Usually, the expression "when the chips are down" implies a low point in life or difficult place to be in. But, in this industry of metalworking and fabrication this expression signifies work and productivity is happening. The more the chips, the more the drilling, milling and sawing is occurring in manufacturing - fabricating processes.
Of course, I'd be remiss if not to add that expression "chips are down" can also refer to the result of occasional late night snacking of corn tortilla chips. Being an Arizonan, I've had my fair chair of those...especially with salsa : )