November 9, 2012
Managing a shop full of a great number of incredibly diverse, short-run, nonrepeat orders can be a complicated undertaking. Fedtech, a St. Paul, Minn., fabricator, stays on top of all the activity by giving customers a single point of contact. Upon receipt of an order, one person shepherds the job through production—from cradle to grave.
November 9, 2012
Estes Design and Manufacturing, Indianapolis, finds that laser welding produces a joint that is cosmetically appealing to customers. “We’re looking for an appearance that matches almost exactly the outside of a formed corner,” said Jay Reddick, the company's laser welding development manager.
November 9, 2012
According to the 2013 Capital Spending Forecast, to published by the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association, projected spending for U.S. metal fabricators climbed 4 percent over last year. The total amount is just shy of readers' projected spending before the recession.
November 2, 2012
The issue for Laser Access employees wasn't getting the equipment running, it was the time they spent away from the machine, hunting for the right tools and material. That's why the Michigan shop took steps to keep the necessary tools nearby and neatly organized.
October 28, 2012
If tragedy has a silver lining, it is that it brings everything else into stark clarity. Those who suffer usually either wallow or emerge triumphant. Chesterfield, Mo.-based Cambridge Engineering did the latter. As Vice President of Manufacturing Michael Mueller put it, “We had a new spirit, and... Continue Reading
October 22, 2012
CO2 gas lasers still dominate sheet metal cutting, but they aren’t the only game in town anymore. Solid-state lasers like the fiber and disk varieties--which use diode lasers to pump, or excite, the lasing medium--continue to have considerable market success. And now fabricators may have a new... Continue Reading
October 19, 2012
In September 2011, thanks to changing weather patterns and unintended consequences of water management, GT Fabrication was flooded yet again. The family business has been through this before. Why stay in the game? Because the metal fabrication community was there to help.
October 16, 2012
Yesterday I spoke with a production manager (on background) with a not-so-uncommon challenge. He had been brushing up on the basics of continuous improvement, including lean manufacturing methodologies adapted for the high-mix, low-volume environment. All the talk of efficient part flow, shorter... Continue Reading
October 15, 2012
We all know wage growth in this country is next to nothing. It’s one reason why the presidential election season has been so contentious. Employees continue to work harder than ever, while employers hesitate to hire more. But metal fabricators and other manufacturers have another problem: Some... Continue Reading
October 2, 2012
Innovation has been said to be at the heart of business success, but in a contract fabrication shop that often doesn’t entail product design, where is that innovation? According to a recent publication by the consultancy Plante Moran, titled the 2012 Innovation Quotient Survey, innovation... Continue Reading
September 19, 2012
The Chicago teacher’s strike has a silver lining. It has gotten us talking about problems in education. These are problems metal fabricators are all too familiar with, thanks to the ongoing skilled labor crisis. Last weekend This American Life aired a show that asked a question that’s so basic... Continue Reading
September 11, 2012
Today at 8:46 a.m. Eastern Time I was writing an article on laser cutting when it dawned on me: 11 years ago, at that very moment, I was writing a case history on the subject. Like most people on Sept. 11, 2001, I stopped what I was doing. The magazine art director scurried into my office to relay... Continue Reading
September 7, 2012
The results are in from FMA's 2012 Financial Ratios & Operational Benchmarking Survey and the message is clear: Raw material and work-in-process inventory eats cash. Successful fabricating shops have figured out a way to avoid excess inventory scenarios.