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Daily industrial news and top headlines for plant and maintenance managers

Designing A Dry Material Feeder

September 16, 2010 5:09 am | by Chad M. Lorensen, Pharmaceutical Industry Business Development Manager, Andreas Ludwig, Mechanical Engineering Manager, Schenck AccuRate Inc. | Articles | Comments

Metering dry powders in the pharmaceutical industry is not a new idea. Several common applications have been utilizing gravimetric and volumetric dry material feeders for many years. Until recently, these feeders were customized versions of industrial or food grade equipment or one-off type machines engineered for a specific application.

The Majestic Plastic Bag

September 15, 2010 7:07 am | Videos | Comments

From the open plains of the asphalt jungle, the clever and illustrious plastic bag faces numerous challenges on its migration to the Pacific Ocean. If you're having trouble watching this video, try downloading the latest version of Flash Player or contacting your IT department. Have any comments or questions about our Thursday video editions of IMPO Insider? Or do you have a video you'd like to see featured in one of our deployments? Email me at Joel.

Tinkerers Build A Better Lunar Lander

September 15, 2010 7:05 am | Videos | Comments

Tech Shop, in Menlo Park, CA, provides prospective tinkerers with all the tools they could need to make their inventions come to life — everything from sandblasters to welding equipment. And while some members are there to entertain themselves and build something small, others have big dreams.

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U.S. Manufacturers Can Compete

September 15, 2010 7:01 am | Videos | Comments

Rajan Suri, a University of Wisconsin-Madison professor of industrial and systems engineering, has a strategy that could keep manufacturers strong in the downtrodden economy: quick response manufacturing. QRM can allow manufacturers to reduce lead times, cut inventory, and increase profitability.

Extreme Maintenance At 1,700 Feet

September 15, 2010 7:00 am | Videos | Comments

After watching this video, you might take that free over-the-air TV or morning radio show a little less for granted. The 1,700-foot towers that broadcast those signals need occasional maintenance, just like any other piece of machinery. That means a brave soul — like the men in the video below — have to make the treacherous journey.

Implementing On-the-Fly Motor Phasing

September 14, 2010 4:03 am | by Siemens Industry, Drive Technologies & Motion Control | Articles | Comments

Located in Glen Carbon, Ill., near St. Louis, FASTechnology Group (FASTech) is an industrial controls system integration and manufacturing company that specializes in turnkey automation systems.  Siemens Simotion package combines motion control, drive control, and logic control. With its core expertise in the commercial printing industry, FASTech is often called upon to affect changes in the control architecture and drive mechanics on the very largest printing and bindery equipment in the industry.

Formulating Your Energy Master Plan

September 10, 2010 11:12 am | by Jerry Cater, Senior Associate, LEED AP BD+C and Zach Platsis, LEED AP O+M and Energy Specialist, SSOE Group's Sustainable and Renewable Solutions | Articles | Comments

Not too long ago, making decisions about a company’s energy management and sustainability was a fairly uncomplicated process for most facility managers. Switching to fluorescent lighting, replacing the HVAC to a more efficient system or upgrading to a more integrated process controls architecture to streamline production.

Embrace Process Signature Technology 

September 9, 2010 6:01 am | Articles | Comments

Quality issues cost companies billions of dollars each year, negatively impact brand reputations and damage customer loyalty. Competitive pressures in a global marketplace are making it both more urgent and more difficult to deal with these very real threats to core business success. In automotive manufacturing, and in highly regulated industries such as medical manufacturing, lives are at stake.

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Fish With 'Six-Packs'

September 8, 2010 9:52 am | Videos | Comments

A ten-year effort by University of Rhode Island scientist Terry Bradley to develop transgenic rainbow trout with enhanced muscle growth has yielded fish with “six-packs” and muscular shoulders. This development could ultimately provide a boost to the aquaculture industry. If you're having trouble watching this video, try downloading the latest version of Flash Player or contacting your IT department.

Payroll Tax Break — A Good Idea? 

September 8, 2010 9:22 am | Videos | Comments

The heads of the AFL-CIO and the National Small Business Association join CNN to discuss a number of the economic policies that have been bouncing around the White House lately. While there are controversies around some of the specifics, both leaders agree: less payroll taxes on small business would mean more jobs.

The Electric Car Land Speed Record

September 8, 2010 9:21 am | Videos | Comments

The "Buckeye Bullet," built by students and engineers at the Ohio State University, has beaten the world land speed record for an electric car, topping 307 mph in a recent test. So why is Ohio State spending all this time and money on an electric car that goes 307 mph? Dr. Georgia Rizzoni, the director for automotive research at Ohio State, thinks of this project as no different from the countless other bright minds who first pushed the gasoline engine to its limits many decades ago.

The 'Beach Bot' Saves Lives

September 8, 2010 9:20 am | Videos | Comments

This "beach bot" device allows lifeguards to reach distressed swimmers faster, which could mean the difference between life and death. While the robot is still in a prototype stage, it could be outfitted with a number of accessories to tailor it to specific environments, including the military.

Automating The Bottom Line

September 7, 2010 9:28 am | Articles | Comments

Manufacturers should always be looking for ways to improve processes, and accomplishing that task should be a focus shared by every member of the enterprise. Metcam is a manufacturing company located in Alpharetta, Georgia, just north of Atlanta. Founded in 1989, the company specializes in custom sheet metal fabrication serving a diverse industry base including commercial HVAC, healthcare, electronics, automotive, food service, and air filtration.

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Food AND Fuel

September 2, 2010 9:50 am | by Luke Simpson, Associate Editor, Chem.Info | Articles | Comments

A lot of great ideas are developed by imagining a magical black box through which you can process an input to produce a desired output. For example, what if you could take an ear of corn, feed it into a device and get food, fuel and fertilizer out of the other side? This was the challenge given to SynGest engineers when the company set out to produce a system that efficiently utilizes all parts of the corn crop.

The Plastic-To-Oil Converter

September 1, 2010 9:49 am | Articles | Comments

Saddened by the damage plastics have incurred on the environment, one Japanese entrepreneur has developed a new machine that is capable of converting a variety of plastics right back into oil. This helps keep recycling costs down, and essentially creates another "home-grown" source of oil that could be used as gasoline in our nation's cars.

Is 'Big Food' Making Americans Sick?

September 1, 2010 9:26 am | Articles | Comments

It's no surprise that in the last few decades, fewer companies have gained control over more of the meat Americans eat every day. CNN 's John King sits down with Food Inc. director, Robert Kenner, about how centraliziation has negatively affected our food supply. If you ask Kenner, salmonella has become an issue precisely because of our unsustainable food system.

Miss. Town Awaits Toyota's Decision

September 1, 2010 8:10 am | Articles | Comments

Residents of Blue Springs, Mississippi spent years looking for a new automotive assembly plant in the region, and Toyota's plan for a 2,000-worker facility was a dream come true. But as Toyota's sales dropped, the plant was idled before it even began — and the recent recall issues haven't helped.

Miniature Trains Make For Big Profits

September 1, 2010 8:07 am | Articles | Comments

One California manufacturer, Role Models Railworks, has found a great deal of success making a quirky something that appeals to a select few consumers: fully-functioning model trains. Called "trainiacs," these enthusiasts spend thousands of dollars (sometimes up to $50,000) on miniature steam engines that are completely rideable.

Taking A Swing At Collaboration

August 31, 2010 9:13 am | Articles | Comments

It started with a simple but brilliant idea. Ward Dill, the President of Radial Bat™, a NJ-based company that makes engineered solid-wood baseball bats, wanted to forge a baseball bat from multiple wedges of wood. “I got the idea while tinkering with the branch of a dead apple tree,” recalls Dill.

Downtime Prevention Through Software Standardization

August 31, 2010 9:09 am | by Vern Bolton, Program Manager, Industrial Solutions Center, Schneider Electric North American Operating Division | Articles | Comments

Time was, if a machine went down, it required a member of the maintenance staff to drop what he or she was doing and connect a laptop computer to the machine to troubleshoot what went wrong. But there is a faster way to accomplish that same task today—through root-cause diagnostic logic built into the software that operates the machine.

Time To 'Think Big'

August 31, 2010 9:00 am | by Joel Hans, Associate Editor, IMPO | Articles | Comments

The 2010 Energy Intelligence Competitor Breakdown aims to give you a cross-sectional view of what other manufacturers are looking at when trying to make their operations more energy efficient. Readers weighed in on which aspects of their current processes are more inefficient, which they would like to replace in the future, what equipment purchases they have made in the last six months, and their achieved ROI.

Putting Metal Detection To The Test

August 31, 2010 5:49 am | Articles | Comments

Anthony Rowcliffe, a 42 year-old company that has its roots in Peckham, London, has grown over the years and is now operating out of two purpose-built BRC accredited sites at Paddock Wood in Kent, supplying over 1,000 different lines, including its own branded Clemency Hall product. The sites operate five day weeks with a same day delivery policy to a variety of major supermarkets.

Ultrasonic Condition Monitoring: An Application Overview

August 30, 2010 12:28 pm | Articles | Comments

Ultrasound inspection offers a unique position for condition monitoring as both a “stand-alone” inspection technology, and as an effective screening tool that can speed up the inspection process and help inspectors determine effective follow-up actions for mechanical, electrical, and leak applications.

You Don't Need A New Heat Exchanger

August 30, 2010 7:59 am | Articles | Comments

When a heat exchanger begins to fail or becomes problematic, it may be indicative of various problems ranging from inappropriate mechanical design to unforeseen chemical reactions. Chemical process industry professionals know all to well that damaged or failed heat exchangers can lead to unexpected downtime and corresponding consequences.

More Beans To Count

August 27, 2010 10:39 am | by Jeff Reinke, Editorial Director | Articles | Comments

The units above have been added to help Faribault Foods better manager their water and natural gas usage rates. When you look at either the finished product or the actual facility’s exterior, it’s not unlike the canning factory my grandfather worked at over 60 years ago. However, much like the products they process, the most appealing elements of Faribault Foods are found beneath the outer skin and within the distinctive flavors of their processes and approaches.

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