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Hero or Zero? The Pains of an Unpredictable Custom Metal Fabrication Process

The success of a process is not so much defined by the areas in which it excels as it is by the constraints it overcomes. A quality multi-service manufacturer continually optimizes its own processes. 

When you choose to export part or all of your manufacturing, you can’t afford to choose a manufacturer that can’t properly plan capacity or manage operators. There are common constraints that affect manufacturers but not all manufacturers will have the solutions in place to deal with those constraints. Whether or not you’re searching for a steel fabricator, these issues must be solved if you’re to find a partner you can trust to execute your projects on time with consistent quality.

Capacity Planning for Future Manufacturing Projects

Custom Metal Fabrication and Capacity PlanningAs a potential client, you need to know if a custom metal fabrication partner will have the capacity necessary for your manufacturing project. Biting off more than one can chew is all too common in the manufacturing industry. Everyone wants to capitalize on the opportunities presented to them and take on every lucrative project that comes their way. Manufacturers are limited by their capacity: the maximum amount of work possible given constraints of employee number, employee skillset, capital equipment, inventory and manufacturing space. Many manufacturers will knowingly take on projects they cannot handle with maximum efficiency, leading to tense or altogether poor relationships with their clients. 

Hero’s Solution:  Manufacturers that digitize capacity planning (and other aspects of the manufacturing process) are way ahead of the game. The foresight for capacity extends months in advance and includes the ability to obtain the necessary capital equipment, employees or space to execute a project to its maximum potential once signed. If constraints are present, a digitized program will alert the manufacturer immediately so appropriate action can be taken.

Keeping Scrapped Parts to a Minimum 

As a potential client, you need to know that your metal fabrication partner can consistently manufacture quality parts. Faulty parts are an unfortunate reality for every manufacturer, though the percentage of error is dependent upon many factors. The failure to order the right parts, a mistake in the manufacturing process itself (improper weld, cut, assembly, etc.), or the inability to communicate design changes all lead to less shippable parts and less efficient manufacturing overall. 

Hero’s Solution: Find a quality manufacturer with an excellent risk management team that has an active role in documenting and informing which aspects of the manufacturing process are faulty. Through a consistent feedback loop, individual errors in manufacturing can be solved quickly (often problem areas carry over to multiple projects, so process improvements help across the board). Ask about their process for developing their staff, optimizing the manufacturing process for your part and identifying some of the inherent challenges with your product ahead of time. You should feel comfortable with their ability to take on a project and adapt over time.

Project Management and Worker Efficiency

As a potential client, you want to walk into a plant maximizing efficiency through the organization of equipment, communication and work flow. Poorly organized manufacturing facilities force employees to hunt for their work and the materials or tools necessary to execute a project. Workflow is determined by the location of services and equipment relative to the services that funnel into it. Inefficient employee movement or work often is a product of inadequate communication or a breakdown in proper planning. 

Hero’s Solution: Great manufacturers are constantly reevaluating what kind of organization is required, especially as capacity for work expands. Does the current layout of equipment, transportation and work stations make sense for our current (not previous) allotment of projects? A manufacturer that fits your needs will always be trying to optimize their overall workflow and the workflow for individual projects.  

Importance of Service Consolidation 

Outsourcing to multiple manufacturers often comes at the price of having a less coordinated conglomerate of services. Part of creating solutions within the manufacturing process stems from a constant observation of how different services interact. Welders know what kinds of cuts make for great welds. Likewise, machining can often be dependent on the quality of welds made for a specific part. As services constantly work together in tandem, they optimize each other. A well-functioning multi-service fabricator understands how to properly orchestrate several services and will create parts more efficiently and at a higher quality.

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