November 18, 2011
Midbrook, a Michigan fabricator of washing equipment, has worked hard to diversify outside of the automotive business. One key to its success has been its approach to selling to health care facilities. The fabricator has decided to circumvent traditional distributorship networks in health care.
November 17, 2011
As I write this, FABTECH 2011 is about to close. For four days the floor has been full of some serious buyers. In the near-term, capital spending in metal fabrication is heading upward, with no sign of abating. The first three days alone had more than 31,000 visitors. Dozens of attendees have...
November 16, 2011
“We are becoming a legitimate, export-oriented country.” So said Chris Kuehl, economist for the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, at yesterday's economic forecast breakfast at FABTECH 2011. Judging by the high traffic today at the show—evidence of a major resurgence in capital...
November 15, 2011
At a Monday morning session at this year's FABTECH expo in Chicago, Rob McCann made a good point. A business development specialist at the Illinois Manufacturing Extension Center (IMEC) recalled how plant managers often call his organization (which receives funding from NIST) to increase...
October 25, 2011
I’m not a big sports fan. There, I said it. But my wife is; most of my friends are; so are my parents. I’m the odd guy out, I suppose (or just plain odd). But because I’m pretty much surrounded by people who love sports, I appreciate how the games affect us. They’re so compelling. Like...
October 20, 2011
Phoenix Products Co.--a high-mix, low-volume lighting products manufacturer--has implemented an improvement methodology called quick-response manufacturing, and realized dramatic improvements in lead-times. One light fixture that used to take eight weeks to manufacture now only takes two.
October 20, 2011
Anderson Dahlen is a precision sheet metal job shop. It’s an industrial contractor that designs and fabricates entire systems for the processing sector, everything from mixing systems for the chemical industry to holding tanks for dairy plants. It also fabricates architectural metal for commercial construction. In other words, the company doesn’t fit neatly into one category. Managers know this, which is why they’ve developed a unique approach to job management that centers on teams
October 18, 2011
“There are no longer any great jobs where someone else tells you precisely what to do.” That’s a quote from bestselling author Seth Godin from his latest book, Linchpin, in which he describes how the best, most satisfied workers these days have become indispensible. They take initiative,...
October 10, 2011
Getzen Co. uses 200-year-old technology to make its high-end trumpets and trombones. Walking into the company’s Elkhorn, Wis., facility is a bit like walking into a metalworking museum. Here, worker experience and skill reign supreme.
September 27, 2011
In manufacturing, fewer Americans are producing more. The output keeps growing, the employment numbers keep shrinking, and this spurs people to think about corn and soybeans. The same thing that happened to farming--which employs so few but produces so much--is happening to manufacturing. But...
September 13, 2011
On Sunday The New York Times business section put a metal fabricator front-and-center. The reporter visited Vermeer, a Pella, Iowa, manufacturer of heavy equipment--and a manufacturer The FABRICATOR covered several years ago. The Times reporter pointed out that “as president Obama urges Congress...
September 13, 2011
At a major automotive OEM, a support operation is devoted to continuous improvement projects for the assembly line, fabricating items as needed to make life easier for line workers. Unfortunately, the improvement shop wasn’t very organized. As managers soon realized, it was time to improve the improvement shop.