A key mile marker on the way to Co2 neutrality

Sustainability is a major focus for modern foundries. So how is this affecting equipment development? Particularly in the melt shop – the most energy-intensive part of any casing process.

We caught up with Dr Theodoor van der Hoeven, VP Product Development at StrikoWestofen, to find out.

  • Hello Theodoor. Tell us, how is sustainability currently reflected in what customers are asking you for?

For most of our customers, sustainability goals are met by achieving greater levels of energy efficiency – something that has always been at the heart of our product development. Our melting and dosing furnaces have this performance criteria designed into their DNA. 

‘Carbon neutral production’ is a phrase gaining prominence in discussions with our customers, particularly those servicing the automotive industry. But here too, big picture thinking leads down familiar roads. How do we waste less metal, reduce scrap, use less power, make our processes leaner? Customers know these tactical goals support broader C02 neutral ambitions. And their bottom line. 

They also know it’s an area we are committed to, not simply in terms of the solutions we offer but with regards to our own performance as a supplier – our recent commitment to science-based targets for monitoring and measuring our emissions and carbon footprint reflecting this. 



  • Would you say there is a strong commercial driver for foundries around sustainability?

Of course. Pursuing a green agenda doesn’t mean having to shy away from commerciality and profitability. Quite the opposite. Especially now with global energy prices and metal supply chains the way they are. Ecologically we all need to consume less resources. But the cost driver in reducing consumption is significant and always has been. It makes business sense.

By 2035 there is little doubt that decisions on cast part supplies will be inextricably linked to sustainability credentials. And - certainly with the lifespan of modern furnaces - that has implications for equipment specification today. Calculations regarding potential lost revenue are creeping in as weights to add to the scale.

The commercial argument for sustainable casting is also getting stronger. Currently our customers are not losing out on business because of a less than ideal carbon neutral status. But they know this is the direction of travel. 

green foundry

  • How is StrikoWestofen’s product development helping customers face this future?

In terms of technical performance in areas such as minimizing metal wastage and energy consumption, we are already quite advanced. That doesn’t mean we stop looking at ‘better’ in terms of furnace design of course, but it does mean we’re talking medium percentage gains. When used with biomethane our furnaces are also already carbon neutral, though we are looking at broader opportunities in this respect.

Where we can deliver the biggest impact right now is in product development and digital solutions that helps customers leverage the full potential of our furnaces. And do so more easily. That’s what we are being asked for. Reaching performance potential is a key mile marker on the way to CO2 neutrality.

It’s a task ideally suited to software development linked to control capabilities. For example, a Westomat solution currently in development will see the machine’s control system able to make more automated calculations and adjust settings to optimise performance based on usage.

Another good example is our Part Load Efficiency Control (PLEC) which we now offer as a retrofit option with StrikoMelter. This software solution automatically optimizes and co-ordinates furnace controls - from switching between ‘melting’ and ‘holding’ to managing shaft lasers and shaft cover closure - to achieve the best possible energy consumption during periods of low furnace utilization. A big problem for foundries in terms of sustainable production. From a cost and environmental perspective.


  • Are you also being asked about how digital solutions can help?

Yes and no. Our customers know what their furnace is capable of but not necessarily the steps they can and need to take to make sure that potential is reached. The question is constant but not specific to digital. It’s simply, how can you help?

For some, the answer is a more digitized foundry set-up. For instance using our cloud-based Monitizer® | REFILL MONITOR or Monitizer® | DISCOVER to optimise dosing furnace filling to avoid wasted resources and un-sustainable downtime, or to aggregate and analyse data from multiple StrikoMelters, whole die casting lines and even different global sites in order to make informed decisions and process improvements.

For others, it’s about the type of solutions I was talking about before – improvements to furnace control solutions etc.

The broad spectrum of solutions we offer, coupled with the practical foundry floor experience we have gained over the decades, means we are in a fortunate position. We are able to advise on the best route forward for any specific foundry to suit their individual production challenges. Without a predetermined answer. In other words, without pushing customers down a path they might not be ready for yet.

Norican digital solution


  • Speaking of production challenges, accommodating ‘giant’ casting is another reality many foundries now face to meet demand for larger parts. Do you think this trend is at odds with sustainable casting?

No, I don’t. And in fact there is a significant link between the two.

Most of the enquiries we receive regarding more sustainable - in particular, carbon neutral - production, are linked to e-mobility. Which is also where we see the highest demand for giant, or so-called ‘giga’ casting. Rapid growth in the electric vehicle market means foundries are looking for melting and casting equipment to help them produce larger parts with a high degree of repeatability and quality consistency.

So, while the requests we are receiving from customers might not necessarily combine the two, there is clearly common ground. Which is perfect for us as we can help customers on both counts.