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IMPO Insider

Daily industrial news and top headlines for plant and maintenance managers

Poll: U.S. Makes Better Cars Than Asian Automakers

April 21, 2010 4:36 am | by Alan Fram, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) — After a long romance with foreign rivals, America's love affair with the automobile is returning to its roots with a revived affection for U.S.-made cars. Slightly more Americans now say the United States makes better-quality vehicles than Asia does, with 38 percent saying U.

Volcano Disrupts Just-In-Time Manufacturers

April 21, 2010 4:10 am | by Samantha Bomkamp, AP Business Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — The strategy of keeping inventories lean paid off for U.S. manufacturers during the recession. Just-in-time delivery of parts makes even more sense when budgets are tight. Now that a giant ash cloud from a volcano in Iceland is disrupting global air freight, some manufacturers are finding that this strategy is backfiring.

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Ammonia Leak Leads To Evacuation Of 125

April 21, 2010 4:10 am

BIRDSBORO, Pa. (AP) — An ammonia leak at a kosher Pennsylvania poultry plant has led to the evacuation of about 125 people, including six who suffered non-life-threatening injuries. Emergency crews were called Tuesday night to the Mehadrin Kosher Poultry plant in Birdsboro, which is about 8 miles southeast of Reading.

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GM Repays $6.7 Billion Government Loan

April 21, 2010 4:08 am | by Tom Krisher, AP Auto Writer

DETROIT (AP) — General Motors Co. has repaid the $8.1 billion in loans it got from the U.S. and Canadian governments, a move its CEO says is a sign automaker is on the road to recovery. GM CEO Whitacre will formally announce the loan paybacks Wednesday at the company's Fairfax AssemblyPlant in Kansas City, Kansas, where he will also announce that GM is investing $257 million in that factory and the Detroit-Hamtramck plant, both of which will build the next generation of the midsize Chevrolet Malibu.

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Complaining Lawers: Toyota's $16M Fine A 'Speeding Ticket'

April 20, 2010 4:55 am | by Ken Thomas, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) — Toyota agreed on Monday to a record $16.4 million fine for its slow response to sticking gas pedals — the equivalent of a little more than $2 for every vehicle the company sold around the globe in 2009. But the fine, the maximum under the law, could be simply a downpayment in the long run: The Japanese auto giant still faces dozens of private lawsuits, which have been combined before a federal judge in Santa Ana, Calif.

Canadian Enerkem Backs Out On $250M Biofuel Plant

April 20, 2010 4:37 am | by Dennis Seid, AP Writer

PONTOTOC, Miss. (AP) — A Canadian company has scaled back its initial plans to build a biofuels plant in Pontotoc County. Enerkem Corp. said last year it would invest $250 million in a new ethanol-producing plant that would create 150 jobs. It also would generate another 300 construction jobs during construction and startup phases.

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Volcano Wreaks Havoc On Automakers, Suppliers

April 20, 2010 4:22 am

BERLIN (AP) — BMW AG says it will suspend production for two days at three plants in Germany because of the effects of a ban on flights in much of Europe. BMW spokesman Mathias Schmidt said production would be halted Wednesday and Thursday at plants in Dingolfing, Regensburg and Munich, and that Tuesday's late shift at Dingolfing also is off.

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OSHA Fines Wis. Manufacturer After Explosion Death

April 20, 2010 4:19 am

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Federal investigators have cited a Columbus packing plant with nearly 30 health and safety violations following a fatal explosion. Fire officials have said sparks from a grinder ignited vapors set at the American Packaging Corp. in October. The grinder's operator, 47-year-old Jeffrey Doxtator, was killed in the ensuing explosion.

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GM To Repay $6.7 Billion Loan Before June

April 20, 2010 4:17 am | by Tom Krisher, AP Auto Writer

DETROIT (AP) — General Motors Co. will fully repay the $6.7 billion loan portion of its U.S. government aid earlier than its previously promised payback date of June, a person briefed on the plans said Monday. GM CEO Ed Whitacre will announce details of the repayment during a visit Wednesday to the company's Fairfax Assembly Plant in Kansas City, Kan.

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Harley-Davidson Profits Plummet 71 Percent

April 20, 2010 4:16 am | by Dan Strumpf, AP Auto Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — Harley-Davidson Inc. said Tuesday its first-quarter profit fell 71 percent as sales of its high-end bikes remained sluggish. Harley-Davidson CEO Keith Wandell said the uncertain economy is likely to make business conditions challenging throughout the year. Still, the Milwaukee company's results beat analysts' forecasts, sending shares climbing in premarket trading.

Hydrogen Still An Automotive Frontrunner

April 19, 2010 4:36 am | by Arthur Max, Associated Press Writer

BERLIN (AP) — Hydrogen, one of Earth's most abundant elements, once was seen as green energy's answer to the petroleum-driven car: easy to produce, available everywhere and nonpolluting when burned. Hydrogen energy was defeated by a mountain of obstacles — the fear of explosion by the highly flammable gas, the difficulty of carrying the fuel in large, heavy tanks in the vehicle, and the lack of a refueling network.

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Geely Considers Shanghai For Volvo Headquarters

April 19, 2010 4:28 am | by Elaine Kurtenbach, AP Business Writer

SHANGHAI (AP) — Chinese automaker Zhejiang Geely Holding Co. may locate the China headquarters and factory for Volvo Cars in Shanghai once its takeover of the Swedish company is finalized, an official said Monday. The plan, reported in the state-controlled newspaper Economic Observer, calls for Volvo to set up its headquarters in the Shanghai suburb of Jiading, home to Volkswagen AG's joint venture with local carmaker Shanghai Automotive Industrial Corp.

Toyota To Pay Record $16 Million Fine

April 19, 2010 4:13 am | by Ken Thomas, Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) — The government says Toyota has agreed to pay a record $16.4 million fine for failing to properly notify federal authorities about a dangerous pedal defect. The fine is the largest-ever penalty paid by an automaker to the U.S. government. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says that by failing to report safety problems, Toyota put consumers at risk.

Woman Dies In Victaulic Plant Fire

April 19, 2010 4:12 am

ALBURTIS, Pa. (AP) — Authorities in eastern Pennsylvania say one of the two people injured in a fire at a pipe manufacturing plant has died. Lehigh County Coroner Scott Grim says 37-year-old Bridgette Geist of Walnutport died at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Lehigh Valley Hospital-Cedar Crest. An autopsy Friday concluded that her death was accidental.

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Main Street: The Recession Is Over? Yeah, Right

April 19, 2010 4:08 am | by Meghan Barr, Associated Press Writer

TWINSBURG, Ohio (AP) — The clerk at the candy shop does not want to cry. She is determinedly cheerful, a professional smiler, dressed head to toe in bright turquoise. But standing next to a display of plastic-wrapped candles and teddy bears, her face crumples at the most basic of questions: Are you doing OK? "I'm sorry," she says, wiping her eyes with a shirt sleeve, her voice a shaky whisper.

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Microsoft: Supplier Broke Labor Laws For Teenage Workers

April 19, 2010 4:07 am | by William Foreman, Associated Press Writer

GUANGZHOU, China (AP) — Two factories that make Microsoft Corp. products in southern China violated overtime regulations and failed to properly register the use of workers aged 16 to 18, officials said Monday. The problems at the plants in the city of Dongguan were initially raised last week by the National Labor Committee, a New York-based nonprofit that monitors the treatment of foreign workers by U.

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Samsung: 'No Risk' Of Cancer For Manufacturing Workers

April 16, 2010 3:53 am | by Kelly Olsen, AP Business Writer

YONGIN, South Korea (AP) — Samsung Electronics said workers at its semiconductor factories face no heightened cancer risk as the world's top maker of memory chips tried to quell health fears following employee illnesses and deaths. South Korea's biggest company is trying to reassure the public after a January lawsuit involving six people who developed leukemia and lymphoma they claim was caused by exposure to radiation and benzene, a carcinogen, in Samsung chip factories.

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Cintas, Widow Reach Settlement In Dryer Death Suit

April 16, 2010 3:52 am | by Justin Juozapavicius, Associated Press Writer

TULSA, Okla. (AP) — The widow of a Cintas Corp. worker who died after falling into an industrial dryer in Tulsa has settled her wrongful death lawsuit against the nation's largest uniform supplier, according to federal court records. Thursday's settlement with the Cincinnati-based company came four days before a federal trial was to begin in Tulsa.

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Microsoft Investigates Child Labor In Chinese Supplier

April 16, 2010 3:51 am

SEATTLE (AP) — Microsoft Corp. said Thursday it will investigate reports of poor working conditions at a factory in southern China that makes some of its products. The world's largest software maker was responding to a report from The National Labor Committee, a nonprofit that looks into the treatment of foreign workers by U.

Pratt & Whitney: Don't 'Think Good Thoughts'

April 16, 2010 3:49 am

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — Jet engine maker Pratt & Whitney says a federal court judge wrongly emphasized what company executives may have thought rather than what they did in deciding to shift 1,000 jobs out of Connecticut. The East Hartford-based subsidiary of United Technologies Corp.

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