The C.A. Lawton Training Dojo and the great mojo that follows
By: Maria Margraf
As a newly hired employee of The C.A. Lawton Co., I was invited to an onsite training session that was unique and informative. Most of us newbies have never seen the inside of a metal foundry. We might all envision the big pot of molten metal lava being poured but that is where our knowledge ends, and assumptions begin. Being able to see the full process from the design phase to the silica sand mold creation, molten metal being poured, the cleaning/finishing of the casting to finished product is not only a full education but fascinating to boot.
The day starts very early in the training dojo – 5:00 am, which is comparable to the start time of the 1st shift schedule of the foundry employees. The training area instructors are an accomplished group who have years of experience between them and were able to easily answer any questions that came up. With their strong experience and background, they have seen anything and everything at least once, can answer any question about the process as well as provide best practices.
The C.A. Lawton Co. is committed to LEAN manufacturing processes, and it was easy to see this in action in every department during the tour. Every process has been fine-tuned to eliminate as much waste as possible. Each department collaborates as a whole with solely the customer’s satisfaction in mind. We learned about the many industries and companies worldwide that rely on the cutting-edge science and processes that Lawton has perfected over its 140-year existence.
A novel and exciting part of the training dojo was when we were shown how to create a casting mold and were able to try to complete this process on our own. Though it was done on a very small scale, it encompassed the total process. Through this exercise, we were better able to visualize the process, understand the terminology of the components, test our skills and see if we had the “magic touch.” Unfortunately, I found that my “magic touch” needs a lot more magic and a lot less touch on my part, but it was a fantastic opportunity nonetheless.
If there was a process that we were not able to view in person during the tour, the training team provided in-depth videos and explained the actions, possible issues, and expected outcomes of each step. Lawton’s YouTube channel provides a wealth of these informative, well-produced videos and on its blog, you’ll learn about everything from the history of iron casting to continuous improvement.
The consensus in the training class is that we all loved the lighting off process to burn off alcohol the best – there is just something about fire that holds the eye and fascinates our basic instincts, right?
It’s amazing how little waste occurs as Lawton reuses mostly all materials right down to recycling or repurposing sand used in the foundry.
We also learned about the importance of Tim Woods (eliminating waste from our processes). We laughed about the fact that if someone with that name ever joins the company in the future, a new acronym will be needed immediately so as not to give poor Tim a complex of being unwelcome.
Everyone here – new or seasoned employee – is welcome, valued as an important team resource, and is considered part of the Lawton family which makes it a very inclusive environment and quite learning friendly to all.
If you spend time in the training dojo, you will be awarded some great mojo in setting up your career for success with a great forward-thinking company.