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Positive Signs

Shannon Wetzel, Managing Editor

You might have noticed Modern Casting’s “Industry News” section has been fairly robust recently—this issue it fills six pages. We haven’t changed anything on our reporting, but the metalcasting industry has been active with acquisitions, ownership changes, expansions, and other investments. Owners and CEOs are seeing opportunity for business growth and making moves to capitalize.

In the most recent Metalcasters Quarterly Outlook Survey conducted by AFS, although most respondents predict a recession will come in the next year, 87% still expect their foundry’s sales projections to increase for the next 12 months, and 60% expect sales growth of at least 7% (9% are projecting over 20% growth). You can see the full results of the survey at www.afsinc.org/metalcasters-quarterly-outlook-survey.

Even more encouraging news came out of the AFS 2022 Metalcasting Forecast and Trends Midyear Report, which was published this summer. AFS is projecting a 10.5% increase in U.S. casting sales this year, up from a 9.1% estimate in July. Even better, revenue per employee per year is at a 10-year high. This is a reflection of the investments made in employee training and automation. Meanwhile, the number of casting facilities has remained fairly flat the last three years.

I recently visited one such foundry making significant investments to increase its capacity and throughput—Farrar Corp. (Norwich, Kansas), which is featured in this issue on page 18. This is a true jobbing shop that has methodically upgraded its various operations—from melting to molding to machining—over the course of the last four years. Now it’s positioned to meet increased customer demand with a more efficient foundry and a more cost competitive machine shop.

On page 12 of Industry News, you’ll get a glimpse of the brand new investment casting facility that Yamaha built in Greenfield, Indiana. This fresh start offered a chance for Yamaha Precision Propellers Inc. to fully embrace automation where possible. 

“The purpose of our facility was to build on our base asset, which is our people,” said General Manager Batuhan Ak. “We want to have tenured employees with 20, 30, 40 years––we want to leverage automation so that as demand goes up we can increase capacity to meet that demand. And so we automated a lot of difficult functions within the facility. 

But that’s not all—also announced this issue:

  • Effort Foundry under new ownership.
  • Northern Iron and Machine joins Lawton Standard.
  • Wisconsin Aluminum Foundry breaks ground on expansion project.
  • Craft Pattern & Mold adds casting simulation software.

Plus, suppliers to the industry are making expansions and investments of their own. 

With Manufacturing Day occurring this month, it’s a good time to reflect on the state of the industry and where it’s headed. In school visits and open houses, representatives of the casting supply chain will be encouraging students to consider the foundry industry as a career path. The current trends of growth and investment help support their case.

If your company hosted or visited a group of students for Manufacturing Day, share your story with me at swetzel@afsinc.org. Let us hear how you are moving the industry forward.