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Manufacturing controls required for steel fabrication

When a company is involved in the manufacturing of steel-fabricated products, there are a lot of general manufacturing controls that should be adhered to. These are in order to comply with the requirements for CE marking of finished goods or ISO 9001 level quality controls.

This article provides a brief outline of these manufacturing control systems and how best to implement them for medium-sized steel fabrication companies. These controls may seem daunting to implement, but they can be done in such a way as to improve overall manufacturing efficiency.

1- Design Review

Once a steel fabrication sales order is received, the first step is to undertake a thorough design review before commencing manufacturing. This is typically done by completing a design review checklist to ensure all the required information has been received.

The first thing to ascertain is: who is responsible for the design of the product. If you are doing contract manufacturing, then generally the design specification should be supplied by the customer. If you are manufacturing a product that the company has designed themselves, then it will be up to the designer to provide the full specification required for manufacturing. This will include detailed drawings of the product or parts to be manufactured, showing the grade of steel to be used in the steel fabrication, critical dimensions, weld specs, tolerances and the required finish.

For structural steel fabrication, the design engineer must also have carried out a full structural analysis of the product and have a record of the design calculations on file. The designer must review any applicable CE standards for the product and ensure that it is designed to match the standard required. Once you have completed the design review, it should be sent to the customer for sign-off, before any steel fabrication commences.

2 – Manufacturing Instructions

Once the design requirements have been finalised, the process by which the product will be manufactured must be planned out to the exact requirements of the job. This is typically done by creating a ‘job card’ or ‘job pack’ with the following information:

  • Job reference number – This should be a name or number that you give the job yourself, rather than one given by the customer
  • Customer name
  • Description and quantity of product to be manufactured
  • Drawing reference number aManufacturing controls required for steel fabricationnd copy of detailed, dimensional drawings

Steel grades required – For any Steel Fabrication, it’s vital to have complete information on the raw materials required for the job. This includes the grade of the material required and the location where these materials are stored. If the materials are not in stock they must be ordered. All raw materials should come with certification or evidence of CE marking from the manufacturer. The grade and purchase order number should be marked on the material when it is stored. Raw material batch numbers or purchase orders from the material used, should then be listed by the operators on the job card, in order to comply with material traceability. These requirements will prove that the correct material grade was supplied and used for the job.

Manufacturing Procedures – This details all the procedures that will be used in the manufacturing process eg: cutting, welding, assembly. These should be listed on the job card in the order they will be performed. The job card should contain blank boxes for the operators to fill in the start time, finish time and to sign their name upon completion.

For welding processes, details of the particular welding procedure and weld size required. These should be listed along with details of dimensional checks and inspections required for each process.

3 – Production Control

Once the steel fabrication job is ready to start, the production/quality manager should speak directly to the operators to clarify the manufacturing requirements. As each process is completed, it should be signed off by the operator, thus the job card moves along with the job, from process to process. This will allow full manufacturing traceability once the job is complete.

By following the processes in this guide, it allows you to comply with the requirements for manufacturing traceability. Should there be any defective or non-conforming parts highlighted by the operators during inspection, these parts should be brought to a designated non-conformance area and the production/quality manager should be notified of the issue so this can be reviewed. This helps management to understand what the problem is and to take action to ensure that the non-conformance does not happen again. This also helps to drive continuous improvement of the manufacturing processes. Once all manufacturing processes are complete, the production/quality manager must do a final review and sign off on the job to ensure the product complies with all steel fabrication manufacturing requirements.

While these manufacturing controls can take some time to implement initially, they generally result in increased efficiency and better quality of finished goods. This allows you to scale up manufacturing, safe in the knowledge that the correct procedures are all in place. There are multiple templates available online that can be modified to suit the requirements of the manufacturer.

This short guide is designed to provide an insight into the manufacturing requirements for steel Fabrication. We do not take into account any additional ISO requirements for the general management of company objectives, staff training, machinery or purchasing of goods. However, implementing these guidelines is is an excellent starting point.

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