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“When the economy came


back, both had either taken on new customers to keep their business or a new program came in to play,” Brecheisen said. “Te big foundry does a lot of automotive business, and when that picked back up and they bid on a job, we were small potatoes in comparison.” Brecheisen met with Haldex’s


large U.S. metalcasting supplier and asked how much volume it needed taken away. Ten she met with Haldex’s smaller U.S. metalcasting supplier and agreed on how many castings per month her company could get. “We worked with them to meet their forecasting and sup- ply requirements,” she said. She cites speed as a key advantage to working with U.S. suppliers, particularly for the domestic market. Metalcasters can offer insight on


production bottlenecks as well as what might prioritize one type of job over another, and often will refer work that is not best suited to their equipment elsewhere. Te challenge for them is to secure labor for increased production and to reduce equipment downtime and scrap. Many U.S. metalcasters are updating their facilities not only to open up capacity, but to improve their operations and the range and quality of cast products they can offer.


The Right Fit


Rowe Foundry in Martinsville, Ill., updated its facilities in 2008 with new electric melt equipment to add capac- ity as well as improve efficiency. “We had cupola [melting] prior to


that, and we saw that the coke supply was in tight supply and the quality of the materials was lessening,” said Glenn Kuehnel, Foundry Manager. “We saw electric melting as a better opportunity. It drives better quality and a better range of castings and metals that we can offer.” Rowe is a 100% nobake molding


facility that produces mostly gray iron. Te improved melt operations opened the door to ductile iron production, which the company added in 2010 and is developing as a new line of business. “We produce molds in two dif- ferent molding systems. One utilizes


large cope-and-drag patterns in a flask type system,” Kuehnel said. “And we have an IMF automated flaskless molding system.” Across the board, Rowe remains


challenged from a capacity standpoint, according to Kuehnel, and is still run- ning at near capacity levels. “We have had conversations with


some of our customers to help them when it makes more sense for them to take some smaller jobs [elsewhere] that don’t fit as well. It relates to the volume of the order,” said Kuehnel. It is important for casting buyers to


know what size casting range fits the supplier’s equipment. Rowe’s molding capacity allows, on average, 1,500-lb. or larger castings. “If I’m asked to make five pieces of a 125-lb. casting per month, it just


doesn’t make sense economically for me to produce that part,” he said. “I can sell a casting weight value that’s associated with 500 lbs. and up, and the customer doesn’t want to buy a 100-lb. part [at a higher cost] because I’m not utilizing the space in the mold correctly. Tey might have five jobs in my foundry that are 500 lbs. or more, and they only need to buy this one additional casting for 100 lbs. But they have to realize that casting is going to cost a lot more if it stays here.” Kuehnel will refer his customers to


a metalcasting facility that is a better fit for those smaller jobs. “It doesn’t always happen that way,” he said. “As time goes on, you end up collect- ing things that don’t fit you as well as they should.” For example, when work arrives as a package of various


Sept/Oct 2012 | METAL CASTING DESIGN & PURCHASING | 35


Rowe Foundry is a 100% nobake molding facility that provides gray and ductile iron castings.


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