FMA Communications Inc.

Tim Heston

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

Managing a multi-generation fab shop

December 16, 2015

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Finding good people remains the No. 1 challenge in metal fabrication, but it's certainly not an insurmountable challenge.

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Workforce challenges: Can’t we all just get along?

December 15, 2015

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Talk to managers in metal fabrication and they’ll probably tell you they have trouble finding “good” people. In fact, they usually don’t say “skilled” people. So what’s the difference?

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How a plate rolling rookie becomes a guru

December 3, 2015

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How does a plate rolling rookie become a guru? According to Ken Pecho, project engineer at Chicago Metal Rolled Products, it requires good communication. So how do you really define good communication? For plate rolling (and many other shop skills), you can break it down into three critical components: collaboration, observation, and patience.

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Metal fabrication in 2016: Diversification proves its worth

December 2, 2015

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2015 has been a tale of two markets—commodities and everything else. Demand for food, fuel, and materials is suffering and prices are dropping. But low prices in these areas are spurring growth elsewhere. Many predict this tale to continue into 2016.

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Press brake training: Passing the torch

December 1, 2015

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Southern Metalcraft Inc.’s press brake veteran will be retiring at the end of 2016, and he is now passing the torch to someone who never worked on a press brake until 2009. So how did the rookie learn so quickly? Technical aptitude plays a role. But more important than that, the veteran and rookie get along and just work well together.

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2016 capital spending forecast in metal fabrication: The growth continues

November 30, 2015

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According to the “2016 Capital Spending Forecast” from the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association International, total capital spending will edge up a little more than 2 percent next year. Still, certain equipment categories, including welding and bending, may experience dramatic gains.

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FABTECH 2015: The direct-diode laser and tuning the beam profile

November 23, 2015

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The direct-diode laser ups its presence at this year's FABTECH.

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FABTECH 2015: Stringing a digital thread through the manufacturing supply chain

November 20, 2015

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A "digital thread" extending up and down the manufacturing supply chain might sound like science fiction. But as evident at this year's FABTECH, the digital thread is becoming reality.

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FABTECH 2015: A metaphorical pit stop in the productivity race

November 19, 2015

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NASCAR legend Rusty Wallace was a hit at this year's show. Considering the nature of the sport, fast-paced while still rooted in advanced engineering, it's easy to see why attendees relate so well. And perhaps no one related better than those who exhibited at the show as part of an emerging field: 3-D printing.

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FABTECH 2015: Innovation to serve the company, not the process

November 18, 2015

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A certain excitement permeated this year's show, and it wasn't just about this incredibly fast laser, that press brake that eliminates setup time, or that welding power source that connects to the cloud and simplifies welding parameter selection. It was about how all these technologies and more can work together to make a shop better.

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FABTECH, community, and normalcy

November 17, 2015

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FABTECH was bigger than ever. The terrible news on Friday puts things in perspective, and yet shows just how valuable the "normalcy" of a trade show, and a healthy industry, really is.

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Manufacturing Fundamentals first, then improvement

November 10, 2015

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Sustaining improvement efforts remains difficult for many shops, but sustaining may not be so difficult with a foundation of good business fundamentals in manufacturing. This includes accurate bills of materials, accurate routings, good inventory control, a documented system for materials planning and procurement, concise business rules, and employee training.

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How SWOT and lean go together

November 5, 2015

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A SWOT analysis covers a company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. But how do you really define strengths and weaknesses? Much of it can come from data gleaned from a good flow assessment.

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Why machine monitoring matters

November 4, 2015

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Monitoring machine performance in real time is gaining traction in metal fabrication. MTConnect, a machine communication standard that has made serious headway in the machining arena, now has a toehold in the sheet metal business.

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Dutch metal fabrication: About flow

November 4, 2015

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One theme carried throughout a recent LVD press tour of custom fabricators in Holland: With fast changeover and the ability to access the right information at the right time, even a custom fabricator with the highest product mix can achieve smooth part flow.

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