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Daily industrial news and top headlines for plant and maintenance managers

Making Robots 'Safe For Work'

May 12, 2010 7:39 am | Articles | Comments

With automation becoming an ever-important aspect of manufacturing, more thought must be put into the safe interaction between humans and their robotic "coworkers." While Asimov's First Law of Robotics states that a robot must not hurt a human, we all know this is not the case in a manufacturing setting.

The Real-Life Tony Stark

May 12, 2010 6:37 am | Articles | Comments

Elon Musk revolutionized the way we pay online with PayPal, and then moved on to Tesla Motors, where he's still trying to change the way Americans drive from point A to point B. As if that wasn't enough, Musk founded SpaceX, which builds space-capable rockets, with the hope of eventually shuttling people and cargo into space.

Volvo Has An Accident

May 12, 2010 6:33 am | Articles | Comments

Volvo brought in a stockpile of journalists and reporters to see the latest model of its S60 sedan, with the City Safety crash-avoidance system, which is meant to use multiple sensors to help a driver stop quickly enough to prevent a rear-ending accident. Volvo drove a semi out onto their test track, and then launched one of their S60s at 30 mph, a perfect speed for demonstrating the effectivenss of their new system.

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The ERP Umbrella

May 11, 2010 9:33 am | by Anna Wells, Executive Editor, IMPO | Articles | Comments

In any modern plant, communication is key. But just what level does your facility really need and, perhaps more importantly, what can you manage? ERP (enterprise resource planning) was once considered a software solution for large manufacturers. Designed to serve as a tool to integrate all business facets into a real-time communication platform—from operations and materials considerations, all the way to accounting and human resources elements—ERP is widely used as a customized solution, requiring manufacturers to build a system from the ground up, rather than cannibalizing current software platforms.

Cable Carrier Addresses Repetitive Motion Issues

May 11, 2010 9:24 am | Articles | Comments

Any application involving moving machinery and constant repetitive motion will benefit from a cable carrier system.  In recent years, plastic cable carriers have emerged as an alternative to metal and steel cable carriers and have replaced these types of systems on most kinds of automated machinery.

Real-Time Wireless Halves Nagging Inspections

May 11, 2010 6:29 am | Articles | Comments

Apprion and the Enterprise Mobility Solutions business of Motorola, Inc. recently announced they have completed work at Huntsman Corporation’s facility in Port Neches, TX on one of the largest and most ambitious industrial wireless application networks to date. Huntsman Corporation undertook an aggressive program to eliminate injuries, product defects, and environmental releases at their Port Neches facility.

Updates To PPE Requirements In NFPA 70E

May 11, 2010 5:59 am | by Byron Jordan, Senior Field Engineer, Ferraz Shawmut | Articles | Comments

Recent updates to the NFPA 70E offer increased safety and protection for workers working on energized electrical conductors or circuit parts. One of the ways the new edition of the NFPA 70E seeks to improve safety is through its expanded requirements for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

When The Utilities Cut You Off

May 7, 2010 8:58 am | Articles | Comments

American Crystal Sugar Company (ACS) is an agricultural cooperative involved in the growing and processing of sugar beets. It operates five sugar factories in the Red River Valley (northwestern Minnesota and eastern North Dakota) and one plant in Montana under the name Sidney Sugars, Inc.

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Wireless Sensors In Real-Time

May 6, 2010 12:23 pm | by Aaron LaJoie, Electrochem Solutions | Articles | Comments

The ability to make real-time decisions based on pressure, temperature or flow measurements while a process is running can provide significant advantages in a measurement and control system. These advantages can be expressed in different ways, such as cost savings through improved resource management or reduced reliability upon mobile workers.

The Improvising, Marimba-Playing Robot

May 5, 2010 10:17 am | Articles | Comments

This is probably one of the more unique and interesting robots we've featured in the IMPO Insider . Shimon plays alongside human musicians and knows how to improvise based on what his bandmates are playing. Change up the tune, and Shimon follows right along. Time for a solo? Shimon backs off the keys and waits for his turn in the spotlight.

Your Sweet Tooth Could Kill You

May 5, 2010 10:12 am | Articles | Comments

Added sugar. It's in a lot of what we eat, but most people don’t think twice about it. A tablespoon here and there can’t hurt, right? It turns out the average American eats 156 pounds of added sugar every year, which disgustingly adds up to an entire wheelbarrow . And the foods you think are "healthy" can be packed with sugar, too.

Wind Is Cheap, But Costs Far Too Much

May 5, 2010 10:05 am | Articles | Comments

Wind power has a number of great advantages over the likes of coal, but it still hasn't gained a significant foothold in the American energy market. While wind used to provide a pretty dismal ROI, with a number successful of turbine manufacturers ramping up production, that really isn't the case anymore.

BP Not Fazed By Massive Oil Spill

May 5, 2010 9:55 am | Articles | Comments

CNN's John Roberts speaks to Doug Suttles, COO of BP's exploration and production division about the options BP has to stop the 5,000 barrel-per-day leak. There are rumors the well could leak as much as 60,000 barrels of oil a day, so what is BP doing to stem the tide? It's called a coffer dam, a massive construction of steel and concrete that will be placed deep in the ocean, right above the leaking well.

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Retrofit Helps Pickle Maker Out Of A Jam

May 5, 2010 4:19 am | Articles | Comments

When your mission is to make the world’s freshest pickle, you can’t afford any jams in your cucumber processing line.  A major pickle manufacturer experienced this disruption in production at least two to three times per month because the conveyor that transferred the cucumbers from the water wash tank was prematurely wearing and breaking.

Keeping It Fresh

April 30, 2010 12:09 pm | Articles | Comments

A leading international wholesale distributor that provides quality products at very competitive prices, Fair Market, Inc. requires extensive storage space to keep its products cold and fresh.  With its corporate headquarters and main warehouse located in Wentzville, MO, Fair Market, Inc.

How to Avoid And Respond To FDA Warning Letters

April 30, 2010 10:29 am | Articles | Comments

No regulated business wants to receive an FDA Warning Letter (or Form-483) of Inspectional Observations. In such controlled industries as food, agriculture and pharmaceutical, receiving a list of deficiencies can feel like a heavy blow to your quality system. Worse, with the 2009 increase in enforcement staff (1) and the September 2009 change to the response time—now 15 days—the FDA appears to be ramping up its enforcement mandate (2).

Hardened Reactive Metals Drive Innovation

April 29, 2010 6:39 am | by Brian P. Hood, Product Manager, Flowserve Flow Control Division | Articles | Comments

Metal-seated ball valves used in highly corrosive or erosive applications must be able to withstand challenging operating environments. Zirconium, titanium, and other reactive/refractory metals are extremely corrosion-resistant and are often used by valve manufacturers to design valves for applications involving sulfuric, hydrochloric, and acetic acids.

Manufacturing An Invisible Car

April 23, 2010 11:40 am | Articles | Comments

Normally we don't like to feature too many advertisements in IMPO 's Thursday video-based newsletters, but sometimes we just can't help ourselves. In this case, Shell wanted a better way to show how oil interacts with a car's engine without using special effects. While a number of ideas were floated around, like x-rays, the team finally settled on recreating a Nissan 370Z in clear plastic.

Cheese Producer Puts Metal Detection To The Test

April 21, 2010 6:02 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.

Dipping Into The Future Of Food Safety

April 21, 2010 5:18 am | by Krystal Gabert, Associate Editor, Food Manufacturing | Articles | Comments

Family-owned Country Maid, maker of dips, spreads and salads, has always been devoted to food safety and quality, but its recently installed track-and-trace system puts the facility on the cutting edge of traceability. In 1939 Irene Grebe opened Grebe’s Bakery, selling home-baked goodies from her own kitchen in Milwaukee.

Getting More From Accounting

April 21, 2010 5:03 am | by Jim Mandt, Vice President of Technical Services, Metafile Information Systems, Inc. | Articles | Comments

From invoices to purchase orders and myriad supporting documentation, all manufacturing organizations rely on their accounting departments to keep business moving. After all, a manufacturer’s success and profitability are ultimately defined by their ability to efficiently pay for what’s needed to run their business and, in return, promptly receive payment for goods and services rendered.

The Price Of Carbon: 27c Per Gallon

April 21, 2010 4:21 am | by Jim Lane, Biofuels Digest | Articles | Comments

Perhaps the only thing under heaven that moves slower and more unpredictably than evolution is the evolution of carbon policy. Biofuels investors have long since written off carbon as a factor, saying that the uncertainty of policy has led them to fund only those projects that can survive without a price on carbon.

Energy Harvesting Gets A Boost

April 20, 2010 12:05 pm | by Tony Armstrong, Director of Product Marketing, Power Products, Linear Technology Corporation | Articles | Comments

A wide range of low-power industrial sensors and controllers are turning to alternative sources of energy as the primary or supplemental means of supplying power. Ideally, such harvested energy will eliminate the need for wired power or batteries altogether. Transducers that create electricity from readily available physical sources such as temperature differentials (thermoelectric generators or thermopiles), mechanical vibration (piezoelectric or electromechanical devices), and light (photovoltaic devices) are becoming viable sources of power for many applications.

Getting Everyone On The Same Project Page

April 19, 2010 7:20 am | Articles | Comments

ASML is the world’s leading provider of lithography systems for the semiconductor industry, manufacturing complex machines that are critical to the production of integrated circuits or microchips. The company spends an average of €460 million annually on research and development and has more than 3,000 engineers in R&D.

Tesla Takes On Chevrolet, Nissan

April 19, 2010 6:43 am | Articles | Comments

Tesla is forging ahead with their mass-market electric sedan, the Model S, priced at about $50,000 after rebates. The car, which will be released to the market in 2012, is designed to be attractive enough that consumers will not care what's under the hood, or that it runs on just a hum. But with cheaper alternatives from the likes of Chevrolet and Nissan, the higher sticker price could sway consumers away from the Tesla.

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