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Collaborative Casting Designs Bob Mueller Jr., Joy Global Surface Mining, Milwaukee


n typical OEM/supplier relationships, the OEM designs a cast part, sends it to a metal casting sup- plier and the quote process

begins. The metal casting supplier then works to engineer that part to best fit its production facility and capabilities, and to produce the part to meet the OEM specifica- tions. In most cases, this engineer- ing by the metalcaster requires the addition of some significant cost drivers. Essentially, the OEM has tied the hands of the metalcaster with a design that would be costly to modify once it has been released. T is “over the

costs and potentially impact quality and lead time. Today, it is diffi cult to fi nd an

OEM engineer who is well versed in metalcasting, as this manufacturing process is not covered in depth in college engineering courses. A ma- jority of the experience OEM engi- neers have is with fabrications. So, when it comes time to design a cast component, the metalcaster is faced with isolated heavy sections that are diffi cult if not impossible to feed, areas requiring cores that could be designed out and exterior geometry

wall” relation- ship between the OEM and metal casting supplier has been the pro- cess forever. Let me bring to light a process I work to drive in my organization, which results in a joint eff ort between OEM engineering and the met- alcaster to drive down cost, improve quality and reduce lead times all in one simple educational process: upfront collaborative design. Early in the process of design-

ing a new cast product, engineering teams within the OEM need to bring procurement and quality to the table, along with the selected metal casting supplier, to work on a concept that fi rst and foremost meets the design requirements of the part but also provides a castable design. T e metalcaster can assist the OEM engineering group on design issues that will, if left in place, drive up

Once the design is released and in the manufacturing process, it is too late to request modifi cations to eliminate troubles.”

that defi es typical parting processes. Once the design is released and in the manufacturing process, it is too late to request modifi cations to eliminate these troubles. T e prob- lems these design issues create in the metalcasting facility do nothing but make the operation look inept and the metalcasting industry in whole appear problematic. Experiences such as this cause OEM engineers to lean away from metal castings and back toward fabricators. All of this can be avoided with

upfront collaboration that provides a source of casting education to the OEM engineering group. With new technology available to the metalcaster today through


the use of solidifi cation modeling, metalcasters are able to demon- strate advantages and disadvantages of casting designs through, in most cases, simple design modifi cations. It also can be an opportunity to demonstrate cost impacts between two designs as well as potential quality concerns. T ese eff orts also go a long way in establishing a new relationship between OEM and metalcaster. No longer will there be the impression that metalcasters are all “brimstone and fi re,” but a new sense of technology, innovation and communica- tion paths will be established. T rough ef-

forts in this new collaborative design concept, OEM engineers will become more familiar with metalcasting dos and don’ts and will start reaching out to metalcast-

ers for design assistance. T is concept is fi lled with advantages for the OEM and the metalcaster, and it might even lead to future opportunities that would not exist without the newfound knowledge the OEM engineer gains through this process. T e metalcaster’s engineering group needs to become a working extension of its sales group to expose the advantages of properly designed cast products and the advantages they provide to both customer and supplier. 

Bob Mueller Jr. is senior supplier quality engineer, cast product and casting supplier development, for Joy Global Surface Mining, Milwaukee. He has more than 30 years of casting experience.

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