The corona pandemic has led to a sharp increase in the demand for medical equipment such as respirators.
A Vostermans Alu Foundries’ customer, which is developing and implementing respirators for intensive care units in hospitals, therefore commissioned the casting specialist to cast 700 aluminium bases for these devices in the shortest possible time.
Due to the very short lead time, the project could only succeed if all process steps could be realized first time right. Theo Smeenk, a sand casting process specialist at Vostermans Alu Foundries, thought this could be a good technical and organizational challenge. “Normally, the lead time to produce a reproducible product that meets all requirements is several months. But in this case, I personally felt the pressure that we, as a supplier of aluminium parts, could offer a contribution to reduce pressure in hospitals. We did everything in our power to supply 700 aluminium parts in as short a time as possible.”
Vostermans Alu Foundries’ strength is that the company have various types of casting techniques in-house and has built up a fixed group of reliable partners in order to take care of all of its customers’ needs. This came in handy when receiving this question, as Theo describes: “The question was quite complex, and we started from zero. A model, machine tools and various moulds still had to be developed. Only then could we cast and mechanically rework the products subsequently, in a way that the final products meet the customer’s specifications. Due to the very short lead time, the project could only succeed if all process steps could be realized first time right.”
Aluminium bases produced by sand casting
A number of these finishing operations and the production of the casting model are carried out in cooperation with two partners. It was therefore important that our partners conformed to the very tight time schedule. “On the project’s first Sunday, we sat down at the kitchen table with both partners to further work out and prepare the request”, he says. “Together we decided that it would be realistic to get the complete order of 700 castings ready for transport within two weeks.”
For two weeks, it was all about this order in the sand casting foundry. In the grinding shop dozens of these 5-leg bases were piled up at all workstations, ready to be rework. “Of course, other customers’ orders should not be affected by this order. Despite the big puzzle, we managed to cast and rework all 700 castings within two weeks and they were ready to be shipped in time. It gave great satisfaction to have completed such an important order so quickly,” Theo explains.
“Meanwhile, it fortunately seems the corona crisis is more under control and we, as an organization, have gained a lot of experience. With the experience gained, we will be able to guide customers through the development process even faster in the future. In addition, the importance of good, reliable partners and skilled staff has proven to be essential. After all, we did not do it alone.“