FABTECH Chicago 2021, Our Notes on the State of Shop Floor Management

Fabtech Logo in BlackAs the premier event for the metal fabricating industry, FABTECH is where the industry comes together. This year’s event in Chicago marked a return to this as an in-person event. While not quite the attendance of year’s past, it was clear that trade shows are back, and business is getting done.

ISE | PaperLess had a number of great conversations at FABTECH. After four days at the show, we came away with in-depth insights about what the manufacturing industry is encountering.

Here are a few of the things we noticed:


Scrap was a front-of-mind topic for many during the show, as well as finding ways to decrease production waste. While throughput is one thing, avoiding reworks and overall scrap loads is equally important. Scrap is any discarded material leaving your facility that was not able to be productively used. Similarly, reworks are costly as they require additional man hours, machine time, and more. At the conference we noticed the greatest interest from supply chain engineers, as well as people within business development regarding our ability to track various aspects of the production process to reduce scrap production.


Finding & keeping qualified people for critical positions was another prominent concern on many show goer’s minds. Firms are struggling to return to previous capacities and finding the workforce for it is a large part of that struggle. Others are struggling to find workers needed to drive the proposed expansion. From those we talked to, more accurate labor tracking would be a considerable step in getting more out of the employees they have.  This ability could reduce the need to hire more workers.


In many cases, the attendees we talked to were frustrated by tasks still monitored and controlled by way of paper-based processes. Managers and engineers we spoke with were feeling the effects of the limitations or errors stemming from moving data with handwritten and physically routed paperwork. At least 20% of the people we talked to mention this concern specifically. We were happy to report these issues can easily be remedied with a modern MES software implementation.

While these are not necessarily new problems, they were the ones encountered most at FABTECH. A proper modern MES can help alleviate or eliminate these concerns, giving firms the insight and control needed to effectively manage shop floor operations.


Paper-Less has been helping fabricators and manufacturers succeed for nearly 30 years with intuitive and efficient manufacturing systems. Talk to one of our representatives today and find out how the right MES implementation may be just what the firm needs to take back control and be competitive.


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