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Reflecting on 2023 and Previewing the Year Ahead

Doug Kurkul

The January issue of Modern Casting has become one of my favorites, as it provides a chance to preview the events and member benefits that American Foundry Society members can access in the year ahead. 

Metalcasting is vital to our supply-chain and national security. Thanks to the “Spotlight on the Modern Metalcasting Industry” video produced by AFS and FEF that has aired the last five months on PBS, millions of people have a better appreciation of our industry. Building on that momentum, AFS chapters, student chapters, and FEF key professors are continuing to show the video to key audiences. You can help by ensuring that the tech-ed teachers and community college instructors you know see the video, which is available on AFS’s YouTube channel. 

In 2023, the news media became engrossed with the topic of artificial intelligence. At AFS, the AI Subcommittee and the Engineering & Smart Manufacturing Division have helped foundry leaders evaluate how to apply AI principles in their facilities. Continuing that focus, on July 30-31, AFS will present its second “Foundry Industry 4.0” Conference in Milwaukee. Attendees will learn how data-driven manufacturing, automation, relevant training and AI can transform foundry operations for sustained success. 

Another theme in 2023 was capital investment. The vast majority of foundries made future-driven investments, whether in equipment, software, process modernization, expansion and in several instances––as I saw first-hand at the grand opening of the new Charlotte Pipe & Foundry facility—new greenfield foundries. This trend will continue in 2024 with 93% of foundries planning capital investments. 

AFS has struck partnerships helping corporate members save on energy costs, get the best possible rates on property & casualty insurance, and receive monthly employment law updates. In December, AFS introduced an app for our digital technical library (see page 3) and expanded the library to more than 17,000 technical articles. We have also launched several new research and knowledge-management initiatives that you’ll be hearing a lot about in the coming months. 

We are excited that AFS chapters will be presenting three Regional programs this year: Wisconsin (Feb. 7-9), Southeast (March 19-21), and Texas (April 11-13), and we encourage your attendance. From there, the momentum builds for Metalcasting Congress 2024, April 23-25 in Milwaukee. From the opening keynote by former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on “Leadership in Uncertain Times” to the closing bell, it will be 2.5 exciting days of presentations, exhibits and networking helping to drive the success of the foundries and foundry men and women. 

As 2024 progresses, we will offer several dozen live AFS Institute courses to build metalcasting skills, in addition to the on-demand Foundry E-Learning. Other highlights will include Safety 101 Seminar in Schaumburg (March 19-20), Advanced Waste Seminar in Schaumburg (May 15-16), Talent Development & Retention Summit in Schaumburg (June 5-6), Foundry Leadership Summit in Colorado Springs (Sept. 22-24), EHS Conference in Grand Rapids (Oct. 1-3), Aluminum Conference near Pittsburgh (Oct. 15-16), Young Professionals meeting in North Carolina (Oct. 28-29) and Melting Conference in Louisville (Nov. 6-7).
In Washington, AFS employs advocates Jeff Hannapel and Stephanie Salmon to represent your interests. Metalcasters are hosting lawmakers at their foundries to familiarize them with our industry. We welcome you to join us in DC for the Government Affairs Fly-In on June 11–12. Regardless of the 2024 election outcomes, AFS will work with both political parties to advance pro-metalcasting policies. 

We look forward to seeing you at an industry event in the coming months!