FMA Communications Inc.

Tim Heston

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

Bending | Articles

Dutch metal fabrication: About flow

November 4, 2015 | By Tim Heston

One theme carried throughout a recent LVD press tour of custom fabricators in Holland: With fast changeover and the ability to access the right information at the right time, even a custom fabricator with the highest product mix can achieve smooth part flow.

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Laser Welding | Articles

Know laser weld penetration—now

November 4, 2015 | By Tim Heston

Inline coherent imaging, or ICI, can monitor laser weld depth by measuring the distance to the bottom of the keyhole, providing realtime weld penetration feedback.

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Shop Management | Articles

Celebrating the people in manufacturing

November 4, 2015 | By Tim Heston

Manufacturing Day celebrates what’s at the heart of the real world of progressive manufacturing. It’s about people talking and working together to make their lives, and the lives of their customers, easier.

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Shop Management | Blog Posts

How the master-and-apprentice relationship builds a skilled workforce

October 28, 2015 | By Tim Heston

New technology allows rookies to start making good parts right away, but that connection with experienced workers still needs to be there.

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Shop Management | Articles

How managing by valuation is changing Farris Fab

October 26, 2015 | By Tim Heston

Farris Fab has grown to become a $24.5 million enterprise. Within the past year company leaders have started to manage by valuation. They have no intention to sell, but maximizing the value of the company also happens to improve the overall operation.

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Arc Welding | Articles

A new spin on welding

October 19, 2015 | By Tim Heston

SpinArc, a kind of gas metal arc welding, rotates the wire at a controlled speed, diameter, and direction. This feature reportedly improves weld quality and productivity, and it makes more types of weld joints possible.

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Stamping | Articles

Freeing space for metal fabrication

October 19, 2015 | By Tim Heston

In a few years Performance Stamping may well be a very different company. It recently cleared away inventory to free space not for more stamping, but for metal fabrication.

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Laser Cutting | Blog Posts

Evolution of the cutting laser: About the diode

October 15, 2015 | By Tim Heston

Don't blink, or you'll miss the fastest evolving technology in the custom fab shop: the cutting laser.

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Automation and Robotics | Articles

Small batches, big-time automation

October 15, 2015 | By Tim Heston

Rapid-Line Inc., a contract manufacturer in Grand Rapids, Mich., has a long history of early technology adoption. Two years ago it became an early adopter again, this time with an entirely different kind of robot. Regardless of the technology, everyone keeps their eye on what truly matters when it comes to manufacturing efficiency: how long it takes for an order to make it to the shipping dock.

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Shop Management | Articles

Diversification: The true competitive advantage in metal fabrication

October 15, 2015 | By Tim Heston

According to recent benchmarking surveys from the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association International, debt ratios remain manageable, EBITDA steady, yet revenue concentration remains high for some. The numbers show areas for opportunity as well as challenges.

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Shop Management | Articles

How to build loyalty in manufacturing workers? Go off-script

October 15, 2015 | By Tim Heston

Why do employees leave for a few cents more an hour? It goes back to culture—but what is culture, really? Rutland Walker of Atlanta-based The Academy of Marketing gives a relatively concrete explanation. It’s about connecting with employees with a shared purpose or belief.

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Shop Management | Articles

Wisconsin metal fabricator thrives on complexity

October 12, 2015 | By Tim Heston

Advanced Laser Machining Inc. launched in 1996, just when laser cutting was becoming a metal fabrication mainstay and software was changing everything. Today managers are hoping to put a structure in place to grow the company even more. In 10 years ALM may be a $75 million enterprise

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Shop Management | Articles

Streamlining diverse part flow in metal fabrication

October 7, 2015 | By Tim Heston

The people at Prince Precision Products may be fabricating thin sheet one hour and thick plate the next hour. Managers at PPP call their operation a hybrid—part job shop focusing on small runs, part production operation. Juggling it all requires focus on good communication and minimizing rework.

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Shop Management | Blog Posts

Why scaling up may be tough in metal fabrication

September 17, 2015 | By Tim Heston

Hefty competition usually drives companies to consolidate to achieve economies of scale. For metal fabrication, this rule may not apply.

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Shop Management | Blog Posts

Consolidation in metal fabrication: horizontal, vertical, or both?

September 16, 2015 | By Tim Heston

M&A activity has been on the rise in metal fabrication in recent years, but what's the strategy behind it all? Fabricators seem to be diversifying, both in terms of process offerings and customer bases.

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