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Self-funding training thanks to resulting process improvements

Spring of 2022 saw the start of ICME’s Certificate in Cast Iron Production, Metallurgy and Quality Control course. This joint venture from ICME and the Cast Metals Federation was developed with the aim of increasing knowledge and enabling growth and progression within the foundry industry. 

The first cohort of students consisted of nine learners from a number of companies across the country. The programme, which was delivered over an 18-month period, included focused learning through a mix of classroom delivery, practical sessions and projects completed in the workplace. The teaching and learning was led by technical experts from within the industry delivering a range of engaging sessions.

In September 2023 the first cohort of students successfully completed all the modules and in recognition of this, a celebratory day was held with students, tutors, mentors and employers during September at The Belfry, Sutton Coldfield (UK). During the day the students showcased the knowledge and experience gained from the course and were also able to demonstrate how this had been applied in the workplace.


Eurac Group

Grey iron foundry, Eurac is based in Poole, Dorset and specialises in manufacturing brake discs for global markets. Eurac Group enrolled three students on the programme. During the celebratory day, the company’s students delivered a presentation showcasing how the learning, which had taken place over the eighteen months, had allowed them to complete a project on ‘investigating a suitable replacement for wire inoculation’. This particular project was completed to reduce defects in the foundry and, with the changes identified throughout the project, will also result in a financial saving across the company.


WM Lee Ltd

Dronfield-based iron foundry WM Lee Ltd specialises in parts for truck manufacturing. They were represented by two students on the programme, who undertook a project based on ‘identifying issues causing sub-standard ductile iron conversion treatments and redefining the operating parameters for their HWS plant sandwich process for ductile iron treatment’. Initially, the project identified that since the introduction of the HWS Auto Pour plant, the facility for making ‘O ’plates (a disc of iron usually around 4kg) had been lost as they no longer had manual casters to produce them using any surplus iron at the end of each treatment. Other plants in the foundry group would not be able to meet demand to supply themselves and the HWS plant. ‘O’ plates are used in the transfer/treatment ladle as cover material in the sandwich treatment method. The completion of this project has allowed the company along with its group of companies to make substantial financial savings. 


Castings PLC

Based in the West Midlands, Castings PLC is a market leader in iron casting and machining. Two learners from Casings PLC completed the 18-month programme. Within the company there had been “a large increase in recorded incidents of ferritic grade 420-12 and derivatives (to BS EN1563:1997) with as-cast test bars displaying properties outside of the expected norm”. During the project Michael Birch and Adam Rochelle (pictured alongside the tutors) conducted investigations into mould creation, overall pattern and moulding machine condition, mould investigation, test bar creation, test pieces and destructive testing.

The students identified several improvements and made recommendations to the senior management at Castings PLC for review by the team.


Thomas Dudley Ltd

Employee progression was the focus of the two delegates completing the programme from Thomas Dudley Ltd. Thomas Dudley is a manufacturer of cast iron components in the West Midlands. The purpose behind their project was “to be able to inform and educate employees who work in technical and quality positions”. The aim of the project was to show that, with the correct training, those working in the quality, production and melting departments can have much better understanding of their responsibilities. This will then allow the management to take a step back and feel confident that employees are performing their roles correctly, allowing managers to go on to focus on other projects and perform their own roles more effectively.

The results from the project have now been implemented by the company and additional staff have been trained, which has resulted in both employee progression and financial savings in areas such as scrap reduction, productivity and time management.



A day of celebration

ICME senior vice president, Anthony Evans CEng FICME was invited along to the celebratory day to present all the certificates. 

He noted: “The quality of presentations was excellent and a credit to each of the candidates. The importance of a sound understand of metallurgical best practices is fundamental to the future success of all cast metals companies.  

“To hear that the cost of the course had been self-funded through the process improvements and had resulted in bottom line improvements to the companies is testament to the course tutors and, more importantly, the companies for taking the decision to invest in their employees continuing professional development. 

“We will ensure the success of this course is communicated to all other iron casting companies in the UK industry to provide the opportunity for others to achieve comparable financial gains. 

“I would like to remind everyone who has completed this course that they should not consider it as an end in itself – I would encourage them to continue with their learning and take every opportunity to continue with their professional development and strive to become future business leaders in our industry.”

Pam Murrell, CEO of the Cast Metals Federation said: “The value of this course for our industry speaks for itself in the positive responses from all those involved.  

“It’s been a real team effort, with input from the companies around their specific training needs, then from our tutors and some industry suppliers who have helped with technical content and delivering the programme, and of course the teams at ICME and CMF who have pulled it all together and made it happen. The fact that those attending have been able to deliver tangible bottom-line results is a real bonus.

“The key to the success of the programme has been the ‘in-company’ projects, which have ensured that the business gets additional value from the course. Clearly the professional development of their teams and their ability to problem-solve and deal with process and quality improvements though their improved understanding of cast iron is important, and the face-to-face teaching and practical hands-on learning in the ECMS National Foundry Training Centre will have contributed hugely. We are also grateful to the Foundry Training Trust, which has supported the companies financially with the cost of attendance.

“The investment by the companies clearly shows their commitment to continuous improvement and staff development. The industry is always seeking to improve its competitiveness and the quality of service to customers: this course has demonstrated that if we work together, collaboratively, the industry can continue to thrive. I am really delighted with the feedback from this first cohort”.

Amy Worrallo, training and quality manager for ICME said: “This course was developed in response to a clear need from industry for a practical programme, focused on the metallurgy and production of the suite of cast irons. It included modules on melting and shopfloor quality controls, raw material selection, metal treatments as well as testing and quality assurance, with a mix of classroom delivery, practical aspects and project work, which was completed in the student’s workplace. 

“From when I first met the students at the start of the programme, to seeing them complete and present their projects, it has been hugely rewarding to witness first-hand the positive impact the training has had, not only on the students, but also on their companies. This course provides a great opportunity for any companies to develop and expand the knowledge of their teams.”

“This offering from ICME also clearly fits with our aims, as the professional body for the UK industry, to support the professional development of our members and to future-proof the industry.”


How to get involved

The course is ICME approved, complete with ICME accredited CPD hours, and all those completing the course receive an ICME certificate of achievement and ICME membership for the duration of the programme for anyone who is not already a member.

Foundry Training Trust grant support is available towards the cost of the course. The grant available towards the fees for this course is £2,500.00. Additional grant funding is also available towards the costs of travel and accommodation. 

A new cohort is currently being recruited for a start date of March 2024. For more information or to request the full brochure, email ICME at: [email protected]