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Learning to say “no”

October 15, 2015 | By Jeffrey Dean

The customer is not always right if it means a shop has no chance of earning money--even with a long-term perspective--while trying to meet the customer's expectations. In these cases, it's easier to have a difficult conversation with the customer before venturing down the path of future unprofitability.

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Metal fabrication management: Voices from the shop

October 15, 2015 | By Dick Kallage

Listening to people on the shop floor is one thing, but really hearing what they’re saying is something else entirely.

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Wisconsin metal fabricator thrives on complexity

October 12, 2015 | By Tim Heston

Advanced Laser Machining Inc. launched in 1996, just when laser cutting was becoming a metal fabrication mainstay and software was changing everything. Today managers are hoping to put a structure in place to grow the company even more. In 10 years ALM may be a $75 million enterprise

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Streamlining diverse part flow in metal fabrication

October 7, 2015 | By Tim Heston

The people at Prince Precision Products may be fabricating thin sheet one hour and thick plate the next hour. Managers at PPP call their operation a hybrid—part job shop focusing on small runs, part production operation. Juggling it all requires focus on good communication and minimizing rework.

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Closing the skills gap

September 28, 2015 | By Timm Boettcher

A collaborative approach between industry and education brings purpose to a student’s learning experience, gives them a realistic road map to help them develop future plans, all while helping meet local and regional workforce needs.

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Creating a safe welding environment

September 28, 2015 | By Stephanie Lowney

Implementing safety measures in the welding environment doesn’t need to be a top-down activity. Involving employees and encouraging them to provide insight can go far in establishing a safe welding operation and maintaining it. Choosing dependable safety equipment is also important. More durable products last longer, which reduces costs. Safety products that fit well and are easy to use also reduce downtime and increase worker acceptance.

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An introduction to reliability-centered maintenance

September 10, 2015 | By Bill Frahm

Using reliability-centered maintenance to create an effective maintenance schedule helps to avoid critical stoppages in the production of parts.

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Scheduling by constraint in metal fabrication

September 8, 2015 | By Bob Sproull

As stated in the theory of constraints, the constraint process governs the pace of manufacturing. In job shops, the constraint may change from job to job. Identifying a controlled constraint, or control point, can simplify scheduling even in the complex world of high-mix, lowvolume manufacturing.

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2015: What keeps you up at night?

September 8, 2015 | By Dan Davis

The huge economic rebound that normally follows a recession has never really materialized, but metal fabricators appear to be making the most of the slow and steady climb from the economic doldrums of the late 2000s. The 2015 “What Keeps You up at Night?” survey suggests that fabricators are looking to take the steps necessary to support continued growth in their businesses.

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The metal manufacturer and the employee survey

September 2, 2015 | By Dick Kallage

Employee surveys can either be an important tool for improvement or virtually useless. For surveys to be useful, they need to have a purpose and, most important, spur action.

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Are workers really less productive?

September 2, 2015 | By Tim Heston

According to the Labor Department, American workers aren’t as productive as they once were. But how do we measure productivity? Perhaps most important, do customers value it?

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Metal fabrication basics: 5 insights on the humble hand tool

September 1, 2015 | By Tim Heston

Career metalworker Tom Lipton shares his insights on something that’s often taken for granted in the fab shop: hand tools.

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Fabricating in the coal mining region undergoes transformation

August 26, 2015 | By Professor R. Carlisle "Carl" Smith

Coal mining has long been an important industry in some areas of the U.S. As coal mining has fallen out of favor with environmental groups, the EPA, and the administration, these areas have had to adapt to remain viable and provide jobs.

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What to look for in railing and frame welding fixtures

August 17, 2015 | By Benjamin Howell

Welding fixtures, an important component of the fabrication process, have come a long way. Today’s fixtures make railing and frame welding easier, safer, more productive, and cost-efficient.

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Shop technology and 3-D CAD: Table-driven design

August 12, 2015 | By Gerald Davis

Columnist Gerald Davis walks the reader through the creation of a hex nut and shows how this exercise can be applied to other threaded creations.

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