FMA Communications Inc.

Tim Heston

Senior Editor
FMA Communications Inc.
833 Featherstone Road
Rockford, IL 61107
Made to order, for emergency - TheFabricator.com

Shop Management | Articles

Made to order, for emergency

May 1, 2012 | By Tim Heston

No one would argue that at least some elements of lean manufacturing apply to most operations, but Horton Emergency Vehicles is a made-to-order vehicle manufacturer. Certainly, Horton’s highly custom approach didn’t fit a assembly-line model--right? As it turned out, the people at Horton didn't follow the conventional wisdom--and that decision paid off.

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Steady flow, steady profits - TheFabricator.com

Shop Management | Articles

Steady flow, steady profits

May 1, 2012 | By Tim Heston

ETM Manufacturing invests in continuous improvement training. Since initiating these efforts in 2007, the company has less than doubled its headcount, but tripled annual sales.

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How soft skills make a shop successful - TheFabricator.com

Shop Management | Articles

How soft skills make a shop successful

May 1, 2012 | By Tim Heston

When hiring, Jay Manufacturing Oshkosh managers don't look for technical skills first. Instead, they concentrate on elements that are difficult to teach--that is, the soft skills.

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Shop Management | Podcasts

Rolling out improvement at ETM Manufacturing

April 19, 2012 | By Tim Heston

Rob Olney, president of Littleton, Mass.-based ETM Manufacturing, explains how the high-mix, low-volume fabricator began its continuous improvement program

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Blog Posts

Producing more versus hiring more

April 17, 2012 | By Tim Heston

A few weeks ago Rob Olney, president of ETM Manufacturing, a contract metal fabricator in Littleton, Mass., told me something that exemplifies what makes people proud of American enterprise. But it also worries people who need a lower unemployment rate to get re-elected. “[Since 2006] we’ve...

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Delivering orders on time, every time - TheFabricator.com

Shop Management | Articles

Delivering orders on time, every time

April 16, 2012 | By Tim Heston

Considering the demands from OEMs, stellar on-time delivery now is just as important as quality, and manufacturing cells may help a fabricator attain that stellar on-time delivery.

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A character sketch of the code welder - TheFabricator.com

Arc Welding | Articles

A character sketch of the code welder

April 16, 2012 | By Tim Heston

A career in code-level welding involves an odd concoction of hands-on work, excellent hand-eye coordination, on-the-job focus, and a dash of lawyerlike thinking. Some can be loud extroverts who get the most attention, but others can be quiet introverts. Many share a dedication to the welding craft, and the best strive to do the job right the first time.

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Blog Posts

The nuts and bolts of big returns

April 9, 2012 | By Tim Heston

Consumers and the business press lavish all sorts of attention to high-tech giants like Apple, Google, Facebook, and other Wall Street darlings. Even their informal moniker “high-tech” exudes a bit of superiority.  Why does everybody pay so much attention? Well, every day, we use our...

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Vessel fabricator bases hiring on attitude, not experience - TheFabricator.com

Arc Welding | Articles

Vessel fabricator bases hiring on attitude, not experience

April 3, 2012 | By Tim Heston

In a 2010 survey from the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, respondents cited welding as the most sought-after, difficult-to-find technical skill. But at Mitchell's Specialized Fabrication, managers don't look for that experience. They look for someone with a good attitude, eager to learn.

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Shop Management | Podcasts

Cellular fabrication at Metcam

March 29, 2012 | By Tim Heston

Alpharetta, Ga.-based Metcam recently transformed its shop floor. The shop now organizes its entire fabrication operation not in process-based departments, but in manufacturing cells. Read the story.

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Blog Posts

The moral imperative of U.S. manufacturing

March 21, 2012 | By Tim Heston

The mainstream press and pundits now seem to be realizing that globalization isn’t about finding cheap labor. No, it’s now about something that on the surface is a lot drier and more complex: the manufacturing supply chain. New York Times reporter David Barboza--who earlier this year wrote the...

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Blog Posts

Shortening the order-to-cash cycle

March 20, 2012 | By Tim Heston

Today I talked with Ricky Loar, plant manager at Grove City, Ohio-based Horton Emergency Vehicles, a made-to-order ambulance manufacturer that has undergone a lean transformation during the past 18 months.  The shop used to resemble a kind of large custom garage--or, more precisely, a collection...

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Blog Posts

Fabricate locally, deliver globally

March 13, 2012 | By Tim Heston

When Jim Hawkins told attendees at The FABRICATOR’s Leadership Summit that global infrastructure demand was driving growth at his employer, Caterpillar, his statements weren’t unusual. As the director of Cat’s Machine Design Center in Mossville, Ill., explained, “The growing middle class...

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Shop Management | Articles

The subtle landscape of U.S. manufacturing

March 12, 2012 | By Tim Heston

Manufacturing companies aren’t all the same, and neither is worker pay. Reality is subtler than that. Despite all the complexities, though, the massive U.S. contract manufacturing base can’t grow if multinationals continually choose to build plants elsewhere.

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Blog Posts

Demand-pull manufacturing in its purest form

February 29, 2012 | By Tim Heston

An operator holding a tube checks the computer screen adjacent to his workstation, positions the tube just so against a backstop, checks the screen again, then initiates the cutoff operation. In less than 48 hours,  that tube will be part of a finished golf club and in the hands of a customer who...

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