The importance of flexibility in manufacturingSeptember 10, 2015 REDWIRE is news you can use from leading suppliers. Powered by FRASERS.
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Flexibility is one quality that has been key to the success of Alps Welding. The Woodbridge, Ont.-based custom metal fabricator has experience serving a variety of industries, such as petrochemical, mining, pharmaceutical, water treatment and power generation. However, the company hasn’t always had such a diverse customer base.
The need for a wider focus
When Alps Welding was established in 1974, the business primarily catered to chemical companies in and around the GTA. Over the years, as many Canadian refineries and chemical plants shut down or relocated, it expanded to serve the petrochemical industry across North America.
The company enjoyed many successful years fabricating a variety of vessels and equipment for the oil and gas industry. But in 2008, when oil prices fell sharply, the president of Alps Welding, Dennis Dussin, realized the family business had to become more flexible.
Be prepared for market changes
At the Manufacturing Canada 2014 conference, Dussin made a presentation highlighting the importance of agility in manufacturing. He identified several ways companies can ensure they are ready to handle changing market conditions:
- Avoid making large investments in equipment that reduces flexibility, such as equipment that is only suited to industry-specific or very specialized applications.
- Partner with suppliers who have complementary capacities, such as suppliers who have invested in areas that fall outside the company’s core competency.
- Develop a flexible workforce by cross-training employees in different skills.
- Ensure financial flexibility to sustain market changes and invest in new opportunities as they arise.
- Serve a diverse customer base so that a bust in any given market doesn’t affect all customers.
Thanks to this flexibility, Alps Welding not only weathered the 2008 oil bust, but the company has thrived since. It has gained extensive experience in a variety of markets, fabricating equipment such as heat exchangers, piping systems and modular plants.
More recently, as development of the Alberta oil sands ramped up, the company was ready to seize the opportunity. In a Maclean’s article last year, Alps Welding was featured as a company that has been particularly successful tapping into the oil industry in Western Canada.
Alps Welding encourages customers to learn more about its flexible services: “We invite you to review our organization and procedures.”