February 1, 2012
For the past two years Mary Isbister, president of Wisconsin fabricator GenMet (one of The FABRICATOR’s past Industry Award winners), had a friendly bet with colleagues of the Manufacturing Council, a group that meets to propose ideas to Commerce Department Sec. John Bryson, who in turn reports...
January 24, 2012
I started this year with a spurt of shop visits-- a sorry excuse for my lack of blogging, but there it is. One high-mix, low-volume job shop is beginning the process of reorganizing its machines into cells: a sheet metal cutting machine next to a brake, next to hardware insertion. In a bold move,...
January 10, 2012
Manufacturing technology consumption took an unprecedented dive during the recession, but since then the industry has bounced back dramatically. In the metal fabrication arena, most technology categories are experiencing some healthy gains, as reported by the 2012 Capital Spending Forecast, a study compiled by the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association.
January 6, 2012
Despite economic uncertainties heading into 2012, the metal fabrication industry came out in full force at November’s FABTECH show. More than 35,000 walked the show floor, which featured more than a half million square feet of exhibit space.
January 4, 2012
High-density plasma arc cutting can effectively cut thick plate. The most challenging aspect, in fact, is that initial pierce. To that end, a few basic strategies help overcome this challenge, allowing the plasma to pierce through inches of metal as effectively as possible.
January 3, 2012
Maybe those long lines of attendees at the FABTECH trade show last year weren’t red herrings. The Institute for Supply Management reported significant growth in manufacturing last month, news significant enough to send stocks skyward. News coverage has been cautious, especially considering what...
December 13, 2011
A few weeks ago at the FABTECH trade show in Chicago, I ran into (almost literally, in fact) Nathan McMasters, president of Diversified Metal Products, an Idaho Falls, Idaho-based contract fabricator specializing in products for the energy, transportation, and nuclear fields. Our five-minute chat...
December 9, 2011
Positives and negatives probably will pepper the business climate in 2012. Manufacturing has led the economic recovery. Unemployment will remain high, and businesses will still seek technical talent. Equipment spending probably will continue apace. So will company acquisitions, but they won’t be as prevalent as they could be. . Mixed together, these ingredients make for a good news-bad news gumbo in 2012.
December 9, 2011
A good machinist is hard to find. Why? It’s a mixture of factors. Machining suffers from the same image problem as the other manufacturing trades, so not enough people enter the field. But this country also lacks hands-on training programs.
December 5, 2011
This week I’m at LeanFAB, a Charlotte, N.C., lean manufacturing conference organized by the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association. When I pulled into the hotel parking lot this evening, I noticed a truck hauling equipment with a familiar logo: Vermeer, a Pella, Iowa, construction equipment...
November 18, 2011
High-product-mix manufacturers may have problems with off-theshelf TOC, as described in Eliyahu Goldratt’s The Goal, a book that tells how a fictional company manages its operations around a constraint. In a high-mix, low-volume operation, the constraint actually may move around from job to job, because processing
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...