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Don't get the 'reds' about green

February 26, 2010

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FMA Communications Inc., the parent organization of this Web site and The FABRICATOR magazine, launched Green Manufacturer last month. The magazine covers manufacturing practices that are not only environmentally friendly, but also friendly to a company's overall performance, whether we are talking...

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Jobs don't matter to the dead

February 24, 2010

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Two of the most compelling stories these days have to do with an athlete long-considered the best golfer in the world and an automaker that became the world’s No. 1 in 2008 (and is ranked Japan's No. 1 global brand for 2010): Tiger Woods and Toyota. Once at the top of their games, both entities...

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Investor and consumer versus the citizen

February 23, 2010

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Dennis Rider’s career path changed directions recently, as reported by The Grand Rapids Press. After 27 years as a roll forming and laser cutting machine operator, he was let go in 2007. After spending serious time job hunting, Rider decided to retrain as an auto mechanic. He told the newspaper...

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Customer service issues

February 19, 2010

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Talking with successful metal fabricators, I'm beginning to feel that they are the only companies left that remain committed to customer service. Lean manufacturing improvements are all about getting fabricated products to the customer sooner. Investments in engineering personnel and tools are made...

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Carbon-free electric cars? Not quite

February 18, 2010

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The headline caught my attention like few do: “Oh-so quick and even carbon-free.” The article discussed Tesla Motors’ Roadster®, the $110,000 beauty that uses lithium-ion battery technology—6,831 individual cells, to be exact—to power a 375-VAC induction motor that redlines at 14,000...

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We don't need another fantasy

February 17, 2010

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One of the much-touted bright spots for the future of manufacturing in the U.S. and the economy overall is the green energy revolution. Part of this uprising (we have nowhere to go but up) includes companies producing products for wind, solar, and nuclear power and creating high-paying jobs in the...

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Grabbing the skilled-labor issue by the horns

February 16, 2010

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High unemployment has muted manufacturing’s cry for skilled workers, but the cry is still there. It’s a paradox. As manufacturers shed unskilled workers, those who are left must be more skilled and versatile than ever. According to the Labor Department, American manufacturing produces more...

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The aftermath of exuberant times

February 12, 2010

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Remember former Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan's comments about the U.S. economy being swept up in "irrational exuberance"? He used the phrase in 1996 to describe the stock market boom that might have been overvalued. To be frank, I thought he had coined the phrase in the 2000s to...

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Stop the bloodletting

February 10, 2010

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Last month the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) announced that December mass layoffs and initial unemployment claims were at the lowest levels since July 2008. Even if they are happening at a slower pace, layoffs continue and are having a devastating effect on workers, the economy, and companies'...

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Personifying Toyota

February 9, 2010

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This morning’s announcement of Toyota’s recall of 437,000 hybrid vehicles seems to have brought the automaker’s woes to a whole new level. Judging by the media coverage, these events are epic. Want to understand the media circus around the Toyota recall? Here’s a little something John...

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My mom, the informant

February 5, 2010

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My mother is a retired elementary school teacher, and I'm married to a high school math teacher. Inevitably if the two are together for any length of time, the discussion turns to public education. The opinions are impassioned and obviously biased, but the input is valuable in understanding how a...

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'150 jobs for $1.3 million would be a steal'

February 3, 2010

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Among the items in last month’s “Tube Talk” e-newsletter was one about Leonard Maniscalco, who owns Sackett Systems Inc., Bensenville, Ill. This small-business owner wants the government to give him a $1.3 million grant. In return, he’ll create 150 new jobs. According to Chicago Tribune...

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The dangers of hiring on the cheap

February 2, 2010

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Despite the drama at Toyota (talk about the risk of standardized parts) and the political sideshows in Washington, on the main stage of American life, something’s happening. Business is decidedly better. As Chris Kuehl, economist for the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, put it in a...

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The future of training

January 28, 2010

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Whether or not you follow all the latest trends in digital technology, you’ve probably seen fancy devices such as the Smartphone from BlackBerry® or the iPhone from Apple. They allow you to do all sorts of things—play music, send and receive text messages, take photos, record and edit video,...

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I’ll know the recession has ended when...

January 27, 2010

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Tonight, President Barack Obama will take the podium to deliver his State of the Union address. In his preview of the speech, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said that Obama hopes to use his message to “outline a hopeful track for our future.” He also said, “The president is going...

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