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Head offices head to China

January 11, 2011

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If Dave Westphal doesn’t qualify as a lean manufacturing champion, I don’t know who would. The executive is director of global lean manufacturing for Nexteer Automotive, a $2 billion automotive supplier specializing in steering and front-axle components. Last year The FABRICATOR covered his...

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Putting the cart before the reputation

January 7, 2011

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If you are involved in any way with part design, you should check out Gerald Davis' column in The FABRICATOR. He spent 2010 talking about 3-D CAD tips and tricks while creating the plans for a barbecue grill. This year he's exploring the role 3-D design can play in a fabricator's business success,...

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Welding in top 10

January 6, 2011

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December's "Welding Wire" e-newsletter featured an item about the book "Closing America's Job Gap" that describes new jobs being shaped by innovations in science and technology and how people need to learn "new skills" to attain these jobs. In this book, University of California San Diego...

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New year, next generation

January 3, 2011

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Tacking yet another new calendar to the wall makes me feel, well, old, and that in turn makes me think about the next generation. Judging by chats with readers in recent weeks, I’m not the only one. It’s no secret that manufacturing has a graying work force. Even during tough times, metal...

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Slow-growth better than no growth

December 22, 2010

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Looking forward to 2011, I could write about resolutions, but it would be a waste of space. I'm supposed to be 10 pounds lighter, fluent in Spanish, capable of playing a guitar, and the author of a screenplay—if I had completed New Year's resolutions of the past four years. In actuality, I'm 5...

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Wikileaks confirms China's leverage

December 15, 2010

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No doubt the recent Wikileaks leaks revealed too much. It will remain to be seen whether or how severely Julian Assange will be prosecuted. However, one of the revelations pivoted around what is most likely the primary—and heretofore publicly unspoken—reason why the U.S. has not been more...

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Let It Grow!

December 15, 2010

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If you’re a regular reader of The Fabricator Blog, you may know what's coming. It's that time of the year when I parody a holiday tune to reflect the times, or as my mother would say, "murderize" the song. She always remarked on singers taking a standard and covering it poorly as "murderizing"...

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For-profit education and manufacturing

December 13, 2010

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Do you dream of raking in big bucks? Well then, I’ve got news for you: Try the education field. I’m serious. Of course I’m not talking about actually teaching. I’m talking about administration. And don’t even think about the public schools. I’m not talking about Harvard either. I’m...

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The U.S. gets its report card

December 10, 2010

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In case you didn't know, we're raising a generation of kids that aren't as sharp as their peers around the world. That's the story according to the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) released Tuesday by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development. In 2009 the group...

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Party hearty or hardly party?

December 9, 2010

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Last week global outplacement and business coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas reported the results of its 2010 Holiday Party Survey. The findings indicate that as a growing number of companies benefit from a slowly improving economy, there are indications that workplace holiday parties...

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Spiraling out of control

December 8, 2010

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Last week I took a trip to Genoa City, Wis., and felt like I had spent a couple hours in 1955 or so. I paid a visit to Ralph Wells, owner of Wells-Osborn Spiral Stairs, a company that specializes in spiral staircases. Founded in 1949 as a welding and repair shop, it expanded its repertoire to...

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Junk e-mail and unemployment

December 6, 2010

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I used to joke about my own little leading economic indicator, the JEI ... or my “Junk E-Mail Index.” I sometimes called it the FEI too, replacing “junk” with “forwarded.” In the 1990s, when e-mail was new and unemployment was incredibly low, my JEI was incredibly high. I attributed...

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A time to be thankful

December 3, 2010

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I didn't post a blog last week. I got caught up in the holiday rush. Cooked my own turkey on Wednesday, celebrated with the family on Thursday, got the Christmas tree on Friday, decorated the tree and the house on Saturday, and tied up the loose ends on Sunday before the second part of the holiday...

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Are jobs coming or going?

December 1, 2010

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September 23, 2010, Caterpillar broke ground for a new hydraulic excavator manufacturing facility in Victoria, Texas. Production is anticipated to begin in mid-2010, and once fully operational, the plant is expected to employ more than 500 people and triple the company’s U.S.-based excavator...

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Two realities of economic recovery

November 30, 2010

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After more than a year looking, my neighbor finally landed a job. He previously worked as a construction manager, which is undoubtedly why it took him so long to find work again. His new job isn’t in construction but instead is related to supply chain management. He sells software that helps...

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