No matter how big your business is today, it’s essential to continue to make improvements that effectively increase your company’s level of metal fabrication productivity while reducing costs.
This will not only help boost the production levels and quality of your product but also increase profitability. To maintain a smooth workflow within a metalworking shop, you must perfect three key factors: equipment, employees, and processes.
- Embrace lean manufacturing principles to increase metal fabrication productivity
An overall framework for an improved manufacturing process and metal fabrication productivity is known as Lean Manufacturing. This includes a set of principles to follow to ensure your business is always performing at its best with as little waste as possible.
Key concepts to consider when learning about the principles of lean manufacturing include the following:
- Workflow – Simplify procedures wherever possible, keep the machine floor organized, and have the right workers on the right machines at the right time.
- Company culture – Ensure all employees (regardless of their level or classification) are empowered and respected.
- Customer Value in Lean Manufacturing – Find out what your customer wants and optimize daily operations to meet these expectations. Value is defined as any action or process that adds worth to the product or service as perceived by the customer. Identifying value is the first step in the lean process.
- Continuous Improvement – Lean manufacturing emphasizes the continuous improvement of processes to eliminate waste, reduce costs, and increase efficiency. This involves constantly reviewing and analyzing processes to identify opportunities for improvement.
- Just-in-Time (JIT) – JIT is a lean manufacturing technique that focuses on producing the correct number of products at the right time to meet customer demand without excess inventory. This helps to reduce waste and improve efficiency.
- Value Stream Mapping – Value Stream Mapping (VSM) is a lean manufacturing tool used to analyze the flow of materials and information through the production process, intending to identify areas for improvement.
- Standardization – Standardization involves creating standard processes and procedures for all aspects of production, from design to delivery. This helps to reduce waste, improve efficiency, and ensure consistent quality.
- Create a realistic timeline
Before you start working on a new project or client order, sit down and plan a realistic timeline to increase metalworking productivity. Everyone wants things done yesterday.
However, before agreeing to a deadline you can’t meet, consider your company’s limitations and applications. Falling behind in work or missing deadlines can affect your reputation.
Therefore, you must set a realistic goal, clearly communicate that goal to staff, and foster a work environment that helps your employees feel empowered to achieve that goal promptly.
Planning to improve metal fabrication productivity is critical in achieving your company’s goals. This is because it provides a clear direction for individuals, teams, and organizations. Without planning, knowing where you want to go and how you will get there isn’t easy.
- Update processes
Once you’ve assessed your company’s workflow, you can quickly identify any issues causing a bottleneck if you have a project manager on your team. Sharing this information with him will result in improving your metal fabrication productivity.
Together company management can evaluate performance and decide the appropriate path to take to fix any issues. This could mean you need to make changes to the floor, such as rearranging equipment or reassigning employees to different machines.
This could also include making budget changes, upgrading equipment with more advanced technology, or upgrading your computer software for more efficient time management.
Updating your company’s metal fabrication manufacturing process will result in benefits such as:
- Increased efficiency
- Improved competitive advantage
- Greater compliance
- Improved safety
- Increased innovation
- More adaptability
- Keep up with maintenance
Ensure your metal fabrication equipment is in top condition by maintaining a regular maintenance schedule. Metalworking machines are vital to the business, so ensuring that the equipment performs consistently and lasts longer makes economic sense.
In addition to occasional repairs, equipment will need routine maintenance.
Preventive maintenance can create greater metalworking productivity. Companies should use preventative maintenance to reduce the likelihood of equipment failure and extend the lifespan of their equipment. Preventive maintenance involves regularly scheduled maintenance activities that are designed to prevent equipment breakdowns and keep machines in good working condition.
- Invest in your workers’ skill sets
The most valuable asset to ensure metal fabrication productivity is people. Also, the more you invest in training the individuals on your team, the better the job they do. Here are some tips to help your staff work better:
- Direct all necessary documentation to employees with the lowest skill levels. This will help them learn on the job as they continue to broaden their skills and develop their experience.
- Give workers quarterly or annual reviews. This will allow them (and you) to see where they are progressing and where they could improve.
- Cultivating a culture keeps your employees happy. This will result in a much lower turnover rate.
- Set clear goals. Clear goals and expectations help workers understand what is expected of them, and they can focus their efforts on achieving the goals that have been set. This clarity helps the workers attain optimal metalworking productivity as they understand the expected outcomes you have set for them.
- Finally, if you have the means, consider starting an apprenticeship. This will allow you to train employees early on, making them more likely to stay with your company longer.
- Update the floor management system to achieve greater metalworking productivity
Software programs controlling the shop floor are typically called Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES). These programs help to manage and control the manufacturing process from the shop floor, providing real-time visibility into production operations.
If you still need a software program to help you manage the shop floor, you should get one as soon as possible. A good program will do the following:
- Control all customer information, including first contact to final payment
- Add data to help with decision making
- Allow administrative staff members to focus on other tasks
- Assuming simple processes to avoid hiring additional employees
- Stay organized
Inadequate organization can lead to confusion, wasted work hours, and low levels of metalworking productivity. Therefore, keeping your entire factory organized, from the floor to the storage spaces and offices, is essential.
Your metal fabrication machines must be appropriately arranged to speed up manufacturing. Tools, parts, materials, and other items must also be properly stored and labeled.
Pro Tip: Use clear plastic containers to store smaller items. This will provide better visibility and make things easier to find.
- Get a supplier management system
If you work with multiple vendors, you should take the time to consolidate them into a cohesive system.
Using a vendor management software system can help you reduce the number of vendors you need to keep in touch with. It can also help strengthen your best partnerships and cultivate long-lasting business relationships.
Additionally, a vendor management system (VMS) will provide real-time visibility into vendor performance. This will enable your business to identify potential issues and opportunities for improvement.
- Promote collaboration
Nothing helps improve shop workflow more than collaboration. Encourage your team to work together to achieve the same goals. This will reduce wasted effort and help create a more productive and efficient work environment.
Everyone will know and understand their part in the process, and they will be given the recognition they deserve for their high individual and group productivity.
All of the above-listed information is aimed at improving metal fabrication productivity. Optimizing productivity in this type of manufacturing is essential for improving cost savings, quality, throughput, resource utilization, safety, and customer satisfaction. In addition, manufacturers can increase profitability, competitiveness, and customer loyalty by streamlining processes, reducing waste, and improving efficiency.