HOW IS PRODUCTION ORGANIZED?
To understand the fundamental differences between garage production and a full-fledged enterprise specializing in the production of thin sheet metal products, it is worth examining the organization of technological processes in both cases. It is reasonable to start the analysis with the factory scheme, which is more complex and detailed, but deviations from it are less common.
FACTORY FOR METAL PRODUCT MANUFACTURING
Most of the enterprises producing such products in Ukraine operate based on previously built factories. Over time, the profitability of these factories has decreased, and only reprofiling (sometimes with a change of ownership) has allowed them to survive, avoiding bankruptcy and complete shutdown.
With the increasing demand for products based on thin sheet metal, such factories:
- Either construct new production facilities from scratch.
- Or modernize existing facilities (fortunately, there are plenty of vacant workshops, and with sufficient investment, they can be quickly adapted to new technological processes).
The structure of these enterprises can vary, but it is often quite complex. Large enterprises often have their own design departments, which not only optimize production but also develop new products for the market. Additionally, the presence of a design department indirectly affects the quality of the produced items since their operational characteristics are based on more accurate calculations.
Another important aspect is the division of technological processes and the specialization of personnel:
- Warehouse employees are responsible for the storage of raw materials and finished products. Well-organized warehouse logistics minimizes production lead times even when the enterprise is fully loaded, and the importance of lead times for customers will be discussed in a separate section. Proper storage also reduces the likelihood of defects at all stages of work.
- The production of blanks and the final shaping of products are often carried out in different areas. Separation of technological processes with intermediate quality and size control allows minimizing labor costs in production and further reducing the percentage of defects by discarding damaged blanks.
- Another important aspect is the automation of most processes and the specialization of operators – the fewer operations the worker needs to control, and the lower the role of the human factor, the better the final product will be.
- Finally, an independent quality control service is the main barrier to defective products reaching the consumer. If the quality of manufacturing is checked by an independent employee who is interested in detecting any deviations from the standard, the likelihood of defective products being shipped to the finished product warehouse is minimized.
Thus, the key points will be:
- Division of technological processes.
- Specialization of personnel.
- Automation of work processes.
- Independent and multi-level quality control.
For comparison, let’s analyze how craft production of metal products is organized.
CRAFT PRODUCTION OF FENCES OR FACADE PANELS
The ease of working with thin sheet metal has led to the emergence of small workshops equipped with basic machines for manual or semi-automatic cutting/bending. Initially, these machines were intended for producing parts for their own use or for manufacturing small batches of components. However, in Ukraine, they are increasingly being used for the mass production of simple and cost-effective ceiling panels, facade cassettes, and slats for metal fences.
Typical craft production is organized either in a small renovated workshop or in a complex of several garages. Sometimes, the products are manufactured right on the suburban plot, and in some cases, the equipment is simply placed under makeshift shelters. The standard organization of such production includes:
- A limited product range, often one or two models. Changing the single machine for cutting or bending is difficult and time-consuming.
- Raw materials are purchased in large quantities and stored directly in the production area.
- Warehouse stocks are practically non-existent since small craft workshops lack the necessary funds and available equipped space to maintain them.
The production of blanks is carried out by the master themselves or by unskilled workers. In the former case, the labor costs for producing a single part increase, while in the latter, the quality decreases (the motivation of low-paid unskilled workers is extremely low, and there is little emphasis on production culture).
However, the critical aspects are the high proportion of manual labor in production (and hence the increased role of the human factor) and the lack of independent quality control. Compliance with project dimensions and specifications is often verified by the master who produces the part themselves, and for obvious reasons, defective products reach the consumer much more frequently.
In summary, craft productions are characterized by:
- Low qualification of some personnel.
- A relatively low level of specialization.
- Limited automation of production.
- Often, a formal quality control process.
All of these factors lead to a range of problems, which we will analyze in detail in the following sections.
The first problem that product customers in “garage” companies face is the inconsistent quality of the products. The list of problems for most of these companies is quite typical:
- Defects caused by the initially low quality of raw materials (90% of companies work with cheap Chinese metal, allowing them to compete based on price).
- Violations of dimensions.
- Deviations in the geometry of parts.
- Traces of corrosion at places where the integrity of the polymer coating is compromised.
- Different shades of parts for the same structure (the reason is simple – using metal from different batches, which can have different colors even with identical labeling).
Quality control is a crucial component of the production process that directly impacts the reputation and success of any manufacturer. Independent quality control conducted by specialized departments or external agencies is the key to an objective assessment of the product before it reaches the market. This not only helps identify and rectify potential defects before the product reaches consumers but also demonstrates the company’s commitment to high standards, increasing customer trust and strengthening the brand. Adequate quality control can also reduce long-term costs by preventing the production and delivery of defective goods.
THE ECONOMIC ASPECT OF PRODUCTION
The economic aspect of production is determined by the costs and the quality of the products, which directly affect pricing. Garage productions often offer lower prices, but they may struggle to guarantee consistent quality due to equipment limitations and control processes. In addition, large manufacturing enterprises invest significant resources in equipment, quality materials, and certification processes, which ensure higher quality but also increase the cost of their products. These expenses are reflected in prices, making products from large enterprises more expensive but also more reliable in terms of quality.