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Gravity casting at MRT Castings an aluminum and zinc diecaster in Hampshire England

Leaning Forward to Increase Diecasting Capacity

Dec. 2, 2013
Producing medical, electronics, aero/defense parts New diecasting, machining cells Lean manufacturing Systematic approaches

MRT Castings in Andover, Hampshire, England, aims to double its production capacity over the next three years, and is adding new equipment to make it possible. Recently it installed a new cold-chamber diecasting cell, and this month it will add two more high-speed CNC machining centers.

The aluminum and zinc diecaster also plans to increase its workforce as it adds new orders for products from medical components, electronics, aerospace, and defense system suppliers.

The focus of the growth strategy, however, centers on extending MRT’s manufacturing practices.

Managing director Phil Rawnson has been studying lean manufacturing techniques in use at plants around the world, and intends to “accelerate MRT’s lean journey” after recent visits to plants in Tokyo and Kyoto, Japan.

“Lean manufacturing has been a part of MRT’s processes for many years,” Rawnson said. “My trip to Japan has provided an amazing insight into how the Japanese operate their leading production sites to world-class standards by empowering staff, investing in technology, and creating a culture of continuous improvement.

“Successful improvement activities are about taking those common-sense ideas from every level of the team and developing them to add value throughout the business,” he added.

Examples of these improvement efforts include MRT’s work to optimize set-up routines so it can cast aluminum products in lower volumes more cost effectively than competitors.

Quality also matters at MRT, where all products are given a “cosmetic inspection” prior to shipment. Dimensional control is ensured by two CNC coordinate measuring machines and SPC systems.

Lean, 5S, SPC, ISO efforts

These systematic, quality control efforts will allow the foundry to reduce waste in order to deliver lean manufacturing. Also, 5S techniques and visual management are used throughout all production areas.

“Many of our customers are involved in the medical and electronics industries where their production areas are immaculate and highly organized,” Rawnson explained. “They rightly expect the same from us.”

Some customers work with MRT’s engineers to design their products, which also helps to reduce process waste, enhancing the lean objective.

For its established customers, MRT offers Kanban-triggered delivery systems to schedule lean and just-in-time production across all the processes involved in high-pressure casting, gravity diecasting, and CNC machining. The company’s range of services also includes product design, tooling production, painting, plating, and assembly of finished products.

For its own best results, it has implemented a lean energy-management system that monitors energy consumed by each production cell. Its energy-saving goals are part of its ISO14001:2004 accreditation program. It also carries the ISO9001:2008 accreditation.