Dotson Iron Castings foundry's production is above pre-fire levels only 200 days after the disaster.
"At Dotson, we have an IRON WILL…and we Pour Iron"
On September 23rd, 2017, while the Dotson foundry was down for maintenance, a fire started in a hopper, totally destroying all three of the molding lines, the sand distribution conveyors and all of the electric, water and air lines in the 8,000 square foot molding area that received the most serious damage. Smoke, a caustic soot and water damage affected the entire building. Fortunately, the 15 employees working at the time were all evacuated safely with no injuries.
The employees at Dotson were made a top priority
During the recovery period, the employees volunteered in the community, toured customer facilities, visited other foundries, moved patterns to other foundries, worked on customer communications, and worked on projects related to recovering from the fire. All employees received full paychecks during the recovery period
Dotson has consistently reinvested in the operations with a focus on automation and agility. This focus of continuous reinvestment has not only greatly improved our operations, it has also shaped very strong relationships with equipment suppliers, engineers, and contractors. These relationships are the reason recovery in just 5 weeks was possible and Dotson was able to pour iron again on October 27th!
Foundry industry friends stepped up to help Dotson when the news of the fire spread. Seven partner foundries committed to producing over 5,000 molds per week in support of Dotson and the first castings were delivered just 10 days after the fire.
Damage assessments began immediately after the fire. While destroyed equipment was being removed, replacement conveyors were designed, and temporary molding machines were arranged. The ceilings and walls throughout the plant were cleaned. Hundreds of electrical control panels were cleaned and replaced as necessary. New PLCs were installed on many pieces of equipment. A large section of the roof over the molding area was replaced. All the plant computer wiring was replaced. Cleaning, testing and debugging was required on all the equipment in the plant. Two of the three molding lines were replaced with used equipment and the third line will be replaced by year end. Leadtime for new molding machines is five months and they will be installed in the spring.
The recovery team, as they restored the plant, looked for opportunities to improve the processes, taking advantage of the latest available technology and innovations.
Sinto has been the main supplier. All the conveyors from the muller to the molding machines were destroyed in the fire. Sinto engineers were in the plant the day after the fire to begin the engineering design for the replacement. New conveyors were being installed even before all of the old destroyed equipment was removed. Fortunately, Sinto had two molding machines that were taken in on trade that could be quickly be used by Dotson. Our third molding machine was sent back to Sinto’s plant for a complete rebuild. The two new Sinto FBOIII machines will be installed in May.
Laempe Reich helped with getting the core machines up during the first week after the first. They also produced core for us at their plant in Alabama.
-Dennis Dotson, Chairman
Strengthened Customer Relationships
Dotson’s very quick response to finding seven alternative sources for the lost capacity was improved by the ability to supply cores and to have rough castings shipped back to Dotson for finishing, inspection and shipping. Customers relied on Dotson as the best option to meet their needs. Where required, there were multiple calls daily to keep customers informed. During the recovery period, Dotson has been awarded packages of new business for 2018 deliveries.
In the last 5 years, Dotson has installed an industry leading new melt department, a totally new sand processing and recycling system, along with making significant investments in machining and finishing capabilities. These investments coupled with new molding lines and fully automated pouring ensure that Dotson will continue to deliver consistent superior quality castings quickly and on time.