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Technology and procedures working in concert

July 8, 2013

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At LeanFab Workshop & Tours, organized by the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, International, and held last month in Columbus, Ohio, Dave Lechleitner asked attendees to draw a pig. The presales principal at Exact Software, Minneapolis, wasn’t playing an odd joke. Instead, he was...

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The time between runs

June 27, 2013

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A Wall Street Journal article this month gave a good introduction to the basics of equipment ROI, at least for those outside the manufacturing world. These are machines for business. Rationality rules--usually, at least. The article helps clear up a few misconceptions out there, especially when it...

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Rethinking manufacturing education

June 21, 2013

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The discussion moderator of Strengthening Manufacturing Education: An Experience Summit in late June posed a question that sums up the battle to replenish the ranks of retiring manufacturing workers: “How do we get young people interested in a career in welding?” The question was focused on...

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Learning about another culture

June 13, 2013

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Got a culture clash in your metal fabricating operation? That’s a terrible situation, because if the workforce is unsatisfied with their environment, their negative attitude is probably carrying over to their work. More than likely, that then affects the customers of that fabricating company....

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Oh, Canada

June 13, 2013

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After reading yesterday’s “Fabricating Update” e-newsletter, a reader from Brampton, Ontario, Canada, wrote to tell me how disappointed he was that Canada was not included in the news item about how difficult it is to find skilled workers globally. Mexico’s  stats, which are nearly the...

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Communicating completely, delivering on time

June 13, 2013

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Every year the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association hosts at least one workshop on lean manufacturing. Called LeanFab Workshop & Tours, these don’t cover cookie-cutter lean, but instead improvement methodologies that work for high-mix, low-volume operations--in other words, most of...

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Beware poor service

June 6, 2013

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In this age of many choices that are similar and competitively priced, what really makes the difference in your buying decisions? Where a product is made? Those of us who support U.S. manufacturing routinely note this and buy U.S.-made when we can. However, a recent experience—one many of you...

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Data, statistics, and context

May 31, 2013

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Some of the latest headlines seem to tell a gloomy story about the state of the economy. On My 31 the Dept. of Commerce released the latest data on consumer spending, and it told of the first decrease in the last 12 months. To quote an article posted at www.nbcnews.com, “Consumer spending fell in...

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Help wanted in hiring

May 31, 2013

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As I was walking in from the parking lot this week after giving blood, the driver of the bus that is used as a mobile blood collection center asked if he could walk in with me so he could use the restroom. He knew he needed someone to buzz him into the building, and I did just that. As I showed...

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Just a phone call away

May 29, 2013

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Sometimes good news is simply a phone call away. Case in point—I just had a call from an author of some very thought-provoking articles on thefabricator.com. Some months ago, “Stan” voluntarily left his job of many years for various reasons, not the least of which is that he’s a highly...

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Metal fabrication and the solid model

May 28, 2013

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A microcosm of the evolution of modern metal fabrication has unfolded outside Chicago since November of last year. A dumbwaiter manufacturer having roots going back to the 1880s, Matot’s Bellwood, Ill., factory, with its unassuming brick façade, houses a typical high-product-mix operation. Some...

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Long-term trends are fabricators' friends

May 23, 2013

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With every conversation I have with a metal fabricator, I become more convinced that the companies left standing after two recessions within a 10-year span are primed to survive in this very competitive global economy. In essence, they have survived because they are the fittest. In the wake of the...

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Welder and assistant, a good team

May 23, 2013

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If you pay attention, you can learn something new on any given day. And sometimes, what you learn makes you smack your forehead, either literally or mentally, and think I should have known that. Such was the case a couple of weeks ago when I was sharing an exchange on Facebook with a dear friend...

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A grim reminder

May 21, 2013

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Much of a town flattened. Entire neighborhoods reduced to piles of debris. Hundreds injured. More than two dozen killed. It’s a grim reminder that the confluence of weather systems in the central U.S., specifically masses of cold, dry air from the north and fronts of warm, moist air from the...

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ALAW celebrates 20 years

May 15, 2013

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Mariana Forrest perhaps knows ALAW® better than anyone. The president of laser consulting firm LASAP Inc., based in Troy Mich., has attended all 20 conferences. She was there back when it was called the Automotive Laser Applications Workshop, and in recent years, after the event was broadened and...

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