Green die-casting that gives customers unique value
In a way, since 1947, it's been all about traditional die-casting. In many other ways, it's about a forward-thinking company with a focus on green manufacturing. For Lundbergs Pressgjuteri, sustainable investments are not only a clear statement of intent, they are also strategic decisions to secure new business in the future.
Meet the second of this year’s ambassadors for Elmia Subcontractor - the family business in Småland that provides the Swedish manufacturing industry with unique and environmentally friendly manufacturing processes.
New innovative induction furnaces. Green electricity from the sun, wind and water. Or recycled aluminium. Sustainability is not a buzzword for Lundbergs Pressgjuteri. On the contrary. It is something that permeates the entire business and gives Swedish manufacturing industry added oxygen.
The reason is simple - they want to contribute to the green transition, to do their bit, as CEO Cajsa Lundberg herself puts it.
In the same breath, she also gives another reason, one that is directly linked to the possibility of securing more business in the future. Namely, that a green manufacturing process provides added value to the customer, a value that contributes to a better product over the entire life cycle.
- We have been green for a long time and the environmental aspect is very important to us. It is clearly a driving factor. We don't cheat, we base our decisions on it. Like when we rebuilt in 2006 and installed energy-efficient glass and LED lighting, while at the same time we began to recycle our own process heat. It's a long road ahead, but it's the focus of everything we do," says Cajsa Lundberg.
Halving our energy consumption
She is the third generation of Lundbergs to run the company in Vrigstad. It was her father and grandfather who founded Lundbergs Pressgjuteri in 1947 and - as the company describes itself - it is greener than ever after 70 years in business. The claim is justified.
By using only green electricity, Lundbergs Pressgjuteri has been free of direct carbon dioxide emissions since 2000. The next step is to reduce indirect emissions by implementing the Greenhouse Gas Protocol standard.
A more tangible example is the innovative investment in two new induction furnaces for central melting that was implemented in 2021. Usually induction furnaces are used in sand iron casting and Lundbergs Pressgjuteri is the first press foundry in the Nordic region to use the technology.
- Here, we chose the environment over the cheapest and simplest option. The simplest would have been to go for a shaft furnace with LPG or natural gas, a proven method that everyone else uses. The choice of induction furnaces was more expensive because not only was it a new technology, it also meant a whole new way of working where we have had to learn from our own mistakes. It was entirely a green decision that will affect us for a long time to come," says Cajsa Lundberg.
The induction ovens are just one part of a larger investment process over four years. This includes, for example, new dosing furnaces at the casting machines, and when everything is completed, Lundbergs Pressgjuteri will significantly reduce its energy consumption.
- Being green is central in all our investments, not just the induction furnaces. The resistance furnaces have a lot of waste built in, but since we have replaced both them and the fillers with the latest technology, we not only get better quality in the process, we also save 40% of our total energy consumption.
A new mindset in industry
In the midst of all the green investments, Cajsa Lundberg is calling for a new mindset in the manufacturing industry, one that focuses on the entire life cycle of the product - including the manufacturing process. Quite simply, an understanding that the green process itself helps the customer sell their product.
- For me, sustainability is something that makes money. It is about being careful with your resources and caring for your health and the environment. A form of Småland thriftiness. But at the same time, it is a challenge for us to make the customer understand that - is it something they value or will it just come down to dollars and cents? The purchase may be a little more expensive, but at the same time the customer is selling a green product and making a profit in the long run. That's why I think you have to distinguish between the purchase cost and the total cost," she says.
Add value early in the process
For Cajsa Lundberg, it's all about being clear about what's unique in the process. How sustainable and carbon-free processes actually create added value for both the customer and the finished product. How their unique expertise makes for lighter products, simplifies recycling and contributes to saving the customer money.
- The dream scenario for us is that the customer chooses their supplier early, then we can be involved in developing and running the production together with the customer in a close collaboration. But usually the supplier is only chosen once the product is designed, so we don't become involved in the process. Otherwise, we are allowed in but it is not always certain that we will win the business. Currently, the price is a controlling factor and other aspects are not necessarily valued," says Cajsa Lundberg.
Working together so as not to become replaceable
One word that Lundberg often uses is replaceability. It's a problem that I'm sure many suppliers recognise and that everyone has to deal with in some way. Lundbergs Pressgjuteri is addressing this by investing in green processes and always being at the forefront of innovation and new technology.
To do this, collaboration in all its forms is crucial for the company. Whether through academic projects or traditional industry associations.
- There is nothing more useful than meeting other companies and hearing their ideas. It's not about copying them, but more about getting a thought process going and then doing something with it," she says.
Many times it can also be about changing a self-image. Like realising that we are actually an innovative company even if we don't develop our own patents or have a large research department. It's just as valuable to be innovative in our day-to-day work and in the investments we make for the future.
- I've calculated all the tips and ideas I've received from my networks and it's paid back in pure dollars and cents to the company. It has even paid off many times over," says Cajsa Lundberg.
Personal meetings are important
At the same time, the challenge is always there. The challenge of getting customers to understand the value of the unique processes that Lundbergs Pressgjuteri creates through its green and innovative processes.
This is where the personal meeting plays an extremely important role, and for Cajsa Lundberg, Elmia Subcontractor is not just a place to showcase the company, it is also the industrial heart that pumps out those very ideas that can set a thought process in motion.
- We need these meeting points - meeting places. For us, it's always easier to present our USP at a trade fair when we have a person in front of us and we can get a dialogue going. Only then can we communicate our brand and what we stand for - the uniqueness of our process.
The fast-paced pulse meetings take turns in the various departments at Lundberg's Press Foundry. It may not be slavishly Lean according to the Toyota model, but involves methodical ways of working to avoid wastage.
Cajsa Lundberg believes in unpretentious conversation, dialogue between people with different skillsets to achieve something really good. Toolmakers, machine services, consultants, metallurgists and surface treaters who know die-casting. All are needed for the industry not only to survive but to thrive into the future. "This 'alone is strong' thing doesn't exist, we need to build a relationship with both our customer and supplier," she says.
All the aluminium used by Lundbergs Pressgjuteri is secondary aluminium, which means it is recycled. Whether it is ingots that are traded in or its own scrap that is reused.
Lundbergs Pressgjuteri is the first in the Nordic region, and among the first in Europe, to use induction furnaces in aluminium die-casting. Usually used in sand casting of iron, they represent a completely new way of working for the family business in Vrigstad.
Lundbergs Pressgjuteri has a total of six casting machines and the work is done in three shifts. "It's easy to think that casting is a clumsy process, but the casting itself only takes 7-8 hundredths of a second," says CEO Cajsa Lundberg.
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