Utmost Alloy- An Innovative Approach to Casting

Utmost Alloy An Innovative Approach to Casting FEATURED STORY

Utmost Alloy is on a unique path of development. With over 20 years of experience in the industry, this company is breaking barriers by challenging the traditional ways in which castings are made. Utmost Alloy utilizes innovation and its ability to harbour new inventions as its major driving force of development. With its rich experience and dedication to providing solutions, Utmost Alloy continues to meet milestones in the casting and alloy industry.

Pump Engineer had the pleasure of speaking with Mr. Jia Yangyang, General Manager of Utmost Alloy, about a facility’s new smart system upgrade, the importance of ongoing education, and its interest in enhancing the company’s material capabilities.

By Laura Wang

Making a Mark in The Industry

Utmost Alloy’s casting business is a collaboration with Jining Energy Development Co., Ltd. This joint venture has prioritized casting and alloys and allowed Utmost Alloy to build a fully automated casting plant as a part of its new differentiation strategy. This strategy includes integrating resources and knowledge, and mitigating the pain points of the casting industry, such as high cost, supply chain issues, low efficiency, and performance, as well as long lead times and difficult stock turnover.

“For the past 20 years, I have been focusing on the casting business, serving the flow control industry,” said Jia Yangyang. “Today, supply chain issues and resource shortages are major challenges that bring obstacles to the entire industry. To mitigate these pain points, the nation is experiencing a transformation which involves upgrading the way we normally do business.” With the new environmental mandates and a global push for renewable energy sources, Utmost Alloy intends to change the traditional ways in which castings and alloys are produced. The decision to build a new facility improves its business model allowing the company to continue to trailblaze through the industry.

Thriving for Smart Development

The facility’s expansion was spread out into two phases. During the first phase, Utmost Alloy began the creation of its smart facility and carried out its fully automated casting line. As it proceeded with the traditional process of casting, the company focused on innovation and more specifically, automation. This decision aimed to optimize the quality, delivery time, and efficiency of the product line. This line featured ERP and MES systems that collect data in real-time and made all data accessible for the control unit; this makes predicting failure modes and scheduling maintenance more attainable for operators.

“The choice to automate our systems indicates a clear path of development towards the start of a new smart facility. Not only does it enable smooth operational management, especially during unforeseen shutdowns, it also digitally manages energy consumption,” he shared.

The upgrade is seen as a plan for the future of the company. “One of the top advantages of digitalization is being able to create transparency between the company and our clients. It is important that this information become easier to share to create a trust factor,” he mentioned. This also aids in reducing purchase costs for clients. “Once we implemented these smart changes, the system became more sophisticated and reduced obstacles such as excessive inventory. The digital service is more realistic and also creates proactive sales within the company, stabilizing the challenges between the client and the supply chain.”

Phase II of the facility expansion is currently undergoing its preparation stages. The automation capabilities are going to be further enhanced, improving the design perspective, and elevating the logistics side of the business. Many facets of the company have been considered for automating its systems. From underground space design to the warehouse itself, each step is precise and is connected to every aspect of the chain. Automating these systems enables saving costs in time, energy, and the component itself. Overall, one of the most valuable aspects of implementing smart systems is that the company can stay ahead of potential supply chain obstacles and practice risk control.

“We have introduced the automated production line and followed up by upgrading it. This plan aims to make sure the plant produces efficient and optimized products without compromising on quality,” shared Mr. Jia.

“Our core strength is being able to scientifically innovate based on market needs and being able to handle all the details,” he said. “We have encountered many variations of similar inquiries over the years and even new, complex requests. The best way to go about solving any of these problems stems from our ability to rely on the course of development that we have already used. The difference rests with the type of processes we use. Rejecting traditional patterns of the casting business is something that is done now because we are aware of the possible disadvantages. Innovation maintains these disadvantages and gives us the opportunity to solve the problem from its root cause. Our innovation comes from our professional team, who are rich in expertise and know the client’s needs very well,” stated Mr. Jia.

Ongoing Education and Scientific Innovation- Providing Solutions for Diversified Needs

Utmost Alloy continues to provide its team with ongoing education. “Keeping active communication with various universities, scholars, and specialists allows us to utilize knowledge to facilitate the further preparation needed for us to continue to shape the company,” said Mr. Jia.

“Many of our clients come to us with the same inquiry– to develop new material. This is a request that most casting plants might have difficulty meeting. But by placing ongoing learning at the forefront, we are at an advantage,” he stated. “When developing new materials, both front-end research, development capabilities, and the facility is required to perform processes. When both strengths are matched, the ability to integrate in-house resources aids in an essential part of creating new materials. The ultimate solution for diversified needs should be based on the efficient usage of these resources,” he said.

The company is aiming to maintain longterm partnerships by utilizing the research and resources that have been founded by the facility. “Automating our systems helps us organize all possible outcomes of inquires and solutions.”

The ongoing education aspect of the company also enables the team’s ability to be familiar with the material and application characteristics. “I have always believed that casting is a complex product, and in simple terms, we cannot only look at what is happening on the inside of the furnace when materials are melting. We need to depend on skill and experience, as we continue to apply this during our work at the facility,” he said. Systematic training courses are also arranged for the staff to ensure ongoing learning.

Enhancing Material Capabilities

During phase I of the facility upgrade, the facility’s capacity went from 1.7t to 8t. Phase II highlights Utmost Alloy’s efforts to further improve its material capabilities. The team at Utmost Alloy believes that the value of the casting plant and its development is dependent on the company’s material capability. This brings forth the company’s strength and strategy, defining its position in the industry by providing added value to its quality products. Recently, the company introduced components and applications such as vacuum furnaces and high-temperature alloys to its existing line. These new advancements allowed the performance of these applications to supersede expectations across all product types, especially in material innovation for pump products. Through collaborations with international companies in Germany, Japan, and Italy, amongst others, Utmost Alloy has developed deep well pumps, centrifugal pumps, horizontal and vertical multistage pressure dividing pumps, multistage pressure pumps for hydropower applications and vacuum pumps for the microcircuit semiconductor industry, just to name a few.

Additionally, the quality performance is proved by a series of cases that were proposed to Utmost Alloy. It had gained great traction with many global brands. Utmost Alloy is experienced with martensite and duplex stainless steel. More importantly, its special material development aligns with future trends in industry applications.

According to Mr. Jia, Utmost Alloy holds great interest in new applications, and the company touches base in many industries. From nuclear and chemical to the marine industry, the company focuses on various product types and components such as diaphragm pumps and various types of solid-liquid pumps, and semi-solid-liquid pumps. Utmost Alloy has created many new products through a single cycle of development, which proves its mature strength in technology, skill, and outstanding efficiency with cost control.

Looking Ahead

Utmost Alloy has in-house capability for equipment innovation. The company has applied for 27 patents, ten of which were applied in 2021. Each of these patents was geared toward equipment innovation; six of these patents have been approved. 17 of the 27 patents were applied in 2022 and three of these patents were applied to inventions created in-house. “Over the past 50 years, the casting process did not change much. Although every company continues to improve equipment, material, and testing procedures, casting plants can be distinguished from one another by analyzing how they can handle the details. Our goal is to optimize the details and achieve the perfect quality of the products we deliver.

This is deeply based on the understanding of the product and the company’s core advantages,” Mr. Jia said. Pump products are a good example of this. “There is a cluster of international pump suppliers who provide pumps, but the porosity, blistering, and cracking exist on the equipment casting. To tackle this problem, Utmost Alloy has redesigned its formula and procedure for alloying. Ingredients are added during smelting to optimize the process of the casting cycle, cooling time, and furnace swing procedure.

The outcome provides significant improvement in product quality, cost reduction, waste, and accurate delivery times. It proves the company’s material-related capability as each detail has been covered and improved. The value of Utmost Alloy’s material research and development has proven to work time and time again.

Final Words

Innovation is both the driving power and inspiration of the company’s development. Currently, the casting industry is undergoing an urgent change that is monumentally reforming existing processes. Mr. Jia from Utmost Alloy considers innovation as the core power of development.

“It is more than just the products, our innovation bleeds into our business plan, testing methods, supply chain configuration, and marketing strategy. Our key findings are greatly optimizing cost and material performance. The company is changing because the industry is changing, and by default, so is the environment. We are hoping to continuously rebuild the business pattern, reduce waste by utilizing industrial integration and choose the best strategy to propel these new developments.”

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