American Aerogel Expansion of Production Capacity
System overhaul: American Aerogel Expansion of Production Capacity; Optimation
Location: Rochester, N.Y.
Firm name: Optimation
Project type, building type: System overhaul, manufacturing
Project duration: 1.7 years
Project completion date: Sept. 30, 2008
American Aerogel, a company developing and manufacturing proprietary Aerogel insulation products, had been growing rapidly and needed to expand its production capabilities. Because demand for its product was so high, American Aerogel’s 24/7 operation required new equipment with process improvements to increase production and improve efficiencies. Because American Aerogel’s products are made with a proprietary one-of-a-kind aerogel called Aerocore, maintaining confidentiality of the products’ chemical makeup and patented manufacturing processes was/is of the utmost importance. Optimation continues to honor this confidentiality.
American Aerogel brought Optimation in early on to assess the existing production equipment, processes, and available space to increase capability to remove and recover solvents from its products. Optimation developed drawings with the layout of the new and relocated production equipment and associated services. Optimation’s skilled trades team, comprised of millwrights, pipefitters, riggers, and electrical and instrumentation mechanics, completed installation of all production equipment and associated components. In addition to installing new equipment, mechanics made modifications to existing services to increase capacity. These services included electricity, steam, compressed air and nitrogen supplies, and condensate return and process vapor recovery. Optimation also assembled and installed all instrumentation/control cabinets, and led debug and startup of all installed systems. After this project was completed, production capacity increased significantly. The addition of instrumentation and improved access to the process information improved productivity and product quality.
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Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.
There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.
But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.
Read more: 2015 Salary Survey