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Daily industrial news and top headlines for plant and maintenance managers

LED Obstruction Lighting Saves Energy, Reduces Maintenance

July 20, 2010 5:49 am | Articles | Comments

PPL Generation LLC works diligently to reduce its environmental impact and encourage the responsible use of energy through innovative technology, conservation initiatives, and educational programs both inside its facilities and in the surrounding communities. Like many Americans, the company recently discovered that changing out a few light bulbs to install Dialight’s highly efficient LED-based obstruction lighting can make a big difference in reducing energy consumption and maintenance costs, while providing more reliable safety lighting to meet FAA requirements.

Ukraine Milk Company Powered By 4,000 Cows

July 19, 2010 6:23 am | Articles | Comments

JENBACH, Austria — Cow manure is being converted to energy at the first biogas cogeneration plant in the Ukraine. The facility, which is powered by 4,000 cows and a GE (NYSE: GE) Jenbacher gas engine, has recently completed nine months of successful operation at the Ukrainian Milk Company Ltd.

Oil Shear Technology Keeps Reading Rockin’

July 15, 2010 9:39 am | by Reading Rock | Articles | Comments

Reading Rock was using SmartPac vibrator shafts to introduce vibration to achieve the half-block height molds. For several years, however, Reading has been using a variation that allows Reading personnel to change the amplitude and frequency. In addition to flexibility never before seen in this application, the technology offers a service life that is fully twice the number of cycles of prior designs.


Industrial Vending For The Masses

July 15, 2010 5:49 am | Articles | Comments

Given vending’s long history, the question is: why hasn’t it been more widely adopted for industrial applications? Generally speaking, it boils down to cost. There’s been some great industrial vending technology out there, but the up-front capital expenses have been a tough sell for smaller or medium sized companies.

Air Doors Create AIQ Surprise

July 15, 2010 5:47 am | Articles | Comments

Coleman Tool & Mfg. Co. originally specified air curtains to save monthly winter heating costs, but later discovered a dual purpose of filtering welding process smoke to significantly improve employee indoor air quality (IAQ). “We hit two birds (energy savings and IAQ) with one stone (air curtain technology),” said Michael Coleman, president, Coleman Tool, Union Grove, WI.

Polyurethane Roll Covers, Revolutionized

July 15, 2010 5:00 am | Articles | Comments

Introduction Due to new technologies, polyurethane (PU) roll covers no longer require molds, as they can be cast directly on the roll core surface using a robotic deposition system and a CNC precision-coordinated spindle. Although this process was originally introduced in the 1980s, advances in chemistry, robotics, and computer technology in the past several years have led to significant maturity of the process, resulting in growth of this technique.

Minimum Wages Around The World

July 14, 2010 8:11 am | Articles | Comments

We don't often hear about the minimum wage in America anymore, but it's an issue that is plaguing countries worldwide as they try to find a middle ground between protecting workers and maintaining an economy accepting of business. Greece, for example, is cutting back on its old minimum wage policy in order to survive the credit crunch, while Asian countries such as India are simply struggling to enact a minimum at all.

Are Those Baked Beans Safe?

July 14, 2010 8:08 am | Articles | Comments

It's almost guaranteed that with every trip to the grocery store you pick up canned food of one kind or another, and that can will likely have a label that guarantees its freshness for years down the road. Some companies say their cans have a five-year shelf life. How can they make such a claim? The BBC visits the biggest Heinz baked beans factory in the world to see how they ensure the beans are safe to eat.


If You're Already Spending $100,000...

July 14, 2010 8:07 am | Articles | Comments

Yesterday, Chevrolet announced the "Corvette Engine Build Experience," which allows buyers of the Corvette ZR1 or Z06 to visit GM's Wixom, Mich. facility and assemble the engine themselves — under the observation of a skilled technician, of course. While many mocked Chevy's new idea, and suggested that it was a way for the company to lower labor costs, it's hard to argue against spending an extra $6,000 (you're already spending more than $100,000 for a ZR1, anyway) and driving around with the added joy of knowing that you helped build the car.

Consumer Reports: Don't Buy The iPhone 4

July 14, 2010 8:05 am | Articles | Comments

So, you just bought a brand new iPhone, but you've been noticing some dropped calls when you hold it a certain way. Turns out the new antenna design seems to be affected by the user's own hand, which leads to a degraded signal. Apple says this is a software issue, but Consumer Reports claims their extensive testing proves the flaw is hardware-based.

Refine Your Condition-Monitoring To Prevent Recurring Failures

July 13, 2010 7:52 am | by Paul Michalicka, SKF USA Inc. | Articles | Comments

Are your condition monitoring technologies deployed and integrated in the most efficient way? Have they succeeded in improving machine availability and reducing recurring equipment failures? If your answer is not a resounding "yes," then it might be time to review your condition-monitoring strategy.

Eating The Counterfeit Elephant

July 12, 2010 11:06 am | Articles | Comments

While the Internet has definitely made the industry more prolific, counterfeiting has a history that predates the Internet by centuries. There weren’t designer handbags or electronics hundreds of years ago to counterfeit, so people worked with what they had literature, for one, is a good example.

Five Steps To Safety

July 9, 2010 6:30 am | by Dana A. Weeks, Marketing Communications, Pilz Automation Safety L.P. | Articles | Comments

The most important commodity in a plant is not the machinery, but rather it’s the employees. A safe and healthy work environment positively influences employee morale, health, and productivity. If you invest in safety from the beginning your company will save money in the long run. Work related injury and illness can be costly.


A Small Town's Big Cheese

July 8, 2010 4:15 am | by Krystal Gabert, Editor, Food Manufacturing | Articles | Comments

With over 100 years of experience and a commitment to local dairy production, Westby Cooperative Creamery has kept one foot planted in the traditions of the past and a keen eye on the future. A small, Midwestern town, Westby, Wisconsin covers just over two square miles, and a sign at the edge of town announces, “Population: 2,045.

Apple's Other Co-Founder

July 7, 2010 10:43 am | Articles | Comments

Did you know there was a third co-founder of Apple? Just a mere 11 days after he helped form the company with fellow co-counders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, Ron Wayne sold his 10-percent share in the company for $800. If he had only known what the future held for Apple, Wayne's share of the company would be worth about $20 billion today.

Use A 'Bat Hook' To Steal Power

July 7, 2010 7:29 am | Articles | Comments

You're out in the middle of nowhere, with no outlet in sight, but you need a little juice to power a gadget or two. What used to be an impossible sitation is now a reality thanks to the engineers at the U.S. Air Force, who developed a "bat hook" that can be tossed over nearby power lines. A small razor blade cuts through the insulation and completes the circuit, which brings electricity down to the user.

Homemade Fusion Power

July 7, 2010 6:44 am | Articles | Comments

According to almost any physicist you ask, creating a fusion reaction that will output more energy than it consumes — not unlike our sun — is well beyond our scientific reach at the moment. Just don't say that to Mark Supez. He's spent $37,000 of his own money, and two years of his time, to build a miniature fusion reactor that gets us a little closer to the energy "holy grail.

Can The Grid Handle Electrics?

July 7, 2010 6:44 am | Articles | Comments

With more electric cars coming to the market, one has to ask: will the grid be able to handle the extra load? Experts say that charging an electric car draws the same amount of energy as half the average house, which means that as few as three Teslas or Nissan Leafs on one block could overload a nearby transformer.

Engineering Fatter Consumers

July 7, 2010 6:43 am | Articles | Comments

Have you ever wondered why certain foods are just so edible? Let's be honest — if you're like most people, you just keep on eating instead. And that's exactly what the food industry wants you to do. The Today Show takes a look at food engineering and the effects that some foods may have on consumers’ brains.

Counterfeit Crimes

July 2, 2010 7:03 am | by David Mantey, Editor, PD&D | Articles | Comments

It’s more profitable to sell counterfeit electronic components than it is to sell narcotics. When it comes to counterfeit products, the limelight has been focused on counterfeit DVDs, music, Gucci purses and Hermes scarves. The proliferation of counterfeit components in the electronics industry receives little attention, but poses a greater threat to public health and safety.

When Workarounds Backfire

June 30, 2010 12:02 pm | by Luke Simpson, Associate Editor, Chem.Info | Articles | Comments

On August 28, 2008, a runaway reaction inside a pesticide residue treater at the Bayer CropScience facility in Institute, W.V., resulted in a violent explosion that propelled the treatment vessel 50 feet through the air and caused extensive damage to the surrounding infrastructure.

Putting Americans Back To Work

June 30, 2010 10:04 am | Articles | Comments

Althought the report is a little dated, CBS News hits the trouble of U.S. manufacturing right on the head. Aside from the obvious trouble of outsourcing, one of the main issues manufacturers are facing is the complete lack of interest from younger generations. One high school, Benson Polytechnic, is trying to change that by teaching their students an essential lesson: Making things with your hands is both honorable and essential to the future success of our country.

Energy Policy Is Slim 'Pickens'

June 30, 2010 8:16 am | Articles | Comments

The well-known financier and long-time advocate for natural gas, T. Boone Pickens, discusses energy policy on almost every level, from the BP spill, to OPEC, to what Americans can do to become energy independent. He thinks that blowing up BP's well is a silly and dangerous idea, while claiming that natural gas is the only way that Americans will be able to rid themselves of foreign fuel while preventing enormous environmental disasters.

Getting A Lungful Of iPhone 4 Dust

June 30, 2010 7:43 am | Articles | Comments

The people at Blendtec have never shied away from blending the most sought-after gadgets of the day, like they did with the iPad , and they're no different with the iPhone 4. Tune in to see a couple hundred dollars go down the drain (or around the blender). If you're having trouble watching this video, try downloading the latest version of Flash Player or contacting your IT department.

The Volt Is Just A Regular Car

June 30, 2010 7:41 am | Articles | Comments

Consumer Reports got the chance to take a pre-production model of the Chevy Volt out for a test drive, and the results are pretty positive overall. The car handles just like any other, and is pretty quick off the line thanks to its always-available electric torque. Some might be disappointed simply because the Volt drives and feels just like any other, as it could be less incentive for consumers to pick it up on a premium over a gasoline-powered car.

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