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Daily industrial news and top headlines for plant and maintenance managers

Soy-Based Lubricants Ready for Industrial Role

October 15, 2003 5:34 am

Soy-based engine oil does not readily boil off and resists heat degradation. In tests, it caused a significant drop in hazardous air emissions, compared with petroleum-based oil. The 2002 Farm Bill signed by President Bush encourages the use of biobased products, including those made from soybeans.


Custom Oil Blend Helps Treatment Plant Use Caustic Sewage Gas for Energy

October 15, 2003 5:30 am

Lead Wastewater Treatment Plant Mechanic, Tom May (atop engine) inspects one of the six Waukesha lean-burn engines that provide power for the Pima County Wastewater Treatment Plant in Tucson, AZ. The engines run exclusively on sewage effluent gas. Using sewage effluent gas to fuel engines and generators, operators of the Pima County Wastewater Treatment Plant in Tucson, AZ, save an average of $30,000 a month in outside energy costs, reduce environmental pollution by fueling with gases that otherwise would be flared off to the atmosphere, and reduce the use of non-renewable natural gas resources.


A Practical Approach to Reliability-Centered Maintenance

October 15, 2003 5:29 am | by Michael E. Creecy, Contributor

RCM is not complicated, but requires groundwork and the understanding that it is an ongoing process, not a one-time project. Most writers on the subject of Reliability-Centered Maintenance (RCM) emphasize that it includes a systematic approach to determining what must be done to ensure the reliability and availability of physical assets in a production setting.


Flushless Seal Boosts Uptime for Ethanol Producer

September 9, 2003 10:50 am

The Abengoa Bioenergy Corp. ethanol fuel plant in York, NE, is one of three U.S. facilities formerly operated by Wichita-based High Plains Corp. that produces 85 million gallons of ethanol a year. It earns $42,000,000 annually and uses more than 19 million bushels of local grain. That type of demand requires that production run at the height of efficiency.


Controlling Air Pollution With Thermal or Catalytic Oxidizers

September 9, 2003 10:42 am | by Charles M. Martinson, President, The CMM Group, LLC

Under the Federal Clean Air Act (CAA), many manufacturing operations have become subject to stricter local regulations regarding both VOC (volatile organic compound) and HAP (hazardous air pollutant) emissions. The CAA singles out 188 air pollutants that are of special concern, many of which are used in everyday production and/or manufacturing atmospheres.


Best Practices: Metaldyne's 5S Showcase

September 9, 2003 10:24 am | by Rick Carter, Editor-in-Chief

The auto supplier's die-casting facility in Niles, IL, is nearing plant-wide completion of a 5S strategy that has both bonded the workforce and helped keep the unit competitive through tough times. Tom Dolack, director of engineering; a Metaldyne worker operates one of the facility's 40 die-cast machines; Tom Fisher, general manager; and a completed automatic-transmission valve body is cleaned and inspected.


Checklists Help Ensure Regulatory Compliance

August 15, 2003 6:38 am | by Karen D. Hamel, Technical Specialist, New Pig Corp.

Both the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) require facilities to perform routine inspections. These requirements were established to protect the environment from damage and workers from injuries. Routine inspections are a good way to uncover problems, and inspection forms are one of the things that an OSHA or EPA compliance officer will ask to see during an inspection.


Hand-Powered Pump Simplifies Chemical Handling for Microcircuit Manufacturer

August 15, 2003 6:37 am

Ixion Ceramics, Inc., a Chattanooga, TN-based subsidiary of Ixion Technologies, Inc., designs and manufactures microcircuit "packaging" for telecommunications, military, aerospace and other applications. It makes precision-engineered ceramics and metals that begin as slurries and, when shaped and dried, form tapes and pastes that are, in turn, used to create electronic circuits or screen-printed dielectric layers.


OSHA: Views From the Inside

August 14, 2003 12:29 pm | by Nancy Syverson, Managing Editor

An OSHA area director and, in an exclusive interview, Assistant Secretary of Labor John Henshaw give their views on OSHA inspections, working with the business community, and the satisfaction they derive from helping make workplaces safer. On December 29, 1970, President Richard Nixon signed the Occupational Safety and Health Act.


Single-Point Lubricators Reduce Maintenance, Ensure Accurate Bearing Lubrication

July 15, 2003 6:58 am | by Frank Mowka Applications Engineer FAG Bearings Corp.

Automatic lubricators can be installed on most applications that require greasing maintenance. Here, a worker adjusts the lubricator on a honing machine for bearing manufacture. Nearly 90% of all bearings are lubricated with grease and 80% of all bearing failures are lubrication-related.


U.S. Replacement Parts Ease Repair of Equipment Made Offshore

July 15, 2003 6:29 am

How do you find mechanical and electrical parts for foreign-made machines here in the U.S.? Maintenance and plant engineers were asking this question at Viking Polymers, a maker of plastic polymers, when they recently needed replacement parts for a specialized, German-built machine at its Jamestown, NC, facility.


The Case for Energy Conservation: Look to Lighting

July 15, 2003 6:28 am | by Stephen Heins, Contributor

Conserving energy on the factory floor cuts costs, reduces energy dependency and helps the environment. A lighting retrofit is an effective way to do that. The U.S. business/industrial community is the best place to start cutting greenhouse-gas emissions. Why? Seventy percent of all electricity is consumed by this sector.


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.


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.


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).

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.


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.


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.


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.


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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