With a ceremony held directly in the production hall, the Kurtz Ersa Corporation opened its new SMART FOUNDRY on 6 March. A year and a month had passed since the turning of the first sod in Hasloch - the starting shot for an ambitious project which has now been brought to a successful conclusion and officially handed over for its intended purpose. 150 invited guests, customers, project partners, representatives of important associations and staff were in attendance as the ribbon was cut.
With the decision for the SMART FOUNDRY, Kurtz Ersa pursued a strategic reorientation intended to secure the long-term continuity of the iron foundry and the over 100 jobs at the Hasloch site. This resulted in investments amounting to twelve million euro for what is probably the world's most modern hand mould foundry - a further significant milestone in the over 235-year history of the company which has included iron casting in its core competences since 1852.
Today the broadly-based product range encompasses, among other things, planetary carriers, machine beds and pump housings for well-known customers from such branches as mechanical engineering, drive engineering, power engineering, vehicle construction, vacuum engineering and wind energy. A study commissioned in advance attests to the necessary potential for the Kurtz product range to utilise the full capacity of the iron foundry with the production of high-quality cast iron parts for German industry in the future as well.
Doubled productivity, increased efficiency
From this, the parties involved in the project have developed a creative solution which illustrates the trend to "Industrie 4.0" and leads to a doubling of productivity with increased efficiency. The concept: Exploiting as many existing buildings as possible, SMART FOUNDRY focuses on a completely new material flow and continuous clocked hand moulding production in keeping with the Toyota production system. An SAP-controlled production concept, parcelled production areas and an unmanned, universally mobile transport system result in a flexible process chain in which manual production phases and an automated logistics system can be ideally combined.
1,700 m² of ground-up renovations and 2,580 m² of newly-constructed buildings are two of the major figures in the project, but say little about the very short construction period. Just one example: The construction of the hall alone required extensive foundation work with over 2,000 meters of bored pile rammed in far below the water table. Numerous partners contributed to the successful outcome of the SMART FOUNDRY project - from the architects, Menig & Partner to the developer Riedel Bau und Bauer, the plant supplier F.A.T. Förder- and Anlagentechnik, Nederman Filtration, DEMAG Krane and WFT Fertigungstechnik. And of course we should not forget our specially-established Kurtz Ersa Project Team, the staff from our company's own IT department or directly from the iron foundry line.
"Nobody walking around the factory yard today can possible imagine the situation here on the site between January and August 2014. It was often a question of split-second timing to ensure that cranes, diggers, low loaders, cement trucks and drilling equipment could be accommodated in the very scant space while operations continued. The construction schedule foresaw 1 September for the commencement of production - with a planned two-and-a-half week interruption of operations. Apparently impossible, but we succeeded - without a single accident. And that warrants a big "thank you" to all involved!", said Kurtz Ersa chief executive, Rainer Kurtz, regarding a project which, thanks to meticulous planning, was crowned by success.
SMART FOUNDRY - one of the world's most modern hand mould foundry
At the ceremony which started at 1 pm on 6 March, Graziano Sammati, Managing Director of Kurtz Eisenguss GmbH & Co. KG, greeted numerous representatives from the spheres of politics and business, customers, business partners, project partners, advisory bodies, shareholders and staff - and expressed his pleasure that "so many guests had accepted the invitation to Hasloch to personally attend the opening of one of the world's most modern hand mould foundry." He emphasised that a task of these extraordinary dimensions could only be successfully implemented with a powerful project team from the various fields: "My thanks to all the external partners - and to our staff who, despite the reconstruction phase and under extremely difficult conditions, displayed such enormous dedication, producing many tonnes of finished castings for our customers!"
In his speech, Dr. Paul Beinhofer, President of the District Government of Lower Franconia, paid tribute to the entrepreneurial decision: "With its constant investment and future-oriented strategies in recent years, Kurtz Ersa has avowed its commitment to Germany as a business location and, with the SMART FOUNDRY, strengthened and further developed its presence here in Hasloch - with an effect which will resonate far beyond European borders. Max Schumacher too, Managing Director of the German Foundry Association (BDG), accepted the invitation to speak and used the opportunity to prove that the German iron foundry industry continues to be an engine of innovation and a technological leader. It was worth investing in iron foundries in Germany, he claimed, even if the volume growth is now taking place in Asia.
"I walked around here today and I can assure you that Kurtz Ersa has set the bar very high indeed with its SMART FOUNDRY - even in global terms: customer-oriented, productive, innovative, efficient, active - these are what allow progress to be moulded", said the BDG man Schumacher. Only those who permanently adapt to changing circumstances have the chance to enjoy permanent success.
Numerous participants used the opportunity in the morning to familiarise themselves with the innovative concept of the SMART FOUNDRY in the form of special lectures - even distinguished experts were impressed by the complexity of the new Kurtz iron foundry which, ultimately, makes all work processes run simply and smoothly. The topics in the highly-frequented HAMMERMUSEUM were "Industrie 4.0: SAP-controlled processes in foundries in conjunction with the modular, individual transport system", "New standards in the regeneration of cold resin bonded sand" and "State of the art in suction extraction and heat recovery in foundries".
The last lecture on the programme was "Burr-free cast iron - how know-how pays off from day one", which Kurtz Eisenguss Managing Director Graziano Sammati declared a matter for the boardroom, giving the lecture himself. The musical framework for the festive opening ceremony was provided by "Trio Ferro" and Svetlana Arts with a breathtaking aerial silk performance - symbolising where Kurtz Ersa SMART FOUNDRY is heading: to dizzying heights!
Shortly before the traditional ribbon-cutting ceremony, Rainer Kurtz told the assembled guests: "With the SMART FOUNDRY, I am pleased and proud to be able to present you with an Industrie 4.0 foundry with a length of 320 meters and with 23,000 square meters of production area. We have spared no effort to set standards in terms of the SAP-controlled production concept, including continuous clocking in accordance with the Toyota principle, workplace quality, environmental protection and energy recovery. For we are firmly rooted in this location; this is where it all began - and this is where we want to stay. With our new iron foundry, we are completely hardwired to growth!"
Following the official ceremony, tours were conducted through the new Kurtz iron foundry where visitor could view the Industrie 4.0 foundry from up close - and that is as close as it will ever get as production is to be powered-up in Hasloch immediately.