Foundry Finds Ally in Valley Resource
By Brian Pedersen
May 13. 2013 8:00AM
Effort Foundry Inc. of Bath, a manufacturer that’s been in business for 40 years, marked its anniversary with an open house May 7 to showcase its newest expansion.
Photo by Brian Pedersen: Charlie Hamburg in his foundry
The event highlighted the growth the company has experienced over the years as a maker of steel castings for pumps, turbines and valves for many military and industrial applications. This growth may not have been possible, however, without the help of Manufacturers Resource Center.
The organization has helped Effort Foundry in many ways, said CEO Charlie Hamburg.
“It would be much harder to identify those areas of our organization that haven’t benefited from MRC’s help than those that have,” he said. “From ISO [International Organization for Standardization] certification, to lean manufacturing, to employee training, to software development, to succession planning, to employee benefits, to R&D [Research and Development] credits, and I could continue on.”
Collectively, Hamburg said, MRC’s help has contributed much to Effort’s success and to the jobs the company creates not only at the foundry but for its suppliers as well.
It is hard to imagine a more effective way for Pennsylvania to spend our tax dollars than to continue to support the manufacturing sector of the state’s economy through MRC,” Hamburg said.
The steel castings industry took a tremendous downturn in the early 2000s, Hamburg said.
Now, however, the company is building its workforce and has 75 hourly associates plus 16 management/staff employees on the payroll.
Like most manufacturers however, the company has difficulty finding the right people who have a strong work ethic.
The production building cannot be air conditioned in the summer or heated in the winter because of the nature of the casting process, and as President William Easterly pointed out, “you can’t computerize the mold.”
But processes are getting faster and the new facility will reflect a cleaner, leaner operation.
Building on this momentum, Effort introduced its rapid prototyping process to allow projects to move from “model to metal in as little as two weeks.”
The process has been in place for almost 1 ½ years, and more than 20 castings have been produced using this rapid prototyping process, Easterly said.
Creating impellers for pump companies is one area of business that has shown significant growth, Hamburg said.
With so many different types of castings to make, Effort has no shortage of orders to fill and creates products for about 150 companies per year.
Hamburg described the new expansion as an investment in the future.
The company recently bought two large 60-inch monitors. One monitor will go in the new building and the other in the old, Hamburg said.
The primary role of the monitors is to let personnel in both buildings know what stage of the process each job is in. It also will facilitate in setting up heat-treat loads and the processing of paperwork related to shipping and the dissemination of nondestructive testing reports to customers.
Fairly soon, customers will be able to access online the current status on each of their jobs, Hamburg said.
‘SERIOUSLY GETTING INTO MACHINING’
At the east end of the Chrisphalt Drive property, the new 9,000-square-foot building will serve as a dedicated space for machining, areas for heat treat, final blasting and nondestructive testing techniques.
With respect to the new conference room on the second floor in the new building, Hamburg said, “We see that as potentially a space that the company’s engineering staff could use when office/production space is added to the existing plant.”
“We’re probably going to buy a new lathe; we are seriously getting into machining,” he said.
One challenge facing the foundry is the lack of expected growth in the nuclear sector. Easterly said the company was geared to supply parts for nuclear reactors, but this declined after the Japan nuclear power plant disaster in March 2011.
Most of the foundry’s parts go to industrial applications for companies both large and small, including parts for Reading Bakery Systems, a manufacturer of bakery equipment, and U.S. Navy vessels.
“That market seems to have held its own; that’s maybe 10 percent of our market,” Easterly said. “There is some level of competition out there. It follows the economy, as it slows down; as it is now, pricing becomes an issue.”
Note: This is the ninth of 25 stories we’ll publish this year to highlight manufacturing companies in the Greater Lehigh Valley that have been helped by Manufacturers Resource Center, a nonprofit organization celebrating its 25th anniversary in 2013.