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Risk Mitigation

Identify, Plan, Prevent

Risk Mitigation:

Risk Mitigation is one of the most important aspects of the steel fabrication process and is also arguably one of the most undervalued. This encompasses not only post-production quality checks of parts, but also evaluations of the fabrication process from project planning to operator improvement and accountability. From developing staff to optimising hiring practices and improving the efficiency of operations, risk mitigation touches every nook and cranny of manufacturing. No fabricator, regardless of size, can operate effectively without it.

Every day we notice risk, we have 1200 fabricators that we visit quire regularly and risks just jump out at you, these range from; Frank is the only one that can operate the Saw & Drill. So if Frank is not in on Monday, Yea…. You know the rest. Or James prices all the work and did the valuations, that’s his computer there but he left last Friday and not on good terms. Where do I stand? In a hole would be the answer. Other risks include; backing up of the computer, it may not get robbed but could just crash, and… well you answer that one. Risk is everywhere and you will never eliminate it all but we will help you put control measures in place.

Development of Managers & Employees:

The most important risk mitigation tool is the development of quality staff. This begins with management and moves quickly to the operators themselves. Acquiring the knowledge and the proven tools of manufacturing is a never-ending process for everyone involved. Management’s goals and desires are ultimately pushed to the supervisors. The operators on the floor require three things: (a) Knowledge, (b) Tools/Machinery, & (c) Authority.

Through consistent improvement in hiring practices, manufacturer’s can give operators the development they need to work autonomously and with complete ownership of their craft. Risk management is as much about the development of personnel as it is the process. Employees accept responsibility but should receive recognition for their achievement. This mentality builds quality teams.

Monitoring Progress:

One of the biggest challenges for any steel fabricator is taking data gathered of the manufacturing process and communicating it to the floor. Data can inform efficiency and identify problem areas if they exist. Risk management must make sense of the data in order to relay the right messaging. Consistently held quality control meetings are a must for any fabricator to allow for necessary optimisation.

Top problem areas should be regularly identified and, if conducted properly by risk management, should be resolved promptly. Departments are held accountable for their own performance, but healthy communication between manufacturing departments and management help zero-in where the real issues reside.

Mitigating Risk in Welding:

If you sign a contract for any form of steel fabrication, a welding review is necessary, this does not need to be complex. The level of individual welder knowledge and skill required to consistently execute complex welds makes risk management all the more significant. Typically, with services such as thermal cutting and machining, tolerances and finishes can be more-or-less predicted with limited variance. Welds are another story. Even robotic welding requires skilled handling to execute a specific weld. To the untrained eye, what appears to be a cosmetically appealing weld might, in fact, be functionally unsound.


The risk of potential human error places more emphasis on training individual employees to constantly improve their processes and knowledge of the skillset. Certified welders present a great opportunity for steel fabricators to mitigate risk through individual welder training. Giving manufacturers the flexibility to design customised welds for specific clients or parts.

Cohesiveness between Fabricators, Welders & Departments:

The handoff of tasks between departments is among the most difficult tasks for a multi-service metal fabricator. Through a proper planning of workflows, much of the risk associated with inter-department/various operatives work can be mitigated. Still, with any new product introductions, there will be some initial challenges ensuring parts are moved and executed correctly among various departments/operatives.

Project maps help manufacturing departments/operatives understand how a project will move and where a part is in the process at any given time. As more workflows and planning for new product instructions occur.

Personnel & Process Create Quality:

The quality of personnel, the efficiency of the process and the safety of the process are the most pressing tasks of risk mitigation. Quality parts are only made through well-developed employees and management that communicate effectively to perpetually optimise themselves to become better manufacturers. Mediating optimization is risk management, a key component for the success of custom steel fabrication. Risk is everywhere, from Frank on the Saw & Drill line to James the QS but it does not stop there. There is a risk in who locks up in the evening, I thought Paul did it or they never took the netting with them, will we go back for it or burst on? Risk is everywhere.

At The Irish Association of Steel Fabricators, we can mitigate the risk, put procedures, policies and control measures in place. Take what’s in your head (as the boss) and spread the responsibility. We have the experience and we see who is doing it correctly out there.


For further information, contact Pat Enright: +353 57 86 70629

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