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Essential skills profile

This profile contains a list of example tasks that illustrate how each of the 9 essential skills is generally performed by most workers in this occupation. The levels of complexity estimated for each task are ranked between 1 (basic) and 5 (advanced).

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Foundry Workers(9412)

This unit group includes workers who make foundry moulds and cores by hand or machine, cast molten metal, and operate furnaces in the foundry industry. They are employed by metal foundries and foundry departments of metal products manufacturing companies.

Reading Help - Reading
  • Read notes or written directions from supervisors, such as instructions regarding the quantities of certain templates to make. (1)
  • Read memos from suppliers and customers, such as requests for sending metal samples out for analysis. (1)
  • May read trade journals to keep up with developments in foundry processes, such as ways to coat materials or clean metal. (2)
  • Refer to machine manuals for troubleshooting purposes to determine whether to call electricians or operators. (3)
Document use Help - Document use
  • Read flow meters or gauges which show flow of gasses. (1)
  • Read Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS) symbols. (1)
  • Read packing slips for equipment to find numbers shipped and back ordered. (1)
  • Read labels on equipment, such as labels on bandsaw gears showing how to grind pieces off products. (2)
  • Read grade card booklets with tables containing critical ranges for elements to be held in steel mixes. (2)
  • Read metal schedules. (2)
  • Read work orders, containing company names, shipping dates, amounts of casting required and the types of castings and moulds. (2)
  • Read casting summaries which outline heat settings, open and close times and temperatures of ladles. (2)
  • Read standards books and specification sheets for various alloys, specifying melting temperatures, constituents and other technical information. (3)
  • Work from assembly drawings and blueprints to get dimensions and the orientation of parts to create prototypes. (3)
  • Read detailed microphotographs taken with electronic scanning microscopes, showing the composition and granularity of metal alloys. (3)
  • Complete casting record tables which include heat values, open and close times, remarks, weights and scrap amounts. (3)
  • Track and plot temperatures on graphs for each piece of metal produced to ensure that temperatures stay within a specified range. (3)
Writing Help - Writing
  • Keep logs for supervisors with information on ladle weights or successful uses of particular dies. (1)
  • Keep notes on job specifications, outlining weights, types of metal used or special problems. (1)
  • Leave notes for workers on the next shift with instructions, such as what to do if equipment fails. (1)
  • Write short comments on work orders to remind front office staff about billing arrangements and defects. (1)
  • May draft short letters to suppliers or customers requesting information or informing them about the progress of orders. (2)
  • Fill out documentation about safety incidents, describing the time and circumstances of the incident, how the situation was handled and steps taken to ensure the problem will not recur. (2)
Numeracy Help - Numeracy Scheduling, Budgeting & Accounting Math
  • Schedule the inspection and cleaning of vessels, knowing that particular parts of them need to be cleaned before others. (2)
Measurement and Calculation Math
  • Calculate weights of metal castings. (1)
  • Measure and cut baked sand cores used to create holes in castings. (daily)
  • Read carbon heat settings, oxygen input pressure, quantities of trace elements and other values displayed on the computer screen. Calculate the proportion of needed elements. (2)
  • Measure moulds and cast objects. (2)
  • Use a variety of specialized measuring instruments such as temperature probes and micrometers during the making and casting of metal. (3)
Data Analysis Math
  • Complete compactability tests to determine how much water needs to be added or removed from sand if ranges are too high or low. (1)
Numerical Estimation
  • Estimate the temperature of molten metal by observing the metal's colour and bubbles. (1)
  • Estimate how many moulds can be poured with partial pots of molten metal. (2)
  • Prepare written cost estimates for developing new castings, taking into account the weight of metal casts and the time required to build prototypes and make sample moulds. (2)
Oral communication Help - Oral communication
  • Speak with utility and maintenance workers when machines break down or hydraulics blow. (1)
  • Discuss job details with steel pourers, handlers, powder pushers, crane operators, laboratory workers and supervisors. Discussions may deal with co-ordinating the lifting and pouring of molten metal or receiving instructions on how much material to add. (2)
  • Instruct, supervise and assign tasks to helpers. (2)
  • Persuade co-workers to complete tasks in a particular way. (2)
  • Interact with supervisors to discuss production concerns, lab results or material problems and to co-ordinate schedules or shipping deadlines. (2)
  • Speak with customers to discuss products or casting methods, to verify job details or update them on progress. (2)
  • Speak with smelter operators who supply alloys and sculptors who create original designs. (2)
Thinking Help - Thinking Problem Solving
  • May find that steel is bulging, creating a damaged product. They speak to supervisors or melters to see if they can solve the problem by increasing the rate of steel flow. (1)
  • May encounter production quality problems such as short or cold runs where moulds haven't filled completely. They try to correct a number of factors, such as changing gating systems, pouring metal faster or pouring in more metal. They make these corrections based on past experience, observation and trial and error. (2)
  • May find that alloys improperly flowing into moulds leave pockets and holes. They modify moulds or cast others with different parting lines. (2)
  • May find too much shrinkage of parts made from alloys. They experiment with different alloys to solve the problem. (2)
  • Solve unique technical problems. For example, when making custom made name plates for the first time, castings may heat up too fast, leaving dust particles in the paint. They may create their own solution without referring to manuals, such as grinding the plates lightly with a rough belt and then using a fine belt to get a dust-free satin finish on the plates. (3)
Decision Making
  • Decide whether to pour a mould with what is left in the crucible or to wait until more metal has been melted. (1)
  • Decide which is the right alloy for each application, considering strength, granularity and porosity. (2)
  • Decide whether alloy casting is appropriate for a particular customer's application. They discuss the new product with the customer. (2)
  • Decide which type of moulding rubber would be best for each casting job, reviewing a selection of rubbers which require a higher or lower temperature. (2)
  • Make decisions regarding the layout of moulds. They decide how they will be oriented, and where to cut channels for the molten metal to run into the moulds. This is based on past experience and observation of the thickness and shape of the mould. (2)
  • Decide on the type of material used for moulds and, occasionally, the order of tasks on the floor. (3)
Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking information was not collected for this profile.

Job Task Planning and Organizing

Foundry workers plan their own workdays, organizing production from preliminary sketches to finished products. They gather their own tools, get raw materials and plan production for large and small orders. There are established routines to follow to complete job orders and workers must plan tasks in order to get jobs done quickly and on time. They co-operate with other foundry workers and assign tasks to helpers. Foundry workers depart from routine on occasion, for example, when guides are misaligned or new specifications require review. Foundry workers may work on more than one project at a time, as there are wait times in heating and cooling metal. (3)

Significant Use of Memory
  • Remember grades of steel and approximate quantities of each element in the different grades.
  • Remember metal characteristics, mould recipes, gate systems and weights for various sizes of crucibles.
  • Remember the status of projects being worked on at the same time so that temperatures will be checked and metal poured at correct times.
  • Remember how long metals should be heated before being saturated with water and reheated to ensure the metal stays strong.
Finding Information
  • Speak to moulders to find out information such as the current level of particular elements in mixes, the temperatures of mixes or substances to line the dies. (1)
  • Phone engineering consultants or staff at other foundries or smelters to find information on metallurgical problems or alloy casting. (2)
  • Refer to trade magazines and novelty catalogues and talk to other foundry workers at exhibitions to get new ideas and find out about ways to develop new products. (3)
Digital technology Help - Digital technology
  • May use computer-controlled machinery. For example, they may read numeric control settings on computerized equipment. (1)
Additional information Help - Additional information Other Essential Skills:

Working with Others

Foundry workers work as members of a team, though their particular tasks are usually performed independently. For example, one worker adds material; another takes tests from posts to the laboratory; the crane operator loads and unloads hot steel and the laboratory worker provides test results. All workers pitch in to get rush orders completed. Foundry workers may work with a partner or helper to perform tasks such as lifting and pouring from crucibles or buffing and finishing castings.

Continuous Learning

Foundry workers continue to learn on the job. For example, they may take apprenticeship programs in areas such as brass moulding. They get new ideas and develop new products by reading trade magazines and novelty catalogues and attending exhibitions.

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