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Daily industrial news and top headlines for plant and maintenance managers

Maintenance In High-Tech Industries

October 11, 2004 6:48 am | by Nancy Syverson, Managing Editor

Technical innovation has created challenges in maintenance that high-tech manufacturers say can be as complex and costly as the manufacturing process itself. The world has come to expect marvels from high-tech manufacturing. Extraordinary advances in computers, instrumentation, digital cameras, medical devices and other areas enter the market daily, more powerful, smaller and less expensive than before.


Five Steps to Loading-Dock Door Selection

October 6, 2004 7:10 am | by Al Hochstein, Product Manager, Rite-Hite Doors, Inc.

While plant managers and other decision-makers are often surprised with the many developments in loading-dock doors, the selection process need not be challenging or time consuming. Here are five steps to help guide the door selection process, based on the goals of improved safety, increased productivity, lower maintenance costs and overall satisfaction.


Standardized Speed Reducers Help Cut Steelmaker's Costs

October 6, 2004 7:05 am

Nucor-Yamato Steel Co. produces hot-rolled wide flange structural steel shapes, standard channel and miscellaneous channel shapes, car building shapes, H-piling and hot rolled steel sheet piling sections. The company has produced structural steel in Blytheville, AR, since its first mill opened in 1988.


Upgrades Improve Cement Plant’s Production, Safety

September 23, 2004 7:54 am

An automated filler cuts as much as seven seconds from the time needed to produce one bag of cement. Rinker Materials Corp., West Palm Beach, FL, is one of the largest producers of bagged cement, ready-mix concrete and concrete block in the U.S. In order to increase productivity at its cement terminal in Port Everglades, FL, the company recently made changes that helped its packaging process run smoother and produce bags that were closer to target weight goals, while providing a safer environment for employees.


Making the PLC Internet-Ready

September 14, 2004 12:12 pm | by Mike Rothwell Director/Cincinnati Product Division Advantech Automation Group Cincinnati, OH

Is there any truth to the idea of Web-enabled automation? Is it possible to connect production and processing machinery by their PLCs to the Internet? More relevant, is it practical or profitable? The short answers: First, Internet access can provide compelling competitive advantages for linking manufacturers with service technicians, customers, suppliers and subcontractors.


The Manufacturing Extension Partnership: Help for Small Manufacturers

September 14, 2004 8:00 am

The federal Manufacturing Extension Partnership program – MEP – is probably one of the most effective government programs out there. Designed specifically to help small and medium-sized manufacturers, MEP has worked with more than 184,000 firms in all 50 states and Puerto Rico since the program began in 1988.

Best Practices: FPI Thermoplastic Technologies: A Rebound With an MEP Assist

September 14, 2004 8:00 am | by Rick Carter, Editor-in-Chief

When this New Jersey-based injection suffered a critical loss of business, it turned to its state Manufacturing Extension Partnership program for help. Now the company is a competitor on the world market. Culture change can come in many forms. While it’s often driven by the need to improve poor production techniques or simply by new leadership, sometimes it takes place when a company learns the hard way that its business strategy is about to self-destruct.


A Guide to MIG Welding Success

August 12, 2004 10:11 am | by David Anderson, Manager, Hobart Welders, Appleton, WI

Whether your company wants to fabricate, modify or repair, investing in a welder and taking a welding course can provide an excellent return on investment. Many businesses have discovered that they can pay for a unit within two days. Additional good news is that you don't have to be a professional welder to achieve good results.


Battery Refill System Boosts Fork Lift Uptime

August 12, 2004 7:39 am

Atlas Cold Storage is a two-warehouse facility incorporating 402,350 sq. ft. of storage space in Hatfield, PA, 30 miles north of Philadelphia. Nationally branded makers of ice cream and other frozen food products warehouse their foods at Atlas until they are ready for shipment to retail outlets. Atlas' freezers are maintained at a constant temperature of -18 degrees Fahrenheit; loading docks and other areas remain about 35 degrees Fahrenheit.

The Plaza At PPL Center: A Study In Green

August 10, 2004 11:58 am | by Nancy Syverson, Managing Editor

In January 2002, contractors broke ground on a 1.5-acre lot in downtown Allentown, PA, to construct an office building for PPL (Pennsylvania Power & Light) Corp.'s overflowing energy marketing and trading department. The proposed building would be only a few steps from the company's art-deco-style headquarters across the street, but miles apart in design.


How Synthetic Lubricants Can Save Energy, Boost Efficiency

July 15, 2004 7:15 am | by Garrett Grega, Global Marketing Manager, Anderol, Inc.

Any strategy to reduce power consumption in industrial systems must include steps that extend equipment performance, reduce heat and minimize friction. One of these steps should be the use of lubricants that enhance machine investment and ensure that critical applications run at peak performance. Today, the challenge to find the right lubricant has been simplified with the advent of synthetics such as polyglycol (PAG)- and polyalphaolefin (PAO)-based products and their additive technology that can be customized for applications and environments.


Scrap-Removal System Simplifies Foundry's Production

July 14, 2004 7:47 am

Case IH Corp. is one of America's oldest and largest manufacturers. The Racine, WI-based company was the first builder of steam engines for agricultural use. Today, with several domestic and international manufacturing facilities in operation, Case IH is recognized as a global leader in the manufacture of agricultural and construction equipment.


What Can SMED Do for You?

July 14, 2004 6:56 am | by Gary Gathen, Contributor

SMED - single-minute exchange of dies - refers to the process of reducing die-change time to less than 10 minutes in order to cut costs and lead time. A cornerstone of lean manufacturing, SMED concepts help die-casters as well as other machine setups, especially in plants seeking to begin or improve continuous-flow.


Best Practices: Freudenberg-NOK/Cleveland, GA: Continuous Kaizens

June 8, 2004 8:17 am | by Rick Carter, Editor-in-Chief

The global automotive seal maker's plant near Atlanta boasts a 2001 Shingo win and a 12-year record of production improvements, thanks to lean initiatives, Six Sigma and daily doses of kaizen activity. Freudenberg-NOK is a company with much to brag about. The Plymouth, MI-based manufacturer of seals and gaskets, custom rubber products, PTFE components and other products for the automotive industry, is a leader in most of its markets.


Let Task, Disposal Rules Guide Wiper Choice

June 8, 2004 7:44 am | by Bernie Brill, Executive Director of the Secondary Materials and Recycled Textiles Association (SMART)

Each year, industry spends more than $1 billion dollars on task-specific wipers. No longer simply "rags," today's task-specific industrial wipers are available in many sizes, textures and selections specifically suited to maintenance tasks. While a mid-size plant might use 10,000 wipers per year, large facilities might use up to 100,000.


AGVs Keep Fiberglass Plant's Product Moving

June 8, 2004 7:40 am

PPG is the second-largest global manufacturer of continuous-strand fiberglass. The Chester, SC, plant opened in 1996 and is dedicated to fiberglass rovings production. "Our goal is to push the winding process," says Bernd Brockmueller, manager, automation and machine design for the fiberglass division.


Coating System Ensures Airport's De-Icing Tanks Stay Leak-Free

May 17, 2004 10:05 am

Crews working in an underground tank at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport use special spray equipment to apply a polyurea tank-lining system. Aircraft at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) are routinely treated with propylene glycol to prevent and remove ice formation in winter.

Bolt-On Jackets Can Boost Valve Reliability

May 12, 2004 5:28 am | by Henry Gaines, P.E., Controls Southeast, Inc.

In all process industries, valve failures due to improper, welded valve jacketing occur regularly. Their annual costs in lost production, spare parts and maintenance overtime can run into millions of dollars. How can such losses be avoided? It's simple: Avoid welding jackets for valves. Instead, use bolt-on jacketing to effectively provide thermal maintenance for valves.


Putting Metrics to Work

May 11, 2004 1:28 pm | by David Cochran and Kerry Stone, Contributors

An experimentation method known as Multivariable Testing analyzes statistical test results to solve problems, boost efficiency and cut costs. Nearly 10 years ago, maintenance engineers at DuPont's Agricultural Products Division in LaPorte, TX, had a near-crisis on their hands. Pumps used in the manufacture of a key herbicide were failing at an alarming rate, shutting down the production line and resulting in losses mounting to $750 million a year.


An Enterprise Energy Management System Can Reduce Your Energy Risk

April 7, 2004 7:31 am | by Rudi Carolsfeld, Business Development Manager, Power Measurement

Whether the need is to reduce costs or improve yields, increase uptime or improve customer satisfaction, the top priority for any facility manager is always a question of risk. The supply of reliable, clean and cost effective energy is mission-critical, yet this continues to be one of the least carefully managed inputs to a business, and this translates to poorly managed risk.



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