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Daily industrial news and top headlines for plant and maintenance managers

On-Demand Coding Helps Manufacturer Maximize Uptime 

January 20, 2011 4:09 am | by Paul Schildhouse, Secondary Packaging Product Manager, Videojet Technologies, Inc. | Articles | Comments

By using variable data printing systems for case coding, a food manufacturer has ensured its cases always include clear, accurate printing. Kettle Foods is passionate about making the best-tasting all-natural chips in the world. Since its beginning in 1982, the company has perfected the kettle-cooked style of potato chips, and today, Kettle Brand® potato chips are available in supermarkets and natural foods stores in all 50 states, as well as in Canada, Asia, and Western Europe.

Is Manufacturing Being Held Back?

January 19, 2011 10:46 am | Videos | Comments

Television host Dylan Ratigan recently joined the "cast" of Morning Joe to discuss the state of American manufacturing. He says that while the Federal Reserve has done much to help manufacturers get out of the current slump, our tax system is still too restrictive to encourage solid growth.

'Watson' Begins Robot Dystopia At Jeopardy

January 19, 2011 8:45 am | Videos | Comments

Watson, which IBM claims as a profound advance in artificial intelligence, went up against  Jeopardy! champions Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter last week in its television debut. Watson held its own in a short practice round, and it will appear on  Jeopardy! as part of a million-dollar tournament that will be televised next month.

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Bet You Can't Build A Toaster

January 19, 2011 8:38 am | Videos | Comments

It wouldn't be that hard to build a toaster from scratch, right? It's no surprise that even the simplest of toasters is the result of a pretty complex process, but as Thomas Thwaites proves, creating something from raw elements to finished product in the modern era is simply not possible for the layman.

Make Anything 3D By Just Blinking

January 19, 2011 8:36 am | Videos | Comments

If you heard anything about CES this year, or just like following information on the newest TV technology, you know that the big issue with 3-D technology is that it generally requires those clunky glasses to work properly. Well, one French engineer has solved that problem completely! I won't spoil the surprise, but I will say that it involves blinking.

Clean Up Your Label

January 18, 2011 8:56 am | by Renee Dufault, Archie Beaton, Steven Gilbert, and Daniele Pisanello | Articles | Comments

Consumers are increasing their demand for natural ingredients, and many are reading product labels and avoiding products with certain ingredients. Increasing consumer awareness has also led shoppers to avoid food contaminants like pesticides and mercury, leading to a push for clean product labeling.

Brewery Implements High Operating Distance Sensors

January 14, 2011 5:01 am | Articles | Comments

The König brewery in Duisburg, Germany — maker of König Pilsener — counts among the largest breweries in Germany. The König brewery primarily concentrates on the production of a fresh and “hoppy” flavored beer. König only uses choice ingredients for brewing: first-grade hops from the best growing areas of the world, mellow and ripe barley and top quality water.

Marrying ERP And Social Media 

January 13, 2011 6:37 am | Articles | Comments

In August 2010, a study of 325 executives at large/middle-market manufacturers was conducted by IFS North America and Affinity Research Solutions, Boston. It sought to better understand the degree to which manufacturing executives feel various approaches to marrying social media and ERP are desirable.

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A Tiny Tuning Fork On Your Wrist

January 12, 2011 8:48 am | Videos | Comments

Let’ be honest — while we might understand the complexities of a complicated manufacturing process, learning about the technology behind a cheap wristwatch might not have ever crossed our minds. Luckily, Bill Hammack — from the Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering at the University of Illinois - Urbana — is here to explain how it all works, thanks to a tiny tuning fork and something called the piezoelectric effect.

Watch Those Fingers

January 12, 2011 8:47 am | Videos | Comments

We've always held a great deal of respect for people who are impeccably good at building or crafting an item — anything, really — with their hands, and this video is no different. We won't spoil the surprise, but we'll just say that this woodworker is making all of those seemingly-random cuts for a good reason.

Electronics Suiting Up For Plant Floor Mayhem

January 12, 2011 8:42 am | Videos | Comments

More and more, mobile devices are being used to handle transactional applications in manufacturing facilities. In many cases, that means they are being used on shop floors. If manufacturers are being asked to purchase mobile devices and put them in harm's way, they're going to have to be durable (like these tech products).

Defying Physics In A Ford Fiesta

January 12, 2011 8:41 am | Videos | Comments

With banks as steep as 51 degrees, the Montlhéry track in France is the ultimate playground for driving enthusiasts. Rally racer and stunt driver Ken Block gets behind the wheel of a souped-up, turbo-charged Ford Fiesta, capable of launching from 0 to 60mph in 1.9 seconds, to show us the joys of defying physics.

Manufacturing In 2025, Part Two

January 10, 2011 6:44 am | Articles | Comments

This is the second part of a two-part series on the next fifteen years in manufacuring. To read the first part, go here . ___ 1. Segment of one: Will you be able to suit customers’ increasingly specific needs? The migration to highly customized products is accelerating in both consumer and business-to-business markets.

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Manufacturing In 2025, Part One

January 7, 2011 7:34 am | by John Ferreira, managing director of Accenture's North American Manufacturing practice, and Stephen Laaper, senior manager in Accenture's North American Manufacturing practice | Articles | Comments

From the shop floor to the order desk, manufacturing has become quite volatile, complex, and dependent on far-flung operations and partners. But that’s a walk in the park compared to what the next 15 years will bring. Here’s how to prepare for the challenges just ahead and, in turn, how you can translate manufacturing prowess into a true competitive advantage.

(Video) Why The Gadgets At CES Matter

January 5, 2011 6:09 am | Articles | Comments

The Consumer Electronics Expo, which takes place between Thursday and Sunday of this week, is the world's proverbial “Mecca” for gadget geeks, and this year is no different. The 30 football field's worth of electronics is the starting point for all the new devices and technology that we'll be able to buy in stores throughout the year, so if you're at all thinking about buying a new smartphone, tablet computer, or HDTV this year, you might want to do your research and stay tuned-in.

The Joys Of High-Tech Manufacturing

January 5, 2011 6:08 am | Articles | Comments

Lexar, a division of Micron technology, makes computer memory. A lot of it. According to them, they're the only major memory company who does any manufacturing here in the U.S. And while much of the later processes and packaging is performed in Asia, the high tolerances and cleanliness required for the initial manufacturing makes domestic work the better option.

The Penalties Of Bad Medicine

January 5, 2011 6:06 am | Articles | Comments

Whistle-blower Cheryl Eckard tells 60 Minutes' Scott Pelley about her experience trying to fix problems at a GlaxoSmithKline pharmaceutical factory that made her a key figure in a federal lawsuit and a multimillionaire. When touring a Puerto Rico facility, she noticed countless quality issues, ranging from workers who would contaminate anti-bacterial creams, to mix-ups between tablets of diabetes and anti-depression medicine.

I'm Going To Shoot You... With Sound

January 5, 2011 6:05 am | Articles | Comments

In the 2002 movie  Minority Report — which has become the template for technically-possible science fiction — characters use guns that fire bursts of sound in order to disable, not kill, their enemies. While many remember the movie for the touch- and hologram-based computing, this technology is another that could find real-world use in the near future.

Automatic Tank Gauging Relieves Anxiety

January 3, 2011 7:47 am | Articles | Comments

To paraphrase an old public-service announcement: “It’s 10 p.m. Do you know what the product levels are in the aboveground storage tanks at your bulk-storage facility?” For many bulk plant operators, the answer to this question would be a tentative (or wishful), “I think so.

Thinking Outside The Box; Literally

January 3, 2011 5:46 am | Articles | Comments

GM realizes “weeks to hours” reduction in line change and transmission build dynamics at Toledo Powertrain, resulting from Flexible Assembly Configuration System (FACS) and Siemens control/communication. OP 090/OP 100 in sequence at General Motors Toledo Powertrain plant.

High-Speed Thread Inspection

December 23, 2010 3:30 am | Articles | Comments

Performing thread inspection on large numbers of parts can be difficult and exhausting for the operator, and gets worse for production quantities. The Rotary Thread Inspection Tool Kit comes with taper lock extensions for gauge tapers 0, 1, 2, and 3. It also has length limit collars for thread gauge sizes of 3/16”, ¼”, 5/16”, 3/8”, 7/16”, ½”, 9/16”, and 5/8”.

The Advantages Of Mixed Mode Manufacturing

December 21, 2010 9:06 am | Articles | Comments

An alternative to implementing multiple modules like flow and discrete for manufacturing, the process-mix can be handled using Discrete Manufacturing module alone, resulting in lowering of implementation and support cost. Manufacturing companies usually have a mix of discrete and flow type manufacturing processes.

Working At Google: And That's Not All!

December 21, 2010 5:27 am | Articles | Comments

This tour through Google’s California headquarters sounds like one of those late-night infomercials that just keep tacking on the promises. From free food, free gyms, massages on your birthday, and a multitude of laundry machines so that you don’t have to take a trip to the laundromat, Google’s fringe benefits just keep on giving.

Why OSHA Was Created

December 21, 2010 5:00 am | Videos | Comments

Considering how long ago the U.S. went through its industrial revolution, it's surprising that OSHA wasn't formed and ratified until 1971. The organization, which is now a staple in any workplace, was formulated because in the two preceding years, some 28,000 workers died from workplace hazards. Every year, another two million were disabled or harmed.

Who Said Biofuels Are Boring?

December 21, 2010 4:56 am | Videos | Comments

While much of the world's attention is currently focused on electric cars, the development of 2nd generation biofuels is moving ahead significantly as well. Researchers of the University of Twente, in cooperation with BTG (as part of the Biocoup consortium) have reached a breakthrough in the conversion of biomass into liquid biofuel.

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