Monday, December 15, 2014

Ford Ships Aluminum Pickups After Extra Checks

One of the big stories out of Detroit this year has been Ford’s switch from steel to aluminum in all of it’s F150 pick-ups.

Since the F150 is Ford’s top model (and the best selling vehicle in the country), industry insiders are watching closely for consumer reaction and acceptance.

To make sure every detail is covered as the first models roll of the line, Ford engineers are double and triple-checking it for quality standards.

Here’s a terrific article from The Detroit News on the steps Ford is taking to make sure their risk pays off.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Welders Make $150,000? Bring Back Shop Class

Since the 1970’s, 90% of shop classes have been eliminated in the Los Angeles Unified School District. That stat comes from Forbes magazine in 2012. Similar declines have been seen nationwide.

That explains, in part, the lack of talent in many trades today. But $150,000 welders? They do exist, some making even more, due to their high demand in key industries, according Ohio Treasurer, Josh Mandel. He’s got front row view of the situation, overseeing finances for a manufacturing-heavy state.

In a recent Wall Street Journal editorial, Mandel details the opportunities in the trades, and steps being taken in his state to help restore the flow of students into lucrative manufacturing careers.

You can read the complete article here.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

INNOVATION is More Than a Buzzword

When we hear the word “innovation,” we usually think of great ideas, Steve Jobs or big dollar investments if new technologies.

But wait. In a new Manufacturing Innovation* article, Mike Simpson redefines ‘innovation,’ and how it can be applied at small and medium sized manufacturers every day for better productivity and profit.

“Innovation is about playing offense,” he explains. "Sure, we can’t always beat our foreign competitors on price. But we can beat them in quality, creativity and customer service through innovation. The best part – innovation is easier than you think!”

It’s a great piece, and a quick read. Check it out for yourself here.

Manufacturing Innovation is a publication of The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP)

Monday, December 8, 2014

The Metal Fab Forecast

According to The, their readers “...expect continued, though not skyrocketing, growth for next year.”

While that sounds like a hedged bet, the overall picture is actually good. Companies are feeling stronger now, owing to the impact (and reactions) to the early-2000’s recession. One fabricator nails it this way: “it changed our philosophy on how we do business and how we buy equipment. We’re much stronger now coming out of the recession.”

That kind of bootstrap thinking has 2015 is shaping up to be another growth year, and the article, subtitled “Steady as She Grows,” is filled with examples and case studies.

Check it out here.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Dalco's Newest Addition: Laser Cutting

Here at Dalco, we're always looking to innovate and grow to serve you better. And this month, we've introduced our newest addition: the Amada FLCAJ 4020 fiber laser.

We can now process sheets up to 78 x 157 and, in addition to cutting carbon steel up to 7/8”, we can cut aluminum and stainless, plus highly reflective materials like brass, copper and titanium. We want to meet your growing needs and lead times.

We invite you to come and see it for yourself. Just give us a call!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Senator Ron Johnson visits Dalco Metals

Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson visited Dalco Metals last month.

He was there to observe the recent expansion of services that includes a new fiber laser.

He also spent time answering questions and listening to comments from the Dalco team.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Manufacturers Team Up with Teachers

It’s becoming a common and beneficial scenario: high school and technical educators are touring manufacturers in their area, learning more about the processes and potential for their students.

One example comes from Washington County, Wisconsin, where more than 100 teachers and administrators from three school districts toured Maysteel, Triton Trailers, Regal Ware and Signicast and others.

“We should be preparing students for the world of work, but how often do we get out into the real world of work?” said Daren Sievers, the superintendent of the Slinger School District. “We needed to take a day to get out and see how it functions today.”

You can read more about it from BizTimes Milwaukee here

Monday, October 13, 2014

National Manufacturing Day’s Winning Video

In recognition of National Manufacturing Day on October 4th, manufacturers had the opportunity to create an in-house video, and enter it into a nationwide competition. Dozens of companies entered their work, promoting the business and career opportunities of manufacturing in America.

Six Regional winners were chosen, based on content and creativity. And from those six, Wisconsin's own Waukesha Metal Products was voted best of them all.

Take a few minutes to see all of the winning videos here

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Seven Simple Innovation Tools

Running a business is far from ‘simple,’ but becoming more innovative to gain a competitive edge can be.

In this month’s Industry Week, Renee Snell outlines seven ‘tools’ that can bring out the innovation in your next project. They're rooted in what is called "fresh eyes" thinking, or looking at a procedure or goal from multiple vantage points...and helping your team to do the same. (In fact, it's their 'fresh eyes' that can be the very thing that ignites the innovation.)

Check out the complete article here, and add some innovative thinking to your next challenge.

Friday, August 15, 2014

A 3-D Printing Update

It’s not a must have tool for metal fab….at least not yet. That’s according to Dan Davis, head of the Fabricator and Manufacturers Association.

But, with prices on the machines dropping and new prototype design applications becoming commonplace, it is, as Davis puts it, “time to start paying attention.”

For more on exactly what 3-D printing is, and some of the innovations being used in fabricating, check out this article in

Monday, August 11, 2014

Manufacturing Outlook: Positive!

There’s a lot of news crossing your desk almost daily projecting either manufacturing growth (BOOM) or manufacturing declines (Bust). Here’s one study that digs deeper into the facts, and gives manufacturing a all-out positive projection. It’s global study by Moody’s Investor Service showing a more wide-ranging recovery based on strength in key end markets…and that’s definitely good news for local manufacturing.

It points to continued growth in key end-markets like energy and commercial aerospace, but also more wide-ranging markets, including building products/tools, HVAC, automotive, industrial automation and construction.

Their overall assessment: “The continuing recovery of the global economy should provide a support for industrial activity.”

You can read more about it here

Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Thriving Factory Floor

Everyone has meetings to attend, but this one caught our eye because it’s a ‘meeting of the minds,’ with fresh, constructive ideas from some of the best minds in manufacturing.

This Manufacturing Summit is happening October 1st in Milwaukee and will cover topics like lean manufacturing, commodity costs, supply chain management and staff recruitment.

All the details can be found here.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Dalco's New Fiber Laser

To meet the changing needs of our customers, we’re in the process of installing a new Amada FLCAJ 4020 fiber laser.

We’ll be able to process sheets up to 78 x 157 and, in addition to cutting carbon steel up to 7/8”, we can cut aluminum and stainless, plus highly reflective materials like brass, copper and titanium. This will help us meet your growing needs and lead times.

Installation is progressing on schedule. We'll keep you posted on when we "go live!"

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

It’s HOT Behind These G.R.I.L.L.s

This mentoring-to-manufacturing story is hot off the presses.

Project G.R.I.L.L. (Growing Readiness in Learning & Leading) teams high school students with local manufacturers to learn about career opportunities. But they also learn even more important manufacturing skills, including project management, design, fabricating, finishing, assembly and quality control.

Oh, and they build incredible, working, backyard grills, too!

Click here for more, including the 7 manufacturers and their partner schools - plus a VIDEO of the truly amazing grills built by the students.

Monday, June 16, 2014

...And It'll Get Hotter Indoors

Providing a safe, cool work environment is almost an impossible challenge at many plants during the ‘dog days’ of summer.

As the hot months approach, Industrial Maintenance and Plant Operations magazine posts some suggestions on planning now to avoid employee discomfort and loss of productivity this summer.

Strategies covered in more detail include:

  • Efficiencies and placement of fan systems
  • Better use of plant air conditioning systems, and
  • New technology in evaporative coolers

If you’re in charge of workplace environment, it’s a great read.

Check out the complete article here.

Friday, June 13, 2014

How a State Markets Manufacturing

We have customers and friends all around the Midwest, but wanted to share this video, produced by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, that promotes the benefits of manufacturing in the state. Several of the state's larger manufacturers appear (including Oshkosh Corp, Lindquist Machine and Marinette Marine), and they're talking up the ‘community of smaller manufacturers’ that make up their supply chain. Even if you’re outside Wisconsin, you’ll definitely want to check out this short, 5-minute video. Just click on the image above.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Now THIS is how to Develop New Welders

Leave it to manufacturers…and innovative thinking…to really make a dent in the shortage of skilled welders.

Fabricating & Metalworking Magazine reports on a collaborative job training initiative in Wisconsin It kicks off this summer in four regions around Wisconsin, backed by forward thinking manufacturers and welding industry leaders.

Miller Electric of Appleton is the newest member of the collaboration, which also includes manufacturing alliances, technical colleges, and state workforce development boards. Their goal is to accredit as many as 120 skilled and job-ready welders before the end of the year.

Check out the details from the magazine’s website.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Real Trends for Manufacturing

There are a lot of opinions these days on the state of manufacturing (most of them leaning positive).

Jacob Prak, CEO of Michigan Manufacturing International, sat down with the editors of Industry Today to discuss the trends he sees affecting manufacturing, especially over the next twelve months. Topics he covered include:

  • the impact of the shale oil and gas boom
  • growth in technologies
  • localizing
  • 3-D printing and more.

Prak believes that companies “that are well aware of the changing situations and flexible enough to adapt” will be in the best position to grow and succeed.

Read the complete article here

Friday, April 18, 2014

Fresh Talent for Manufacturing

We've commented on this before, and it's still a hot topic at manufacturing events everywhere:

With ever-changing technology and an aging workforce, what are others doing to build up the talent pool?

For one, Joe Brown, who heads up talent development at Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership (WMEP), has been talking up and organizing school-to-work partnerships across the state. Brown says there's a myth that says manufacturing is dirty, behind the times, and headed offshore. He's been hands-on in helping young people "see manufacturing in the true light that it really is – a dynamic environment.”

You can see a detailed report on his finding and activities from WPR here.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Products People & Policy

Here’s an amazing statistic:

Manufacturing employment can grow by more than 300,000 jobs every year and the economy can grow by an additional $1.5 trillion if manufacturing’s share of the U.S. economy rose from 12 percent to 15 percent — where it was at the beginning of the last decade.

Sounds easy, but it'll be a major challenge...but one that can be realistically achieved.

So what do we need to do to achieve it? Jay Timmons, president and chief executive officer of the National Association of Manufacturers says it “comes down to a focus on three specific areas: products, people and policy.”

His specific strategies for each are featured in the current issue of Fabricating & Metalworking Magazine. See the complete article here.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Metal in Memphis

We usually associate the City of Memphis with good food and music (especially Elvis). But few people know that Memphis is also home of the country’s largest and most prestigious Museum of Metalworks.

While the metal artwork displayed is a long way from the steel that’s cut and stamped in the manufacturing sector, visitors do learn a lot about raw materials, like differences in weight and the grain-like structure of wrought iron vs. mild steel. Timelines are important, too, taking visitors from hand-crafting done by blacksmiths to modern day 3-D printing.

The Metal Museum is featured in this month’s issue of Modern Metals Magazine.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Manufacturing Show Spotlights Technology & Jobs

What started out 8 years ago as a welding event has become a major event, showcasing the skills of students while promoting today’s manufacturing.

The Chippewa Valley Technical College Manufacturing Show drew more than 2000 visitors earlier this month in Eau Claire to explore a variety of high-tech manufacturing equipment and career opportunities. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker told the crowd “we need to encourage the next generation of workers by educating everyone about the great, family-supporting jobs available.”

Find out more in this article from the Eau Claire Leader Telegram

When a Fabricator Retires

When Wayne Bagby, of Augusta, Kansas, retired as metal fabricator for Boeing, he didn’t stop fabricating. He just turned his attention to his next passion….restoring his 1936 Chevy pickup.

You don't have to be into old cars and trucks to admire Bagby's work. In this month’s Fabricator Magazine (linked from the Wichita Eagle), he details how he used his automotive skills to rebuild the drivetrain while putting his fabricating skills to rebuild the bed and tailgate.

The results are amazing.

Check out the pictures, and more, here.

Friday, March 7, 2014

These Manufacturers Stood Out

With a nod to all companies engaged in manufacturing, the annual Manufacturer of the Year Awards were presented recently. Mercury Marine, Gallery Foods, Tailored Label Products and Badger Alloys won in their respective categories. Nine companies from a pool of 34 nominees were recognized.

The annual awards are sponsored by accounting firm Baker Tilly, law firm Michael Best & Friedrich and the Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce.

Read more about it from JS Online here.

and see a complete list of this year’s winners here.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Korean Steel Escapes Tariffs

The Department of Commerce did not impose anti-dumping duties on oil and natural gas pipe products from South Korea, ranked as the largest exporter among nine nations targeted in a trade case filed by U.S. Steel Corp. and others.

Although imports continue to increase, the Commerce Department found that product coming in from Korea did not meet ‘dumping’ guidelines. Although Korea is the largest importer to the US with 894,300 tons in 2013, tariffs have been placed on products coming from five other countries, including India and Vietnam.

Read more about it here from

Thursday, January 16, 2014

New Realities…New Opportunities

The future is looking good...for manufacturing, and for employment.

Among the hot topics leading into 2014 is the industry drive for more talented, prepared workers in both the short and long term.

Here’s a different look at the topic. A Modern Metals “Special Report” first looks at the common misconceptions about worker shortages (like the so-called ‘permanent loss of jobs to off-shoring’). Then, they look at the basic, though challenging, steps every manufacturer can take to ensure a stronger, more prepared workforce.

Great reading to kick off the year. Find the complete article here.

Welders: Why There’s STILL a Shortage

Speaking of finding qualified people, surveys continue to show that welders are still one of the most sought-after skills in metal fab. With the reports of new tech school and outreach programs by manufacturers, the problem should be subsiding, right?

One problem just emerging is that, while demand for welders is still high, relative pay has stayed stagnant.

According to a new report this month in The Fabricator, reasons include the experience gap between seasoned welders and novices. Those with years of on-the-job experience are heading toward retirement, taking with them the wealth of knowledge learned in a lifetime. Enter the fresh, less experienced welder and companies are only paying commensurate on experience.

But this, too, is changing…and fast. Forward-thinking manufacturers are using in-house mentoring and training to help new recruits bed the learning curve. And it’s paying off for everyone.

Check out the complete report from The Fabricator here.

Minnesota Reports a Strong Year

We take frequent looks at success stories in Wisconsin, but we have some terrific friends and customers in neighboring states, too.

In Minnesota, for example, the Department of Employment & Economic Development is estimating that state manufacturers will have spent nearly 700 million dollars on expansions, renovations and relocations in 2013. Not bad for an industry that was on hard times 5 years ago. Experts are crediting the growth primarily to the need for manufacturers to stay competitive and replace outdated facilities.

You can read more in this piece from the Star Tribune.

From China: Steel Mills to Farmland

It reads like fiction: just ten years ago, China was in the midst of a rapid steel mill expansion while global export demands exceeded capacity.

Fast forward to 2014, and the situation has changed. No, demand hasn't crashed, and steel mill activity is still strong, but today's trends include over-capacity mills shutting down and the land reverting to its previous use: farming.

What does it mean for US steel users?

Read more in this feature story.