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Daily industrial news and top headlines for plant and maintenance managers

Energy Dept Approves Solar Loans Worth $1B

September 28, 2011 8:55 am | by Matthew Daly, Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Facing a Friday deadline, the Energy Department has approved two loan guarantees worth more than $1billion for solar energy projects in Nevada and Arizona. Energy Secretary Steven Chu said the department has completed a $737 million loan guarantee to Tonopah Solar Energy for a 110 megawatt solar tower in Nevada, and a $337 million guarantee for Mesquite Solar 1 to develop a 150 megawatt solar plant in Arizona.

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Microsoft, Samsung Expand Smartphone Partnership

September 28, 2011 8:53 am

NEW YORK (AP) — Microsoft and Samsung Electronics have agreed to cross-license each other's patent portfolios, with Microsoft getting royalties for the mobile phones and tablets Samsung sells that run the Android operating system. Microsoft Corp. and Samsung Electronics Co. said Wednesday that they also will work together to develop and market Microsoft's Windows Phone software.

Unemployment Rates Fell In Most U.S. Cities

September 28, 2011 8:51 am | by Christopher S. Rugaber, AP Economics Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) — Unemployment rates fell in roughly two-thirds of U.S. cities last month, despite zero job growth nationwide. The Labor Department said Wednesday that unemployment rates dropped in 237 of the nation's largest metro areas in August from July. They rose in 103 and stayed the same in 32.

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General Motors Workers Ratify New Labor Contract

September 28, 2011 8:49 am | by Tom Krisher, AP Auto Writer

DETROIT (AP) — Factory workers at General Motors have voted overwhelmingly to approve a new four-year contract with the company that has profit-sharing instead of pay raises for most workers and promises thousands of new jobs. The United Auto Workers union said Wednesday that 65 percent of production workers voted for the deal, while 63 percent of skilled trades workers such as electricians were in favor.

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Worker Severely Injured In Warehouse Accident

September 28, 2011 5:26 am

SHIRLEY, N.Y. (AP) — Police on Long Island say a worker was severely injured after becoming entangled in a piece of machinery. Julio Granados suffered severe blood loss and traumatic injuries to both legs in the accident Tuesday afternoon at Clare Rose Distributors in Shirley. Suffolk County Police say the 56-year-old man got trapped in a large compacting baler.

Clinton Talks Job Strategy In NY

September 28, 2011 5:24 am | by Michael Virtanen, Associated Press

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — In an often rousing speech, former President Bill Clinton urged New York to keep looking to the future to create a better state, saying America got in trouble by resting on its laurels — the same thing that brought down every major civilization that built wealth and shared the prosperity but became interested mainly in holding onto its position.

Toyota Global Production Bounces Back In August

September 28, 2011 5:23 am

TOKYO (AP) — Toyota Motor Corp. said Wednesday its global production rose for the first time in a year in August as Japanese automakers continued to recover from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. Worldwide output at Japan's biggest automaker climbed 10.6 percent from a year earlier to 626,817 vehicles.

Amazon To Release Tablet Wednesday

September 28, 2011 5:20 am | by Peter Svensson, AP Technology Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — So far, no company has been able to even come close to rival the success of Apple's iPad, but with the expected unveiling of its version of a tablet computer Wednesday, analysts say Amazon has a real chance. Amazon.com Inc. is nearly unique in its ability to sell content such as e-books, movies and music suited for a tablet, just like Apple does.

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Durable Goods Orders Fell 0.1 Percent In August

September 28, 2011 5:18 am | by Martin Crutsinger, AP Economics Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) — Companies ordered more machinery, computers and communication equipment in August, a positive sign for the slumping U.S. economy. An increase in demand for those kind of longer-lasting factory goods suggests businesses are sticking with their investment plans, despite slow growth and weak consumer spending.

Ford's Success Stirs UAW Resentment In Labor Talks

September 28, 2011 5:14 am | by Tom Krisher, AP Auto Writer

DEARBORN, Michigan (AP) — Ford's turnaround over the last five years has resulted in big profits and won its CEO a reputation for brilliant management of the automaker. But those same achievements are stirring resentment among many of its factory workers. And that is complicating contract talks between the company and its union employees.

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BAE Job Cuts A Blow To British Manufacturing

September 27, 2011 9:50 am | by Cassandra Vinograd, Associated Press

LONDON (AP) — Defense contractor BAE Systems PLC confirmed Tuesday it is cutting around 3,000 jobs in Britain, in a move unions described as a "hammer blow" to Britain's manufacturing. In a statement confirming widespread speculation, BAE said the job losses are "in response to changes in key programs and the need to maintain competitiveness.

NHTSA Investigates Jeep, Honda

September 27, 2011 9:48 am

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal regulators are investigating reports that the air bags on some Jeep Liberty sport utility vehicles are suddenly going off without a crash happening. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says on its website that in four of seven confirmed cases, the front driver-side air bag went off, while in three both the driver- and passenger-side air bags deployed.

Japanese Manufacturer To Expand IL Plant

September 27, 2011 9:13 am

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — A Japanese manufacturer says it will expand its north-central Illinois factory, which makes parts and trim for the automotive industry. Gov. Pat Quinn on Monday announced that Eakas Corp. will invest $35 million to expand its Peru facility, which will create 25 new Illinois jobs.

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American Science & Engineering Gets $34.9M Deal

September 27, 2011 9:11 am

BILLERICA, Mass. (AP) — American Science and Engineering Inc., which makes X-ray inspection systems, said Monday it received a $34.9 million order for vehicle screening systems used at border crossings. The company did not disclose the source of the contract. The company said its Z Portal screening systems would be used "by officials at multiple border crossings," to inspect cars and trucks at checkpoints.

MA Wins $20M Federal Job Training Grant

September 27, 2011 9:09 am

BOSTON (AP) — A group of Massachusetts community colleges has received $20 million in federal funding as part of a nationwide effort to design job training programs that provide the new technical skills workers need. The grant was announced Monday by the U.S. Labor Department. The group includes 15 community colleges and is led by Quinsigamond Community College in Worcester.

Jewelers Want States To Replace Cadmium Limits

September 27, 2011 9:04 am | by Justin Pritchard, Associated Press

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The U.S jewelry industry wants states to overturn laws that limit the toxic metal cadmium in children's trinkets and adopt new voluntary guidelines it helped create, saying stricter rules in several states create chaos for manufacturers and importers. Persuading legislators to reopen the issue won't be an easy sell: Many consumer and environmental advocates say the new guidelines weaken protection of children's health.

Navy Awards Contracts To Bath, Ingalls

September 27, 2011 5:16 am

BATH, Maine (AP) — Maine's Bath Iron Works has been awarded an extra ship, winning contracts for two out of three Arleigh Burke-class destroyers to be built for the Navy. For the contract, the Navy agreed to award one ship apiece to Bath Iron Works and to the Huntington Ingalls shipyard in Mississippi.

Paramount Unveils First African Military Plane

September 27, 2011 5:14 am

PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — A South African arms company has unveiled what it calls the first all-African military plane. Johannesburg-based Paramount Group boss Ivor Ichikowitz, showing reporters the AHRLAC on Tuesday, says the lightweight aircraft can be used for peacekeeping missions and reconnaissance and is armed to defend itself.

Lockheed Martin To Lay Off 540

September 27, 2011 5:11 am

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) — Lockheed Martin Corp. is laying off 540 employees in plane-making operations in Texas, Georgia and California. The company said Monday it expected most of the affected workers to leave by year-end. The layoffs are part of a move announced in June to eliminate 1,500 jobs in the aeronautics business as Lockheed cut costs in response to pressure to limit U.

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Cessna Unveils New Business Jet

September 27, 2011 5:08 am | by Roxana Hegeman, Associated Press

WICHITA, Kan. (AP) — Cessna Aircraft Co. introduced on Monday a new light business jet which it plans to build at one of its Kansas facilities. The Citation M2, unveiled to prospective buyers at a customer event in Wichita, aims to fill the market gap between the company's Citation Mustang and the Citation CJ planes.

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