Thompson Fabricating Incorporated
Steel Fabricators For the Waste Industry

GETTING LEAN AT TFI

                In April 2017 with the help of our local Industrial Resource Center (IRC) we started our journey into Lean Manufacturing, focusing on building a Lean Culture.  Initially when I thought of Lean Manufacturing my thought process was to do more with less employees by pushing them to go faster in their daily routine. Sounds simple Right? Not so much.

The program sponsored by the IRC introduced us to a process called 2 Second Lean, the book written by Paul Akers ( 2 Second Lean, How to Grow People and build a Lean Culture),  is based on the thought process of Eliminating Waste through Continuous Improvement.

At first I found the process a little confusing but as I continued to read and watch videos (which both I highly recommend) the process started to become clearer to me. Instead of telling employees how to do their job faster, we challenged/coached them to find ways to do their job faster (Leaner). Who better to eliminate the waste from the process than the individual doing that particular job? Worst case if it does not work you have only lost 2 seconds.  Sound Simple Right? Well as I am finding out, it is not.

While engaging in the process we embarked on challenging our employees to learn and  find the 8 wastes in their job process one at a time. The 8 wastes are Defects, Over Production, Waiting, Non-Utilized Talent, Transportation, Inventory, Motion, Extra Processing. I recently attended one of the monthly meetings held by the IRC along with our VP of Production and Shop Foreman. The meeting was held at a facility that has been implementing 2 Second Lean for several years.  Also attending were several manufacturing organizations in our area doing the same thing,  along with another dozen or so companies like ours wanting to implement the 2 Second Lean within their organizations.

One of the First steps in the 2 second lean process was to attend a Drum Beat meeting.  At this meeting the organization meets with their employee’s at the start of every shift, this is done daily.  This gives an opportunity for each employee to share with the group their own 2 Second Lean, and also lets the company provide information about what is happen within the organization. There is no true drum meeting formula to follow you have to find what fits for your organization and get everyone on board.

After some thought on what works for us we created an agenda for our own Drum Beat meetings. Focusing on a short 10 – 20 minute meeting once a week. The agenda includes:  reviewing numbers in regards to containers built, sold, and shipped in the previous week. We then discuss total containers on order and agree on a Goal for production for the coming week. We focus each meeting on four main topics to review openly in the form of a question & answer.

Challenges: We ask what challenges they may have faced in their job the previous week.  (This gives them an avenue to vent a little and keep management in the loop)

Mistakes:  We ask what mistakes they have made or may have seen being made.

Safety issues: We ask about any safety issues noticed either good or bad?

2 Second Leans: We ask what they thought and/or implemented in their own routine the previous week.

In our 1st two meetings we did not see the feedback from our employees that we expected. By the third and fourth meetings we had a good amount of feedback but during our fifth meeting we regressed a little receiving less feedback than the previous two meetings. As we progress through the process and as more employees get on board with what we are trying to do we will improve ourselves and our jobs through the 2 second lean!

I am exciting about our Lean Journey and I will be sure to blog again about it, I also encourage all to take a look at the following website to learn more of how Lean Thinking can help you in both your professional and personal life.

http://paulakers.net/

SPRING IS HERE!!!

Spring has arrived well according to the calendar anyway, and hopefully that means the snow shovels can finally be stored away until next year, but some folks in the Northeast may want to keep their’ s handy sorry. Here in Wheatland we experienced a very mild winter, but we are still looking forward to warmer temperatures, which are forecasted for nearly 70 degree by this weekend and we are ready for it.

With the warmer temps all types of outdoor projects seem to start taking place, such as lawn cleanup and fertilizing, landscaping. Home improvement projects such as decks, siding and roofing, and let’s not forget the much dreaded annual SPRING CLEANING rituals of the house and garage.  

When all of these projects start happening we start to see an increase in demand for the products we manufacture here at TFI. Some of our customers have taken the steps in advance to place orders for late March and early April delivery. While other plan their timing for May and June.

With our newly restructured employee training program as outlined in the Jan. 17th blog we feel we are ready to handle the increased work load, lead times will extend as we proceed through April but we will continue to provide the same quality and service as always.

Happy Spring to all and good luck with the remainder of our NCAA bracket or what’s left of it. 

ANNUAL SHOP MAINTENANCE!

MAINTENANCE, AS EVERYONE KNOWS, IS ONLY 1 OF THE MANY CHALLENGES FACING BUSINESS OPERATIONS TODAY.

SOME OF YOU MAY BE AWARE AND OTHER’S MAY NOT BE, BUT ON AN ANNUAL BASIS TFI PLANS A 2 WEEK SHOP MAINTENANCE TO CLEAN OUR SHOP AND ADDRESS ANY MAJOR MAINTENACNE ISSUE’S

WE DO THIS SO THAT WE MAY CONTINUE TO OPERATE EFFEINCLY AND SAFELY DURING THE BUSIEST TIMES OF THE YEAR.  

THIS YEAR DURING THE PERIOD OF OCT. 31 – NOV. 11.   WILL WE NOT BE MANUFACTURING ANY CONTAINERS, SO THAT WE MAY TIDY UP.

BUT THERE IS STILL TIME IF YOU ARE NEEDING CONTAINERS BEFORE OCT. 31.  

PLEASE CALL TODAY THE ORDER BOOKS ARE FILLING UP FAST.

AND IF YOU ARE LOOKING TO TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE SECTION 179 DEDUCTION, http://www.section179.org/

TFI WILL BE BACK UP IN OPERATION ON NOV. 14. WITH PLENTY OF TIME BEFORE THE END OF 2016, TO DELIVERY YOUR CONTAINERS.

 We apologize for the inconvenience but this downtime will help us serve you better in the future.

FLAT ROLLED STEEL PRICE

Since my last blog regarding steel prices in Dec. we have seen the market continually rise over the 1st qtr. of 2016 as expected.

Now as we pear into the future we see scrap price rising $ 40 - $ 55 a ton in the early parts of April. The mills order books are filling up rather quickly and Hot Rolled Prices out of the mill are expected to be around $ 520 ton for May & even some mills are not opening their books for spot orders  for May and June yet due to not knowing what they will be paying for scrap in May & June.

With the effect of a few US mills, either temporarily or permanently idling operations is leading to supply issues, and the lengthening lead times from other mills are fueling the fire and creating a sense of urgency from buyers.

Forecast are showing prices remaining stable through the 2nd qtr. of 2016, and even possibly the 3rd. qtr. but as we have seen in the past things can change quickly and unexpectedly in the steel market, buyers need to stay on top of these changes or they could be leaving monies on the table.

STEEL PRICES INCREASING

As stated I stated in  the Sept. 2 blog Steel Pricing Futures, I haven’t seen steel prices this low since 2009, but as of Wed. Dec. 9, 2015 two domestic mills made prices moves on flat rolled products.

NLMK was 1st to announce that spot prices out of their mills will increase by $40.00 per ton effective immediately, but will not impact contract order.

AK Steel announced through a press release on Wednesday that Minimum base prices for new order of Hot Rolled Coil will be $420 per ton, and since sources have stated that AK Steel was no participating in the sub- $400 market the increase could be considered minimal at $20.00 a ton.

I believe these prices will stick and that we will continue to see the steel market prices increase over the 1st quarter of 2016.


STEEL PRICING FUTURE

As a manufacturer of Rolloff Containers our container prices are primarily driven by Hot Rolled Steel prices.

 

There are a variety of things that attribute to current steel prices, such as demand, import, trade cases, contract negotiations, weather, furnace closing or shut downs, scrap prices and union strikes. It is hard to predict how, if or even when any of these items will affect prices but there are a wide range of publications and analyzes that can be very helpful in forecasting futures.

 

Ferrous Scrap for September is forecast to move sideways (remain the same as Aug.) or drop $ 20.00 a ton.

 

We try to keep ahead of market fluctuations in order to stabilize container prices, by partnering with our supplier’s to lock down material based on current order totals and forecast of future orders and try to secure our steel at the lowest prices possible.

 

Steel prices for Hot Rolled steel are at lows that haven’t been seen since early 2009.  Forecast for the future are looking to trend upwards slightly thru the 1st qtr. of 2016.

 

So this means we will working very closely with our suppliers to stay ahead of market changes and order volumes and it may also be a good time for anyone that purchases or uses equipment made of steel to look at repairing or even replacing aging equipment while steel prices are down.  

Introduction

TFI has decided to implement a blog to help inform others about the process, changes and what to look for when purchasing Roll-off, Hook-lift & other products for the Waste Industries.

 

First we would like to introduce you to and provide you some background on our staff who will be posting blogs.

Dean Madasz Chief Operating Office of Thompson Fab. Inc.

I have been employed with TFI for 20 years. Hired in 1995 as a fabricator/welder in the shop, learning the process of fabricating Roll-offs & Hook-lift containers.  I started selling containers part time in 1998 while still working in the shop. In 1999 I began selling containers full time, becoming VP of Sales in 2001 & was promoted to COO in 2010. Pulling double duties of overseeing the daily operations of the company while still engaging with customers in the selling process.

In the 17 + years I spent selling TFI containers it has allowed me to work with customers to find out what works best for them in the field. I have helped to customize various containers to best fit their needs and taking feedback from our customers to help TFI improve our products. Venturing into new industries such as Oil & Natural Gas drilling has brought new product lines to TFI, throughout the process I have helped design products that fit the customer’s needs and are user friendly that can be built efficiently and cost effectively.

I will post articles sharing the knowledge I gained over the years to help others in their decision making process when it comes to purchasing new Roll-off & Hook-lift containers, as well as giving insight on many other products for the waste industry.

 

Ed Nicastro   Sale Representative of Thompson Fab. Inc.

Ed graduated from Clarion University in 2002, with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. He has been employed with TFI for just over 3 years, hired in December of 2011 to handle inside sales.

Although Ed had prior sales experience he was new to the container business. He spent his first 3 months working all positions in the shop from the acceptance of raw materials, to the assembly of the containers, to loading the final product for delivery. Being hands on in the shop was a great learning experience, essential in assuring high quality customer service by being knowledgeable on the products for our customers.

Fielding the majority of the sales calls now and having client’s in diverse industries, Ed will be able to bring up to date information to our blog page including some of the most commonly asked questions and answers that he receives on a daily basis, and also be able to give in site on what current markets are doing .    

 

 

 

Mark DeSabato Jr.  Draftsman of Thompson Fab. Inc.

Mark graduated from Trumbull County Career & Technical Center with an Associate’s Degree in CADD Engineering in 2008. Mark has been employed with TFI for 3 years, Hired in March of 2012 to handle the computer CAD programs for all container and specialty tanks, creating models to ensure efficiency when the orders are assembled in the shop.

Mark also uses his computer knowledge to assist the (in-house) IT support. He is also part of our marketing team, in charge of designing and launching our computer and magazine design advertisements, as well as updating our web and social media sites with content and photos. He will inform us on all tech and design news.