Keeping manufacturing operations running smoothly and on-budget is a moving target for many shop foremen and operations managers. Here are three ways to improve your work with slight course adjustments.
Just like lowering the propeller's pitch gives you higher top speeds, investing time for process improvements in these three areas now will give you faster production speeds for the long haul.
1. Implement New Finishing Technology
What you’re doing has been working, and there’s no reason to fix things that aren’t broken...unless it is going to cost you in the long run.
In this era of agile manufacturing innovation, missing out on new tech could mean your competitors have the edge on you.
Updating these tools can mean massive shop productivity gains:
- Application-specified premium abrasives: Use premium abrasives designed to save steps. Abrasive manufacturers are constantly researching and developing new tools to improve grinding. Finding the best abrasives for your application can reduce steps and finish time. Taking the time to test out new abrasives could save you hours of grinding and finishing each week.
- Aluminum grinding wheels: Not all abrasives work on all metals, especially aluminum. With new abrasive material technology, these aluminum specific wheels will grind and blend in one operation without loading. The best part? There is no lubricant in the abrasive material, so there is no clean up after grinding; making aluminum finishing simpler, faster, and more consistent.
By proactively updating your tools, you’ll gain efficiency, save money over the long run, and provide your welders the opportunity to enhance their skills.
2. Pinpoint Productivity Bottlenecks
Create intentional process improvements rather than defending against frequent production bottlenecks.
Plan ahead to avoid manufacturing jams, such as:
Wasting time changing out fabrication tools
Use abrasives that don’t wear out quickly so your production line doesn’t stop every hour for grinding wheels. For heavy stainless steel welds, we recommend Sigma Z or Sigma Green Max. For less aggressive stainless steel grinding, or for mild steel or brass, cotton-fiber wheels will grind and blend in one action without causing heat buildup.
Using subpar welding methods
If it seems like the “best” welding method is a moving target, you’re right. Remaining aware of new welding technology and process improvements that can keep your competitive edge requires a bit of homework.
Finishing the same product over again
Identify and enforce proper finish qualities so that you can avoid redoing work or tarnishing your reputation with clients. Heat buildup, improper grinding or blending wheels, and rushed jobs don’t fare well for aluminum and other lightweight metals that shipbuilding calls for. Update your quality assurance standards to reflect the most current best practices for working with this lightweight metal and be certain your welders are following them.
3. Eliminate Unexpected Safety Costs
Training and PPE are safety costs that you expect and budget for. However, there are other safety costs you may not have considered. If you don’t plan ahead to avoid the following situations, you could end up costing the company thousands of dollars in unexpected safety costs.
OSHA non-compliance shutdowns and fees
If your shipyard is found in violation of OSHA safety rules, you could be fined over $12,000, even for “Other-Than-Serious” violations. Welding comes with inherent risk, and part of your job as the shop foreman is to enforce safety protocol amongst your team members.
Safety Tip: Train employees on proper usage of PPE and enforce it on a regular basis, even when production delays are on the line.
Post-mortems from safety incidents
Should you do post-mortems on each and every safety incident? Absolutely. Should you also do your best to avoid injuries and near-misses on your site? Yes, and you can with in-depth knowledge of the safety risks of the work and all of your welding tools.
Stop Wasting Time on Unproductive Manufacturing Practices
Use these tips to eliminate productivity lag time and keep your shop moving forward.