Blog Posts

thefabricator.com has a team of bloggers that cover the challenges and rewards associated with a life in metal fabricating. Topics typically addressed by contributing authors include political and demographic trends affecting the fabricating industry, the business side of running a job shop, the culture of the welding community, and detailed looks at what happens on the shop floor.

Filter Content

Fiber lasers make their mark on thin-gauge cutting

April 21, 2011 | By Dan Davis

The eyes don't lie. Solid-state lasers can hum. I've seen these fiber lasers running at EuroBlech 2010 in Hannover, Germany, and FABTECH 2010 in Atlanta. Most recently I witnessed another "fiber" laser at INTECH North America, TRUMPF's customer event at its headquarters in Farmington, Conn. The...

Continue Reading

Trickle-down effect of rising fuel costs

April 20, 2011 | By Vicki Bell

Yesterday's "Tube Talk" e-newsletter discussed rising gas prices and the effect the increase is having on small businesses. More than 64 percent of small business owners polled on DollarDays.com said revenue is down as a result of increased gas prices, and more than a quarter said they will have...

Continue Reading

Two ways to manage manufacturing risk

April 19, 2011 | By Tim Heston

Last week I visited two facilities that focused on low- to medium-volume manufacturing. Both customize products to meet customer needs. Both tout quick response and comprehensive customer service. Yet in many respects, the two couldn’t have been more different. A week ago today I pulled into the...

Continue Reading

Sixty jobs

April 13, 2011 | By Vicki Bell

Articles about two different companies at opposite ends of the fabricating spectrum adding 30 jobs each came to my attention this morning.  One company's plan involves a big investment by the once bankrupt, bailed-out corporation, and the other, collaboration with a state-run program and local...

Continue Reading

Is it North versus South when it comes to manufacturing?

April 13, 2011 | By Dan Davis

On a recent visit to Southern Fabricators Inc., Polkton, N.C., l learned how brothers Ken Carpenter Sr. and Everett Carpenter first set up shop in 1968 in a tiny 10,000-sq.-ft. facility that just so happens to be the size of its powder coating department today. Let's just say the company has done...

Continue Reading

The jungle of tax reform

April 11, 2011 | By Tim Heston

On Friday night I was like a kid half-heartedly doing his homework while watching the weather and awaiting the snowstorm. I kept thinking the storm would close school (government shutdown), and I could stop this blasted homework (my income taxes). Then at the 11th hour (literally: it was a little...

Continue Reading

'Jobs are back, just not for everybody'

April 6, 2011 | By Vicki Bell

I had an interesting conversation the other day with a septuagenarian who is currently enrolled in an MBA program. This former president and CEO of a textile manufacturing company is making straight As. He also is actively looking for a job, having separated from his former company six years ago. ...

Continue Reading

Manufacturing rockets: Metal fabricating what’s next

April 5, 2011 | By Tim Heston

This week I recalled one of my favorite television moments. During an early West Wing episode, one of the president’s advisers, Sam Seaborn, argues for the extension of NASA funding. After several minutes of heated banter, his counterpart asks why space travel is so important when we have so much...

Continue Reading

Educating the workforce instead of training

April 1, 2011 | By Dan Davis

"You train a dog. You educate a person." That's the note an industrial technology educator sent to us after reading a recent "Fabricating Update" e-newsletter that contained comments lamenting the lack of skilled workers in the U.S. We received 10 or so responses, but that one sentence really has...

Continue Reading

The housing market hasn’t hit bottom yet

March 31, 2011 | By Eric Lundin

A headline at CNN’s money page caught my eye recently: “Why house prices will keep falling.” The article cited the Case-Shiller U.S. House Price Index, which showed a 3.1 percent decline from January 2010 to January 2011. The gist of the index, developed by Karl Case and Robert Shiller, is...

Continue Reading

Stressed at work? Let the foolery begin

March 30, 2011 | By Vicki Bell

April 1 is celebrated in the Western world as April Fools' Day, a day in which practical jokes and foolishness are generally tolerated — albeit more so by some than others — and most of us tend to view whatever we are told on this day with more than a modicum of skepticism, particularly that...

Continue Reading

Manufacturing productivity: Work less, accomplish more

March 29, 2011 | By Tim Heston

A review copy of Jim Womack’s Gemba Walks, published by the Lean Enterprise Institute, came in the mail today, and I’m beginning to make my way through it. When I saw the title, I immediately thought of a scene in The Goal, Eliyahu Goldratt’s business novel on the theory of constraints. In it...

Continue Reading

Will metal fabricating activity continue to grow?

March 25, 2011 | By Dan Davis

Financial writers are funny people. They make people laugh even when they aren't telling a joke. For instance, read John Carney's CNBC story "Have Consumers Gone on Strike?" In the story he makes the point: "What seems to be happening is that businesses have been ramping up their production and...

Continue Reading

Unions-the good, the bad, the ludicrous

March 23, 2011 | By Vicki Bell

Although events from Japan, Libya, and Jerusalem, along with the passing of Elizabeth Taylor, dominate the headlines on this day, unions continue to make the news, including a blog post written by my colleague Dan Davis last month. I just googled news for labor unions and retrieved more than 400...

Continue Reading

Earthquakes, job shops, and the global supply chain

March 21, 2011 | By Tim Heston

With Japan in crisis, so are global supply chains. With the world’s third-largest economy basically in standby mode, manufacturers stateside--and around the world--are scrambling to adapt. Most metal fabricators aren’t assemblers sitting at the end of a long global supply chain, but many of...

Continue Reading