Communication is vital in the metal fabrication and manufacturing industry…
Case study-after-case study, tens of thousands of books, hundreds of thousands of articles have been devoted to inter-company communication.
It is critical for every business. Frankly, it is critical for success in the metal fabrication business.
AMF, as a metal fabricator, works very intentionally, even though our product is cold, hard metal, to create a manufacturing environment where communication is front and center.
Some of our key communication strategies are as follows:
1.) Every person in the company has a stand-up daily huddle. In those small huddle meetings, all our people are invited to communicate things like:
- Where they are stuck
- What is or isn’t working
- What needs special attention
- What needs coordination
Those meetings are invaluable in solving the little things that can often slip through the cracks. It also allows employees to see how their work is impacting others in the company. Even better, it gives the company the chance to spread positive change as people share ideas that are driving improvement in day-to-day operations.
2.) AMF engages in, what we like to call, Meeting Monday. Every single Monday we have the following team coordination meetings:
- Project Managers Meeting where the project managers discuss the backlog of work—what is due that current week and what the backlog looks like for the next six months and even further. We discuss manpower, bottlenecks, coordination of projects, training needs, etc.
- Executive Meeting where the executive team talks about key priorities in the company. We track progress on our key initiatives (set quarterly). We talk about strategy, execution goals, planning and forecasting.
- Sales Meeting where the sales and estimators talk about jobs that are bidding, new leads, sales calls, bidding requirements, order bookings, goals, training and coordination.
- Continuous Improvement Meeting where our CI team meets to review new suggestions that have come in through our Continuous Improvement We also make assignments to implement continuous improvement ideas that have been approved by the committee. Even more, we give out awards and recognitions for meaningful ideas that will be used.
- Finance Meeting where our finance group talks about cash flow, payable, receivables, billings, etc
3.) AMF also sends out weekly email and text messages to everyone in the company. Those messages cover numerous ideas that include the likes of the following:
- Continuous Improvement ideas that have been submitted and implemented.
- Reminders about tasks we want everyone in the company doing.
- Reminders about themes—things we are working on to improve.
- Reminders about culture, vision, values, etc.
4.) AMF spends constant energy in trying to communicate work instruction for each metal part fabricated in our shop. We call it, “One-hundred percent complete and accurate work orders.”
The theme denotes the importance of creating shop travelers that are deadly accurate and keep our shop floor craftsman from having to stop their work to gather clarification on a work order.
Obviously, any stop on the floor creates inefficiency and potential for mistakes when fabricating important parts for our customers.
There is much more but suffice it to say that fabricating metal parts is much more than assigning a person to a machine and telling him to cut or form or weld.
We believe that AMF’s intentional efforts to improve our communication skills are so important that it has become a long-term strategic initiative. We believe that expert communication will lead to world class fabrication, quality and delivery.
Our customers expect that from us—we expect it from ourselves.