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Process simulation software was introduced to the foundry industry more than 20 years ago and has become an indispensable engineering tool. Back then, simulation required both large investments in the software itself and even more in computer hardware. The simulation seemed expensive, the calculation took a long time and the results showed almost nothing. A lot has changed since then, especially in today’s world of simulation possibilities for casting processes. Computer hardware is no longer as expensive or as big as a semi-truck. Project turnaround time has been reduced from six months to six hours on standard computing equipment – and a fraction of that on high-end hardware systems. Result resolution has increased twentyfold. The accuracy of the results and the additional functions now available were not even considered years ago.
The main obstacle to acquiring simulation tools is the misconception that the software is too expensive. The cost of casting process simulation software can be shocking if you don’t look past the sticker price. Many members of management give up at this point and never realize the benefits.
Here’s an example all metal casters will appreciate: Your company has a $10 million operation with a 5 percent mixture of scrap castings. That equates to $500,000 in junk. If the simulation can reduce scrap to 3%, the potential savings is $200,000. Simulation cost of $100,000 in the same year gives a return on investment (ROI) of six months. What other savings are eligible? Think of the 2% extra capacity you now have because you don’t have to make up for the scrap loss? Assuming twenty production hours per day and a five-day week, the end result is two additional production hours per week. While two hours may not seem like much, when used for machine service, maintenance and cleaning, you get an increase in casting quality at no extra cost.
Significant savings can also be achieved in the area of reduction tests. You’ve either heard or made this statement: “For the cost of the simulations, I can run multiple experiments on the machine and it’s still cheaper.” This statement makes simulation software seem cost inefficient – but let’s examine how accurate this statement is. A mold is designed and built, shipped to the foundry and installed in the die casting machine. Samples are made, tested and cast, but then have to be scrapped due to poor quality. Possible tool changes are discussed: maybe some can be implemented immediately by grinding and welding – but maybe not. Maybe the foundryman can improve the die on the machine – or he has to send it back to the tool shop. The next tooling sampling is planned soon and hopefully will be better – and meanwhile you need to keep your customer in the loop, explaining what works and what doesn’t, what the problems are, what the possible solutions are – and how long it’s going to take Casting to get it gets the quality product they need and want to deliver.
What happens during this process is that you waste valuable resources of your company such as production time, tooling time and mold life. Above all, you are jeopardizing your customers’ trust in your company. Your client wants their job done right the first time – not explanations and delays; Why would he come back to you when he gets good casts the first time in the other shop that is successfully using the simulation?
Customer satisfaction means customer loyalty – and simulation software helps to ensure customer satisfaction. How do you find the simulation software that best suits your needs and budget? For a company that has never considered simulation software, choosing can be a difficult process.
So where do you start? Contact the vendors you heard about; Browse foundry magazines, attend trade shows and meetings – or ask your customers or successful competitions. Once you have their names, apply the selection processes you use for your other providers. For example: Consider the history and structure of the company: How long have you been in the software business? Is the company an independent entity or a small division in a large company? Does the company make money from selling software? Can it stay in business even if a key person leaves?
Consider the specific needs of your business. Where is the provider located? It’s difficult to deal with someone who is six hours ahead in a different time zone. Check the size of the company and the level of support available: do they have enough competent engineers in the office who understand your die casting process? Two or three engineers seems to be enough – as long as one is not in the field, a second is at a trade show, and the third is unfamiliar with your process. Your business can’t afford to wait days for the right answer.
Potential Determine if you can use the vendor and its software as a marketing tool. Are they well accepted in the industry? Can you impress your customers and get more business by choosing the right software?
These are important questions to ask yourself before even knowing the software cost or features. Keep in mind that answering the above questions will reveal a lot of hidden value for your business that’s hard to value with software cost alone – but at this point you have a good idea of who to talk to about your product.
Finally, consider the software itself. If you read the ads, you’ll probably find that every software company promises the same thing: their software is the fastest, easiest to use, gives the best results, has the most features, etc. You’ll get faster lose in details than you can throw the ads in the trash.
Instead, select three vendors, invite them over, give the engineer the required CAD files of an actual production process, and watch him set up the project. The simulation should run to completion and the provider should provide you with a results presentation and recommendations on their results at your facility. Providers who do not do this should be immediately excluded from the competition. Compare the given results and recommendations with your experience with this casting.
See for yourself
After all of this you will have a good understanding of what is required to american truck simulator mods your process and how accurate the results are. Choose the most promising simulation software and take it for a 3-month trial license. If you are not completely satisfied with the results or the service, you can try the next software. You must be 100% confident that the software you choose will deliver accurate results every time. You can’t afford to buy software that looks cheap at first but costs you money by giving false results.
It’s a challenging task, but following these steps will guide you to a software best suited to your needs and a vendor you can work with for a long time – and once you find the right software, you will begin to see benefits almost from day one. The right software selection and constant use creates an efficient process, reduces overall costs, keeps your existing customers happy and brings new customers on board – and takes a lot of tension out of your daily struggle.