Innovation in the Metal Fabrication Industry

Posted by Ken Brakefield

Topics: Heavy Metal Fabrication, Custom Metal Fabrication, Structural Steel Fabrication

bigstock--130423724.jpgFabrication isn’t necessarily an industry where one must evolve or suffer the consequences, but the benefits of constant innovation make willing stagnation a foolish proposition. Improving upon the tools utilized in operations, management, and administration means improving upon the success level of each job, minimizing the waste of time and resources. Two teams with otherwise equivalent skills will produce extremely different results if one embraces innovation in all its forms and the other drags its heels on every adoption of new tech.


Tools drive innovation

In the metal fabrication industry, nearly all aspects of innovation revolve around the evolution of the tools at use; one need only look at the industry before and after the rise and evolution of beam lines and rolls. Of course, this doesn’t mean that new tools equal innovation. Rather, it means that innovation comes in one of two important forms:

  • Leveraging new tools to open new doors
  • Finding more ways to leverage existing tools

Closing your mind to either option as a fabricator guarantees the accumulation of wasted opportunities and lost profits.


Innovation means completing jobs faster and better

bigstock-Welding-100327907.jpgIt’s no exaggeration to call the metal fabrication industry one particularly shaped by innovation, experimentation. Very few high quality fabrication teams operate without extensive amounts of trial and error, as they seek the best ways to complete jobs for their customers. Only by regularly experimenting with new approaches to old problems does the industry evolve, allowing the same jobs to be completed more thoroughly in less time.

A company like Swanton Welding can boast 60 years of innovation and evolution. And yet that’s still not enough, as worthwhile innovations become the new standard and useless ones fall by the wayside, leaving any firm content to rest on its laurels quickly falling behind competitors. Of course, some innovations demand a more personal touch…


Innovation from customer relationships

In metal fabrication, building long-term relationships with customers offers a host of benefits to everyone involved; not the least of these benefits lay in the potential to drive innovation. A company working on a variety of basic one-off fabrication jobs doesn’t have as much opportunity to encounter unusual circumstances or consider ways to develop unique solutions to specific problems. It’s especially important to note that all innovation need not be direct improvement; in many cases, an innovation represents a step sideways, a solution which works well for some customers’ needs and poorly for others. Experimentation and long-term relationships with customers have directly resulted in Swanton Welding holding a bigger collection of uniquely tailored tools, allowing for a higher degree of customization in the way we answer expectations.


Software and Administration

Perhaps the worst losses seen within the metal fabrication industry don’t stem from a failure to adopt new tools and methods in the shop, but a failure to adopt new technologies outside of it. Customized software solutions can ease any number of critical processes within any business; Swanton Welding, for example, leverages a custom estimating system to deliver more accurate projections to customers. Such updates and innovations on the back end of the business often produce greater returns than any number of front-end improvements.


Trade shows and research

Finally, it’s crucial that a metal fabricator pay attention to trade shows and stay abreast of research. It’s not enough to simply innovate in a vacuum; a company must be willing to learn from its peers and stay abreast of upcoming ideas in the industry. Customers don’t want to work with the company that adopts the new staple technology of the industry years after it rises to prominence; they want you leveraging cutting-edge solutions.

When Swanton Welding first purchased a laser cutter, no other fabricator in the state had one. It was a massive leap forward—and now many other fabricators in the area use one. Meanwhile, Swanton and other early adopters continue stay one step ahead, preparing for the next big leap. If you are looking for an innovative welding/fabrication company that always looks to the future consider Swanton Welding today.

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Topics: Heavy Metal Fabrication, Custom Metal Fabrication, Structural Steel Fabrication