Awards & Engraving

March '20

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44 • A&E MARCH 2020 Customer changes cause too many inter- ruptions in our shop. I require every change to not only be written on the order form, but well documented for both myself to understand and in case it is needed later to remind the customer. Complex changes should lead to a new order form being com- pleted so new instructions are not confused with the original. Hiring Complementary Skills When you add an employee, especially your first, consider hiring someone with complementary skills. Add the skills you need the most, ones that are your weakest or weakest of your employees. Cross Training and Extra Help Cross train during slow times. The stress of busy seasons is more likely to result in sickness. Cross training may reduce the desire of a sick employee to stay at work and infect everyone else. Having one or two go-to people to work during busy season is great. Consider retired people who have a lot of experi- ence and love to help out. Many retired hobbyists who dabble in woodworking, crafts, electronics, or leather working have great skills with equipment, tools, and various substrates. EQUIPMENT MAINTENANCE Scheduling Schedule major equipment mainte- nance a few weeks before busy season starts. Machine inspection that occurs during maintenance may disclose repairs that need to be made and will give you more time to complete them without the stress of busy season. Repair Kit Create and keep a repair kit for each piece of production equipment containing parts that most frequently wear out. The manufacturer's tech support will be happy to help you determine what should be in your kit. This reduces the cost (overnight delivery) and stress caused by breakdowns. Make sure you have all the supplies you need for maintenance as well. Even run- ning out of something as simple as lens cleaning fluid will cause delays and stress. If you replace your laser, consider keeping your old one in running order as a backup. PRODUCTION Shop Layout Every once in a while, during low volume times, it's good to look at your production shop layout. As your business grows or product focus changes, the layout of your equipment, computers, and inven- tory may benefit from alterations. I have a separate room for sandcarving that is well away from my laser and can be closed off. Abrasive does not pair well with laser. Long Lasering Jobs Long laser jobs that may take 10 minutes to an hour or so provide the opportunity to work on another project while keeping an eye on the laser. I schedule assembly work, project layout, or even perhaps masking sandcarving products while waiting on my laser. This begins with planning my day each morning (as best I can). Prepare Materials Ahead of Time I have numerous repeat jobs that require cut metal plates, sheet acrylic of specific colors, and sizes and plaques drilled for appliqués. You may have a customer that uses a specific trophy column of the same size that can be pre-cut and ready for assembly. Use slower times or long laser running times to prepare these often-used labor intensive parts. Holding Devices and Jigs You may have a dozen devices you use for holding products in your laser, yet you will find products that need something else Jigs play a key role when it comes to production times. Modeling clay can be formed easily and quickly to hold almost anything upright, in place, and flat. Above: The iDrive control panel for cloud storage. Right: Our Synology network drive available for all computers. It has a built-in app for iDrive to automatically upload files. It's important to protect your work against crashes and corrupt files in order to stay efficient.

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