July 16, 2012
In early 2010 I attended an event hosted by plasma cutting systems maker ITT Kaliburn, near Charleston, S.C. That's when I met Joe McNamara. He had led ITT heat transfer unit's plant near Buffalo, N.Y., through a major lean manufacturing transformation. A few weeks ago I caught up with McNamara,...
July 16, 2012
General Sheet Metal Works revamped the way it handles raw material purchases. Floor personnel now release specific orders, while the purchasing department communicates with suppliers about future demand and negotiates contracts. Most important, the company order just what it needs--and no more.
July 10, 2012
I was never a math wiz, but I was blessed with good teachers. In high school, I remember sitting in Algebra II class and hearing one of my fellow students give a loud sigh before he raised his hand: “When will we ever use this?” My teacher shot back. “See the pencil you’re holding? The...
July 3, 2012
Manufacturing didn’t fare so well last month, falling just slightly into contraction territory, as measured by the Institute for Supply Management. The data support what a few shop owners have been telling me. “Business is softening.” That was Bruce Hupfer, director of technical sales at...
June 28, 2012
Joy Global does some seriously heavy fabrication, welding atop mining shovel components several stories tall. Weld fume control was becoming a problem, so the company installed an innovative, nonlocal fume collection system to help clear the air.
June 26, 2012
Welders and other workers at The Roberts Co. in Winterville, N.C.--part of this year’s FAB 40 list of successful contract fabricators--are used to signing secrecy agreements from customers. Dave Staskelunas, the company’s vice president of fabrication services, said that more and more customers...
June 15, 2012
The median age of the Vita Needle emloyee is 73. The company practices what one anthropologist calls eldersourcing. Considering the knowledge they've gained over the years, the elderly may become one of metal fabrication's greatest assets.
June 13, 2012
Minnesota fabricator rebrands itself, standardizes operations, and remains nimble, even after years of aggressive growth. Managers expect the firm to grow another 18 percent this year. That’s not small potatoes for one of the country’s largest contract metal fabricators.
June 12, 2012
Natural disasters turn people’s thoughts toward risk. Last year, between floods and tornados and other Weather Channel fodder, I visited several fabricators told me about their customers’ concerns about mitigating supply chain risk. For years, large OEMs have pruned their supply chains to the...
June 7, 2012
For years he spent time on the floor working the fabrication equipment of the day, punching sheet metal using a traditional duplicator stylus. He climbed the ladder to night shift supervisor, and then moved on to other manufacturers, working in sales and shop management; some jobs were great,...