How continuous improvement streamlines contract reviews at Lawton
Continuous improvement affects every part of our operations at The C.A. Lawton Co. – not just
manufacturing, but front office processes, too. An excellent example is the contract review
process that helps our company achieve remarkable results for our customers.
The contract review is an interdepartmental review of each order to ensure all details are correct
and all questions are answered – before it goes into production. The Lawton customer service
team is responsible for presenting the order to representatives from all of the teams who will
contribute to the production process, including the pattern shop, foundry, quality, machine shop,
outside services and shipping.
The interdepartmental team discusses the details of the order, including any markings to be
included on the casting, quality documentation, certifications and any outside services that may
be required. They also discuss flask sizes, in-mold hold times and special shipping
requirements. All of this information is noted on the part’s routing document to ensure no details
are missed as the order progresses through the foundry.
During the next step of the contract review process, the team identifies any specifications that
may not have been included in the quotation process. Why is this step necessary? Because
sometimes information is unknown at the time the quotation was prepared, or the circumstances
of the order may have changed.
When these undocumented specifications appear, the team may need to contact the customer
to provide the missing information. If this issue involves bigger changes, Lawton may need to
requote the order.
All of these steps take place to ensure that everyone who touches the order has the right
information. This is critical to a successful casting project: If a new piece of information is
delayed until the casting process has begun, this not only wastes many peoples’ time. It also
opens up the possibility of errors or quality defects.
Now let’s see how the contract review process works. Each morning, new orders that have been
compiled from the previous day’s order entry activity are presented to the group. A series of
standard work procedures guides the group through each step of the process. Many steps are
handled quickly with a simple answer. Each party involved in this meeting “signs off” on their
portion, indicating that they have what they need to complete the order.
More in-depth issues may require further discussion with the customer or additional research by
team members. After team members complete their research, they bring answers to the next
meeting. This new information is shared with the team to ensure that the order is updated and is
on track for a successful completion.
This contract review process has been a huge success at Lawton. The number of orders being
placed on hold during their fulfillment process has been drastically reduced. If questions arise
during the manufacturing process, they can be handled quickly, and new information can be
easily passed along to the people who need it to perform their jobs correctly.