Strengthening the OEM-Foundry Relationship
An OEM has a great deal of incentive to stick with a foundry. In most cases, finding a new supplier is expensive and disruptive.
The foundry, of course, wants to stay in the OEM’s good graces – to not only retain the business but to grow it whenever possible.
Therefore, both the OEM and foundry value and benefit from strong relationships. State Line Foundries’ partnership with one of its OEMs offers a glimpse into methods that ensure the mutual success of both parties.
This OEM manufactures specialized pumps that move corrosive chemicals such as sulfuric acid and molten salt. State Line’s subsidiary, Winnebago Foundry, has made iron castings for the OEM for many years.
State Line acquired Winnebago in 2018 and, with the purchase, focused on providing even better results for this pump manufacturer.
Consistent communication is a must
The casting world isn’t a perfect place. Sometimes, delays are inevitable. Alerting the customer to setbacks and resolving the issues quickly can prevent an inconvenience from deteriorating into something much worse.
“The OEM always needs to know the status of any challenges its foundry is facing. There’s no excuse for ineffective communication,” declares Jesse Milks, president of State Line Foundries.
Consistent communication with OEMs helps State Line address issues beyond delays. “If we talk regularly, we’re more likely to hear about problems they’re experiencing that we might be able to help with,” he reveals. “An open order list is a living, breathing thing that changes from time to time. We can support them if we know what they’re facing.”
A sense of urgency is a plus
A representative of the pump OEM explains that the company needs more than communication – it needs results, too:
“Sometimes, we need things more quickly than usual from a foundry,” he explains. “If I tell Winnebago we need to adjust our schedule and I need something more quickly, they will stop and pour it for us and get it to us within a week.”
The foundry must come through during routine times, too. “Winnebago’s on-time delivery is good – very good,” the OEM representative recalls. “They had a nice run there. For five to six weeks, there wasn’t a single overdue item. I’ve never seen that from a foundry.”
The pumps are complicated, with a variety of alloys and production requirements. That means the OEM must work with seven different foundries to get all of its casting needs met. “I wish the other foundries were as timely,” the rep summarizes. “Winnebago is doing something right.”
Shorter lead times
Reduced lead times are one key to enabling the State Line and Winnebago foundries to be timely and responsive.
“The biggest thing I’ve seen is they have cut their lead times down,” the representative notes. “Employees can respond to any request I have. If we cause a problem, or even if they do, they will step up and take care of it for us.”
The lead times had been longer before 2018. “I ordered accordingly, so it wasn’t as bad as it could have been,” the rep emphasizes. “But we did have to carry more inventory.”
How has the Winnebago foundry shortened its lead times? “Through a ton of hard work,” Milks asserts. “We’ve also added capacity and have put the right people in place. We’ve also improved quality, which pays huge dividends. You gain capacity when you reduce the number of bad castings – because you don’t have to re-make any.”
Problem-solving is a must
The pump OEM executive says that some foundries offer the same solution to almost any problem they face. He recalled a foundry that, “no matter what the issue, said, ‘We need to add chills,’” he explains. “That was the solution to everything. It fixed some of the issues, but not all of them. In some cases, it made things worse.”
Winnebago and State Line have a great deal of experience and expertise that help them identify the root cause of a problem and the right solution.
A deepening relationship
The relationship between Winnebago and the OEM has grown even more over the last 12 months with new iron casting business being steered to Winnebago.
“It’s as good as it’s ever been,” the rep declares. “We have been a longtime customer of Winnebago and I don’t see that changing any time soon.”
Working with several foundries, the rep is alerted whenever a crisis arises with castings. “If you’re on my radar, then we’re dealing with a problem,” he emphasizes.
“Winnebago is not on my radar. That’s a good thing. I wish I had six more like it.”
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