FMA Communications Inc.

Tim Heston

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

Blog Posts

A skilled-labor crisis, or crisis of character?

September 19, 2012 | By Tim Heston

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...

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Stamping | Podcasts

Minnesota fabricator scales up high-product-mix manufacturing

September 18, 2012 | By Tim Heston

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.

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Blog Posts

Metal fabrication, floods, and family

September 11, 2012 | By Tim Heston

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...

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The financial benchmark for metal fabricators: Survival of the fastest - TheFabricator.com

Shop Management | Articles

The financial benchmark for metal fabricators: Survival of the fastest

September 7, 2012 | By Tim Heston

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.

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How quick response drives profits in metal fabrication - TheFabricator.com

Shop Management | Articles

How quick response drives profits in metal fabrication

September 7, 2012 | By Tim Heston

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.

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From the farm to oilfields, mines, heavy equipment, and more - TheFabricator.com

Shop Management | Articles

From the farm to oilfields, mines, heavy equipment, and more

September 3, 2012 | By Tim Heston

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.

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Matter Control - TheFabricator.com

Stamping | Articles

Developing a servo press knowledge base

August 31, 2012 | By Tim Heston

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.

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Blog Posts

Skilled labor wants a safe workplace

August 28, 2012 | By Tim Heston

Just in time for election season (which, as a multiyear event now, is far longer than a season), a few advocacy groups are putting forth their views about what U.S. manufacturing needs. One of the most concise reports comes from the Georgia Tech and Council on Competitiveness, which released its...

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Blog Posts

Fabricators scream for the skilled worker

August 21, 2012 | By Tim Heston

Last week I called a manager of a heavy fabrication operation. We chatted briefly, but after a few minutes he had to go. He told me six of his operators hadn’t shown up that morning, so shop managers were scrambling. Then I saw a headline on the front page of the Sunday New York Times:...

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Assembly and Joining | Podcasts

Lean, mean, and made to order

August 9, 2012 | By Tim Heston

Horton Emergency Vehicles of Columbus, Ohio, adapts lean manufacturing to the custom-build assembly environment. Trucks are produced at consistent takt times, and yet every one that rolls off the line is different. Read more.

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Blog Posts

Metal fabrication financial benchmarking: The survival of the fastest

August 7, 2012 | By Tim Heston

How can a fabricator be successful these days? The common answer is that if a shop reduces labor costs, it can compete with the world. The story’s subtler than that--and a just-released financial benchmarking survey from the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association reveals these subtleties....

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Putting a label on metal fabrication - TheFabricator.com

Shop Management | Articles

Putting a label on metal fabrication

August 3, 2012 | By Tim Heston

Micron Metalworks is a classic precision sheet metal job shop, with short runs and numerous job changeovers. To optimize part flow and overall efficiency, it’s the little things that really matter--including a simple label on a drawer.

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How to wrap up packaging problems - TheFabricator.com

Assembly and Joining | Articles

How to wrap up packaging problems

August 3, 2012 | By Tim Heston

A poorly packaged pallet of parts damaged in transit turns all that value-adding upstream activity--cutting, deburring, bending, welding, grinding, heat treating, plating, powder coating, hardware insertion, and assembly--into waste

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Set design meets advanced manufacturing - TheFabricator.com

Shop Management | Articles

Set design meets advanced manufacturing

August 3, 2012 | By Tim Heston

A Broadway and TV set fabricator mixes set-building tradition with advanced manufacturing technologies, from welding and cutting to abrasive waterjet cutting. Complicating matters are the demands of modern performance media--especially high-definition broadcasts.

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Blog Posts

Of course algebra is necessary

July 31, 2012 | By Tim Heston

Andrew Hacker certainly can spark a debate. If you get the New York Times, you would have turned to the first page of the opinion section and seen: Is algebra necessary? Hacker is an emeritus professor of political science at Queens College, City University of New York. In his column, he questions...

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