5 Ways to Improve Your Shop’s Operation
Written By Steve King

Running a fab shop is a constant effort to improve how the shop operates. Here are five areas you can review in your own operation to identify ways you can have a more efficient shop:

  • Establish Procedures: From the time a job comes in the door, you should have in place processes to handle the task, from ordering materials, receiving parts, fabricating the element, completing paperwork and shipping to the field. These procedures should become the underlying steps for processing a job at your shop to ensure the job gets done and the field is kept in the loop from start to finish.

  • Embrace Technology: Shops have changed dramatically in the last decade, and they’re set to change even more in the future as technologies like 3-D printing and advanced modeling continue to grow. Moving from paper to electronic work cells means a more integrated shop, where changes from the designers are immediately available to fabricators resulting efficiency gains.

  • Improve Communication: The easiest way to make a major improvement in the operation of your shop is to support open communication among your team. Whether it’s through daily “stand up” or “pre-production (PPM)” meetings, having your staff understand what’s happening in the shop–what projects are in process, what’s coming in, and what changes are happening is essential. Pre-production meetings will save time and prevent mistakes. The PPM is where your designers, field and fab teams come together to talk out potential problems, confirm specification and code requirements while validating design. Encourage your team to talk out problems and to ask questions. Fostering communications–and exemplifying it yourself–helps to solve problems before they grow.

  • Audit Your Tools: Whether it’s a screwdriver in a toolbox, a metal press on the shop floor, or a design program your designers use, knowing the age, condition, and status of the tools your team uses helps you ensure you are providing them with the best support to do their jobs. Take worn tools out of circulation. Make sure you keep a maintenance schedule for machinery. Check to make sure your computers and tablets are using the most recent version of software. Most importantly, conduct periodic reviews of other options in the industry to see if you’re using the most appropriate tools–physical or electronic–for the jobs you do. And make sure to solicit input from the people in the office and on the shop floor; they’re the ones using the equipment.

  • Make Safety Job #1: Your employees are your company’s top assets, with your shop being its second. You want to take care of them. Reinforcing that fact with your team tells them that you will look out for them, just like they’ll look out for you and your business. The more dedication to their safety and job satisfaction you show your workers, the more they’ll feel appreciated and the harder they’ll work for you.

Improving the operation of your pre-fab shop comes down to more than just having the latest equipment or the most workers. It takes a daily commitment from management to ensure your teams are prepared and equipped properly to do their jobs with the right tools, programs, and information. For ways in which your shop can improve its operations, contact eVolve at support@evolvemep.com.

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