FMA Communications Inc.

Tim Heston

Senior Editor
FMA Communications Inc.
833 Featherstone Road
Rockford, IL 61107

Direct-diode lasers enter the sheet metal cutting arena

October 22, 2012

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CO2 gas lasers still dominate sheet metal cutting, but they aren’t the only game in town anymore. Solid-state lasers like the fiber and disk varieties--which use diode lasers to pump, or excite, the lasing medium--continue to have considerable market success. And now fabricators may have a new...

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The rebirth of a metal fabrication business - TheFabricator.com

The rebirth of a metal fabrication business

October 19, 2012

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In September 2011, thanks to changing weather patterns and unintended consequences of water management, GT Fabrication was flooded yet again. The family business has been through this before. Why stay in the game? Because the metal fabrication community was there to help.

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Fab reporter notebook: In lean manufacturing we trust

October 16, 2012

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Yesterday I spoke with a production manager (on background) with a not-so-uncommon challenge. He had been brushing up on the basics of continuous improvement, including lean manufacturing methodologies adapted for the high-mix, low-volume environment. All the talk of efficient part flow, shorter...

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Opportunities worth trumpeting

October 15, 2012

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We all know wage growth in this country is next to nothing. It’s one reason why the presidential election season has been so contentious. Employees continue to work harder than ever, while employers hesitate to hire more. But metal fabricators and other manufacturers have another problem: Some...

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Back to shcool for welder - TheFabricator.com

Wisconsin fabricator ramps up in-house training

October 12, 2012

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As the skilled labor crisis continued unabated, Schuette Metals launched a unique in-house training program. Sources said that more than anything else, good training will be key to the fabricator’s future success.

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A plate rolling primer - TheFabricator.com

A plate rolling primer

October 12, 2012

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The FABRICATOR talks with Jeff Visser, production managers at Avon, Mass.-based BEPeterson, about the basics of plate rolling operation. Plate rolling is part art, part science. It requires skill, and not just anyone can do the job right.

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Why supply chain innovation matters

October 2, 2012

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Innovation has been said to be at the heart of business success, but in a contract fabrication shop that often doesn’t entail product design, where is that innovation? According to a recent publication by the consultancy Plante Moran, titled the 2012 Innovation Quotient Survey, innovation...

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A skilled-labor crisis, or crisis of character?

September 19, 2012

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The Chicago teacher’s strike has a silver lining. It has gotten us talking about problems in education. These are problems metal fabricators are all too familiar with, thanks to the ongoing skilled labor crisis. Last weekend This American Life aired a show that asked a question that’s so basic...

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Minnesota fabricator scales up high-product-mix manufacturing

September 18, 2012

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Length: 8:30

In the early 1990s, contract stamper and metal fabricator BTD had 35 employees. By 1994 it more than doubled its head count. In the 2000s came a series of acquisitions: a machining company, a tool- and diemaker, a heavy-fabrication specialist. Now the company employs 890. Read more about this company.

Metal fabrication, floods, and family

September 11, 2012

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Today at 8:46 a.m. Eastern Time I was writing an article on laser cutting when it dawned on me: 11 years ago, at that very moment, I was writing a case history on the subject. Like most people on Sept. 11, 2001, I stopped what I was doing. The magazine art director scurried into my office to relay...

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The financial benchmark for metal fabricators: Survival of the fastest - TheFabricator.com

The financial benchmark for metal fabricators: Survival of the fastest

September 7, 2012

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The results are in from FMA's 2012 Financial Ratios & Operational Benchmarking Survey and the message is clear: Raw material and work-in-process inventory eats cash. Successful fabricating shops have figured out a way to avoid excess inventory scenarios.

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How quick response drives profits in metal fabrication - TheFabricator.com

How quick response drives profits in metal fabrication

September 7, 2012

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CR Metal Products Inc., St. Louis, follows the lessons of quick-response manufacturing, which preaches decreased capacity utilization of equipment and increased attention on just how jobs can be turned around in the quickest manner possible.

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From the farm to oilfields, mines, heavy equipment, and more - TheFabricator.com

From the farm to oilfields, mines, heavy equipment, and more

September 3, 2012

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Radius Steel-SOO Tractor, Sioux City, Iowa, is looking beyond its agricultural roots as it reaches out to various other industries, such as heavy equipment and oil and gas.

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Matter Control - TheFabricator.com

Developing a servo press knowledge base

August 31, 2012

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Since Qualtek Manufacturing invested in its servo presses several years ago, it has been gradually building up a working knowledge base--specific stroke recipes, tooling tweaks, and other information--that has turned out to be valuable intellectual property.

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Skilled labor wants a safe workplace

August 28, 2012

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Just in time for election season (which, as a multiyear event now, is far longer than a season), a few advocacy groups are putting forth their views about what U.S. manufacturing needs. One of the most concise reports comes from the Georgia Tech and Council on Competitiveness, which released its...

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