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7 Keys for Maximizing Your Fabrication Shop Performance

Fabrication managers have an essential and intricate job. They must ensure an efficient flow of work going in and out of the fabrication facility to the jobsite. The shop’s floor layout, timely order fulfillment, and many other procedures are common challenges for fabrication managers, requiring maximum optimization and efficiency. In addition, it requires a strong focus on profitability for the success of their business.

Adopting proven methods for increasing efficiency and reducing waste have never been more critical in the fabrication industry. However, to be successful, you need a commitment to productivity and a willingness to innovate. For example, suppose you can increase spatial and workflow organization, simplify your fabrication tasks, and establish guidelines for data collection. In that case, your company can begin to see improved efficiency, higher productivity, and less waste in no time.

In this article, we pay close attention to the top strategies for improving your fabrication shop.

 

1.Adopting Lean Management

There are many ways to improve fabrication processes, but Lean management is at the top of the list. Lean management helps fabrication managers develop the correct efficiency-promoting practices for continuously reducing waste and improving operations. While these endeavors may seem overwhelming, applying lean concepts helps companies increase quality and provide a quicker output.

The fundamental lean management principles include:

  • Value—Define what customers see as “value” (do not guess) and find ways to enhance it throughout the manufacturing process.
  • Flow—Streamline workflow by simplifying procedures, organizing the manufacturing floor, and assigning the right people to the right jobs.
  • Respect—Institute and foster a culture of trust and empowerment that allows customers and employees to pinpoint issues and imperfections for future eradication.

 

2. Analyze your fabrication workflow

You’ve been relying on gut instinct and probably a robust spreadsheet to optimize your fabrication processes for years. Today, these obsolete capabilities are not sustainable to get a clear understanding of your current workflow.  Instead, start by identifying everything necessary to fabricate a product, including the processes, people, technology, communication, procedures, and resources essential throughout the construction firm.

Another consideration is the value stream mapping exercise, which helps you assess, monitor, and identify areas for improvement. When you document your workflow processes, you can identify areas where you’re losing time or quality, enabling you to eliminate workflows that don’t add value to the product.

 

3. Identify errors and correct them instantly

Recognizing familiar sources of problems in your process and correcting them in real-time positively impacts the overall process. To improve manufacturing quality, companies often miss addressing the root cause of errors and fixing the symptoms of a process failure. In addition, taking the time to properly (and thoroughly) evaluate recurring issues reduces the risk of expensive malfunctions down the road.

When a mistake arises, errors are inevitable in any fabrication process — make sure employees are trained to fix issues immediately rather than wait for the next shift to take over.

4. Organizing for your fabrication shop 

Organizing your shop floor is a priority to ensure that employees have easy access to equipment and tools. In addition, the spatial organization of materials, tools, and manufacturing space reduces the time spent moving and searching for items.

Clear away unnecessary items and waste, store components in their appropriate areas, and ensure they are within reach based on the frequency of use.

Utilize Job Boards and other visual systems to convey instructions, show the status of projects, and display relevant information to staff – this keeps everyone accountable and aligned.

 

5. Maintain and upgrade your fabrication tools

Machinery that breaks down consistently negatively affects your fabrication business. You should make it a priority to serve your fabrication equipment regularly and consistently to mitigate downtime. A rigorous and scheduled inspection process program will help catch problems before they become severe.

Similarly, remember that tool repair isn’t always the best solution for optimizing productivity. Sometimes, outdated machinery slows down the manufacturing process and requires installing new equipment. Unfortunately, many companies mistake servicing broken equipment, even if a less costly replacement option is better long-term. In addition, new fabricating technology emerges every day. Staying competitive requires the occasional upgrades and keeping abreast of industry trends.

 

6. Staff communication & goals 

Have you heard of SMART Goals? Keep them specific, measurable, achievable, realistic (also relevant), and timely (SMART). Many factors contribute to unrealistic timelines and goals, from stringent deadlines and production pressures to client expectations. Optimizing your process doesn’t mean pushing your staff to accomplish the impossible. And optimizing processes and workflows doesn’t mean making your workforce perform more than is reasonably possible. Instead, you can boost worker productivity by setting clearly defined goals for quality and timeliness that are realistic to achieve. Advanced software can also help them increase productivity and efficiency.

Once you have determined staff goals, communicate them effectively and adequately to all employees. Create an open and transparent communication environment to promote productivity and reduce the chances of mistakes being made along the fabrication line.

 

7. Real-time data collection 

Optimizing your fabrication process starts with collecting and analyzing data and most likely doesn’t begin with investing in new employees or purchasing a new machine. Real-time typically means you need to acquire technology for users to enter data.

MSUITE offers real-time tracking and productivity software for fabrication shops to determine which production areas are underperforming and keep an eye on daily metrics. In addition, MSUITE brings fabrication expertise to help enhance performance and continually optimize long-term.

Monitor and record the results of upgrading to a new piece of machinery to see its effect on your fabrication shop. Keep a sharp eye on your production numbers, especially after organizing and cleaning the shop floor to track process improvements. Ditch the unwieldy spreadsheet. Today, there are advanced tools to automate data collection and make it actionable with intuitive visuals (analytics dashboards) that will improve your operation at scale rapidly.

 

Remember these last tips:  

  1. Real optimization comes from a comprehensive evaluation of existing processes and workflows. 
  2. Ultimate goals are set from your team to your machines.
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