grinding areas of the factory, you will likely be offered a green welder’s jacket to protect you from sparks and abrasion.     CS

Click here to view the column in the May/June 2022 digital edition.