FMA Communications Inc.

Tim Heston

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

The economy and the power of hindsight

July 8, 2008

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Reading the campaign news this week, I was reminded of a West Wing episode years back when the president"s personal aide, Charlie Young, asks what President Bartlet was doing. The president replied, I"m doing basically what the president does: Asking people for things, and then thanking them.He... Continue Reading

Nuclear energy not going to waste

June 30, 2008

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Reading news of the campaign trail last week, I recalled a park cookout I attended years ago while visiting a friend in West Lafayette, Ind. The conversations there weren"t normal, and not your typical neighborhood get-together talk. These people, including my friend, were nuclear engineering... Continue Reading

Money in green

June 23, 2008

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Last week media reported long gas station lines, with motorists grumbling over record prices. That sounded like 1970s oil-crisis America, but that"s not what reporters were writing about on Friday.They were reporting from Beijing.There, The Times of London gave reports of long lines outside petrol... Continue Reading

ALAW 2008 conference

Lasers catch limelight at ALAW

June 17, 2008

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How can laser technology make metal fabrication more efficient? The efficiency comes not only from advances within the laser itself, but also in new ways to integrate those lasers for optimal part flow on the shop floor. Several presenters at ALAW 2008 hammered this point home.

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Staybridge suites chicago

Building success with the staggered truss

June 17, 2008

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Developed during the 1960s by MIT graduate students, the staggered-truss system avoids the use of interior columns to transfer loads to the foundation; instead, trusses themselves carry the brunt of the load transfers. More than anything, the steel design method has potential to take various hotel, condo, and office-building projects away from other construction materials, like concrete, and that's certainly good news for structural steel fabricators everywhere.

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Traci and Lori Tapani

Accounting for growth in lean manufacturing

June 17, 2008

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Lean manufacturing has a negative, often unexpected, impact on the balance sheet--but those negative effects are short-term.

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Traci"s story: A good reason to get lean

May 20, 2008

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By 1994, Traci Tapani knew things had to change. As co-president of a Stacy, Minn.-based job shop, she just had a baby and was about to go on maternity leavethat is until a certain customer, who provided more than half of the company"s revenue, found out. They had a fit, she said. They... Continue Reading

Welding wisdom

May 19, 2008

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I just finished up with a four-day crash course in welding technologies at the Hobart Institute of Welding Technology in Troy, Ohio. Assistant Editor Michael Bishop, Associate Editor Amanda Carlson, and I decided it would be better to get our feet wet in the world of welding at an educational... Continue Reading

Panel bending workcell

Streamlined scheduling suits fabricator

May 13, 2008

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Indianapolis-based Estes Design and Manufacturing has made significant strides in adopting manufacturing-friendly information technology, marrying enterprise resource planning (ERP) and scheduling software to ensure work flows efficiently through the shop.

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Vertical drilling machine

Diversity a blessing for Blessing

May 13, 2008

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Diverse customer base—from heavy equipment to medical—key to Blessing Industries' success

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Exports: The economy's saving grace?

May 12, 2008

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California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and U.S. Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez made a case for free trade in today"s Wall Street Journaland they used recent export numbers to buttress their argument. Even at a time when our economy has slowed, U.S. exports are booming. In 2007, we... Continue Reading

Safety first

May 8, 2008

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Two co-workers and I are heading off for some welding training next week, which will allow us to beef up our welding knowledge and generally embarrass ourselves in front of skilled professionals. So as I was having an e-mail conversation earlier this week with Gerald Davis, the author of The... Continue Reading

Brokaw gives perspective

May 5, 2008

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It"s not often a reporter for the metal fabrication industry gets to quote a speech by Tom Brokaw, but this week isn"t usual. I"m down in Orlando, Fla., attending SAPPHIRE, an information technology conference hosted by German software giant SAP, short for Systems Applications and Protocols in Data... Continue Reading

Unfamiliar surroundings

April 28, 2008

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When you make a fast-food cashier roll her eyes, you know it"s been a long day.Unfamiliar surroundings can make me about as smooth as when I accidentally stabbed my date with the corsage pin before junior prom (yes, that did happen). I"m on the road this week, and today I drove a certain rental car... Continue Reading

Don"t let service go down the drain

April 22, 2008

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I don"t know much, but I do know this: If metal fabricators had my plumber"s customer service record, they wouldn"t be in business for long.Forgive my venting, but I"m sure many can relate. We had an oh-so-delightful problem with our plumbing1946 vintage. The trouble really began when we bought... Continue Reading