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Good decisions at shop floor & office determine success.

In its second year as part of the Casting Congress, the high-powered management sessions gave foundry officials a chance to evaluate and consider future business philosophies, maintenance, ISO 9000 and a number of environmental issues that management must tackle head-on.

D. Marcus, TDC Consulting, Inc., spoke on the changing U.S. economy and how it requires leaving scientific management and entering what he called the "era of commitments."

He said the U.S. economy is in a new generation of economic policies and management principles and a redefined competitive landscape. "The established rules of the game--which most businesses have been following for years to achieve success--no longer guarantee success. In fact, continuing to play by these rules will likely lead to failure."

Successful management of three critical commitments is needed to meet the challenges of this transition, he said. These three commitments are to customers, employees and to vendors.

Marcus said there are two ways to survive in these changing times. Metalcasters can accept diminishing profits by cutting prices to compete and cutting margins to pay for privilege. This, he said, is "nothing short of suicide."

The other way is to dramatically improve productivity while lowering costs, improving quality and enhancing service. "We must eliminate some middle managers and have frontline worker teams solve problems that arise--interacting directly with computers, involving processes and doing their own quality control," Marcus said. "If our workers can't do this, they'll never match the productivity gains and quality benchmarks set by the world's best."

He said management must implement a world-class statistical process control system, educate and better train workers, and recreate the relationship between labor and management.

"A creative employment alliance is needed to encourage employees to continuously improve processes, streamline systems, slash costs and eliminate unnecessary and nonvalue adding activities," he said. "If foundries are to support the sales effort by dramatically improving productivity and reducing costs, an unprecedented commitment to employees is essential."

Marcus concluded that metalcasters who make commitments to customers, employees and vendors will learn what they need to learn to assure their survival and prosperity in the 21st century.

In a presentation titled, "Cross Training: Getting the Job Done with Reduced Headcount," J. Dziedzic, Pelton Casteel, Inc., provided insight into how Pelton, a steel foundry operating below capacity with a reduced work force, reaped benefits by making its workers more versatile through cross training.

"Our philosophy has always been to keep head count to a bare minimum, using overtime when required to get the job done," Dziedzic said.

He said the downturn in the economy made the need for cross training more critical than ever. In 1989, the foundry felt a more structured cross training program was required to identify weak areas. It is still in use today.

"The need for a particular skill to cover for absence has demanded cross training in both skilled and nonskilled areas," Dziedzic said. "We encourage new and young employees to learn other job skills as a hedge against layoffs or reduced hours."

Pelton's program eliminates disruptions in production or processing schedules caused by vacations, absenteeism or varying workloads. It also provides additional individual skills within a job category.

Advantages to having a reduced work force, he said, were that the foundry could: maintain desired head count and associated fringes, allow for increased employee earnings, reduce layoffs in poor times and ensure skilled performances.

On another note, J. Matson, plant manager, Ashland Chemical, Inc., spoke on environmental issues and how foundries can draw off community relations programs, such as that in place at Ashland's Foundry Products plant.

In lieu of lawsuits, tighter regulations and public suspicion, Matson said some managers have assumed a fortress mentality, believing the public wouldn't understand their operations and would protest if they knew what chemicals were present.

"Investing time and resources on community participation isn't a frill but an investment in a bank of good will that can be drawn on when environmental issues are being considered," he said. "Informed citizens weigh the risks and make knowledgeable decisions for themselves and their communities."

He noted if the public doesn't know the safeguards and procedures surrounding chemical use, it's likely to be uneasy. But if they are included in the decision-making process, he said they're more willing to tolerate risk.
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Title Annotation:CastExpo '93: 97th AFS Casting Congress, Chicago
Publication:Modern Casting
Date:Jun 1, 1993
Previous Article:Furnace design, research & material control head sessions.
Next Article:Sessions focus on environment, new computer applications.

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