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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Have a tool- and diemaker shortage?

February 1, 2016 | By Kate Bachman

The skilled-worker shortage has become a much-discussed topic at industry events and conferences, at FABTECH®, around the water cooler, at association meetings, and in trade publications and in general audience media. It’s even a buzzword in the U.S. presidential campaigns.

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Being better while being bigger

February 1, 2016 | By Dan Davis

Metal fabricating represents a vital chunk of the U.S. manufacturing industry, and Mayville Engineering Co. (MEC), Mayville, Wis., shows just how big a business it can be. The fabricator has more than $300 million in annual sales and multiple locations, yet it is still trying to focus on what makes even the smallest fab shop successful: quick turnaround of quality products at a fair price. In recognition of the company's growth and success in maintaining a positive culture, The FABRICATOR has honored MEC with its 2016 Industry Award.

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Shop technology and 3-D CAD: Using 3-D geometry for more than creating 2-D drawings

January 27, 2016 | By Gerald Davis

Columnist Gerald Davis demonstrates file linking between 3-D CAD and published literature. Some published formats are easier to produce with postprocessing software.

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Industry 4.0 arrives in Düsseldorf and in the manufacturing sector

January 27, 2016 | By Eric Lundin

The term Industry 4.0 has been a frequently used buzzword for several years, but these days it’s more than a buzzword: It’s a reality, and it has begun to make inroads in the tube and pipe industry.

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1 + 1 = Weld shop staffing success

January 27, 2016 | By Orest Protch

One aspect of the welding industry remains challenging for company management: determining staffing levels for tradespeople and supervisors at the front lines of industrial manufacturing systems and construction projects. While many people do not like crunching basic numbers, nothing beats simple math to come up with money-saving options to get through those tough economic times. The good news is that this is not rocket science. In fact, the number-crunching is so simple that it can be done quickly without any brain-numbing work.

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From kaizen to kata

January 27, 2016 | By Dan Davis, Stan Whitaker

Camfil APC is known for its dust collection equipment, but it’s also a metal fabricator. It makes the equipment in its Jonesboro, Ark., facility. Like any other modern fabricating operation, it is looking to eliminate waste where it can. That’s why launching and sustaining a lean manufacturing initiative is so important.

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2015 updates for ISO 9001, 14001 align with other standards

January 26, 2016 | By Kate Bachman

In September 2015, the widely recognized global standards body International Organization for Standardization (ISO) released its 9001:2015 standards for quality management systems (QMS) and 14001:2015 environmental management systems (EMS). Key changes to both the ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 standards are that they are structured to align with other standards bodies; are less prescriptive; require greater upper management involvement; and require less documentation but more emphasis on defining processes, risk and opportunities planning, and context.

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The tipping point: A new way to manage value streams in high-mix manufacturing

January 19, 2016 | By Gary Conner

Lean consultant Gary Conner describes a way to adapt value stream mapping—with its roots in low-mix, high-volume production—to the high-mix, low-volume job shop.

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A “digital thread” runs through FABTECH, North America’s largest metal fabrication show

January 6, 2016 | By Tim Heston

FABTECH broke records again in 2015, drawing more attendees and exhibitors than ever. One theme this year seemed to pervade the event. It relates to what keynote speaker Karen Kerr, director of advanced manufacturing at GE Ventures, called a “digital thread” through the manufacturing supply chain.

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Lean manufacturing in metal fabrication: How to jumpstart a stalled improvement effort

January 4, 2016 | By Dick Kallage

Continuous improvement initiatives often lack organizational structure and defined responsibilities. Consultant Dick Kallage describes three components needed to correct these problems and prevent continuous improvement from stalling.

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One metal fabrication shop takes on B2C

January 4, 2016 | By Tim Heston

Launched in 2015, Florida-based MetalsCut4U offers low-volume metal cutting and bending to the consumer market. To make it happen, the company simplifies ordering and automates quoting.

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Shop technology and 3-D CAD: Using images and live demos to explain a product’s function

January 4, 2016 | By Gerald Davis

Columnist Gerald Davis explores the use of “mates” as he reveals how to make a hand drill operate the same way in the 3-D model as it does in the real world.

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Not just for analyzing metals anymore

December 17, 2015 | By Eric Lundin

Used for many years to analyze metals, XRF analyzers have been improving over the years. The latest models can detect elements at less than 10 parts per million and are equipped with Wi-Fi, Bluetooth®, and built-in digital cameras, providing many additional capabilities compared to the analyzers of years ago.

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Workforce challenges: Can’t we all just get along?

December 15, 2015 | By Tim Heston

Talk to managers in metal fabrication and they’ll probably tell you they have trouble finding “good” people. In fact, they usually don’t say “skilled” people. So what’s the difference?

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Making your welding operation safer with source-extraction systems

December 10, 2015 | By Benjamin Howell

Ventilation systems help make the air safer in welding operations. Source extraction offers optimal benefits for welders.

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