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The 2016 FAB 40: Planning their next move

June 22, 2016 | By Tim Heston

It’s been quite a run. Over the past four years many FAB 40 companies have reported big revenue gains. In 2015, not so much, at least on average. Sales at some big companies either held steady or declined somewhat, mainly thanks to weak markets that by now every fabricator knows about: oil and...

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Shop technology and 3-D CAD: Modeling with surfaces, patterns, and configurations

June 20, 2016 | By Gerald Davis

Columnist Gerald Davis reviews the use of equations, configurations, design tables, and specific modeling tools for creating 3-D models of paper and cake.

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Metal fabrication and the buying experience

June 17, 2016 | By Tim Heston

SixAxis, a fabricator of safety platforms, portable stairs, and other industrial products, developed its own software with quoting, customer relationship management, and product configuration features. According to sources, software changed the customer buying experience, which in turn helped the company quintuple in size over six years.

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A metal fabricator you can’t pigeonhole

June 15, 2016 | By Tim Heston

IMS Engineered Products’ revenue has increased by 45 percent during the past five years. How? The fabricator is part of a larger organization, IMS Companies, with diverse revenue streams coming from gear manufacturing, stamping, electrical harness assembly, and more. But IMS’s story of growth really boils down to a straightforward strategy: quick response.

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Lean, large, and keeping pace

June 15, 2016 | By Tim Heston

Ironform Corp. formed in 2013 after Wynnchurch Capital purchased two large metal fabricators. But Ironform’s story is more about scaling up metal fabrication through acquisition. It’s about adapting the principles of lean manufacturing to custom metal fabrication—on a large scale.

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Scaling up metal fabrication: In support of the front line

June 15, 2016 | By Tim Heston

General Sheet Metal Works has experienced double-digit growth in recent years. For a $70 million operation, that’s saying something. And yet, the company has few growing pains to speak of—thanks to a new business structure that has made scaling up much easier.

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How equipment can help relieve the skilled-worker shortage

June 9, 2016 | By Michelle Howell

If you need more workers and you’re having a difficult time finding them, perhaps you should explore equipment options that can mitigate the need for more help. For example, some welding tables can eliminate the need for extra hands.

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Engaging people on the shop floor: Turn underutilized employees loose

June 3, 2016 | By Jeff Sipes

Keeping all employees engaged all the time isn’t easy, but the benefits are substantial. Ultimately, such engagement unleashes employee talent.

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One metal manufacturer, one name, many services

June 3, 2016 | By Tim Heston

Merrill Technologies Group, Saginaw, Mich., has implemented a strategy that managers hope will double the size of the company over the next five years.

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How to maximize rebates on lighting upgrades

June 2, 2016 | By Josh Kurtz

If you are considering a lighting retrofit, chances are you're already aware that tax incentives and rebates are available, and you're counting on them to shorten your ROI.

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Fabricators and their power hammers

June 2, 2016 | By Jeffrey Dean

Power hammers are pieces of equipment that hark back to the earliest days of metal fabricating. Today’s power hammers allow fabricators to lean on the technology, not purely on brawn, to deliver the shaping blows. While power hammers are not found in many precision sheet metal shops, many operations do employ them. In fact, they are a key part of the operation.

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Growth strategies for fabricators

May 26, 2016 | By Eric Lundin

Many small businesses grow quickly in the early years, but eventually growth hits a plateau. Big gains in additional growth come from gaining new customers or acquiring another company. In Going to Market, a presentation at The FABRICATOR®’s Leadership Summit, Lisa Wertzbaugher, sales and marketing manager for fabricator Superior Tube Products, discussed a four-part strategy for expanding the company’s sales, revenue, and profitability.

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Don't lose track of the latest design updates

May 23, 2016 | By Dan Davis

The goal of forward-thinking fabrication shops is to be closely involved in a customer's supply chain, where perhaps it participates in part designs and design for manufacturability activities. If a shop is to be an active supply chain partner, it needs to be able to stay on top of engineering change orders and part design discussion. Cloud-based product life cycle management software can help.

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Continuous improvement: Do you have a handle on flow

May 23, 2016 | By Jeff Sipes

Manufacturing is all about flow, both of physical products and information. You can plan for good flow. But if you let it evolve on its own, you will be dealing with the waste and efficiency that evolution creates.

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Shop technology and 3-D CAD: Comparison of two animation tools for creating walk-through tours

May 23, 2016 | By Gerald Davis

Columnist Gerald Davis reviews methods for creating walk-through animations. The use of a camera following a path is discussed.

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