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  • Anyone here a Production welding department manager?

    I have been welding for a long time but have done it all on projects for myself or in one-off projects for others.

    I just got hired as a welding manager for a production operation. We will be making large items (100' + trusses) of different designs. Each run will have a number of repeat items (maybe 30 trusses the same) then on to another design.

    This is for an existing company but it is a new branch so there is nothing in place. I plan to copy as much as possible from the sister offices but want to do my best to be as prepared as possible.

    I am looking for advise from someone that is in this type of position or works in this this type position as a welder to help me start out on the right foot.

    What do you track?
    How do you track it?
    How do you improve performance and weld quality while keeping costs down?
    Any tip or pointers will be great.

    How do you avoid the often dangerous antics of practical jokes and such that can hurt people or slow the process or waste materials? I plan on having this discussion on day one.

    I have managed people most of my life but never in a production welding shop in a manufacturing company.



    Thanks for your help, it is appreciated.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Bob Warner View Post
    I have been welding for a long time but have done it all on projects for myself or in one-off projects for others.

    I just got hired as a welding manager for a production operation. We will be making large items (100' + trusses) of different designs. Each run will have a number of repeat items (maybe 30 trusses the same) then on to another design.

    This is for an existing company but it is a new branch so there is nothing in place. I plan to copy as much as possible from the sister offices but want to do my best to be as prepared as possible.

    I am looking for advise from someone that is in this type of position or works in this this type position as a welder to help me start out on the right foot.

    What do you track?
    How do you track it?
    How do you improve performance and weld quality while keeping costs down?
    Any tip or pointers will be great.

    How do you avoid the often dangerous antics of practical jokes and such that can hurt people or slow the process or waste materials? I plan on having this discussion on day one.

    I have managed people most of my life but never in a production welding shop in a manufacturing company.



    Thanks for your help, it is appreciated.
    Congratulations on the new job Bob. I have been a supervisor in a manufacturing facility for almost 27 years and I can tell you that getting the horseplay and such under control on day one is one of the best things that you can do for yourself and your job security. Accidents can and will cost a company more money than they can afford, believe that! Safety is the biggest cost saver that you can provide for your employer. Scrap is another huge cost concern. In most every product manufactured, material is the #1 cost involved. Control the scrap! Another big hitter is attendance. If employees are not there then someone has to pick up their slack and productivity suffers. If you do happen to have someone to replace them with then it is most likely that the replacement is not as effiecient as your regular guy and productivity still suffers. I always told people that worked for me that they only had to do two things ...show up every day and do what is expected of you. Sounds simple, huh? As I am not familiar with your processes or what your day to day processes may turn out to be but if you do have elements in your processes that are repeatable then you may look at tracking your variation with Statistical Process Control charts. That is something that you do not have to worry with right now but may be an idea to look at in the future once you get on your feet planted and your shop established. GOOD LUCK!!
    Last edited by goinssr; 01-02-2011, 10:06 AM.
    Stephen
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    • #3
      Coming from the employee perspective, make sure there is a way to take care of the good employees so they know they are appreciated. It doesn't always have to be money. It always sucked that some idiot got paid the same wage & got the same perks/bonuses as the best guy in the shop just because they are both "welders."

      Also I've heard of places cutting down on overtime by offering comp time. Although this means the employee's get less $ in the long run sometimes they would rather have it if they aren't good at managing their own finances. Work a couple extra hours this week & take off a couple hours next week. (I was informed in a later post that this is illegal)

      I guess what I'm saying is take care of the workers as they can be your biggest asset or liability.

      Avoiding practical jokes? Most guys don't like this anyway because it almost always escalates into something else rules need to be set from day one as you said.
      Last edited by MMW; 01-02-2011, 06:13 PM.
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      • #4
        Of course you will be so busy getting up & running in the early stages you won't have much time but always look to improve & not just stay the same. When things are going well we tend to sit back & relax assuming it will keep going but in reality it changes. I have seen more than one company that was booming get passed by & are now out of business because they got complacent. Ask workers opinions before implimenting new policies or ordering new equipment.

        Set an example for your workers. If they think your just the office guy who gives orders but has no clue then they won't respect you. If your the guy who will help out as needed they like that. For instance don't make everyone work late or a weekend to get out an order & then tell them your going to the ballgame or something. You should be there with them doing what it takes. After all that's why you make more money because more is expected of you.

        Good luck!
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        • #5
          Originally posted by MMW View Post
          I guess what I'm saying is take care of the workers as they can be your biggest asset or liability.
          Even from a management point of view this is also good stuff to ponder on. If they become a liability to you and/or your employer then get rid of them. They can and will drag the rest of the worforce down. Show them that you mean business with employees that have become a liability and reward your assets. When they see that you are fair and impartial they will have much more respct for you as a leader.
          Stephen
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          Hypertherm PowerMax 30
          Etc., Etc., Etc......
          Western Arkansas Welding

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          • #6
            Establish policy for smoking breaks and personal cell phone usage. At one point I had the most smokers working for me and a 5 minute smoke break would turn into 15 minute every 45 minutes. Multiply that by 3 or 4 employees at a time during an 8-hour shift adds up to a LOT of non-productive time. Smoke breaks should be limited to designated times (before work starts, breaks, lunch and after work) in designated areas as needed to comply with local/state laws.

            Same goes for personal cell phone use. I find it hard to believe how many times a day some people "just have to take this call". If personal cell phone use is abused it should be limited to the same times as smoke breaks and any emergency calls should go thru the main company phone number/receptionist/supervisor. And make it clear the "bring home some milk/bread/diapers" etc. doesn't constitute an emergency.

            One Friday a couple years ago I had one of my guys in my office to "discuss" his recent performance when his cell phone rang. Instead of sending the call to voicemail or at the most answering stating I'll call you back, he proceeded to have a conversation with a buddy about something they had planned to do that evening!

            The number one subject for the following weekly Monday morning meeting was smoke breaks, cell phone use and internet (youtube) surfing by those in the office.

            Speaking of which, weekly production review meetings keeps the crew informed of what's going on and helps them take some ownership in the workload. It's also a great time to gain insight into things that may be hindering production and potential solutions to same.


            I also had to deal with internet surfing but in a welding shop atmosphere that shouldn't be a problem.
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            • #7
              take care of the good employees so they know they are appreciated.
              This is paramount. I did this in my previous life. The three top performers for the week went to lunch with me on my personal dime.

              Set an example for your workers
              Although I am a manager in this place I will still weld when I can. I am not past sweeping up someones area if they are a bit behind on their work to help them get caught up.

              Establish policy for smoking breaks and personal cell phone usage
              I agree 100%. I think cell phones should be OFF during working hours. Check you messages and missed calls at breaks or lunch. Emergencies can be called into the office phone.

              Thanks guys, please keep them coming.

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              • #8
                Hey Bob,
                This may be a bit long, although I'll attempt to give you an overview as to production applications. The company I recently retired from hired me as the foreman of the metal dept. to make much-needed improvements with cost-effective savings(material/labor) & increased production output utilizing any methods I deemed necessary for that goal. The first day I started, I had a sitdown with the floor supervisor & the owner & asked for detailed parameters of my duties & expectations from them so I had an understanding of the overall function of the metal dept.. The owner indicated I needed to examine every ongoing operation & determine if improvements could be made & to implement them asap. My query as to using material needed for the construction of jigs/fixtures/templates, etc., was that the surplus stock carried should suffice & anything else needed I could order.

                The system we used was:
                1) All shop orders were generated by the office staff & the owner as per customer requirements.
                2) Each dept had a shop order with a dept. designation as to the components needed & the material was ordered/in stock for that order.
                3) My duty was to direct each of the employees in my dept.(I had 5) to an operation(cutting,drilling,milling,grinding, & welding) to be able to have a smooth flow of components to each operation's equipment(saws,d/p's,mill,grind booth, & weld room) so that each operation did not stop the flow of materials to the next operation.
                4) Examine & eliminate wasted operations/movements & excessive loss of usable materials.
                5) Don't hesitate to ask for any equipment you may need. The second week I was there, I asked for a lathe & (2) 20T air/hydraulic pump jacks. Provided the data & reasons for the request & they ordered them for me.

                My first interaction with the dept. crew was to explain my position & what was expected of me & what I would expect of them by the owner at a dept. meeting. I would initiate any changes to any of the operations that I felt were un-productive & asked for input for any operation that was questionable by them. I told them my rules for safety were absolute & anything that would put risk with any bodily injury was totally unacceptable. I was quite emphatic regarding safety. I then related that NO CELL PHONES were to be in the dept. & were to be kept in their vehicles. Any emergency call would go to the office to be relayed to them.....again, no exceptions. Once they saw that I was there to do a job as specified by the owner, there were no qualms or a challenge to my duties. The owner didn't mince words at all(tactfully) & it was quite evident with the crew.

                My weldor was to explain to me the configurations & applications that needed done & the shop order nomenclature & specifications. It took several days to grasp the sizing differences with part#'s & system designation. By the end of the first week, I had several pages of notes in my notebook & started on the necessary initiation for improvements. The second week saw serious changes & the start of improvements in material flow & the introduction of my 1st (2) jigs. After that, it was smooth sailing as the crew found each change made their job much better. A couple of nose-to-nose confrontations had to be implemented with (2) of the youngsters who felt they could do as they please instead of the following the set of sequences that were put in place. This kinda took the "wind-out-of-their-sails" as to my character & nature with light dicipline engaged. They all knew I expected 8hrs work for 8hrs pay & believe me, it wasn't a full 8hrs work as we took time for each days' progression with 10-15min briefs. After the 3rd week, & another dozen mods., we were hummin' & was quite evident.

                The weekly dept. head meetings in the main office went well & their satisfaction with the dept. was noted. I always had my notebook with shop order questions that I was unsure, & asked for input as to their requirements. Management never had issue with my queries & provided any data I needed.....a good working relationship. I sincerely hope you will get to that level of communication & stability.....sure makes the job nice. I never had a morning I dreaded going to work.... I loved my job. Hope you will succeed as I did. Don't hesitate to ask anything else, especially if I can help you with jigging/fixturing/templates or any other kind of production improvements. Good luck, Bob......

                Denny

                Addendum: Hey Bob, I had a senior moment & forgot to ask if your company is union or non-union? Ours was non-union & I liked it much better..... I hate the unions after working in (3) of the major ones during my career. I have my reasons. If you do, I really emphasize GOOD LUCK!
                Last edited by yorkiepap; 01-02-2011, 06:14 PM.
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                • #9
                  Originally posted by MMW View Post

                  Also I've heard of places cutting down on overtime by offering comp time. Although this means the employee's get less $ in the long run sometimes they would rather have it if they aren't good at managing their own finances. Work a couple extra hours this week & take off a couple hours next week.
                  Comp time isn't even legal. Small shops can get away with it and some times it is beneficial to the Employee- but yer not supposed to do it- and it will always bite the Employer because it is not legal

                  Pretty straight forward for Hourly Employees- Must be paid for all time worked.
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                  • #10
                    My boss is an Arsehole- I say screw management
                    Ed Conley
                    http://www.screamingbroccoli.net/
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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Broccoli1 View Post
                      My boss is an Arsehole- I say screw management
                      Self employed, eh?
                      life is good

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Broccoli1 View Post
                        My boss is an Arsehole- I say screw management
                        You're just saying that Ed. We all know you're in tight with the guy.
                        MM200 w/spot controller and Spoolmatic 1
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                        *Homemade Suitcase Wire Feeder
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                        *WC-1S & Spoolmatic 1
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                        http://www.millerwelds.com/images/sm...rolleyes.png?2

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                        • #13
                          safety is one of the biggest factors in profitabilty! treat people the way you want to be treated and it should work out for you. keep the rules black and white as much as possible! gray area will kill safety, production, morale and profits! when a worker misses a day of work i automatically give them another day off. i don't care what the excuse or reason is. MISS A DAY OF WORK AND YOU GET ANOTHER DAY OFF! applied across the board the workers will show up everyday and increase safety and profits.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Bob Warner View Post
                            The three top performers for the week went to lunch with me on my personal dime.
                            In a production shop, building big things, NO. You have a team, not a bunch of guys welding in individual booths, just count how many widgets are piled up in front of each one. How big is the crew going to be??? You will have welders, you will have guys cutting, you will have forklift drivers. As time goes on, you will probably have a couple guys you take off the assembly line, start designing and building the jig for the next product. How you gonna quantify actual production for each person?

                            If overall production meets or exceeds expectations, reward the whole group, as a team; bring pizza in at lunch or something. Last thing you want, especially at this stage, is to create "favored classes" within the group. Later, as time goes on, you realize who makes your job easier, who helps the others with their job, who takes initiative, who is smart enough to make a new jig, who has leadership qualities, etc. etc., and you can reward them with pay and/or perks as appropriate.

                            Denny spelled everything out pretty good.
                            Obviously, I'm just a hack-artist, you shouldn't be listening to anything I say .....

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by chi-town hustler View Post
                              safety is one of the biggest factors in profitabilty! treat people the way you want to be treated and it should work out for you. keep the rules black and white as much as possible! gray area will kill safety, production, morale and profits! when a worker misses a day of work i automatically give them another day off. i don't care what the excuse or reason is. MISS A DAY OF WORK AND YOU GET ANOTHER DAY OFF! applied across the board the workers will show up everyday and increase safety and profits.
                              You don't care if there is a death in the family you are still going to punish them with a day off? I bet you have a high turnover rate? You said you don't care what the excuse is or reason.
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