An investigation of current production methods and a failure analysis of products has been carried out in the partner SMEs. The main defect found was surface.
Enamellers of cast iron need to develop a better understanding of the process if they are to maintain and improve their competitive rank. High rework rates are the major constraint on business growth and achieving greater competitiveness against manufacturers from outside the EU and for extending sales of cast iron enamelled products within the European Union. Available markets outside the EU for enamelled cast iron products include the USA and the Asian economies. These economies are also the major competitors to EU companies within Europe and globally. It is important that EU SMEs, who enamel cast iron products, take their share of export markets, defend the existing market for their products, succeed in new markets and bring new products to market. This project is intended to address this through a co operative partnership with the RTDs identified. Primary objectives are to improve productivity and competitiveness of the partner SMEs and to increase sales of enamelled cast iron heating and cooking products. To achieve this the project aims to reduce the following by at least 25%: rework/rejects; consumption of enamel per unit of product; energy consumed per unit of product; direct labour costs. A further objective is to reduce the environmental residue associated with the dumping of spent materials from the process. These objectives will be realised through an investigation into the science of enamelling, including current practice, using modem analytical facilities, available in the RTDs, and by the subsequent development of a computerised Knowledge Technology System. A retum on investment of one year is expected, in the partner SMEs, following implementation of the systems developed and their subsequent exploitation. The Knowledge System developed in this project will consist of a Knowledge Database and an Expert System that includes a reactive diagnosis facility for solving enamel process problems. The total system will aid the development of new enamel fommulations and the design and development of new products. This will improve the competitiveness of the partner SMEs and other partners, from the EU, who elect to join the scheme at some later stage. The industrial partners, who are all SMEs, comprise the prime proposer Waterford Stanley (WSL), who process component parts from manufacture of castings through to subsequent enamelling and final assembly of parts into high added value products, a producer of the enamel raw materials, Escol Products (ESCOL), and two companies Quality Porcelain Enamellers (QPE) and The Rustless Iron Co. (TRICO) who supply an enamel contract service to manufacturing industry. The RTD team consists of the University of Wolverhampton (UNOWV), who are providing the Project Co ordinator, the Materials Ireland Research Centre (MIRC) at the University of Limerick and the Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT). The partners are all complementary to the project, involving analytical providers, a raw material supplier, an end product manufacturer and enamel contract service providers.
Funding SchemeCON - Coordination of research actions
PE18 7EB Huntington
OX8 1TH Eynsham
BS18 15X Keynsham - Bristol
WV1 1SB Wolverhampton