FMA Communications Inc.

Tim Heston

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

Shop Management | Blog Posts

Metal fabrication ripe for consolidation, or not?

May 11, 2015 | By Tim Heston

Will the custom metal fabrication business become more consolidated in the years to come? It's hard today, but more than likely, it will depend on the fabricator's customer base.

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Shop Management | Articles

Trust, respect, and the skilled trades

May 11, 2015 | By Tim Heston

In 7 Success Skills for Apprentices and Skilled Trades Persons, James Sidney Harvey describes aspects of the skilled trades that you usually don’t learn in a classroom

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Shop Management | Articles

Flow, quality, and operational excellence in manufacturing

May 7, 2015 | By Tim Heston

A fabricator can’t achieve operational excellence without good flow, and good flow isn’t possible without good quality. Kevin Duggan, founder of the Institute for Operational Excellence, describes how quality assurance intertwines with every process in a business.

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Shop Management | Articles

You can’t commoditize human connections

April 30, 2015 | By Tim Heston

Ken Schmidt helped turn Harley-Davidson around, not by improving product quality, but by connecting to the people who bought motorcycles. That same connection can form the backbone of a fabricator’s success.

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Tube and Pipe Fabrication | Articles

Getting to the root of pipe welding automation

April 29, 2015 | By Tim Heston

Automating the root pass in pipe spool fabrication has always been a challenge, and making weld preparations more consistent just hasn’t been economically practical. In this market, advanced vision systems and adaptive welding have helped overcome these challenges.

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Shop Management | Blog Posts

Truth on the shop floor

April 13, 2015 | By Tim Heston

If truth comes from the shop floor, everyone should hear it.

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Shop Management | Articles

Quality shines bright at MACO

April 7, 2015 | By Tim Heston

The recession nearly killed MACO Incorporated, a fabricator and machine shop in rural western North Carolina. But it survived thanks to some introspection and a new focus on quality certification.

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Shop Management | Articles

Continuous improvement, from the first quote to the final shipment

April 1, 2015 | By Tim Heston

Burlington, Ky.-based Skilcraft LLC has changed a lot in the past decade. It has moved away from the traditional job shop model toward comprehensive contract fabrication. And it got there by scrutinizing every step of the manufacturing process, from quoting to shipping.

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Shop Management | Blog Posts

Boring manufacturing data acts up a bit

March 31, 2015 | By Tim Heston

Economic indicators have been boring. This may change. The data slipped a bit this month, though it's too soon to say if it's a trend. Regardless, business owners are happy with boring.

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Automation and Robotics | Articles

Gauging welding’s success

March 25, 2015 | By Tim Heston

In recent years Ashcroft’s Connecticut plant has changed significantly. It’s an operation transitioning from batch-style production to lean part flow, and a new, flexible welding cell has helped the manufacturer prepare for future improvements.

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Shop Management | Blog Posts

People make the difference at <i>The FABRICATOR</i>’s Leadership Summit

March 24, 2015 | By Tim Heston

Technology is the engine of metal fabrication, but people are behind the wheel. And how they drive really matters.

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Shop Management | Articles

How do you define good company culture anyway?

March 10, 2015 | By Tim Heston

How does a fabricator build a culture that adopts, embraces, and sustains lean manufacturing? An environment that encourages idea generation may be a good start.

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Shop Management | Blog Posts

Automation, health, safety, and longshoremen

February 24, 2015 | By Tim Heston

The labor disupute at the West Coast ports is an odd, complex, ironic cog in the global supply chain.

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Arc Welding | Articles

Odessa, oil, and the welding arc

February 19, 2015 | By Tim Heston

Investors worry about how the drop in oil prices will affect the energy boom. The people on the front lines—including the fabricators and pipe welders—don’t seem to be terribly worried. Some even welcome a slight slowdown, because it will give everyone time to catch up.

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Shop Management | Articles

Metal fabrication meets a seller’s market

February 18, 2015 | By Tim Heston

Manufacturing is cool again, and fabricators wanting to sell their business are benefiting from a seller’s market. Nevertheless, high revenue concentration, a shallow talent pool, poor cash flow, reliance on sales from a single sector, and other factors still throw up red flags.

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