Close Menu

By Stacey Marler, Missouri Enterprise Project Manager

Blueprints and technical drawings use a lexicon of terms and symbols all their own.  They contain the critical details that allow your team to produce high quality products that meet expected tolerances and specifications. 

The more people on your production team who can read blueprints, the more eyes you have overseeing quality, and the greater your profitability through increased efficiency and minimized waste.  It’s simply not enough to have “your guy” on the floor who’s in charge of interpreting the details in blueprints and overseeing production.  If everyone’s going to be on the same page…they all need to be able to read that page, don’t they?

So, who should understand blueprints in a manufacturing environment?  The answer is far broader than many manufacturers might realize.  Training key people throughout your development and production teams can add tremendous value in terms of quality and efficiency.

Product Designers who are well versed on blueprint design can more clearly communicate intent onto drawings that will be used throughout the manufacturing process.  Blueprint skilled designers can also more effectively…

Utilize correct ANSI drafting standards.

  • Understand effects of tolerances throughout the production process.
  • Correctly document bill of materials on assembly prints.
  • Verify all information is listed on drawings to create the parts.
  • Communicate part revisions.

Quality Inspectors / Quality Engineers should understand blueprints so they can correctly inspect production parts, including details such as…

The accurate identification of defects.

  • Verification of part feature identification.
  • Providing constructive feedback on product variations to production staff for consistent production.
  • Design inspection fixtures.

Manufacturing Engineers with blueprint reading skills can more effectively review drawings to make them better at tasks including…

  • Drawings review to order correct production equipment.
  • Understanding drafting tolerances and datum structures.
  • Design tooling and holding fixtures.
  • Documentation of facility layouts.
  • Reviewing construction prints for new production lines or plant expansions.
  • Ordering the correct parts for broken equipment.

Estimators/Quote Producers need blueprint skills to provide correct, accurate quotes, improve their efficiency and to ensure quotes are aligned with production needs like advance verification of possible production issues, and clear communication with production staff on addressing those issues before the quotes go out.

  • Understanding material callouts.
  • Verification that the company can produce given parts internally, or if there is a need to outsource certain steps in the process.

Machinists, Fabricators and Maintenance Personnel are right there on the front line as product is being produced, and they are often best positioned to identify problems and make adjustments that improve efficiency and quality.  When these people understand blueprints, they’re far better prepared to effectively perform their duties, including the ability to…

Understand machine fixtures and replacement parts that meet drawing requirements.

  • Identify correct part features to create proper items such as threads, surface finish, countersinks, keyways, etc.
  • Analyze plant layout drawings for moving equipment or trouble shooting issues such as electrical, plumbing or air lines.
  • Meet dimension tolerances.
  • Clearly follow assembly directions.

These are just some of the benefits companies receive when they properly train their people to design, read and understand blueprints.  If you want your team to consistently “be on the same page”, it’s up to you to teach them how to read that page.  In a manufacturing plant, “the page” is often a blueprint.