FMA Communications Inc.

Tim Heston

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

The “hole” picture in laser tube cutting

May 6, 2011

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Ace Metal Crafts installs a laser tube cutting system with integrated tapping, a system that has shown its strength when producing structural tube. The machine cuts tube shapes, laser cuts holes, and performs tapping all in one setup.

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Sustainable jobs need sustainable growth

April 25, 2011

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In May 2009, as I merged onto a congested I-94, driving from the airport to the ALAW Advanced Laser Applications Workshop outside Detroit, I saw a billboard for W Industries, a local metal fabricator. Not only was it odd seeing a contract fabricator advertised so prominently, but the sign’s...

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Two ways to manage manufacturing risk

April 19, 2011

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Last week I visited two facilities that focused on low- to medium-volume manufacturing. Both customize products to meet customer needs. Both tout quick response and comprehensive customer service. Yet in many respects, the two couldn’t have been more different. A week ago today I pulled into the...

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The jungle of tax reform

April 11, 2011

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On Friday night I was like a kid half-heartedly doing his homework while watching the weather and awaiting the snowstorm. I kept thinking the storm would close school (government shutdown), and I could stop this blasted homework (my income taxes). Then at the 11th hour (literally: it was a little...

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Manufacturing rockets: Metal fabricating what’s next

April 5, 2011

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This week I recalled one of my favorite television moments. During an early West Wing episode, one of the president’s advisers, Sam Seaborn, argues for the extension of NASA funding. After several minutes of heated banter, his counterpart asks why space travel is so important when we have so much...

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bending tread plate

The science of bending perforated sheet and tread plate

April 1, 2011

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Tread plate and perforated sheet present significant bending challenges. To help matters, fabricators may need to look beyond typical air bending with a punch and V die. Though bending alternatives vary, they have one commonality: They clamp down to ensure the workpiece stays where it should.

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Laser cut turning parts

Diverse, quick, and growing

April 1, 2011

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Tennessee job shop finds success through diversifying its capabilities, from laser cutting, press brake bending, and robotic welding, to milling, turning, and boring. The shop turns around many jobs in only a few days.

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Manufacturing productivity: Work less, accomplish more

March 29, 2011

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A review copy of Jim Womack’s Gemba Walks, published by the Lean Enterprise Institute, came in the mail today, and I’m beginning to make my way through it. When I saw the title, I immediately thought of a scene in The Goal, Eliyahu Goldratt’s business novel on the theory of constraints. In it...

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Earthquakes, job shops, and the global supply chain

March 21, 2011

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With Japan in crisis, so are global supply chains. With the world’s third-largest economy basically in standby mode, manufacturers stateside--and around the world--are scrambling to adapt. Most metal fabricators aren’t assemblers sitting at the end of a long global supply chain, but many of...

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Critical laser cutting, welding tested in Japanese crisis

March 15, 2011

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When news broke of the earthquake-damaged nuclear plant in Japan, my mind turned to Jim Bleigh at Performance Contracting Inc., a Lenexa, Kan., company The FABRICATOR covered earlier this year. His group of talented welders, laser cutting machine operators, and assemblers fabricated strainers...

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Everyone on the same page—electronically

March 10, 2011

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E-commerce now involves the full gamut of business communications, from quoting and paying invoices to job tracking. Technology, sources said, has made the supply chain more transparent, accountable, and efficient.

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The metal fabricator and the iPhone

March 8, 2011

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Immediately after listening to a presentation at The FABRICATOR’s Leadership Summit last week, a metal fabrication executive turned on his iPhone®, rose his eyebrows, and, smiling, showed me the screen. The iPad® 2 had been announced minutes earlier. The moment couldn’t have been more...

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Whitecastle building

Hamburgers, metal, and mettle

February 25, 2011

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White Castle’s metal fabrication subsidiary has abided by continuous improvement principles for decades—long before Toyota became a major player in the United States.

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You can’t manufacture human rights

February 22, 2011

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The news from North Africa and the Middle East has been truly amazing lately. It’s a little scary for business owners and everyone else who depends on oil (in other words, nearly everybody).  Recent unrest in oil-rich Libya has sent oil prices skyward. But over the long term, expensive oil may...

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Pareto and the job shop

February 15, 2011

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After 10 years and two recessions, Vilfredo Pareto’s principle has had a rocky history with the job shop. The Italian economist discovered that roughly 80 percent of the effects come from 20 percent of the causes. In business, this has come to mean that 20 percent of customers provide companies...

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