December 22, 2015 | By Tim Heston
Interest rates are rising, oil prices are falling, and energy and agriculture equipment sectors continue to struggle. What's next for fabricators in 2016? The news isn't all bad, really, depending on a shop's mix of services, technology, talent, and customers.
December 16, 2015 | By Tim Heston
Finding good people remains the No. 1 challenge in metal fabrication, but it's certainly not an insurmountable challenge.
December 15, 2015 | By Tim Heston
Talk to managers in metal fabrication and they’ll probably tell you they have trouble finding “good” people. In fact, they usually don’t say “skilled” people. So what’s the difference?
December 3, 2015 | By Tim Heston
How does a plate rolling rookie become a guru? According to Ken Pecho, project engineer at Chicago Metal Rolled Products, it requires good communication. So how do you really define good communication? For plate rolling (and many other shop skills), you can break it down into three critical components: collaboration, observation, and patience.
December 2, 2015 | By Tim Heston
2015 has been a tale of two markets—commodities and everything else. Demand for food, fuel, and materials is suffering and prices are dropping. But low prices in these areas are spurring growth elsewhere. Many predict this tale to continue into 2016.
December 1, 2015 | By Tim Heston
Southern Metalcraft Inc.’s press brake veteran will be retiring at the end of 2016, and he is now passing the torch to someone who never worked on a press brake until 2009. So how did the rookie learn so quickly? Technical aptitude plays a role. But more important than that, the veteran and rookie get along and just work well together.
November 30, 2015 | By Tim Heston
According to the “2016 Capital Spending Forecast” from the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association International, total capital spending will edge up a little more than 2 percent next year. Still, certain equipment categories, including welding and bending, may experience dramatic gains.
November 23, 2015 | By Tim Heston
The direct-diode laser ups its presence at this year's FABTECH.
November 20, 2015 | By Tim Heston
A "digital thread" extending up and down the manufacturing supply chain might sound like science fiction. But as evident at this year's FABTECH, the digital thread is becoming reality.
November 19, 2015 | By Tim Heston
NASCAR legend Rusty Wallace was a hit at this year's show. Considering the nature of the sport, fast-paced while still rooted in advanced engineering, it's easy to see why attendees relate so well. And perhaps no one related better than those who exhibited at the show as part of an emerging field: 3-D printing.
November 18, 2015 | By Tim Heston
A certain excitement permeated this year's show, and it wasn't just about this incredibly fast laser, that press brake that eliminates setup time, or that welding power source that connects to the cloud and simplifies welding parameter selection. It was about how all these technologies and more can work together to make a shop better.
November 17, 2015 | By Tim Heston
FABTECH was bigger than ever. The terrible news on Friday puts things in perspective, and yet shows just how valuable the "normalcy" of a trade show, and a healthy industry, really is.
November 10, 2015 | By Tim Heston
Sustaining improvement efforts remains difficult for many shops, but sustaining may not be so difficult with a foundation of good business fundamentals in manufacturing. This includes accurate bills of materials, accurate routings, good inventory control, a documented system for materials planning and procurement, concise business rules, and employee training.
November 5, 2015 | By Tim Heston
A SWOT analysis covers a company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. But how do you really define strengths and weaknesses? Much of it can come from data gleaned from a good flow assessment.
November 4, 2015 | By Tim Heston
Monitoring machine performance in real time is gaining traction in metal fabrication. MTConnect, a machine communication standard that has made serious headway in the machining arena, now has a toehold in the sheet metal business.