Machine Shop Rates Part 2

Welcome to the MIE Solutions Job Shop Estimating  blog.   Fabrication software as in sheet metal software and manufacturing software deals with shop rates extensively for costing.

There are basically 3 ways to calculate overhead absorption rates which is used to provide your shop sell rate during quoting and estimating.

  1. Company Overhead Absorption Rate
  2. Percentage Overhead Absorption Rate
  3. Work Center Overhead Absorption Rate

Each of these three ways of calculating your overhead absorption has both positive’s and negatives.

Percentage Overhead Absorption Rate

What does an overhead percentage mean?   An example would be a 150% overhead percentage which  means that for every $1.00 of direct labor billed to the customer, the business must collect an additional $1.50 ($1.00 x 150%) for that custom just to cover costs.   There are potentially large variations between total direct labor wage and direct labor cost.    The question is how do we figure the overhead absorption rate.


Business Expenses

All expenses found on the company’s income statement (also known as the
profit and loss statement).

All expenses found on the company’s income statement (also known as the profit and loss statement).

Overhead Expenses

All costs found on the income statement except for direct labor, direct materials, and costs attributable to outside subcontractors that can be billed directly to a customer’s account. Overhead expenses are absorbed by the business and factored into the selling price as a percentage of the direct labor cost. They include indirect costs such as accounting, advertising, depreciation, indirect labor, insurance, interest, legal fees, rent, repairs, supplies, taxes, telephone, travel, and utilities.

Direct Labor

Labor used to produce products and services purchased by customers. These man-hours are directly attributable to customer activity.

Indirect Labor

Labor used to provide supporting services to the business such as accounting, clerical, custodial, customer services, management, purchasing, sales, and warehousing. These man-hours support business functions that are not directly chargeable to the customer.

Direct Materials

Materials used in the final product or service purchased by customers. These materials are charged directly to the customer’s account.

Overhead Percentage

Ratio between direct labor and overhead expenses. This percentage is used to allocate overhead expenses proportionately to direct labor dollars billed to customers.

How To Calculate Overhead Percentage

Step 1 Determine the “average” hourly wage paid to direct labor employees.

Step 2 Estimate direct labor workdays available in the calendar year.

Step 3 Estimate billable direct labor hours for work year.

Step 4 Estimate billable direct labor dollars for work year.

Step 5 Estimate non-billable direct labor dollars for work year.

Step 6 Estimate all overhead expenses for work year to include non-billable direct labor.

Step 7 Calculate the annual overhead percentage.


Would your shop rate be Avg Direct Labor Rate +Overhead Rate (Average Direct Labor Rate x Overhead %)

is  Direct Labor Costs

Is this your sell rate?   No


A machine shop rate for a job shop manufacturer is not that difficult to compute once you have your income sheet calculations available.   Its important to calculate your shop rate for estimating accurately because if you are off by much you will be losing money continuously.   A sheet metal software package needs to be able to handle calculating overhead rates based on percentage if its applicable to the specific industry.

The mission of MIE Solutions is to apply advanced technology to improve manufacturing productivity and quality in the field of fabrication. At MIE Solutions, we do not compromise product quality or service. We strive to satisfy our customer’s every reasonable requirement with speed, courtesy and honesty. Our pricing reflects the cost of providing high quality products and excellent service but remains fair. Our goal is to be known throughout the world for the development and production of innovative products. We endeavor to be regarded as the leading supplier of high technology in the sheet metal fabrication. We want our customers to be proud to own MIE products.

Author: MIE Solutions

David Ferguson has over 20 years of experience in the manufacturing and fabrication industry. David Ferguson has been to over 100 manufacturing companies helping and guiding them to be more efficient and cost effective. As a child in Junior High School David Ferguson found a passion for the early computer systems, which would drive much of his future work. David Ferguson created and sold his first computer program, Arrow Data Systems, which was an early CAD/CAM system for the Apple 2e Computer. In the late 1980's after seeing his father (a sheet metal manufacturer) come home many nights estimating, David Ferguson saw an opportunity to optimize his effort through computer technology. Shortly thereafter the FabriTRAK Production Control package was developed. The Quote It! estimating package was developed out of the FabriTRAK system to become one of the leading sheet metal estimating packages in the world. David Ferguson has always had a passion for developing software to make the manufacturing process simpler, faster and more efficient. Prior to founding MIE Solutions David Ferguson worked with his father at Alco Sheet Metal, METALSOFT Inc. and was a consultant at Toyota Motors Sales. David Ferguson has his Masters in Computer Science and Mathematics from California State University, Long Beach.

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