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Manufacturing Growth in Wisconsin and the FACT Initiative

When it comes to employment in Wisconsin, the manufacturing sector in particular has been making gains over the last few years. From July 2012 to July 2013 alone, 3,010 manufacturing jobs were created. There are now a total of 574,091 workers in 11,208 manufacturing companies across the state, according to the 2013 Wisconsin Manufacturers Register. Not only is this growth continuing but is expected to continue in this way for some time. According to the president of Manufacturer’s News, Tom Dubin, this is because the state has an educated workforce, low business costs, and has a prime location for goods shipment. These factors are appealing to companies that have been investing in the food processing industry in particular.

New Report Gives Ohio an “A” in Manufacturing and Logistics

Ohio has always been known as a major manufacturer of a variety of industrial products. It is one of the nation’s largest producers of primary and fabricated metal products as well as rubber and plastic products. The manufacturing output for Ohio in 2012 reached $87.2 billion, which is the fifth highest in the United States; and the state was also a leader in manufacturing employment last year with close to 658,000 manufacturing jobs, surpassed only by much larger states California and Texas. These numbers are great to see as the state continues to rebound from a decade that brought devastating cuts in manufacturing jobs. In just the last three years manufacturers in the state have added 55,000 jobs. For all of these reasons and more, a report from Ball State University’s Center for Business and Economic Research has called Ohio a powerhouse in the manufacturing realm, giving the state an “A” in both manufacturing-industry health and logistics-industry health.

Up to Date with Search Engine Marketing

Unless you force yourself not to use the internet for a day odds are at some point you will be online for work, pleasure, curiosity or some sort of need. Search engines are the avenue to find our desired interests. Both organic searches and paid advertisements catch our attention. Therefore, in order to be noticed a company must have a powerful internet presence and solid marketing plan. The internet has made the world a much smaller place and as a result has increased industrial competition over the web. We are entering the fourth quarter of 2012 with 2013 right around the corner. It is time for industrial businesses to analyze their 2012 marking plan and adjust for the upcoming year.

Some Helpful Methods for Urethane Casting

When companies are searching for a material with strength, versatility, long service life, high impact resistance, elastic memory, noise reduction or heat and chemical resistance, often they turn to urethane. Urethane castings are able to provide all of these qualities and more such as high abrasion, cut, tear, oil, ozone and radiation resistance. The material is lightweight, can be easily molded, is non-conductive and non-sparking, provides good load bearing, has a broad hardness range and can even be colored. These characteristics make it an important part of industries ranging from construction to athletic equipment. When it comes to preparing for a urethane casting project, there are several simple steps that can be taken to help the process run smoothly and efficiently.

Machine Guarding – Keeping Workplaces Safe

I worked part time as a janitor when I was in college. One of my responsibilities was to keep each of the custodial closets and mechanical rooms in my assigned buildings clean and organized. This task was easy in the supply closets, because they were just closets. Their contents were limited to small amounts of bathroom supplies, maybe a mop and bucket and de-icer in the winter months. The mechanical rooms were a different story. These spaces served a dual purpose: storage as well as housing for HVAC components and controls, sprinkler controls and a number of other components. Some of these components were high voltage, some of them had moving parts and all of them were meticulously labeled and enclosed by machine guarding according to OSHA and other standards.

Polyethylene Tanks’ Popularity is No Accident

If it weren’t for a handful of accident-prone scientists, we might never have gained access to many of the polymerized hydro- and fluorocarbons we’ve come to know and love over the past two centuries. Teflon, for example, was discovered by a guy in New Jersey who couldn’t figure out why his tetrafluoroethylene got all gunked up in its flask. So he cut it open with a hacksaw and, voila, Teflon. Polyethylene was discovered under similar circumstances. In 1898 Hans von Pechmann, a chemist at the renowned University of Greifswald in the German city of same name, was heating up some diazomethane (you know – for fun), which happened to produce a white, waxy substance. Von Pechmann and his colleagues, upon observation of the long methylene chains that composed the material, named the stuff “polymethylene.” Somewhere along the line, either because of Anglicization, laziness or maybe a typo, we lost the “m,” and “polyethylene” permanently entered the chemistry and engineering lexica.

Will Michigan Manufacturers Play a Role in Revitalizing the Economy?

If you look at the YTD Value of Manufacturers’ Shipments table for April 2012, you’ll see that the value of shipments from all manufacturing industries is 6.9% higher than the figure from April of last year. During that time, the value of shipments of primary metals – the raw materials that end up being shaped into the kinds of products that form our industrial and commercial infrastructure – rose by 25%. The value of metalworking machinery was 21% higher, and construction machinery was up by 23%. If you then take a look at the Census Bureau’s Annual Survey of Manufacturers for 2009, near the height of the recession, you’ll notice that Michigan was still the sixth most active manufacturing state in terms of production worker hours. Does the VMS report tell us that manufacturing is coming back, and if so could these kinds of gains be indicators of a sea change for places like Michigan?

Hydraulic Motors and Excavators

Have you ever watched an excavator at work and wondered what controls its motion? I’m imagining the half dozen excavators, front-loaders and backhoes that are parked in front of my apartment while my narrow street undergoes a major construction project. For the last several weeks, those machines have helped me build character in a number of ways. They’ve taught me patience as I’ve been forced to park long distances from my house, they’ve helped me wake up every morning (even on weekends) at 7:00 sharp and they’ve kicked up a perpetual dust storm that has endowed the landscape with a reddish film. Despite these annoyances, it’s fascinating watching them work. Watching an excavator’s hydraulics force its components back and forth is kind of mesmerizing. Shortly after the first time I sat down on my porch to watch them, I decided to do some reading about what makes those big machines go.

Cold Rolled Steel and Old Adages

If you grew up speaking the English language, you’re likely to be familiar with this adage: “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” I’ve always been a bit perplexed by this statement – not by its meaning, which is obvious, but by the fact that it’s persevered in the lexicon of expressions in our language despite its silliness. Think about it. If I was cleaning my gutters and lost my footing on the ladder, nothing about falling two stories is going to enhance my strength or improve my health. Or, if I accidentally slammed my hand in my car door, it’s unlikely that I’d gingerly pull it out and say, “Wow! Who’s ready for a thumb war?” The compression of the door would more likely have a deformative effect then an empowering one. But there is one context in which the adage is eminently appropriate: cold rolling.

Imagining a Use for Double Acting Cylinders

When I was in high school, I spent some time on the technical crews of a few of our theatre productions. At the beginning of my first year of classes there, a several-years-long renovation of the school’s performing arts facilities was completed, which meant that suddenly we had access to a world-class theatre in which to perform. The theatre came complete with two balconies, a band pit elevator and a fly system that could compete with a lot of professional facilities. A fly system is the rigging from which the stage lights, curtains and in some cases props and sets are hung. They can be raised and lowered by ropes that run down the length of one of the theatre’s walls, and they’re operated by a fly crew during performances. Thinking about my time working the flies brings double acting cylinders to mind.

What’s in a Pneumatic Solenoid Valve?

I’ve been writing about industrial products and processes for a while now, and few topics have eluded my understanding more effectively than solenoids. Nothing about the word “solenoid” gives away anything about what a solenoid is or does, at least not in the way that the words “aluminum tube” or “overhead crane” or “conveyor” betray meaning. When the regular dictionary’s definition isn’t enough (it’s “an electric conductor wound as a helix with small pitch, or as two or more coaxial helices, so that current through the conductor establishes a magnetic field within the conductor,” by the way), I hit up my last resort: the Oxford English Dictionary’s Online Etymology Dictionary. “Solenoid” is derived from the Greek word for pipe or channel (solen) and the word for form or shape (eidos). If you take a look at the image of a solenoid below, the word’s etymology makes sense.

Get to Know Custom Laser Cutting Equipment

Ever wonder how the stimulation of a carbon dioxide or neodymium-aluminum-garnet lasing material with either electrical discharges or radio frequency resonators can be used to facilitate industrial cutting or surface finishing processes? If you’re anything like me, your answer is probably an emphatic “Huh?” There’s something about lasers and their operating principles that seem opaque and distant to me. I’d bet that most people I know are aware that “laser” is an acronym, but I doubt that many of them know what it stands for, and even fewer of them could describe how lasers work. The trouble may be that lasers don’t enjoy very accurate representation in media, or it may be that our encounters with lasers in daily life are not very personal or direct. But it’s clear that we benefit from their use in many ways.

Don’t Ignore Brake Materials

Until recently, I drove a 1997 Ford Escort, Old Rusty. At the tail end of winter, the car’s blower motor gave out, rendering the heater and defroster features inoperable. Each morning of the week following the motor’s demise, I would find myself trying to scrape a thick layer of frost off of the inside of my windshield, the concave nature of which was not even mildly hospitable to scraping. When the mechanic at the garage told me that it would cost $600 to fix the blower, I asked him to perform a general inspection of the car. I wanted to know if it was worth putting that kind of money into that kind of car if there was any chance that some other costly problem would present itself. He found that the sub-frame was rusted into oblivion (which is how the moisture was accumulating in the car’s interior and collecting on the windshield), a wheel bearing was loose (which meant the wheel could fly off as I drove somewhere) and that the engine was leaking oil from an undetermined location. Time for a new car.

Appreciating Bridge Cranes

The operating principle of a bridge crane is as easy to grasp as a coffee mug. They pick stuff up and move it somewhere else. For someone who does a lot of writing about a lot of different kinds of industrial products and processes, it’s refreshing to be assigned a topic whose conceptual complexity is roughly equivalent to that of a hammer. Hammers hammer. Hoists hoist. Bridge cranes lift.

High Pressure Blowers for HVAC and Beyond

Enduring the crucible of Michigan’s climate is a trial suited only for the heartiest of the hearty. The winters can be viciously cold, and the humidity of the summers can seep in through your ears and gunk up your brain. That’s why I was quick to act this spring; before the dew point hit the ceiling and I became permanently stuck to my couch, I went out and bought an air conditioner. After a few hours of screwing all of the parts together, mounting the thing in the window and plugging the gaps in the arrangement with plywood, plastic bags and bricks I found in my yard, my living room window became a picture of post-apocalyptic pragmatism. From the outside, what was a reasonably attractive façade is now an embarrassment – the fruit of an idiot’s labors. But darned if it isn’t going to be nice and crisp in my living room while the world outside melts into sweaty puddles.

We’re Lucky to Have Food Grade Tanks

For my birthday a few years ago, I received a Mr. Beer® home brewing kit from my parents, complete with ingredients, instructions and all of the vessels needed to facilitate the transformation of wort (which is sugared, flavored brown goo, basically) into moderately comestible, ideally non-poisonous beer. The kit comes complete with a little plastic barrel fashioned after a wooden brewing barrel, a set of ingredients and sanitizing solutions, and it all comes packed in a box with a picture of a fellow holding a big glass of beer and wearing a very satisfied expression on his face. It would be generous to say that since receiving my beer kit, I brew beer at an amateur level. Heck, it’d be generous to call it “brewing” at all. The process involves heating and stirring the wort supplied in the kit for 45 minutes and then pouring the mixture into the plastic barrel. And let me tell you – that plastic barrel is no food grade tank.

The Elegance of Spin Forming and Chandeliers

Creating an environment of old world elegance and grace can be easily achieved with an artfully crafted chandelier, which inevitably takes center stage in any residential or commercial venue that seeks to dazzle those who enter it. Lighting up rooms that vary from theatres to libraries to homes of individuals, chandeliers are a sure fire way of making a lasting impression. These light fixtures have been around for centuries, morphing with the times by replacing candles with light bulbs while retaining the grandeur and charm of soft but thorough lighting and fine craftsmanship. The way chandeliers are produced in our modern age has also evolved. No longer are the metallic elements that make up chandeliers hand carved, but they are developed by way of methods like spin forming, a process that shapes round or hollowed out objects withdimensions that are even and precise. Whether this process is applied with a manually run metal spinning machine are a CNC machining system, the result is always the same; perfection.

Robotic Palletizers and the Road Ahead for Manufacturing

When it started becoming clear just how serious the financial crisis was going to be – when access to credit started shrinking, when the orders started disappearing and the payrolls started thinning – coverage of developments in industry were all lean manufacturing all the time. It was “streamlined this” and “automated that.” Lean, lean, lean. If the message started sounding redundant, that’s because it was. But it also seemed to reflect reality. In 2006, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Annual Survey of Manufacturers, there were just under 13 million peopled employed in manufacturing jobs, and the total value of all of the shipped manufactured products from that year topped $5 trillion. By the time the figures for 2009 had been released, which was at the height of the financial crisis, the value of shipped products fell by more than $500 billion, and the number of people employed in manufacturing jobs fell beneath 11 million. A recovery in the manufacturing sector would have to involve some adaptations to the new realities of the global economy.

We’re Surrounded by Plastics

If I were to look at the tag on my shirt’s collar, I’d probably see instructions for washing the shirt and some information about its composition. I happen to be in an office at the moment, so I can’t take off my shirt and look. But if memory serves, the shirt I’m wearing is composed of a mixture of cotton and polyester (and maybe a third ingredient – rayon or something like that). “Polyester” is a blanket term that can be used in reference to a few different kinds of polymers, though it’s most commonly used in reference to polyethylene terephthalate. You may know polyethylene terephthalate by its nickname: PET. If not, you’re certainly familiar with products composed of PET. Your soda bottles, your ketchup bottles, your mouthwash bottles and all manner of other bottle varieties are probably made of PET. You know PET as a variety of plastic. It’s likely that you think of plastics as non-metal, non-wood, non-stone, hard but sometimes flimsy things whose origin you’re not certain of but whose utility is eminently obvious.