FMA Communications Inc.

Tim Heston


FMA Communications Inc.
2135 Point Blvd
Elgin, IL 60123

Shop Management | Articles | The FABRICATOR

Accounting for time in metal fabrication

August 11, 2016 | By Tim Heston

Traditional cost accounting treats inventory as an asset and, according to the author of a new book, does not capture the true costs of long lead times. A new accounting method, which complies with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP), aims to correct this.

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Shop Management | Articles | The FABRICATOR

Metal fabrication for the visually impaired

August 11, 2016 | By Tim Heston

Beyond Vision, a not-for-profit organization that employs people who are visually impaired and blind, has an eight-person machine shop that recently delved into metal fabrication. The company’s story shows just how much these people can contribute to a job shop operation.

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Shop Management | Blog Posts

Local efficiency versus global objectives in metal fabrication

August 9, 2016 | By Tim Heston

Metal fabricators are swimming in data these days. The trick is collecting the right data and focusing on what matters: global objectives (shortened total manufacturing time) instead of local efficiency (inches per minute at a specific machine).

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Laser Cutting | Articles | The FABRICATOR

A fabricator founded on operator skill

August 3, 2016 | By Tim Heston

In quiet, rural New Ulm, Minn., technicians at DLC Manufacturing & Fabrication are perfecting the craft of cutting and bending sheet metal and plate, making clean cuts in steel 1.5 in. thick (and even thicker). It’s a small shop where skill runs deep.

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Shop Management | Articles | The FABRICATOR

Augmented reality reaches the manufacturing floor

August 2, 2016 | By Tim Heston

Augmented reality (AR) remains an emerging technology, but it eventually could change how hands-on tasks in manufacturing get done.

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Plasma Cutting | Articles | The FABRICATOR

Robotic plasma cutting gets flexible

July 29, 2016 | By Tim Heston

It used to take days or weeks to program a robotic plasma cutting cell. Now, like in welding, robotic plasma cutting has become much more flexible and adaptable. Offline programming and simulation, as well as flexible components of the robot cell itself, have made this possible.

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Shop Management | Blog Posts

What makes a good boss in manufacturing?

July 27, 2016 | By Tim Heston

So often, when a dispute arises between a supervisor and employee, it's not about "what." It's about "who."

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Shop Management | Blog Posts

Metal fabrication is a communication business

July 18, 2016 | By Tim Heston

Most view metal fabrication as a technology business. But custom fabricators are complex, albeit usually small businesses. In such complex environments, good communication can make things a lot easier.

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Materials Handling | Articles | The FABRICATOR

Automated guided vehicles get flexible

July 8, 2016 | By Tim Heston

A camera-based automated guided vehicle may have potential in high-product-mix environments. The vehicle takes pictures of its surroundings, remembers them, and then drives itself along that path.

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Bending | Articles | The FABRICATOR

The human side of the skilled-labor crisis

July 8, 2016 | By Tim Heston

In metal fabrication, companies need technical skill, but there’s a humanity to the skill that’s often overlooked. It’s about the relationship between the technician, his machine, and the workpiece.

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Laser Cutting | Articles | The FABRICATOR

A ticket of entry to laser cutting

July 5, 2016 | By Tim Heston

Alkras has introduced a laser small enough to fit on the gantry of a cutting table. It’s being marketed as a ticket of entry for those fab shops—especially small ones—that have not yet entered the laser cutting arena.

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Bending | Articles | The FABRICATOR

Managing part flow in custom metal fabrication

July 1, 2016 | By Tim Heston

Think of how fast modern laser cutting is; now think of a typical press brake. There’s no contest. With this in mind, how can a fab shop best manage part flow? Elements of quick-response manufacturing (QRM) can help.

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Bending | Articles | The FABRICATOR

Big press brake bending, high throughput

June 29, 2016 | By Tim Heston

In large-workpiece bending, material handling and tooling changeover can take serious time. Shorten that time, and bending throughput levels, even for the largest jobs, can jump significantly.

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Laser Cutting | Articles | The FABRICATOR

3 questions to ask for better laser cutting

June 28, 2016 | By Tim Heston

Brent Donner, president of DLC Manufacturing and Fabrication, has spent almost a decade as a laser cutting consultant. Over that time he has noticed several fundamentals that many operators miss: properly cleaning and polishing the optics, centering the nozzle, and calibrating the beam focus.

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Shop Management | Articles | The FABRICATOR

The 2016 FAB 40: Planning their next move

June 22, 2016 | By Tim Heston

It’s been quite a run. Over the past four years many FAB 40 companies have reported big revenue gains. In 2015, not so much, at least on average. Sales at some big companies either held steady or declined somewhat, mainly thanks to weak markets that by now every fabricator knows about: oil and...

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