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bell asked. “We think 90% is too close to the pin, where economic change can push you over 100%. We target 85%, [which] gives us 15% growth in the short term, allowing time to consider the need for capital investment if necessary.”


Interpreting the Number Lane has heard the frustration from his custom-


ers running up against capacity constraints. T ey hear the industry is at 80% capacity and expect to be able to source their castings immediately. T en they fi nd out the segment producing their component is at greater than 100% capacity. “T e problem is the overall aggregate number doesn’t take into account [diff ering end-use markets],” Lane said.


MAJOR SEGMENT BREAKDOWNS Following is a look at capacity utilization data for each of the three major casting alloy segments at the end of 2011,


according to the results of a recent American Foundry Society survey.


IRON CAPACITY • Gray and ductile iron capacity is 5.5-5.7 million tons.


• Operating at 91.7% capacity utilization; lowest reported utilization is 40%, highest is greater than 100%.


• High-volume, vertically parted green sand plants are at 94% capacity.


• Only fi ve of 29 surveyed detailed any capacity increases of 10-20%.


• 50% said they would be look- ing at shift/labor increases.


ALUMINUM CAPACITY (SAND, PERMANENT MOLD AND DIECASTING) • Currently operating at 74.1% capacity utilization; lowest reported utilization is 55%, highest is 100%.


• 76% of metalcasters surveyed expect to increase capacity in the next two years.


• 33% will be looking at shift/labor increases in the near future.


STEEL CAPACITY (NON-INVESTMENT CASTING) • Currently operating at greater than 100% capacity utilization.


• 75% detailed capacity expansion in the next two years; 50% indicated potential increases of greater than 20%.


• 75% indicated labor/shift increases in the near future.


44 | METAL CASTING DESIGN & PURCHASING | Mar/Apr 2012


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