Tips for Optimizing Your Fabrication Process
The fabrication industry has entered the age of smart technology, computer numerical control, and lean management. Manufacturers want finished parts quickly and need fabricators to produce parts with consistent and reliable quality. Here are some tips for optimizing your fabrication process.
Gather Data and Document Workflow
Establish a baseline by taking a close look at what you’re doing now and how you do it. Follow a product from design through production and shipping to look at every step and identify points along the way that are ripe for improvement. Listen to front-line workers, who will have a wealth of information about inefficiencies and suggestions for better ways to do things. You may notice patterns across processes and roles that uncover a single cause for several inefficiencies throughout the fabrication process. Once you have mapped out the flow of work from start to finish, you can begin to streamline and improve the process.
Data gathering should be an ongoing process. If you implement improvements, also measure their effects. Continuous improvement should be your goal.
Employ Lean Management
The notion of “lean management” integrates continuous operational improvement with increasing efficiency and reducing waste. Lean management focuses on identifying value as the customer defines it, simplifying workflow and processes by ensuring that the workspace is well organized and the right people with the right skills are matched to appropriate roles. Lean management also depends heavily on fostering a culture of respect for both employees and customers and recognizing that their input is extremely valuable. Workers on the front line and consumers who use the manufactured parts are the best source of feedback who can identify faults and help improve fabrication processes.
Upgrade and Maintain Equipment
Stay up to date with scheduled maintenance for machinery and budget for replacements and upgrades as machines approach the end of their useful lives. Consider adding tools that will help you complete the fabrication process from start to finish without sending parts on to a separate shop.
Deburring machinery will polish and perfect parts right in your shop and save your manufacturing customers time and money in the long run. Deburring machines come in a variety of styles and sizes, from tabletop versions to large industrial tumblers. Vibratory machines vary from bowl designs to trough types. The kind of metal (or in some cases, wood) used to fabricate parts determines the type of media to use in the deburring machine to create the friction necessary to hone and finish parts. The deburring process may also require specially formulated liquid additives, or just water, to create the best and most efficient environment for deburring to occur. Deburring is critically important to precision parts. Rough edges, excess metal, shards, or splinters can render parts unusable or even dangerous.
These are a few ways to optimize your fabrication process. By combining smart machines that gather data with software that analyzes that data, and by employing lean management techniques to improve operations, fabricators can streamline processes and produce uniform, finished parts with less waste.
- Amethyst Jamiro