Original Date: 02/26/2001
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Best Practice : Casting Technology
By using an integrated team approach, General Dynamics Armament Systems realized cost savings in the development of its production castings. In addition, unique processes for source selection and rapid prototyping have added great value to the Business Area Team’s functions. The company continues to investigate potential areas for casting improvements.
In the past, minimal interface existed among engineering, manufacturing, and quality assurance personnel regarding casting operations. Parts were made according to specified print; problems were handled as they surfaced; and process capabilities were addressed during production. These development methods proved to be very costly in redesign, and typically resulted in multiple castings prior to the production of the correct part. Today, General Dynamics Armament Systems (GDAS) uses thorough planning via an integrated team approach combined with unique processes for source selection and rapid prototyping (RP) to perform its casting operations.
Functional integration, which features RP and Business Area Team reviews, enables GDAS to streamline its development cycle and fix problems before they create costly rework and redesign. The Business Area Team draws its members from design engineering, quality, manufacturing, suppliers, and customers. The Team is integrated early in the development cycle, and each element of the team identifies its requirements up front. These requirements are then implemented concurrently with the design, enabling the Team to identify areas of risk, long lead items, critical castings, and key characteristics within the casting operations. This approach, combined with a follow-on RP model development, allows major changes to occur prior to tooling, thereby mitigating cost and schedule risks early in the process. The company also uses procurement procedures to identify appropriate suppliers. The source selection process includes foundry surveys, technical pre-award reviews, risk assessment reviews, and first article requirement reviews for establishing suppliers as qualified sources on the Casting Control List (CCL). A collaborative effort with the source takes place for tooling, gauging, and process development. These procurement procedures help the company avoid source selections that are incapable or lack the knowledge to produce the required items.
In a tradeoff study performed on the Aegis seal plate, GDAS’ integrated team approach produced a cost savings of $8,688 per part. By using this study for comparison along with the cost of current methods on completed parts, the company estimates its cost savings to date at $464,588. New initiatives planned include adapting the process for non-traditional programs; developing cross-training across commodities; and defining the process capabilities at strategic suppliers to target processes and determine yields. These initiatives will result in faster art-to-part cycle times.
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