Shop Management Articles

Shop management encompasses everything from strategic planning to the nuts and bolts of statistical process control. Whether you're an executive, manager, or supervisor, you'll find articles about overcoming challenges and struggles just like yours.

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In defense of diversification in metal fabrication

February 24, 2017 | By Tim Heston

In 2008 a Shelby, N.C., fabricator cranked out armored plate like there was no tomorrow. Then the defense contracts ended, and tough times ensued. But after almost shutting its doors, the plant has since been transformed into a diversified metal manufacturer.

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How do you measure your shop’s performance?

February 16, 2017 | By Bill Frahm

The use of operational effectiveness and efficiency (OEE) measurements is a good way to get a feel for how a manufacturing operation is performing, but further work needs to be done if a shop really wants to fix what ails it.

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Management in the metal fabrication industry

February 9, 2017 | By Aaron Continelli

Just as shop floor workers require special skills, shop managers do so as well. Here is an overview of management duties and what employers in the metal fabrication industry are looking for in managers.

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Lean manufacturing and a tale of two sandboxes

January 30, 2017 | By Gary Conner, Logan O’Hara

Change can cause an emotional roller coaster. One often-missed component of continuous improvement is empathizing with those who must change what they do every day. Without empathy, understanding, and describing what the change means for the whole organization, emotions can run high.

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Fabricating a new sales approach

January 30, 2017 | By Dan Davis

More job shops are looking to formalize their sales efforts, and that often means eschewing contract sales reps and hiring a full-time employee to go out and chase business.

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Managing the three legs of the custom metal fabrication stool

January 27, 2017 | By Tim Heston

Technology has become the ticket to entry for metal fabrication. But when a fabricator buys a new machine, it doesn’t stay secret for long. So what really sets a company apart from its competitors? Past speakers at FMA events give some insights.

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Shop technology and 3-D CAD: Design changes involve changes to CAD hierarchy

January 27, 2017 | By Gerald Davis

To assist with smooth transitions during design changes, columnist Gerald Davis shows a work flow for changing a part into an assembly.

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Continuous improvement in metal fabrication: Role changes in a lean transformation

January 27, 2017 | By Jeff Sipes

This month, columnist Jeff Sipes walks through the typical day of a production supervisor before and after a lean transformation.

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Ultrasonic welding and machining come together to take 3-D printing to the next level

January 25, 2017 | By Mark Norfolk

As part of a new approach to system design, ultrasonic additive manufacturing and CNC milling can be used together to create parts with complex material makeup that can perform multiple functions.

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A case study in lean manufacturing: Opening the door to single-piece flow

January 25, 2017 | By Tim Heston

Total Door Systems, Waterford, Mich., has successfully adopted single-piece part flow to engineer- to-order commercial door manufacturing. In its old building, the company held up to six weeks of work-in-process. It moved into a new building in 2010, and today the manufacturer holds only one day’s worth of WIP—and can respond to customers within days, instead of weeks.

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Fabricating lessons that stand the test of time

January 25, 2017 | By Dan Davis

AT&F, an organization that likes to describe itself as a fabricator that handles difficult fabricating jobs involving long and heavy parts, is a family company that has beaten the odds. The fourth generation is now involved in opening new outposts in Wisconsin and in India. During this time, the company is working to maintain the core principles that have helped to make it a success from the start.

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Shop technology and 3-D CAD: Product development

January 9, 2017 | By Gerald Davis

Columnist Gerald Davis shows a work flow for creating two versions of the same product.

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What makes estimating effective in metal fabrication?

January 9, 2017 | By Tim Heston

Good estimating involves more than just numbers crunching. A good estimator needs to communicate and collaborate with various people, from the owner to the machine operator. That person also needs the right organizational structure and technology in place to be effective.

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The future of work in metal fabrication

January 9, 2017 | By Tim Heston

The future of work in metal fabrication may be less about a specific task and more about uncovering better ways to satisfy customer demand and get the job done.

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What does continuous improvement mean to you?

January 6, 2017 | By Jeff Sipes

How do you define “continuous improvement”? Turns out, it depends on your organization and your role within it. Altogether, the mix of continuous improvement perspectives within a company should strike a balance between two concepts: efficiency and effectiveness.

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