How to Manage A Machine Shop


Machinists turn raw metals into parts designed for manufacture. Complex devices ranging from electronics to heavy lifting equipment rely on machine shops for basic part design and creation. Machine shop managers face a variety of issues common to that profession. Team building, workplace safety and regulation adherence often form the core of machine shop management. The tools and methods used by machinists regularly pose risks beyond those of other environments and require careful management techniques.

  • Emphasize team work ethics. Machinists rarely work alone. A machine shop manager should encourage teamwork and team reliance through cultivation of a respect for the team. Every person working on a project has his own role and should garner respect from his peers on site. The manager must focus on making each member feel included and as though she contributes something to each project the shop begins.

  • Focus on workplace safety. Injuries result in a loss of production, which, in a machine shop, directly impacts the bottom line. Lifting, cutting or grinding injuries also decrease employee morale and unsafe work conditions will likely draw the attention of regulating bodies.

  • Enforce the regulations required by the shop and any regulating bodies, such as the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Each employee requires instruction in these regulations. This instruction should include not only the rule itself, but the reasoning behind the rule, when possible. Understanding these rules goes a long way towards promoting compliance.

  • Understand the strengths and weaknesses of all team members. It falls on the manager to properly use the talents of each machinist in the shop. Workers that do not feel challenged by their roles may rebel against the position or lose motivation. Attempt to find the best position for each member of the team, and allow less experienced personnel to work alongside veterans in their field.

Tips & Warnings

  • Delegate responsibility whenever a personal weakness appears. Machinist managers who know the craft inside and out may wish to delegate reporting or paperwork duties to a member with an aptitude for such or hire an assistant.
  • Injuries in machine shops range from minor cuts to dismemberment or death. OSHA and other regulating bodies require immediate responses and reports when such misfortunes occur. Check with the local or federal regulating bodies governing the shop on reporting procedures and other requirements.


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