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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...

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Gauging metal manufacturing's health

March 18, 2011 | By Dan Davis

The reader's e-mail request led off with a commonly seen note that his company was reworking its Web site, but it ended with a not-so-common question: What is the best barometer to indicate that the recession has ended in metal manufacturing? The e-mail writer wanted to link to some of these...

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GE CEO cites need for manufacturing, innovation, exporting

March 17, 2011 | By Kate Bachman

GE CEO Jeffrey Immelt, the newly appointed chairman of President Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, outlined his vision for making the U.S. more competitive in the global marketplace in a March 8 speech to The Executive Club of Chicago, contributing writer John Kerastas reported. It...

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Not just Japan's problem

March 16, 2011 | By Vicki Bell

I remember the first nuclear power plant I ever saw—the Byron Nuclear Generating Station located in Ogle County, Ill., two miles east of the Rock River. Construction began in 1975, and Units 1 and 2 became operational in 1985 and 1987 respectively. The project was rife with controversy. The...

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Critical laser cutting, welding tested in Japanese crisis

March 15, 2011 | By Tim Heston

When news broke of the earthquake-damaged nuclear plant in Japan, my mind turned to Jim Bleigh at Performance Contracting Inc., a Lenexa, Kan., company The FABRICATOR covered earlier this year. His group of talented welders, laser cutting machine operators, and assemblers fabricated strainers...

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Getting the good ones to stay

March 11, 2011 | By Dan Davis

At The FABRICATOR's Leadership Summit/6th annual Metal Matters, which just wrapped up late last week, I sat in on a discussion about ways to find good employees. The consensus among the 10 or so fabricators in this breakout session was that they are more than willing to train the right person for a...

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Who's to blame for the lack of skilled workers?

March 10, 2011 | By Vicki Bell

This month's “Fabricating Update” e-newsletter featured comments from readers who had responded to the February issue's lead item about how difficult it is to find the skilled workers modern manufacturing needs. These comments sparked a flurry of responses that not only addressed how difficult...

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Days of rage at the pump, in Libya, and in Saudi Arabia

March 9, 2011 | By Eric Lundin

Judging by the political developments in Libya and the current price of petroleum, you’d think that Libya was some sort of heavyweight exporter. Last fall West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil was trading at less than $85 per barrel on the spot market. Protests in Libya started in February, and...

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The metal fabricator and the iPhone

March 8, 2011 | By Tim Heston

Immediately after listening to a presentation at The FABRICATOR’s Leadership Summit last week, a metal fabrication executive turned on his iPhone®, rose his eyebrows, and, smiling, showed me the screen. The iPad® 2 had been announced minutes earlier. The moment couldn’t have been more...

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Welders, wars, and monuments

March 2, 2011 | By Vicki Bell

On a recent trip to the Washington D.C. area, my husband and I took the American Spirit Monument Tour. With only a little time for sightseeing, we had to choose what we wanted to see most, and the monuments won out. Yes, I have seen them many times in movies — who can forget the Lincoln Memorial...

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Welding triumphs and woes in Wisconsin

March 1, 2011 | By Amanda Carlson

There's good news coming out of Wisconsin's network of technical colleges. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel recently reported that enrollment at the state's 16 technical colleges is up 40 percent over the last decade, which aligns well with the state's prediction that middle-level jobs will grow at a...

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State of the unions

February 25, 2011 | By Dan Davis

Who would have thought that the No. 1 news story in Wisconsin so far wouldn't be the Green Bay Packers' Super Bowl victory?  So continues the drama surrounding Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's effort to eliminate collective bargaining rights for public employees. The Republican-dominated Assembly...

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Are small businesses optimistic enough to hire?

February 23, 2011 | By Vicki Bell

Do you own or work for a small business? How's your business faring these days? Are you hiring?  February 16, the House Committee on Small Business held a hearing titled "Putting Americans Back to Work: the State of the Small Business Economy." Speaking before the meeting, Rep. Nydia M. Velazquez...

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You can’t manufacture human rights

February 22, 2011 | By Tim Heston

The news from North Africa and the Middle East has been truly amazing lately. It’s a little scary for business owners and everyone else who depends on oil (in other words, nearly everybody).  Recent unrest in oil-rich Libya has sent oil prices skyward. But over the long term, expensive oil may...

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Pareto and the job shop

February 15, 2011 | By Tim Heston

After 10 years and two recessions, Vilfredo Pareto’s principle has had a rocky history with the job shop. The Italian economist discovered that roughly 80 percent of the effects come from 20 percent of the causes. In business, this has come to mean that 20 percent of customers provide companies...

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