The American forging industry has adopted a pro-active, collaborative response to the challenges of intensified global competition, accelerated technological change, fluctuating economic and market conditions, and increased customer demands. The industry's Forging Industry Vision of the Future, published in late 1996, was the first step in responding to these challenges and ensuring that the U.S. forging industry remains a world leader in customer-focused, efficient, and cost-effective supply of high-quality components.
The industry's long-term vision statement establishes aggressive technological goals in tooling, materials utilization, energy consumption, environmental performance, productivity, and quality. The next step is to identify and analyze the technologies that are needed to achieve the strategic targets. Accordingly, the industry has prepared this Forging Industry Technology Roadmap to provide a blueprint of the required research and technology milestones. The roadmap provides a tactical plan that ties the strategic targets contained in the vision to the actual research portfolio that will be pursued by the industry through collaborative R&D and other mechanisms.
To gather input for the technology roadmap, the U.S. forging industry organized the Forging Industry Technology Roadmap Workshop, which was held in Chicago, Illinois, on August 26 and 27, 1997. The workshop was co-sponsored by the Forging Industry Association and the Forging Industry Education and Research Foundation in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Industrial Technologies. This event brought together 44 experts from the forging industry, including representatives of forging companies and suppliers, academia, and national laboratories. As a group, they came to consensus on the key targets of opportunity, technology barriers, and critical research needs for the forging industry.
The core of the workshop consisted of three facilitated work group sessions in which participants explored the areas of Tooling and Materials, Energy and Environment, and Quality and Productivity. The participants generated over 110 research ideas in these work sessions, and over half of these were assigned some level of priority by the industry. Exhibit 1-1 lists the most critical research ideas in each of the three areas. Participants also analyzed the research needs to help place them in the larger framework of research planning. For each research need, the participants identified the timeframe-near (0-3 years), mid (3-10 years), long (beyond 10 years), and ongoing (all time periods)-in which the research activity is expected to yield commercial results. For many of the research needs, the anticipated role of government (if any) was also indicated. The participants presented the results of the work group sessions in an open forum, which helped identify a number of common themes in research needs across the groups.
The results of the technology roadmap workshop are summarized here and presented as the first technology roadmap for the industry. The roadmap is an important communication tool for the industry in creating collaborative research opportunities with organizations that have common goals and objectives.
|Develop CAD-based software that enables the design and manufacture of tooling within 24 hours
Develop improved die materials
Understand and measure the dynamic conditions of the die-part interface
Develop validated models for establishing friction in the forging system
Develop a flow stress database for use in model simulations
Develop material physical flow characteristics (e.g., flow stress) for all specific materials
Develop robust sensors and controls to control forging equipment
Quantify the effects of process variables on finished forgings
Validate process model capabilities to simulate actual conditions
Develop advanced bar/billet pre-coating to prevent oxidation
Develop computer systems that can forward and reverse engineer (with link to customer/designer)
|Develop improved process monitoring techniques (get same/better quality for less energy)
- energy added as a safety factor
Develop improved die materials
Develop an energy/environmental profile of the forging industry (baseline data)
Develop heating systems to eliminate scale
Develop environmentally benign lubricants
Develop a systematic, long-range, industry-wide education program
Develop ways to take waste heat from process or part, store it, use/sell in other applications
|Establish a dedicated and/or distributed R&D center to address technical needs
Conduct a nationwide program to get students interested in forging and basic manufacturing industries
Develop real-time, hot-dimensional measuring capabilities
Develop and implement technology to internally inspect the ingot
Perform research to optimize forging processes to achieve desired product properties
Increase government support for new process/measuring equipment with cross-industry applications
Develop advanced sensors to measure high-temperatures, vibration, acoustics, and strain
Develop closed-loop process controls for hot forging (requires sensors)
Determine existing equipment capabilities and limitations and pursue development of more preferred equipment
Plenary Session Introduction
Forged components are used throughout the manufacturing sector in many different applications. They are found in over 20 percent of the products that comprise the gross domestic product of the United States. Forgings are woven throughout the fabric of our daily lives?in simple, commonplace items like a hammer or garden rake, as well as in the complex, high-precision components of airplanes and rockets (for example, over 18,000 forgings are contained in a single Boeing 747). The sidebar describes some of the more common types of forged components.
The forging process involves plastically deforming a metal workpiece under great pressure (and often also under high temperatures) into parts called forgings. The forging process is controlled to impart particular characteristics, including structural integrity, impact strength, fracture toughness, fatigue life, and uniformity, to prepare forgings for certain applications. The superior strength and durability of forgings make them ideal for applications where reliability and safety are a concern. Because they can be economically produced from essentially any metal or alloy and in almost any size and shape, they also offer great design flexibility.
Today the U.S. forging industry faces increasing competition from a variety of sources. Alternative metal-fabrication processes are cutting into some market segments and spurring forging companies to lower costs and improve production methods. The most significant competitive threat, however, comes from foreign companies. The governments of China, India, Korea, Germany, Russia, and other countries support their emerging and established forging industries as an underpinning to their domestic industrial base. Consequently, U.S. forgers have lost market share, both at home and abroad, to overseas companies that can produce and sell lower-cost parts.
Forging Industry Vision of the Future
In the year 2020, forging will be the cost-effective, preferred method by which metal components of superior quality, integrity, and performance are produced for critical applications. From Forging Industry Vision of the Future, page 3
The U.S. forging industry, under the direction of the Forging Industry Association and the Forging Industry Educational and Research Foundation, has taken an important step in responding to these competitive challenges. In November 1996, the industry published Forging Industry Vision of the Future, which creates a bold strategy for making the industry stronger and more competitive over the next twenty years. Technological advancement will play an important role in achieving the forging industry's vision. New knowledge and technologies are needed to improve productivity; boost energy efficiency; enhance environmental quality; and create new, innovative forging materials and products. With limited resources to spend on developing new technologies, leaders in the forging industry are turning to cooperative partnerships as a way to successfully meet these competitive challenges. Partnerships among forging companies, suppliers, universities, and government laboratories will maximize investments to solve industry-wide technical problems and develop more cost-efficient, higher-performing products and processes.
The industry's Vision of the Future provides broadly defined strategic goals and technological needs for helping the forging industry achieve its vision. Exhibit 2-1 shows the strategic targets established by the vision in the areas of tooling, energy consumption, material utilization, productivity, quality, and environmental performance. The next step was to develop a more detailed blueprint of the technological milestones that are needed to achieve the strategic targets. Working with its Advisory Board and Technical Committee, the Forging Industry Association and Forging Industry Educational and Research Foundation produced this Forging Industry Technology Roadmap to provide the critical link between the goals contained in the Vision and a detailed research portfolio that can be pursued through industry-government partnerships and other mechanisms. The workshop on which this report is based convened 44 technical experts from forging companies, equipment manufacturers, metal suppliers, national laboratories, universities, and non-profit research organizations to provide input to the roadmap. Appendix A shows the diverse array of organizations that were represented.
The Plenary Session of the workshop helped the participants gain a common understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing the entire industry. It also provided background information on the Department of Energy's (DOE's) Office of Industrial Technologies' (OIT's) Industries of the Future strategy, a discussion of how the industry's vision and roadmap will be used, and an explanation of the workshop format and process. The following sections provide brief summaries of the plenary presentations and discussion.
Overview of the Forging Industry from the Industry Associations
George Mochnal, director of research and development of the Forging Industry Association, opened the meeting with a welcome from the Association and the Forging Industry Educational and Research Foundation. He noted that the excellent turnout for the meeting was indicative of the industry-wide support that is generally accorded to the vision statement. Increasingly, U.S. forging companies are joining forces to work together on solving common problems. Collaborative partnerships among forging companies, suppliers, government agencies, and research organizations will make the industry stronger as a whole and help individual companies successfully meet the competitive challenges ahead. Mr. Mochnal expressed his enthusiasm for continuing the work that was started with the vision by producing and implementing a technology roadmap for the industry. By cooperating with outside organizations like the DOE's Office of Industrial Technologies, he hopes to foster the infrastructure for developing and conducting these R&D partnerships.
DOE's Industry of the Future Strategy
Sara Dillich, program manager with OIT, provided an overview of OIT's Industries of the Future (IOF) strategy and the forging industry's place in the strategy. To most effectively leverage its resources, OIT focuses on the most energy- and waste-intensive industries: aluminum, steel, metalcasting, glass, chemicals, forest products, agriculture, and mining. These industries are responsible for more than 80 percent of the energy used and waste generated in the U.S. manufacturing sector.
Research funds are directed towards partnerships between OIT and the targeted industries. Recognizing that many of these industries have similar technology needs, the IOF strategy also supports cross-cutting research in specific technical areas such as advanced materials, sensors and controls, combustion, catalysis, recycling, and others. OIT also has an interest in other industries, including heat treating and forging, that are very crucial to the industry sectors targeted under IOF. (Enormous numbers of forged components are utilized in these large manufacturing industries, which make up the majority of our industrial base.)
Dr. Dillich commented on the very proactive approach that the forging industry has taken by creating a strategy for meeting tomorrow's technical challenges. To date, OIT has served only in a facilitory and advisory role for this process, with industry providing the leadership and resources. The IOF process, which now serves as a model for this type of activity, includes three key steps: creation of an industry vision, development of a technology roadmap, and implementation of the roadmap. This top-down planning process helps to match limited research and technology-development funds with industry-defined strategies and research priorities.
Together with the vision statement, the forging industry's technology roadmap represents all the members of the industry speaking in unison about the important technical challenges that lay ahead. Dr. Dillich emphasized that because it describes key technical barriers facing the industry and the types of research needed to overcome these barriers, the roadmap is very useful to the industry as a ?calling card? for initiating discussions with government agencies and other organizations interested in supporting manufacturing R&D. She noted that several federal agencies, most prominently the Department of Defense, provide funding to support the development of advanced manufacturing technologies, although the funds have so far tended to go to the largest manufacturing sectors'primarily the forging industry's major customers in the automotive and aerospace industries. Unfortunately, the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and suppliers, such as forging companies, are not often included in the discussions or partnerships. Now that the roadmap is available to provide a basis for discussion, it can serve as a point of entry for the forging industry to make its needs and concerns known.
OIT will share the roadmap with representatives of its Industries of the Future and work with them on identifying areas of common interest. OIT will also help disseminate the roadmap to other DOE offices, other federal agencies, the national laboratories, universities, and research organizations that may be interested in partnering with forging companies to accomplish common goals.
Presentations by Industry Representatives
Two representatives from the forging industry presented their views on the challenges and opportunities facing the industry's largest market segments over the next twenty years. Bob Noel, Vice President of Quality and Technology with Ladish Company, Inc., discussed changing market conditions, customer requirements, and technological challenges that will impact the industry as a whole and the aerospace market segment in particular. John Bellanti, Director of Manufacturing Engineering with American Axle and Manufacturing, Inc., discussed future trends, with a focus on the automotive market segment. Excerpts from their remarks follow.
Bob Noel, Vice President, Quality and Technology, Ladish Company, Inc.
Key aerospace markets include those for gas turbine engines; airframe structures; landing gears; and space, missile and rocket equipment. Land-based gas turbines should also be on the list since they are based on the same technology as the turbines made for aerospace applications. This is a market that the United States has essentially lost to overseas companies, making it a future area of opportunity for U.S. forgers.
Further competition for U.S. forgers will come primarily from two areas: competing processes and overseas forging operations. The most significant competing processes include investment castings, machining from plate/slabs, fabrications, and powder metallurgy methods. Mr. Noel predicts that global competition will grow in the future, especially as foreign companies are nurtured by trade offset programs, direct and aggressive government support, and lower labor costs.
Forgings have certain advantages that make them highly desirable as manufacturing components. Chief among these qualities are their
- High quality - forging scrap rates, reject rates, and first-time pass rates are relatively good;
- Reliability - a key selling point in applications where in-service failures are simply unacceptable; and
- Lower life cycle cost - total costs of forgings are lower since forgings will generally perform longer in a given application.
- Cost - the acquisition cost of forgings is generally higher;
- Metal utilization - relatively inefficient, especially as compared to investment castings; and
- Lead time - time to produce a new part is relatively slow.
The industry must focus on overcoming these disadvantages in order to satisfy escalating customer demands. Key customer requirements are lower cost, decreased cycle time (time from receipt of the metal by the forger to the time the end-product is shipped to the customer), zero rejects, and zero in-service failures.
What kinds of new technologies and practices will the forging company of the future have that can meet these challenges' Mr. Noel described his vision of how this future forging plant will look in seven different areas: computer technology, tooling, the forging process, heat treatment, quality verification, make-up of the work force, and processing technology.
Improved computer technology will allow the forging industry to engage in electronic commerce. All operations, internal and external to the forging plant, will be paperless. After the company receives customer drawings, designs, technical requirements, and other specifications electronically, the information will be provided up and down the supply chain to ensure that vital information is available to all the links in the production line. The industry will have a better understanding of its equipment and materials, and better simulation and design software. Computer-controlled manufacturing equipment will be capable of monitoring and recording information on operations so that processes can be analyzed and adjusted on-line to maximize performance.
The tooling equipment will have a 24-hour rapid prototyping capability, which may be facilitated by an effort to standardize alloys and sizes used in the forging industry. The future forging plant will also incorporate processes or equipment that reduces metal removal and machining times. Mr. Noel also suggested that new or improved alloys will be longer lasting and more reliable.
Additional forecasts are that the forging process in the plant of the future will utilize significantly more automated processes. These processes will allow operators to change the operation quickly, work to net dimensions whenever possible, run trials via simulation software, and manufacture the first production piece the first time. Mr. Noel also provided examples of how energy efficiency will be improved. He envisions processes that do not allow the metal to cool until the final product is finished. Hot forgings will be delivered directly to the heat treat furnace, and heat treating may be eliminated altogether through the use of new microalloys. Broader use of induction heating will also reduce energy use, while new techniques for measuring the dimensions of hot metal will serve as a bridge technology until process control technologies improve enough that dimensional verification is no longer an issue. Finally, better lubricants will improve the environmental performance of forging plants and enable increased applications of net-shape processing.
Mr. Noel asserted that the forging plant of the future would not need today's level of quality verification. With improved manufacturing process control, non-destructive inspection of incoming materials and dimensional inspections will be eliminated. The one area that will still require quality verification is internal soundness. These defects (inclusions, white spots, etc.) can produce catastrophic failures in service. Automated techniques for conducting these inspections will both improve and speed up the process.
The work force of the future will be leaner as more processes are automated and there is reduced operator dependency. A higher, more diversified skill level will be expected that includes knowledge of both the mechanical and computer operations and will require improved worker training programs. Finally, Mr. Noel discussed several of his views of technology in the forging plant of the future. First, continuous process improvement will be standard procedure in all operations. Second, metallurgical technologies will be integrated with computer and manufacturing technologies. Collaborations on technology development will be much more common, especially between industry and the government. Melting/refining technologies will be greatly improved, an example of which is the work at Sandia National Laboratories with the titanium and superalloy melter to gain understanding of melting and solidification mechanisms and the formation of defects, which will improve product reliability.
Mr. Noel concluded with his view of how the industry as a whole will look in the year 2020. It will have fewer companies, will eliminate redundant equipment in an effort to reduce costs, and will sponsor and participate in technology centers that can assist the industry in developing new manufacturing and computer technology. Companies also will become more specialized and develop best-in-class capabilities, integrating their plants in order to accomplish all manufacturing steps in one place and reduce cycle times. Collaboration will be the rule rather than the exception, as even the larger companies can no longer afford to remain technically independent; research partnerships among industry, government and academia will be common. Finally, overseas markets will be expanded through arrangements with foreign governments and companies.
John Bellanti, Director, Manufacturing Engineering, American Axle & Manufacturing, Inc.
Mr. Bellanti's presentation,' Factors and Trends Affecting the Future of the Forging Industry: the AAM Perspective,' focused on the future of the forging industry from the perspective of a company that is one of the world's largest suppliers of automotive drive line systems and chassis components. Forgings make up almost 20 percent of American Axle & Manufacturing's (AAM's) $2.2 billion business. The forging operations of AAM are organized as a Strategic Business Unit, which sees many exciting opportunities and challenges on the horizon for the forging industry.
Like Mr. Noel, Mr. Bellanti asserted that globalization will become an essential requirement for the successful forging company. Operations in countries around the world will have to be initiated or expanded as competition from these countries intensifies. He also agreed that there will be fewer forging companies in the future as companies consolidate and expand through joint ventures, mergers, and acquisitions. Companies will also join forces in other ways, through collaboration on research and the sharing of technology and other resources.
In the automotive industry, it will be increasingly important for OEM suppliers to have full-service capabilities, including design systems, rapid prototyping, state-of-the-art manufacturing, and just-in-time delivery and service support. Forging companies will need to emphasize value-added operations to be competitive. As OEMs continue to reduce their supply base and partner more directly with suppliers, forging companies may need to integrate additional operations such as machining and assembly. In order to meet customers' product requirements, forging plants may need to run smaller batches and lower volumes, and even adopt a sequenced part delivery approach for some automotive parts.
It will also be important for the forging company of the future to effectively team with its suppliers. Since material makes up such a significant percentage of the cost of a forged part, forging companies have a lot to gain from working closely with material manufacturers to develop new materials, alloys, and composites that will be lower in cost and higher in quality.
On the technology end, AAM expects to see a continued shift to lighter-weight and stronger materials and continued advances in composite materials, similar to those pursued by the aerospace industries. In order to counter the cost and net-shape benefits offered by competing processes, forgers must concentrate on the key benefits offered by forgings, including high strength along with weight reduction. Demand for net shape and near-net shape surfaces will continue to grow and will require the industry to move from hot to warm forging and from warm to cold forging.
In the area of forging processes, improved efficiency will be a key to future success. Extending die life through the development of new materials, surface coatings, and heat treatments will be essential. Reducing set-up time to minutes is another criterion for improving productivity. Improved process control will be essential. Advanced forging systems that can continuously monitor critical process variables, and automatically adjust the process, will maximize efficiency and reduce process variation. Quality will be increased through improved process control, and zero rejected parts is a reasonable long-term goal. The development of automation and robotics that can operate in the harsh environment of the forging process will also contribute to the industry's goals to improve quality, increase efficiency, reduce waste, and minimize cost.
To make the forging industry more environmentally friendly, Mr. Bellanti points to the elimination of graphite as a key long-term goal. In-plant, water-reprocessing facilities and improved energy efficiency will also help improve the industry's environmental performance.
Mr. Bellanti echoed Mr. Noel's comments on the need for collaborative research partnerships and a more highly skilled work force to create and operate the technologies and processes that will be used in the successful forging plant of the future. There are already labor shortages for toolmakers, machinists, metalworkers, die makers, and CAD/CAM technicians across the United States. These shortages will become more critical as existing workers reach retirement age and enrollment in vocational training programs continues to decline. The forging industry must expand its interaction with educational institutions and encourage young people to pursue careers in these fields. Additionally, forging companies need to increase their investments in worker training in order to help employees keep pace with advances in technology.
In concluding, Mr. Bellanti stated that "the only way we will be able to successfully make the leap"as an industry"to the year 2020 is by working together... We must, as a group, bring the forging industry into the next millennium."
Workshop Overview and Structure
Mr. Jack Eisenhauer of Energetics, Incorporated provided some background information on the purpose, scope, and structure of the workshop and reviewed the agenda and meeting format. First he noted that a key theme of the previous plenary presentations was the need for technology collaborations. In an environment where forging companies are faced with increasing global competition, shrinking corporate resources for R&D, and increasingly complex research problems and customer product demands, the ability of a single firm to rapidly and successfully react is getting tougher and tougher. The heart of OIT's Industries of the Future strategy is to bring companies together within an industry to think about how they can work collaboratively to address their unique problems and needs.
Mr. Eisenhauer emphasized that the results of the workshop provide the major technical input to the Forging Industry Technology Roadmap. The core of the workshop agenda (see Appendix B) was a group of professionally facilitated work group sessions. Three parallel work groups of 13-16 people each met for six hours to analyze a specific area of the forging industry and focus on its challenges. These areas included 1) Tooling and Materials, 2) Energy and Environment, and 3) Quality and Productivity. Each group was asked to review the strategic targets for its technical area, describe the major technology barriers to achieving these targets, identify the critical research needed to overcome the barriers, and identify the research priorities in the near-, mid-, and long-term timeframes. Mr. Eisenhauer introduced the facilitator from Energetics for each work group (Exhibit 2-2).
The following chapters present the results of the work group sessions and highlights of the summary session, during which participants presented the results of their work-groups? efforts in an open forum. The discussion during the summary session focused on some of the common themes that emerged during the workshop.