FMA Communications Inc.

Tim Heston

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

Shop Management | Blog Posts

Voices that matter, in Iowa and the metal fabrication shop floor

February 2, 2016 | By Tim Heston

Having your voice matter may be at the core of good culture. This may apply as much to Iowa voters as it does to people on the fab shop floor.

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Tube and Pipe Fabrication | Articles

Structural tube fabrication: Getting a solid connection for HSS

February 1, 2016 | By Tim Heston

One architectural fabricator has developed a connection and fabrication system for the modular construction of hollow structural sections, or HSS. Such connections show just how efficient modular construction can be.

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Assembly and Joining | Articles

Brushing up sheet metal assembly

February 1, 2016 | By Tim Heston

Scratching a cosmetically critical part during assembly can be costly. This is where choosing the right material for the assembly table surface can be critical. It’s here that the table brush may be able to help.

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Shop Management | Blog Posts

Perspective on 2016: Metal fabricators stand ready to swing

January 19, 2016 | By Tim Heston

For U.S. manufacturers, 2016 is full of uncertainty. But shops with diversified customer bases and healthy balance sheets stand ready to swing.

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Assembly and Joining | Articles

Building improvement at JCB: A case study in lean manufacturing

January 6, 2016 | By Tim Heston

The part flow at JCB’s Savannah plant has changed significantly over the past six years. The company redesigned a major product line to meet customer demand while also making part flow much easier to manage.

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Shop Management | Articles

A “digital thread” runs through FABTECH, North America’s largest metal fabrication show

January 6, 2016 | By Tim Heston

FABTECH broke records again in 2015, drawing more attendees and exhibitors than ever. One theme this year seemed to pervade the event. It relates to what keynote speaker Karen Kerr, director of advanced manufacturing at GE Ventures, called a “digital thread” through the manufacturing supply chain.

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Laser Welding | Articles

Differentiation in manufacturing: Cadence hits its unique stride

January 4, 2016 | By Tim Heston

Cadence, Inc. in Staunton, Va., launched with a proprietary technology. But if the company had relied solely on that technology for growth, it wouldn’t be the $100 million, 500-employee, six-location industrial and medical device contract manufacturer it is today.

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Shop Management | Articles

One metal fabrication shop takes on B2C

January 4, 2016 | By Tim Heston

Launched in 2015, Florida-based MetalsCut4U offers low-volume metal cutting and bending to the consumer market. To make it happen, the company simplifies ordering and automates quoting.

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Shop Management | Blog Posts

Fab shop customer mix: Hitting the right spot

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.

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Shop Management | Blog Posts

Managing a multi-generation fab shop

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.

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Shop Management | Articles

Workforce challenges: Can’t we all just get along?

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?

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Bending | Articles

How a plate rolling rookie becomes a guru

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.

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Shop Management | Articles

Metal fabrication in 2016: Diversification proves its worth

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.

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Bending | Articles

Press brake training: Passing the torch

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.

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Shop Management | Articles

2016 capital spending forecast in metal fabrication: The growth continues

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.

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