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Daily industrial news and top headlines for plant and maintenance managers

Battery, Charger Advances Drive Cordless-Tool Uses

June 10, 2003 9:50 am | by Hans Marzinzik,Manager, Marketing Services Metabo Corp.

One of the most important parts of a cordless tool system is the corded part: the battery charger. Not only does the charger deliver power to the tools, it affects their economy, efficiency and performance. It's a complex relationship that is often misunderstood. Cordless-tool technology was developed for NASA.

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Balancer Keeps Cement Maker's Fans Running in Harsh Conditions

June 10, 2003 9:48 am

At Dacotah Cement's Rapid City, SD, facility, business starts at a nearby quarry where piano-sized blocks of limestone are blasted from the earth. The blocks are crushed into gravel-sized pieces and blended with other raw materials. Next, the mix is further pulverized in ball mills, where turning steel cylinders filled with thousands of steel balls crush it into powder.

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Best Practices: Republic Windows and Doors: The Measure of Success

June 10, 2003 9:47 am | by Rick Carter, Editor-in-Chief

Metrics and lean manufacturing helped turn this family-owned business from a fast-growing, but disorganized player into a world-class leader in the booming market for vinyl replacement windows and doors. Republic's award-winning facility (upper left); Kevin Heylin, vice president of manufacturing (center); and Senthil Rajamanickam, director of window operations and maintenance (above).

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Loading-Dock Seal Fires: Why They Occur, How to Prevent Them

May 12, 2003 10:38 am | by Chuck Ashelin, Engineering Manager, Frommelt Products Corp.

Dock-seal fire damage caused by truck-trailer marker lights. Burned loading dock-seal head pads or head pads damaged with burn holes can be found on many docks at which truck/trailers stay parked with the engine running for as little as 20 minutes. Frequency of the burn holes - and fires, in some cases - spiked in the late 1990s, baffling investigators, who first thought they were caused by bare trailer-light bulbs touching seal material.

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CMMS Upgrade Helps Plywood Maker Boost Production, Efficiency

May 12, 2003 10:29 am

Weldwood of Canada, Ltd., is a leading producer of plywood and lumber products. To meet ever-increasing demand, the company, a subsidiary of International Paper Co., recently made key investments in new technology to increase plant capacity at its facilities in western Canada. Among the tools used were new computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS) that have been installed at six of its plants in British Columbia and Alberta.

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Industrial Security: New Threats Call for New Tactics

May 12, 2003 10:28 am | by Joy LePree, Contributing Editor

A growing list of threats to industry means today's plant managers must take added steps to safeguard their facilities, workers and proprietary information. Here are some considerations. On the morning of February 5, 2001, William Baker traveled to Navistar's engine plant in Melrose, IL, as he had every workday for the preceding 39 years.

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A Guide to Tube and Pipe Fittings: Ten Types Examined

April 14, 2003 7:19 am | by John C. Cox,Business Development Manager Swagelok Co.

System leakage most often occurs at the connections. This is why selecting, installing and maintaining a system's fitting connections is an important component of plant operation. In energy costs alone, a few small leaks in a facility using air at 100 lbs. per sq. in., for example, with an electric-consumption cost of 6 cents/kilowatt-hour, can waste more than $22,000 annually.

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Budgeting for Quality

April 14, 2003 7:13 am | by Nancy Syverson, Managing Editor

Improving quality on a budget is a challenge, especially in tough times. Here's how two manufacturers have improved their processes while keeping the cost of quality under control. Marcus Newman (center), a process improvement leader at International Specialty Products (ISP), and team members David Greene (left) and Chris Guthrie helped ISP reduce its cycle time by 10% last year.

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Industrial Vacuum Improves Boat Maker's Air Quality

April 14, 2003 7:07 am

Shamrock Boats, Cape Coral, FL, custom-builds fiberglass boats for sport fishermen and recreational boaters. Workers at the 27-year-old company both construct hulls by hand-lamination or mechanically applied fiberglass roll stock and resin. The boats are manufactured in a 60,000-sq.-ft. plant, staffed by 130 workers.

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STIHL, Inc.: Where Quality is the Culture

March 11, 2003 10:27 am | by Rick Carter, Editor-in-Chief

The top-producing plant for this leading Germany-based maker of outdoor power equipment is in Virginia. Executives at the award-winning facility credit company culture and dedicated employees for nearly 30 years of continuous improvement. Peter Mueller (right), executive vice president, guides Stihl's best plant in the world in Virginia Beach, VA, aided by Paul Bruggeman, director of manufacturing.

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How to Change a Leaking Metal Roof

March 11, 2003 10:10 am | by Steve Moskowitz, Vice President of Technical and Warranty Services, Stevens Roofing Systems

According to the Metal Building Manufacturers Association (MBMA), pre-engineered metal buildings account for more than half of all new, low-rise one- and two-story, non-residential construction in the U.S. With this abundance of metal buildings on the market comes a variety of roofing problems.

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Moldable-Foam Packing System Cuts Material and Labor Costs for Manufacturer

March 11, 2003 10:06 am

For many years, Wagner Spray Tech Corp., a Minneapolis, MN-based manufacturer of painting and decorating products, used folded corrugated inserts to protect its professional-grade paint sprayers during shipment. A recent switch to foam-in-bag packaging from Sealed Air Corp., Saddle Brook, NJ, enabled the company to save as much as 45% on material costs and reduce packaging labor by half.

How to Select an Infrared Camera

February 18, 2003 9:55 am | by Mary Fallon,Marketing Manager, Flir Systems

Choosing the correct infrared camera can offer a 10X return on your investment, often in the first year of use. On the other hand, selecting the wrong infrared camera can mean the unit is likely to become a very costly door stop. Purchasing an infrared camera is a significant investment for any buyer.

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Maintenance in the Power Industry: Ensuring Reliability

February 18, 2003 9:33 am | by Dr. Ken Ferguson and Sandra DiMatteo, Contributors

Power providers are turning to work-identification methodologies and condition-monitoring to ensure they meet profitable reliability levels and to cut costs. The approach to maintenance in the power industry has changed in recent years. To strengthen competitive position, many companies are focusing on equipment reliability.

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Maintenance Service Finds Success in Bearing-Manufacturer Partnership

February 18, 2003 9:21 am

Employees at Equipment Maintenance Service (EMS) in Gillette, WY, know that more goes into maintaining equipment than just making a few repairs. As a major mining-equipment repair company, EMS knows that proper maintenance takes expertise, attention to detail, good customer service and quality products.

Variable Speed Drive Cuts Compressed-Air Costs and Helps Ensure Consistent Quality

January 14, 2003 5:42 am | by Wayne Perry,Technical Director Kaeser Compressors, Inc.

To most industrial operations, compressed air is a vital utility. It runs essential tools and machinery, provides power to material handling systems and clean air to processes. Yet choosing the right compressor can be difficult, especially given new technological developments, and concerns about steady pressure, maintenance, and electrical power.

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Modular Conveyor System Improves Production-Line Agility, Cost Savings at Auto-Parts Plant

January 14, 2003 5:41 am

Production agility is vital to many manufacturers today, especially original-equipment auto-parts makers. Though many auto-parts companies have dedicated production lines for continuous runs of components and assemblies, these setups can benefit from the ability to quickly reconfigure, fine tune and service production line equipment, including conveyor systems.

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Trends in Material Handling

January 14, 2003 5:39 am | by Bruce Tompkins, Principal/Operations, and Darrell Krasoski, Principal/Integration, Tompkins Associates, Raleigh, NC

The industry is responding to manufacturer demands for equipment that is less complex, but smarter, requires less maintenance and is more cost-effective. Today's economy requires that every investment a company makes yields a quicker ROI than ever before. As manufacturers replace and upgrade material handling equip-ment, they are looking for solutions that can meet this requirement.

Eight Steps to Precision Torque Control Of Fasteners

December 11, 2002 11:32 am | by Gordon Wall, Engineer Manager, Mountz, Inc.

Torque is defined as the force causing rotation or torsion in machinery. In the manufacturing and assembly world, tightening, controlling, or measuring torque on fasteners is imperative for production efficiency. An inadequately torqued fastener can vibrate or work loose. Conversely, if tension is too high, the fastener can snap or strip its threads.

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Behavioral Training Gives Workers Standards for Optimizing Output

December 11, 2002 11:29 am

Southern Clay Products is a Gonzales, TX-based producer of specialty clay minerals for a variety of global markets. It supplies manufacturers of paints, inks, greases, drilling fluids, plastics, paper, and home- and personal-care products. At the site, clay minerals are packaged in a variety of bag sizes, from fiber drums, to bulk and railcar shipments.

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