Any organisation that is faced with the need to change things wrestles with the questions
of what to change and how to sustain that change.
What to change will obviously vary from company to company and industry to industry. Often, the answer to this question is presented to us by external forces. For example, changes in products will typically be dictated by customers. Changes in processes may also be customer-dictated, especially if they are based upon the need to increase quality or reduce product costs.
Also, changes in service are often customer-dictated, but they could be brought about by competition, as well. A competitor that changes a warranty period or a policy on installation or delivery charges may force other companies to follow suit in order to stay competitive.
Once we understand what to change, the focus shifts to how to sustain the change.
The foundry floor at Dycer Engineering and Foundry
One of the products that Dycer Engineering and Foundry manufactures is a mincer that is cast, machined and welded at the company before being tin coated
Dycer Engineering and Foundry’s Managing Member John Gawler was very unhappy with the performance of his business and as he says: “I needed to change what we do and how we approach things. I am now focussing on transforming the business. But before I could do that I needed to understand and learn what changes could be made so that the business performs and has a future.”
“The need for talent in manufacturing is a challenge extending beyond just machining, fabrication and casting – services that Dycer Engineering and Foundry primarily offers. Manufacturers in all sectors are constantly trying to find solutions that will endorse their thinking of increased productivity and reduced costs. Different manufacturers serving different industries certainly have their own unique goals and needs. However, stepping back to look at the broader picture often reveals more similarities among disparate operations than one might think.”
“If you’re curious about putting this kind of knowledge in context and staying abreast of the broader economic forces driving the industry that you are in you should have a bird’s-eye view of the industry. In an industry that is continuously changing and always becoming more sophisticated, it’s critical to stay abreast of the latest technology and processes. Although no one can precisely predict the future of manufacturing, new manufacturing trends and technologies are becoming commonplace and proving to be effective and efficient within manufacturing facilities around the globe, which helps manufacturers foresee what processes and technologies are here to stay, at least in the near future.”
One of the more intricate castings that Dycer Engineering and Foundry produces and then machines is an alloy wheel over carrier
Dycer Engineering and Foundry’s Managing Member John Gawler
“The transition in all industries over the last decade has been overwhelming in some respects but, also challenging and rewarding. To keep up-to-date with these changes you either have to take a hands-on approach yourself or employ a workforce that has the kind of wisdom and energy to embrace these changes, or do both.”
“When it comes to our company, we look to our people to make a difference. We follow a few simple steps to ensure we are creating a working environment that they can flourish in. However, we are always interested in hearing about how individuals are trained and educated for careers in manufacturing.”
“At the same time we are keen on giving graduates an experience in manufacturing before joining the workforce or continuing their search for jobs. We have a close cooperation with the University of Pretoria, where I have just attained my Master of Science: Engineering Management, and will have students working as interns. This helps to bridge manufacturing and education as well as opening a door to community involvement that could be useful for other shops and OEMs in our industry.”
“I graduated last year at a somewhat late stage in life, when I was 61, and it only took me two years to complete, the required time. I specifically chose this degree because I wanted to enhance my understanding of running a business even though I had already done that for 25 years. The Engineering Management degree covers most of the areas required to run an engineering manufacturing, processing and fabrication business.”
Patterns on the foundry floor
The sand mixing and moulding department
“The subjects we covered included systems engineering and management, production and operations management, technology management, people management, financial management, strategic management, engineering asset management and maintenance management.”
“The programme is offered on a part-time, modular basis over two years. Participants are typically professionals, entrepreneurs, project managers, technical managers and scientists who are currently fully active in their careers. The time available for class attendance is hence limited. Student/lecturer contact is considered to be crucial. In view of the above, candidates are expected to free themselves completely from other duties during class contact block weeks.”
“I found the contact with other participants very enlightening. The course deals with all aspects that a modern engineer/manager will have to deal with in the work environment. It offers a perfect balance of management and engineering combined and has opened my thoughts to new ideas on how to run my business, which is exactly why I decided to become a student again.”
About Dycer Engineering and Foundry
The core business of Dycer Engineering and Foundry is the supply of quality spare parts and the design, manufacture and refurbishing of a wide range of components and parts, which involve machining, cutting, bending, welding and assembling in our machining and fabrication shop and making patterns and casting parts in the foundry.
Foundry Production Manager Johan van der Linde
A recent project at Dycer Engineering and Foundry was to reengineer and cast a pinion rack
The company was established in 1992, operating from a garage in Nelspruit, Mpumalanga, supplying parts to a bus company that was located in the same town.
“Very early on we could see there was a need for local manufacture of parts and components to replace very expensive parts that we were sourcing from agents, as well as manufacturing parts and components that were difficult to find for older model vehicles. Initially these were made by other engineering companies but eventually we took the step of moving the business to Johannesburg and started our own engineering company with an emphasis on machining. The business was later moved to Pretoria where it is now situated and we have subsequently added fabrication and the foundry operation to our engineering capabilities,” explained Gawler.
“Although initially the emphasis of the company was the distribution of automotive and industrial components, we have subsequently manufactured and supplied product to a broad spectrum of other industries including food, mining, defence and general engineering.”
“Manufacturing began in 1998 when we acquired a few conventional machines. We now run a CNC machine shop that has nine CNC machines – both lathes and machining centers up to and including fourth axis – and manual lathe and milling machines. Of the CNC machines on the floor there are five Victor Fortune machines.”
Moulds being prepared
The core area at Dycer Engineering and Foundry
“Both our machine shop and fabrication facility are located in the industrial area of Watloo, Pretoria. Fabrication includes press brake bending and MIG, TIG and spot welding of a wide range of materials.”
“This facility also houses assembly and sub-assembly operations.”
“Quality is verified through the manufacture of our own fixtures and jigging, which ensures precision and repeatability of component manufacture as well as a department that includes CMM and other measuring equipment.”
“We cannot offer all the manufacturing services that we would like to. Instead we have a reliable and extensive network of subcontractors that work closely with us to supply specialised services such as surface finishing, specialised coatings, grinding, gear cutting, laser and water jet cutting, polyurethane, rubber moulding, laboratory services and specialised machining.”
“Our design department utilises one of the world’s leading 3D design packages, which enables us to take a product from concept to completion. SolidWorks is the design software we use, Mastercam is our CAM package and JobShop is the management software we have invested in. These packages ensure that designs and processes are optimised to ensure reduced design times and ultimately, reduced costs for the customer.”
The foundry operation
“We offer a complete casting service from patternmaking, casting and machining, right up to final assembled product if required.”
“The foundry started as a need from our own machine shop to avoid the ongoing disputes that are typical in this industry when all processes are subcontracted to different suppliers, the pattern goes to one, the casting to another, and the machining to yet another, and if something goes wrong no-one is accountable. Customers can order fully machined and assembled castings should they require them so they only have to deal with one supplier.”
Recently produced castings
The patternmaking and pattern storage area at Dycer Engineering and Foundry
“We are able to cast the following materials: SG irons – mostly SG 42 but with the capability to do up to SG 80 and austempered ductile irons (ADI), irons – alloyed irons such as nihard and chrome irons, steels – commonly A2 but alloy steels as well, aluminium, brass and bronze alloys, stainless steels and zinc.”
“We can cast up to approximately 450kgs in SG irons, cast irons, brass and bronze alloys, up to approximately 400kgs in all steels and up to approximately 200kgs in aluminium. SG and cast iron make up about 70% of the material cast every month.”
“The services of specialised heat treatment companies are used and larger castings can be outsourced to other foundries that we work closely with. We also use an independent laboratory for verification purposes and analytical work to identify materials. However, we have our own spectrometer that we use for internal control.”
Although initially the emphasis of the company was the distribution of automotive and industrial components, Dycer Engineering and Foundry have subsequently manufactured and supplied product to a broad spectrum of other industries including food, mining, defence and general engineering
Fettling of castings
“We have our own internal patternshop but make use of outside contractors should demand require so. Patterns and core boxes are generally made from wood or resin, and we do utilise our own machine facilities for specialised patterns.”
“The melting platform includes a 350kg and a 600kg induction furnace and a resistant coil furnace for the aluminium. These furnaces are relatively new and we replaced the old oil-fired furnace that we first started with. We cast up to 25 tons gross in material on average every month.”
“Our investment in the foundry demonstrates that we are continuing to live up to our commitment to the customer – to be a reliable supplier of a wide range of engineered components on an ISO 9001:2008 platform. At the moment 16 staff are employed in the foundry.”
“With my close relationship with the University of Pretoria we are jointly looking at improving processes in the foundry and these result in research projects for students.”
The core business of Dycer Engineering and Foundry is the supply of quality spare parts and the design, manufacture and refurbishing of a wide range of components and parts, which involve machining, cutting, bending, welding and assembling in the machining and fabrication shop and making patterns and casting parts in the foundry. The company has nine CNC machines – both lathes and machining centers up to and including fourth axis – and manual lathe and milling machines. Of the CNC machines on the floor there are five Victor Fortune machines
“Quality is verified through the manufacture of our own fixtures and jigging, which ensures precision and repeatability of component manufacture as well as a department that includes CMM and various other measuring equipment.”
“The latest investigation is a research project that will lead to improvements in casting scrap rates in a jobbing foundry casting ferrous and non-ferrous materials and using a chemically bonded sand system, which is our foundry. As we all know the processes are basic however, the variables are numerous, and the control of them where possible is essential. It will entail the student gaining a full understanding of all the processes involved in a foundry so that an understanding of causes of scrap castings can be accurately determined.”
3D printing services
“Another relatively new service that we offer is 3D printing. We are not in the business of selling the equipment used in the process but rather we sell our services as a bureau. Prototyping, additive manufacturing, 3D scanning and reverse engineering are other services we offer.”
“We are proud to be a small but highly focused team of professionals who provide you with engineering solutions for a wide range of industry sectors.”
“We are slowly implementing change but as we know, change is not easy, and maintaining change can be even harder. However, now that I am a ‘learned student’ change will be more manageable and ultimately more successful.”
For further details contact Dycer Engineering and Foundry on TEL: 012 804 2331 or visit www.dycer.co.za