FMA Communications Inc.

Tim Heston

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

Cheap labor never stays cheap

April 14, 2008

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Labor costs continue to rise. Companies feel the pinch of surging raw material prices. Margins are declining. Companies can"t find the labor they need, and manufacturers strive to cut costs and keep work on their shores. This sounds like the problems manufacturers face stateside, but it"s not.It"s...

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METALFORM report: Stampers add value, not labor

April 8, 2008

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My brother-in-law and fellow blogger, Chris Walker, is having trouble with his Internet provider, something not too unusual until you consider his locale and his problem. He"s spending a year in Mumbai, India, as part of a fellowship program that helps for-profit humanitarian enterprises find...

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Listen for the key to conflict resolution

April 4, 2008

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I was going to write about the economy, but something I was watching on TV last night really stuck with me. My wife grabbed the remote control from me and sat down to watch Larry King's interview with Jenny McCarthy, who is the mother of an autistic son and has just written a book about the...

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What makes Grand Rapids so grand?

March 31, 2008

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Last week three researchers walked the streets of Grand Rapids, Mich., to answer a curious question: Why has the city"s manufacturing job market fared so well, relative to the rest of the state?The team from George Washington University"s Institute of Public Policy visited the city to see what was...

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Marmon, Warren Buffett, and the "d" word

March 25, 2008

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Warren Buffett must be among the world"s richest individuals for a reason. When Forbes measured asset values for its annual list on Feb. 11, Buffett sat on top, edging out software pioneer Bill Gates, Mexican telecom tycoon Carlos Slim Helu, and Indian steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal.Evidently,...

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The skilled person and the entrepreneur

March 19, 2008

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A Sunday profile in the Detroit Free Press sparked some reader emotion, judging by the 200 comments the story received within a day. It"s about a welder, Detroit resident George Dreher, his family, and the Michigan economy. "He hates asking for helpwhether it"s the government or...

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Too busy for Godot

March 11, 2008

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"Godot has arrived," said Wall Street analyst Edward Yardeni in a New York Times report. Yardeni's Godot is a recession, something even the upbeat forecaster said had indeed arrived, particularly after Friday's unemployment report from the Labor Department, which said the nation lost about 63,000...

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Welding development simulation software

Virtually welding

March 11, 2008

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Today several companies offer technologies that help beginning welders get that hand motion just right. None claims that the technology will replace the real thing, of course, but they do say that training in the virtual world can give students a significant leg up by the time they weld for the first time. It helps teach students what really happens between the welding arc and workpiece, why certain hand motions produce good beads while other motions don't. And it also may help introduce welding to students who wouldn't have given the trade a second thought.

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Engineer using autocad

Work flow goes virtual

March 11, 2008

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Mid-West Metal Products, Muncie, Ind., has perfected work flow through ERP and the company's virtual manufacturing plan.

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Hire 250 in one year, grab headlines

March 4, 2008

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A metal fabricator that hires 250 people in one year grabs attention.That's just what armored-part manufacturer Ultra Machine and Fabrication did yesterday afternoon at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its new, 101,000-square-foot facility in Shelby, N.C., west of Charlotte, amid the...

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Smaller parts make a stable whole

February 26, 2008

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When people think of manufacturing, they think of George's story. After working 30 years, the 59-year-old mechanical engineer was laid off in 2001 from a tube fabrication company. Earlier this week, the Homer Glen, Ill., resident, who didn't want his last name used, spoke to The Herald...

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Two realities in manufacturing

February 19, 2008

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Ever since we emerged from the recession earlier this decade, I feel I've been living in two economic realities in manufacturing: One where economic expansion returned and another where the recession never really left.The presidential candidates know the second reality, judging by their stump...

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Welding's missing link

February 12, 2008

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Several years ago Ken Smith took a long, hard look at the country's welder shortage. The manager of training for Lorain County Community College's welding program in Elyria, Ohio, saw a need to tackle the issue at the source: education.Smith, together with representatives from the...

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Innovative workholding streamlines

Innovative workholding streamlines welding at Vermeer

February 12, 2008

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Lean manufacturing drove equipment manufacturer Vermeer Corp. to organize weld cells for maximum productivity. In each cell, fixtures are placed within the welder's reach, and equipment is placed for optimal ergonomics.

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Special press brake tools

Specials simplify the complex, speed productivity

February 12, 2008

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Standardized press brake tooling, absolutely necessary for a lean organization, keeps a shop flexible, but at the same time, ignoring specials would be a big mistake. If their slightly longer setup times also lead to a drastic increase in throughput, special tools make good business sense.

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