Everyone in the manufacturing process knows that delays cost money, but it is easy to overlook a more subtle consequence of these hold-ups: enforced idleness for employees.
As Richie Barker, Chief Operating Officer at FasTech LLC, explains: “Many of our customers have critical projects that need to be running smoothly. If they can’t get the right parts at the right time, it could block potentially thousands of people from working. So it’s not just the knock-on cost of the part; it’s also about the implications of that part not being available. You could have people idle for many, many weeks as a result, and nobody looks at that.”
As Richie has identified, idle time is a significant problem in the manufacturing industry, and it does not get talked about enough. One of the most challenging aspects is that there are so many possible causes. Here are a few examples:
- An office employee waiting for access to a printer.
- An employee in any industry waiting for critical information required to proceed with a project.
- A construction worker waiting for a colleague to finish using the digger they need for their task.
- A technician waiting for the part they need to repair a piece of equipment.
Resolving Material Shortages
The principal cause of delays in the manufacturing industry is a shortage of material, which often takes ages to arrive after ordering. “The biggest problem I’m seeing is people being able to find the material and get parts made in a reasonable lead time,” Richie explains. “Everything seems to be can’t get material, can’t get forgings, can’t get castings. Everything is delayed. Something that would normally take three months is taking seven or eight now, and the prices are significantly jumping. Everything is costing more.”
When material shortages lead to delays stretching into multiple months, it is clearly a significant problem, and this is where FasTech can make the critical difference due to their solution.
“With us, you don’t have to wait for material because we use standard off-the-shelf wire consumable, and you won’t have to print as much, so it won’t take anywhere near as long to do,” Richie explains. “In an ideal situation, if a customer had a part that was relatively easy and required no development, you could print it in a day and machine it in a day. So that could cut a three-week lead time down to less than a week.”
It is incredible to think that something as seemingly simple as the choice of a state-of-the-art manufacturing process can make such a massive impact. However, when you think it through, the benefits of using something so readily-available are crystal clear and, importantly, long-lasting.
One company might use FasTech and feel grateful for the time saved on their current project. Then they might reverse back to the traditional manufacturing method. However, suppose they stop to consider the long-term impacts of a faster process. In that case, they will see that manufacturing parts by choosing an easy-to-acquire welding wire, using 3D WAAM metal printing technology, is a decision that will save them time and money over and over again as the years roll on, which makes a partnership with FasTech a wise choice in the long-term.