March 3, 2014
KSM Industries Inc., Germantown, Wis., found success building rack mounts for power equipment, but as the business grew, the number of templates did as well. The company needed a better organization plan other than putting the templates on pallets, hoping to find them when they were needed again.
February 21, 2014
Last week autoworkers at the Volkswagen assembly plant in Chattanooga, Tenn., voted down a proposal to join the United Auto Workers (UAW) union. Fifty-three percent said “no” to the idea, even though Volkswagen did not actively oppose or support the vote. While the automaker may have tried...
February 14, 2014
David Tilstone, president, National Tooling & Machining Association, is pretty certain precision metalworking shops across the U.S. need help. According to a 2013 NTMA survey of its membership, just over 70 percent have a job opening that they are having difficulty filling. At least a third have...
February 6, 2014
During President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech in late January, he made a point to focus on the development of more advanced manufacturing institutes, also called “hubs.” The idea is that these hubs would focus on advanced manufacturing technologies and possible commercialization...
February 3, 2014
As I was watching the weather last night, the meteorologist mentioned that Chicagoland had already experienced the third most subzero-degree days in one winter, according to records that go back more than 140 years. That’s pretty depressing, considering that it’s not even February. So as the...
February 3, 2014
How does a small western Michigan fabricating shop evolve into a key metal parts supplier to some of the most demanding OEM customers in the world? It is committed to lean manufacturing principles and has made strategic investments in new fabricating technology, but most of all, it has engaged employees that are comfortable with changes that come with continuous improvement efforts.
January 30, 2014
Metal fabricators can’t find the right manufacturing talent. Customers are more demanding. The current workforce is overworked. How can fabricating companies keep up? The FABRICATOR’s Editorial Advisory Board has some suggestions.
January 27, 2014
Altec, a manufacturer of truck bodies and related products, tried the outsourcing route me to stay on top of expanding fabricating jobs, but the headaches were too great to maintain such an arrangement. The company decided to take metal fabricating back in-house by setting up a new facility in Burnsville, N.C., and with the addition of some key equipment, it hasn't looked back.
January 24, 2014
As metal fabricators claim they are unable to find young workers interested in working in metal fabricating for entry-level wages, the machine tool makers have responded by trying to take the “shop knowledge” that is commonly locked in the head of a few experienced shop floor workers and moving...
January 16, 2014
Metal fabricating shops that perform well have well-performing workforces. It sounds too simple, but you’ll hear the same thing from managers in these high-performance organizations. Company owners and managers don’t debate about spending money on training programs that help to keep skills...
January 13, 2014
In all honesty, nesting software that works for CO2 laser cutting machines also works for fiber lasers. The speed of the fiber laser, however, forces the fabricator to think more deliberately about software options that help to maintain the continuous flow of laser-cut parts.
December 5, 2013
Jon DeWys, president, DeWys Manufacturing, Marne, Mich., recalled a huge effort they poured into a job fair it held about two years ago. Like many other metal fabricating shops, they were struggling to find potential employees that were mechanically inclined, could show up on time, and could pass a...
December 2, 2013
When any discussion takes place about metal fabricating in Europe, the focus almost always centers on automation because these shops have to cope with high-priced labor and strict regulations. That’s not so much the case for all European fabricators, however. Shops in Belgium are more interested in increasing throughput, and sometimes that may not call for advanced automation. They want equipment that is the right fit for their shops.
November 14, 2013
Gerald Davis, The FABRICATOR’s Precision Matters columnist, writes an interesting capper to his yearlong series on estimating in the publication's December issue. In it, he discusses optimization of the quoting process so that it matches the true focus of the metal fabricating business. The...
October 31, 2013
Leading a tour of Southern Metalcraft Inc., Lithonia, Ga., as part of The FABRICATOR’s Technology Summit in early October, shop management jokingly referred to an employee with 23 years of experience as a “rookie.” When the second worker ever hired by the almost 40-year-old company still...