Tim Heston

Tim Heston

Senior Editor
FMA Communications Inc.
2135 Point Blvd
Elgin, IL 60123

Automation and Robotics | Articles | The FABRICATOR

Robots for hire

March 24, 2017 | By Tim Heston

A company has introduced a new way for a fabricator to use automation: not by investing in a permanent system, but by hiring them and paying for their use by the hour. The technology behind collaborative robotics is making this possible.

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Bending | Articles | The FABRICATOR

Technology Spotlight: Modular design meets the press brake

March 3, 2017 | By Tim Heston

A press brake manufacturer uncovers an alternative to the conventional C-frame design. According to the company, the modular design eliminates the need for a conventional crowning system and makes machine installation easier.

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Shop Management | Articles | The FABRICATOR

Advancement challenges in metal fabrication

March 2, 2017 | By Tim Heston

As technology and globalization force manufacturers to produce more with fewer people and more productive machines, the manufacturing career ladder has fewer rungs. This has changed how people learn (or fail to learn) the ins and outs of metal fabrication.

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Shop Management | Articles | The FABRICATOR

How to make office work flow

March 1, 2017 | By Tim Heston

Rework runs rampant in the office, although few notice it or work to eliminate it. A conversation with Kevin Duggan, president of Duggan Associates, reveals how operational excellence helps eliminate this rework and other inefficiencies, including those long email exchanges and overlooked work buried in email and desktop inboxes. He does this by introducing office workers to the concepts of flow and operational excellence.

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Shop Management | Articles | The FABRICATOR

How to build a rep with reps in custom metal fabrication

March 1, 2017 | By Tim Heston

Manufacturers’ representatives can help a shop grow and diversify. But finding the right rep isn’t straightforward. The rep and fabricator need to be a good fit, and both need to scrutinize the other’s relationships and reputation.

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Shop Management | Articles | The FABRICATOR

A square deal on continuous improvement in custom manufacturing

March 1, 2017 | By Tim Heston

After adopting quick-response manufacturing, Square Deal Machining Inc. (SDMI) in Marathon, N.Y., cut lead times and inventory levels in half. The change required focus on the new manufacturing method, technology, and company culture.

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Shop Management | Articles | The FABRICATOR

In defense of diversification in metal fabrication

February 24, 2017 | By Tim Heston

In 2008 a Shelby, N.C., fabricator cranked out armored plate like there was no tomorrow. Then the defense contracts ended, and tough times ensued. But after almost shutting its doors, the plant has since been transformed into a diversified metal manufacturer.

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Laser Cutting | Articles | The FABRICATOR

Technology Spotlight: Reading the laser cutting beam—there’s an app for that

February 1, 2017 | By Tim Heston

Precitec’s cutting head senses trouble in real time, and communicates via Bluetooth directly to an operator’s phone or tablet.

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Roll Forming | Articles | The FABRICATOR

Following the roll forming road map

February 1, 2017 | By Tim Heston

Many people call roll forming a black art, but David Rostocil isn’t one of them. If an operator is given the print, follows documented operating procedures, and maintains good records—and has consistent material thickness and properties to work with—the process becomes a science, one that over time can be tweaked and perfected.

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Bending | Articles | The FABRICATOR

A new way to automate sheet metal bending

January 30, 2017 | By Tim Heston

At Minneapolis-based Atlas Manufacturing, a collaborative robot has taken over the mundane task of forming long runs of simple parts.

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Shop Management | Articles | The FABRICATOR

Managing the three legs of the custom metal fabrication stool

January 27, 2017 | By Tim Heston

Technology has become the ticket to entry for metal fabrication. But when a fabricator buys a new machine, it doesn’t stay secret for long. So what really sets a company apart from its competitors? Past speakers at FMA events give some insights.

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Laser Cutting | Articles | The FABRICATOR

Back to basics: The subtle science of burr-free laser cutting

January 25, 2017 | By Tim Heston

Attaining a burr-free cut is about setting up the laser beam parameters and gas flow dynamics to work together to ensure the right amount of molten metal evacuates the kerf at the right time and in the right way.

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Shop Management | Articles | The FABRICATOR

A case study in lean manufacturing: Opening the door to single-piece flow

January 25, 2017 | By Tim Heston

Total Door Systems, Waterford, Mich., has successfully adopted single-piece part flow to engineer- to-order commercial door manufacturing. In its old building, the company held up to six weeks of work-in-process. It moved into a new building in 2010, and today the manufacturer holds only one day’s worth of WIP—and can respond to customers within days, instead of weeks.

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Shop Management | Blog Posts

It’s not your father’s manufacturing, but …

January 17, 2017 | By Tim Heston

Manufacturing's image is not just about how plants look, but also about what plant employees do.

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Shop Management | Articles | The FABRICATOR

What makes estimating effective in metal fabrication?

January 9, 2017 | By Tim Heston

Good estimating involves more than just numbers crunching. A good estimator needs to communicate and collaborate with various people, from the owner to the machine operator. That person also needs the right organizational structure and technology in place to be effective.

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