FMA Communications Inc.

Tim Heston

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

Blog Posts

Labor is not a bad word

April 27, 2010 | By Tim Heston

Countless talking heads have argued for and against globalization. Some say it’s an unstoppable force, as companies continue their hunt for the company that gives the most bang for their buck. In manufacturing, that often translates to the cheapest labor that can meet or exceed required quality...

Continue Reading

Blog Posts

Irony in Ireland: Global trade and volcanic ash

April 19, 2010 | By Tim Heston

‭This week has dripped with irony. On Wednesday I traveled to a press event at Combilift,‭ ‬a forklift and material handling equipment manufacturer several hours northwest of Dublin,‭ ‬in the rolling green hills of County Monaghan.‭ ‬The company exports most of its vehicles and keeps...

Continue Reading

Blog Posts

Fabricating just enough, just in time

April 15, 2010 | By Tim Heston

Two weeks ago I talked with one fabrication shop owner who has what last year would have been considered an unusual problem. Bankers were lined up, eager to give the small business owner a loan--only he didn’t need one. Work is coming in the door, but it’s mostly small jobs, nothing to warrant...

Continue Reading

impluse manufacturing

Shop Management | Articles

If you don't measure it, you can't improve it

April 1, 2010 | By Tim Heston

At Impulse Manufacturing, operators double as quality assurance personnel. The company tracks efficiency and quality via an innovative Web-based shop-management system. The company's mantra: If you don't measure it, you can't improve it.

Continue Reading

grinding safety

Finishing | Articles

How to make grinding safer and more productive

April 1, 2010 | By Tim Heston

When it comes to grinding, a more productive worker is often a safer worker, if given the right tools and training.

Continue Reading

ralco industries

Shop Management | Articles

ERP and the cloud

April 1, 2010 | By Tim Heston

The concepts of cloud computing, or software as a service (SaaS), show their mettle at one automotive metal stamper. The stamper is in the middle of a growth spurt, and is proof that companies can find success in the changing automotive market.

Continue Reading

Blog Posts

Ford sheds another brand, thank goodness

March 29, 2010 | By Tim Heston

My 3-year-old daughter has never seen the lights on at a house up the street; the building has been empty and on the market longer than she’s been alive. I don’t know the owners or the situation, but I do know the asking price has steadily fallen. The owners probably just want to get that asset...

Continue Reading

Blog Posts

Health care and the angry citizen

March 22, 2010 | By Tim Heston

Talking with various contract metal fabricators over the past few months, I now realize what health care insurance means to them and other small-business owners across the country. Providing health care is a moral imperative. Sure, providing good benefits makes a shop competitive. But at the end...

Continue Reading

Blog Posts

Do not count on those manufacturing backlogs

March 16, 2010 | By Tim Heston

Not a day goes by that I don’t remember how lucky I am. OK, I’m lying. Most days I don’t give it a second thought, though I know I should. My parents got a second mortgage so that I could leave college without having to worry about paying back student loans. How could they do this? Well,...

Continue Reading

squid head gripper

Materials Handling | Articles

The squid head and the stamping press

March 9, 2010 | By Tim Heston

A stamper streamlines part handling, replacing the grunt work with a part manipulator, and designing a flexible manufacturing cell. In the end, the company's efforts improved worker ergonomics and part quality.

Continue Reading

Blog Posts

Therapy for data overload

March 2, 2010 | By Tim Heston

This week The Economist put together a special section about how society is overflowing with data. Reading it, I thought it was irony at its best. What better way to cover our data-overload than with a long, drawn-out story bubbling over with … data. The most obvious example of data-overload is...

Continue Reading

bevels plate

Waterjet Cutting | Articles

Going 3-D: A matter of control

March 1, 2010 | By Tim Heston

Abrasive waterjet has moved beyond flat plate cutting. Today, the jet can move in Z and tilt to cut complex designs out of thick plate, and even tube and barstock.

Continue Reading

Blog Posts

Investor and consumer versus the citizen

February 23, 2010 | By Tim Heston

Dennis Rider’s career path changed directions recently, as reported by The Grand Rapids Press. After 27 years as a roll forming and laser cutting machine operator, he was let go in 2007. After spending serious time job hunting, Rider decided to retrain as an auto mechanic. He told the newspaper...

Continue Reading

Blog Posts

Grabbing the skilled-labor issue by the horns

February 16, 2010 | By Tim Heston

High unemployment has muted manufacturing’s cry for skilled workers, but the cry is still there. It’s a paradox. As manufacturers shed unskilled workers, those who are left must be more skilled and versatile than ever. According to the Labor Department, American manufacturing produces more...

Continue Reading

Blog Posts

Personifying Toyota

February 9, 2010 | By Tim Heston

This morning’s announcement of Toyota’s recall of 437,000 hybrid vehicles seems to have brought the automaker’s woes to a whole new level. Judging by the media coverage, these events are epic. Want to understand the media circus around the Toyota recall? Here’s a little something John...

Continue Reading