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).
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.
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.
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.
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."
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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...
June 17, 2016 | By Tim Heston
SixAxis, a fabricator of safety platforms, portable stairs, and other industrial products, developed its own software with quoting, customer relationship management, and product configuration features. According to sources, software changed the customer buying experience, which in turn helped the company quintuple in size over six years.
June 15, 2016 | By Tim Heston
IMS Engineered Products’ revenue has increased by 45 percent during the past five years. How? The fabricator is part of a larger organization, IMS Companies, with diverse revenue streams coming from gear manufacturing, stamping, electrical harness assembly, and more. But IMS’s story of growth really boils down to a straightforward strategy: quick response.