FMA Communications Inc.

Eric Lundin

Editor
FMA Communications Inc.
833 Featherstone Road
Rockford, IL 61107

Bending and brewing

May 11, 2015

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Sheet metal worker Paul Ziegman puts in long days building stainless steel kitchen equipment for restaurants and other food-service businesses in and around Spokane, Wash. He recently opened his own such business using the same equipment and skill set.

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Heat it where you need it

May 5, 2015

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Before Thom Shelow founded Superior Joining Technologies Inc., he did quite a variety of welding, but his welding experience wasn’t the only asset he used to make the business a success. He keeps an open mind and is always ready to analyze new ideas, new concepts, and new technologies. “That’s the way we’ve always done it” doesn’t prevail at SJTI.

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Reaping rewards with precision laser cutting

April 8, 2015

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In 1973 full-time farmer Mike Van Mill tried his hand at building a grain wagon for a neighboring farmer, and he has been at it full-time since incorporating Brent Industries a few years later. Now the operations manager for Unverferth Mfg., Shell Rock, Iowa, Van Mill is part of a team that manufactures implements under the Brent brand name. The staff runs the facility like a savvy farmer runs a farm, always looking for a better way but proceeding cautiously. A sheet laser purchased in the early 2000s led to a tube laser purchased in 2014.

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Electric bender cuts lead times, scrap rate

March 12, 2015

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Former toolmaker Toolspec Manufacturing Co. has transitioned over the years to become a fabricator, and over the years acquired 14 hydraulic benders. The machines are capable but require lengthy tool changeovers, hours of programming time, and substantial expertise to maintain bend consistency. It recently invested in two all-electric machines, benders that don’t have these issues.

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Handling structural steel, one truckload at a time

March 5, 2015

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For structural fabrication-and-construction companies, efficiency in logistics is vital. A typical column, beam, truss or joist is handled three times—first to a storage yard, then to a staging area, and finally to the semitrailer. However, this isn’t the only way to do it. Reinicke Athens Inc. recently invested in a straddle carrier from Combilift Ltd. Instead of moving one part at a time, the truck lifts and moves an entire load a time, cutting its trailer-loading time from up to 8 man-hours to as little as 30 minutes.

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The Superior way to implement lean manufacturing

March 5, 2015

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Editor Eric Lundin interviews two individuals who were key in establishing product flow at Superior Tube Co. Inc., tracing the big steps the company took to go from a conventional push system to a lean pull system.

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Developing a national, international bending standard for tube and pipe

January 23, 2015

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An update from an article that ran in the September 2013 TPJ, this column describes a research project intended to help eliminate trial-and-error setups, conserve programmers’ time, and help get products to market faster by helping everyone involved in a bending project home in on the optimal bending process before getting started.

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Art in motion

January 22, 2015

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Welder and artist Ed Kidera uses his engineering background to create unusual works of art, many of which are dynamic rather than static.

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Don’t buy it, bend it

January 21, 2015

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Bill Farris, owner of auto components supplier and repair shop Marden Tire & Auto, Rockford, Ill., focused on tires and repairs for many years, staying away from the inventory-heavy exhaust business. All that changed when King Cobra Muffler Centers Inc. approached him with a new way to handle exhaust systems: Stock straight pipe and bend systems when necessary.

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High-precision plasma system automates Chromalox’s cutting, beveling processes

December 17, 2014

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Chromalox, a manufacturer of industrial heating systems, relied on skilled workers do quite a few manual processes, especially cutting and beveling. As the supply of people with this skill slowly dried up, the company realized that it would need to invest in an automated system. It chose an Ultra-Cut 400 XT plasma power supply from Thermal Dynamics (Victor) and coupled it to a 6-axis CNC pipe-handling system from Watts Specialties Inc.

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Boatbuilder switches from aluminum to steel

December 11, 2014

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Burger Boat Co. has weathered many a storm in its 150-year history, often changing direction to incorporate new technologies and adapt to changing market conditions. When the pleasure craft industry sank in 2009, it went after commercial work, and in the process had to develop a program for working in steel, which it hadn’t done in five decades or so. With the new process came new consumables from ESAB.

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The unemployment rate keeps falling

December 11, 2014

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The headline unemployment figures provide quite a few reasons for optimism. The unemployment rate is low and falling, as is the number of layoffs. However, a deeper look paints a more complete picture of the current job market, and it reveals a few weaknesses.

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Classes for the masses

November 5, 2014

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Frustrated by an OEM that always makes easy products complicated, uses unrealistic tolerances, or leaves out critical information? You’re in good company—every manufacturer experiences this type of thing once in a while. Superior Tube Products Inc., Davenport, Iowa, deals with this by providing classes that teach the finer points of bending tube and pipe.

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Part-time job brings full-time satisfaction

October 17, 2014

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After a career in welding and fabricating, Charlie Wolfe is semi-retired and working 25 hours a week at the local community college. However, his network of friends is vast and his reputation as a go-to guy for one-off projects and repairs is sterling, so he’s actually busier now then he was back when he worked 40 hours a week

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Mission NOT accomplished

October 17, 2014

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A brief look at some unemployment and employment numbers provides reason for optimism for the state of the labor force. It's too soon to say "Mission accomplished" or anything like that, because getting people back to work is an ongoing process, but the trends are encouraging nonetheless.

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