This week, EVS Metal is pleased to publish the final part of our interview with Greg, from EVS Metal NJ.
Q&A with Greg, Forming Engineer, EVS Metal NJ
EVS: How do lean manufacturing practices influence your work?
Greg: Lean practices reduce waste, so it’s important to emphasize the production of more products with fewer (or at least no extra) parts whenever possible. This means our operators need to be on their game at all times; we calibrate machines carefully to ensure there are fewer bending errors in the first piece. In a perfect world, the first piece fabricated would be exactly to spec.
EVS: What types of lean practices do you use in your department?
Greg: We produce smaller batches of parts and replace old equipment with new automated or half-automated self-set up machines that cut waste and improve efficiency significantly. We also calibrate machines very precisely to eliminate error and set up-pieces. We are constantly working to improve current processes and switch to more automated processes whenever possible.
EVS: What do you see as the benefits of lean practices in your environment
Greg: Thanks to lean practices we have been able to create a more profitable business by eliminating waste and improving efficiency. We are able to focus on customers’ needs as well as overall product value.
EVS: What are the specific challenges of using lean practices in a high-mix, low volume environment?
Greg: Challenges are mostly related to training operators to be more efficient with setups. Using fewer or even no extra parts can be very challenging.
EVS: How do you see the metal fabrication industry growing or changing over the next few years? How do you see EVS Metal changing to accommodate/address these things?
Greg: Sheet metal fabrication is quickly moving toward automation. It’s the only way to keep production costs down and remain competitive with China. It is also becoming more and more difficult to find experienced/skilled workers in this industry, which has also had a huge impact on metal fabrication and manufacturing. However, EVS prioritizes investing in software/automation/advanced machines, and this often allows for a single, experienced operator to team with fairly inexperienced assistants to get the job done efficiently and cost-effectively.
EVS: Anything else you’d like to share about your position/responsibilities/department?
Greg: There are a number of areas that have changed as more advanced technology has rolled out. Back in the day, most projects were designed from more, but less complicated, parts that were welded/assembled together, rather than the very complicated, but mostly one-piece, construction you see today. That places brake operators in a super-challenging area that can be hard to adapt to i.e. bending complicated parts with many bends on multi-staged setups. Thankfully, state-of-the-art software and a single, knowledgeable person can take the most challenging parts (tooling, sequence, creativity) out of the equation.
Having a good relationship with the designers is also important. Designers can sometimes come up with concept drawings that are nearly impossible or extremely hard to bend in practice. If you have a good relationship with them, it is easier to work together when it comes to specing parts so that the geometric tolerances are able to be produced within reasonable tolerances. Often their systems are set for machined parts and the same tolerance set up ends up applied to sheet metal projects which aren’t able to be achieved with press brakes.
About EVS Metal
EVS Metal is an American precision metal fabricator headquartered in Riverdale, NJ. Our machinists and operators utilize the latest technology to cut, bend and finish stand-alone items as well as parts for integration or assembly into more complex products. EVS Metal’s four ISO 9001:2015-certified locations comprise over 250,000 square feet of vertically-integrated manufacturing space and feature the most modern equipment available, from lasers and CNC machining centers to automated powder coating lines.
We serve a diverse customer base across North America, providing a range of services from ITAR-compliant, quick-turn prototypes to high-volume production runs. Request a personalized metal fabrication quote online or call 1-888-9EVSMET to speak with a specialist today.