The volume of high specification work at Stainless Foundry & Engineering (SF&E) has continuously increased. So much so, that high specification nondestructive testing (NDT) was creating a bottleneck in SF&E’s newly improved commercial production line, which prides itself on 4-6-week lead times. The solution, up until now, has been to enlist verified third-party inspection houses that could perform NDT, specifically liquid penetrant inspection (LPI).
Earlier this year, SF&E invested $150,000 to build an internal high specification inspection cell that would circumvent commercial production, reduce lead times, and make castings more cost-effective for everyone involved. Three key benefits were realized as the project got underway: lead time reduction, cost reduction, and employee development.
We spoke with Scott Schwulst, SF&E Director of Manufacturing, to learn more about these benefits.
Lead Time Reduction
SS: Roughly 20-30% of our business is for nuclear or military specifications (high specification). When parts go into our high specification inspection cell, they need initial penetrant testing (PT), repair, PT of dig outs, and PT again after each repair. We have seen a bottleneck with our high specification and commercial work, so we outsourced PT and to a third-party inspection house. Each round of testing would require a turnaround between two and five days.
Our operators can now perform each round of NDT, within one hour, as opposed to the multi-day turnaround. We’ve reduced our lead time, in most cases, from nine days to three hours the entire process.