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Metal Fabricating
Friday | 30 January, 2009 | 9:11 am

Weld and learn

Milwaukee Boiler International emphasizes training on the shop floor

By Lisa Rummler

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Milwaukee Boiler International emphasizes training on the shop floor

January 2009 -Laozi made good point when he stressed the importance of teaching a man to fish rather than just giving him a fish to eat. In the 21st century, Milwaukee Boiler International, Milwaukee, adheres to the same principle, ensuring its employees receive quality, well-rounded training.

The metal fabrication job shop, which has been in business since 1890, burns, forms, rolls and welds. Each employee has skills in at least two of those areas, says James Eaton, vice president of operations.

"We move them around so that they can learn more than one job," he says. "For instance, my burners can also roll a little bit, and as time permits, we get them more on the rollers. Also, the rollers can burn, and the welders can burn. It's something to expand their horizons--if Milwaukee Boiler isn't here tomorrow, these guys will all be very marketable."

This training takes place in-house, led by three employees who have been with Milwaukee Boiler since 2003, and the continuous learning opportunities have helped reduce turnover at the company.

"It's hard to get experienced people, so I look for guys who are self-motivated and want to learn, and we train them," he says. "In the five years I've been here, we started with a large turnover of people, and now our workforce is stabilized. And the fact that we've trained them, and will continue to train them, gives them something to look forward to."

Milwaukee Boiler, which is certified by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, has about 30 employees. Eaton says having a hand in the way they acquire new skills indirectly benefits the company's bottom line.

"We've got some experienced, knowledgeable employees, and they do things the way we want them done," he says. "We build in the quality that's required, which enables us to ship our products more on time."

Taking care of business
Milwaukee Boiler's customers run the gamut, as does the range of jobs the company does. Eaton says some customers supply the material with which the welders, rollers and burners work, but sometimes Milwaukee Boiler provides the metal, in addition to the labor.

The importance the company places on training stems from this variety of customers and capabilities, and it's helped shape what Milwaukee Boiler's employees learn.

"Because of the type of business we're in, we have to have the ability to move our people where we need them to where the workload is at the time," says Eaton.

Additionally, not being locked into one industry and being able to do different things has helped Milwaukee Boiler maintain a steady work outlook, even in today's economy--Eaton says the company hasn't seen any falloff in its business.

Milwaukee Boiler works with different material grades, including stainless, carbon and high-strength carbon steel, as well as some aluminum. The most common grades are A516, 70, A36, A572 and AR400.

The company's largest current customers are in the mining industry, and it does a lot of work for power plants, especially kilns and kiln sections that go into concrete or other applications.

In regard to equipment, Milwaukee Boiler has a series of different-sized rolls, as well as a 400-ton press brake. It can roll pieces up to 14 ft. long and up to 8 in. thick, in various diameters and material grades. It also hot and cold rolls.

Additionally, the company can burn material up to 15 in. thick, and it has three burning tables, which are all oxy-fuel. For welding, Milwaukee Boiler uses a lot of flux-core processes and some arc processes.

Eaton says the company has experienced steady growth over the past five years and that he hopes to see that trend continue. He also says experienced, well-trained employees, combined with dedication to quality and on-time delivery, have put Milwaukee Boiler in a good position to achieve that. FFJ

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Last modified on Wednesday | 22 February, 2012 | 4:19 pm

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