FMA Communications Inc.

Tim Heston

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

Producing more versus hiring more

April 17, 2012

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A few weeks ago Rob Olney, president of ETM Manufacturing, a contract metal fabricator in Littleton, Mass., told me something that exemplifies what makes people proud of American enterprise. But it also worries people who need a lower unemployment rate to get re-elected. “[Since 2006] we’ve...

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Delivering orders on time, every time - TheFabricator.com

Delivering orders on time, every time

April 16, 2012

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Considering the demands from OEMs, stellar on-time delivery now is just as important as quality, and manufacturing cells may help a fabricator attain that stellar on-time delivery.

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A character sketch of the code welder - TheFabricator.com

A character sketch of the code welder

April 16, 2012

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A career in code-level welding involves an odd concoction of hands-on work, excellent hand-eye coordination, on-the-job focus, and a dash of lawyerlike thinking. Some can be loud extroverts who get the most attention, but others can be quiet introverts. Many share a dedication to the welding craft, and the best strive to do the job right the first time.

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The nuts and bolts of big returns

April 9, 2012

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Consumers and the business press lavish all sorts of attention to high-tech giants like Apple, Google, Facebook, and other Wall Street darlings. Even their informal moniker “high-tech” exudes a bit of superiority.  Why does everybody pay so much attention? Well, every day, we use our...

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Vessel fabricator bases hiring on attitude, not experience - TheFabricator.com

Vessel fabricator bases hiring on attitude, not experience

April 3, 2012

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In a 2010 survey from the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, respondents cited welding as the most sought-after, difficult-to-find technical skill. But at Mitchell's Specialized Fabrication, managers don't look for that experience. They look for someone with a good attitude, eager to learn.

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Cellular fabrication at Metcam

March 29, 2012

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Length: 5:00

Alpharetta, Ga.-based Metcam recently transformed its shop floor. The shop now organizes its entire fabrication operation not in process-based departments, but in manufacturing cells. Read the story.

The moral imperative of U.S. manufacturing

March 21, 2012

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The mainstream press and pundits now seem to be realizing that globalization isn’t about finding cheap labor. No, it’s now about something that on the surface is a lot drier and more complex: the manufacturing supply chain. New York Times reporter David Barboza--who earlier this year wrote the...

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Shortening the order-to-cash cycle

March 20, 2012

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Today I talked with Ricky Loar, plant manager at Grove City, Ohio-based Horton Emergency Vehicles, a made-to-order ambulance manufacturer that has undergone a lean transformation during the past 18 months.  The shop used to resemble a kind of large custom garage--or, more precisely, a collection...

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Fabricate locally, deliver globally

March 13, 2012

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When Jim Hawkins told attendees at The FABRICATOR’s Leadership Summit that global infrastructure demand was driving growth at his employer, Caterpillar, his statements weren’t unusual. As the director of Cat’s Machine Design Center in Mossville, Ill., explained, “The growing middle class...

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The subtle landscape of U.S. manufacturing

March 12, 2012

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Manufacturing companies aren’t all the same, and neither is worker pay. Reality is subtler than that. Despite all the complexities, though, the massive U.S. contract manufacturing base can’t grow if multinationals continually choose to build plants elsewhere.

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Welding robots at GH Metal Solutions

March 1, 2012

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GH Metal Solutions' welding department makes good use out of its five welding robots — even though all are dedicated to low-volume runs. An innovative approach to fixturing and fixture changeouts makes it all happen.

Demand-pull manufacturing in its purest form

February 29, 2012

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An operator holding a tube checks the computer screen adjacent to his workstation, positions the tube just so against a backstop, checks the screen again, then initiates the cutoff operation. In less than 48 hours,  that tube will be part of a finished golf club and in the hands of a customer who...

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Taking cost out of the welding fixture - TheFabricator.com

Taking cost out of the welding fixture

February 28, 2012

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Owsley “Oz” Cheek--a tool and die engineer who recently launched his own fixture company--shows how he reduces fixture build costs. For instance, who says fixtures need to be made out of machined components?

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Metcam cleans house - TheFabricator.com

Metcam cleans house

February 28, 2012

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Metcam reduces inventory and reorganizes the shop floor, placing press brakes and hardware insertion presses next to blanking centers--all during one of the company’s busiest Decembers ever.

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Smart robotic weld fixturing handles low-volume parts - TheFabricator.com

Smart robotic weld fixturing handles low-volume parts

February 28, 2012

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An Alabama contract fabricator uses innovative robotic weld fixtures and an unusual quick-change system that allows operators to switch out jobs in mere seconds. The innovations have been critical for the shop’s high-mix, low-volume work.

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