A job as a Forge Shop Manager falls into the wider career category of First-line Supervisors of Operations and Production Workers. This encompasses positions such as Marketing Manager, Finance Manager, Material Control Manager, Material Accountant, Quality Manager, Quality Assurance Manager, etc. The information contained on this page will tend to apply generally to all such careers within this category however; it should be remembered that forge shops do tend to employ a diverse range of personnel, from a foreman (a person in charge of running the shop floor) to material handlers, welders, and production engineers. The information contained here is therefore designed as an outline, and not a full assessment of the position of Forge Shop Manager.
An individual holding the position of forge shop manager has, basically, the responsibility of… you guessed it… forging! A manager has the authority to hire and fire employees. He or she is also responsible for hiring temps and also for training them. In addition, the manager is ultimately responsible for ensuring that all workers are using approved forms and procedures in their work, and that all equipment is in good working order and in proper condition.
To ensure the smooth running of the forge shop process, management must have a thorough understanding of the forging industry. One way to gain this understanding is through an examination of the industry’s six standard reference documents: The Code of Federal Regulations (section 515); The Steel Industry Practices Act; The Sporting Goods Tariffs Act; The International Wholesale Distributors Association; and The Handbook of Security Compliance. By gaining a thorough understanding of the industry’s regulations, it will be easier for the Forge Shop Manager to make informed decisions regarding staffing, employee induction, shop equipment, shop safety, and the use of forgings. It will also make it easier for him or her to deal with any problems that may come up as he or she handles the day-to-day operations of his or her business.
Many a time my clients call me with questions such as, “Why is our forge dies so thin?” “How do we make our dies thinner?” “How can we reduce the amount of heat applied to our dies during the cutting process?” “How can we ensure that we never have a problem with excessive metal temperatures during the finishing process?”
The first thing that I tell people who call me with questions about forging is: it’s all about education. A shop owner or manager must always have a good idea of how things are done in his industry. Sometimes that means having a broad educational background in the business of metals and the products that are created from those metals. Other times it means a more focused educational background, such as studying engineering or business at a college. Often times forge operators and manufacturers (my clients are often manufacturers) need specific courses in specific areas of metal fabrication and metallurgy. Forgers often have no training in those areas, or in some cases even less training than many other employees in their occupation.
If you are a forger, your goal should be to learn how to increase your knowledge as you go along. In other words, if you find yourself at an early disadvantage because you don’t understand something fundamental about die making or billet shaping, don’t let it happen to you. Be prepared to learn as much as you can. Then when you do get involved in a piece of work where you know that you’ll need to have an understanding of die design and shape, utilize the knowledge that you’ve already learned. Otherwise, you may find yourself in a position of prematurely failure.