Mercury Marine has been recognized by the American Foundry Society (AFS) with the 2023 Plant Engineering Award for its implementation of Industry 4.0 data collection technologies and data analytics at its aluminum castings facility at the company’s world headquarters in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.
The AFS Plant Engineering Award recognizes plants’ engineering achievements in planning, installation, operation and maintenance and automation of foundry equipment. Mercury Castings produces die cast and lost foam parts include engine blocks, heads, housings, gearcases, aluminum propellers, and other aluminum castings for the marine industry and its external sales business unit.
“We are honored to receive this award from the American Foundry Society,” said David Blondheim, Mercury Marine director, global operations excellence and advanced manufacturing. “The term Industry 4.0 was coined in 2011. More than a decade later, implementation into foundry environments is limited in practice. Throughout the past six years, Mercury has taken a systematic approach at digitizing operations through the connection, collection, and analysis of manufacturing data. These efforts were recognized by AFS with this award.”
The implementation and use of Industry 4.0 data collection technology has revolutionized the collection and use of data throughout Mercury’s aluminum foundry. Mercury’s ‘Connected Ops’ team systematically connects manufacturing equipment with a universal data connection platform. In the foundry this includes equipment for melting, die casting, lost foam, and finishing operations. This platform has been scaled across all Mercury’s operations and is not limited to the foundry. Once the critical business and process data is collected, it is put into electronic dashboards and displayed throughout the plants’ manufacturing spaces. The data drives improved information and communication. The end results are improvements to safety, quality, delivery, and productivity – critical operational metrics for Mercury Marine.
“Every aspect of our business, every functional group, all the equipment, old to new, is incorporated into Mercury’s Connected Operation,” said Blondheim. “This approach is both new and innovative for the foundry industry.”
Since 2009, Mercury has invested more than $2 billion in research and development, and expansion of its Fond du Lac campus, which includes engineering and manufacturing facilities, and now encompasses more than three million square feet. Mercury now employs more than 450 engineers at its global headquarters in Fond du Lac, an increase of more than 50% since 2009.
The AFS is a Schaumburg, Illinois-based trade association representing more than 800 foundries in the $33 billion metal casting industry.