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Shop Talk with Steve
You come in on Monday morning with a plan of attack for the week, but your hopes quickly dissipate when the saw breaks down, three workers are out sick and you discover the materials that were not delivered Friday will not show up today as well. It is days like these that make you want to be back under the hood laying rod, problems of the world forgotten until break time.

How do you deal with all of this? One problem at a time. Prioritize your needs. Look at the bright side. Missing employees could be a good thing if you are short on materials and equipment needs to be repaired. But what is it that is not being considered here?

The real problem that needs to be resolved is to prevent these delays from interrupting the fabrication schedule. Many shop managers do not know how to prevent scheduling problems, but they do know they will be blamed for scheduling delays in job meetings.

The ability to forecast your projects is what makes a successful manager. Forecasting is a talent that can and should be learned early on in the shop manager's career. But how?

First, pay attention to completion requirements for each job. Notify the office of potential delivery impacts as problems arise, even if you are unsure as to the full impact of the delay. While the office deals with adjusting fabrication schedules through negotiations, you might add workers to projects with the shortest schedules to speed them up.

Review the completion dates for each job. Work the schedules backwards to where you are today. If project completion requires it, and overtime is necessary, make a best guess as to how many hours will be required and the calendar days that his time will need to be executed. Notify the office of what must be done to maintain their schedule, and gain approval prior to executing your plan.
Forecasting is learned through trial and error over time. Good managers pick up on what works and what does not rather quickly. It was a combination of abilities that got you the job you have. It is utilizing this talent that helps you to keep your job and makes you a better shop manager.

When we have interruptions to the fabrication schedule, how do we transfer that impact into the project schedule in a way that is realistic?

For example, assuming the project was delayed three working days and you had three workers on the project, this can be calculated by the following; 3 working days x 7.5 hours per day x 3 workers. The result then represents the lost time as a total of 67.5 labor hours.

The above calculation is for one project, if more than one job is to be impacted, a time loss calculation will need to be performed for each one.

After the total lost labor hours have been calculated and the remaining calendar days for completion has been established, you can then begin to explore opportunities for resolution.
Do not forget to consider the time required for coating applications and product cure that you will need to allow for prior to shipping.

Resolution opportunities will be discussed in the February issue of The Fabricator's Resource!
Calculating delay in fabrication schedules
Forecasting to keep your projects on track!
Intellectuals solve problems, geniuses prevent them.

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-English Proverb
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