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Effectively controlling hazardous welding fumes and gases

May 6, 2015 | By Benjamin Howell

Effectively reducing hazardous welding fume and gas exposure requires much more than opening windows and running fans, which in most cases does little to alleviate the problem. Here are some options to make the welding workplace much safer.

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Shop technology and 3-D CAD: Design as a process

May 5, 2015 | By Gerald Davis

Columnist Gerald Davis uses CAD to explore different means to design a metal widget.

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You can’t commoditize human connections

April 30, 2015 | By Tim Heston

Ken Schmidt helped turn Harley-Davidson around, not by improving product quality, but by connecting to the people who bought motorcycles. That same connection can form the backbone of a fabricator’s success.

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ERP and the (very) small shop

April 29, 2015 | By Dave Lechleitner

With today’s cloud-based systems, advanced ERP systems no longer require a hefty IT infrastructure on-site, which can make advanced ERP available to even the smallest of shops. But from the get-go, shop owners need to plan for the upgrade, and they can start by asking a few key questions.

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Employee retention: The first 30 days

April 29, 2015 | By Dick Kallage

Nothing is more frustrating than spending time and money to train new hires, only to lose them six to 12 months later. Why did they leave? Quite often the reasons go back to their first 30 days on the job.

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Assuring quality in the small to medium-size job shop

April 23, 2015 | By Professor R. Carlisle "Carl" Smith

Quality assurance is a critical aspect of fabricating. It requires input from various departments, careful inspection throughout all facets of the job, and detailed recordkeeping. Here’s a blueprint for optimum QA.

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Quality shines bright at MACO

April 7, 2015 | By Tim Heston

The recession nearly killed MACO Incorporated, a fabricator and machine shop in rural western North Carolina. But it survived thanks to some introspection and a new focus on quality certification.

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Continuous improvement, from the first quote to the final shipment

April 1, 2015 | By Tim Heston

Burlington, Ky.-based Skilcraft LLC has changed a lot in the past decade. It has moved away from the traditional job shop model toward comprehensive contract fabrication. And it got there by scrutinizing every step of the manufacturing process, from quoting to shipping.

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Supporting professional development in sheet metal forming

March 19, 2015 | By Bill Frahm

Today’s sheet metal formers must continually learn new skills to keep up with new materials, product specifications, and forming technologies. How do you attract and train a workforce that is sustainable in these ever-changing times?

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The power of why

March 10, 2015 | By Dick Kallage

A great company has a “why” culture, one that encourages employee engagement and people don’t hesitate to ask “Why?” to find the true answer, based not on guesses or rumor, but on factual evidence.

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How do you define good company culture anyway?

March 10, 2015 | By Tim Heston

How does a fabricator build a culture that adopts, embraces, and sustains lean manufacturing? An environment that encourages idea generation may be a good start.

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The Superior way to implement lean manufacturing

March 5, 2015 | By Eric Lundin

Editor Eric Lundin interviews two individuals who were key in establishing product flow at Superior Tube Co. Inc., tracing the big steps the company took to go from a conventional push system to a lean pull system.

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Metal fabrication meets a seller’s market

February 18, 2015 | By Tim Heston

Manufacturing is cool again, and fabricators wanting to sell their business are benefiting from a seller’s market. Nevertheless, high revenue concentration, a shallow talent pool, poor cash flow, reliance on sales from a single sector, and other factors still throw up red flags.

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Why buy new tooling for a sheet metal hand brake?

February 17, 2015 | By Steve Benson

When bending with a hand brake, you can use the tooling that came with the machine, but investing in a tool with a radius on the punch nose has its benefits.

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Are you imprisoned by your information technology?

February 17, 2015 | By Lori Payne

With rapid application deployment platforms, software can be tailored to an individual company's needs in a very short time frame.

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