Louis Pridey Tackles Challenges with
30 May 2019
Louis Pridey has a healthy respect
for foundry work. When Louis first joined Weir ESCO in 2010 as a member of the
pouring team, he recalled the sensation of seeing castings from start to
finish—hot off the pouring line and newly made by his own hands.
He remembers not knowing what to
expect with 3,000-degree metal being poured in Portland’s Plant 2, but over
time, it became his way of life.
Fast forward nine years and Louis
has a few more irons in the fire, in a new role and new team. Today he tackles
and solves challenges with creative solutions, both at work and in his
In 2015, the company connected him
to Heather McGee, who at
the time was a manufacturing engineer at the Main Plant. Heather initially
worked with Louis on a new role outside of the foundry that included data
entry, but when she saw what a fast learner he was and what a great attitude he
had, she guided him toward a new project: documenting and creating a best
practice guide of the standard work instruction processes at the foundry.
Louis was given the title of
Foundry Process Technician and set out to begin this vast project that no one
had wanted to touch for years due to its large scope. He quickly learned that this
new challenge didn’t come with a playbook, but he was up for the task.
Given so many of the team members
at the company had been around for decades and were entering retirement, we saw
a need to catalogue the existing, institutional knowledge of our team before it
“So many of these guys had been
around for so many years that they didn’t need the work instruction,” said
Louis. “We had one guy leave who had been around for 51 years!”
“Louis’ humble attitude was the key
to engaging workers in the process of developing work instructions,” said Heather.
“We focused on finding our most experienced workers and engaging them by using
our work instructions as a way to capture their knowledge, rather than trying
to sell them on how to do something they’d been doing most of their lives.”
“We started this project from
scratch,” said Louis proudly. “Originally, we had a bunch of small work instructions
that didn’t fully define the processes we were working with. So, we rounded up
over 500 documents, went through them with the team leads and whittled that
down to 43 more efficient work instruction documents.”
As a group, we quickly saw that
standardizing our processes was beneficial to our work. For Louis, it’s a clear
allusion to that hot off the press feeling he experienced in prior years. Louis acknowledged the
role that work instructions have in standardizing processes and reducing
variation. Going forward, the outcome of Louis’ handiwork
will be a living, breathing document that we can update as we continuously
improve. His contributions allow colleagues to understand a specific “procedure
of how to do the job and be aware of possible risks involved in the process of
Right: Louis Pridey (second from left) and the pouring team in 2014.
Since taking on the role of Foundry Process
Technician, Louis has created work instructions for the Main Plant, Plant 3 and
has even traveled to Weir’s facility in Newton, Mississippi, to help them begin
their journey of developing work instructions. He’s currently working to help
our maintenance department standardize processes to improve plant reliability.
“Louis is really passionate about the ability
of standardization to improve safety,” said Heather. “Now that we have more
comprehensive work instructions, we have a reliable way to transfer information
about safe procedures as well as capture knowledge of foundry processes.”
Given his ability to tackle complex problems through
analysis and standardization at work, Louis uses those same skills in his
personal life, by applying them to his involvement as a co-captain of a
Portland to Coast relay team.
About a year ago, Louis lost his father
to leukemia. He wanted to do something to contribute to the fight against
cancer but didn’t feel comfortable asking people to donate without providing
them something in return, so he decided to form a fundraiser team for the
Portland to Coast relay with his wife. If he could raise $12,000 for a team of
12, his team could participate for free and the money he raised would be
donated to cancer research.
Using the unique problem-solving skills he had
learned at work, Louis began building lamps and custom cornhole sets to sell
and used the proceeds to raise money for his Portland to Coast fundraiser team.
“For me, this is something I can do to give
back to this cause, while also doing something with my wife, who loves to run,
and her family,” said Louis.
In his time with the company, Louis’ skillset
has grown exponentially. He has learned how to tackle a challenge with a keen
eye in order to develop and produce a creative solution. His eye is always on
how to tackle challenges for the greater good, by streamlining manufacturing
processes, or by raising money to support cancer research.