FMA Communications Inc.

Tim Heston

Senior Editor
FMA Communications Inc.
2135 Point Blvd
Elgin, IL 60123

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 FABRICATOR

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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Taking cost out of the welding fixture - TheFabricator.com

Arc Welding | Articles | The FABRICATOR

Taking cost out of the welding fixture

February 28, 2012 | By Tim Heston

Owsley “Oz” Cheek--a tool and die engineer who recently launched his own fixture company--shows how he reduces fixture build costs. For instance, who says fixtures need to be made out of machined components?

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Metcam cleans house - TheFabricator.com

Shop Management | Articles | The FABRICATOR

Metcam cleans house

February 28, 2012 | By Tim Heston

Metcam reduces inventory and reorganizes the shop floor, placing press brakes and hardware insertion presses next to blanking centers--all during one of the company’s busiest Decembers ever.

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Smart robotic weld fixturing handles low-volume parts - TheFabricator.com

Automation and Robotics | Articles | The FABRICATOR

Smart robotic weld fixturing handles low-volume parts

February 28, 2012 | By Tim Heston

An Alabama contract fabricator uses innovative robotic weld fixtures and an unusual quick-change system that allows operators to switch out jobs in mere seconds. The innovations have been critical for the shop’s high-mix, low-volume work.

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Growth draws on - TheFabricator.com

Stamping | Articles | STAMPING Journal

Deep-draw stamping operation keeps growing

February 20, 2012 | By Tim Heston

Scotland Manufacturing, a North Carolina deep-drawing operation, knows how to get the most out of its manual stamping line. Optimizing the line’s productivity has allowed the firm to compete in various markets demanding quick response. The company doesn’t just specialize in low-, medium-, or high-volume work. It specializes in all three.

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Blog Posts

Manufacturing: A modern-day Atlas

February 16, 2012 | By Tim Heston

Yesterday I visited an Atlanta-area fabricator that moved into a new facility two weeks ago. The company name says it all, really: Mitchell’s Specialized Fabrication. It’s a specialized fabricator of industrial tanks, pressure vessels, and piping run by Scott Mitchell, a no-nonsense,...

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Quick response ushers in triple-digit growth - TheFabricator.com

Shop Management | Articles | The FABRICATOR

Quick response ushers in triple-digit growth

February 13, 2012 | By Tim Heston

Between 2007 and 2011 sales at Eugene, Ore.-based Mohawk Metal Co. grew 700 percent. During normal times such growth would be seen as uncontrollable, but the past few years haven’t been normal times.

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Blog Posts

Manufacturing and the State of the Union

February 1, 2012 | By Tim Heston

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...

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Tube bending, the lean way - TheFabricator.com

Tube and Pipe Fabrication | Articles | The FABRICATOR

Tube bending, the lean way

February 1, 2012 | By Tim Heston

A Wisconsin tube bending shop takes an untraditional approach to the traditional job schedule--and thrives because of it.

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Blog Posts

Busy times, busy shops

January 24, 2012 | By Tim Heston

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,...

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Capital spending carries the rebound into 2012 - TheFabricator.com

Shop Management | Articles | The FABRICATOR

Capital spending carries the rebound into 2012

January 10, 2012 | By Tim Heston

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.

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Industry flocks to FABTECH - TheFabricator.com

Shop Management | Articles | The FABRICATOR

Industry flocks to FABTECH

January 6, 2012 | By Tim Heston

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.

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