Custom and contract metal fabricators work to deliver quality fabricated products—all at the right price, quantity, and time—for a multitude of customers. A diverse customer mix helps a fabricator mitigate downturn risks. As of early May, such customer diversification has been a saving grace for some fabricators during the COVID-19 crisis, especially those serving essential supply chains.
Thing is, juggling disparate demands for dozens or even hundreds of different customers isn’t easy. The juggling act isn’t perfect. It’s why a job’s “touch time”—when people or tools actually contact the job or workpiece—can be measured in minutes and hours, though it still takes days or weeks to actually deliver the order. Keeping the flow and minimizing the time jobs sit between manufacturing steps are what continuous improvement is all about.