FMA Communications Inc.

Tim Heston

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

Shop Management | Articles

Continuous improvement, from the first quote to the final shipment

April 1, 2015 | By Tim Heston

Burlington, Ky.-based Skilcraft LLC has changed a lot in the past decade. It has moved away from the traditional job shop model toward comprehensive contract fabrication. And it got there by scrutinizing every step of the manufacturing process, from quoting to shipping.

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Shop Management | Blog Posts

Boring manufacturing data acts up a bit

March 31, 2015 | By Tim Heston

Economic indicators have been boring. This may change. The data slipped a bit this month, though it's too soon to say if it's a trend. Regardless, business owners are happy with boring.

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Automation and Robotics | Articles

Gauging welding’s success

March 25, 2015 | By Tim Heston

In recent years Ashcroft’s Connecticut plant has changed significantly. It’s an operation transitioning from batch-style production to lean part flow, and a new, flexible welding cell has helped the manufacturer prepare for future improvements.

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Shop Management | Blog Posts

People make the difference at <i>The FABRICATOR</i>’s Leadership Summit

March 24, 2015 | By Tim Heston

Technology is the engine of metal fabrication, but people are behind the wheel. And how they drive really matters.

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Shop Management | Articles

How do you define good company culture anyway?

March 10, 2015 | By Tim Heston

How does a fabricator build a culture that adopts, embraces, and sustains lean manufacturing? An environment that encourages idea generation may be a good start.

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Shop Management | Blog Posts

Automation, health, safety, and longshoremen

February 24, 2015 | By Tim Heston

The labor disupute at the West Coast ports is an odd, complex, ironic cog in the global supply chain.

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Arc Welding | Articles

Odessa, oil, and the welding arc

February 19, 2015 | By Tim Heston

Investors worry about how the drop in oil prices will affect the energy boom. The people on the front lines—including the fabricators and pipe welders—don’t seem to be terribly worried. Some even welcome a slight slowdown, because it will give everyone time to catch up.

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Shop Management | Articles

Metal fabrication meets a seller’s market

February 18, 2015 | By Tim Heston

Manufacturing is cool again, and fabricators wanting to sell their business are benefiting from a seller’s market. Nevertheless, high revenue concentration, a shallow talent pool, poor cash flow, reliance on sales from a single sector, and other factors still throw up red flags.

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Tube and Pipe Fabrication | Articles

Teaching: A metal fabricator’s secret sauce

February 17, 2015 | By Tim Heston

Bob Moehlman has welded pipe for more than 50 years, including 30 years at Superior Pipe Fabricators, a Los Angeles-based shop he helped launch in 1984. The shop’s success hasn’t come by using the latest and greatest pipe welding technology, but instead through teaching—showing the inexperienced employees the ropes, developing their talent, and giving them a career.

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Shop Management | Blog Posts

People: A fabricator’s greatest competitive advantage

February 4, 2015 | By Tim Heston

Competing fabricators can invest in the same technology and software, but they can't employ the same people.

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Materials Handling | Articles

Intelligent part identification: Keeping track of it all

February 4, 2015 | By Tim Heston

Modern forming technology has made kit-based part flow much easier. But when you’re dealing with a dynamically nested sheet, with kits of different parts, pieces can get lost in the mix. Fabricators can tackle this problem with intelligent nesting and part identification.

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Shop Management | Articles

An exit strategy for the metal fabrication job shop owner

February 3, 2015 | By Tim Heston

In their book Cashing Out of Your Business, authors Kathleen Richardson-Mauro and Jane M. Johnson tackle not just the nuts and bolts of selling an enterprise—revenue concentration, profitability, health of the market—but also the personal elements. When an owner sells a business, his or her life changes in a dramatic way.

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Testing and Measuring | Articles

Quality springs forward with 3-D printing

January 29, 2015 | By Tim Heston

Newcomb Spring Corp. makes its quality assurance more efficient by upgrading its inspection equipment and investing in 3-D printing. The company’s move shows how advanced inspection and additive manufacturing work together.

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Shop Management | Blog Posts

Manufacturing jobs pay well, right?

January 28, 2015 | By Tim Heston

Manufacturing wages vary widely, and like anything in life, the wage story isn't simple or straightforward.

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Automation and Robotics | Articles

Done-in-one meets structural fabrication

January 23, 2015 | By Tim Heston

New system introduces full automation to structural fabrication, including cutting, beam and plate handling, and welding.

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