October 28, 2012
If tragedy has a silver lining, it is that it brings everything else into stark clarity. Those who suffer usually either wallow or emerge triumphant. Chesterfield, Mo.-based Cambridge Engineering did the latter. As Vice President of Manufacturing Michael Mueller put it, “We had a new spirit, and...
October 22, 2012
CO2 gas lasers still dominate sheet metal cutting, but they aren’t the only game in town anymore. Solid-state lasers like the fiber and disk varieties--which use diode lasers to pump, or excite, the lasing medium--continue to have considerable market success. And now fabricators may have a new...
October 19, 2012
In September 2011, thanks to changing weather patterns and unintended consequences of water management, GT Fabrication was flooded yet again. The family business has been through this before. Why stay in the game? Because the metal fabrication community was there to help.
October 16, 2012
Yesterday I spoke with a production manager (on background) with a not-so-uncommon challenge. He had been brushing up on the basics of continuous improvement, including lean manufacturing methodologies adapted for the high-mix, low-volume environment. All the talk of efficient part flow, shorter...
October 15, 2012
We all know wage growth in this country is next to nothing. It’s one reason why the presidential election season has been so contentious. Employees continue to work harder than ever, while employers hesitate to hire more. But metal fabricators and other manufacturers have another problem: Some...
October 2, 2012
Innovation has been said to be at the heart of business success, but in a contract fabrication shop that often doesn’t entail product design, where is that innovation? According to a recent publication by the consultancy Plante Moran, titled the 2012 Innovation Quotient Survey, innovation...
September 19, 2012
The Chicago teacher’s strike has a silver lining. It has gotten us talking about problems in education. These are problems metal fabricators are all too familiar with, thanks to the ongoing skilled labor crisis. Last weekend This American Life aired a show that asked a question that’s so basic...
September 18, 2012
In the early 1990s, contract stamper and metal fabricator BTD had 35 employees. By 1994 it more than doubled its head count. In the 2000s came a series of acquisitions: a machining company, a tool- and diemaker, a heavy-fabrication specialist. Now the company employs 890. Read more about this company.
September 11, 2012
Today at 8:46 a.m. Eastern Time I was writing an article on laser cutting when it dawned on me: 11 years ago, at that very moment, I was writing a case history on the subject. Like most people on Sept. 11, 2001, I stopped what I was doing. The magazine art director scurried into my office to relay...
September 7, 2012
The results are in from FMA's 2012 Financial Ratios & Operational Benchmarking Survey and the message is clear: Raw material and work-in-process inventory eats cash. Successful fabricating shops have figured out a way to avoid excess inventory scenarios.
September 7, 2012
CR Metal Products Inc., St. Louis, follows the lessons of quick-response manufacturing, which preaches decreased capacity utilization of equipment and increased attention on just how jobs can be turned around in the quickest manner possible.
September 3, 2012
Radius Steel-SOO Tractor, Sioux City, Iowa, is looking beyond its agricultural roots as it reaches out to various other industries, such as heavy equipment and oil and gas.
August 31, 2012
Since Qualtek Manufacturing invested in its servo presses several years ago, it has been gradually building up a working knowledge base--specific stroke recipes, tooling tweaks, and other information--that has turned out to be valuable intellectual property.