Mathematical programming, constraint programming and computational intelligence techniques, presented in the literature in the field of operations research and production management, are generally inadequate for planning real-life production process. These methods are in fact dedicated to solving the standard problems such as shop floor scheduling or lot-sizing, or their simple combinations such as scheduling with batching. Whereas many real-world production planning problems require the simultaneous solution of several problems (in addition to task scheduling and lot-sizing, the problems such as cutting, workforce scheduling, packing and transport issues), including the problems that are difficult to structure. The article presents examples and classification of production planning and scheduling systems in the foundry industry described in the literature, and also outlines the possible development directions of models and algorithms used in such systems.
The problem considered in the paper is motivated by production planning in a foundry equipped with the furnace and casting line, which provides a variety of castings in various grades of cast iron/steel for a large number of customers. The quantity of molten metal does not exceed the capacity of the furnace, the load is a particular type of metal from which the products are made in the automatic casting lines. The goal is to create the order of the melted metal loads to prevent delays in delivery of goods to customers. This problem is generally considered as a lot-sizing and scheduling problem. The paper describes two computational intelligence algorithms for simultaneous grouping and scheduling tasks and presents the results achieved by these algorithms for example test problems.
The problem considered in the paper is motivated by production planning in a foundry equipped with the furnace and casting line, which provides a variety of castings in various grades of cast iron/steel for a large number of customers. The quantity of molten metal does not exceed the capacity of the furnace, the load is a particular type of metal from which the products are made. The goal is to create the order of the melted metal loads to prevent delays in delivery of goods to customers. This problem is generally considered as a lot-sizing and scheduling problem. The paper describes a mathematical programming model that formally defines the optimization problem and its relaxed version that is based on the conception of rolling-horizon planning
The paper discusses the impact of the geometry of foundry pallet components on the value of temperature gradient on the wall crosssection during heat treatment. The gradient is one of the most important factors determining the distribution of thermal stresses in these items. Analysis of quantitative simulation was carried out to detect possible effect of the type of connection between pallet walls and thickness of these walls (ribs) on the interior temperature distribution during rapid cooling. The analysis was performed for five basic designs of wall connections used in pallets. Basing on the results obtained, the conclusions were drawn on the best connection between the ribs in foundry pallets.
The problem of materials selection in terms of their mechanical properties during the design of new products is a key issue of design. The complexity of this process is mainly due to a multitude of variants in the previously produced materials and the possibility of their further processing improving the properties. In everyday practice, the problem is solved basing on expert or designer knowledge. The paper is the proposition of a solution using computer-aided analysis of material experimental data, which may be acquired from external data sources. In both cases, taking into account the rapid growth of data, additional tools become increasingly important, mainly those which offer support for adding, viewing, and simple comparison of different experiments. In this paper, the use of formal knowledge representation in the form of an ontology is proposed as a bridge between physical repositories of data in the form of files and user queries, which are usually formulated in natural language. The number and the sophisticated internal structure of attributes or parameters that could be the criteria of the search for the user are an important issue in the traditional data search tools. Ontology, as a formal representation of knowledge, enables taking into account the known relationships between concepts in the field of cast iron, materials used and processing techniques. This allows the user to receive support by searching the results of experiments that relate to a specific material or processing treatment. Automatic presentation of the results which relate to similar materials or similar processing treatments is also possible, which should make the conducted analysis of the selection of materials or processing treatments more comprehensive by including a wider range of possible solutions.
The paper outlines the methodology of virtual design of a foundry plant as a system. The most important stage in the procedure involves the development of a model defined as a set of data about the system. Model development involves two stages: defining the model’s architecture and specifying the model data in the form of parameters and input-output relationships. The structure is understood as configuration of machines and transport units, representing the sub-systems and system components. As the main purpose of the simulation procedure is to find the characteristics of the system’s behaviour, the merits of the iterative method involving analysis, synthesis and evaluation of results are fully explored.
The dimensional accuracy of a final casting of Inconel 738 LC alloy is affected by many aspects. One of them is the choice of method and time of cooling the wax model for precision investment casting. The main objective of this work was to study the initial deformation of the complex shape of a rotor blades casting. Various approaches have been tested for cooling a wax pattern. When wax models are air cooled and without clamping in the jig for cooling, deviations from the ideal shape of the casting are very noticeable (up to 8 mm) and most are in extreme positions of the model. When the blade is cooled in the fixing jig in a water environment, the resulting deviations compared to those of air cooling are significantly larger, sometimes up to 10 mm. This itself does not mean that the final shape of the casting is dimensionally more accurate with the usage of wax models, which have smaller deviations from the ideal position. Another deformation occurs when the shell mould is produced around the wax pattern and further deformations emerge while cooling the blade casting. This paper demonstrates the first steps in describing the complex process of deformations occurring in Inconel alloy blades produced with investment casting technology by comparing results of thermal imagery, simulations in foundry simulation software ProCAST 2010, and measurements from a CNC scanning system using a Carl Zeiss MC 850. Conclusions are so far not groundbreaking, but it seems that deformations of the wax pattern and deformations of the castings do in some cases cancel each other by having opposite directions. Describing the whole process of deformations will help increase the precision of blade castings so that the models at the beginning and the blades in the end are the same.
The mathematical and numerical simulation model of the liquid steel flow in a tundish is presented in this paper. The problem was treated as a complex and solved by the finite element method. The single-strand slab tundish is used to continuous casting slabs. The internal work space of the tundish was modified by the following flow control devices. The first device was a striker pad situated in the pouring tundish zone. The second device was a baffle with three holes and the third device was a baffle without hole. The main purpose of using these devices was to cause a quiet liquid mixing as well as give directional metal flow upwards which facilitated inclusion floatation. The interaction of flow control devices on hydrodynamic conditions was received from numerical simulation. As a result of the computations carried out, the liquid steel flow and steel temperature fields were obtained. The influence of the tundish modification on velocity fields in the liquid phase of steel was estimated, because these have an essential influence on high quality of a continuous steel cast slab.
The article presents a study on the effectiveness of the foundries using Data Envelopment Analysis (DEA) method. The aim of the article is to analyze the usefulness of DEA method in the study of the relative efficiency of the foundries. DEA is a benchmarking technique based on linear programming to evaluate the effectiveness of the analyzed objects. The research was conducted in four Polish and two foreign plants. Evaluated foundries work in similar markets and have similar production technology. We created a DEA model with two inputs (fixed assets and employment) and one output (operating profit). The model was produced and solved using Microsoft Excel together with its Solver add-in. Moreover, we wrote a short VBA script to perform automating calculations. The results of our study include a benchmark and foundries’ ranking, and directions to improve the efficiency of inefficient units. Our research has shown that DEA can be a very valuable method for evaluating the efficiency of foundries.
In the paper, we present a coordinated production planning and scheduling problem for three major shops in a typical alloy casting foundry, i.e. a melting shop, molding shop with automatic line and a core shop. The castings, prepared from different metal, have different weight and different number of cores. Although core preparation does not required as strict coordination with molding plan as metal preparation in furnaces, some cores may have limited shelf life, depending on the material used, or at least it is usually not the best organizational practice to prepare them long in advance. Core shop have limited capacity, so the cores for castings that require multiple cores should be prepared earlier. We present a mixed integer programming model for the coordinated production planning and scheduling problem of the shops. Then we propose a simple Lagrangian relaxation heuristic and evolutionary based heuristic to solve the coordinated problem. The applicability of the proposed solution in industrial practice is verified on large instances of the problem with the data simulating actual production parameters in one of the medium size foundry.
The size and complexity of decision problems in production systems and their impact on the economic results of companies make it necessary to develop new methods of solving these problems. One of the latest methods of decision support is business rules management. This approach can be used for the quantitative and qualitative decision, among them to production management. Our study has shown that the concept of business rules BR can play at most a supporting role in manufacturing management, but alone cannot form a complete solution for production management in foundries.
The problem considered in the paper is motivated by production planning in a foundry equipped with a furnace and a casting line, which provides a variety of castings in various grades of cast iron/steel for a large number of customers. The goal is to create the order of the melted metal loads to prevent delays in delivery of goods to customers. This problem is generally considered as a lot-sizing and scheduling problem. However, contrary to the classic approach, we assumed the fuzzy nature of the demand set for a given day. The paper describes a genetic algorithm adapted to take into account the fuzzy parameters of simultaneous grouping and scheduling tasks and presents the results achieved by the algorithm for example test problem.
The paper presents a novel Iterated Local Search (ILS) algorithm to solve multi-item multi-family capacitated lot-sizing problem with setup costs independent of the family sequence. The model has a direct application to real production planning in foundry industry, where the goal is to create the batches of manufactured castings and the sequence of the melted metal loads to prevent delays in delivery of goods to clients. We extended existing models by introducing minimal utilization of furnace capacity during preparing melted alloy. We developed simple and fast ILS algorithm with problem-specific operators that are responsible for the local search procedure. The computational experiments on ten instances of the problem showed that the presence of minimum furnace utilization constraint has great impact on economic and technological conditions of castings production. For all test instances the proposed heuristic is able to provide the results that are comparable to state-of-the art commercial solver.
The paper presents an analysis of SPC (Statistical Process Control) procedures usability in foundry engineering. The authors pay particular attention to the processes complexity and necessity of correct preparation of data acquisition procedures. Integration of SPC systems with existing IT solutions in area of aiding and assistance during the manufacturing process is important. For each particular foundry, methodology of selective SPC application needs to prepare for supervision and control of stability of manufacturing conditions, regarding specificity of data in particular “branches” of foundry production (Sands, Pouring, Metallurgy, Quality).
Production of castings, like any other field of technology is aimed at providing high-quality product, free from defects. One of the main causes of defects in castings is the phenomenon of shrinkage of the casting. This phenomenon causes the formation of shrinkage cavities and porosity in the casting. The major preventive measure is supplementing a shortage of liquid metal. For supplement to be effective, it is necessary to use risers in proper shapes. Usually, the risers are selected on the basis of determination the place of formation of hot-spots in the castings. Although in these places the shrinkage defects are most likely to occur, shape and size of these defects are also affected by other factors. The article describes the original program setting out the shape and location of possible cavities in the casting. In the program is also taken into account the effect of temperature on the change in volume of liquid metal and the resultant differences in the shape and size of formed shrinkage cavities. The aim of the article is to describe the influence that have material properties of the mold on the simulation results.
The object of the experimental studies was to determine the mechanical properties of a hypoeutectic EN AC - 42100 (EN ACAlSi7Mg0,3) silumin alloy, where the said properties are changing as a result of subjecting the samples of different types to solution treatment. An important aspect of the studies was the use type of device for the heat treatment. As a basic parameter representing the mechanical properties, the tensile strength of the metal (Rm) was adopted.
This work presents the project of the application of Case-based reasoning (CBR) methodology to an advisory system. This system should give an assistance by selection of proper alloying additives in order to obtain a material with predetermined mechanical properties. The considered material is silumin EN AC-46000 (hypoeutectic Al-Si alloy) that is modified by the addition of Cr, Mo, V and W elements in the range from 0% to 0.5% in the modified alloy. The projected system should indicate to the user the content of particular additives so that the obtained material is in the chosen range of parameters: tensile strength Rm, yield strength Rp0.2, elongation A and hardness HB. The CBR methodology solves new problems basing on the solutions of similar problems resolved in the past. The advantage of the CBR application is that the advisory system increases knowledge base as the subsequent use of the system. The presented design of the advisory system also considers issues related to the ergonomics of its operation.
The article describes the problem of selection of heat treatment parameters to obtain the required mechanical properties in heat- treated bronzes. A methodology for the construction of a classification model based on rough set theory is presented. A model of this type allows the construction of inference rules also in the case when our knowledge of the existing phenomena is incomplete, and this is situation commonly encountered when new materials enter the market. In the case of new test materials, such as the grade of bronze described in this article, we still lack full knowledge and the choice of heat treatment parameters is based on a fragmentary knowledge resulting from experimental studies. The measurement results can be useful in building of a model, this model, however, cannot be deterministic, but can only approximate the stochastic nature of phenomena. The use of rough set theory allows for efficient inference also in areas that are not yet fully explored.
This article presents a computer system for the identification of casting defects using the methodology of Case-Based Reasoning. The system is a decision support tool in the diagnosis of defects in castings and is designed for small and medium-sized plants, where it is not possible to take advantage of multi-criteria data. Without access to complete process data, the diagnosis of casting defects requires the use of methods which process the information based on the experience and observations of a technologist responsible for the inspection of ready castings. The problem, known and studied for a long time, was decided to be solved with a computer system using a CBR (CaseBased Reasoning) methodology. The CBR methodology not only allows using expert knowledge accumulated in the implementation phase, but also provides the system with an opportunity to "learn" by collecting new cases solved earlier by this system. The authors present a solution to the system of inference based on the accumulated cases, in which the main principle of operation is searching for similarities between the cases observed and cases stored in the knowledge base.
One way to ensure the required technical characteristics of castings is the strict control of production parameters affecting the quality of the finished products. If the production process is improperly configured, the resulting defects in castings lead to huge losses. Therefore, from the point of view of economics, it is advisable to use the methods of computational intelligence in the field of quality assurance and adjustment of parameters of future production. At the same time, the development of knowledge in the field of metallurgy, aimed to raise the technical level and efficiency of the manufacture of foundry products, should be followed by the development of information systems to support production processes in order to improve their effectiveness and compliance with the increasingly more stringent requirements of ergonomics, occupational safety, environmental protection and quality. This article is a presentation of artificial intelligence methods used in practical applications related to quality assurance. The problem of control of the production process involves the use of tools such as the induction of decision trees, fuzzy logic, rough set theory, artificial neural networks or case-based reasoning.
The results of research on the effect of the type of cooling agent used during heat treatment and thermal-chemical treatment on the formation of temperature gradient and stress-deformation distribution in cast pallets, which are part of furnace accessories used in this treatment, are disclosed. During operation, pallets are exposed to the effect of the same conditions as the charge they are carrying. Cyclic thermal loads are the main cause of excessive deformations or cracks, which after some time of the cast pallet operation result in its withdrawal due to damage. One of the major causes of this damage are stresses formed under the effect of temperature gradient in the unevenly cooled pallet construction. Studies focused on the analysis of heat flow in a charge-loaded pallet, cooled by various cooling agents characterized by different heat transfer coefficients and temperature. Based on the obtained temperature distribution, the stress distribution and the resulting deformation were examined. The results enabled drawing relevant conclusions about the effect of cooling conditions on stresses formed in the direction of the largest temperature gradient.
By the very nature of their work, castings used in furnaces for heat treatment and thermo-chemical treatment are exposed to the effect of many unfavorable factors causing their deformation and cracking, significantly shortening the lifetime. The main source of damage are the micro- and macro-thermal stresses appearing in each cycle. As the cost of furnace instrumentation forms a significant part of the total furnace cost, in designing this type of tooling it is important to develop solutions that delay the damage formation process and thus extend the casting operation time. In this article, two structural modifications introduced to pallets castings to reduce thermal stresses arising at various stages of the cooling process are proposed. The essence of the first modification consists in making technological recesses in the wall connections, while the aim of the second one is to reduce the stiffness of the pallet by placing expanders in the external walls. Using the results of simulation analyses carried out by the finite element method, the impact of both proposed solutions on the level of thermal stresses was evaluated.
The purpose of this study was to establish a relationship between the type of wall connection used in the cast grates, which are part of the equipment operating in furnaces for heat treatment and thermal-chemical treatment, and stresses generated in these grates during the process of rapid cooling. The places where the grate walls are connected to each other are usually characterized by the thickness larger than the remaining parts of walls. Temperature variations in those places are responsible for the formation of hot spots, and in the hot spots temperature changes much more slowly. The type of wall connection shapes the temperature gradient in the joint cross-section, and hence also the value of thermal stresses generated during cooling. In this study, five different designs of the grates were compared; the difference in them was the type of the designed wall connection. The following design variants were adopted in the studies: X connections with and without holes, T connections with and without technological recesses, and R (ring) connection. Numerical analysis was performed to examine how the distribution of temperature changes in the initial phases of the cooling process. The obtained results served next as a tool in studies of the stress distribution in individual structures. The analysis were carried out by FEM in Midas NFX 2014 software. Based on the results obtained, the conclusions were drawn about the impact of different types of wall connections on the formation of thermal stresses in cast grates.
In order to predict the distribution of shrinkage porosity in steel ingot efficiently and accurately, a criterion R√L and a method to obtain its threshold value were proposed. The criterion R√L was derived based on the solidification characteristics of steel ingot and pressure gradient in the mushy zone, in which the physical properties, the thermal parameters, the structure of the mushy zone and the secondary dendrite arm spacing were all taken into consideration. The threshold value of the criterion R√L was obtained with combination of numerical simulation of ingot solidification and total solidification shrinkage rate. Prediction of the shrinkage porosity in a 5.5 ton ingot of 2Cr13 steel with criterion R√L>0.21 m･℃1/2･s -3/2 agreed well with the results of experimental sectioning. Based on this criterion, optimization of the ingot was carried out by decreasing the height-to-diameter ratio and increasing the taper, which successfully eliminated the centreline porosity and further proved the applicability of this criterion.
Depending on the course of the processes of heat treatment and thermo-chemical treatment, the technological equipment of heat treatment furnaces is exposed to different operating conditions, as the said processes differ among themselves in the temperature of annealing and atmosphere prevailing in the furnace chamber, in the duration of a single work cycle and in the type and temperature of the coolant. These differences affect the magnitude of stresses occurring in each cycle of the operation of furnace accessories, and thus play an important role in fatigue processes leading to the destruction of these accessories. The kinetics of temperature changes during each cooling process plays an important role in the formation of thermal stresses on the cross-section of the cooled parts. It depends on many factors, including the initial cooling temperature, the type and temperature of the cooling medium, or the dimensions and shape of the object. This article presents a numerical analysis of the effect of the initial temperature on the distribution of stresses on the cross-section of the grate ribs, generated in the first few seconds of the cooling process carried out in two cooling media, i.e. hardening oil and water. The analysis was carried out by the finite element method, based on the results of experimental testes of temperature changes in the rib during its cooling.