Lean Manufacturing and Castings
Looking to lower the cost of your casting purchases? The key is to find a foundry that incorporates lean manufacturing principles into the process. Castability, bottleneck solutions and optimizing cycle time are three principles that when applied to manufacturing castings can drive cost out and lower your purchasing price.
Castability is referred to in the foundry as a molders bane. The molder is looking for a casting design that is forgiving to variation in pouring speed, metal temperature and easy to eject. Does the casting have thin walls, sharp edges, deep pockets or a good metal feed path? Will we be able to cast multiple cavities? Working with the proper foundry and engineers, a casting design which is easy to manufacture can be developed. This will reduce the driving costs of scrap and lost time in production, in turn driving down the price of the casting.
Bottlenecks are where the production of castings tend to build up instead of moving smoothly through the process. Quite often in foundries this is the cleaning room and where the most focus is needed. The size of the casting, time and type of cleaning will contribute to the solutions needed to move the castings through the bottleneck and unleash the productivity of the process. Increased productivity means lower cost to the manufacturer which in turn will drive down the price of the casting.
Optimizing cycle time isn’t always about reduction of cycle time sometimes it could be extending a cycle time to reduce the number of employees needed to manufacture the casting. Increasing the cooling time of the casting could allow a secondary process to be moved into the molding function. This in turn will reduce the number of employees needed and reduce the cost to manufacture, in turn driving down the price of the casting.
Whatever your needs may be when selecting a foundry be sure to inquire about the application of lean manufacturing principles. Quite often a simple design change, reduced specification requirement, or the foundries capability to apply lean manufacturing principles can assist you in finding better quality at a lower price
Tags: Lean Manufacturing
Written by Jim Smith, Jr.
Jim Smith, Jr. is the Technical & Sales Manager at Eagle Aluminum Cast Products in Muskegon, MI. Given his father’s career as a mechanical engineer, Jim grew up in foundries and often used castings his father brought home as toys. During his college years and into his first jobs, Jim developed skills in quality, engineering and customer service. Jim joined Eagle Aluminum in 2012 as a Technical Analyst and now manages all of the company’s Technical and Sales functions.