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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TPJ celebrates 25 years

September 3, 2014 | By Eric Lundin

Editor Eric Lundin recounts some of the more interesting articles published in TPJ since it was founded in 1990, discusses some of the trends, and provides some input from early members of TPA’s board of directors.

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The miraculous effect of spare capacity

August 29, 2014 | By Bill Ritchie

The traditional cost-based approach to manufacturing promotes using your resources—people and machines—to the fullest extent, but this can wreak havoc in high-product-mix manufacturing, especially in contract operations with varying and unpredictable levels of demand. This is where the value of spare capacity comes into play.

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Stand apart in a crowded marketplace

August 29, 2014 | By Kevin McArdle

As a custom fabricator, you need to establish contrast—that is, why a customer should choose your company over others. You establish contrast not with generic platitudes, but by specifically addressing customer pain points and describing how you can eliminate them.

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Why similar fabricators can have very different financial results

August 28, 2014 | By Tim Heston

Contract metal fabricators may have similar assets and offer similar services, but have very different financial results. The differences may come from differing customer mixes, but it also comes from the fact that many shops have highly concentrated sources of revenue. Lose one big account, and financial results seriously suffer.

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How to get scheduling right

August 28, 2014 | By Dick Kallage

Many point to scheduling as one of the most challenging aspects of running a custom fabrication business. Why, exactly? Sometimes it’s the software, but quite often, it boils down to the inputs used to create the schedule in the first place.

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How to save U.S. manufacturing

August 18, 2014 | By Vicki Bell

The majority of U.S. citizens agree that manufacturing is vital to the economy and national security. So what can be done to save manufacturing? In his new book, Dr. William Killingsworth outlines a five-step program the government must implement to make it happen.

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Shop technology and 3-D CAD: Creating the documentation essential to fabrication

August 14, 2014 | By Gerald Davis

Columnist Gerald Davis describes how a detailed 3-D CAD model can be a great help to those in procurement, fabrication, and assembly.

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Shop technology and 3-D CAD: Tools for proofreading

August 12, 2014 | By Gerald Davis

Columnist Gerald Davis explains why proofreading is not just the domain of copy editors and how a CAD software function can help with the proofing job.

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How to build a little of everything, every day

August 6, 2014 | By Tim Heston

Legrand’s West Hartford facility has been on the lean journey for several decades, and the journey hasn’t stopped. The focus continues to be on clear communication and documentation, good metrics, ergonomics and safety, staff incentives—and producing a little of everything every day.

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Automobiles and artwork

August 4, 2014 | By Eric Lundin

For Monty Kollath, a degree in commercial art and a career in automotive repair work provided a nice living and positioned him well for a little moonlighting as a metal artist. However, Kollath had one more factor in his favor—his job in the auto repair field provides an endless supply of cast-off items suitable for metal sculpture.

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A fabricator and community college partnership

July 31, 2014 | By Jeff Stapel, Matt Goss

When metal fabricator Shickel Corp. sought to boost the overall skill level of its employee base in the face of a more competitive business environment, it went back to school. More specifically, it sought the local community college to help craft a curriculum and implement a class structure to deliver the improved math and shop skills it desired.

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Scheduling high-mix, low-volume operations

July 30, 2014 | By Dick Kallage

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 | By Tim Heston

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 | By Amanda Carlson

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 | By Dick Kallage

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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