Foundry Selection Criteria
When a request for bid arises from the DLA for spare parts or assemblies that require castings, it can be problematic for the winning bidder to quickly establish the relationship necessary to purchase castings that will be known to comply with the needs of the Bidder to meet the requirements of the contract with the DLA. The purpose of this document is to help a prospective casting buyer to communicate with a foundry in terms that will help clarify for the foundry, what it is you need to buy.
If a foundry with tooling has been located,
It may have been many years since the casting supplier has made this part. In this day and age, manufacturing facilities are constantly evolving to better meet the needs of their active customer base and remain profitable. It is not unusual for a process or production line to be significantly modified, or even eliminated, in some cases, very quickly. Therefore, it is most important that the winning bidder verify that the producer of record is still engaged in the business of regularly producing parts that are similar to the part you are about to purchase from them. The drawings and documentation will indicate the major components of the casting requirements; they are:
- Part Number and Revision with a properly sized legible print or electronic file that can be suitably reproduced by the all involved parties for the purpose of full inspection and assurance of compliance with all specifications located thereon.
- The specific method(s) permitted for production. Many casting prints contain the specific methods by which the casting must be produced. QQ-A-596, QQ-A-601, ASTM B 816, etc. In some cases, more than one method is permitted.
- The alloy(s) and heat treatment(s), if required.
- Agree upon the quality requirements and standards by which this casting is governed; i.e. Mil-A-21180 or AMS 2175 Class and Grade. Also, obtain a copy of the Supplier's Quality Assurance Manual.
This should be the basis to begin the discussion with the caster that has the tooling in place.
A discussion should be had with the representative of the foundry during the bidding process to jointly resolve the expectations of the Buyer and Seller. These should include the points:
- Make certain the casting producer is permitted to make and sell this part to you. Is permission needed from the Contractor that originally paid for the tooling?
- Find out when was the last time this part was made and sold? How many? Is there any record of discrepancies or high scrap rates? Is there a minimum order quantity? Confirm the tooling is in place and capable of producing this order.
- Make absolutely certain that the prospective supplier has not taken any exceptions to the print or requirements on the print. If any has been taken, you must take them, as well. If no exceptions are permitted, then you need to request the prospective supplier to explain why they cannot quote to print and attempt to negotiate an agreeable resolution. Always get all agreements in writing.
- If this casting has not been made and sold in the last couple of years, then a fully compliant sample casting complete with all appropriate NDT certification and a full dimensional inspection report will need to be obtained to ensure current output meets drawing requirements (assuming there was no pre-existing quality problems). How much time and money is needed to provide a fully documented sample casting?
- Require that the Bidder perform a complete pattern or tooling inspection that indicates that the subject tooling has been inspected and is suitable for the production of compliant castings in quantities for which this bid is placed. Verify that all inspection and straightening fixtures that may be required are in existence. A written pattern or tooling inspection record may be a good document to have returned as part of the casting bid.
- Ask that the casting supplier provide you with the applications and paperwork necessary that allows you to open an account. This should also detail the terms and conditions prior to placing an actual purchase order. It will expedite delivery if the administrative duties are completed in advance. Submit all of this as soon as possible to allow the casting company time to do their due diligence related to opening a new business relationship with your company.
- Provide the sales or administrative contact at the foundry with any and all qualifying documents your company may require for you to initiate a business relationship with a new supplier for the same reasons cited above.
Once a bid has been successful and an order needs to be placed with the metal caster, open the lines of communication by referring to the solicitation for pricing that began some days or weeks ago. Make the foundry aware that you have been awarded the contract from the DLA and now wish to proceed by placing an order. Make certain you have provided all the documentation needs of the vendor and that the vendor has provided adequate responses to your business relationship documentation. Assuming this has been completed successfully, place a purchase order and then agree upon the following specific items:
- In most cases, the delivery of the fully documented sample casting and the required Dimensional Inspection Report is the constraint to establishing the delivery of the production lot. It is mutually important that this be delivered and accepted, in its entirety, before the Buyer releases the production lot of castings.
- Line item by line item, agree upon the date for delivery and the payment terms that may be different from the normal provisions in the business relationship. The delivery date for the production lot cannot be established until the first article submission has been shipped, inspected and accepted. Therefore, the delivery date of the production parts is not attainable until the first article is accepted. It can only be estimated.
- If this part is an active and ongoing project between two consenting organizations, the need for producing a conforming sample and dimensional inspection report may be waived. .
Except for administrative activities, nothing should be performed on this aspect of the project until one of the above conditions has been met. At that point, it is the responsibility of the Buyer or his authorized subcontractor to:
- Quickly resolve each and every discrepancy that exists on the submitted sample casting and the dimensional inspection report that was received with the foundry's quality control representative. Be prepared that there may be the need make a small repair or modify the tooling to produce compliant castings with the materials and methods being employed by the foundry at this time. If a modification is needed to produce useable castings, then the timing impact should be resolved ASAP and provisions to resolve who is the responsible party for this expense.
- If the sample casting exhibits a feature(s) that was not obvious from the print, both parties need to negotiate in good faith, to come up with an acceptable resolution beforeproduction of the order is released. Neither the foundry nor the machining vendor can afford to find themselves wasting time and money trying to disposition non-conforming castings. In some cases, it may be expeditious to make the discrepancy resolve itself by at a higher level of assembly rather than modifying the tooling and submitting another sample casting and inspection report. In addition, if the castings are being made from tooling that is owned by a third party, the foundry cannot alter this tooling without the consent of the owner. This resolution will require some negotiation between both parties and it is usually not covered as part of the contract award price. Generally, one would hope, that two companies engaged in the business of making and being paid for parts for the DLA and its subcontractors would find a way to minimize the negative impact this can have on the need to process the order in a timely fashion without the need to disposition non-conforming castings.
- If no discrepancies exist, convey that you require that this standard shall apply to all castings procured on this purchase order and then release the PO for production.
Once all discrepancies have been resolved to the satisfaction of both the Buyer and the Seller, the production quantities and scheduled releases can be made to the casting supplier.
Guidelines to Procuring New Tooling
Despite locating the tooling, there are occasions when the foundry may be prohibited from producing castings for customers other than the one that actually bought the tooling. It may also be that the tooling that has been located is no longer at the correct revision level and that by bringing the tooling up to the correct revision, the changes can be so broad that a new pattern is required. The third scenario that would require a new pattern would be the vendor selected by the DLA has chosen to utilize the services of a casting supplier that does not have tooling and never did. In all of these instances, a proof of production casting submission must be required by the DLA supplier to insure that the castings that are going to be purchased to satisfy the contractual obligations with the DLA meet every requirement as defined on the control documents. It is important to note that every precaution needs to be taken to prevent the tooling procurement process to make production castings without first making certain that the casting submission is fully compliant with every specification that is contained in the control documents. The DLA contracting supplier must administer the efforts of the casting supplier to insure that non-compliant castings are not delivered to the vendor charged with producing the next higher level of assembly.
In order for the tooling procedure to begin on a solid base, a meeting between the foundry, the DLA contractor and (if applicable) the company involved with the next higher operation, typically machining, should meet to review the following items:
Foundry pattern/mold design
Datum structure for casting & machining
Casting tolerance review
Casting inspection plan at foundry
Machining fixture design or plan
Once this meeting has taken place and all interested participants in this project have agreed upon the approach, the DLA contractor or his representative, can release the caster to produce the tooling needed to make the casting according to all drawings and specifications. Included as part of this release should be copies of all drawing and specifications in either paper or electronic formats. If a CAD database is available, most tooling makers would like to have this in order to clarify any ambiguities that exist on the drawing. As part of this re;ease, the schedule for the performance of the foundry should be updated as the project proceeds. The foundry and DLA contractor or responsible subcontractor, should have regular dialogue at interval that make sense. When 25% of the tooling lead time has elapsed, the foundry should be able to confirm whether or not the project is on schedule. The same should occur at the 50% and 75% intervals to make the machining vendor aware of the expected delivery of the First Article casting and all the documentation that goes with this critical deliverable item. The casting supplier must also know that until and unless the First Article Casting submission has be accepted in its entirety, no castings shall be produced except at the peril of the foundry.