Selected articles from April 2013 issue published on TheFabricator.com:
After selling his metal fabricating business in 2006, Jim Lee is back in the game with North Topeka Fabrication. But even in the short time that he was gone, metal fabricating technology has advanced and forced him to ask how the shop could apply new technology to grow the business. That led the company to invest in a fiber laser cutting machine, and the decision has thrown the shop into the thick of new business opportunities.
Everyone knows that metal fabricators need to be good at quick turnarounds. Super Steel became just that, hitting the financial skids in 2009 and transforming itself into a quick-turn fabricator and key manufacturing supplier to the freight rail industry in just three years.
After his yacht-building business dried up in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, entrepreneur Scott Gerber decided to build a simple sculpture from tubing. Based on a basic stick figure, the first one was a fisherman. Gerber placed a few around town, encountered some interest, and suddenly a new business was born.
Several factors come into play when trying to determine the appropriate lifespan of a punch before major maintenance or replacement is required. If a fabricating operation is knowledgeable about punching activities and vigilant about organization and maintenance, it can expect to get the most out of its tooling.
The speed of fabricating is increasing at a rapid pace, but the press brake remains a bottleneck for many companies. Laser cutting and punching machines can run unattended if necessary without the need to program a robot, but the same can't be said for a press brake. Human operators still are pretty much a necessity. Advancements in bending software, however, can help to streamline the bending process. Fabricators only need to give it a try.
A shop is only as productive as its constraint process—that is, its bottleneck. All that adaptability in upstream processes may not make a part cost less if it takes days or weeks to build a new weld fixture. A modular approach to weld fixturing can help.
Chronic exposure to manganese oxide fumes, which occur when manganese metal is heated and reacts with oxygen, can lead to damage to the central nervous system. Welders are especially susceptible to this disease, called maganism by the National Institutes of Health, because manganese is found in many welding rods and filler metals to promote hardness. The American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists recently issued guidance that dramatically reduced suggested threshold limit values. Because many metal fabricators use this guidance to manage worker exposure, they now are having to rethink how they approach personal protective equipment.
Submerged arc welding is known as a process that can result in high welding speeds and deposition rates. However, in today's manufacturing reality, engineers are always looking to boost productivity—even for already productive processes. Fortunately, companies have three common approaches to consider to increase the performance of their submerged arc welding systems.
At The FABRICATOR's Leadership Summit in February, speaker Tom Ziglar used a bicycle as a metaphor for how people drive business success.
A company structure can be an attractive size and shape, with a seemingly strong foundation--but still be a house of cards. Therefore, it’s important to test the robustness of a company’s structure to determine whether it is what it appears to be.
If a metal fabricating company's CEO is running the plant or acting as a salesperson, who is guiding the business? For such companies, operating without a CEO can be a very dangerous situation.
Conductix-Wampfler, Omaha, Neb., developed software that integrates information from CAD, product data management, ERP, and customer relationship management. Built on the company's success, the software is now available for others interested in ensuring everyone in the business is on the same page.
In this fourth installment of Columnist Gerald Davis' series on job estimating, he describes the use of planning outlines—which resemble work orders—to structure the estimator’s report of production expenses.
Virtual weld training tools have emerged in recent years, and some organizations have looked to them to help beginners learn welding basics before firing up the arc. Meanwhile, others are looking for a training device that better reflects the real-world activities associated with welding in a manufacturing environment. A new training device has emerged to bridge that virtual world with the real world.
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