People power helps Alucast bring £2.5m of orders back home

Posted on 28 Mar 2014 by The Manufacturer

A West Midlands foundry has brought £2.5m back of new orders after completing the biggest training scheme in its 47-year history.

Alucast, a specialist in sand, gravity and pressure casting, put 73 of its workers through a programme delivering diplomas in Business Improvement Techniques (BIT) and a selection of Adult Apprenticeships.

Working with Lean Education and Development (LEAD), the Wednesbury-based company has implemented a number of improvement projects that have already delivered £232,000 of savings and cash flow benefits, while boosting workflow through its factory.

The management team also believes that upskilling its staff has been directly responsible for landing £2.5m of contracts previously undertaken by foreign rivals.

These include components for a leading luxury car manufacturer, a brake piston casting for Carlisle Brakes and gravity die cast parts for Delphi Pumps.

Managing director Tony Sartorius, who completed a course as part of the programme, said investing in its workforce skills is critical to the company as more casters are reaching retirement age.

“We sat down in 2012 and decided to tackle the situation head on by engaging with LEAD to review our business and the type of training we could put in place,” he said, adding this led to an approach focused on securing national qualifications for staff by working on issues within the company.

“This ranged from energy management solutions and visual management to improvements in the core shop and the introduction of a dedicated cell for a new client,” said Mr Sartorius.

“Increasing our technical capability was a big plus for us and the training around the Japanese lean manufacturing techniques of 5S and Kaizen has been instrumental in us winning the new work.”

Alucast, which is also a founder member of subcontract manufacturing group the Midlands Assembly Network (MAN), employs over 650 people and records combined sales in excess of £65m.