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Daily industrial news and top headlines for plant and maintenance managers

Chrysler To Add 1,800 Jobs At IL Plant

February 3, 2012 4:09 am | by David Mercer, Jason Keyser, Associated Press

BELVIDERE, Ill. (AP) — Chrysler said Thursday that it is hiring 1,800 new workers and increasing production at its plant in Belvidere, a once-dominant manufacturing area that now has the state's highest unemployment rate and has been battered by the economic downturn. The news, some said, should provide both financial and psychological boosts to a region — including nearby Rockford — more accustomed to headlines about layoffs and closures.

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Crystal Union To Fight U.S. Sugar Program

February 3, 2012 4:07 am

GRAND FORKS, N.D. (AP) — The union representing locked-out employees at American Crystal Sugar. Co. plans to lobby against the federal sugar program in Congress, breaking a tradition of fighting for the program alongside farmers and the company. John Riskey, president of the local affiliated with the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union, said it is a necessary response to Crystal's strategy since Aug.

No OSHA Combustible Dust Rules Any Time Soon

February 3, 2012 4:03 am | by Travis Loller, Associated Press

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — New safety rules will not be approved any time soon even though they could prevent accidents like the ones last year at a Tennessee metal powders plant, where fireballs fueled by iron dust contributed to five deaths. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration is developing rules that would require many industries to better control combustible dust hazards.

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Dow Chemical Posts 4Q Loss On Charge

February 2, 2012 6:40 am | by Samantha Bomkamp, Sandy Shore, AP Business Writers

The Dow Chemical Co. is feeling the impact of the slowing European economy, and seeing some weakness in North America as well. And the nation's largest chemical maker doesn't expect to see much improvement in overall demand until the second quarter. That's when it believes stronger economies in the United States and emerging countries will offset continued weakness in Europe, which is embroiled in a crippling debt crisis.

Caterpillar To Add Almost 200 NC Jobs

February 2, 2012 6:38 am

CLAYTON, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina Gov. Beverly Perdue says Caterpillar Inc. will expand its manufacturing plant in Clayton, adding almost 200 jobs over five years and investing $33 million. Perdue said Wednesday that two state grants are partially responsible for Caterpillar's decision to expand in Johnston County.

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Chrysler Workers To Get $1,500 Checks

February 2, 2012 6:37 am | by Tom Krisher, AP Auto Writer

DETROIT (AP) — Factory workers at Chrysler will get profit-sharing checks of about $1,500 next month as they share in the automaker's improbable turnaround. About 26,000 union-represented workers in the U.S. should get the payments under Chrysler's contract with the United Auto Workers union that was signed last fall.

Engineers Create 'Self-Guided' Bullet

February 2, 2012 6:34 am | by Susan Montoya Bryan, Associated Press

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Figuring out how to pack a processor and other electronics into a machine gun bullet has been a challenge for engineers at Sandia National Laboratories, so weapons experts say the miniature guidance system the lab has developed is a breakthrough. Three years in the making, the bullet prototype represents another step toward a next-generation battlefield that scientists and experts expect to be saturated with technology and information.

Worker Productivity Growth Slowed In 4Q

February 2, 2012 6:31 am | by Christopher S. Rugaber, AP Economics Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) — Workers were more efficient in the final three months of last year, although their gains in productivity slowed from the previous quarter. Slower productivity growth can be a good sign for hiring if economic growth picks up. The Labor Department said Thursday that worker productivity rose at a 0.

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Woman Wins Suit Over Hybrid MPG

February 2, 2012 6:29 am | by Linda Deutsch, AP Special Correspondent

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A Southern California woman who challenged the legal status-quo by filing a small-claims action against Honda won her lawsuit Wednesday when a judge ruled that the automaker misled her about the potential fuel economy of her hybrid car. Los Angeles Superior Court Commissioner Douglas Carnahan awarded Heather Peters $9,867 — much more than the couple hundred dollars cash that a proposed class-action settlement is offering.

Honda To Invest $98M At OH Engine Plant

February 1, 2012 8:30 am

ANNA, Ohio (AP) — Honda said Wednesday it will invest $98 million at its largest auto engine plant for the western Ohio facility to produce components for its new transmission technology. The engine plant in Anna will make high-tech pulley components for Honda's new continuously variable transmission, or CVT, aimed at improving fuel efficiency.

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Whirlpool 4Q Net Income Up 20 Percent

February 1, 2012 8:27 am

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. (AP) — Whirlpool Corp. said Wednesday that fourth-quarter net income rose 20 percent as it increased prices for products in North America, offsetting a drop in demand overseas. The world's largest appliance maker, whose brands include its namesake as well as Maytag and KitchenAid, reported income of $205 million, or $2.

NC Company Works To Convert Light To Power

February 1, 2012 8:25 am | by Laura Oleniacz

DURHAM, N.C. (AP) — In the palm of his hand, Joe Carr held a small piece of material that looked to be about the size of an ant. On top of that, was a black dot about the size as that from a ballpoint pen. That dot is a solar cell, made by the Durham-based company Semprius Inc. for use in photovoltaic solar modules that can turn sunlight into electrical power.

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January Sales Down For GM, But Industry Is Up

February 1, 2012 8:23 am | by Dee-Ann Durbin, Tom Krisher, AP Auto Writers

DETROIT (AP) — Chrysler's January U.S. sales jumped 44 percent over a year ago and Ford's rose 7 percent, kicking off what is expected to be a strong year for auto sales. But General Motors reported a 6 percent decline for the month Wednesday, saying demand for its trucks and crossovers fell when compared to its strong sales a year ago.

Markets Buoyed By U.S. Growth Hopes

February 1, 2012 8:18 am | by Pan Pylas, AP Business Writer

LONDON (AP) — Solid manufacturing surveys from around the world combined with evidence that the U.S. jobs recovery is gaining steam to boost markets on Wednesday, as concerns over Europe's debt crisis eased. After data showing that China's manufacturing sector is growing solidly and Europe's performing better than forecast, investors were further cheered by a run of fairly strong U.

IN Senate Approves Right-To-Work Bill

February 1, 2012 8:17 am | by Tom LoBianco, Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Lawmakers voted Wednesday to make Indiana the Rust Belt's first right-to-work state, passing legislation that prohibits labor contracts requiring workers to pay union representation fees. Thousands of union members gathered inside the Statehouse chanted "Shame on you!" and "See you at the Super Bowl!" as the vote was announced.

Toyota Industries To Open $350M GA Plant

February 1, 2012 4:13 am

PENDERGRASS, Ga. (AP) — Toyota Industries Corp. will open a $350 million compressor production plant in Jackson County. Gov. Nathan Deal announced Tuesday that the plant in Pendergrass will bring 320 jobs. The operation will be known as Toyota Industries Compressor Parts America.

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Malaysia Grants License To Rare Earth Plant

February 1, 2012 4:11 am

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysia has granted approval to Australian miner Lynas Corp. to operate its 700 million ringgit ($230 million) rare earth plant despite public protests over fears of radioactive contamination. The Atomic Energy Licensing Board says it would grant Lynas a temporary operating license.

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Tech Companies Team Up To Combat Email Scams

February 1, 2012 4:10 am | by Barbara Ortutay, AP Technology Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — Google, Facebook and other big tech companies are jointly designing a system for combating email scams known as phishing. Such scams try to trick people into giving away passwords and other personal information by sending emails that look as if they come from a legitimate bank, retailer or other business.

IN Poised For Right-To-Work Era

February 1, 2012 4:08 am | by Tom LoBianco, Associated Press

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — State lawmakers were poised Wednesday to pass legislation that would make Indiana the Rust Belt's first right-to-work state and prohibit labor contracts requiring workers to pay union representation fees. Meanwhile, union protesters were planning a rally and march through downtown streets bustling with Super Bowl festivities over the contested labor issue that has roiled the Statehouse.

China Manufacturing Data Mixed In January

February 1, 2012 4:05 am | by Elaine Kurtenbach, AP Business Writer

SHANGHAI (AP) — China's manufacturing sector was boosted by strong holiday season demand for food, beverages and other consumer products in January, though export demand and other indicators remained weak, according to surveys released Wednesday. The state-affiliated China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing said its purchasing managers index, or PMI, rose 0.

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