April 8, 2015
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.
March 12, 2015
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.
March 5, 2015
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.
January 23, 2015
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.
January 21, 2015
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.
December 17, 2014
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.
December 11, 2014
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.
December 11, 2014
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.
November 5, 2014
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.
October 17, 2014
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
October 17, 2014
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.
October 16, 2014
R & B Wagner, Milwaukee, has had a primary role in the construction industry for more than 100 years. From its early days as a blacksmith shop, the company has grown to become a designer and manufacturer of handrail components and systems; a contract manufacturer for OEMs; and a first-rate finishing company, providing top-notch polishing services for other fabricators and manufacturers. Manufacturing Operations Manager Kane Behling and President Rick Kettler shared the company’s story with Editor Eric Lundin.
October 8, 2014
Mega-payday isn't the day a lucky lottery winner claims the Mega Millions proceeds. It's one of 15 or so Fridays every year that 90 million people receive a check of some sort, whether it’s from an employer, the Social Security Administration, or some other government agency. Some retailers have a vested interest in the mega-payday cycle, but the reasons for this expose the downside to current economic trends.