(Thanks to Foundry Management and Technology for this post May 7, 2016 by G. Srivastava and R.C. Kothari.)
Part 3 of 4.
You’ll be surprised to learn how much commonality exists between the circumstances of a farmer and a foundryman.
We invite you to spend a few minutes on a journey through the past and present, to prove to you that farmers and foundrymen are very much alike, and that each merits every consideration for easy and assured availability of resources and respect. To justify this we have deliberated closely on similarities between their two different avocations, with the purpose of persuading foundrymen, and to add a moment of levity to the otherwise a dry routine of challenges we face every day. We hope it will bring some amusement to you, too.
Mr. Srivastava and Mr. Kothari are both degreed professionals at work in the foundry industry in India.
Low (and uncertain) returns
Being at the lowest end of their respective supply chains, the products become vulnerable to low realization. This affects the viability of their business activity. There is a very low contribution prevailing upon in both the techniques. However, in farming the products achieve a mass consumption and an increase in prices will affect the society at large. For this reason, across the world government subsidies have become an accepted standard in the agricultural economy.
But for foundries there is no such recourse: high-volume production remains the best option for higher revenues, and survival of the fittest operation rules the market. For this reason, foundries (and farmers, too) have to avail themselves of focused technical and management skills to achieve sustained viability.
The one recourse for both of them is to go for forward and backward integration, but the output of any individual unit is much lower than the viable volume of such integration operations. Some sort of cooperative, sharing facilities or giving them on contract as job work to the owners of the viable facilities of forward and backward set ups can be considered as workable propositions.
From Solomon to Sagan
“The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the Sun.” — King Solomon
"Imagination will often carry us to the worlds that never were. But without it, we go nowhere." — Carl Sagan
The difference will be in how each owner approaches the challenge.
Improving benchmarks, standardsWith continuous improvements for farming as well as metalcasting, each discipline has all focused on:
• Better and higher productivity, with the least labor engagement;
• Increase output – per unit area or per unit metallic;
• Higher output from the available resources and infrastructure; and,
• Waste control, always seeking possible opportunities for reuse.
Each of the areas above has always remained under serious discussions over a period of time, and with all the stakeholders making contributions it has improved the benchmarks and industry standards. Being at the lowest end of a supply chain resulting into non-remunerative gains, the road ahead is not smooth. It is “survive or perish,” and all innovative ideas have to developed and applied in-house rather than wait for remedial actions or help from outside.
Eyes straight ahead
However, guidance of experts in the field is abundantly available. The actions are to be initiated at the operational level. A bend in the road is not the end of the road. An African proverb should be remembered: "There is no way out of desert except through it."
A focused outlook with watchful eyes for the latest applicable development for the respective process is absolutely necessary, engaged with a progressive mind to identify any possibility for adopting new processes to their advantage. Expert guidance is always cost-effective because the gains outpace the cost of that advice.
Seeds of wisdom
"If your plan is for one year plant rice. If your plan is for ten years plant trees. If your plan is for one hundred years educate children.” — Confucius
We have tried to pinpoint similarities between two important practices adopted by the human fraternity since the time of advent of civilization – farming for his daily sustenance, and metalcasting to feed the Industrial requirements. There surely are many more similarities to be identified made. However, one thing is clear that these two endeavors the emerged at the end of the stone age have continued to prosper, taking on newer dimensions over time, and will continue to develop positively as the need for their respective products remain, i.e., as long as humanity lives. This, of course, is heartening for all of us.
But the tragedy is the low revenue potential and high viability costs that deprive them of enjoying the fruits of their efforts, in spite of all their hard labor. They continue to live and work within their limited means and resources.
However, farmers at least have gained the advantage of government supports. Because of their political influence, they manage to gain subsidies on pricing, inputs (seeds, fertilizer, power and fuel, low interest loans, etc.) Unfortunately for foundrymen, there is no such support. For them, all the risk must be assumed – and must continue to be assumed in order for success in their chosen endeavors to be attainable.
Contact G. Srivastava, B.Tech. (Hons.), M.Tech; R.C. Kothari, B.Tech. (Hons.), M.Tech.
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