As we turn the page to the New Year ahead, we first want to wish each and everyone of you a productive, safe, and happy 2017. No matter what goals or resolutions you have, we hope they provide the desired results you are seeking.

No other time of the year forces us to look in the mirror like the changing of the calendar. Did we accomplish what we wanted? How do we feel about where we are going? How are we going to get where we want and how will we measure success in those areas?

While we have undergone some significant changes in how we approach things on our fabrication shop, we are constantly reminded that not all improvements have to be “huge”. In fact, metal fabrication innovation often comes as the result of smaller steps over a protracted period of time. We thought this would be a good time to look at how metal fabrication innovation and improvement go hand in hand in gradually changing a fabrication shop floor for the better.

Measurement

If we don’t measure the impact of “improvements” how do we know they are making a positive impact? It’s not enough to “feel” processes have improved or “think” quality is getting better. We’re not suggesting you get mired in analytics either. But somewhere along the line when someone comes up with a innovative idea, someone also needs to add “Great! Now, how do we measure the results of implementation?”

Training

Training is certainly not an innovative process, but how it is implemented on the fabrication shop floor can be. How and why are particular people chosen to be cross-trained or even to improve on their current skills? How will this training ultimately benefit the individual and the organization? What are expectations of this training? How can the trainer and trainee become better engaged to produced the desired results and how will they be measured?

Add Value – Minimize Waste

When efforts improve a process or product, it adds value. When efforts are made that don’t improve a product or process, it could be considered waste. The key, then, is identifying the activities that add value, and minimize those that don’t. This is often rooted in the “we’ve always done it this way” syndrome. “Why” and “How”can be powerful tools when weeding through the add value-minimize waste process.

Get Everyone Engaged

If you are looking for metal fabrication innovation and improvement to work hand in hand on the fabrication shop floor, it helps to get all hands involved. This includes everyone from ownership and management to engineers and maintenance personnel. These are usually where small innovations can result in big, long-term improvements. If days are just spent doing the same thing, innovation and improvement are stagnant. You know what they say about the definition of insanity.

We have done, and continue to make significant changes at Wiley Metal, but one of the best things we have done is create more of an atmosphere of constant, pro-active improvement. It is not only making us an improved company but a more innovative place to work.

If you are not at a place where you are ready for bold, game-changing innovation, take smaller steps. Do a better job of measuring, training, and minimizing waste. Get your entire team involved in how you can become better at what you do. At Wiley Metal, we see the results daily and in many respects, we are still just beginning.

Happy New Year from all of us at Wiley Metal.