Last week one of our laser equipment customers came in to audit our quality system and we passed with flying colors. Every audit, and this one was one of the more rigorous we’ve had in many years, it a great external test for ETM Manufacturing. We actually look forward to quality audits because it is a rare chance to learn from auditors – they see so many different shops than we do. In this case, the auditor was doing a 4 shop tour in 2 days. Their first stop was a disaster, so we really wanted to impress them. And we did!
My youngest daughter has the fortune of having inherited many of her mother’s lovely traits, but the misfortune of having been diagnosed with patellofemoral syndrome (PFS), which results is some sharp knee pain when she is running or climbing steps. This can be very tough for a future varsity cheerleader. The first doctor told her to take it easy—that it would get better. The second doctor prescribed a 12-week regimen of physical therapy—that didn’t work. Finally, we got a referral to Dr. Vorderer, a specialist with Children’s Hospital at Waltham. The answer: orthopedic inserts, but unfortunately, it took six months to get that answer. And we know we aren’t alone! I see this scenario play out repeatedly in our sheet metal fabrication business as well. It’s a different kind of pain, but can hurt your business just the same.
Hi Everyone! This is Clint, your Sheet Metal Fabrication Technical Manager. We had an interesting sheet metal RFQ come in that I wanted to share with you.
Last weekend my family and I had the pleasure of walking in the rain to support the Vernon Cancer Center at Newton Wellesley Hospital. My wife works there and I have heard so much about all the great work they do to help patients recover or treat their cancer. Every year, the hospital hosts an event, Hope Walks, as a fundraiser for the Cancer Center and it is a great way for patients and caregivers to support something so dear to all of us. Sunday’s keynote speaker, Melody Tortosa, originally help fund the Cancer Center and has recently been a patient at the Center. This year alone, we raised over $225,000! As the owner of a Boston sheet metal fabricator, I couldn’t help wonder “What do they do with all that money?”
Last month 14 brave souls turned off their machines, put away their tools and went into the classroom to get their “White Belt” certification. If our employees are truly committed to lean manufacturing, the white belt certification is their first step towards becoming a lean expert. Intentionally, we do not compensate any of our employees for the training. They chose to get the certification because they know it is the right thing to do for our customers. I am incredibly proud of them.
Every year about this time, most New England sheet metal fabricators start to slow down. Some slow down earlier, some later, but we are all customer driven and customers don’t like lots of inventory at the end of the year. In an election year, there is additional uncertainty and many customers reduce sheet metal orders even more than usual. Did you know people actually track the “Presidential Cycle” for the stock market?
This week we have been battling with our plater to improve the cosmetic quality of the anodized parts that he is supplying us. The problem is that it is a losing battle – for both of us. I first heard of anodizing aluminum as a low cost coating for corrosion protection in the electronic chassis. It costs less than powder-coating and provides much of the same protection. It doesn’t peel or chip. It can even come in a variety of colors. For protecting surfaces, it does a good job; the problem is when people start to use it for cosmetics. They want cheap paint, but there are a number of challenges:
Every year about this time, we say goodbye (temporarily) to the students who have worked for us over the summer. This year, Cole Pittman, will be returning to Acton-Boxborough High School for his senior year and Nick Murner, will be returning to UMass Amherst for his sophomore year. Our sheet metal and assembly areas have been busier this summer than we were expecting, so some former ETM employees have come back part time to fill the void left by Cole and Nick. This is a great way to support our local community while providing young people a chance to experience a manufacturing environment.
Have you ever stood by helplessly as a disaster unfolds in front of you. You stare in horror knowing nothing you can do or say will change the events. This week we are watching helplessly as a disaster hits our customer and there is nothing we can do. Schedules are delayed, costs are escalating, and everyone is frustrated – including us. The sad part is that this could all be avoided.
This afternoon, Linda Carroll, our accountant, has been out of the office and I find myself answering phones like in the old days. It is unbelievable how many cold calls we get – almost 10 an hour! About a third of them are from robotic dialing machines with automated voice prompt (who answers these?). The rest of the calls are from poorly trained people with little interested in helping us. Every time I answered the phone, it was a reminder about how our customers and prospect must feel. They are probably getting 80 calls a day (or deleting 80 voicemails a day). This is on top of the 100+ email solicitations they must get each day. How can we help them?