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Panels discuss labor costs, technology.

Though still young compared to the annual AFS technical presentations, the marketing/management sessions continue to gain in popularity and to diversify in content. This year's five well-attended sessions covered a range of topics from ISO-9000 to the DOE Metalcasting Initiative. Two interesting panels focussed on the cost of two areas becoming more and more intertwined - personnel and technology.

Kicking off a panel on human resources, R. Cavallaro, Stahl Specialty Co., outlined the advantages of using college interns to fill safety positions within the foundry. Cavallaro explained the mutually beneficial arrangement Stahl has with a local college.

"You get a trained safety person in your plant for 300 hours per semester," he said, "300 cheap labor hours." Even paid internships are far more cost-effective than paying a full-time safety expert. "These people are trained in their field. Safety is largely safety - they don't have to know foundries," Cavallaro said. "You're getting someone enthusiastic who wants to do a good job for you and for grades."

In return, the interns receive credit hours and valuable real life work experience. "You have to realize these are not seasoned professionals," Cavallaro said. "They may be tentative and make some mistakes." A good use for interns is to have them review safety programs and perform inspections. "It's a fresh pair of eyes in your plant. We see the same things every day, and may not even notice when something's wrong."

Also on the panel was T. Frieburg, Griffin Pipe Products Co., who detailed a system for determining exactly what a foundry's labor contract will cost. "Implementation of this plan," Frieburg said, "will give you consistent and accurate data on all your labor costs. It will tell you your base cost for hourly labor, what each labor proposal would cost, as well as what the final labor agreement will cost."

Frieburg said the first step is to accurately define the unit for which the costs are being determined - single or multiple location, number of employees, distribution of employees by shift, existing wage and benefit eligibility, and participation in any company incentive plans.

Then a representative work period is selected (four weeks, for example). Using existing wage and benefit structures, average employment costs are determined, breaking out into 14 items, including: total unit hours worked; average earnings per hour; overtime earnings per hour; average benefit, pension, holiday, and vacation cost per hour; uniforms and safety shoes cost per hour; and average hourly FICA cost.

It is then relatively simple to figure exactly what each contract proposal would cost, characterizing it in a new average hourly labor rate.

"Rapid Prototyping is more than a one shot deal," said J. Pohlman, Taylor-Pohlman, Inc. "It's a company culture." Pohlman, part of a panel dealing with the economic aspects of rapid prototyping (RP), discussed how his V-Process aluminum foundry benefits from the technology. "Anybody can turn a pattern around quickly," he said. "You have to have customer participation and responsibility to make sure its done right."

Pohlman's firm can use RP and CNC patterns directly for tooling because in the V-Process, the sand never touches the pattern and therefore no pattern wear occurs. Pohlman said cutting out the need for tooling reproduction reduces tooling time from 144 to 86 hours, and saves the foundry 25% of the cost per part.

To obtain these benefits, however, foundries have to be CAD-capable. Too many foundrymen," Pohlman said, "are afraid of 'that high-tech stuff.'"

T. Sorovetz, Chrysler Corp., listed various RP units and their associated costs. Even if a company can afford the capital expense of purchasing an RP system, the material cost for the patterns may be prohibitive. "You have to take into account," he said, "how much it will cost you to operate a machine once you have it."

Using an RP "service bureau" is a way to minimize the investment involved in RP. At the end of 1994, there were 93 such shops in the U.S. (triple the number in existence in 1992). M. Warner, Mack Industries, Inc., whose firm is a combination service bureau/traditional pattern shop, discussed the benefits of service bureas.

These shops provide a variety of RP methods, including laminated object manufacturing and stereolithography, allowing foundries to use the best, most cost-effective technology for a given part. They also make it easy for foundries considering the purchase of an RP machine to compare the various models with minimum inconvenience.

"All this begins with CAD," Warner said. "Foundries must have that capability first of all."
COPYRIGHT 1995 American Foundry Society, Inc.
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Title Annotation:99th American Foundrymen's Society Casting Congress
Publication:Modern Casting
Date:Jun 1, 1995
Previous Article:Panels cover plant planning, maintenance.
Next Article:Understanding porosity.

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