April 17, 2012
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...
April 16, 2012
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.
April 9, 2012
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...
April 3, 2012
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.
March 21, 2012
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...
March 20, 2012
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...
March 13, 2012
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...
March 12, 2012
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.
February 29, 2012
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...
February 28, 2012
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.