Two castings plants produce ductile iron return as a byproduct of the manufacturing process. The two plants, Lynchburg and Archer Creek, can use all of their byproduct in the production of subsequent castings. A third plant, Radford, makes cast-iron pipes. It produces only about 12% iron return (versus 40% to 50% for the other two plants) and also could use more. Since iron return used in the pipe plant substitutes for high-cost pig iron, it appears that a transfer could be worthwhile, because in the castings plants, the iron return substitutes for a lower-cost mix of pig iron and steel scrap. The central issue in the case then is this: Should ductile iron return be transferred from the Lynchburg and Archer Creek castings plants to the Radford pipe plant? The economic analysis shows there is a substantial savings to the company if the iron return is transferred. The question then becomes, at what price? This is really a question of how to divide the company’s savings between the three plants, each of which is a cost center. Related to this question are a number of other issues: (1) the effect on plant performance, (2) the effect on decisions to discontinue, modernize, or expand the plants, (3) the effect on castings and pipe price, and (4) the effect on plant management morale and performance. At present, 3,500 tons of ductile iron returns are being transferred from Lynchburg to Radford because the pieces are too large to be economically remelted at Lynchburg. The only cost Radford pays is freight. This is over half the potential 6,000 tons of iron return that it is feasible to transfer. An issue to consider is whether this iron return, which cannot be used at Lynchburg, should have the same transfer price as the iron return Lynchburg can use.
Darden Business Publishing – University of Virginia