Digitalising foundry production processes


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© Panksvatouny, #148419969, 2018, source:

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Resource category
Energy Materials
Manufacturing of machinery and equipment Metal and plastic processing
Investment cost
High cost
Total cost savings

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Resource savings: Raw material
400 tonnes of metal
Associated cost savings: Energy
Premises and operation areas
Production processes
Size of company
Medium (less than 250)
Advancement in applying resource efficiency measures


Century-old system gets a digital makeover

  • Easily integrated smartphone app optimises manual labour processes
  • Identical output achieved while savings 400 tonnes on input
  • € 45 000 saving on energy costs

Kemptener Eisengiesserei Adam Hönig AG is an iron foundry located in Bavaria. The integration of a smartphone app to monitor manual production processes has led to a significant boost in company resource efficiency. The new app means higher quality castings can be produced using substantially less energy.   

Iron casting is a highly customised business. Each output mould is unique in its composition, shape and production steps which greatly affects the quality of a casting. For instance, foundry ovens contain melts made up of various compositions and at various temperatures. Such a wide range of parameters makes it difficult to speed up and optimise one-on-one casting with the goal of using less materials and saving energy. 

But this is where digital technology comes in. The smartphone application developed in the nearby Kempten Technical College with the support of the Deutsche Bundesstiftung Umwelt (German Federal Environmental Foundation) can monitor each process using barcode identification of moulding boxes and melt ladles, QR-code scanning and systematic data collection. The centralised record and subsequent analysis of each individual production step made it possible to map out and optimise production processes, linking specific melting box configurations to the melts that would we poured into them.

Key benefits

  • Melts configured to use only what is needed, saving large amounts of material and energy
  • Fewer faulty castings
  • Sped up industrial processes, better time management

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VDI Zentrum Ressourceneffizienz cases,

VDI Zentrum Ressourceneffizienz videos,

Related measures
Systematic monitoring of material efficiency and productivity
Related good practices
Digitally tracking air leaks

Manufacture 2030

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Manufacture 2030 is a digital platform with a global reach. We are on a mission to halve the resources used in global manufacturing by 2030, bringing retailers, brands, and their manufacturing suppliers together to cut costs, risks and environmental impacts. To make this happen, we believe resource efficiency needs to be made easier and simpler because using fewer resources is good for business, and for our planet too. At its core is the innovative M2030 bee, a unique, cloud-based tool that makes it simpler for manufacturers to improve the resource efficiency of their operations. The M2030 bee is packed with hundreds of efficiency gains, tips, advice and case studies, all validated by industry experts, so operational teams can act quickly, and with greater confidence. Because it sits in the cloud, there’s no need for integration with enterprise systems and it’s been co-designed with engineers… which means more impact, with less fuss. Our platform also hosts an online community that brings manufacturing practitioners together in a non-competitive space to explore the latest trends in resource efficient manufacturing. Our partners include Interface, Mars, Johnson & Johnson, Coop, House of Fraser, US Department of Energy and the University of Cambridge. The Manufacture 2030 platform and its tools are powered by 2degrees, a technology company specialising in resource efficiency software solutions, with a mission to make sustainable business happen at scale.

Scaling Circular Business

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As part of the European Commission’s continuous effort to transform Europe's economy into a more sustainable one and to implement the ambitious Circular Economy Action Plan, on 27 June 2018, the European Commission launched a platform for scaling circular businesses across Europe. The platform is to lead the way in boosting  the transition towards a circular economy among small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Europe.

The platform is composed of a set of general and material and sector specific circular solutions. While some obstacles to a circular economy are generic, different sectors and materials face specific challenges due to the particularities of the value chain. If you are interested in any of these solutions, the platform will assist you in setting up effective collaborations with the providers.

The circular economy is of growing importance for Europe and receives more and more support from policymakers and larger business in the European Union.  The European Commission also understands that, given their economic importance and their accumulated environmental impact, there cannot be an effective transition towards a circular economy without European SMEs. The platform is launched to make use of the momentum and to close the gap between circular innovations and traditional ways of working.

Are you an SME based in Europe recognising the necessity and opportunity to contribute to the circular economy? Visit the platform at and look for the solution that fits your needs.

European Cluster Collaboration Platform

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The European Cluster Collaboration Platform (ECCP) is an action of the Cluster Internationalisation Programme for SMEs funded under COSME launched by DG GROW of the European Commission in 2016.

At the service of cluster organisations, with a unique offer of cluster news, matchmaking events and tools supporting collaboration, the ECCP is considered a leading hub for facilitating cluster collaboration at European and global level. It fosters such cooperation by facilitating connections between clusters from Europe and beyond and helping their SMEs to access third markets and find strategic partners in global value chains. ECCP gathers more than 800 cluster organisations and with an average of 100 SMEs per cluster it can reach out to about 80 000 SMEs across Europe.

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The ECCP provides networking and information support for clusters and their members aiming to improve their performance and increase their competitiveness through trans-national and international cooperation.

The services include:

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The ECCP addresses primarily the needs of cluster managements, but its rich content is useful for both the SME cluster members and for the cluster policy makers at regional, national or international level.

You can discover more about the ECCP on  or by following us on Twitter @Clusters_EU and on LinkedIn.

Joint Research Centre

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The JRC is a Directorate-General of the European Commission under the responsibility of the Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth & Sport. Its Board of Governors assists and advises the Director-General on matters relating to the role and the scientific, technical and financial management of the JRC. The JRC employs over 3000 people, from EU countries and candidate countries to EU membership, who bring their skills, talents, passion and rigour into the scientific activities meant to underpin EU policies.

As the European Commission's science and knowledge service, the Joint Research Centre (JRC) supports EU policies with independent scientific evidence throughout the whole policy cycle. They create, manage and make sense of knowledge and develop innovative tools and make them available to policy makers.

Scientific leaders of the Best Environmental Management Practice (BEMPs)

Organisations of all sizes and kinds have a large scope for improving their environmental performance. With motivations ranging from eco-efficiency to reputation and concerns about the sustainability of their business, many organisations try to reduce their impact on the environment.

To help organisations reach such an objective, the JRC studies what frontrunner organisations in different sectors do and identifies the best environmental management practices (BEMPs), i.e. those techniques, measures or actions that allow organisations to minimise their impact on the environment in all aspects under their direct control or on which they have a considerable influence. The results of this work are Sectoral Reference Documents (SRDs) on best environmental management practice.

This activity is part of the European Commission's work to implement the EU Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS), a voluntary framework for companies and other organisations to evaluate, report and improve their environmental performance. Within this framework, the EU decided in 2009 to promote best environmental management practice, by developing Sectoral Reference Documents.

Enterprise Europe Network

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The Enterprise Europe Network helps businesses innovate and grow on an international scale. It is the world’s largest support network for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) with international ambitions. 

The Network is active in more than 60 countries worldwide. It brings together 3,000 experts from more than 600 member organisations – all renowned for their excellence in business support.

Member organisations include:

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Individual businesses can’t become Network members, but they can enjoy the many services offered.