4 Tips For Making A Prefab Shop Run Smoothly
Written By Steve King

The floor of a prefab shop can be an intimidating place: a lot of noise, imposing tools, heavy
materials and skilled craftsmen can overwhelm an observer. In a good shop, all those things
work in sync to efficiently and economically produce the parts needed at a construction project.
In an unorganized workplace, however, those things can add up to chaos. But by implementing
a practice of using clear communication and sound materials handling, the way you manage
your shop’s organization can improve its safety, efficiency and profitability for your workers and
your business.

Organization in a fabrication shop entails more than just ensuring your workers know their jobs
and know where needed materials are located. It’s a constant effort to make sure your
managers, your skilled workers, your customers and your supplies are working together to
complete projects in a timely manner. Here are four things you can do to improve the
organization of your shop:

  • COMMUNICATE WITH YOUR TEAMMATES: Organization begins with getting
    everyone on the same page with the goals and expectations of the shop. Holding brief
    “stand up” meetings–no more than 10 or 15 minutes at the start of every shift–to review
    the status of projects during that day lets everyone know what tasks that need to be
    done, what materials are arriving, and what changes are needed (among other things).
    This is true for your clients and suppliers as well, although you may not need to have
    these status meetings with them daily. Don’t stop with just the stand-up meeting,
    though: have information available on printed schedules around the shop and/or on
    project tracking software so people can refer to it during the day. People learn and
    retain information in different ways, so having the daily meeting and having written
    information assists people who are visual and audio learners.
  • PLAN FOR TODAY, AND TOMORROW: As a manager, your job is to look forward to
    what’s coming up, and that also means planning for it. Having a clear, communicated
    plan for the jobs that are currently in process helps to clear the shop floor for the next
    project coming in. And the next project means having a plan in place for what materials,
    personnel, tools, and space will be needed to start–not just proceed–with it. This
    includes prepping for potential production or materials issues that may delay the start of the following jobs–and that may require a plan for storing materials or changing
    schedules for your workers. A comprehensive organizational plan lets you adapt to
    setbacks more easily. Tools such as eVolve Foresite can help you plan for the future by
    helping you effectively manage the flow of material into your shop, allowing you to
    organize future schedules as needed.

  • ELICIT FEEDBACK: Periodically–maybe after you complete a significant project or on
    a regular schedule–discuss with your team the things that went right and the things that
    went wrong on the last project or in the last month. Ask for feedback from everyone
    from a metalworker on the floor to your finance director. Learn from them what areas
    can be improved in their fields of expertise. Inquire about things that are repeated
    hiccups, and ask your team and your partners on ways to improve the process. It’s the
    people who do these tasks day-in and day-out that see the areas of potential
    improvement, and they’ll be your leaders in supporting new processes because they’ll
    make their jobs easier and more effective.
  • MAKE IT YOUR CULTURE: Organization isn’t a one-day project; it's an ongoing
    endeavor. It’s something that’s got to be practiced faithfully to have an effect. Yes,
    there may be a morning when having a stand-up meeting might seem to be more of a
    hassle than a benefit, but that will be rare. And yes, there may be feedback that seems
    unhelpful or mundane–even hurtful. But that feedback came from someone who seeks
    a better or safer way of completing a task, and it should be addressed. The steps to
    build better organization–from materials tracking to workforce management to open
    communication–take support to be instilled in your business.

The key to good organization is repetition. A cluttered desk doesn’t become messy from one
piece of paper. It became cluttered because the person didn’t take the time to put things in their
correct place time and time again. If you remain faithful to good practices like those listed here,
your shop organization and efficiency will demonstrate a visible improvement.

For more ways to integrate materials management to improve cost and supply chain performance, contact eVolve Materials for an analysis of your needs

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