October 2, 2012
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...
September 19, 2012
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...
September 18, 2012
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.
September 11, 2012
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...
September 7, 2012
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.
September 7, 2012
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.
September 3, 2012
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.
August 31, 2012
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.
August 28, 2012
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...
August 21, 2012
Last week I called a manager of a heavy fabrication operation. We chatted briefly, but after a few minutes he had to go. He told me six of his operators hadn’t shown up that morning, so shop managers were scrambling. Then I saw a headline on the front page of the Sunday New York Times:...
August 7, 2012
How can a fabricator be successful these days? The common answer is that if a shop reduces labor costs, it can compete with the world. The story’s subtler than that--and a just-released financial benchmarking survey from the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association reveals these subtleties....
August 3, 2012
Micron Metalworks is a classic precision sheet metal job shop, with short runs and numerous job changeovers. To optimize part flow and overall efficiency, it’s the little things that really matter--including a simple label on a drawer.