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ment casting, when a local company went up for sale, Carley Foundry bought its assets and brought the equipment and production to the facility in Blaine. Through a stroke of luck, as Carley called it, one of his employees was a former engineer at the purchased company and became the point man on establishing the investment casting operation in the new addition. Oehrlein credits Carley’s fore-


sight in expansion—taking an “if you build it, they will come” attitude—as an important facet of Carley Foundry’s growth strategy. “Mike is a good, shrewd busi- nessman. In some instances, he was forward-thinking and put up additions before they were needed,” Oehrlein said. “When the investment casting opportunity came, at least we had a footprint for expansion going, and we just had to change the nature of how it would be used.” The last minute change of plans has


tions with a $1 million robotic dipping and drying cell. “Now we have green sand, permanent


mold, investment casting and nobake sand processes,” Carley said. “Our cus- tomers want to grow with us because we have all those capabilities to help them.” When Carley is ready to add more capacity in other departments, space is


“We have a lot of new work coming in, so our engineers are needed to develop lean processes.” —Mike Carley, president, Carley Foundry


paid off. Seven years later, the invest- ment casting operations now make up 25% of Carley Foundry’s business. Last year, the company upgraded its opera-


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still available. The company owns 8 acres around the building for future additions. A 20,000-sq.-ft. building adjoining the prop- erty purchased two years ago houses tool storage, a coordinate measuring machine, pattern shop and the sales departments, with room for expansion.


Problem Solvers Besides Carley’s nine engineers dedi-


cated to a specific process, the metalcast- er has on hand three “problem solvers,” as Oehrlein calls them. These engineers help out where needed, whether on particularly puzzling casting designs or process improvements. At least once a week, department supervisors hold a meeting to discuss operations, including problem areas that need a solution for reduced cost and labor or improved quality and safety. “One of the advantages to hav-


ing so many engineers on staff is the company has the ability to design its own specialty equip- ment,” Oehrlein said. “Sometimes it is a case where we can just buy the equipment, and sometimes we design our own because we do have the engineering ability.”


Seven years ago, Carley Foundry’s engineers were examining ways to improve the melt operations for permanent mold casting. One option was auto-pouring using a stopper-rod mechanism in which a crucible is low- ered automatically into the melt and the exact amount of molten aluminum needed is drawn from below the melt’s surface, where the metal is cleaner. At


MODERN CASTING / January 2011


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