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  /   ESCO Engages Blog - A Weir Group Publication
ESCO Engages Blog - A Weir Group Publication

IMG_6173_E.jpgLouis Pridey Tackles Challenges with Creative Solutions 

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 community.

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 was lost.

“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.”

Pouring_team_Doghouse2014_1070.JPGAs 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 production.”

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.