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.
August 4, 2014
For Monty Kollath, a degree in commercial art and a career in automotive repair work provided a nice living and positioned him well for a little moonlighting as a metal artist. However, Kollath had one more factor in his favor—his job in the auto repair field provides an endless supply of cast-off items suitable for metal sculpture.
July 31, 2014
When Bob Burns, owner of Aero Bending Co., Palmdale, Calif., moved his company to a new and bigger location, he considered adding to the company’s fleet of benders. However, a number of bending machine operators often lined up to measure bent components, creating a bottleneck. Changing to an optical inspection system cleared this bottleneck.
July 21, 2014
When Dave Milo set out to build a portable hardbanding unit, the former trucking company owner knew little about welding and nothing about hardbanding. After updating the hardbanding unit design a few times with consulting help from Lincoln Electric, Milo thinks he’s ready to change direction. Rather than providing hardbanding services, his goal is to sell hardbanding machines.
July 10, 2014
BSS Industrial, a plumbing and heating products distributor, was accustomed to using slings affixed to its fork lifts to lift tube bundles from truck beds. The drawback was that on occasion the load would swing, creating a tipping risk for the lift truck. Lift truck manufacturer Combilift developed a truck with standard-length forks for placing and picking inventory, and a longer set of forks for lifting tube bundles from the delivery vehicle’s bed.
July 7, 2014
It's not often that a tool as simple as a hand-held circular saw wins an award for its design, but it happened when Exact Pipe Tools Inc. submitted three models to Design Zentrum Nordrhein Westfalen, one of the oldest design institutes in Europe. The saw clamps to the pipe, so users are safer and cuts are straighter.
June 30, 2014
A niche tube producer that formerly used GTAW exclusively, Esta Rohr began changing over to laser welding in 2005. The change is now complete, with substantial changes. The company has reduced its number tube production lines from five to three, but its output has increased tremendously. Meanwhile, laser welding has allowed it to cut some costs, helping its products compete against others.