February 3, 2014 | By Eric Lundin
After 60 years in business, Superior Tube Co. Inc. found itself at a crossroads. The recession of the early 2000s had taken a toll on U.S. manufacturing, and many companies feared the growing threat from newly industrializing, low-wage countries. The company’s management came up with a strategy to update its manufacturing practices, upgrade its equipment, and prepare its workforce for the challenges associated with global competition. The result, compressing about 15 years’ worth of changes into just two years, has propelled the company forward and earned it the 2014 TPJ Industry Award.
January 13, 2014 | By Eric Lundin
Need to connect a flexible hose to a rigid metal nipple? The worm gear clamp has been the standard for decades, but they aren’t ideal for the soft, thin-wall tubing used in aircraft environmental control systems.
December 6, 2013 | By Eric Lundin
When a well-known architect was hired to design student housing complex at California State University San Marcos (CSUSM), she teamed up with Lisa Schirmer and a fabricator to develop a fence-and-gate system that would look good, invoke local flora, and provide security for the residents. The result is part fence, part art.
December 5, 2013 | By Eric Lundin
Strikes and protests rippled across the U.S. on Dec. 5 as many minimum-wage workers demanded higher pay. Close on the heels of demonstrations by Wal-Mart workers on Black Friday, the protests center on the viability of making a living at $7.25 per hour. A common demand is a big jump in the minimum...
December 2, 2013 | By Eric Lundin
When fabricator SF Tube Inc. noticed a falling productivity in its welding department, it discovered poorly cut tube that required an added step, end facing, before welding. The band saw blade was the culprit, which led to one change, a different brand, but ultimately a handful of improvements in productivity.
October 24, 2013 | By Eric Lundin
Superior Tube Co. Inc., Collegeville, Pa., a fabricator that draws tubing for small-diameter applications, recently set about to improve material flow through its plant. Realizing that moving 60- and 70-year-old draw benches likely would damage the motors and motor controllers, which were the original equipment, the company developed a plan to upgrade the hardware at the same time. The result is a quantum leap in motor efficiency and monitoring capability.
October 17, 2013 | By Eric Lundin
The good news is that Congress finally drafted a spending bill that a majority agreed to (but not too enthusiastically); the bad news is twofold. First, some in government seem even more out-of-touch than ever. To quote Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev: "This is not a time for...
October 9, 2013 | By Eric Lundin
The many John Q. Publics who think that manufacturing in the U.S. is dying—or worse, who think it’s already dead—got a chance to see what they’ve been missing on Oct. 4, when more than 800 manufacturers throughout the U.S. opened their doors for tours. The main goal of Manufacturing Day is...
October 7, 2013 | By Eric Lundin
Solar Sculptures™, which comprises an artist, a public spaces planner, and an electrical engineer, designs sculptures that use motion sensors and LEDs to come alive at night.
September 30, 2013 | By Eric Lundin
On a July evening in 64 A.D., a fire erupted in Rome and is said to have burned for days, eventually destroying three districts and severely damaging seven more (out of a total of 14 districts). Legend has it that the reigning emperor, Nero Claudius Caesar Augustus Germanicus, played the fiddle...
September 10, 2013 | By Eric Lundin
If you spend a lot of time looking at economic data, you’re already aware that 2013 hasn’t provided much to get excited about. It has provided glimmers of hope, but nothing to set the world on fire. The unemployment rate has been moving downward, but slowly. Since January it slid from 7.9...
September 6, 2013 | By Eric Lundin
For tube and pipe producers, testing the product on the mill is necessary, but not necessarily optimal. The line speed might be too slow, the mill might have some maintenance issues, and other factors can interfere with online testing. For these reasons, many supplement the online test with an offline test.
September 6, 2013 | By Eric Lundin
Nuclear power plants use a lot of water to cool the reactors, and when the water intake unit occasionally pulls in a sea lion or a shark, environmentalists go nuts. Dimic Steel Tech bid on a contract to build two huge grates for Southern California Edison to keep marine life out of the water intakes, and had to learn a bit about welding corrosion-resistant steel along the way.
August 22, 2013 | By Eric Lundin
If you try to keep up with all of the experts, seers, and mad scribblers who try to predict which way the economy is heading at any particular time, you’re well aware that consensus in this field is about as rare as dinosaur eggs. The reasons are many, but to simplify: some...
August 13, 2013 | By Eric Lundin
The prime minister of Norway, Jens Stoltenberg, made headlines this week with a bold campaign strategy: he took a shift as a taxi driver. No, not a gun-toting, bent-on-vengeance sort of Travis Bickle, Robert De Niro’s role as the vigilante cabbie in Taxi Driver, but a mild-mannered taxi driver...