Foundries make everything from manhole covers to auto parts. Much to the contrary of some people’s beliefs, foundries are busy and bustling businesses in 2019. They are not an outdated type of manufacturing and they need quality employees who want a career in a growing industry. These jobs are on the rise and they pay well.
Some of the jobs in a foundry include:
- production managers
- foundry plant maintenance engineers
- foundry engineers
Many foundries list labor shortages as a significant problem and employment needs rise each year.
Modern foundries have changed a lot from the “old days.” While they still include the use of age-old fire and molten metal, the traditional methods are now being combined with modern, computerized processes allowing technology to assist in the creation of the many products they produce. Software is now in full play with the addition of computer-aided drafting (CAD), 3D printing, and casting simulation. This kind of software can increase quality, efficiency, and safety in today’s foundries.
What do Foundries Manufacture?
Foundries in the United States create most of the metal parts that go into everything from aircraft and medical devices to automobiles and appliances. It’s been considered that 90% of all manufactured goods contain at least some metal castings. We all see and experience some sort of metal cast object on a regular basis. Foundries need many workers with a wide variety of skills sets to make all those parts.
There is everything from entry-level to mid-level jobs available in North American foundries. General labor in a foundry labor might include:
- setting up molds
- removing castings from molds
- cleaning molds for reuse
- general labor
- Building and equipment maintenance
To become a maintenance technician may require some specialized training or an Associate’s degree, but some foundries will offer on the job training to strong candidates. Industrial maintenance generally requires a maintenance engineer who will have a Bachelor’s degree in engineering.
There may be a variety of work schedules available. Some foundries run only a day shift while others offer 1st, 2nd, and even 3rd shifts to meet production demands. Conditions can vary, based upon the metals used. An aluminum foundry may be cooler to work in than a steel foundry, as aluminum melts at a lower temperature than steel.
What’s the process when working in a foundry?
Before an order is started, the sales team will meet with the foundry engineers to gain an understanding of the parts the customer needs and how those part will be used. Using that information, molds are designed accordingly. The next step is for the process engineer to simulate and optimize casting processes by using software which allows a way to envision how all segments of the casting process will fit together. These engineers usually have a degree in Mechanical Engineering or many years of experience in a foundry.
Once the design is completed, the next step is to make a mold which first means making a pattern. Patternmakers have the combined skills of a draftsman, artisan, and craftsman. Patternmakers must be able to work with different materials to produce the pattern for the casting method that has been chosen and must be able to see not just the outside of the part, but the cavities or voids left empty inside the part. In other words, he or she must be able visualize in a three-dimension way seeing both the positive and negative space. They have to be well-versed in CAD (computer-aided drafting) for designing patterns, as well as have knowledge of the use of general shop machinery such as power saws, drilling and boring machines, lathes, and planers.
Next, the foundry production manager will oversee the casting process. He or she will manage the project, keeping scrap within approved limits, meeting deadlines, and maintaining quality standards. Excellent organizational and communication skills are a must in this position. Production managers often have a Bachelor’s degree in engineering, but in some cases may be hired with extensive on-the-job experience. Experienced foundry production managers are always in high demand.
Skilled foundry plant maintenance engineers are vital for keeping foundry operations running smoothly and avoiding downtime. These professionals see to it that equipment is maintained for optimum production, and they perform repairs when necessary. Knowledge of mechanical, electrical and hydraulic systems is fundamental to this role. Foundry plant maintenance engineers must have a strong understanding of how all production processes are related and anticipate problems before they arise. A good foundry plant maintenance engineer thinks creatively and can identify new processes or equipment that can streamline production, reduce costs, and increase safety. Foundry recruiters usually look for candidates with a Bachelor’s degree in engineering for this role but may consider persons with extensive foundry maintenance experience. As in all manufacturing settings, in a foundry time is money, so companies recognize the importance of keeping all of their machinery on-line and running efficiently. As foundry equipment becomes increasingly technical, foundry plant maintenance engineers are more important than ever, and companies are willing to pay top-dollar for persons skilled in this role.
What do I need to know to get a foundry job?
For many positions, you will need Bachelor’s degree in mechanical or industrial engineering or may be eligible if you have had many years of experience with foundry processes. Knowledge of many different casting processes certainly makes you a good candidate. Familiarity with the different metals used in casting – aluminum, zinc, gray iron, white iron, ductile iron, etc. would be a plus for job consideration. If you’re interested in learning and growing in the industry, consider taking an entry level position. This will give you a chance to see how a foundry operates and see if foundry employment is for you.
Foundry work is a big part of American manufacturing. If you have interest in this growing field, it may turn out to offer you the career and lifestyle you’re seeking.
Faircast Inc. is seeking new candidates. See our open positions at https://faircastinc.com/careers/