Case Studies

To deliver casting solutions that are truly valuable to our customers we focus on three simple concepts:

Focus on Quality and On-Time Delivery
We make the casting buying process easier by consistently producing high-quality castings and delivering them on time.

A Culture of Flexibility and Urgency
Our customer needs can change daily, and to continually meet their expectations we respond with urgency and flexibility.

Integrated Offerings
Providing complementary, integrated services that include patterns, castings, machining, heat treatment, and painting help our customers manage the costs and risks associated with multiple vendors.

These principles have led to our continued success, as evidenced in the following case studies:

Metered Success

When your business is built on measuring with accuracy and reliability, you naturally set high standards for your critical suppliers. And when you’re faced with finding suppliers who produce large machined components without the scheduling, logistics, and coordination issues that can cost both time and money, your options are fairly limited.

A company from the northeast which has become respected producer of venturi flow meters for municipal water utilities, has developed a reputation for providing some of the best flow meters in the industry. Along with that distinction comes steady demand and customers who expect them to deliver.

It didn’t take long to realize that Calco was the ideal solution for managing both the castings and the machining of the large iron components required for the enormous meters. The meters range in size from 2,000 to 15,000 lbs. in both one- and two-piece designs. We supply the machined components, which include simple flange faces and bolt holes, and some of the more critical machine dimensions that provide the predictable precision performance framework for the proper function of the flow meters.

The value to a manufacturer of large equipment isn’t limited to providing large machined components. There’s also value and reduced cost in the coordination of patterns, castings, and machining with one vendor.

We have a long history of meeting the needs of the municipal water industry for large iron components for valves, pumps, and flow meters.

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Clutch Performance

Quantifying the true cost of poor quality and on-time delivery problems can be a difficult task. Intuitively it’s understood that the costs to manage these go beyond Scheduling and the Quality Department that rejects the components. Poor quality can affect the overall financial performance of a company and has a direct impact on Engineering, Scheduling, and Procurement and can even influence customer relationships and goodwill.

For one growing customer of The C.A. Lawton Co. that was seeking relief from an unreliable supplier, the costs added up quickly. This producer of industrial clutch and brake systems was struggling year after year with 10% or greater fallout of large castings during the machining process and 60% on-time delivery from its supplier. In spite of its situation, justifying any increase in piece price greater than the price paid to the incumbent supplier was difficult. The following is an analysis of how this particular OEM was able to justify the time and effort required to switch large casting vendors as a part of the long-term improvement of its business.

Lost Production Time Cost

For this particular product line, the production volume was roughly 250 units each year, and 10% of the large casting component parts were rejected at some point during the machining process. In beginning to account for the costs associated with 25 component parts rejected each year, the primary and most identifiable cost was simply lost machine time. Most of the poor-quality castings were lost in the first machining operation or the equivalent of about 10 hours. In most cases adding overtime, which increased cost, was the method for keeping jobs on schedule. With 10 hours invested in the scrap casting and 10 hours of added overtime, the additional production cost was estimated at approximately $1,950 per occurrence. This totaled $42,500 each year and assumed that the second casting machined at the overtime premium was, in fact, a good casting.

Quality and Technical Support Costs

Scrap materials from a vendor and lost machine time involved the time and interaction of the Quality Department. When the quality issue, usually some type of defect in the casting, was discovered, the machine was stopped and a supervisor was asked to view the casting. The supervisor usually involved a member from Engineering to view and determine whether or not the casting could be used despite the defect in the iron. In 25 cases each year an engineer determined that the casting could not be used for the application. At this point the casting was pulled from the machine and a member of the Quality Department documented the quality issue, which included a non-conformance report and photographs that were sent to the vendor along with logging the occurrence into the quality system. For ongoing issues like these, the Quality Department typically asked for, then processed, the appropriate corrective action paperwork from the vendor. The cost for the Quality and Technical support for uncovering scrap castings at the machine was estimated at $250 per occurrence, which totaled $6,250 annually. Because of the ongoing double-digit fallout of castings, the Quality Department would put together and manage the vendor through an improvement plan. The creation, maintenance, and administration of the plan cost $5,000 annually. Quarterly travel to vendors as part of the plan costs $6,000 annually. With the risk of “process creep” at the supplier and the risk that any improvement to quality would result only because of increased attention, regular visits to the supplier and the costs would be ongoing.

Increased Procurement Costs

Managing a vendor who delivers poor-quality components can be all consuming. Buying large iron castings can be difficult, and the buyer will usually pay for poor vendor performance in many ways. With 10% of the castings from a vendor scrapping on the machine, the buyer is under pressure to get things on track. With support from the Quality Manager, visits to the troubled foundry, corrective action requests, settling the monetary side of returns, and potentially seeking new vendors, dealing with a 10% fallout issue can cost thousands of dollars. Traveling once per quarter to a problem foundry has an annual cost of $6,000 and an immeasurable opportunity cost when buyers are not involved with improvement programs like VAVE, supplier consolidation, creating productive long-term supply agreements, and negotiating better pricing and terms. Phone calls to or conference calls with the supplier for follow-up on the status of scrap replacement orders and other expediting activity will occupy time each week with an annual cost estimated at $2,500. In addition, large castings are costly to ship across states. When large castings are scrapped, not only are the original shipping costs rarely recovered, but also coordinating special expedited shipments are costly. Unrecoverable shipping and additional coordination and logistics costs were estimated at $12,250 annually.

Keeping Production Running

One of the immediate results of both poor quality and poor on-time delivery is not having parts ready at the machine for the production process. A solution for this, of course, can be to add inventory. Most companies avoid holding extra inventory, and in this case it would not address the root cause. In this situation, however, it was a viable option to prevent poor vendor performance from ultimately affecting revenues and goodwill with end-use customers. With fallout of 10% of the parts, or 25 parts each year, it was estimated that 20 additional castings would need to be added to inventory. The inventory increase would help reduce scheduling changes and limit the cost of lost machine time to the combined total of lost machine time and any resulting overtime. Taking into account the cost of capital, the additional cost each year to support the inventory would be $11,250.

Calco Performance

To solve the quality and on-time delivery problems that were ultimately costing this OEM thousands, the company looked to The C.A. Lawton Co. Switching large castings suppliers is not easy, especially when this OEM had as many as 50 patterns that needed to be shipped to Calco and up to 100 casting part numbers to sample. Each part family required a comprehensive PPAP, and machining sample castings at Calco helped streamline the process. In total the projects stretched over more than 18 months, but today Calco successfully provides the OEM the performance necessary to effectively run its business without the pitfalls and hang-ups from the previous suppliers. Calco delivers both raw and complete machined castings and maintains on-time deliveries greater than 97% while holding quality cost below 1%.

Return on Investment Chart
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Combining Forces

Metso, a leader in Mining equipment worldwide maintains a focus on the markets it serves and on the specific application requirements of their customers. Understanding marketplace demands can often lead to improvements in equipment or processes and for the MP1250 this was exactly the case.

As part of Metso’s brand of cone crushers, they produce the MP800 and the MP1000, which together cross a wide range of applications. Metso saw the MP1250 as an opportunity to meet a market need for a crusher that would produce as much as 30% more product within the same footprint as the already successful MP1000 design. To accomplish this, the MP1000 design would be changed to allow for more throughput.

In the MP1000, the primary crushing action is created by the eccentric shape casting. The rotating action of the eccentric shape or “throw” decreases the size of the internal cavity which crushes the material.

The standard MP1000 eccentrics weigh 9,340 lbs. before machining. Increasing the “throw” on the eccentrics increases the weight to 9,530 which is a relatively small increase. This increased “throw” however creates a substantially larger force that makes it possible for Metso customers to increase production by up to 30%.

Because of the specialized nature of many of the components in the MP series, Metso regularly looks to its vendor partners when updating or optimizing designs. Calco was ready for the challenge. For Calco, participating in developing new products increases the value it delivers to its customers and creates an opportunity to utilize its combined integrated processes to perform the prototyping completely in-house. This shortens the time needed to produce prototypes and reduces coordination and logistics costs for customers. This project involved foam patterns produced at Calco for the prototype castings and machining the sample pieces in the on-site machine shop. The on-site machining is invaluable when developing new products because it provides immediate feedback to the casting process and takes full advantage of Calco’s integrated scheduling process.

Today by producing a steady supply of MP1250 Eccentrics, Calco is a proud contributor to the MP1250 which is one of Metso’s fastest growing products.

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Flat out Performance

A global manufacturer of cup and container forming machines located in the Midwest focused on continuous improvement was looking for opportunities in their supply chain.

One of the significant parts in their market leading paperboard Cup and Container Forming Machine is the iron machine base that serves as the platform for the machine. For any high speed machine precision is critical and on this particular component flatness and assembly hole location are important for easy assembly, alignment of key components, peak operation, and long term maintenance of the machine.

The part is cast as a single piece of grey iron weighing more than 5000 lbs. It includes many pockets and ribs for strength which makes it a robust base for the machine. At over 90” long it’s also a significant challenge to produce within the .005” flatness that’s specified. To accomplish the flatness, the large casting is both heat treated and ground before the finish machining is performed. To this point the manufacturer has successfully coordinated the casting, heat treating, grinding, and machining with outside vendors but was looking for a turnkey solution that would save time, and reduce costs.

The challenge appeared to be an ideal match for Calco’s integrated manufacturing and services which provide complete finished large cast components. Managing several operations from a single location in De Pere, WI is a perfect solution for manufacturers searching for ways to reduce procurement and coordination costs.

Today Calco is the single source that supplies the casting and machines the component at its De Pere location and with support from its partner suppliers provides the finished component. The part arrives at the manufacturer fully machined and ready for assembly.

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