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Daily industrial news and top headlines for plant and maintenance managers

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Training in a Down Economy

December 11, 2002 11:28 am

Do you cut it or keep it? Two training experts present a variety of solutions manufacturers are using. Everyone in manufacturing believes training is important. But tough times put that belief to the test. While true believers maintain or strengthen training efforts, doubters or those on weak ground cut back.


Listening for the Faint Sounds of Boiler Leaks Helps Avert Shutdowns

November 11, 2002 8:43 am | by Bob Soden, President Triple 5 Industries, LLC

Listen to your plant boiler; it has important things to say. Acoustic monitoring (listening) systems (AMS) provide an early warning of potentially serious problems, saving thousands of dollars by averting shutdowns at power stations, pulp and paper mills, chemical plants and other industrial facilities.


Inside Grainger

November 11, 2002 8:41 am | by Nancy Syverson, Managing Editor

When the recession hit, industrial distributor W.W. Grainger had two things its competitors didn't: cash and a vision. Here's how the $4.8 billion dollar company is restructuring to improve customer service, gain market share, and create the "perfect order." Ask president and chief operating officer, Wesley M.

How to Check and Reduce Acid Levels in Compressor Lubricant

October 9, 2002 6:42 am | by Tim Tucker President, Air Engineering, Inc.

When it comes to lubricating rotary-screw air compressors, a unique set of circumstances can make the process difficult. This is because in most lubricant applications, oxygen, heat and moisture are not continually combined. Two of these three factors are often combined, but not all three. In a rotary screw air compressor, the lubricant is constantly injected into the compressor air end along with the intake air, and both are moved through the compressor chamber.


Root Cause Analysis Software Helps Refiner End Valve-Actuator Failures

October 9, 2002 6:35 am

At the Lyondell-Citgo petroleum refinery in Houston, TX, a decision was made some years ago to replace manually operated wedge-plug isolation and switch valves on the coker drums with motor operated, metal-seated ball valves. The change was expected to improve efficiency of these valve operations, critical to the refining process.


Maryland's Move To Manufacturing Excellence

October 9, 2002 6:35 am | by Rick Carter, Editor-in-Chief

The Maryland World Class Manufacturing Consortium has been helping state manufacturers become world-class competitors since 1996. Lean, Kaizen, Six Sigma and other strategies are part of a program that guarantees its members will improve. If someone told you they would help your manufacturing operation achieve world-class standards, pay half the cost of high-level consultants, and help you network with other manufacturers _ all for a nominal annual fee _ you would probably question their credibility.


Don't Let Chain Hoist Safety be Your Weakest Link

September 11, 2002 10:10 am | by Chris Hess, Engineering and Quality Control Manager Harrington Hoists and Cranes

Paul Smith was only trying to be helpful. As he finished loading engine fasteners from the bustling and noisy work floor to an awaiting hoist, he stood next to a railing and placed his hand atop the load in an effort to balance it and prevent it from moving. He had done this many times before. At the same time, the hoist operator thought he heard someone tell him to pick up, and he began to lift the load.



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