Seeing Different Sides at The C.A. Lawton Co.
When asked about the new challenges as Machine Shop Coach, TJ Aaron responds as he does to most challenges he faces, with a wry smile and a shrug, “It’s different.”
TJ is no stranger to challenges in his career at Lawton. Since joining the firm in 2008, he learned the casting process from the bottom up. Starting as a chain hooker in the foundry, he eventually worked his way up to Foundry Coach. Along the way was a stop in almost every foundry department at Lawton. TJ’s transition to the machine shop was viewed as just another learning experience.
Although the machine shop area seems quieter than the foundry building, it has its own challenges requiring different approaches. While the sand and heat from the casting process are not prevalent, other safety issues come into play.
Due to the coronavirus, facial masks are now required throughout Lawton facilities. Overhead crane activity and forklift traffic are still prevalent, presenting their own risks. Aaron views safety as a major consideration as it is in every department of The C.A. Lawton Co.
The Machine Shop is a place to see the completion of the manufacturing process that began in the foundry. A cleaned and blasted casting is just the beginning.
Machining is not as linear as the foundry. The casting process follows specific steps in progression from ramming to molding to pouring to cleaning.
Machining may require multiple steps in a different order for each part run. That means more complicated plans for loading each cost center. If one order has multiple parts going across the same machine tool, you do not want to break your setup more than necessary. This introduces additional cost and waste.
Preplanning and a comprehensive understanding of the machine tool capabilities are necessary to keep the area operating efficiently. Aaron is quick to point out the spirit of teamwork between the machinists. He relies on their input and ability. This allows offloading and rerouting options to be quickly reviewed and keeps the area as flexible and responsive as is practical while meeting efficiency and productivity goals.
Another difference is the type of quality measurements used in machining versus those in the foundry. While the casting process revolves around ensuring the soundness of the casting, the machining portion builds on the sound casting by meeting very specific dimensional requirements. A lot of that is knowing how to properly set up the casting for machining. The dimensional checks at the end of the process are detailed.
Aaron has an increased awareness of the amount and location of machining stock added in the casting process. He always knew why it was there, but now sees how critical it is to be exactly where it was intended.
The C.A. Lawton Co. recognizes how important it is for all our team members to fully understand the processes we rely on to continue to deliver quality results to our customers. The cross-training which TJ Aaron is experiencing is just one of the ways Lawton continues to develop Remarkable People, Remarkable Results.