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FABTECH 2015 Highlights: The Show, GTC Student Wins Welding Competition, Customer/Partners Attending the Show Visit Precision Plus

Michael Reader

Representatives from companies from around the world come together once a year to attend FABTECH, North America’s largest metal forming, fabricating, welding, and finishing exposition, to see everything from the most basic metalworking machines to fringe of technology equipment, products and services.

In 2015, the event was held over four days (November 9-12) at Chicago’s McCormick Place, spread over 700,000 square feet, and welcomed over 40,000 attendees from more than 90 countries.

FABTECH was first held in Cleveland, Ohio in 1981 to showcase advances in technology. Over the years, it forged partnerships with five key trade associations: FMA (Fabricators & Manufacturers Association International), SME (formerly the Society of Manufacturing Engineers), AWS (American Welding Society), PMA (Precision Metalforming Association), and CCAI (Chemical Coaters Association International), resulting in a show that brings together buyers and sellers, and features the latest. FABTECH also offers industry-targeted education.

The show appeals to a vast audience representing the varied and diverse makeup of the manufacturing industry—from the smallest job shop to the largest Fortune 500 manufacturing—as both (and everyone in between) are looking for innovating solutions that could increase their competitive edge.

Live demonstrations, educational sessions, networking and even welding competitions take place over the 4-day event. This year, special event presentations were on point with technology trends and featured programs on additive manufacturing/3D printing, security risks, women in manufacturing, the significance of teamwork within successful organizations.

An always-favorite event is the welding competition, where talented welders compete for the “Best Welder in America” title. The participants were graded on speed and quality, while they demonstrated their skill by making a single-pass SMAW weld with an E7018 on low-carbon steel. First place and $2,500 were awarded to Aaron Oetken, a self-employed welder/fabricator from Iowa. Andrew Miller, a welding engineer at Caterpillar received $500.00 and the third place in the competition. It is worth noting, however, that the second place winner and recipient of $1,000.00 was Tommy Ruge, a student at Gateway Technical College (GTC) in Racine, Wisconsin. Congratulations to Tom, his instructors, and GTC.

Representatives from Precision Plus typically attend FABTECH, as do some of their customer/partners. This year, management team members from a distinguished customer/partner located in Costa Rica, paid a visit to Precision Plus in Elkhorn, Wisconsin, after the show.

On this occasion, the representatives from the company gave a presentation to the entire Precision Plus Team on their company and products. They also discussed the culture they have developed with their employees, their customers and their supply chain partners from whom they require parts that have tolerances as close as +/- 0.0002”, confirming that the final product is not just a mere object, but the result of creative solutions that are obtained through collaboration and dedicated relationships.

In 2016, FABTECH is scheduled to take place in Las Vegas, Nevada on November 16-18, providing, once again a powerfully aligned hands-on, face-to-face business growth experience, featuring North America’s largest collaboration of technology, equipment and knowledge in the metal forming, fabricating, welding and finishing industries.

The Last Two School Visits by Precision Plus During Academic Year 2013-2014 Were a True Testament to the Spirit of Collaboration

Michael Reader

During the 2013-2014 school year, Precision Plus has made a concerted effort to visit as many area schools as we possibly could. Neither Barry Butters, Director of Education and Training, nor Mike Reader, Precision Plus’ President, allowed snow or sleet, extremely cold temperatures, rain, or heat stop them from making themselves available for meetings, events, or to speak to a class full of students about manufacturing.

Butters explains to a student how a part is machined

The last two visits of the year were to the Real School in Racine, Wisconsin on their Career Day, and to Burlington Area High School to speak to students in Casey Miller’s advanced metals and pre-engineering classes. Both schools had invited Precision Plus to come to their facilities.

Butters demonstrates how the PartMaker software is used at Precision Plus

But, how did they know about Precision Plus and their efforts to close the manufacturing skills gap? These schools made use of a common resource: Inspire Wisconsin, powered by Career Cruising.

Inspire Wisconsin—the Pathway from Talent to Careers—has a distinct mission:

Inspire Wisconsin’s mission is to develop and disseminate an organized, integrated community-development platform for life-long career planning and learning which creates bridges between employers, educators and students and connects students and adult job seekers with work-based learning experiences and job opportunities.

By bringing all parties to the table–employers, educators, students, parents and job seekers, Inspire Wisconsin offers an opportunity for maximizing careers and talents. Its leadership says it all: respected individuals from education, industry, and government, who understand the importance of a highly skilled and educated workforce.

Finally, Career Cruising, developers of “The world’s most engaging and inspiring career learning program” makes it all possible. By integrating with Inspire Wisconsin, their tool can be used by Wisconsin schools. Their interactive program helps “people of ages achieve their full potential in school, career and life,” and provides an arena for matching needs with initiatives, and talent with careers.

And that is how, the last two visits of academic year 2013-2014 came to be. There were a direct result of separate entities working together: Inspire Wisconsin, Career Cruising, the schools, and Precision Plus No shots in the dark here. Instead, targeted, skilled shots that hit the bulls-eye.

Precision Plus looks forward to a great 2014-2015 year!