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Daily industrial news and top headlines for plant and maintenance managers

Toyota Plans Two Cars Under Prius Name, Including Plug-In

October 11, 2010 4:53 am | by Dan Strumpf, AP Auto Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — Toyota plans to roll out two new cars under the Prius name by next year, according to a dealer briefed on the plans, as the automaker seeks to turn its popular hybrid into a family of vehicles. The Japanese automaker will begin selling a Prius station wagon starting next summer as either a 2011 or 2012 model, said Adam Lee, president of the Lee Auto Malls chain of dealerships in Maine.

Mercedes-Benz Recalls 85,000 For Power Steering Failures

October 11, 2010 4:51 am

WASHINGTON (AP) — Mercedes-Benz is recalling about 85,000 of its 2010 and 2011 cars because of potential steering problems. The luxury automaker said in a report to federal regulators that the steering systems in the cars "may fail due to the loss of power steering fluid." Mercedes-Benz said that if that happens, drivers "may not have sufficient control of the vehicle .

Google Quietly Road-Testing Cars That Drive Themselves

October 11, 2010 4:49 am | by Daniel Wagner, AP Business Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) — Google Inc. is road-testing cars that steer, stop and start without a human driver, the company says. The goal is to "help prevent traffic accidents, free up people's time and reduce carbon emissions" through ride sharing and "the new 'highway trains of tomorrow,'" project leader Sebastian Thrun wrote Saturday on Google's corporate blog.

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Hungarian Plant Apologizes For Sludge Spill, Expects Another

October 11, 2010 4:48 am | by Pablo Gorondi, Associated Press Writer

KOLONTAR, Hungary (AP) — The owners of the metals plant whose reservoir burst, flooding several towns in western Hungary with caustic red sludge, expressed their condolences Sunday to the families of the seven people killed, as well as to those injured — and said they were sorry for not having done so sooner.

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Many Unemployed No Longer Qualify For Old Jobs

October 11, 2010 4:47 am | by Christopher S. Rugaber, AP Economics Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) — The jobs crisis has brought an unwelcome discovery for many unemployed Americans: Job openings in their old fields exist. Yet they no longer qualify for them. They're running into a trend that took root during the recession. Companies became more productive by doing more with fewer workers.

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Georgia Carpet-Maker Closes, Cutting 192 Jobs

October 8, 2010 4:41 am

ROYSTON, Ga. (AP) — Beaulieu of America says it's closing its carpet fiber plant in Royston next month, eliminating 192 jobs. Beaulieu, which is based in Dalton, plans to stop production Nov. 26 at the Royston plant, where spun yarn is manufactured. The plant ranks among Franklin County's 10 largest employers.

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Siemens Opens $50 Million Kan. Wind Turbine Plant

October 8, 2010 4:40 am

HUTCHINSON, Kan. (AP) — Hutchinson is getting in on the wind turbine business as Siemens Energy starts production at a new $50 million plant in the city. Plant Manager Claus Ungstrup says the facility already has enough orders to keep it busy through 2011. It makes 2.3-megawatt wind turbine nacelles, the housings that include the generator, transformer and gearbox.

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Transocean To Pay $4 Million To Brain-Damaged Worker

October 8, 2010 4:37 am

LAFAYETTE, La. (AP) — A federal jury has ordered Transocean to pay more than $4 million in damages to an oilfield worker injured in an offshore rig accident. The judgment entered Tuesday capped a trial for the lawsuit that 32-year-old Dan Averette filed over the July 14, 2007, accident aboard the Amirante, a rig owned by Transocean Enterprise Inc.

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Official: China Will Not Use Rare Metals As 'Bargaining Chip'

October 8, 2010 4:36 am | by Elaine Kurtenbach, AP Business Writer

SHANGHAI (AP) — China is not using its control over supplies of rare earth — exotic metals crucial in advanced manufacturing — as a diplomatic "bargaining chip," state media quoted Premier Wen Jiabao as saying during a visit to Europe. Recent reports that Beijing had temporarily suspended shipments to Japan of the metallic elements, used in computer disk drives, hybrid car components and other high-tech products, has drawn attention to China's near monopoly on the materials.

Africa's Cocoa Industry Still Supported By Child Trafficking

October 8, 2010 4:33 am | by Marco Chown Oved, Associated Press Writer

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast (AP) — West Africa's cocoa industry is still trafficking children and using forced child labor despite nearly a decade of efforts to eliminate the practices, according to an independent audit published by Tulane University. A U.S.-sponsored solution called the Harkin-Engel Protocol was signed in 2001 by cocoa industry members to identify and eliminate cocoa grown using forced child labor.

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GM, UAW Reach Wage-Cutting Deal At Small Car Plant

October 8, 2010 4:32 am | by Tom Krisher, AP Auto Writer

ORION TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — General Motors and the United Auto Workers have reached a cost-cutting deal that could help accomplish what once seemed impossible: Making a profit on small cars built in the United States. The deal, announced Thursday, could cut in half the hourly wage of some longtime UAW workers at a factory in Orion Township, Mich.

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Criminal Negligence Case Opened For Toxic Sludge Avalanche

October 6, 2010 4:58 am | by Bela Szandelszky and Pablo Gorondi, Associated Press Writers

KOLONTAR, Hungary (AP) — Police say Hungary's top investigative agency is taking over the inquiry into the toxic sludge reservoir that burst, flooding several towns in western Hungary and killing at least four people. Police spokeswoman Monika Benyi tells The Associated Press that the decision Wednesday by National Police Chief Jozsef Hatala reflects the importance and complexity of the sludge disaster.

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Geithner: Yuan Undervaluation Hurting U.S. Manufacturers

October 6, 2010 4:48 am | by Martin Crutsinger, AP Economics Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) — Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner stepped up pressure on China to make more progress in moving toward flexible exchange rates. Geithner said Wednesday that it is particularly important to see appreciation in countries where the currency is significantly undervalued. Geithner never mentioned China, but the speech was clearly aimed at the world's second-largest economy.

Majority Of 6,000 Kan. Beechcraft Jobs Saved By Gov.

October 6, 2010 4:41 am | by John Milburn, Associated Press Writer

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — An agreement has been reached that could keep "the vast majority" of the Hawker Beechcraft general aviation jobs in the Wichita, Gov. Mark Parkinson said late Tuesday. Parkinson said he brokered a "long-term deal" with the company and the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers union.

Mother Sues Bayer Over Son's Chemical Exposure Death

October 6, 2010 4:39 am

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — The mother of a West Virginia State University student is suing Bayer CropScience and the school over her son's death in 2008. Portia Gray's lawsuit claims her 19-year-old son, Ra'Sean Gray, died as a result of exposure to substances released during an explosion at Bayer's Institute plant.

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Frito-Lay To Pull Noisy, Biodegradable SunChips Bags

October 6, 2010 4:37 am | by Emily Fredrix, AP Retail Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — Frito-Lay hopes to quiet complaints about its noisy SunChips bags by switching out the biodegradable bags for the old packaging on most flavors. The company is switching back to original packaging, which is made of a type of plastic, for five of the six varieties of the chips.

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Prius Sales Drop For First Time In 17 Months

October 6, 2010 4:35 am | by Shino Yuasa, Associated Press Writer

TOKYO (AP) — Sales of Toyota's Prius hybrid in Japan dropped for the first time in 17 months as government subsidies for green cars expired, an auto industry group said Wednesday. Despite the lower sales, the gasoline-electric hybrid was the top-selling car in Japan for the 17th straight month in September, the Japan Automobile Dealers Association said.

Iran Blames Covert Western Sabotage For Stuxnet Worm

October 5, 2010 4:51 am | by Ali Akbar Dareini, Associated Press Writer

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran claimed Tuesday that a computer worm found on the laptops of several employees at the country's nuclear power plant is part of a covert Western plot to derail its nuclear program. Iranian officials have suggested in recent days that the Stuxnet worm that has affected computers of employees at the Bushehr nuclear power plant could be a conspiracy to damage Iran's nuclear activities.

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Toyota To Sell Smart Grid System Alongside EVs

October 5, 2010 4:49 am | by Yuri Kageyama, AP Business Writer

TOKYO (AP) — Toyota is pairing its little known housing business with its expertise in green cars to sell computer systems that link homes, utilities and vehicles to reduce energy use. The world's biggest automaker said Tuesday the launch of its home smart grid system in Japan will coincide with its plug-in hybrid cars going on sale in early 2012.

BMW To Hire 600 More S.C. Workers

October 5, 2010 4:48 am

GREER, S.C. (AP) — BMW Manufacturing Co. says it will hire an additional 600 workers at its Greer plant to work as they are needed to assemble the company's vehicles. BMW told multiple media outlets on Monday it will hire the new employees at job fairs Oct. 13 and Oct. 20 at Spartanburg Community College's Tyger River Campus.

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