Tips for Optimizing Your Fabrication Operation

Businesses in the fabrication industry face many challenges that can impact productivity and profitability. Manufacturing operations, inventory control, order fulfillment and customer interactions are a few of the top priorities to consider. There are several methods for optimizing your fabrication operations that will lead to improved efficiency, reduced waste, higher productivity, and profits, as well as strong customer satisfaction. Here are some things to consider.

Measure, Monitor and Improve Operations

Before improving any operation within your business, you need to be able to measure and monitor data. Key performance indicators (KPIs) are one way to track activities and costs. Over time, you can identify trends that either contribute to or deter from productivity and profitability. Since current, reliable data is necessary, it’s important that you have the right business management system in place.

Capturing data is only the first step. What you do with that data determines how you will optimize processes. Traditional enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems are comprehensive and integrated; however, few can handle the unique operations of steel fabricators, steel service centers and other businesses in the steel and metals industry. If you’re evaluating ERP solutions, look for a system tailored for the complexities of fabrication and you’ll be ahead of the game.

How Fabricators Can Make Measurable Improvements

There’s always room for improvement in fabrication businesses, whether it’s in the front office, the warehouse or within manufacturing processes. Here are a few considerations in your search for an ERP system:

  1. Lean management: A lean management strategy is common for manufacturing businesses. Make sure your system simplifies procedures, ensures employees are performing the right tasks, and enables you to take a proactive stance with inventory management.
  2. Workflows: Time-saving workflows should guide employees through common daily tasks, reducing waste by eliminating manual processes and redundant data entry. As a result, these tasks can be completed more efficiently, which saves time and protects data integrity.
  3. Data management: With key data located in one system, instead of spread across the organization, it’s within easy reach for your management team. Look for role-tailored interfaces which highlight the KPIs important to your leaders. They should be able to monitor expenses, sales or inventory in real-time and respond faster to deviations or exceptions.
  4. Machinery and tools: Many types of machinery deliver certain yield or throughput. Machinery that is breaking down or aging, may not perform as well as it once did. Take a proactive step with machinery and tools by measuring throughput, scheduling routine repairs and addressing weaknesses before more catastrophic breakdowns.
  5. Establishing goals: Business intelligence features make it easier to set and monitor strategic business goals. Evaluate labor and production productivity, quality, sales or customer service. Then, set goals you can measure. If you can measure it, you can improve it.

Turn Data into Actionable Insight

Steel fabricators, steel service centers, and others in the steel and metals industry must be able to first capture data before using it make improvements. Can you provide employees with time-saving, automated ways to capture and analyze data? Do you have the business intelligence to measure and monitor data used to improve and optimize operations?

Contact us to learn more ways to optimize your fabrication operation.