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Build a Bridge T

all manufacturers are made the same way. Your strug- gles as metalcasters and your language of metalcast- ing might as well be French for your English-speaking customers. Just take a look at the basic dichotomies that exist between you and your customers: • You are typically a small manufacturer with limited resources work- ing with customers who are globally-engaged manufacturers that have 10 employees for your every one;

he casting supplier/casting buyer relationship is a complicated one. From the outside look- ing in, it would seem that manufacturers sup-

plying manufacturers is an ideal set up. You should understand each others’ daily challenges. You speak the same language. Te problem is that not

playbook they were given is just too generic. This is our opportunity to step in and

Te key to building a better relationship is to assume your customers know nothing and start to build a bridge through education.

• You try to lean your manufacturing process for efficiency but it must meet customer specifica- tions, quality systems and delivery requirements optimized for their own in-house and industry requirements;

• You are experts in metalcasting and your typical customer has little knowledge on casting sourc- ing/manufacturing. These differences were reinforced at a recent

event at which more than 40 casting buyers were brought together to discuss the metal casting supply chain. These buyers were able to eas- ily network with each other and discuss their quality systems and supplier audit criteria. But when it came to specifics about metalcasting and determining which suppliers best fit their needs, something was missing from the discussions. These buyers know what their firms want from

their casting suppliers. It is similar to what they want from other “commodity” industries. The problem is that buying castings isn’t necessarily like buying other components. Some industry knowledge is a necessity to efficiently and effectively source cast components. Many of these buyers were lost because the sourcing

bridge the gap. Te key to improving the casting sup- plier/buyer relationship is to build a bridge through education. Open your doors to them in every way possible so they can begin to understand metalcasting and what it takes to pro- duce an en- gineered cast component. Once that is understood, your custom- ers can begin to tailor their firm’s sourcing demands to mesh with the capabilities of metalcasters. Tis isn’t a novel concept. But, most of us don’t educate

anyone other than ourselves (not our children, communities, regulators, government officials nor customers) with the regularity or to the degree that is necessary to have an impact on our busi- nesses. For the future of your firm and the industry as a whole, this may be as important an action as any aimed at improving the quality of your production. The critical need for further education is why

feature articles like the one on p. 44 must be run in MODERN CASTING. Hopefully, you will be inspired by the actions of Benton Foundry, Benton, Pa., and take the steps necessary at your facility to begin the education process. The first step is toward your customers. A little education can go a long way to bridging that great divide.

Alfred T. Spada, Publisher/Editor-in-Chief

If you have any comments about this editorial or any other item that appears in MODERN CASTING, email me at

February 2013 MODERN CASTING | 9

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