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Avoiding a manufacturing traffic jam

August 22, 2011 | By Tim Heston

When do more cars travel on the highway, before or during rush hour?  It’s rush hour, right? Well, it depends on how you interpret the question. During rush hour, plenty of cars flood the highway at once, but they all take more time to get where they’re going. In fact, there’s a good chance...

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Optimism for 2012

August 18, 2011 | By Dan Davis

As the stock market implodes and everyone plans for what they believe to be an impending recession, I'm asking people to take a deep breath. Metal fabricators are optimistic for 2012, and so am I. Is the stock market truly something we want to use as a measuring stick for overall economic health...

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Metal fabrication goes back to school

August 16, 2011 | By Tim Heston

Last week I spoke with Harry Moser, chairman emeritus of GF AgieCharmilles LLC, the machine tool company. He will speak at the upcoming FABTECH expo in Chicago about his Reshoring Initiative. Moser has developed Total Cost of Ownership Estimator software that breaks down the costs and risks of...

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Wanted: Business leaders to run the country

August 10, 2011 | By Vicki Bell

Several readers e-mailed their thoughts to me regarding the lead item in yesterday's "Fabricating Update" that featured another reader's comments about businesses being in business to make a profit. And then there was the anonymous caller who wanted to call attention to a mistake in the item. ...

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Debate spending, not debt

August 8, 2011 | By Tim Heston

When Standard & Poor’s officially downgraded the U.S. credit rating on Friday, several conversations ran through my mind. One was with Vivek Gupta, managing director at Texas ProFab, a Dallas-area fabricator, who told me how conservative the company’s balance sheet was, and how the small...

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Racing to find skilled workers

August 3, 2011 | By Vicki Bell

If there's one topic that weaves its way into more articles and blog posts on than almost any other, it's the dearth of skilled labor. Despite high unemployment, many manufacturers continue to struggle to find workers with the right skills.  In his article "Fabricator finds path...

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What's your job satisfaction number?

July 27, 2011 | By Vicki Bell

Among the most popular articles on is a series about Job Satisfaction that was written early in 2003. In December 2002, we surveyed “Fabricating Update” readers about how satisfied they were with their jobs. We asked them to rate their job satisfaction for the year on a scale...

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Two teens killed at work

July 27, 2011 | By Eric Lundin

The story is a heartbreaker. Two teenagers, 14-year-old girls on the threshold of attending high school, were detasseling corn on a farm in northwestern Illinois when they were electrocuted after coming into contact with an irrigator. Detasseling is practically a rite of passage where corn is...

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Flexible metal fabrication needs flexible people

July 26, 2011 | By Tim Heston

When I interviewed executives at Mayville Engineering Co., a seven-plant, 1,000-employee behemoth of a contract fabricator, I could tell the CEO Bob Kamphuis was proudest of one statistic. The company delivered on time over 99 percent of the time. On time delivery of quality parts lies at the...

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Space for more innovation

July 22, 2011 | By Dan Davis

As the space shuttle Atlantis returned to terra firma this week, it marked the end of the space shuttle era for NASA. What began as a project that was supposed to make space travel more affordable, the space shuttle program didn't achieve that, but it did contribute mightily to the construction of...

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Job losses and the jobless recovery

July 19, 2011 | By Eric Lundin

It seems like everyone is wondering when, or if, the U.S. economy is going to shake off the doldrums. Believe it or not, a headline from the Los Angeles Times, “What recession? It’s boom time again in Silicon Valley,” made it clear that a recovery is well under way in northern California....

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The journey is the destination

July 19, 2011 | By Amanda Carlson

A recent survey released by Mercer LLC states that approximately one-third of U.S. workers currently are considering leaving their jobs. The company surveyed 2,400 people and reported that 32 percent of them are "seriously considering" leaving, while another 21 percent said they don't want to leave...

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Manufacturing for the best minds of tomorrow

July 18, 2011 | By Tim Heston

It was refreshing to see the skilled-labor crisis--an issue near and dear to metal fabrication--grace the front page of the Sunday New York Times last week. It was the first in a weekly series called “Learn to Earn.” That’s such a great title. It hints at a pervasive problem. Recent grads may...

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Skilled at what, exactly?

July 15, 2011 | By Dan Davis

My recent note in the July 2011 edition of the "Fabricating Update" e-newsletter resulted in a nice exchange of e-mails with readers. I wrote about The FABRICATOR's 2011 What Keeps You up at Night? survey and noted that even with the overall concern about the economy, which also was the No. 1...

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Suppressing wages?

July 13, 2011 | By Vicki Bell

The July "Fabricating Update" e-newsletter featured reader comments about wages and whether employers are suppressing them to boost profits. These comments were inspired by a quote in the June issue from a reader reflecting on a potential manufacturing renaissance: "It is great that the companies...

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