Recently, I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the International Foundry Forum that was held in Barcelona, Spain this past September. The Forum is held every two years and is billed as the “summit of the foundry world.” The intent of the Forum is to inform attendees on essential market and business trends related to the foundry industry. The Forum organizers are The European Foundry Association and The European Foundry Equipment Suppliers Association.
I enjoyed attending the Forum because it is a venue where one can discuss issues with owners and CEOs of die casting plants and foundries from around the world. There were representatives from most of the EU countries as well as Japan, China, India, Russia, and the U.S. It is very interesting to see how our foreign competition deals with similar issues that we face every day, from government interference to technical problems and personnel issues. A hot topic was the fact that imports from Asia were beginning to occur, and cause some concern.
This Forum also gathered important casting users (the marketplace) and equipment suppliers (the vendors). The objective of having all the various groups attend together is to increase market opportunities for metalcastings in competition with other processes and products within the global environment.
Presentations were made on various subjects such as future developments in the auto markets, future changes in the energy sector, trends in the wind turbine markets, and future market trends in the large diesel engine industry as well as the commercial vehicle industry. Prior to attending the Forum, NADCA organized a tour of various die casting plants, two research facilities, and a heat treat supplier. We were all impressed by the total automation (robots were used to cast and trim on every die casting machine), the excellent cleanliness of each plant (including air hoods over each casting machine), and the work ethic of all the production employees. I want to thank all the plant owners and managers who hosted our delegation and commend them on their fine operations.
Most of the plants we visited were in northern Spain, where industry is concentrated in the country. We were surprised by how much manufacturing existed in Spain today and were told that the Spanish government realizes manufacturing is important to its economy. Because of this fact, the government provides incentives to maintain a manufacturing base in their country – a good idea since manufacturing jobs have an economic multiplier of 7 to 1 versus a service job multiplier of 2 to 1. Perhaps we should import some of those politicians to the United States to help members of Congress maintain manufacturing in the USA! The European Union considers maintaining trade within the EU a priority, due to a strong national sentiment in most of its countries.
Speaking of politicians, we have a midterm election coming up and an opportunity to send a message to our incumbent politicians. It is crucial to let them know they need to create American jobs by providing tax incentives, regulatory relief, and support programs for the U.S. manufacturing base (which includes our customers also) as is done in Spain.
Our industry consists not only of die casting facilities, but a large number of suppliers that provide a great amount of support to all of us. Supplier support was very evident at the Forum, where the cost of the event was paid by the suppliers of the foundry industry.
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