Four years ago I wrote in the Castings SA magazine – the sister publication to Metalworking News – about how to further improve the quality and cost position of Atlantis Foundries, the company embarked on an ambitious plan to build a Smart Foundry. The basic building blocks for such a concept are robotics, process instrumentation and the tracking of components using RFID and other software applications. With all the data available and it being traceable to individual castings, the door opened to enable the use of Artificial Intelligence for process control and inspection of components.
The project aimed to combine various technologies available to gather and analyse process data, with the aim of improving product quality and cost efficiency. As a result, today Atlantis Foundries is one of the most advanced manufacturers of complex castings in the world.
“The corner stone of the project is the programme of automation in the foundry. The Fanuc robots installed have become the workhorse to carry instruments that acquire data while handling or performing its operations. All the data collected throughout the process by the robots and the variety of inline instruments will be linked to specific castings. At the end of the process, the entire set of process parameters including operator information will be available for each casting,” explained Pieter du Plessis, CEO of Atlantis Foundries at the time and now back at the helm after a short absence.
As a result, today Atlantis Foundries is one of the most advanced manufacturers of complex castings in the world. The South African company very involved with the machine monitoring and data collection and analysis – DataProphet – have since gone onto bigger ventures internationally. However, I will always remember how the CEO and Co-Founder of the company, Frans Cronje told me that shortly after the publishing of the article he was summonsed to go and visit various foundry owners and CEOs in Germany. They wanted to know more. Well today DataProphet is a very different company, in terms of ownership and partners.
This issue covers the launch of a new South African product that has the potential to be as successful as DataProphet products is. Manufacturing can be a complex process. Timeous quoting, changing market conditions, scheduling, bills of material, quality control and tracking are just some of the elements that make the need for the right software that controls the entire flow an absolute necessity. Most software programmes don’t talk to each other – whether it is finance, sales, production, logistics, HR, IT (CAD/CAM software, CRM/ERP) or machine CNC controls. That is until now.
Tekenso is an international technology company that has a very strong South African influence, has developed a complete production management system, developed to radically simplify and optimise the production of sheet metal – and yet is also easily adaptable to other fabrication or manufacturing environments.
The company says the flagship product eTrack, which comprises an integrated software programme for the sheet metal and other manufacturing sectors, provides a manufacturing and production management platform, delivered via a powerful software solution for future-proofed fabrication.
The developers claim: “Through our eTrack methodology we will give our customers a next level ability to track and to control the flow of jobs through the business such that they can give world class communication to their customers. Our ability to enable our customers to see into the “black box” is designed to significantly reduce the stress in the business.”
We wish them the very best with another South African development that has the potential to make a difference in the manufacturing world.