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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Scheduling high-mix, low-volume operations

July 30, 2014

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Scheduling remains one of the most complicated, least predictable aspects of contract metal fabrication. But why is this exactly, and what can a shop do to change this? In this first article in a series, Dick Kallage uncovers the answers.

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A matter of asking the right questions

July 28, 2014

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Some purchasers may view a fabricated metal product as a commodity, and if it’s a simple enclosure or flat piece-part, it may well be. But they’re not buying products, really. They’re buying expertise, both in fabrication and in capacity management.

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A second-chance career

July 28, 2014

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A maritime welding program, jointly created by Vigor Industrial and South Seattle College, is part of a greater initiative in Washington state-to return idled workers to gainful employment. The class doesn’t just help the underemployed, it also helps feed the resurging shipbuilding industry in the greater Seattle area.

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Differentiating in a commoditized market

July 24, 2014

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There are four principles to understand about differentiation and the buying factors that go beyond price: They always exist; they have economic value; they vary by customer; and they change with time, because yesterday’s differentiators can be tomorrow’s commodity.

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Downsizing can be a killer

July 8, 2014

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All businesses of all sizes want to save money and be as lean as possible. However, if taken too far, some cost-cutting measures can have unwelcome consequences and cause a shop to go under.

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Coating extends tool life x 3

July 7, 2014

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Like so many automotive suppliers, the GT Technologies stamping team encountered tooling challenges when it shifted its work material from cold-rolled steel to a tougher steel for certain components. Its tooling started wearing out in a third of the time, creating downtime havoc and production disruption. Switching to a different tool coating helped the manufacturer resolve its tool and die wear problems.

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FAB 40: Springs Fabrication and the ice house

June 27, 2014

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Springs Fabrication has humble beginnings, stereotypical of many successful American businesses. As it turns out, there's a reason that's a stereotype.

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FAB 40: Thinking as owners at D&S Manufacturing

June 27, 2014

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At D&S Manufacturing, the books are open, employees know how to read them, and they use this information when dreaming up new ways to improve.

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Fab 40: Impulse Manufacturing tackles downtime with data

June 27, 2014

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You can't improve something you don't measure. Impulse Manufacturing wants to cut down the time between jobs—specifically, between the last good part of the previous job to the first good part of the next job.

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STIHL Inc. camp inspires youth to pursue manufacturing careers

June 23, 2014

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Think you might be interested in starting a summer camp to attract youth to manufacturing careers? STIHL Inc. did just that, found the endeavor worthwhile, and has even created a template for other companies to use in promoting manufacturing technology to youth.

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Shop technology and 3-D CAD: Legends and Logos

June 23, 2014

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Columnist Gerald Davis investigates the CAD jockey’s role in the creation of markings on metal products, the different ways that these markings can be created, and some tips for ensuring the final marking is done correctly, no matter the process.

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Artist’s career goes into overdrive

June 18, 2014

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Dominique Martinez, founder of Rustic Steel Creations, does a little of everything—using found objects and new metals, making functional items like handrails and decorative items (artistic sculptures), making items for sale and working under contract, working for profit and donating pieces for fundraisers—and in doing so, has built his company into a multimillion-dollar enterprise.

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Maybe we all need a little boot camp

June 18, 2014

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Military vets with experience in fixing and maintaining equipment can be a valuable asset to high-product-mix fabricators. Their military experience helps them develop standards and processes out of the chaos.

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Winning in commoditized markets

June 18, 2014

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The lowest-cost-producer business model is simple. If you have the lowest costs and prices, you win. But this model can be ruthless, too.

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FAB 40: How Nu-Way Industries uncovered a new way

June 17, 2014

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The Illinois contract fabricator ramps up its efforts toward operational excellence.

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