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Serving Five Generations of Metalcasters

Doug Kurkul, CEO of AFS

Metalcasting has long been one of the most complex of manufacturing activities. ­ At statement is all the more true now, in light of evolving trends concerning casting design optimization, more options demanded by casting buyers, and shorter product life cycles, which impose constant pressure to reduce the time needed to develop and deliver quality castings. Coupled with intense global and domestic competition, which requires foundries to operate lean in order to be price-competitive, the challenges facing foundries are formidable.

As metalcasters evolve their operations to meet these changing market demands, they are doing so with an increasingly diverse workforce. There are now five generations active within our foundries. Many Traditionalists (born in 1945 or earlier) have retired, but some remain involved in executive, engineering, sales and production roles. Increasingly, members of Generation Z (born since 1997) are joining our ranks. In between are three other generations—Baby Boomers, Gen X, and Millennials that are employed in nearly every foundry.

Moreover, increasing numbers of women are taking their rightful place in our industry; and our workforce is more racially diverse as well. Coupled with technological advances, the very ways that foundry men and women collaborate and communicate are changing.

­ is has enormous implications not only for today’s foundries, but also for the American Foundry Society (AFS) as the largest association serving our $34 billion industry. AFS is committed to engaging the different generations within our member companies to ensure that they all find compelling value in connecting with and participating in our organization (in person and digitally).

After all, AFS plays a variety of roles and delivers an array of benefits:

  • Sharing cutting-edge technical information, management best-practices, and economic forecasts.
  • Educating casting designers and buyers on the benefits of castings.
  • Delivering education and developing worker skills.
  • Advocating for pro-metalcasting public policies and helping foundries comply with government rules.
  • Facilitating business connections, exhibition opportunities, and print/digital advertising options that encourage commerce, and increase the profitability of this great industry.

AFS is delivering these benefits in diverse ways that meet member needs. This subject is top of mind now, as we prepare for Metalcasting Congress 2020, to be held in Cleveland from April 21 to April 23.

In addition to 69 technical sessions, the event includes a number of management sessions that address human resources management, marketing best practices, plus government advocacy and legal compliance. ­ The Future Leaders in Metalcasting group will present programming specifically targeted at the interests of early-career professionals, as will the growing Women in Metalcasting group.

Technology presents exciting ways for AFS to advance members’ business and technical goals. The AFS digital metalcasting library is one the world’s finest. AFS is hosting more than 30 informative webinars per year, a 400% increase since 2017.

Video Central allows members to share their videos with target audiences. Online advertising complements traditional print advertising in AFS magazines and sponsorship of well-attended AFS events.

AFS now offers education courses in formats including classroom courses, e-Learning delivered by computer, and affordable in-plant training delivered right in your facility. To advance knowledge transfer among the generations in your workforce, new education offerings include Supervisor Development Training, training for casting designers via streaming video, and training to help your employees develop your own on-the-job-training for key positions.

Finally, as our industry moves decisively into leveraging additive manufacturing and Industry 4.0 technologies on the foundry floor, AFS is offering specialized conferences on those topics.

Our industry is evolving rapidly. AFS is changing rapidly too so as to meet our industry’s changing needs. Let us know how we can serve you and your company.