Vision of the Future

TECHNOLOGY INITIATIVE

The following document is an industry-consensus agreement of how the forging industry would like to see itself operating in the year 2020.

The document identifies strategic objectives and performance targets needed to achieve the Vision . . . discusses major challenges and barriers (both current and in the future) which impact technology development . . . and projects various market, business and social factors which are likely to drive the desired changes in the industry.

The Forging Industry Vision forms the basis for further development of a Forging Industry Technology Roadmap which is in its final stages of development in the opening months of 1998.


CONTENTS

A.  EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
B.  THE IMPORTANCE OF THE FORGING INDUSTRY
C.  A VISION FOR THE FORGING INDUSTRY OF THE FUTURE
  • Preferred process/World leader
  • Safe/clean/automated
  • Strategy/measure performance/customer partners
  • Virtual enterprise/exchange information with manufacturing chain
  • Global marketing strategy
  • Eliminate hazardous waste
  • Skilled workforce/Profession of choice
  • Profitability through productivity
D.  KEY COMPETITIVE CHALLENGES
  • Technology development and application
    • Find and deploy strategically significant technologies
    • Die design/modeling
  • Energy and the environment
    • Energy efficient/environmentally responsible
    • Cooperate to make process environmental asset
    • Pollution prevention
    • Reduce or eliminate forging die lubrication
    • Reduce energy consumption
    • Induction heating/combustion advancements
    • Waste treatment/recycling
    • Renewable energy and environmental protection
  • Cooperative efforts
    • Leverage resources/share knowledge/protect IPRs
    • Enlist suppliers/fair compensation at each stage
    • Information exchange/technology deployment
    • Unify support for Industry Vision
  • Competitiveness
    • Process improvement + productivity = profitability
    • Electronic product design/process technology
    • Net-shape/materials utilization
    • Decrease per-unit energy, die, and labor costs
    • Uniform standards for electronic commerce
  • Education
    • Customers
    • Basic skills of workforce
    • Generate political/legislative support
    • New information exchange/teaching technologies
    • New forging technologies
    • Specific action
  • Markets
    • Meet customers' future needs
    • Changes in existing markets
    • Globalization/realistic projections for demand
    • New products/markets
    • Value-added services
    • Competing materials/processes
    • Emerging technologies
    • Global market opportunities
  • Human resources
    • Reestablish an improved public perception
    • Rewards based on performance
    • Drive education/consider trends affecting workforce
    • Management staff/strategies
E.  STRATEGIC TARGETS

Tooling, Energy, Material utilization, Productivity, Quality, Environment

F. CONCLUSION
APPENDIX A--FORGING INDUSTRY NEEDS

Forging Industry Vision of the Future


A. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

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The forging industry is a key link between critical manufacturing segments--metal suppliers (both ferrous and nonferrous) and end user industries. Forgings, which appear in 20% of the products representing the Gross Domestic Product of the United States, are essential to the U.S. industrial economy, to its society, and to its national security.

In recent years the U.S. forging industry has undergone significant shrinkage associated with intense global competition, technological changes, and environmental and economic factors. Those companies that survived the industry downsizing emerged stronger, better equipped to face the competitive challenges of manufacturing today--escalating demands from customers, changing markets, global competition, and threats from competing manufacturing processes.

The forging industry of today looks forward to the year 2020 with an awareness of the business and technical challenges that will shape its future. The major forces shaping the business community of the future are:

  • Increasing globalization of markets.
  • Demand for a greater return on investment and increased capital productivity.
  • Customer expectations for increasingly higher levels of quality at a lower price.
  • Changing skill requirements of industry employees.

In the year 2020, forging will be the cost-effective, preferred process by which metal components of superior quality, integrity, and performance are produced for critical and demanding applications. The U.S. forging industry will be the world leader in materials development and utilization, process application, energy management and efficiency, environmental responsibility, and effective utilization of human resources. Industry-wide cooperation and collaborative efforts between forging companies, suppliers, universities, and government laboratories, will enable the U.S. forging industry to maximize its resources in the development and application of advanced technology.

In order to meet the competitive challenges of the future and achieve its vision, the forging industry must fortify itself in several critical areas: technology development and application; energy and the environment; cooperative efforts; competitiveness; education; markets; and human resources.

Specific areas in which technological issues need to be addressed include materials, die design and modeling, lubrication, process modeling and optimization software, process controls and sensors, real-time preventative maintenance, and primary and secondary processing equipment.

The forging industry of the future will be energy efficient and will protect the environment. Environmentally acceptable, functionally effective, and affordable technologies are needed that integrate pollution prevention into the entire metal forging processing system design.

Cooperative research will play a major role in returning the U.S. forging industry to world leadership. Forging companies must leverage their limited resources by teaming with customers, suppliers, government, academia, and other forgers to locate the significant technologies that are being practiced or are under development.

To achieve the industry's vision of the future, forgers must pursue dramatic forging process breakthroughs--looking at the end product and radically changing the existing process to produce parts that satisfy the customer, while providing a reasonable level of profitability for all parties in the supply chain.

A multi-pronged strategy of ongoing education is key to the forging industry's ability to attain its vision. The forging industry will take an active role in educating current and future workers, customers, designers, government and political forces about the process, the industry, and its technology.

Forgers must be intensely customer-focused, able to accurately predict their end-use customers' needs in the year 2020, and to anticipate and effect the changes they must make in order to meet those needs.

Forging companies must structure their organizations to attract, reward, and retain a top quality workforce.

To position itself for world leadership in the year 2020, the forging industry has determined that its primary efforts should fall into five program groups: (1) production efficiency; (2) energy efficiency; (3) recycling; (4) environmental protection; (5) enterprise issues.

B. THE IMPORTANCE OF THE FORGING INDUSTRY

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BACKGROUND

Forging has unique value among manufacturing processes. The industry is a key link between critical manufacturing segments--metal suppliers (both ferrous and nonferrous) and end user industries. Forgings are intermediate products used widely by original equipment manufacturers in the production of durable goods. They range in size from less than an ounce to more than 150 tons and are found in the machines, vehicles and equipment used to generate our industrial economy. Forgings are found in 20% of the products representing the Gross Domestic Product of the United States. The products of the forging industry are essential to the U.S. industrial economy, to its society, and to its national security.

Forging imparts advantages that few processes can duplicate. The industry's future is based on improving upon these advantages. The following are features of forging that make the process and industry so important to designers and users (specifiers) of components:

  • Forgings can be manufactured from readily available bar stock,
  • Almost all metals and alloys can be forged,
  • There are few restrictions on part size,
  • Forgings can produce high tolerance features,
  • The products are fully recyclable,
  • Forgings impart high strength and reliability to components
  • Forgings typically have relatively low life cycle costs.

Among the industries that depend on forgings are automotive and truck; agricultural machinery and equipment; valves, fittings, and petrochemical applications; hand tools and hardware; off-highway and railroad equipment; general industrial equipment; ordnance and marine; and aerospace.

Forging is a cost-effective way to produce net-shape or near-net-shape components. In some materials, it is the only way. Virtually all metals can be forged, making an extensive range of physical and mechanical properties available in products with the highest structural integrity.

Forgings are used in high performance, high strength, and high reliability applications where tension, stress, load, and human safety are critical considerations. They are also employed in a wide range of demanding environments, including highly corrosive and extreme temperatures and pressures.

Most of the producers of basic metal (steel, aluminum, copper, titanium, and nickel) also produce forged product. Advances in these industries' technologies and efficiency have a direct bearing on the forging industry's ability to compete in the global market.

FORGING PROCESSES

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During the forging process, a metal workpiece is plastically deformed by pressing, squeezing, or hammering forces--usually at temperatures ranging from ambient to 1,500°C--so that it approaches its maximum theoretical density and the upper limits of the material's potential strength. The properties of the worked metal can be greatly enhanced by selecting the proper types and sequence of operations. The controlled process of deformation that takes place imparts exceptional metallurgical soundness and mechanical properties to the forging--structural integrity, impact strength, fracture toughness, fatigue life, and uniformity.

The manufacture of forged products can be carried out by several basic forging methods. The choice of method is determined by the quantity of parts to be produced, the characteristics of the material, and the configuration to be formed.

Impression-die forging, often referred to as closed-die forging, accounts for the bulk of commercial forging production. As the name implies, two or more dies containing impressions of the part shape are brought together causing the workpiece to plastically deform with the metal flow restricted by the die contours.

Most impression-die forging is performed at elevated temperatures and is known as hot forging. The optimum hot forging temperature depends on the material being forged. Also in the impression-die forging category are cold forging and warm forging processes.

Cold forgings are forged at ambient temperature. Cold forged parts are generally symmetrical and typically weigh less than 25 pounds, and because of their extreme dimensional precision and fine surface finish they often need little or no further machining. Production rates are very high with long die life. In warm forging the workpiece is heated above room temperature but well below hot forging temperatures.

Open-die forging differs from impression-die in that the metal workpiece is not confined laterally by impression dies. The process is typically associated with large parts, although parts weights can range from a few pounds to 150 tons The open-die forging process progressively works the starting stock into the desired shape, most commonly between flat-faced dies. As the stock is not contained in a closed die, a highly skilled forge operator is required in locating and positioning the workpiece on the die. Open die forgings require subsequent machining in almost all cases.

Ring rolling is a very cost effective and property effective process in which seamless rolled rings are forged in numerous cross-sectional shapes, ranging from several inches to over 20 feet in diameter. Rings can range in weight from one pound to more than 50,000 pounds, and are typically used in gears, bearings, couplings, rotor spacers, and components for pressure vessels and valves.

HISTORY

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Forging is the oldest known metal working process, dating back to the days when prehistoric peoples learned to heat sponge iron and beat it with a stone to form a useful implement. Modern forging is a science that developed from the ancient art practiced by the armor makers and the immortalized village blacksmith. Sophisticated, high-powered hammers and mechanical presses now replace the strong arm, the hammer, and the anvil, and modern metallurgical knowledge supplements the art and skill of the craftsman in controlling the heating and handling of the metal.

Historically, forging has relied on the skill of the operator. The manufacture of forgings still depends on people, but advances in equipment and process control technology are rapidly changing the nature of jobs and skills required in the forge shop.

Technological improvements in forging processes provide substantial advantages over other competing manufacturing processes, such as higher strength, superior internal integrity, more consistent and higher metallurgical properties. Sophisticated control systems and advanced processing equipment permit forgers to produce products with greater uniformity, to extremely tight dimensional tolerances, in time to meet customers' stringent delivery schedules, thus adding to the inherent benefits of the forging process.

Throughout the 1980s the forging industry underwent a painful contraction due to over capacity and pressures from world markets. The deep recession of the early 1980s shrank forging end-user markets, weakening many forging companies. The reduced competitiveness of the U.S. forging industry was compounded by import penetration. Between 1979 and 1990, an estimated 25% of the commercial forging industry was forced out of business. The closing of more than 100 forging facilities caused a loss of more than 16,000 jobs.

In some cases, the industry has fragmented into smaller firms that have difficulty investing in capital intensive up-to-date equipment, and in sustaining a strong research and development program. In other cases it consolidated into larger companies.

Those companies that survived the industry downsizing emerged stronger, better equipped to face the competitive challenges of manufacturing today--escalating demands from customers, changing markets, global competition, and threats from competing manufacturing processes.

THE INDUSTRY TODAY

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According to trade press estimates, in 1995 there were approximately 450 facilities at which the forging process is performed in the United States. More than half of these are located in five States: Ohio, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Michigan, and California. Another 20% of the nation's forge shops are in Texas, New York, Indiana, Wisconsin, and Tennessee.

Forging plants are primarily small or medium-sized companies. About 40% employ between 20 and 99 workers, and more than 75% have less than 250 employees. Among the facilities that forge components are independent, custom-forged part producers, original equipment manufacturers of a broad range of products, government research laboratories, and military arsenals.

Custom producers of forgings are categorized by the Department of Commerce according to the major end-product-based Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) 3462 (Iron and Steel Forgings) or SIC 3463 (Nonferrous Forgings). Data concerning other captive departments of manufacturing operations that produce forgings for their own use are buried in many other classifications.

C. A VISION FOR THE FORGING INDUSTRY OF THE FUTURE

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In the year 2020, forging will be the cost-effective, preferred process by which metal components of superior quality, integrity, and performance are produced for critical and demanding applications. The U.S. forging industry will be the world leader in materials development and utilization, process application, energy management and efficiency, environmental responsibility, and effective utilization of human resources. Industry-wide cooperation and collaborative efforts between forging companies, suppliers, universities, and government laboratories, will enable the U.S. forging industry to maximize its resources in the development and application of advanced technology.

The forge plant of the future will provide a working environment that is safe, clean, and environmentally benign. It will be highly automated with fully integrated processing equipment that controls processing variations and produces high-quality products of superior consistency and dimensional control.

Forging companies of the future will have focused strategic plans that closely link defined measures of performance and emphasize the importance of forming true partnerships with customers and suppliers.

The forging company of the future will be a "virtual enterprise"--instantaneously communicating with designers, customers, and suppliers utilizing a uniform electronic standard for representing and exchanging information about a forged product throughout its life cycle. The entire manufacturing supply chain will benefit from the significantly compressed time-to-market, nearly nonexistent scrap rates, and more robust processes that result.

Reinforced by a detailed and comprehensive global marketing strategy, a uniform format for electronic data interchange, and new sales and distribution mechanisms, the U.S. forging industry will take advantage of new, rapidly developing geographic markets, which allow opportunity for greater sales penetration, joint venture arrangements, and niche marketing.

Advanced processing technologies will minimize or eliminate the need for forging lubricants in forging facilities.

Forging facilities will employ a knowledgeable and skilled workforce that is continually well trained, educated, and recertified. Forging will be a profession of choice and a valued source of high paying jobs in North America.

The forging process will become lower cost, more consistent, more energy efficient and environmentally friendly. Significant advances in materials and manufacturing technologies will ensure the U.S. forging industry's profitability through higher productivity, shorter lead times, and superior quality near-net or net-shape products.

D. KEY COMPETITIVE CHALLENGES

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In order to meet the competitive challenges of the future and achieve its vision, the forging industry must fortify itself in several critical areas. The key challenges that must be addressed by the industry fall into the following categories:

  • Technology development and application.
  • Energy and the environment.
  • Cooperative efforts.
  • Competitiveness.
  • Education.
  • Markets.
  • Human resources.
TECHNOLOGY

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The industry needs to develop and put in place programs and systems to help find the strategically significant technologies--already in practice, that have been developed, or are being developed--and find ways to deploy those technologies to the industry. Cooperative industry efforts on the forge process will make the forging industry world leaders in bulk deformation.

The forging industry must lead the drive for technological advances that benefit many facets of the forging process, and continue to enhance the industry's competitiveness and profitability. Specific areas in which technological issues need to be addressed include materials, die design and modeling, lubrication, process modeling and optimization software, process controls and sensors, real-time preventative maintenance, and primary and secondary processing equipment. Other research and development needs for the forging industry are outlined in Appendix A.

  • New lighter-weight, higher-strength, and higher-quality alloys will be needed to compete with alternative materials and processes and make forgings the components of choice.
  • Tooling material technology advancements must focus on developing more reliable, longer-lasting die materials.
  • Surface modifications of the die-material interface are becoming increasingly important.
  • Die design and modeling software will supplement metallurgical improvements, adding at least an order of magnitude to the life of tooling.
  • Advanced rapid prototyping technology will be incorporated into forged product design and engineering processes. This will serve customers by speeding the time it takes to go from concept to finished part.
  • Advanced computer models must improve product and process efficiency to satisfy the time, cost, and quality demands of customers in the future.
  • Powerful computer codes that are accessible to every forging company are needed to quickly and accurately model material flow during the forging process and predict forged product microstructure and mechanical properties.
  • Advanced process controls and sensors must monitor all aspects of the forging process. Forging plants of the future need to incorporate such systems that completely integrate the manufacturing process so that each operation will automatically sense and compensate for process variations in other operations. Through careful design these processing systems must incorporate great stability and flexibility.
  • New, more reliable and predictable equipment must be developed to suit this unique forging process while improving material utilization and producing the near-net and net-shape parts that satisfy the future needs of the industry's customers.
  • Advanced raw materials shearing systems will optimize processing parameters by automatically compensating for variations in raw material thickness or cross section, producing a cut workpiece of constant volume.
  • Advancements in electrical resistance, electrical induction, and fossil-fuel heating technologies will promote energy efficiency in the forging industry.
  • New, "smart" forging presses and other pre- and post-forging equipment are needed to improve utilization of energy, raw materials, and labor. They must facilitate efficient and capable of monitoring and correcting the forging deformation process on a real-time basis for the economic production of net- and near-net-shape forgings.
  • New technologically advanced processes, procedures, and devices will permit single-minute changeover, making one-piece work flow economically feasible for families of parts.
  • Advanced lubricants will yield incremental progress toward an environmentally benign process, that increases die life, process efficiency and improves product quality, reliability, and predictability.
ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT

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The forging industry of the future will be energy efficient and will protect the environment. In the 21st Century, the forging plant will be a zero environmental liability, making it a valued and responsible neighbor in its community and a respected source of high-paying jobs for workers in the surrounding area.

To attain the vision, cooperative efforts within the forging industry must maximize the financial resources for research projects and technology development that focus on making the process an environmental asset.

Technologies are needed that integrate pollution prevention into the entire metal forging processing system design. These technologies must be environmentally acceptable, functionally effective, and affordable. The following programs will address these issues and significantly impact the forging industry:

  • Eliminate aerosol emission within the plant through the use of advanced die systems. The development of cost-effective new production methods (such as net shape forging) will eliminate the need for post-forging removal of surface material.
  • Establish a program that develops and deploys environmentally benign lubricants, or eliminates the requirement for die lubrication altogether. Develop new water-based synthetic die lubricants that eliminate graphite from the forging process.
  • Reduce energy consumption through advanced waste heat recovery systems that maximize furnace or induction heater efficiency. One such step is to develop closed-loop controls that minimize the heat wasted in the forging process when problems occur in forging systems.
  • Increased use of induction heating and advances in combustion technology will significantly improve energy efficiency in forging facilities and reduce the environmental impact of today's fossil-fuel fired process heating systems--completely eliminating harmful products of gas combustion.
  • All fluids necessary to plant operation will be recycled, and ultimately replaced with environmentally beneficial materials.
  • New ways to treat waste are needed to prevent damage to the environment. Improvements are needed in methods and technology to minimize forging scale and recycle other process materials and gasses that otherwise represent an environmental liability.
  • Renewable energy, advanced technologies for energy and resource efficiency, cogeneration, and other waste reduction process improvements and other cost-effective environmental protection improvements must be developed.
COOPERATIVE EFFORTS

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The forging industry must enhance its world competitiveness to ensure growth and survival by raising the industry knowledge level to the 21st century. Forging companies must leverage their limited resources by teaming with customers, suppliers, government, academia, and other forgers to locate the significant technologies that are being practiced or are under development. Formal methods must be established to share that knowledge throughout the industry. The mechanisms and systems through which technology is advanced and information is shared, while protecting the intellectual property rights of those companies and organizations that advance the technology, must be formally established. Cooperative research will play a major role in returning the U.S. forging industry to world leadership.

The industry must enlist the support of its vendor industries to develop new materials, new forming and processing equipment, and new technologies that allow forgers to meet the competitive and technological challenges of competing processes and world-wide forging competition. Through cooperative efforts, the value-added role of the supply chain, from raw material through final product, must be enhanced in such a way that each stage is fairly compensated and that the combined effect is cost-effective.

A uniform system of electronic transfer of information between the forger and its customer, the forger and its suppliers, and among forgers must be developed. The industry must identify and incorporate all forms or formats for information exchange and technology deployment. This must include capitalizing on the promise of the Internet which appears to offer the broadest application to date.

Cooperative efforts must generate broad industry-wide participation in, support for, and implementation of the Forging Industry Vision of the Future. Industry leaders must step forward to develop, implement, and champion the causes. The industry must present a unified voice to educate legislators and generate support in the political arena. Forgers must work together to establish formal programs to educate current and prospective customers, as well as future customers (students) to raise awareness of the benefits of forgings.

COMPETITIVENESS

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To achieve the industry's vision of the future, forgers must pursue dramatic forging process breakthroughs--looking at the end product and radically changing the existing process to produce parts that satisfy the customer, while providing a reasonable level of profitability for all parties in the supply chain. Taking ownership of the end product will advance the forging industry on the path toward being the most competitive forgers in the world.

A number of other process improvement and productivity issues that will dramatically improve operating or production "up-time" are central to the forging industry's ability to achieve its vision. These will directly contribute to industry profitability and competitiveness in the 21st century.

Instantaneous electronic exchange of product design information, combined with rapid prototyping technology, sophisticated computer software for three-dimensional design, process modeling, and production of tooling are needed to achieve the quantum leaps that significantly reduce the time it takes to go from product design to a finished production die, and finally to a completed forging. Implementation of the Standard for the Exchange of Product Model Data (STEP), as specified by ISO 10303, will represent a significant improvement over current electronic data interchange standards such as IGES. In addition to fixing some of the problems with IGES and fully supporting 3-dimensional geometry, STEP covers the full range of technical data associated with manufactured products and is designed to allow re-use of data across the entire product development and manufacturing life cycle. To maximize die life, design software must optimize strain distribution, forming loads, and metal flow.

As a result of these, and other process improvements forgers will produce parts that are closer to or at their final design configuration, eliminating the need for costly post-forging processing steps. Improved utilization of raw materials through production of near net shape parts will contribute significantly to profitability by reducing waste.

  • It is mandatory that the forging industry institute projects that substantially decrease per-unit energy and labor costs.
  • Integrated systems for electronic commerce must be developed and implemented that incorporate uniform standards for communication about a forged product throughout its entire life cycle.
  • Further developments in interactive CAD/CAM systems are needed to allow end users' design and manufacturing engineers to work interactively with their forging producer to design, redesign, modify, and fine-tune complex parts and dies within a relatively short time, and at minimal cost.
EDUCATION

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A multi-pronged strategy of ongoing education is key to the forging industry's ability to attain its vision. The forging industry will take an active role in educating current and future workers, customers, designers, government and political forces about the process, the industry, and its technology.

Formalized programs will teach current and potential customers, as well as the educational institutions that are training future customers, about the forging process, its versatility, its efficiencies, and the inherent benefits of products that are produced by its various processes.

The forging industry will enhance its competitive stature by ensuring the basic skills of the industry's current and future workforce. To develop knowledgeable and skilled workers, the industry will create and institute programs that drive public and private education systems. The industry needs to continue to take concrete action that makes forging knowledge part of the technical curriculum in colleges and universities.

Continued efforts to develop mechanisms that generate support in the political arena are needed to ensure that legislative and political forces recognize the importance of the forging industry and generate legislation that is fair and supportive of manufacturing.

The forging industry must learn to identify, evaluate, develop and utilize new forms or formats for information exchange and dissemination between forgers and customers, forgers and suppliers, and between forgers themselves, in order to help reach the industry's vision for the year 2020. A broad range of emerging teaching technologies will supplement traditional education and training forums. Computer simulation/visualization, video conferencing, and long distance learning programs that take advantage of the Internet will join classes, seminars, and workshops as forging industry education tools.

To reach its vision, education within the forging industry of the future will go beyond basic skills and application of current "best practices." Training programs will educate forgers about technologies of the future that will advance forging operations, processes, materials utilization, and ultimately impact industry competitiveness and profitability.

Specific action that should be taken includes:

  • Develop formal training programs to educate customers.
  • Develop training aids (such as CD-ROM) for forge shop employees that cover every aspect of forging.
  • Establish programs uniting the industry with universities, colleges, junior colleges, and vocational schools to enhance basic skills of the future workforce.
  • Create training systems to educate forging manufacturers about technologies of the future.
MARKETS

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Forgers must be intensely customer focused so that forging will become the process of choice specified by design engineers and customers to produce cost-effective, high-property components. The ability of the forging industry to increase its competitiveness and profitability and achieve its vision of the future will be dependent on how well it can predict its end-use customers' needs in the year 2020, and anticipate and effect the changes forgers must make in order to meet those needs.

Changes in existing major markets (such as automotive, aerospace, power generation, railroad, marine, construction and off-highway, industrial, etc.) will significantly affect customer demand and opportunity for use of forgings. The forging industry's future success will be shaped by the kinds of products its customers will be producing and the metal components that will be required.

The trend toward globalization of the marketplace will continue to escalate, resulting in competitive challenges and market opportunities. As a whole, the industry must identify and evaluate the variables and indicators that will allow it to make realistic projections for the use of forgings in the U.S. and throughout the world. This process must accurately identify and assess:

  • existing customers whose future needs will offer increased opportunities for the forging industry, as well as those whose demand for forgings will decrease;
  • new target products and markets for forgings;
  • new or improved services that add to the value of forgings for the customer;
  • existing competitive materials (metal matrix composites, ceramics, plastics)
  • existing competitive processes (powder metallurgy, casting, stamping, fabricating)
  • emerging technologies, such as semi-solid forming
  • competitive global market opportunities.

To assure profitability in the 21st Century, the industry must develop a clear picture of world-wide forging capacity and size of the global market. This analysis must include an assessment of existing foreign competitors, as well as realistic estimates of the potential competition from forging capabilities that will emerge in third-world and other developing countries.

HUMAN RESOURCES

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Human resources are among the most important keys to the future success of forging enterprises.

Forging companies must structure their organizations to encourage, reward, and make it desirable for engineers in all disciplines to work on their plant floors. This must be a cultural change to an environment supportive of technology, creating an opportunity for career advancement for technically qualified employees within their company.

To attract and retain a top quality workforce, the industry will adopt programs and practices that will reestablish the public perception of forging as a respected, noble, and safe profession.

Advances in processing technology, environmental systems, communications technology, ergonomic programs, and management strategies that reward employees based on their contribution to company performance will make the forging plant of the future a desirable place to work.

To reach its vision, the forging industry must establish programs and mechanisms that drive the public and private education systems to develop knowledgeable and skilled employees. In doing so the industry needs to recognize and respond to societal and demographic trends that will define acceptable and popular lifestyles of tomorrow's workforce.

The forging industry must find effective ways to identify, recruit, train, and retain management staffs that are capable of supporting the industry's drive toward its vision. Both workers and managers must be taught to adopt leading-edge management strategies and technology.

E. STRATEGIC TARGETS

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Through the process of analyzing the key competitive challenges that will shape its future, the Forging Industry has identified specific goals that will have the most profound impact on the competitiveness of the industry as a whole and on the value of its contribution to the global manufacturing market by the year 2020. Attaining these strategic targets will assure that the U.S. Forging Industry becomes the world leader in customer-focused, efficient and cost effective supply of superior quality components. These goals include:

  • Tooling--Increase die life by at least 10 times that of current levels. Reduce per-part die system costs by at least 50%. Produce tooling within 24 hours from time of order.
  • Energy--Reduce the total forging process energy input by 20% while cutting the per-piece energy cost by 75%.
  • Material utilization--Achieve a minimum overall reduction in raw material consumption of 15%. Reduce the scrap rate (increase material utilization) by 90%.
  • Productivity--Improve per-employee productivity by 50%. Reduce per-piece labor costs by 60%. Achieve average forging facility up-times of 90%.
  • Quality--Reduce rejected or returned work to less than 25 parts per million. Achieve ±8 sigma process control.
  • Environment--Generate no harmful gas combustion products; completely eliminate aerosol emissions within forging plants; and recycle all fluids necessary to forging operations.

F. CONCLUSION

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In the year 2020, forging will be the cost-effective, preferred process by which metal components of superior quality, integrity, and performance are produced for critical and demanding applications. The U.S. forging industry will be the world leader in materials development and utilization, process application, energy management and efficiency, environmental responsibility, and effective utilization of human resources. Industry-wide cooperation and collaborative efforts between forging companies, suppliers, universities, and government laboratories, will enable the U.S. forging industry to maximize its resources in the development and application of advanced technology.

Several steps are necessary if the forging industry is to realize its vision of the 21st Century.

New knowledge must be developed and applied industry-wide through specific research and development that focuses on bulk deformation sciences and engineering technologies so that more cost efficient and higher performing products and processes are developed.

Partnerships between the forging industry, federal laboratories, universities, and vendor companies must be formed to share information on integrated computational tools, advanced modeling, and automation techniques.

The competitiveness of the forging industry will be enhanced by leveraging the unique technical, management, and R & D capabilities of forging companies, vendors, educational institutions, and the government.

Impediments to collaborative pre-competitive research must be eliminated, advocating programs that reward performance rather than specific methods of regulatory compliance. Cost, benefits, and relative risk of cooperative ventures must be given greater consideration.

The forging industry must respond quickly to changes in the marketplace. It needs to create agile manufacturing plants that use advanced measurement tools and other technologies for design, development, start-up, and that optimize production.

The industry must pursue educational reform to create interdisciplinary collaborative research within the academic community and encourage curricula for undergraduate and vocational training programs that meets the changing demands of the forging industry.

Forging companies must work with U.S. and international governments and standards organizations to harmonize standards for nomenclature, documentation, quality, and testing.

The industry needs to improve the efficiency of logistics by developing new methods for working more effectively with suppliers, sponsoring efforts to shape information technology and standards to meet the manufacturing needs of the forging industry.

Other specific forging industry needs are outlined in Appendix A.

The forging industry has much to contribute to, and much to gain from, participating in programs that team federal laboratories with other industries to develop and deploy new breakthrough technologies that will advance the competitiveness of each of the partners. The forging industry shares many competitive issues and "cross-cutting " technological needs with other Office of Industrial Technologies "Vision Industries." Because its needs coincide so closely with the other industry groups, albeit from a unique perspective, many of the programs initiated by, and on behalf of, the forging industry will have the potential to impact positively on the other industry vision groups.

The outcome of fundamental energy research and development is one cross-cutting technology area that promises to impact the forging industry. The current energy consumption of the forging industry is significant and even incremental improvements through technological advances can reduce costs and conserve energy for future generations.

Advancements in computer modeling, sensors and controls, and technology for intelligent manufacturing are other areas in which developments could be applied to benefit the forging industry as well as several other vision industries.

The greatest potential for progress toward achieving the Forging Industry Vision of the Future is to leverage the forging industry's limited R&D resources through partnerships between forging companies, industry organizations (FIA and FIERF), customers, suppliers, academic institutions, and federal laboratories. Developing and deploying technologies that cut across several "vision" industry groups will maximize return on American manufacturing's R&D investment. 


APPENDIX A FORGING INDUSTRY NEEDS

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PRODUCTION EFFICIENCY
  • Neural networks for process control and optimization.
  • Modeling and verification of complex problems in metal forging.
  • Rapid prototyping: tools and manufacturing.
  • Advanced die materials and surface modifications or coatings.
  • Advanced contact and non-contact sensors.
  • Imaging system for commercial quality control and inspection of parts.
  • Knowledge-based system for troubleshooting industrial equipment.
  • Develop design relevant material properties.
  • Training and education.
ENERGY EFFICIENCY
  • Reduction in heating cycles.
  • Energy efficient gas fueled burners for furnaces.
  • Fuel/combustion system optimization.
  • Advanced cogeneration/waste heat utilization systems.
  • Induction heating system with reshapable coils.
  • Model for increasing metal plasticity at lower forging temperatures.
RECYCLING
  • Energy/environmental life cycle assessment.
  • Develop economic methods to convert scale to usable products.
  • ISO 14000 compliance.
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION
  • Waste stream identification.
  • Air emissions measurement, reduction, and control.
  • Water processing and reuses.
  • Environmental modeling of the forging process.

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Contact FIA for more information on these programs at:

 

Phone:216-781-6260 
FAX: 216-781-0102
E-Mail: [email protected]