In March 1982, Atlantis Foundries cast the first Diesel Engine cylinder block in its newly built foundry in Atlantis in the Western Cape.
Atlantis Foundries (Pty) Ltd (AF), a member of PtSA, was established to supply cylinder block and cylinder head castings to Atlantis Diesel Engines which in turn supplied Diesel engines to the South African market.
After Atlantis Diesel Engines closed in early 2000, Atlantis Foundries focused on supplying castings to the export market. Initially, these castings were machined in-house, but with the advancement of Diesel engine technology, the local facilities were not able to machine the castings, and the company is now supplying ready-to-machine castings to Detroit Diesel in the USA for the heavy-duty truck market.
According to John Davies, who was the first CEO of AF, and who was responsible for setting up the foundry adjacent to the Atlantis Diesel Engines facilities, the first block was cast in the evening of 31 March 1982.
He says “this start of production was on time and went off without a hitch. We were very proud of this achievement which was the culmination of several years of planning and construction.”
John recently visited the facilities in Atlantis to have a look at the progress that has been made over the last 40 years and to see the casting of current cylinder blocks, which weigh more than double the weight of those early cylinder block castings.
According to Cordell Rautenbach, Senior Technical Engineering Manager, Atlantis Foundries still uses the original moulding line and some of the original machinery and equipment to cast the cylinder blocks but has also invested in the latest technologies over the years; particularly incorporating 4IR technologies such as production controls and systems, and robotics.
Steve Gatenby, Senior Operations Manager, says that no jobs have been lost due to implementing these technologies as every affected employee has been redeployed within the organisation.
He goes on to say that all the employees are keen to embrace improvements which ensure the long term growth and sustainability of the company.
According to Pieter du Plessis, CEO of Atlantis Foundries, the capacity of the foundry has been significantly increased due to improvements in efficiencies, a reduction in the model mix and new technologies.
He indicates that the next efficiency improvement that is being implemented is to automate the loading of molten metal into the pouring furnace, instead of the current method of transporting the molten metal by fork truck.
This will not only improve efficiency but also safety in the production area.
Atlantis Foundries, which is owned by Daimler Truck AG, exports the castings for machining in the USA by Detroit Diesel, a subsidiary of Daimler Truck North America.
According to Pieter, Detroit Diesel is very pleased with the quality of the castings received from Atlantis Foundries, with scrap rates that are better than industry standards.
He goes on to say “Atlantis Foundries employs many people from the local area who are all very dedicated, well-trained and highly motivated. We are proud of what our teams have achieved over the years, particularly in the areas of efficiency and quality improvements, and we look forward to working with our teams to achieve further improvements in the near future.”