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Bager Alloys modernizes to provide full service.

Badger Alloys Modernizes to Provide Full Service

As president of Badger Alloys, a Milwaukee based, family-owned foundry company, Leslie E. Cowen would certainly be entitled to a private office. He looks a little cramped in the small cubicle he occupies in an office he shares with his staff. But he wouldn't have it any other way.

"We like to keep the use of space not devoted to production to an absolute minimum," he declares. Clearly, this is a man who practices what he preaches.

Furnace Installation

Efficiency is important to Cowen, especially in the melting area. Last year, he replaced two motor generator units and box furnaces with two 350 kW line frequency generator sets and four coreless induction furnaces, ranging in size from 500 to 2000 lb.

The company has increased production while saving 200,000 kW hours per year. This energy savings has been significant enough to qualify the company for a substantial rebate program from Wisconsin Electric Power Co.

Overall, the foundry is designed for low quantity production of high quality, high alloy products. The new induction melting installation is used to melt virgin heats of stainless and high alloy steels.

"We feel that using high quality virgin materials produces the highest quality castings," Cowen comments. "We use very little scrap. We follow good foundry practice--melt quickly and pour quickly--to prevent contamination."

Induction melting, however, plays a role in maintaining the cleanliness of the molten metal until it is poured. Says Cowen, "You get out what you put in with induction melting. It doesn't add or take away anything."

Badger Alloy makes a variety of stainless and high alloy steels to produce fluid and dry powder handling castings and impeller castings. Many of these are large--up to 3000 lb--thin wall castings with large cores, similar to pump housings. They are made in no-bake molds, with oil sand or nobake cores.

The foundry also has several centrifugal casting machines, in which various shaft, sleeve and bearing castings are made. Centrifugal casting also is used to produce chrome-copper continuous cast products. Copper-base alloys are melted in small gas-fired furnaces for this purpose.

Service Strategy

Though Cowen has managed Badger Alloys since 1966, the foundry has been a family-owned business only since 1986. Since then, Cowen has evolved a business strategy that emphasizes customer service and expanding the range of services offered. For example, the foundry has maintained pattern facilities for 15 years, but in 1987 a complete, captive pattern shop was opened in a nearby building.

Similarly, machining capabilities have been expanded. Badger Alloys has been manufacturing centrifugal dies for 20 years, machining them out of carbon. But last year, machine equipment also was removed from the foundry and a captive machine shop was opened in a second nearby building.

This move gives the company new capabilities in machining sand castings. Now, all sand and centrifugal castings produced are either rough- or finish-machined. Locating the pattern and machine shops in separate buildings also has opened up valuable additional casting production space.

This expansion program has fulfilled Cowen's plan to become a full service supplier. He says, "We're now marketing a service, rather than selling castings. We can design and quote an entire concept of pattern, casting and machining operation. This makes us a 'one-stop shop' for finished components."

Just as important though, is Cowen's customer orientation, which stresses supplying "guaranteed castings." Cowen explains that the problem of who pays--foundry or buyer--when a machine shop receives unmachinable castings, is solved when a foundry machines its own castings.

"We find the defects and take care of them before the castings are ever shipped. It minimizes the customer's headaches," he notes.

Badger Alloy's service orientation, along with attention to the basics to get the best end product, is going far to secure the company's future for the next generation.
COPYRIGHT 1990 American Foundry Society, Inc.
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Copyright 1990, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Author:Bralower, Paul M.
Publication:Modern Casting
Article Type:company profile
Date:Jan 1, 1990
Words:637
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