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Daily industrial news and top headlines for plant and maintenance managers

Omnova To Lay Off Workers At Strike-Torn Factory

December 15, 2011 8:25 am

COLUMBUS, Miss. (AP) — Omnova Solutions Inc. will end manufacturing operations in Columbus, Miss., after selling the rights to make its commercial wall coverings to a New Jersey firm. A company spokeswoman tells The Commercial Dispatch (http://bit.ly/rQizHx) that a "significant" number of the 225 employees at the site will be laid off over the next 15 months.

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NTSB: Ban All Phones While Driving

December 15, 2011 8:22 am | by Joan Lowy, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — When someone is talking to you, your brain is listening, processing and thinking about what's being said — even if you're in the driver's seat trying to concentrate on traffic. That's why drivers get distracted during cellphone conversations, even when using hands-free phones, researchers say.

It's The End Of The Road For The Ford Ranger

December 15, 2011 8:19 am | by Dee-Ann Durbin, AP Auto Writer

DETROIT (AP) — It's the end of the road for Ford's smallest pickup in the U.S. The company on Friday plans to stop production of the Ranger, which it introduced in 1982 to fight small pickups from Japan. But after peaking in the mid-1990s, sales of the Ranger have fallen over the last decade, hurt by neglect as Ford focused on more profitable large pickups.

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Chrysler To Reopen Detroit Viper Plant

December 14, 2011 8:28 am

DETROIT (AP) — Chrysler Group LLC says it's reopening its Conner Avenue Assembly Plant in Detroit to make the next generation SRT Viper, creating about 150 jobs. The company idled the plant when production of the Dodge Viper ended in July 2010. Chrysler executive Ralph Gilles said in a statement Tuesday that the new Viper will join the company's product line in late 2012 as a 2013 model.

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GE Healthcare In Drug Manufacturing Plant Deal

December 14, 2011 8:26 am

NEW YORK (AP) — GE Healthcare said Wednesday that it will partner with M+W Group to build manufacturing plants to produce biotech drugs for emerging market nations. The General Electric Co. division said it will work with M+W, a global engineering, construction, and project management company, to build the plants for government and health care companies.

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CAT Sells Part Of Bucyrus Business For $360M

December 14, 2011 8:24 am

PEORIA, Ill. (AP) — Caterpillar Inc. said Malaysian conglomerate Sime Darby is paying $360 million for part of the former Bucyrus distribution business, which Caterpillar acquired through its $7.6 billion acquisition of the surface mining equipment maker last year. Sime Darby, one of the world's largest palm oil companies, is also a Caterpillar dealer in Asia.

Big Company CEOs Foresee No Hiring Pickup

December 14, 2011 8:23 am | by Christopher S. Rugaber, AP Economics Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) — Two-thirds of chief executives of the largest U.S. companies don't plan to hire in the next six months, mainly because of sluggish growth in the United States and financial turmoil in Europe. The Business Roundtable said Tuesday that about one-third of its member CEOs expect to add employees and spend more on large equipment in the next six months.

Ex-Siemens Execs Charged In Bribery Scheme

December 14, 2011 8:20 am | by Larry Neumeister, Pete Yost, Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — Eight former Siemens senior executives and agents were charged with plotting to pay $100 million in bribes to secure a $1 billion contract to produce national identity cards for Argentine citizens, in a scam involving a "shocking level of deception and corruption," an assistant U.

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Textron Unit Recalls 22K Vehicles For Crash Hazard

December 14, 2011 8:18 am

WASHINGTON (AP) — Textron Inc. division E-Z-Go is recalling 21,900 TXT golf carts, Cushman shuttle vehicles and Bad Boy off-road utility vehicles due to a potential crash hazard. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission and the company said Wednesday that the threaded end of a rack rod ball joint can break and the ball joint can become displaced, causing the driver to lose control of steering and possibly crash.

Postal Service To Delay Cutbacks

December 14, 2011 4:40 am | by Hope Yen, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Postal Service on Tuesday agreed to delay the closing of 252 mail processing centers and 3,700 local post offices until mid-May. In a statement, the cash-strapped agency said it would hold off on closings by several weeks to give Congress more time to pass legislation that would give it more authority and liquidity to stave off bankruptcy.

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Agrium Plans $1.5B Facility Expansion

December 14, 2011 4:39 am

NEW YORK (AP) — Fertilizer maker Agrium Inc. said Wednesday that it will spend $1.5 billion to expand annual potash production capacity by 50 percent, helping it meet growing demand for fertilizer. The company also said it is significantly raising its dividend. The Calgary, Alberta, company says it is the third largest potash producer in North America.

Nissan Suspends EV Battery Plant Construction

December 14, 2011 4:37 am

TOKYO, Dec. 14 (Kyodo) — Nissan Motor Co. has suspended the construction of a plant in Portugal for producing lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles as the plant has turned out to be unnecessary for the immediate future, company officials said Wednesday. The other plants, including a Japanese facility now in operation, and U.

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Fiat Heralds Naples Plant As Best In System

December 14, 2011 4:35 am | by Colleen Barry, AP Business Writer

NAPLES, Italy (AP) — Fiat and Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne on Wednesday heralded a modernized car plant south of Naples as the best in the Fiat-Chrysler system and an example of how Italy can emerge from the financial crisis that is threatening to engulf it. Marchionne was applauded by about 100 workers who temporarily idled production as he strode down the pristine new manufacturing line for the presentation of the new Panda subcompact, which Fiat began producing here last month.

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Giant Plane To Launch People, Cargo Into Orbit

December 14, 2011 4:33 am | by Donna Blankinship, Seth Borenstein, Associated Press

SEATTLE (AP) — Microsoft Corp. co-founder Paul Allen and aerospace pioneer Burt Rutan are building the world's biggest plane to help launch cargo and astronauts into space, in the latest of several ventures fueled by technology tycoons clamoring to write America's next chapter in spaceflight.

China Slaps Anti-Dumping Duties On U.S. Autos

December 14, 2011 4:30 am | by Elaine Kurtenbach, AP Business Writer

SHANGHAI (AP) — China has imposed duties on imports of some U.S.-made vehicles, claiming damage from foreign automakers due to dumping and subsidies in the latest round of trade friction between the two countries. The Commerce Ministry said Wednesday that the duties would be imposed for two years on imported cars and sport utility vehicles with engine displacements of over 2.

Stihl To Expand VA Beach Plant

December 13, 2011 8:43 am

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) — Power tool maker Stihl Inc. plans to double the manufacturing capacity of its Virginia Beach plant. City officials plan to announce the $10.3 million expansion Tuesday. Fifty-two jobs are expected to be created. Stihl director of manufacturing Lorraine Wagner tells The Virginian-Pilot (http://bit.

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Fiat Signs Flexible Contracts With Workers

December 13, 2011 8:40 am

ROME (AP) — Fiat says it has signed flexible labor contracts that the Italian automaker says are conditions for €20 billion (more than $26 billion) in investments over the next three years. Fiat SpA CEO Sergio Marchionne says in a statement that the deal reached Tuesday between Fiat and the unions marks "a historic development for our company and its workers.

Businesses Increased Stockpiles In October

December 13, 2011 8:37 am | by Derek Kravitz, AP Economics Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. businesses increased their stockpiles in October after slowing inventory growth in the previous month. The buildup in inventories should help the economy grow modestly in the final months of the year. The Commerce Department said Tuesday that business inventories rose a seasonally adjusted 0.

Novell Wraps Up $1B Case Against Microsoft

December 13, 2011 8:35 am | by Paul Foy, Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Microsoft Corp. purposely duped a Utah company into believing its writing application would be included in the Windows 95 rollout, then pulled the plug so Microsoft could gain market share with its own product, an attorney said Monday in closing arguments of a $1 billion antitrust lawsuit against the software giant.

Sprint, C Spire Agree To Postpone Suits

December 13, 2011 8:33 am | by Nedra Pickler, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — AT&T Inc. and two of its rivals have agreed to postpone their lawsuits over AT&T's acquisition of T-Mobile USA now that the $39 billion deal is in jeopardy. A federal judge quickly approved motions filed jointly Tuesday morning by AT&T and Sprint Nextel Corp.

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