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ML – Metalúrgia de Lourosa optimizes manufacturing processes with support from INEGI

09 February 2023
Metalúrgica de Lourosa, a company that operates in the sector of aluminium casting and anodizing, as well as in aluminium and iron lacquering, had INEGI's support to audit and optimize its manufacturing process and respective energy consumption.

José Miguel Silva, responsible for the project at INEGI, explains that "competitiveness in the metallurgical industry is closely linked to continuous improvement. And to achieve more difficult goals - such as entering more competitive markets and producing more technically demanding parts - it is essential to invest in the evolution of technology and processes, reducing costs and anticipating problems in production".

The intervention of INEGI's team of specialists paves the way for tighter and more effective production control, thanks to the instrumentation and data collection methods designed by INEGI. Temperature of the metal and molds, pouring times, aging times, are some of the information to be collected, which allow correlating variables with the results obtained in the produced parts.

Alongside this, new solutions were also suggested for foundry furnaces and molding machines, and improvements were proposed for current practices in the manufacturing process, namely new ways of cleaning and degassing the bath. Improvement proposals also focused on the analysis of the quality of the metal, defect analysis  and even the incorporation of machining centres.

Energy optimization also brings great gains

The metallurgical industry is one of the sectors with the highest energy consumption and with a strong dependence on non-renewable energy resources. This is why this area also deserved the attention of INEGI's team.

After analyzing the energy consumption, the team drew up a plan of good practices and recommendations. Among these was the replacement of the gas melting furnaces by an electric furnace with greater capacity, as this action would represent savings of 82%, and a return on investment of around 4 months.

The electrification of the foundry sector, in fact, combined with the use of photovoltaic panels, would result in a reduction in the company's electrical consumption of around 43%, according to the team's analysis. Installing a 75kWh battery pack would increase the reduction to 46%, and this bet would have a payback period of less than 6 years.

The reuse of thermal energy was also a priority, with the proposal to install air/water heat exchangers in the exhaust of the foundry furnaces and the cooling circuit of the drying ovens and lacquering vats. Given that the lacquering sector accounts for 10% of the company's global LPG costs, the measure will have an impact of around 40% on the sector, and a return on investment of around 5 and a half years.

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