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The best way to determine your metalcaster’s capabilities and understand capacity constraint is to visit the supplier and ask questions about its operations.


“For example, some companies are automotive or pipe shops. Lots of tons are not being used in the pipe shops, so the capacity utilization number is misleading that there is a real openness of capacity.” Other times, metalcasters will


oversell capacity and offer customers castings with the condition of longer lead times. “How the airlines sell seats is a


great analogy,” Lane said. “Some people are not going to get on that plane, but when they do, they have to bump people.” T e best way to combat these


types of diffi culties is to partner closely with a metal casting supplier and forge a long-term relationship, according to Lane. It’s also best to keep expectations in check. Un- like other manufacturing industries, metalcasting remains relatively fractured and is largely composed of small, family-run businesses. Forc- ing a metalcaster to follow a quality control system it is not familair with, for example, could make it impossible for the company to reach its capacity and lead time goals. Finally, if you have difficulty pro-


curing the castings you need, Lane suggests you go out and talk to your supplier. Ask the metalcaster what is holding it back from making your castings. Work with the company on continuous improvement and help it understand your application so it can accommodate your needs. “T e only way you can know what’s


Mar/Apr 2012 | METAL CASTING DESIGN & PURCHASING | 45


going on at these places is if you go and see them,” Lane said. “You have to sit in front of them on their turf…in good times and bad times. If there is a capacity issue, that’s the only way you will understand it.” 


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