Fabricator’s POV
Jacks of all trades
Cross-training can equip employees with the necessary tools for individual—and shop—success

ehind every great custom fabricator is an even better training program set in motion by the senior fabricators and shop managers. Ci Metal Fabrication, a custom industrial metal fabrication shop based in Meridian, Mississippi, has long relied on detailed training and education programs within its shop.

Ci Metal Fabrication uses talented and experienced mentors, averaging more than 30 years of industry experience in presswork, power forming, welding, cutting and shearing, to usher in the next generation of metalworkers.

Training in custom fabrication is no small task and could easily go awry. With the task of planning, implementing and facilitating education material, senior craftsmen are often seen as the backbone of companies. It would be a shame to let these the high-level employees keep their knowledge and expertise bottled up. This is why Ci Metal implemented a training program that requires experienced senior welders to pass down their knowledge. In return, beginning welders, who have just stepped out of the classroom, can trade their education with the senior welder, who has not set foot in a classroom in decades. Fitters and machine operators at Ci Metal follow the same path. When a company has different levels of employees working together to achieve a common goal, it will create a well-rounded, team-oriented community.

The foundation to success
Cross-training is at the forefront of Ci Metal’s extensive training program. When applying for a position at Ci Metal, all potential fabricators are told during the interview that the job will involve extensive cross-training—beyond the traditional job description. It is common for fabrication shops to employ single specialty workers as opposed to more well-rounded “jack-of-all-trades” employees. Ci Metal takes an aggressive training stand to encourage team members to know the various components of the industry and become more adept at problem solving across an entire project. Some other shops silo their employees where a welder only welds, a painter only paints and a fitter only fits. Ci Metal not only allows but also requires employees to learn the various tasks and procedures across the shop to make each team member more flexible.
Ci Metal Fabrication’s highly skilled workers can meet precise specifications in presswork, power forming, welding, cutting and shearing.
Ci Metal Fabrication’s highly skilled workers can meet precise specifications in presswork, power forming, welding, cutting and shearing.
Cross-training allows each employee to move from one station to another based on the needs of the project and shop. A team member may be involved in each procedure from the beginning through the end of the project. If a shop is limited on the number of dedicated welders, it may struggle to get the project done on time. Alternatively, Ci Metal can move employees around and allocate members from another job to the welding project. This ensures a proper and timely completion of the project and can be the difference between failure and success. Cross-training is not only beneficial for the company but also for the employees themselves.

An employee who is cross-trained and can multitask is increasingly more experienced and valuable to the company. Ultimately, the employee becomes more engaged and tends to have a higher efficiency and success rate. In the manufacturing industry, having an engaged workforce leads to a higher success rate by delivering high productivity and low accident rates. Cross-training also helps employees have more variety in their work. It can prevent tasks from becoming monotonous by allowing these employees to move from one task to another when necessary and preferred.

The importance of safety
Every new addition to the team is required to attend and complete a full-day certification of Ci Metal’s Standard Orientation Program (STOP). STOP is detailed training on both the company’s policies and safe-work procedures. All employees must complete the program during their onboarding process. Afterward, they continue to receive updated safety training throughout their tenure with the company.

Commitment to safety is more than just a statement for Ci Metal. It is a way of conducting business and a benchmark for baseline success. A proper safety program is designed to adapt to the various products and equipment used within the shop and industry. A safety training program coupled with a cross-training program is the perfect combination. Both work with each other and fill in the gaps, creating a well-rounded employee and fabrication shop.

It is imperative to equip employees with every necessary tool to be the best at their craft. When provided an adequate cross-training program, team members are ready to tackle the next project with precision and proper safety. This can take any custom fabrication shop to the next level.

Steve Guisgond (sguisgond@cimetalfab.com) is the general manager of Ci Metal Fabrication. Located in Meridian, Mississippi, Ci Metal Fabrication (www.cimetalfab.com) is a nationally recognized leader in custom industrial metal fabrication. With 50 years in business, Ci Metal Fabrication has extensive experience working with the power generation, pulp and paper, chemical, and automotive industries. Ci Metal Fabrication is a subsidiary of MHS Legacy Group a St. Louis-based holding company with roots dating back to 1895.