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Initiating good foundry housekeeping habits.

"Foundry" - a noisy, dark, dreary word associated with dirty floors, dust-filled air and unbearable heat. This is the paradigm many people - outside the industry or even those on the production floor - apply to foundries.

Changing the Paradigm

Granted, the processes used to produce green sand castings make it difficult to maintain a clean, properly illuminated and well organized shop, but nothing is more important to making a good first impression on customers, visitors and new employees than the housekeeping habits within your production facilities. But beyond cosmetic appearances, a dirty, unorganized facility can negatively affect the quality of your castings, both directly and indirectly.

While many foundries require the more expensive capital investment-type improvements, such as dust collection and water-treatment systems, countless inexpensive improvements can be made to make immediate changes to the dirty foundry paradigm.

These changes require a change in the attitudes and habits of production personnel, which must begin with a commitment of time and materials from foundry management. Until the people on the shop floor see the seriousness of those in the office, cleanup attempts will be seen as just another program that quickly loses intensity.

A Simple Plan

An example of an inexpensive, effective program was implemented several years ago at one of Waupaca Foundry's plants. The first step was admitting there was a housekeeping problem and saying, "Just because we are a foundry doesn't mean we have to work in a dirty, unorganized shop." This was difficult, particularly for the "old timers," who saw little reason to change the traditional way of doing things. But after about a month of steady peer pressure, every one of the plant's department heads was focused and committed to the goal of cleaning up the foundry.

A system was then needed that could be used to determine progress and identify which departments were improving. And once goals were achieved, how would the new housekeeping standards be maintained? The answer came in the form of a weekly housekeeping audit, done by department and work area.

For example, the molding department was broken down into sections that included the time clock, each of six high-speed molding lines, pattern staging, cooling lines, pattern storage and hot check inspection area. Each was given a rating of 1-5, with 1 signifying the area as very clean; free from dirt, paper and cigarette butts, and all materials storage areas had been identified with painted lines on the floor. A 5-rating denoted no improvement from when the program was implemented.

After the audits, a weekly "Mr. Clean" award was given to the highest rated department, while a "Hog Sty" award was given to any that scored below a 3. These awards - simply a picture of the department head with the designated award written on it - were posted in the lunch room. This very simple, inexpensive method, using peer pressure, worked extremely well for Waupaca. Within two months, the "Hog Sty" award had become a rarity, and that trend continues today.


Air quality in the plant has improved to an amazing degree, simply because the floors are clean. In the past, forklifts would lift the dirt and dust simply by constantly driving over it. The foundry's return green sand system is free of paper and cigarette butts. The foundry still does weekly housekeeping audits, eliminating the need for major cleanup programs for customer or corporate visits. Visitors to the plant often comment on the cleanliness - a good first impression.

Again, how was quality affected at Waupaca? It is difficult to put an actual dollar amount on direct savings from the program, but management feels it to be an important part of their overall quality improvement goals and should be built in to SPC training, process control, written procedures and operator certification programs.

One intangible is in the attitudes of production personnel in each area. Nobody likes to work in a dirty environment, but now that the floors are clean, lighting is improved, and tools and raw materials are in properly designated areas, jobs are easier and better organized and attitudes are much improved. Foundry management feels that this change in environment has helped make dramatic improvements in scrap rates and casting workmanship.

While it is true that foundries have a more difficult housekeeping task than other manufacturing facilities, metalcasting shops don't need to be filthy. To say they do while cost-effective improvements can be made is simply an excuse - one the industry can't afford if it is to compete on a world-class quality status.
COPYRIGHT 1995 American Foundry Society, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1995, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Author:Ebert, Steven
Publication:Modern Casting
Date:Oct 1, 1995
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