Why Alpha has all the skills end-to-end.
One thing that sets Alpha Manufacturing apart in our market place is our ability to offer the entire sheet metal fabrication service in house. This means we can supply a complete end-to end, turnkey solution for our customers. The first stage of this solution is always design and that’s my department. I work on both new part design, and improvements of existing parts.
When a new product comes to Alpha Manufacturing, it’s assessed by our NPI (New Product Introduction) team. They will determine whether it’s feasible for it to be manufactured by us, exactly what is required in terms of Design and which processes will be needed to produce it.
At this stage, an APQP (Advanced Product Quality Planning) meeting takes place between Design, NPI, Quality, Production and Sales. The aim is to define exactly what is required of each department in order to produce the particular part.
The Design team is responsible for any redesign work, creating drawings, prototyping and creating any JIGS or fixtures needed for any of the manufacturing processes. Once any new part or product is manufactured it is first checked by the Quality team, who will perform an ISIR (Initial Sample Inspection Report) to ensure all dimensions and specifications are correct and that overall, the part is correct for further manufacture.
Our Design team also constantly looks for opportunities to implement Design for Manufacture principles in all new and existing parts, which makes production more efficient and cost effective. Sometimes, there’s a sudden requirement which needs urgent input from the Design team.
One particular example was a welded assembly which required a fixture to be designed and manufactured but the customer required the part on a quick turnaround. The solution was to incorporate slots and tags into the design, allowing the parts to self-locate, negating the need for a fixture and speeding up production.
After approval from the customer, I re-designed the part and programmed the parts for the Laser Operative. Once Laser-Cut, the parts were folded and then welded to the new drawing before being polished.
Once complete, I managed the part through packing and despatch ready for delivery to the customer. This is a simple example of how Alpha Manufacturing are able to offer the entire sheet metal fabrication service from design to delivery. Even in short timescales, we can be flexible enough to respond with innovative design solutions.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Gemma Smith recently completed her Manufacturing & Production Engineering Degree at Derby University after 5 years as a Higher Apprentice with Alpha Manufacturing. She is now a key member of the Design Team, working as a Production Engineer responsible primarily for design work for Alpha Manufacturing’s stainless-steel department.