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How to make office work flow

March 1, 2017 | By Tim Heston

Rework runs rampant in the office, although few notice it or work to eliminate it. A conversation with Kevin Duggan, president of Duggan Associates, reveals how operational excellence helps eliminate this rework and other inefficiencies, including those long email exchanges and overlooked work buried in email and desktop inboxes. He does this by introducing office workers to the concepts of flow and operational excellence.

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Role changes in lean manufacturing

March 1, 2017 | By Jeff Sipes

Columnist Jeff Sipes describes how front-line employees’ roles change with a lean transformation. The workday changes, and they must adapt. But as long as the changes are made with employees (and not to them), front-line workers should thrive.

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How to build a rep with reps in custom metal fabrication

March 1, 2017 | By Tim Heston

Manufacturers’ representatives can help a shop grow and diversify. But finding the right rep isn’t straightforward. The rep and fabricator need to be a good fit, and both need to scrutinize the other’s relationships and reputation.

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Reducing thermal spray hazards with proper dust collection

March 1, 2017 | By Taylor Morgan

The fine dust particles generated during powder spraying can contain a variety of metals with potential health risks. The proper dust collection system can keep workers safe and a manufacturer in compliance with regulations.

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A square deal on continuous improvement in custom manufacturing

March 1, 2017 | By Tim Heston

After adopting quick-response manufacturing, Square Deal Machining Inc. (SDMI) in Marathon, N.Y., cut lead times and inventory levels in half. The change required focus on the new manufacturing method, technology, and company culture.

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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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