Much of a town flattened. Entire neighborhoods reduced to piles of debris. Hundreds injured. More than two dozen killed. It’s a grim reminder that the confluence of weather systems in the central U.S., specifically masses of cold, dry air from the north and fronts of warm, moist air from the south, don’t mix well. Kansas has the unfortunate distinction of the most reported tornadoes per square mile; Oklahoma is second. In any given year, Texas usually has the most tornadoes. Read the rest of this entry »
By: Tim Heston
Mariana Forrest perhaps knows ALAW® better than anyone. The president of laser consulting firm LASAP Inc., based in Troy Mich., has attended all 20 conferences. She was there back when it was called the Automotive Laser Applications Workshop, and in recent years, after the event was broadened and renamed (though conveniently keeping the same acronym) the Advanced Laser Applications Workshop.
During a brief presentation at this year’s event--organized by the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association Intl.® and held in Livonia, Mich., May 2-3--Forrest recalled all the years presenters from around the world, including Japan and Germany, came to Michigan to show advanced laser applications in automotive.
For many of those years North American automotive engineers were wary of the laser’s suitability for automotive applications, especially for body-in-white. Body panels had yet to be designed for laser processing. Unlike resistance spot welding, the laser needed to access a workpiece from just one side. But it also required precise fit-up. Then there were those ugly marks on coated material left by that pesky zinc outgassing.
What a difference two decades makes.
By: Eric Lundin
Fake Rolex® watches, knock-off Armani® handbags, counterfeit Nike® shoes, pirated movies of all sorts—if you’ve traveled to any countries that have lax trademark, patent, and copyright protection, you’ve seen plenty of faked goods. It’s pathetic, to say the least. The companies that make the original item lose out on sales, and risk losing some credibility because poor-quality copies are detrimental to the company’s image. Depending on the product, consumers put themselves at risk. Finally, at the risk of sounding overly righteous, the companies that make the counterfeits are just taking the lazy way out, rather than innovating to develop new products or improve existing ones. If everyone took the easy way out, we’d have never innovated our way out of the Stone Age. It’s hard to find a winner here. Read the rest of this entry »
By: Dan Davis
My wife works with some pretty smart people. She's a math teacher, which puts her in day-to-day contact with talented teachers and highly intelligent students in her advanced placement courses.
On her staff is a former engineer who recently had received constructive criticism about his teaching skills during an appraisal. This engineer-turned-teacher confided that he wasn't quite sure how the appraiser had arrived at his opinion because his knowledge of math was unquestionable. Certainly, there must be some kind of mistake.
There's no mistake. Engineers and mathematically gifted people see the world differently from others. As a result, they sometimes give off an aura of superiority, which is not the best way to win friends and influence people. Read the rest of this entry »
By: Dan Davis
Can we write enough about safety in the pages of The FABRICATOR, its sister magazines, and thefabricator.com? Absolutely not.
Do we actually execute that strategy in the media wepublish? No, we do not.
And that's a shame.
Fabricators might argue that safety is a given in their facilities, much like quality efforts. But it's not that simple. Talking about it doesn't make it happen. It has to be ingrained into every aspect of every activity in the facility, so that employees feel empowered to do the safe thing, even if it's not the most cost effective decision.
Actually, it can boil down to one question: Do workers on the shop floor have the authority to halt production if they see an unsafe practice occurring? Most fabricators believe that if capital equipment is running, it's making money. Is company management ready to turn off the revenue spigot so that a work environment can be made safer? Read the rest of this entry »
By: Vicki Bell
You want a raise; I want a raise; we all want raises. Even corporate heads who take pay cuts to show how much they empathize with their workers probably want and think they deserve raises, but that’s a topic for another day.
What would you do for a raise, besides doing the best job you can every single day? Take on more responsibility? Work longer hours? Endeavor to meet and exceed all performance appraisal metrics? Probably easy yeses for most of us, right? How about getting a tattoo? Read the rest of this entry »
By: Dan Davis
Fabricating shop owners—and business owners in general—have voiced concern about increased regulations that their companies have had to face since the election of President Obama, but that may be nothing compared to the trouble they might find if they run into trouble involving the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). That agency is on the hunt for "indifferent employers" who don't take the necessary steps to keep workers safety.
That's the take of David Jones, an attorney and head of the workplace safety practice group for Ogletree Deakins, as he spoke to a crowd gathered for the Fabricators & Manufacturers Association's Safety Conference 2013 on April 23 in Nashville. Agency officials realize that it's difficult to pass any regulations because of the contentious nature of Congress right now and the Republican majority in the House of Representatives, and that's why OSHA is focusing on "tough enforcement," Jones said. Read the rest of this entry »
By: Vicki Bell
Last week’s “Welding Wire” e-newsletter featured the blog post “Backbone of America deserves a round of beer,” which focused on comments from Christopher W., a young welding student, about welding formerly being on a worst jobs list. He couldn’t understand how that could happen.
We shared Christopher’s comments and asked WW readers how they felt about their welding careers. We heard from welders, both in the U.S. and elsewhere.
Leon from Trinidad & Tobago encouraged all the Christophers out there to “go for it” and pursue that welding career. He wrote: Read the rest of this entry »
By: Tim Heston
Troy Berg, president of Dane Manufacturing, a contract fabricator in rural Dane, Wis., attends equipment auctions not just to find a deal on equipment, but to learn. With success comes confidence and determination; with failure comes soul-searching, self-scrutiny and, quite often, unfiltered truth.
Berg has gotten quite a bit of truth. This morning, he told me of an auction visit in 2007 to a large fabricator on the West Coast. It was an unusual opportunity, because only half the shop was shuttered. He and other fabricators were in an idle portion of the shop full of lightly used, high-quality laser cutting machines, press brakes, and high-end material handling. The other half of the floor was still humming. Punch presses, lasers, and the buzz of welding arcs permeated the place.
Berg didn’t buy anything, but he did see a man in a blue maintenance shirt, and he walked over and introduced himself. They started chatting. Then Berg, like a true investigative reporter, dove in and asked the question: “So what the heck happened here?”
As I was putting together this issue’s Shop Stories featuring Tim Baber of College of the Canyons, Santa Clarita, Calif., one word from our conversation stuck out in my mind: Champion.
Champion is defined by Webster’s Dictionary as a warrior or a fighter; a militant advocate or defender; one that does battle for another’s rights or honor.
A champion quite simply is someone who makes their situation or surroundings better; someone whose personal investment runs so deep outsiders have a hard time separating the entity from the individual. Read the rest of this entry »