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.
September 30, 2014
Using 2-D software in a world that has transitioned to 3-D software can be a difficult task. When Cougar Fuel Systems looked for new software, it looked for a system that also would shorten its product design time and manage the many design and production tasks. It found a suitable system when it purchased Smap3D P&ID and Smap Piping from CAD Partner Products Inc.
September 8, 2014
Bending tubular parts for the aerospace industry isn’t easy. OEMs continue to push the envelope, designing increasingly complex parts made from pricey materials. Fabricators are under continuous pressure to improve their capabilities, turn orders around faster, and minimize scrap. To that end, SL Engineering recently invested in a second all-electric bender from Unison.
September 4, 2014
Firefly Bicycles, a 2011 start-up in the custom bicycle business, is thriving despite the sluggish economy and a competitive marketplace. The company’s three founders are using their previous work experience in bicycle fabrication and their enthusiasm for cycling to stay ahead of the competition.
August 28, 2014
The U.S. population is aging, as is the workforce. Employers of all sorts are doing what they can, or should be doing what they can, to prepare for increasing rates of retirement. If you're lucky enough to have (1) a pool of experienced workers, (2) a company culture that encourages the sharing of the tribal knowledge, and (3) an enthusiastic group of new recruits, you're just missing one element that can help to make the transition go smoothly.