Manufacturing Executives – What is Your Most Complex Process?

If your manufacturing production process includes welding assemblies together, here’s a valuable challenge. If you think it’s exaggeration to claim that arc welding is the most complex process in your plant, humor me for just one paragraph.  I bet you can’t name one other non-welding industrial process in your operations that is as complex as the most common arc-welding process: GMAW (Gas Metal Arc Welding, or MIG/MAG). GMAW (“MIG”) includes at least 13 variables, of which most are interactive with multiple other variables, and it joins metal via an open electric arc that creates simultaneous multi-phase high-speed transitions between solid, liquid, gaseous and plastic states to form 3-dimensional weld penetration profiles with various chemistries and conflicting/competing grain structures which have widely varying impacts on physical and chemical properties.

Think about it. Ask your engineering manager about it. Is there any process more complex?  Stamping? No. Extrusion molding? Nope. Machining? No again.

Are you convinced yet?  If so, here’s a question that’s likely worth a decade of your career:  how is your company doing in hiring, empowering and leveraging expertise in welding sciences to create a formidable level of competitive advantage and profitability?

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4 Responses to Manufacturing Executives – What is Your Most Complex Process?

  1. jpetty084 says:

    Brian,
    I am currently a Welding Engineering Student at Weber State University. The company where I work could really use some one who is an expert in welding science. I Am currently a jr. in the program with 5 years of welding experience. I would like to approach the management with the idea of making either a Welding Engineering Intern or an A.S. Welding Engineering Tech. I have an A.S. in welding technology, and combined with my hands on experience I feel confident enough to fill that roll. My Question to you is what would be the best approach to do this.

    Thank you for you time.

    • Brian Dobben says:

      J,
      That depends on the nature of the company and what the welding needs and opportunities are. I can’t speak specifically since you haven’t given details. But in general, here’s what I’d suggest. Put together either a PowerPoint presentation, or a bulleted Word document. In it, emphasize points that you find in my blog articles here, applied to their business opportunities in welding. Make the point that highly complex processes have to be engineered with expertise and continuously improved with engineering expertise in order to deliver untapped profitability, improved quality and strong competitive advantage. Point out that the company is essentially in the business of selling their expertise at creating welded assemblies, and that like most companies, they are weak in expertise in the highly complex welding processes, which leaves a lot of untapped profitability. To the extent that you can, illustrate areas and estimate lost profits in welding related areas such as cycle time, shielding gas losses, cost-of-poor-quality, rework and scrap, and use of inefficient methods, processes or equipment.

      Once you have that assembled, then I would prepare a one-page letter to the top executive or president of the company. Hand-deliver it and tell them in person that you are convinced the company could gain hundreds of thousands or tens of millions of dollars in the core business area of welding, and that if they have interest, you would be willing to put together a presentation that would be worth their time. Ask them if they’d like to involve any other senior staff.

      When you do the presentation, remember that you are selling the ideas, the logic, the business sense, and your confidence and abilities. And then sell the idea that if they would like to proceed, you recommend first working with them to establish agreed goals, targets, timing and strategies to establish profitable long-term results.

      That is the strategy I have used successfully in the past. It creates great power by establishing value and agreement upfront in the highest echelons, and positioning you as more of an expert than anyone else they know of in the company. Then all you have to do is build teamwork and deliver value, while periodically reporting on progress and milestones (minimum every 6 months).

      I hope this will be helpful to you and others.

      Brian Dobben

      • jpetty084 says:

        Brian,
        Thank you for your reply. I did what you suggested and our CEO was impressed with what I had to say. In the near future I will be moving into more of the role of a A.S. Welding Engineer Tech. I still have many questions to ask you and alot to learn as well.

        jpetty

  2. d.ward says:

    I work for the nuclear division of a shop fabricator. The reality is our job would be very simple if we did not involve welding. The paperwork would be cut down to minimal, the code requirements would be slashed, and more often than not the customer requirements would be very little.

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