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Daily industrial news and top headlines for plant and maintenance managers

Too Lazy To Do Dishes? There's A Robot For That

December 10, 2009 4:06 am | Articles | Comments

You just can’t stop the Japanese obsession with robotics. We’ve featured domestic robots on the IMPO Insider before, but they’ve never made us quite this lazy. For those who have decided that putting their dirty dishes in the dishwasher is now too difficult—fear not, robotics will help you not only on the plant floor, but at home too.

OLED Displays: Wearing Your Plant Around Your Wrist

December 10, 2009 4:01 am | Articles | Comments

First came those clunky CRT monitors that could kill a man even when unplugged, then dainty LCD panels that were thin and light, but looked like you could snap them in two. Now there’s OLED—the latest and greatest in display technology. Just imagine the possibilities of flexible, wearable OLED monitors in manufacturing.

Fake Thunderstorms And A Few Thousand Spot Welds

December 10, 2009 3:55 am | Articles | Comments

Many of us have ridden one, but do any of us know where—or how—the New York subway trains are put together? National Geographic takes us through the Brazilian plant that produces the NYC staple. There’s even a thunderstorm involved, but you’ll have to see just how that fits in for yourself.

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Got $200,000? Step Aboard The Virgin Enterprise

December 10, 2009 3:54 am | Articles | Comments

On Monday, Sir Richard Branson introduced the world’s first commercial spacecraft, called the U.S.S. Enterprise, which will take six tourists 65 miles into space for a full five minutes of weightlessness and sightseeing. While Branson hopes the craft will finish testing in 2010, he’s making darn sure it’s safe before sending his family up into the abyss (his wife and children are among the first ticket-holders).

Spill Containment 101

December 8, 2009 10:53 am | by Karen Hamel, New Pig Corporation | Articles | Comments

The sooner you can stop a spill, the faster cleanup can begin. Containing spills at facilities is an essential first step in spill response that helps minimize environmental impact and lessen overall response time. According to National Response Center (NRC) statistics, over 10,000 reportable spills occurred in fixed facilities last year.

Prevent Slip-Ups With A Slip Clutch

December 4, 2009 11:22 am | Articles | Comments

Previously, a prominent food manufacturer was unable to run one of its production lines at its rated capacity because of difficulty in managing drive chain slack that affected indexing. The line handles rectangular packages weighing about 10 pounds each. Each item moves down the conveyor straightaway on its narrow side, but as it is picked up and indexed, it needs to be moved along its length.

Tiny Tools Key To Understanding Aerosol Dangers

December 4, 2009 11:10 am | by Fred J. Brechtel, Ph.D., Vice President, Brechtel Manufacturing Inc. | Articles | Comments

Particles thousands of times smaller than the diameter of a human hair transform materials, micro-sensors, and energy-producing processes. And they can also severely pollute air quality and the integrity of technology products, like integrated circuits. Airborne aerosols in the air we breathe can damage our health, especially particles containing trace amounts of metals — largely from burning fuel — can wreak havoc on our nervous systems.

What Floor? The Moon, Please

December 3, 2009 3:54 am | Articles | Comments

Space elevators — the final frontier. Kind of. See how a space elevator would revolutionize not only the way we get into space, but also the way us Earth-bound folk live. Not only would we have the capacity to ship large payloads into space, but we could build large solar arrays to catch the sun's energy.

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German Engineering And The Chainsaw Motorcycle

December 3, 2009 3:39 am | Articles | Comments

Leave it to the Germans. When you want to see the pinnacle of crazy engineering, go no further. A group of German gearheads have bolted 24 — yes, 24 — chainsaw engines, all working in unison, to a custom motorcycle frame. It's both beautiful and monstrous. But none of that would matter if it was mine.

GM's Future? Getting Bossed By Hyundai

December 3, 2009 3:32 am | Articles | Comments

Just yesterday GM announced their CEO, Fritz Henderson, was leaving his position immediately, with then-chairman Ed Whitacre filling in the top role. While no one is particularly surprised by the decision, it does represent a significant shift in GM’s movement not only forward but — more importantly — up, back to its old position of being a global contender in the automotive industry.

Fall Protection, Upgraded

December 3, 2009 3:25 am | Articles | Comments

When you have workers in elevated places, where falling is a distinct threat, a fall protection system is a no-brainer. But not all systems are the same. The people at SPANCO have conducted a series of tests between a standard wire rope system and a SPANCO rigid lifeline, and the results are pretty vivid.

Gas Mask Bras And British Zombies: 2009's Worst Inventions

December 2, 2009 10:38 am | Articles | Comments

Every year, TIME reaches out and finds some of the best innovations, and we've already seen their opinion on 2009's best offering: NASA's Ares I rocket . But this year is the first they stopped spending so much time on the good stuff, in order to put the spotlight on the year's absolute worst inventions.

Improving Control Valve Performance

November 30, 2009 7:52 am | by Fabian C. Gonzalez, Flowserve Corporation | Articles | Comments

The increasing demand on facilities to improve profitability has driven many plant managers to prioritize maintenance activities while striving to increase plant output. Historically, refineries, chemical plants and power plants have focused on achieving cost savings through capital and personnel reductions, and improving output by reducing unplanned downtime.

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From The NBA To Plant Floor

November 19, 2009 4:50 am | Articles | Comments

Charlie Bell, a member of the Milwaukee Bucks, grew up in Flint, Michigan, so he knows all about the manufacturing business. So when Tz Roznowski of Amalga Composites asked Charlie to "do his job," the basketball star couldn't help but say yes. After a hard day's work, a 6/10 review from your new boss isn't half bad.

Inside The Ford Fusion, Motortrend's 'Car Of The Year'

November 19, 2009 4:03 am | Articles | Comments

Earlier this week, Motortrend magazine named the 2010 Ford Fusion as its "car of the year," beating out more than 20 other vehicles from around the world. It's a big deal for the American automaker who has emerged from the recession stronger than ever, and bailout-free. See what makes the Ford Fusion, and in particular its hybrid model, the best car of the year.

M&Ms Just Got A Little Bit Greener

November 19, 2009 3:43 am | Articles | Comments

Last Tuesday, Mars Chocolate unveiled a 28,000-panel solar garden, which provides 20 percent of peak energy consumption at its New Jersey manufacturing plant. Are you surprised New Jersey is second in solar capacity only to California? I was. 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.

Instructional How To Lose Your Job

November 19, 2009 3:34 am | Videos | Comments

Full disclosure up front: remarkably, no one was hurt in this incident. And that's why forklifts have cabs. That said, this warehouse worker takes his forklift driving a little to vigorously, and has a little mishap with some shelves absolutely filled with bottles of vodka. In his defense, I don't think good steel is supposed to bend over like a twig as these shelves did.

Apple Industrial Designer: We're Cool, You're Not

November 19, 2009 3:21 am | Articles | Comments

Apple computers are well-recognized around the world, despite having a small market share in comparison to the plethora of Windows-based computers from manufacturers such as Dell, HP, Sony, and countless others. So, what makes people tick when they get an iPod or a MacBook in their hands? Easy: industrial design.

Head Of U.S. Military Celebrates Wisconsin Trucks

November 18, 2009 6:50 am | Articles | Comments

Last week, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates visited Wisconsin-based Oshkosh Corp. to check out the production of the company's M-ATVs, which are currently being used in Iraq and Afghanistan. Take a peek at Gates' speech to the workers who build the trucks on a daily basis, and why they're so important to the military.

Keep Tabs On Consumables Consumption

November 12, 2009 6:54 am | Articles | Comments

Lakeshore Technologies processes ingredients for the food and pharmaceutical industries, serving customers such as Cadbury, Schweppes, Kellogg’s, Pfizer, and Ocean Spray. Their facility in Lakeshore, Michigan spans 75,000 sq. ft., with 7-8 employees per shift. Like many companies that don’t have a dedicated inventory control manager, they found it difficult to keep their stock in balance, opting to over-stock inventory rather than risk stock-outs.

The Gassier Side Of Paper Manufacturing

November 11, 2009 10:36 am | Articles | Comments

Sometimes we forget about the — ahem — gassier side of paper manufacturing. But creating paper from recycled sources, instead of virgin fibers, can spare us all from a whole lot of methane. 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.

The Ups And Downs Of 'Coal Country'

November 11, 2009 10:30 am | Articles | Comments

It's undeniable: coal mining is a dirty but absolutely necessary business. In this trailer from the documentary " Coal Country ," we can get a glimpse into the endless battles between anti-coal activists, residents, and the workers that make our modern lifestyles possible. The results are explosive and powerful.

ABB Robots Waltzing With Fanta Cans

November 11, 2009 10:19 am | Articles | Comments

ABB industrial robots are known for their stellar motion control, but this is a little bit crazy. Check out how the company has pushed their previous Fanta test to a whole new level. It's like a high school dance — no touching allowed! 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.

TIME's Best Invention Of 2009: NASA's Ares I Rocket

November 11, 2009 9:36 am | Articles | Comments

TIME Magazine has pegged the Ares I rocket, NASA's newest endeavor into space travel, as the greatest invention of 2009. Although the rocket is not yet ready to carry humans back to the moon and all the way to Mars, the October 28 launch proved that the upgraded system is on its way to being the next best hope in stellar travel.

Do You Like Your Chips Green?

November 11, 2009 5:25 am | Articles | Comments

Kettle Foods, based in Beloit, Wis., has used precast concrete walls, wind turbines, and native prairie grasses to help make the greenest food manufacturing plant in the U.S. See why Kettle chose to place such an emphasis on sustainability, and how they're reaping the benefits. 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.

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