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Know When to Ask for Help

Alfred Spada

When do you ask for help and when do you just plow through a project to complete it? Often the answer to this question comes down to how much time is available to produce a solution.

In the case of casting buyers and designers, this issue of Modern Casting shows us several examples of buyer-supplier relationships benefiting by questions being asked.

In the feature, “Castings on Stunning Display,” on page 27, a commodity manager for projector manufacturer Christie said the company aims to incorporate metalcasting facilities early in the design process. “There’s a high level of collaboration,” he said. “Identifying and eliminating problems early in the process can help streamline progress and control costs by limiting design iterations.”

In “Graphite Permanent Mold Process Cuts Lead Times, Costs,” on page 60, an engineering manager for a camera manufacturer said, “Being able to discuss the design with the engineers at Graphicast was very helpful. There was a lot of give and take, and we were able to really leverage their design expertise.”

A mechanical engineer for an industrial mining fan manufacturer had similar things to say in the feature, “Casting Conversion Simplifies Ventilation Hub,” on page 39: “Pier helped us develop a greater understanding of designing for metal castings.”

Your efforts are working.  You have been communicating with casting buyers about the value of upfront collaboration in casting design, and some are taking you up on your offers. While your job isn’t finished, a foundation is being built. This is great news.

Now, as customers, do you do the same with your suppliers? Do you reach out to your equipment, raw material and technology experts for their advice on how to improve your operation?

The feature, “D&L Goes Big,” on p. 21, looks at how a metalcaster can utilize a combination of in-house and outside supplier expertise to engineer and build a new metalcasting facility.

“Out of necessity, we’ve become pretty self-sufficient with modifying equipment and making things work,” said Jason McGowan, president, D&L, regarding engineering successes such as its new conveyors, electrical controls and computerized monitoring system. But, D&L also utilized its supply base when it engineered its melt deck for the new plant.

In the feature, “Controlling Pouring Through Automation,” on p. 33, the focus is on technology opportunities for autopouring from the sophisticated to the basic. The key to finding a solution is determining what the metalcasting facility wants to achieve, and aligning the technology to that need.

“A job shop may not have high speed or volume production but still wants to increase the accuracy of pouring, reduce costs and remove people from a hazardous area,” said Bill Pflug, Inductotherm Corp.

Every facility must know its core competencies to determine if it can solve a problem internally or if it must look outside for help.  Just be sure to apply the same philosophy when you work with your customers and your suppliers, and know when to ask for help.