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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John Engler

NAM on Fabricators' Top Two Concerns

January 9, 2007 | By Vicki Bell

Following the FABTECH International & AWS Welding Show keynote address, the's Web Content Manager Vicki Bell sat down to talk with the speaker, former Michigan Governor and National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) President John Engler.Citing "Fabricating Update" survey results that steel prices and the skilled labor shortage are metal fabricators' No. 1 and 2 concerns, respectively, Bell asked Engler the following questions.

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Team members image

Creating a leadership team that speaks, acts with one voice

January 9, 2007 | By Bob Rausch, Ph.D.

This article is based on a 2006 FABTECH® Intl. & AWS Welding Show seminar presented by Dr. Bob Rausch, a facilitator and coach for executives, managers, and their teams. It explains the importance of creating and energizing effective leadership teams, describes common team characteristics, and discusses potential defuelers and refuelers.

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Machine software integration

Taking software integration to new heights

December 12, 2006 | By Dan Deanovic

For a job shop or contract manufacturer to take as much labor out of the manufacturing process as possible, automation is necessary. This can be helped with the integration of front-office and shop floor software.

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Northern Tool and Engineering

Live or die making tools

December 12, 2006 | By Stephanie Vaughan

A tool- and die-maker for 50 years, Leo Niemela started out successfully enough in the tool and die business. But as the industry started to decline, he and his family had to decide which direction to take: stay with tool and die or reposition the company.

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Structural steel

Structurally, it's a job shop

December 12, 2006 | By Dan Davis

Structural steel shops book jobs by the shop hour. More jobs lead to more hours and inevitably longer delivery times. In many instances, just-in-time deliveries in the structural business can be measured with calendars, not stopwatches. Suburban Steel Supply Co., Gahanna, Ohio, tries not to fall into that traditional trap when servicing its customers.

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Bauer check fixtures

Think you have a challenging bend? Bring it on

December 12, 2006 | By Eric Lundin

Take a look at Bauer Welding & Metal Fabricators Inc., a company that thrives on difficult bending applications. It stays away from the hypercompetitive portion of the bending industry—4D to 5D bends in medium-wall-thickness tubing, applications that don't require a mandrel—and gravitates toward tight-radius or variable-radius bends in several planes, parts that require several processes such as bending and flaring, and components that needed flattening and welding.

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Crystal Distribution building

Moving in the right direction

December 12, 2006

When Crystal Distribution Inc., a manufacturer of curb adapters and related products, was challenged by the logistics of its facility, President Pat O'Brien had three choices: lease a different building, buy a different building, or build a new facility. Deciding to build a new facility made the most sense and ended up giving the company's manufacturing operations a whole new flow.

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The future of energy: stability or volatility?

November 7, 2006 | By Eric Lundin

Senior Editor Eric Lundin looks at changes in supply and demand for energy, and how they have affected the prices for crude oil, gasoline, natural gas, and electricity. He also digests a few predictions to see what fabricators can expect for future energy prices.

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Business workers

Understanding and motivating the multigenerational work force

November 7, 2006 | By Vicki Bell

Generational conflicts among the work force can drain a company's enterprise energy and diminish productivity. This article, based on the 2006 FABTECH® International & AWS Welding Show Executive Forum conducted by Dr. Bob Rausch, explains the differences between baby boom and Generation X employees and offers suggestions for melding the multigenerational work force into cohesive, productive teams.

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Coping with change in the workplace

November 7, 2006 | By Vicki Bell

Change is constant in the workplace. Different people react to change in different ways. While some embrace change, others resist or stall the process to the detriment of themselves and their company. This article discusses how individuals can adapt to change more easily and minimize change-induced stress.

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Using job shop habits for a custom project

November 7, 2006 | By Stephanie Vaughan

Although custom welding fixtures may be just one of Ed Sauvola's current jobs, it has become one of the main business opportunities he is pursuing while deciding which track is best for his one-man shop.

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Avain Flu Pandemic

Avian flu pandemic update

November 7, 2006 | By Vicki Bell

Although the potential avian flu pandemic no longer is receiving the vast media coverage it did months ago, it still is a high priority in worldwide health organizations and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. This article offers an updated look at the threat and the latest information that can help you prepare your business for a possible pandemic.

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Lean Manufacturing Meeting

Why lean manufacturing is no get-rich-quick program: Part II

November 1, 2006 | By Chris Hoff

Unlike get-rich-quick schemes that promise to double your money in days or weeks, lean manufacturing is an ongoing improvement program that will be in place for as long as your company is in business. Learn about common misconceptions of lean in Part II of this two-part series.

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Dollar sign

Why lean manufacturing is no get-rich-quick program: Part I

October 10, 2006 | By Chris Hoff

Unlike get-rich-quick schemes that promise to double your money in days or weeks, lean manufacturing is an ongoing improvement program that will be in place for as long as your company is in business. Learn the basics of lean in Part I of this two-part series.

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automotive brake assembly

Bigger is better

October 10, 2006 | By Bernard Swiecki

All automotive suppliers, regardless of size, find themselves facing a business environment more challenging than any they have previously experienced. Size with the economies of scale it brings is just one of numerous strategies that can be used to cope with the demanding nature of today's automotive industry.

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