If innovation was a holiday, it’d naturally be New Year’s. The introduction of new things and methods certainly dovetails with the time of year when people make new resolutions, from personal improvements to positive professional changes. Metcam believes that ushering in a new business year calls for that fresh, forward-looking approach open to new horizons, open to innovation.

“A big part of our recent series of workshops and retreats for our executive team was to create a training plan for what we call the frontline leaders, which will happen in 2020,” Metcam President Bruce Hagenau told Supply Chain Now Radio’s Scott Luton and Greg White. “It’s so that there’s even more continuous improvement happening out there [on the shop floor]… I’m excited about that.”

Kaizen or continuous improvement is the guiding principle and innovation is the tool. New automatic scanning and monitoring systems in Metcam’s fabrication and paint line departments helped the company achieve a 42 ppm (parts per million) rejection rate on a recent customer report. Metcam’s panel bender, which reduced a 300-unit job from two days and three operators to 16 hours or less, has had zero parts rejected or scrapped in the last 13-plus months.

“For us, automation is the only way to go,” Metcam Vice President Jerry Ward told Fab Shop Magazine. “We’re constantly working to sequence our jobs and equipment. As a rule, we won’t buy a new piece of equipment unless it has some type of material handling or other type of automation… We’re so far ahead of schedule that I’m thinking about shortening our quoted lead times.”

A precision sheet-metal fabricator with fiber lasers, turret punches, robotic press brakes, panel benders, auto-change tools and welding robots, along with more than its fair share of industry accolades, could be excused for resting on its laurels. Not the 2018 Georgia Manufacturer of the Year though. Kaizen calls for continuous improvement, which includes embracing innovation. It means every day is New Year’s Day.