Precasting Special Shapes on the Fly to Prevent 2 Days of Downtime
One of the lesser-known, yet most rewarding, parts of our business results from the opportunities we have to leverage our creativity.
That may sound odd coming from an industrial refractory contractor. Not everyone thinks of industrial contractors as being creative. And many of our jobs are very straightforward.
But sometimes, the unexpected occurs which gives us a chance to flex our creative side; you never know what you’ll find during an inspection of a furnace, kiln or boiler.
A few months ago we received a call on a Saturday at 11:30 am to brainstorm a potential solution for an unforeseen problem. Our customer was performing regularly-scheduled maintenance on their annealing furnace. When they began removing the elements, the insulating brick started crumbling and fell apart. The bricks were considered special shapes, 3.5” and 10.5” pieces that were used in a 4-piece configuration to wrap around the 4 corners of the element inlet hole.
We received the call at 11:30 am made it to the facility by 1 pm. Since it was a Saturday, our customer wasn’t able to order, receive and install special shapes by their Monday morning start up time. Their “standard” solution would cost at least two days of lost production.
Instead, we began brainstorming for a “special” solution. Our team in the warehouse evaluated our brick inventory (we stock the largest inventory of refractory materials within 500 miles of Memphis) and determined that we could take 3 pieces of 3” brick and a piece of 1” brick and mud them together to create the exact shape installed previously.
We started that afternoon, hand-making 256 shapes. Our customer received every shape they needed by 8:30 pm that night. The furnace was back on line Monday morning, without losing an hour of production.
And we truly enjoyed creating a unique solution, when the obvious solution wasn’t appealing to our customer.