Smart Solutions

Managing Communication, Keeping Projects On Track

Modern fabrication shop workers Chris McAfee (left) and Will Lewis rely on MSUITE technology to ensure smooth, transparent communication between the fab shop floor and workers in the field, designers, engineers, project managers, and customers.

Miscommunication and excessive administrative efforts led Modern to adopt MSUITE technology to manage their fabrication operations in unison with other departments. “MSUITE helps prioritize the work for our shop managers to make sure we’re on the right track,” said Jim Tedrow, piping operations leader.

Managing Moving Parts

Modern, a mechanical contractor in the Eastern Iowa market and beyond for over 80 years, has had tremendous growth and built a positive culture with loyal employees who stay with Modern for decades. “I have been with Modern for 23 years and seen its amazing growth firsthand,” said Tedrow. “We’ve moved into three different shops, beginning at a small shop of 27,000 square feet to currently a 90,000 square-foot building with office space and a fabrication floor for piping, plumbing, and sheet metal. Now, that’s grown, and we’re looking at another expansion.”

The high volume of work, combined with shifting priorities, documentation requirements, and staffing and schedule changes, all make production very complex; as a result, in a traditional (highly manual) working environment, communication is either nonexistent or delayed. “MSUITE fills this gap and allows stakeholders to update data that automatically resets priorities and indicates delays or schedule changes. In addition, with all of those moving parts impacting production and deliveries, MSUITE enables real-time fabrication visibility on more substantial projects,” said Tedrow.

“Quality control and quality assurance are always challenges in any business. MSUITE improves quality assurance and quality control through automating digital documentation and tracking, eliminating things we used to do manually,” said Tedrow.

Tracking Changes

MSUITE provides critical visibility and communications between the fabrication shop and workers in the field, designers, engineers, project managers, and customers. The technology offers a single-source platform for collaboration, production, and delivery across multiple stakeholders involved in ensuring project success. For example, staff can update notes, place things on hold, and update due dates, helping the fabrication shop operate in sync with other departments at a high level and keeping everyone on the same page. Tedrow added, “Having complete visibility and tracking work in progress enables us to use metrics for improving performance.”

Read MSUITE’s tips for improving fabrication shop operations:

MSUITE offers several features that help Modern digitize its operation:

  • The Digital Fab Shop means a paperless job floor, where the drawings on the floor are always the most current version. No more losing drawings or building off the wrong document.
  • Weld Log Tracking digitally captures the welder identification, welding procedures, heat numbers, inspector, quality assurance process, and quality assurance results for reporting and administration.
  • Digital tracking makes nondestructive evaluations more manageable; because X-ray testing, welder identifications and numbers, and other data are mapped and captured, generating reports is easy, and manual entry is eliminated.
  • Automatic closeout documentation generates multiple documents, such as a drawing status report, weld tracking, bill of lading, and final drawing markups.

“Creating a paperless job floor, improving quality control, closeout documentation, and Weld Log Tracking are value-added benefits of the real-time productivity gained through enhanced visibility and eliminating communication gaps in one platform—making MSUITE a game-changer for Modern,” said Tedrow.

“The selling point to our team for adopting technology is that it’s hard to estimate the benefits of offsite fabrication construction. Being able to leverage data in MSUITE and provide it to the design and estimating departments enables Modern to win more business,” Tedrow explained.

Improving Worker Performance

MSUITE tracks employee productivity automatically and helps provide Modern with actionable data to help improve employee performance, no matter the level. “Historically, this was a ‘gut’ observation or [involved] manually adding stats to spreadsheets, but these types of tasks are eliminated from managing and helping staff improve performance,” said Tedrow.

The MSUITE team trained Modern staff onsite, and the technology has evolved over the years. “The customer support team is very effective; their support desk is second to none, and they’re speedy to respond. … The key to adoption is leadership communication, adaptability, and explaining how MSUITE improves employee and organization performance. With any technology adoption effort, there’s a cultural and behavioral change.”

Real-Time Transparency

With MSUITE, control and product accuracy processes run as high as 95 to 98 percent, translating to a 2-percent failure rate on parts coming out of the fabrication shop. “If we’re doing a large industrial job, MSUITE offers ‘full disclosure’ of what our fab shop is doing and what we’re working on at any stage,” said Tedrow.

“MSUITE enables notifications to stakeholders, and it’s super easy and keeps all the messages and data in one platform and automatically connected to the production schedule. Archaic data silos (email in-box, spreadsheets, paper, phone calls, product changes, etc.) are nearly eliminated.  Important tasks, messages, drawing notes, deadlines, change requests, and schedule changes that sometimes fall through the cracks are averted because everyone is on the same page with real-time data in MSUITE,” said, Tedrow.

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