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Who’s behind the steering wheel?

August 13, 2013

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The prime minister of Norway, Jens Stoltenberg, made headlines this week with a bold campaign strategy: he took a shift as a taxi driver. No, not a gun-toting, bent-on-vengeance sort of Travis Bickle, Robert De Niro’s role as the vigilante cabbie in Taxi Driver, but a mild-mannered taxi driver...

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All for one and none for all

August 9, 2013

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Metal fabricators don’t have a lot in common when trying to compare one job shop to another. The same goes for the customer segments they serve—with one major exception. Most don’t, and have no desire to, work with the automotive industry. That’s quite the statement given the desire of...

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Show me the jobs, good jobs

August 8, 2013

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We keep hearing/reading that the U.S. job picture is improving. An article published today on nbcnews.com, “Jobless claims point to healing employment market,” said “the number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits rose slightly last week but was still near its lowest level...

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Happy birthday, Curiosity!

August 7, 2013

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If you heard champagne corks popping on August 6, it was for a good reason. That was the staff at NASA celebrating the first birthday of the Curiosity mission. The rover landed on Mars on August 6, 2012, and has been sending data back to Earth ever since. The mission is an enormous (and ongoing)...

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You need a vacation

August 1, 2013

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A co-worker called a few minutes ago, and I asked her how things were at the office. You see, I work several states away in my home office, where it’s always quiet. Just me, my computer, phone, and a couple of cats that pop in and out occasionally. Apparently, it’s not too different at...

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The gut-punch of Detroit in bankruptcy

July 29, 2013

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In 2009 I landed in Detroit and saw a billboard I’ll never forget. I was on my way to FMA's ALAW, the Advanced Laser Applications Workshop, and there was a massive billboard advertising something you rarely if ever see on the interstate. Metal fabricator W Industries was touting its ability to...

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Covering all the bases to keep the registers ringing

July 25, 2013

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A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post that centered on a Costco Connection poll asking if U.S. manufacturing jobs are still important to the economy. The magazine presented arguments supporting both the “yes” and “no” positions. I took issue with the latter, largely because I believe that...

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Laser focus on an ever-changing market

July 25, 2013

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“We don’t think one size fits all. It depends on the application,” said Al Bohlen, national sales manager, Mazak Optonics Corp., to a crowd of fabricators attending a seminar during the company’s Laser Technology Days event in late July. The days of a fabricating shop owner deciding he...

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More horsepower, better fuel efficiency

July 18, 2013

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If you follow Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules, restrictions, and proposals, you’re already aware that it has mandated a corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025. Carmakers have been moving in this direction for many years, reducing weight where possible,...

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Google Glass meets manufacturing

July 18, 2013

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We may be entering a new manufacturing age. OK, that’s hyperbole, but it’s one that comes to mind after you step back and think of just how far we’ve come, even during the past 10 years. First, consider the biggest challenges in U.S. manufacturing, most of which deals with high-product-mix...

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Skilled-worker shortage?

July 12, 2013

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After multiple e-mails from readers over the past couple of months claiming that our constant referencing to the skilled-worker shortage is a disservice, I figured it’s best to come clean. They are right. It’s not a skilled-worker shortage; it’s a...

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Manufacturing, who needs it?

July 11, 2013

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Flipping through The Costco Connection July 2013 magazine last night, I ran across an interesting tidbit on page 8—an image of a welder with the caption: “Debate goes on—in response to the June Debate, ‘Are U.S. manufacturing jobs still important to the economy?’” Clearly, I had missed...

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Another technology milestone

July 10, 2013

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Most people have never heard of Eugene Ely, although aviation buffs probably recognize the name. An American test pilot in the early days of aviation, he was the first pilot to take off from a ship (November 14, 1910) and the first to land on one (January 18, 1911). On May 9, 1912, Air Commodore...

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The entrepreneur and the engineer

July 9, 2013

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In our August print edition of The FABRICATOR will be another installment of Steve Benson’s Bending Basics series. Benson, president of consulting firm ASMA LLC, Salem, Ore., and a press brake guru who runs press brake certification seminars for the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association,...

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Technology and procedures working in concert

July 8, 2013

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At LeanFab Workshop & Tours, organized by the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, International, and held last month in Columbus, Ohio, Dave Lechleitner asked attendees to draw a pig. The presales principal at Exact Software, Minneapolis, wasn’t playing an odd joke. Instead, he was...

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