MCAA has once again raised the bar with the 2023 Fabrication Conference. Drawing an audience of more than 330 attendees, this year’s conference put a spotlight on the important role that fabrication plays. While most attendees were familiar with the gains companies receive like productivity, scheduling flexibility, coordination and safety, additional considerations were shared on how to optimize fabrication in ways that impact the entire organization. These methods were highlighted across tours of four Seattle-based member companies.
As the primary host, UMC, Inc. showcased their world-class plumbing and piping facility. Welcoming over 200 attendees, UMC provided an in-depth look into their best in class techniques, modern equipment, and efficient workflows, illustrating why they are industry leaders.
Their tour demonstrated how they order, inventory, store, process, build and ship all of their fabrication for plumbing and piping. UMC demonstrated their material flow, as well as the digital workflow that coordinates and organizes information at each computer workstation.
With a heavy investment in automated material handling, welding machinery and equipment, Shinn Mechanical invited participants into their sprinkler fabrication shop. Attendees had the opportunity to understand how process improvements impact material flow and manufacturing, as well as see some unique innovations like articulating weld booms.
Contractors that are on the early part of the fabrication journey were able to see how SJS Mechanical has taken their first steps into fabrication. Using strategic equipment purchases and smart organization decisions, their facility tour illustrated the steps for plumbing contractors need to take in the initial stages.
Focusing only on their sheet metal fabrication, MacDonald Miller offered guests a comprehensive view into their cutting-edge sheet metal fabrication setup. The tour further detailed MacDonald Miller’s sophisticated KPI (key performance indicator) dashboards, which provide actionable insights for process optimization, and gave attendees a firsthand look at their state-of-the-art material handling techniques.
Between the tours, attendees were able to mix in a combination of education and exhibits over three days. With over 20 sessions led by a diverse group of 30 industry experts, the conference offered an expanded education program specific to fabrication and offsite construction.
Furthermore, fostering industry collaboration was a key theme. Esteemed representatives from the United Association (UA), Pipe Fabrication Institute (PFI), National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), and Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors’ National Association (SMACNA) took the stage, delivering enlightening presentations that blended diverse industry perspectives, offering attendees a 360-degree view of the evolving construction fabrication landscape.
While the conference format will not be as repeatable from year-to-year as it depends on the host city, plans are already underway for the 2024 conference to carry forward some of the new themes. Next year’s conference will take place in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and include tours hosted primarily by JM Brennan and include MILWAUKEE TOOL’s new manufacturing plant. Stay tuned for more details.