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The green fields of America

March 17, 2010 | By Vicki Bell

As I write this, it's March 17 -- St. Patrick's Day - - and as a member of the Irish diaspora, I'm wearing green and playing the CD Murphy's Irish Pub as I work. This is the one day of the year that I immerse myself in my ancestry. I’m an American first and foremost, but who I am as an...

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Do not count on those manufacturing backlogs

March 16, 2010 | By Tim Heston

Not a day goes by that I don’t remember how lucky I am. OK, I’m lying. Most days I don’t give it a second thought, though I know I should. My parents got a second mortgage so that I could leave college without having to worry about paying back student loans. How could they do this? Well,...

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Faith in metal fabricating

March 12, 2010 | By Dan Davis

I came across the Web site for JRS Custom Fabrication Inc. down in Ocala, Fla., last week. Someone sent me an e-mail so I checked it out. When you visit the site, you'll notice a Bible verse from 1 John 1:3. Make no mistake; this company's guided by the Lord's words. As its mission statement...

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'Our most-used machine is so old ...

March 10, 2010 | By Vicki Bell

... that the hydraulic cylinder doesn’t have a conventional seal, but uses rings of packing to slow the flow of hydraulic fluid.'  This is just one of the comments we received yesterday in response to the March "Fabricating Update" e-newsletter that addressed companies' reluctance to invest in...

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The backbone of America

March 3, 2010 | By Vicki Bell

The phrase "backbone of America" is used to describe various important U.S. entities: the Continental Divide, roads, steel, and small business, to name a few.  Just looking at this list, you can see how interconnected these four examples are. We need roads and steel bridges to cross the...

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Therapy for data overload

March 2, 2010 | By Tim Heston

This week The Economist put together a special section about how society is overflowing with data. Reading it, I thought it was irony at its best. What better way to cover our data-overload than with a long, drawn-out story bubbling over with … data. The most obvious example of data-overload is...

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Don't get the 'reds' about green

February 26, 2010 | By Dan Davis

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 | By Vicki Bell

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 | By Tim Heston

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 | By Dan Davis

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 | By Eric Lundin

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 | By Vicki Bell

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 | By Tim Heston

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 | By Dan Davis

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 | By Vicki Bell

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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