Steel manufacturers throughout the United States are facing challenges associated with managing the cost of goods and wages alongside the need for healthier materials and more environmental sound processes. It is a real WIN for us all when manufacturers rise to the challenge and invest in their communities and their customers. Watson is one such manufacturer.
Along with the challenges, manufacturers have some exciting opportunities to positively impact the domestic manufacturing landscape: design cutting-edge products, provide living wages that boost manufacturing careers in the US, and drive materials providers to deliver high-quality, environmentally responsible products for use in agencies across the nation.
Manufacturing 911 Dispatch Workstations
Given the manufacturing industry’s important role in providing both direct and indirect jobs, how these firms react to changing conditions is critical to their employees, the communities in which they reside, and to the country's financial health.
Watson Consoles is committed to delivering top-quality, healthful products to PSAPs nationwide. Our products are designed, manufactured and finished right here in Poulsbo, WA, using materials that meet the highest standard for durability, recycled content, and indoor-air quality.
In our factory, we have several specialized disciplines that nest within these primary shops:
We recently met up with Jason Swan, Steel Shop Supervisor. He gave us a tour and talked a little about his team's part in manufacturing a dispatch console workstation.
The Steel Shop
In the steel shop, specialists work with materials that have a high recycled content, and can be recycled again at end of life. They use a variety of CNC machines and hand-held tools to create the finished products that 911 dispatchers sit behind every day.
Welders and metal-smiths, trained to build naval ships, contribute their talents, creating super-strong steel framed dispatch workstations for Watson Consoles' customers. Our steel shop has six specialized departments:
- Sheet metal - lasers, press-brakes
- Steel Tube Shop - saws and grinding
- Steel Assembly
- Electrical Assembly
Q & A WITH WATSON CONSOLES’ STEEL SHOP SUPERVISOR
Read on to discover how Jason landed at Watson and a little about the team he works with.
Q: How long have you been at Watson?
A: I started my time at Watson as a temp. I worked with the factory team for one year, off and on. Early in year two I was brought on as a full-time employee and have held that designation for the past five years.
Q: What roles have you had at Watson?
A: The first couple of times I did temp work for the Maintenance Department, doing disposal and setting up racks in the Hardware Department. After that, I worked in Comp as an expediter and prepped for the builders. I became a production worker in Steel Assembly then moved to the Sheet Metal department where I learned to operate machines.
Once a full-time employee, I applied for the Sheet Metal Lead. With the added experience and success as a Lead, I applied for Production Supervisor in the Steel Shop, where I still am today. In my time at Watson I’ve worked in most of the departments at one time or another. I really excelled in sheet metal, working with the machines and learning raw material fabrication. I enjoy math and computers so it was a great fit.
Q: Watson' Console workstations have a steel substructure. What can you share about the processes that go into creating these ultra-durable stations?
A: I love this question because I get to talk about our amazing Production team. The pride that the steel shop takes in producing sturdy and quality parts is truly unmatched. Our team really cares about the product we sell, and the customers we sell to.
The Mercury console workstations have both sheet and tube steel within the structure. The frame and surface go through several steel shop workflows including laser, bending, welding, grinding, powdercoating, and electrical assembly. The team machines the steel, with strict attention to detail. When combined with expertly applied, strategic welds, the components come together and create a streamlined and robust frame.
Our assembly team takes the time to ensure quality while building. I really enjoy working with the production team while creating such amazing furniture.
Plus, I think it's amazing we can powdercoat so many beautiful colors. We don't see them on console workstations that often. We are seeing more customers choose these for accents like Trolleys (a small mobile ped alternative) and mobile Etch markerboards (shown stacked at left).
Q: Do the steel specialist on your team undergo specific training in material handling or machining?
A: Steel shop does require, and provides, special training in some areas. Welding, of course, is a well-known trade which requires schooling. We normally hire operators with experience. We have been known to train a “shop superstar” who excels in multiple areas.
The sheet metal machines take specialized training to program, operate, and maintain. Trumpf provided the TruBend (press brakes) and TruLaser that we used to fabricate our sheet metal. They support Watson Consoles' teams with ongoing training, maintenance, and tech support.
Q: What do you consider the biggest challenge in the steel shop ?
A: I would say right now our biggest challenge is a good one - increasing through-put. We identify production bottle necks and then make adjustments to relive the bottleneck and stretch capacity. We are exploring operational increases in the powdercoat line and assembly. We are continually on the look-out for opportunities be more efficient and get better at what we do. Good challenges to have!
Why Our Steel Shop Matters
Each of our products are designed to benefit the operators and technicians that interface with them. Our products are engineered to be a durable asset, provide functional value, and to deliver a design punch. Our company culture supports our design methodology in that people come to work at Watson Consoles because it’s a company where individuals affect positive change. Making products better for our customers AND more sustainable really happens. This is one of the benefits of manufacturing right here in Poulsbo, WA. We have visibility and hands-on control over design, materials, manufacturing, and fit-and-finish.
TO YOUR PSAP
Mission critical and life-saving work deserves the support of all vendors, top to bottom. Understanding the work challenges PSAP teams face is critical to delivering solutions that improve a team’s effectiveness. The dispatcher workstation provides a steady platform for the equipment and tools dispatchers rely on, daily. Watson Consoles delivers workstations that support a low-stress, focused and healthful work experience for the mission critical communications professional.
You might also be interested in these posts:
- Meet the Watson Consoles' team
- Lucas P. drives 911 workstation design improvement
- Dispatch Console Resources