Up-To-Date Data Boosts Quality Assurance


Neenah Foundry, a subsidiary of Neenah Enterprises, Neenah, Wis., melts and processes 1,200 tons of iron a day. Producing that kind of volume, the facility depends heavily on its quality control (QC) and quality assurance (QA) processes, specifically MeltLab thermal analysis and the Graphic Statistical Process Control (GSPC) system.MeltLab Systems, Winchester, Va., provides software to control many facility processes, with the GSPC system collecting, sharing and mining data while communicating test results to computers throughout the facility in real time.

Neenah Foundry installed MeltLab software for thermal analysis and process control.

Neenah Foundry installed MeltLab software for thermal analysis and process control.

“I believe MeltLab is the best thermal analysis software on the market right now for determining CE, carbon and silicon,” said Mike Riabov, former director of metallurgy and technical services. “It can give you the carbon equivalent in about 20 seconds.”

Neenah first installed MeltLab and GSPC in its Plant 1 in 1989, and then expanded to include Plants 2 and 3 in the ’90s.

“Prior to GSPC, when it came to sharing results, we basically had nothing,” said Frank Headington, corporate vice president of technology. “Once we added the GSPC system, it sped time up. As soon as the spectrometer samples are run and the spectrometer operator looks at it and hits send, it’s immediately processed. It shows up at all the melt centers.

“The lead man can see the cupola data and holding furnace data and see what the last analyses were, so he can use that recipe for the next treatment. The GSPC led to better decision-making—better and timelier.”

Neenah recently upgraded its GSPC system to allow the facility’s two melt centers, five holding furnaces and five metal processing centers to communicate in real time.

“GSPC has an excellent database,” Headington said. “In addition to the chemistry, which is the primary advantage of all this, all our metallurgical data, test bars and mechanical properties are fed into the system as well.”

The MeltLab and GSPC systems can be customized to meet a metalcasting facility’s specific needs. Information can be collected from a number of locations, including spectrometers, sand controllers/mullers, Brinell stations, sand labs and melt deck info centers.