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How a worldwide shipper acts like a job shop

September 9, 2013

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How is Maersk’s new Triple E class containerships—nearly as long as the Empire State Building is tall—like a job shop? Forget the fact that, as reported by BusinessWeek, the behemoth is designed to go only 16 knots to save fuel. Sure, heat-capture devices use heat from the massive ship...

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Your greatest asset

September 6, 2013

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If someone asked you to name your greatest asset, what you would say? Your home? Maybe once upon a time, but probably not anymore, thanks to the recession. Your 401(k) or stock portfolio? See previous statement. As stated in the article “Lessons from the Recession” in the September AARP...

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Don't forget the maintenance

September 5, 2013

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An author recently posed this question to me: “Do you think this submission is too negative?” His article was focusing on what metal fabricators do to destroy their machine tools—and he couldn’t have been more correct with his approach. At least, that’s what servicepeople tell me. They...

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Working to attain the dream

August 30, 2013

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Wednesday marked the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech. People might debate whether King’s “dream” has materialized truly in today’s society, but at the very least, a majority of Americans have more freedoms today than they or their ancestors...

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Impressed in Seattle

August 29, 2013

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“Go to Seattle,” they said. “You’ll love it,” they said. They were right. Last week I spent a couple of days in the Seattle, Wash., area visiting OMAX, a provider of waterjet cutting systems. The company was celebrating its 20th anniversary and had invited the press. While many...

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Could this be it? Part 2

August 22, 2013

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If you try to keep up with all of the experts, seers, and mad scribblers who try to predict which way the economy is heading at any particular time, you’re well aware that consensus in this field is about as rare as dinosaur eggs. The reasons are many, but to simplify: some...

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Could this be it?

August 16, 2013

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Welcome to the wonderful world of stability. At least that’s how many metal fabricators see their business. In the inaugural Forming & Fabricating Job Shop Consumption Report from the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, 43 percent of fab shops surveyed indicated that the business...

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Who’s behind the steering wheel?

August 13, 2013

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The prime minister of Norway, Jens Stoltenberg, made headlines this week with a bold campaign strategy: he took a shift as a taxi driver. No, not a gun-toting, bent-on-vengeance sort of Travis Bickle, Robert De Niro’s role as the vigilante cabbie in Taxi Driver, but a mild-mannered taxi driver...

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All for one and none for all

August 9, 2013

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Metal fabricators don’t have a lot in common when trying to compare one job shop to another. The same goes for the customer segments they serve—with one major exception. Most don’t, and have no desire to, work with the automotive industry. That’s quite the statement given the desire of...

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Show me the jobs, good jobs

August 8, 2013

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We keep hearing/reading that the U.S. job picture is improving. An article published today on nbcnews.com, “Jobless claims point to healing employment market,” said “the number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits rose slightly last week but was still near its lowest level...

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Happy birthday, Curiosity!

August 7, 2013

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If you heard champagne corks popping on August 6, it was for a good reason. That was the staff at NASA celebrating the first birthday of the Curiosity mission. The rover landed on Mars on August 6, 2012, and has been sending data back to Earth ever since. The mission is an enormous (and ongoing)...

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You need a vacation

August 1, 2013

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A co-worker called a few minutes ago, and I asked her how things were at the office. You see, I work several states away in my home office, where it’s always quiet. Just me, my computer, phone, and a couple of cats that pop in and out occasionally. Apparently, it’s not too different at...

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The gut-punch of Detroit in bankruptcy

July 29, 2013

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In 2009 I landed in Detroit and saw a billboard I’ll never forget. I was on my way to FMA's ALAW, the Advanced Laser Applications Workshop, and there was a massive billboard advertising something you rarely if ever see on the interstate. Metal fabricator W Industries was touting its ability to...

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Covering all the bases to keep the registers ringing

July 25, 2013

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A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post that centered on a Costco Connection poll asking if U.S. manufacturing jobs are still important to the economy. The magazine presented arguments supporting both the “yes” and “no” positions. I took issue with the latter, largely because I believe that...

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Laser focus on an ever-changing market

July 25, 2013

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“We don’t think one size fits all. It depends on the application,” said Al Bohlen, national sales manager, Mazak Optonics Corp., to a crowd of fabricators attending a seminar during the company’s Laser Technology Days event in late July. The days of a fabricating shop owner deciding he...

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