Site:               Teksid
                    Aluminum Foundry Division
                    1022 Carmagnola
                    Turin, Italy

Date Visited:       March 29, 1996

WTEC Attendees:     P.H. Mikkola (report author)

Hosts:              Piero Maritano, C.E.O.
                    Sergio Gallo, Honorary Chairman
                    Massimo Fracchia, President - Teksid Inc.
                    Riccardo Tarantini, Vice President and General Manager
                    Paolo Barban, Vice President Engineering
                    Luigi Giachino, Senior Sales Engineer
                    Giampiero Capello, Lost Foam Plant Manager
                    Marcello Badiali, Lost Foam Engineering Manager

Others:             D. Flatt, B. Smith, General Motors

BACKGROUND

The Teksid group is one of the largest metallurgical component casters in the world. Its casting plants are located in Italy, Poland, Brazil, Mexico, and the United States. The cast products are focused on the auto industry although the company does produce aerospace, biomedical, defense, and special alloy castings. Teksid is the world's largest manufacturer of automotive cylinder heads, casting seven million aluminum cylinder heads each year. Varied casting techniques are employed: semipermanent mold (gravity), high pressure die cast, sand cast, and lost foam processes. The company is a leader in both process and product advance development. Most recent efforts have been in the areas of lost foam, magnesium and SiC(p) reinforced aluminum metal matrix composite (MMC) cast products. The majority of the research and advanced development has been conducted in Turin, Italy.

Teksid is part of the Fiat group, which in January 1978, combined its Iron Foundry Division, Aluminum Foundry, and Steel Components into a separate company. Fiat had been in the casting business since 1917.

MANUFACTURING

The Iron Foundry Division manufactures gray and nodular iron castings with two plants near Turin, Italy, a plant in FMB Betim, Brazil, and one in Skoczow, Poland. These operations have 70 years of experience producing gray iron cylinder blocks, cylinder heads, camshafts, disk brake rotors, brake drums, and parts for the refrigeration industry. Nodular iron is produced for crankshafts, connecting rods, camshafts, steering knuckles, suspension arms, and varied brake parts. The production volumes of the iron casting plants are 180,000 tons/year in Carmagnola, 245,000 tons/year in Crescentino, and 120,000 tons/year in Betim, Brazil.

Developments in the iron plants are focused on process improvements to reduce labor content as well as on variation reduction and on quality improvements. High pressure sand molding with in-line controls are poured with automatic pouring equipment; both horizontal and vertical high speed molding lines are used.

Robots are used to handle larger cores for dipping assemblies, and core setting is done with fixtured equipment to assure dimensions. There is significant application of automation to casting processing and inspection, which includes in-line dimensional checking and spheroization checks on nodular iron parts. A smaller operation manufactures lost foam iron castings in both nodular and gray iron.

Computers are used during the design cycle, and varied product component tests are conducted. These include fatigue, strain analysis, and FEA, plus computer simulation of metal solidification.

The equipment was well maintained in the plants the WTEC team visited in Italy. The plants are spacious, applying state-of-the-industry automation to assure competitive cost relative to the United States, Europe, and Japan. As with many iron-sand foundries worldwide, the working environment at Teksid continues to need attention. The workplace is in good order with process flow and inventories at effective levels. It is also apparent that attention to detail and training are a priority of management.

The Aluminum Division is the company's highest growth area, with recent capacity increases in varied areas of the world. The Carmagnola foundry produces 30,000 tons/year of semipermanent mold castings, 25,000 tons of high pressure die castings, and 700 tons of lost foam. This operation is expanding its lost foam operation, from approximately 30 boxes/hour on one molding line to a total of 140 boxes/hour on three molding lines, with the installation of two lines with capacity of 55 boxes/hour. Much of the equipment is being manufactured in Italy. Teksid has made extensive use of U.S. technologies to help develop its lost foam process. To make room for the expansion of lost foam operations, a portion of the high pressure die casting is being transferred to the casting plant in Poland.

Teksid is committed to make this operation at Carmagnola a showplace of technology for high volume production of aluminum. The work pace of the employees and the spacious high bays make for an impressive operation. The lost foam operation is focused on value-added features for the customer such as cast in water and oil lines, light weight features, and zero draft. Teksid currently is manufacturing intake manifolds and a complex overhead cam carrier. The future programs include blocks and heads for the automotive industry.

RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT

Teksid continues to be active in advance product and process development. WTEC's hosts did not review any basic research work, and it is assumed that this is an area in which they are not active. The majority of work is in process development, using varied cast products to showcase the technology.

One of the major new areas of process and product development is in magnesium castings. An example of a cross member for an automotive application is shown in Fig. 5.6. This component is 50% lighter than a comparable steel fabrication, a features a reduced part count (from a 12-piece weldment to a one-piece casting) at the same cost. Figure 5.7 shows a cast auto seat whereby a 55-piece fabrication is made with three castings in Mg. There may be other product developments that were not shown to the WTEC team because of customer-supplier relationships.

In the area of process development, most new processes are developed to reduce the labor process variation and the environmentally difficult jobs of casting operations. These include robot casting degating, auto pouring, robotized palletizing, CAD/CAM interfacing to assure reduced dimensional variation, robotized casting defining, and automatic pouring.

Technical training for the work force continues as a priority for Teksid's operation. The facility WTEC visited had a clean, well-designed training center for employees.

SUMMARY

As with many major casters in the world, Teksid continues to look at cost as the major challenge. As we have seen elsewhere, the higher labor content operations are being relocated into countries with lower labor costs. Teksid, unlike many companies, continues to apply technology where required to continue to improve its value to its customers. It manufactures most of its tools and dies and therefore controls the entire value systems from part to casting via tool design, part testing, computer applications for process simulation, tool design and dimensional control. Teksid's ISO 9000 certification effort will continue its trend toward process variation reduction, work force training, and better understanding of casting technology.

Teksid managers view attracting new, young talent to the industry as a major problem. Casting technology is not an area of choice of young people entering engineering education. In fact, engineering is not even preferred by the best and brightest students in Italy. The work in the casting industry is considered too hard, too dirty, and too low technology to attract today's students. This applies to manufacturing in general with casting near the bottom of the list of selections.

Teksid does the majority of its research and development within its company. Teksid uses university research to better understand metallurgical technology related to specific issues raised in product and process development, but consultants with knowledge in relevant areas are also used from around the world. Teksid's technology staff is sound and has leadership with a good vision of future casting requirements.

Teksid has recently announced the building of a new foundry in Mexico for supplying the U.S. auto industry. It also has signed agreements to begin manufacturing in China and India.

REFERENCES

Iron Foundries. Teksid brochure.
Getti Speciali. Allutek, gruppo Teksid brochure.
Leading Specialists in Aluminum Quality Castings. Alutek, gruppo Teksid brochure.


Published: March 1997; WTEC Hyper-Librarian