Lodge Manufacturing Company, South Pittsburg, Tennessee, has begun a multiphase plan for expansion and upgrades to their existing, highly successful foundry. “This is more massive than anything we’ve ever done before,” stated Henry Lodge, President & COO of Lodge Manufacturing and great grandson of the business founder, Joseph Lodge. “We are excited and we need this additional production.”
“In 2009 we looked at five year projections showing sales would exceed current production capacity by 2015. That is when preliminary discussions started about our expansion,” Lodge stated. With this realization, Lodge had to consider current needs as well as future goals. In addition to a significant increase in capacity there would need to be ongoing considerations to maintain employee safety, increase the effective use of labor, enhance operational efficiency and provide for continuous product quality improvements overall while still allowing for future growth.
Lodge approached Vulcan Engineering Co. to discuss the next steps in making expansion a reality. With a history of working with Vulcan on past projects, Lodge took into consideration the relationships built over the years as well as the consistency of work; from sound industry advice to the quality of process planning and engineering. “Clearly Vulcan has plenty of knowledge and experience. They work to identify the potential problems and bring them to us; we don’t have to find them later,” said Henry. “I knew we could trust them with this job, and I can sleep a lot easier,” stated Michael Whitfield, Lodge Vice-President.
“Vulcan listened to our needs and goals for the future. They developed two different approaches to achieve our desires, allowing us to decide which method would be the best fit. Our main operational requirements were that the foundry could not shut down during construction and that the newly expanded foundry be designed in such a way to allow for additional growth in the years ahead,” Whitfield stated. “Once we selected the plan Vulcan developed a reasonable, economic plan utilizing three distinct phases to achieve our overall goals. The design was a structured approach to maintain ongoing existing capacity while installing the infrastructure for our future capacity requirements.”
Phase I began with the addition of new melting capacity by expansion and additions to the foundry building in such a way as to not only avoid disruption of existing operations, but also improve melting efficiency and material flow through the process. The new melting systems and metal delivery equipment began production earlier this year. The initial phase will complete later this year with the startup of additional high volume fully automated sand, molding, pouring and casting handling systems.
Phase I also incorporates all design and equipment specifications to allow for future expansions which will ultimately replace all existing molding lines with new, state of the art, higher output equipment. With this design approach each additional phase completed will further enhance efficiency and output of casting production. For each additional expansion, an entire molding system will be replaced and prepared sand capacity will be increased for the additional demand created. Although prepared sand and casting tonnage will be increasing with each additional phase, the Phase I handling equipment has been designed and installed with the capacity to accommodate full future demand of the foundry through Phase III.
“With Phase I of the project nearly finished, Lodge is on track to continue with this plan of updating and expansion over the years to come. This will also make work easier on our employees in terms of environment and safety. The layout leaves plenty of room to work.” In closing, Henry Lodge stated, “The biggest plus is being able to meet customer demand. Customers, it’s all about the customers! We can be comfortable growing the business and accept new customers when we are confident we can meet the increased demand while also having the utility to grow even more. While it is all about the customer, it is our hard working and dedicated employees who have built the Lodge brand through quality workmanship. We are not doing this just for now, we are thinking about 10-20-30 years ahead.”