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quality

Balancing Speed and Quality

January 10, 2014 / ,


Delivering on time and without error have always been the two key principles of customer service. However, most fabricators would agree that “on-time” now means “in half the time” it took just 5 years ago. Quick turnaround is not a trend—it is the new reality.

While automation and lean manufacturing strategies are helping fabricators complete jobs faster, it is important that shops don’t forget the other side of the delivery equation—quality. Maintaining accuracy is critical to gaining and maintaining customers, especially as they continue to demand tighter and tighter tolerances. Slow and steady may no longer win the race, but neither does fast and sloppy.

Today’s managers need to have a balanced focus on both efficiency and excellence. If your shop is sacrificing one to achieve the other, it is time to take a closer look at your operations. Below are a few strategies that can help keep your processes balanced:

quality

Why You Should Invest in Your Operators

December 10, 2013 / , ,


Over the last few years, the industrial metal-cutting industry has invested heavily in technology to ramp up productivity. While this is certainly moving industrial metal-cutting forward, it has also exacerbated the workforce challenge that has been threatening the industry for years. As confirmed by a joint report from Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute, skilled production workers are one of the largest workforce segments facing retirement in the near future, which will clearly have an impact on the number of experienced workers on the shop floor. This does not bode well for an industry that just ramped up its need for advanced skills.

The good news is that the solution is quite clear: You need to invest in your workers. While having the right tools for the job is important, it is perhaps even more critical to have people with the right skills operating those machines. In a band saw cutting environment, for example, an operator running a saw at the wrong speed and feed settings will drastically reduce blade life, increase the chances of maintenance issues, and create potential quality issues, all of which add up to wasted time and money—the exact opposite of productivity.

The only way to increase skills is to provide training. Unfortunately, this is not always as simple as it sounds. A good training program should provide new employees with a solid foundation, while also making sure seasoned employees know the latest techniques. Below are some suggestions that will help take your training program—and your workforce—to the next level.

 

 

 

quality

Strategies for Meeting Customer Demands

December 5, 2013 / , ,


Like all segments of the industrial metal-cutting industry, forges must respond quickly to changes in the marketplace. This is even more so the case in recent years. While projections from the Forging Industry Association and IHS Global Insights expect the forging industry to pick up again in 2014, a few rough years have heightened competition not only among forges, but also with companies that offer alternatives to forged components. And that competition isn’t just within the U.S. According to a global industry report from ResearchMoz, an Albany, N.Y.-based market research firm, there has been an upward trend in the outsourcing of forged parts to low-cost countries.

This means that meeting customer demands for both speed and quality are essential, especially if you can’t compete on cost. The harsh reality is that today’s customers expect parts to be finished in half the time they took five years ago—with zero errors. The challenge for operations managers is finding strategies that balance excellence and efficiency, making sure that one doesn’t come at the cost of the other.

In some cases, this will require the use of advanced measurement tools and other technologies that optimize production. However, a white paper from the LENOX Institute of Technology suggests several other ways forging operations can ensure they are meeting deadlines and maintaining a high level of quality. Below are a few highlights from the paper, The Top 5 Operating Challenges for Forges that Cut and Process Metal:

 

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