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Fabricating real value

November 9, 2012

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As I was watching Hurricane Sandy coverage on Oct. 29, I flipped on CNBC only to find a reporter lamenting the fact that the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) might be forced to close for a second day due to inclement weather, marking the first time since the Blizzard of 1888 that weather had forced...

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Letter to the President

November 7, 2012

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Dear President Obama: Congratulations on your reelection. Although I did not vote for you, I sincerely wish you the best of luck and fervently hope that you are able to work with our gridlocked Congress to enact measures that will help our economy. Frankly, I am discouraged by the past four years,...

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Fabricating on the fast track

November 2, 2012

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UPI Manufacturing, Eagle, Wis., began with a noble thought: How can a company help out U.S. soldiers? The most obvious answer was to start manufacturing to support the war effort. So in 2003 the Dretzka family, who ran Underground Pipeline Inc., jumped into the metal manufacturing business. Since...

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Putting the storm into perspective

October 31, 2012

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Despite all of the advancements of mankind, we are not—and likely never will be—a match for Mother Nature. Whether it’s an earthquake, tsunami, hurricane, tornado, typhoon, drought, flooding, volcanic eruption, or some other natural disaster of epic proportion, Mother Nature has a way of...

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Another perfect storm

October 29, 2012

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Much of the East Coast has been bracing itself for Hurricane Sandy while the rest of us wait and wonder. After developing on Oct. 22, it hit Jamaica, Cuba, and the Bahamas, and eventually became the largest recorded hurricane to roil the Atlantic, with a diameter approximately 1,000 miles....

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Busy or slow, manufacturer never stops improving

October 28, 2012

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If tragedy has a silver lining, it is that it brings everything else into stark clarity. Those who suffer usually either wallow or emerge triumphant. Chesterfield, Mo.-based Cambridge Engineering did the latter. As Vice President of Manufacturing Michael Mueller put it, “We had a new spirit, and...

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No votes for education?

October 24, 2012

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The current survey on thefabricator.com’s homepage asks which issue in the upcoming presidential election is most important to site visitors. It’s no surprise that the economy, including taxes, debt and deficit, and jobs, is the No. 1 concern with 55 percent of the votes. Of the 13 remaining...

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Direct-diode lasers enter the sheet metal cutting arena

October 22, 2012

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CO2 gas lasers still dominate sheet metal cutting, but they aren’t the only game in town anymore. Solid-state lasers like the fiber and disk varieties--which use diode lasers to pump, or excite, the lasing medium--continue to have considerable market success. And now fabricators may have a new...

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Getting up to speed on "soft" costs

October 18, 2012

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I've got a friend that coordinates purchasing relationships between U.S. manufacturers and Chinese part suppliers. That may rub some people the wrong way, but his current occupation is just part of a natural evolution. He once acted solely as a manufacturer's rep for manufacturing service providers...

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Just answer the question, please

October 17, 2012

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Today’s subject is pet peeves—more specifically, those that struck a nerve with me in last night’s presidential debate. Let me begin by listing a few of my pet peeves: Tardiness; the phrase “my bad” uttered by anyone over the age of 4; negativity; rude behavior, such as interrupting and...

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Fab reporter notebook: In lean manufacturing we trust

October 16, 2012

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Yesterday I spoke with a production manager (on background) with a not-so-uncommon challenge. He had been brushing up on the basics of continuous improvement, including lean manufacturing methodologies adapted for the high-mix, low-volume environment. All the talk of efficient part flow, shorter...

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Opportunities worth trumpeting

October 15, 2012

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We all know wage growth in this country is next to nothing. It’s one reason why the presidential election season has been so contentious. Employees continue to work harder than ever, while employers hesitate to hire more. But metal fabricators and other manufacturers have another problem: Some...

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Magical fabricating tour

October 12, 2012

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If you weren't a part of The FABRICATOR's Technology Summit in early October, you missed a great learning experience. About 50 attendees visited six fabricating operations, two manufacturers of laser equipment, and one systems integrator of custom laser machines. If the event didn't "ignite...

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Yes, Virginia, low-skill factory jobs still can be found, but

October 11, 2012

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Tuesday’s “Fabricating Update” e-newsletter featured comments by Ed Youdell, president and CEO of the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, International®, about the first annual Manufacturing Day. The event, which was co-sponsored and -produced by FMA, was a big success as more than...

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Jobless claims lowest since 2008 … now what?

October 11, 2012

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In its weekly press release on Oct. 11, the U.S. Department of Labor reported that initial claims for unemployment insurance fell to 339,000 in the week that ended Oct. 6. This represents a one-week drop of 30,000 and the lowest number of initial claims since Feb. 2008. Of course this is good news,...

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