August 17, 2010 | By Tim Heston
Over the past year I’ve talked to various metal fabricators, from low-volume job shops to specialized manufacturers, and I’ve noticed one thread common to all of them: They’re all high-mix, short-run environments. Volumes vary; some companies process a greater number of short-run jobs than...
August 4, 2010 | By Tim Heston
Lean manufacturing has origins in the low-mix, high-volume world. But many job shops have successfully adapted the methodology to the high-mix, low-volume world. The key is to focus on operational commonalities.
August 2, 2010 | By Tim Heston
“What the world lacks is willing customers, not willing workers.” That statement in this week’s The Economist magazine may be one of the most insightful among all the worried economic chatter in the media these days. The magazine’s cover story this week covers the woes of the...
July 30, 2010 | By Tim Heston
Nexteer Automotive uses sports video software to track machine, part, and worker movement. During the past few years, the technology has been integral to Nexteer's lean-manufacturing initiatives.
July 30, 2010 | By Tim Heston
Streamlining bending operations at a Chicago area fabricator was instrumental in the company's lean manufacturing efforts. Batch sizes and lead-times both have plummeted in recent years.
July 26, 2010 | By Tim Heston
“Caterpillar flaunts its muscle.” You’ve got to admit, that’s a great headline. After reading the story in Friday’s Wall Street Journal, I thought back to a blog I wrote while sitting in the Las Vegas expo center’s coffee shop (which happened to have good Internet access),...
July 19, 2010 | By Tim Heston
I’m glad I talked with Drew Greenblatt last week. Otherwise, news of waning manufacturing output might have gotten to me. At Greenblatt’s company, Marlin Steel Wire Products, output certainly isn’t waning. The 28-employee contract manufacturer has grown throughout the recession, and much of...
July 13, 2010 | By Tim Heston
In April 2010, more than 100 wordsmiths from 30 countries traveled from as far away as New Zealand and Australia to the picturesque hills of County Monaghan, northwest of Dublin, to visit Combilift, a forklift manufacturer that manufactures locally, but sells globally.
July 8, 2010 | By Tim Heston
The country continues to fret about unemployment. Millions want jobs, and millions of business owners want those people to have jobs so that they’ll buy products. Most business owners, though, don’t want to be the ones hiring. That’s where the government has stepped in. Of course, government...
July 1, 2010 | By Tim Heston
Fiber lasers have enormous potential in metal fabrication. They aren't a panacea, but for certain applications, they may be extremely attractive. They're solid-state, require less maintenance, and often can cut twice as fast as their CO2 counterparts.
June 28, 2010 | By Tim Heston
Last week DeWys Mfg., a metal fabricator based in west Michigan, launched a new Web site, and the content of that Web site is worth noting. The contract fabricator is touting its “circle of companies” concept, which is another way to describe the fact that DeWys is a one-stop shop for metal...
June 21, 2010 | By Tim Heston
An international economic chess game just got more interesting, and metal fabricators may one day see the benefits. Today the Chinese currency rose against the dollar 0.42 percent in Asia—not much, but that’s the biggest one-day gain in five years. This came after Chinese officials announced...
June 15, 2010 | By Tim Heston
John McPhee is a hero of mine. As one of the best nonfiction writers out there, the Princeton professor and contributor to The New Yorker magazine can turn any subject into a pleasurable read. He’s written about geology, the merchant marines, physics—heck, even an entire book...
June 8, 2010 | By Tim Heston
Business owners in the metal fabrication industry are getting to be old hands at hosting top dogs from Washington on both sides of the political aisle. Several years ago President Bush visited Fox Valley Metal-Tech in Green Bay, Wis., and gave a speech. Last year Vice President Joe Biden visited...
June 4, 2010 | By Tim Heston
A new press brake and tooling purchase leads to a new way of thinking about manufacturing, including the reduction of batch sizes and work-in-process.