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Playing field could become even more precarious

May 5, 2010 | By Vicki Bell

For the nearly eight years I’ve been asking fabricators about the state of metal manufacturing, many have expressed the opinion that a primary contributor to the decline in U.S. manufacturing is an unlevel playing field with China. In stating their opinions, these fabricators typically mention...

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Good news from the oracle

May 3, 2010 | By Tim Heston

Omaha, Neb., became a worldwide business epicenter over the weekend. Its oracle spoke. Warren Buffett held his annual Berkshire Hathaway shareholder extravaganza in Omaha. He spoke in the Qwest Center to some 40,000 investors, and afterward held a press conference to trumpet his message: Business...

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Saluting civilians

May 1, 2010 | By Amanda Carlson

Some people might think that the only way to serve their country is by joining the military. If that were true, then this country, the men and women currently serving, and our national security would be in a world of trouble. Even though they don't receive much recognition, the fact is civilians...

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Big spill, bigger problem

April 29, 2010 | By Eric Lundin

What a difference a week makes. On April 19, Transocean Ltd.’s Deepwater Horizon rig was doing some exploratory drilling in the Gulf of Mexico on behalf of BP. After a six-year drought that started in 1994, BP had discovered several major oil deposits throughout the last decade: Marlin, 2000;...

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No pixie dust for manufacturing jobs

April 28, 2010 | By Vicki Bell

Do you ever have one of those days, weeks, or years in which nothing seems to go right? (If you answered "no" to this question, let us all in on your secret.)  I'm having one of those weeks, and I'm attributing all the madness and irritations to the full moon. That's right; I’m blaming...

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Labor is not a bad word

April 27, 2010 | By Tim Heston

Countless talking heads have argued for and against globalization. Some say it’s an unstoppable force, as companies continue their hunt for the company that gives the most bang for their buck. In manufacturing, that often translates to the cheapest labor that can meet or exceed required quality...

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Robotics market shrinks; innovation continues

April 22, 2010 | By Dan Davis

The manufacturers and systems integrators that gathered for ABB's 2010 Robotic Technology Days, April 21-22, in Auburn Hills, Mich., showed up in good moods. The economy looks to be slowly emerging from the depths, and the technological innovations haven't slowed down during the slowdown. The past...

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April 22, 2010 | By Eric Lundin

Events in Iceland generally don’t warrant international headlines. That’s not to say it isn’t an interesting place. If you’re into linguistics, you already know that its language is essentially the same as when it was spoken by its original settlers; 1,000 years of relative isolation has...

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Looking ahead: Fabricators on the next six months

April 21, 2010 | By Vicki Bell

Business Roundtable’s first quarter 2010 CEO Economic Outlook Survey indicated that the CEOs of America’s leading companies anticipate increased capital expenditures, sales, and employment in the next six months.  A recent survey of manufacturing CFOs, conducted by Grant Thornton LLP, shows...

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Irony in Ireland: Global trade and volcanic ash

April 19, 2010 | By Tim Heston

‭This week has dripped with irony. On Wednesday I traveled to a press event at Combilift,‭ ‬a forklift and material handling equipment manufacturer several hours northwest of Dublin,‭ ‬in the rolling green hills of County Monaghan.‭ ‬The company exports most of its vehicles and keeps...

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For those who weld old steel, we salute you

April 16, 2010 | By Dan Davis

If a metal fabricator has been around long enough, he probably has come across more than a couple of welding situations that have him lifting off his helmet and scratching his noggin. He likely has done everything correct according to the textbook, but the joint  just does not come together like...

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Loaded with land mines

April 15, 2010 | By Vicki Bell

It’s April 15 — one of the most recognizable, and often dreaded, days in the U.S. Probably as recognizable as July 4, but more akin to December 7  for many. It's the deadline for filing federal income tax returns. According to a recent unscientific poll on, 47 percent of...

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Fabricating just enough, just in time

April 15, 2010 | By Tim Heston

Two weeks ago I talked with one fabrication shop owner who has what last year would have been considered an unusual problem. Bankers were lined up, eager to give the small business owner a loan--only he didn’t need one. Work is coming in the door, but it’s mostly small jobs, nothing to warrant...

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Manufacturing needs to ditch the celebrity spokesperson

April 9, 2010 | By Dan Davis

Bear with me for a minute. I'm about to bring up the name Jesse James, but I'm not about to spend 500 words on this tabloid fodder. (This would be the guy behind West Coast Choppers, not the American outlaw of the 19th century Old West.) Of course, James is also the guy that stepped out on Sandra...

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Welding passion leads to livelihood

April 7, 2010 | By Vicki Bell

Two years ago, I wrote an article for about Brennan Palmiter, a young race car driver and welder (then 16) who had teamed up with the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association (FMA) Foundation and Practical Welding Today® magazine to introduce young people to manufacturing...

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