View All Workforce Development
How will you get ahead at your job?
Studies point to manufacturing jobs as highly technical and secure. But how can you stay ahead?
Training and certifications help system integrators succeed
A system integrator takes advantage of training and certification programs demonstrate credibility while accessing continual learning and boosting online visibility for increased customer acquisition.
Creating a new path forward with community-driven innovation
Community-driven innovation is pushing the STLE forward with an emphasis on professional development and better communications with current and future members.
Top 5 Plant Engineering content: September 12-18, 2022
The top 5 Plant Engineering content from the past week covered leaders under 40, artificial intelligence, bearings, variable speed drives and the metaverse. Miss something? You can catch up here.
Developing the existing and future workforce
The great resignation movement is forcing companies to adjust their tactics and turn to third parties who can provide the technical support needed to keep manufacturing system online.
Top 5 Plant Engineering content: September 5-11, 2022
The top 5 Plant Engineering content from the past week covered leaders under 40, bearings, compression system and lubrication. Miss something? You can catch up here.
Engineering Leaders Under 40, Class of 2022
The future of automation, engineering and manufacturing relies on the younger workforce, and these 36 individuals are here to advance their industries now and for years to come.
Welding, machining apprentices expanding their workplace skillsets
Iowa State University english department faculty are helping high school apprentices in welding and machinery improve their writing and speaking skills through a four-week program sponsored by John Deere.
Five tips for women who want to succeed in engineering
An engineer and researcher from Coventry University offers five tips for women looking to succeed in engineering or other STEM-related careers.
What’s needed to get started for an automation career
Before getting started on a career in automation, it’s important to assess your goals as well as your interests, background, talents and more.
Preparing for career changes as an engineer
Manufacturing operations are constantly changing, and engineers can stay ahead of the curve by volunteering and learning as much as possible.
Three career tips for engineers
Engineering Leaders Under 40 winner Michael Horth offers advice for young engineers on how to succeed and thrive in the workforce.
Manufacturers remain confident despite challenges
A survey by Sikich finds more than two-thirds of manufacturers remain optimistic about their business prospects despite supply chain and talent challenges.
Remote condition monitoring can alleviate worker shortages
Core maintenance KPIs are tied to increased work completion, reduced backlogs and improved mean-time-to-repair.
Inclusivity is key to promoting STEM education
A North Carolina State University study finds that one key to promoting STEM education is making classrooms feel more inclusive.
Hiring for skills becoming popular trend
Focusing on people’s combined skills allows an employee to hire the right person for the job who can start immediately and be effective.
Three ways to engage your workforce in 2022
Expectations for the workforce are constantly changing and it can be challenging to keep them engaged. Three tips on engaging, training and securing a more remote workforce are highlighted.
A profile in perseverance
Plant engineers put themselves on the front line on a daily basis. Learn more about the results from the 2021 Plant Engineering salary survey.
Top 5 Plant Engineering articles Jan. 17-23, 2022
Articles about the benefits behind cycle-based PM, PSM compliance training according to OSHA, worker safety in semiconductor fabs, and more were Plant Engineering’s five most clicked articles from Jan. 17-23, 2022. Miss something? You can catch up here.
How to improve workplace technology adoption
Phased rollouts of new technology allow greater control of how digital solutions are implemented and applied by employees
Automation advantages: 4 ways automation can empower a team to win
The pandemic and worsening manufacturing worker shortage has created opportunities for manufacturers to increase automation to improve plant and workforce productivity. Tools to enhance factory operations (factoryops) will drive faster, better decision-making to improve production and empower talent.
Focus on people to maximize plant efficiency
Balancing people and technology to optimize plant operations.
Groups launch partnership supporting STEM and technical education
The Delaware Department of Education (DDOE), DuPont and Discovery Education announced a partnership that will increase STEM instructional resources, as well as other career and technical education programs.
Four tips to help organize a fantastic factory tour
With good planning, people should be able to organize a memorable factory tour for all visitors.
Workforce development, automation top of mind at Process Expo
Process manufacturers, especially those in the food and beverage industry, are facing a skills gap crunch due to the pandemic. While some companies are trying to get workers back and engaged, more are turning to automation to keep operations running.
Investing in automation: Strategies manufacturing companies need to know
Manufacturers investing in automation efficiencies with robotics, industrial internet, digitalization and artificial intelligence and other technologies also need to develop the current and future workforce to realize its potential.
The best engineers are going to the competition, and here’s why
Hiring engineers is hard. Five reasons why and five tips on how to improve hiring engineers are highlighted.
Engineering talent critical to state, national economic progress
Engineering fields are facing a major skills gap that isn’t going away. Engineers do more than make things; they provide the backbone for a state and country’s economy. Learn how a university is changing the message.
Diversity hiring for engineering companies: 7 tips
Don’t give up at hiring a diverse team for robotics and engineering companies. Get better at it. These seven tips can inspire a more diverse engineering workforce.
Addressing workforce development with a 360° approach
Devising a workforce development plan to close the knowledge gaps will set everyone up for success and make the Industry 4.0 journey a successful one.
How to resolve a conflict before it manifests itself
Focus on and build healthier relationships within a workplace team
How leaders develop individual employees and workplace culture
People are individuals and it is a leader’s responsibility to consider each candidate on an individual basis and to cultivate each employee according to his/her needs.
Survey on safely remote accessing machines
Remotely accessing machines and other manufacturing assets has become necessary for many in the industry but doing it safely and securely poses a range of new and serious issues.
Employee reviews: The right way and the wrong way
Engineering employee reviews, when done right, give the manager and the employee a chance to build and strengthen a relationship and carve a path for future success. Incorporate these six tips to improve the review process for engineering employees and those around them.
Workforce development, batteries
The October issue of AppliedAutomation focuses on workforce development through universities and colleges and battery safety.
Connect with community colleges for a stronger workforce
Collaborative programs benefit employers, colleges, and students.
Three ways to improve engineer retention
Companies looking to protect their top engineering talent from rivals should look to improve training, benefits and wages to make employees happier and more productive.
Study launched to examine hurdles women face in STEM careers
A researcher from Rice University will examine the hurdles women face in STEM careers by examining their everyday work experiences in the profession.
Add skills to your skilled workforce
Tech college flexibility helps engineers, skilled workers continue education.
Manufacturer hosts STEM career day for local students
Lenze gave middle school students a tour of their Massachusetts headquarters to enable students to explore possible science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) career paths in manufacturing.
Manufacturing’s perception runs up against real issues
Leading2Lean study results belie actual manufacturing statistics, which are much better than what the public believes about the industry.
Top 5 Plant Engineering articles December 24-30
Articles about the Top Plant winner, the skills gap, Product of the Year finalists, marshaling virtual resources, and automation experts adding productivity were Plant Engineering’s five most clicked articles from December 24-30, 2018. Miss something? You can catch up here.
Study finds Skills Gap worsening, impacting production and growth
Report from Deloitte and The Manufacturing Institute points to digital skills needed for the future.
Group completes third review and update of the original Automation Competency Model
The Automation Federation (AF) convened to perform the third critical review of the Automation Competency Model (ACM) since its inception in 2008.
Are you ready?
Let's take a look into the future. Not too far out - maybe five years or so. What do you think your plant will be like? Here are some of my predictions.The plant engineer will be more important than ever as reliable and predictable capacity become priorities. Predictive maintenance will replace preventive maintenance as the standard of maintenance operations and organization.
Pressures from tariffs, inventories drive down PMI
Index falls 2.1 points to 57.7% in October as production orders slow down.
A Rosie future for manufacturing?
There is no limitation on learning and the boundaries of the engineering discipline are limited only by the engineer’s imagination.
Time to spend on our ‘other’ aging asset
The 2017 Salary Survey identified lack of workers as the primary issue facing the manufacturing industry, but aging equipment and technology should not be ignored.
Where to find the workers?
The 2017 Salary Survey reveals there is still difficulty finding skilled workers.
2017 Salary Survey: It’s the (lack of) workers
Skilled workforce needed—and technology isn’t seen as the answer.
The individuality of manufacturing
Each engineering recruit has a unique skill set and background. By approaching the hiring and training process with an individualized approach, you can help foster and mold future industry leaders.
Hidden gems: Community colleges may hold the key to manufacturing’s future workforce
Community colleges may hold the key to manufacturing’s future workforce.
People-centric leadership helps ensure Lean success
People-centric leaders are focused on growing people and process improvement and they work hard to build ever higher levels of trust by ensuring each and every employee understands they and their contributions to the business are valued by leadership.
2016 Engineering Leader Under 40: Christy Sirianni, 39
Director of Performance Excellence, MAVERICK Technologies, Columbia, Ill.
2016 Engineering Leader Under 40: Chandradhar Prasad, 28
Senior Project Engineer, L&T Electrical and Automation FZE, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
2015 Engineering Leader Under 40: Alfredo Flores, 31
Senior Controls Engineer, RedViking; Plymouth, Mich.; BS Mechatronic Engineering, Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education, Querétaro (ITESM)
2015 Engineering Leader Under 40: Michael Gagne, 28
Senior Software Engineer, Kepware Technologies; Portland, Maine; BS Electrical & Computer Engineering, University of Maine
2015 Engineering Leader Under 40: Jayson Pestow, 31
Senior Controls Engineer, Functional Safety Engineer (TÜV Rheinland); Frakes Engineering; Indianapolis; BS Automation & Control Engineering, Indiana State University
2015 Engineering Leader Under 40: Carl-Johan Roos, 34
Functional Safety Officer; Emerson Process Management, Rosemount Division; Shakopee, Minn.; M.Sc. Electrical & Computer Engineering, Chalmers University of Technology; MS Electrical & Electronics Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology; MBA, University of Gothenburg
2015 Workforce Development Study
Five findings on the unskilled workforce struggle
Become an employer of choice
Strategies to attract and retain manufacturing employees.
Are you engaged?
We cover the causes of disengagement in your employees and how to keep your workforce engaged.
Worker development can focus on partners and employees
Invest in programs that will discover, prepare and retain strong team members
Attendance, technology booming as IMTS opens in Chicago
Day 1: Pre-registration tops 100,000 as attendees hear about 3D printing, workforce development issues.
Obama signs Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act
PMA, NTMA say bill will help members to fill skills gap openings
Plant Engineering 2014 Workforce Development Study: 6 key findings
According to the data in this report, 66% of manufacturing facilities are experiencing a skilled workforce shortage, and an average of 7% of jobs within plants are unfilled because of it. See what actions are being taken to close this gap and improve manufacturing's appeal to the younger generations.
Optimizing employee engagement across the globe
A strategy for improving the employee experience can pay big dividends for everyone
Fifty schools join Get Skills to Work Initiative
Colleges offer programs in advanced manufacturing for transitioning veterans
Think we’re getting younger? Dream on…
The inability to find younger workers in manufacturing continues to be a growing problem as the workforce gets older and older
Metalworking industry credentialing on the rise
NIMS reports 58.8% increase in certifications in 2013
Web exclusive: Data explosion requires a new skill set for workers
Study by Manpower indicates that education programs aren't modernizing fast enough to keep up with pace of technology growth.
2013 Leader Under 40: Matthew Albright
Product Manager of Welding Equipment, Lincoln Electric, Cleveland, Ohio.
2013 Leader Under 40: Michael Brauss, 32
Continuous Improvement Manager, Mark Andy Inc., Chesterfield, Mo.
2013 Leader Under 40: Scott Bungo, 31
Manufacturing Superintendent, Victaulic, Easton, Pa.
2013 Leader Under 40: Ted Garrison, 36
Product Engineering Manager, The Raymond Corporation, Greene, N.Y.
2013 Leader Under 40: Jerry Miller, 36
Operations Manager, Maverick Technologies, Columbia, Ill.
2013 Leader Under 40: Carl Nothnagel, 32
Director of Operations, MBX Systems, Libertyville, Ill.
2013 Leader Under 40: Justin Percio, 39
Business Manager of Welding Automation Systems, The Lincoln Electric Company, Cleveland, Ohio
2013 Leader Under 40: Jason Scales, 38
Welding Education Specialist, The Lincoln Electric Company, Cleveland, Ohio
Training will get the most of your talent
Manufacturing is a stable career with great growth potential, and its future growth lies in our ability to attract and retain the best people we can
Becoming an employer of choice
Use every channel available to find, train your workforce
Recruitment, internships are ways to introduce manufacturing’s value
Organizations need to work more closely with students and promote the career opportunities available within the manufacturing industry
Engaging the workforce of the future in the skills-gap era
Manufacturers face a growing gap between requirements for the talent they need to grow their business and qualified candidates actually available.
Private sector has major role to play in filling manufacturing skills gap
The private sector needs to join forces with technical schools and community colleges to train the student tehnicians of tomorrow in skilled labor positions
Women ready for leadership roles in manufacturing’s growth
Encouraging and retaining women in STEM occupations remains an uphill climb, but one worth fighting
Donation to University of Tennessee establishes joint faculty for engineering, business
Innovative program to prepare engineers in both disciplines
Tweak KPIs to improve performance
KPIs can create a stretch model that empowers the entire workforce and drives a continuous improvement engine that meets immediate and long-term goals
Eight states earn As from national Manufacturing and Logistics Report
Ball State University study looks at array for factors to determine health of sector
A skilled workforce will drive manufacturing growth
Improving workforce development is vital to the continuing growth in manufacturing, particularly when it comes to education
SME rebrands to focus on advancement of manufacturing
Society will highlight its wide range of expertise in new branding
Beyond reshoring: Why restarting plants and hiring workers are just as crucial
An emphasis on addressing both the skills gap and opening plants that are either closed or underutilized is essential if manufacturing wants to continue growing and attracting new workers
Manufacturing CFOs optimistic about growth in 2013
Prime Advantage survey cites taxes, health insurance, skilled labor as major concerns
National Engineering Forum to focus on key issues in national meetings
Capacity, capability and competitiveness are topics in year-long discussion series
Minnesota manufacturers see short-term challenges, long-term growth
Health care, workforce and taxes contribute to a cautious outlook, survey finds
NAM praises Senate immigration reform legislation
Association: “We are on the right track and moving forward”
Training, mentoring needed to address skilled worker shortage
Placed workforce development on top of their list of plant floor issues in the 2012 Plant Engineering salary survey, which is an issue that will continue to be a problem if it is not addressed
Is your maintenance strategy a profit center or a profit eater?
Set up a maintenance checklist to ensure your program is on the right track
Sweatman earns reappointment to Manufacturing Council
Department of Commerce group advises Obama Administration on manufacturing policy
Global growth a compelling option for manufacturing
McGladrey partner Karen Kurek looks at the potential for growth—and the potential for growth to slow down
Talent the key to competitiveness, Deloitte study finds
Research with U.S. Council on Competitiveness sees Asia influence growing in the next decade.
Metalformers see growth in 2013… but the cliff looms
PMA calls for swift action to resolve federal fiscal crisis
Seven steps to training success
Instead of asking, "What happens if I train them and they leave?" ask yourself, "What happens if we don't train them and they stay?"
AHR survey points to a warm start for 2013 economy
Sales, general economy on the rise, said attendees ahead of 2013 AHR Expo
PRIME program provides grants to nine high schools
SME Foundation offers funding to schools teaching STEM skills
Study: Returning vets believe they have the skills to help manufacturing
Military personnel think their high-tech training will be an asset to manufacturing
Get Skills to Work formed to address Skills Gap, veterans training
GE, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Alcoa to fund program to help military personnel transition to manufacturing jobs
Women in Manufacturing Summit in Milwaukee Oct. 29-30
PMA event to feature speakers from Kashi, Harley-Davidson, plant tours
Building a manufacturing dream team
Everyone who calls manufacturing a career tries each day to get better at their jobs, to better serve their customers and their markets.
ThinkPad manufacturing back in the U.S.
Lenovo to expand North Carolina facility, add 115 manufacturing jobs
Manufacturing Competitiveness Act passes House with bipartisan support
Bill will create board to analyze U.S. manufacturing and recommend policy and initiatives.
IMTS 2012: DMG / Mori Seiki announces factory grand opening in U.S.
DMG / Mori Seiki announced during their press conference that their factory in Davis, Ca., will have its grand opening ceremony on November 7.
Unlocking balance, brilliance in the STEM fields
Ensuring more opportunities for women in STEM careers is essential.
ASME survey shows engineer salaries on the rise
‘Careers in engineering are rewarding on many levels’
Manufacturing Day Oct. 5 an open house for manufacturing
Goal is for manufacturers to show educators, students what modern manufacturing looks like
Daily Insight for July 16, 2012
Daily Insight: Can you hear me now? New study on plant floor hearing loss
Workforce development seminar to focus on role of technical colleges
Snap-On Industrial, Gateway Technical College, NC3 to lead discussion at Aug. 2 forum in Wisconsin
Nissan to expand operations in Mississippi
Sentra production in Canton to add 1,000 jobs
Summer program introduces high school students to GIS systems
BAE Systems, Northern Virginia Community College partner on new program
U.S. creates competition for manufacturing grants
The Advanced Manufacturing Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge is a $26 million competition designed to support projects that aim to help grow a region's industry.
Wall named new NIMS executive director
Longtime administrator, educator to focus on workforce development
Community college best practice program to develop workforce
Donation of Iowa Western Community College launched the Siemens PLM Software best practice technology program.
IT security education needed
Nearly 50% of security issues occur because of employee negligence in the workplace, and incidents occur at least once a week, a new report said.
Sweatman: Let manufacturers adapt without policy changes
Roy Sweatman, President of Southern Manufacturing Technologies in Tampa, FL and a member and former Chairman of the National Tooling and Machining Association (NTMA), joins 24 other U.S. manufacturing leaders as new members of the Manufacturing Council.
National Guard job bank draws support from NTMA, PMA
Associations and organizations hope to close the gap between the more than 60,000 unemployed guardsmen and the shortage of skilled workers.
‘Taking Action’ manufacturing plan announced
Business Roundtable proposal focuses on lowering taxes, easing regulation burden.
Atkins named NTMA Chairman of the Board
Roger Atkins, a Vice President of Sales and Marketing of MIC Group, has been named the Chairman of the Board for 2012 by NTMA.
AMT merges with AMTDA, rebrands organization
Combined organization creates “a cohesive, powerful force,” said AMT’s Woods
Minnesota manufacturers confident, but concerned about worker shortage
Manufacturers in Minnesota remain confident in their firms' future going forward, but they remain mixed about an overall economic expansion and are worried about available qualified workers and health care.
CNN Money report: Worker shortage is slowing manufacturing growth
Article talks to machine shop owners: "I can't find the skill set I need. I would hire tomorrow if I could."
Metalforming industry shows growth for near term
Industry sees a "positive outlook" despite concerns about Washington.
SME endows Walker Foundation Scholarship fund to $2 million
In honoring past Education Foundation chairman Earl E. Walker, association creates $100,000 a year scholarships
In Depth: McGladrey study finds resolve, optimism among manufacturers
In spite of the economy, McGladrey's study reports manufacturers are confident that their industry will grow, but that they are still having trouble finding skilled workers
Molnar: “We need an innovation policy”
New NIST Chief Manufacturing Officer speaks at imX event on ways to grow manufacturing
Mori Seiki breaks ground on first North American manufacturing plant
Location, exchange rate factors in machine tool company’s decision to build in CA.
President Obama announces expansion of Skills for America’s Future initative
President Obama plans to expand Skills for America's Future program, which puts an emphasis on developing workers for the manufacturing industry as well as helping companies struggling during hard economic times.
AME reshoring initiatives help companies avoid global supply chain risk
Supply chain issues lead cause for promotion of reshoring part of a ‘rebirth of manufacturing jobs’
Innovation, education key themes at 2011 Summit
The overriding theme of the 2011 Manufacturing/Automation Summit was to help manufacturing professionals operate more efficiently and collaboratively.
MESA Global Education Program awards first certificates
MESA International has successfully completed the first events in the newly launched MESA Global Education Program
Milestone celebrated by improving productivity, quality, delivery
WIKA Instrument Corporation recently celebrated its 300th Kaizen event which took on the task of improving productivity, quality and delivery, as well as updating standard work and developing data for routing purposes for the 1830 production cell
Woods: It’s time to invest in manufacturing
Woods will be addressing the challenges of manufacturing as the keynote speaker at the 2011 Manufacturing/Automation Summit this month in Chicago. In advance of that event, Woods shared his thoughts on the state of manufacturing and how to keep things moving forward.
ATS survey underscores critical need for skilled workers at U.S. factories as baby boomers retire
Manufacturing executives estimate retiring workers will cost their companies an average of $43 million each year over the next five years and that training budgets aren’t sufficient.
IMTS 2010: SME acquires Tooling U to expand training outreach
Association president says new training arm will "enable us to offer comprehensive learning and work force development solutions to help companies combat this increasing talent shortage."
SME names five new Fellows to honor manufacturing contributions
This year’s class includes Jian Cao, PhD, Northwestern University; Narendra B. Dahotre, PhD, University of North Texas; Herbert Dobbs, PhD, Torvec Board of Directors; I.S. Jawahir, PhD, University of Kentucky; and Günter Warnecke, Dr.-Ing., Technische Universität Kaiserslautern.
SME Education Foundation encouraging STEM education, career development
The SME Education Foundation, a catalyst for innovative education, and in lock-step with young minds, is providing enumerable resources for young people, their parents and educators.
Tweeting your way to closing the skills gap on your plant floor
An aging domestic workforce creates a knowledge deficit, as does the fact that - even though emerging markets are graduating people in science and engineering and related disciplines - these people often lack practical experience.
GE will have Arc Vault system ready for summer delivery
GE will deliver the first Arc Vault system in the fourth quarter of 2010, earlier than originally planned, because of what the company said was “the overwhelming feedback received from customers and the expected demand.”
‘Progressive growth’ for material handling
The biannual NA Show in Cleveland will show off the latest in innovations in material handling systems and products. As manufacturing comes out of the recession, it’s also the time to show off a little confidence. John Nofsinger, CEO of the Material Handling Industry of America, talks about how his organization and his industry sector are preparing for this year’s event and the reco...
Is Your Boiler the Best It Can Be?
Few energy devices are as universally used in industrial plants as are boilers. Because they are seen as a mature technology, boilers often don’t receive the regular attention given other industrial equipment. Yet because it is the largest single energy consuming device in the plant, the industrial boiler should be at the center of interest in most energy efficiency improvement plans.
2010 SUMMIT: Improve asset management with smarter information tools
IBM's Mary Bunzel explained how today's software tools help solve asset management and information integration challenges.
GE launches Arc Vault system this summer
New technology will stop arc fault in 8 milliseconds
Effective task planning can optimize your outage
Outages can only be successful when the outage work is planned effectively before the work is scheduled and/or started.
IBM’s Bryan: Time to link the ‘islands’ of plant floor information
Summit keynote speaker discusses ways to use data to drive smarter decisions
Preventing steam trap failures
Failed traps waste fuel, reduce efficiency, increase production costs and compromise the overall integrity of the steam and condensate systems. Traps should be tested regularly, or the neglect may be quite costly.
February ISM report: Manufacturing keeps growing, recovering
Economic activity in the manufacturing sector expanded in February for the seventh consecutive month, and the overall economy grew for the 10th consecutive month, say the nation's supply executives in the latest Manufacturing ISM Report on Business."While new orders and production were not as strong as they were in January, they still show significant month-over-month growth," said Norbert J. Ore, chairman of the Institute for Supply Management Manufacturing Business Survey Committee. "Additionally, the Employment Index is very encouraging, as it is up 2.8 percentage points for the month to 56.1%.
Predict to prevent
We all know the negative effects of economic downturns, but one healthy outcome is a renewed effort to test conventional wisdom and assess value. We see a new normal, which is that leaner companies are forced to make better use of limited resources. Our customers across all industries, at varying levels within supply chains, are seeking significant cost savings from maintenance activities.
Develop a system of systems
Understanding how assets work together to help manufacturers create more business value requires the performance of these assets to be analyzed.
Data collection is key to effective lift truck fleet management
To ensure uptime and profitability, efficient data collection and management is key. Here are some tips to use lift truck data to implement best practices for greater productivity and uptime.
Effective data collection drives lift truck fleet management
Unexpected lift truck downtime or reduced productivity can be a direct result of poorly managed operating and maintenance data; failing to collect and analyze that data has the potential to impact a company’s bottom line. To ensure uptime and profitability, efficient data collection and management is key.
Tax, policy issues highlight Obama’s seven-point plan to boost manufacturing
The Obama administration’s new framework for improving manufacturing was released in December. It outlines both the traditional issues facing manufacturing, but also points to new initiatives that the education and business sector must undertake to change the direction of U.S. manufacturing. “Many sectors of American manufacturing have the potential to enjoy significant growth and s...
“A framework for revitalizing American manufacturing”
Obama Administration report points to opportunities, challenges in changing manufacturing landscape
2009 Top Plant: Siemens Industry Inc., Norwood, OH
Keith Lang has a clear view of everything that goes on today from his command center at Siemens Industry Inc.’s Norwood, OH plant. He also has a clear view of the plant’s history. As operations manager, Lang can monitor production and systems from his office. It’s the same office where, more than a century ago, George Bullock managed what was then the Bullock Electric Manufact...
The new year is a good time to begin anew
Technically speaking, 2010 is the end of the first decade of the 21st Century, and not the beginning of the second decade. I don’t know of very many people who aren’t willing to ignore convention and just start all over in 2010. However you view it, the past decade was a rough 10 years for our nation, our business community and for manufacturing.
As we emerge from an almost unprecedented recession, we need a blueprint for how to move forward. A great example of what manufacturing can and should look like going forward is reflected in the 2009 Top Plant recipient: Siemens Industry Inc.’s Norwood, OH facility represents both the storied past of manufacturing as well as its future.
The automation controller works with companion components to provide I/O, control and annunciation for industrial applications.
Reader Feedback – 2009-11-01
New kind of skilled workers needed to fill manufacturing gap The dominant mood among those in political power is one of continued crisis. Every day brings a new and greater challenge that only the wise heads of government can hope to solve. The manufacturing sector has not been immune to this approach as every utterance from the Obama White House paints a grim future for manufacturing in the U.
ISM report states: Manufacturing is in a ‘sustainable recovery mode’
Economic activity in the manufacturing sector expanded in October for the third consecutive month, and the overall economy grew for the sixth consecutive month, say the nation’s supply executives in the latest Manufacturing ISM Report On Business. The report was issued Nov. 1 by Norbert J. Ore, chair of the Institute for Supply Management Manufacturing Business Survey Committee.
Bentley honors infrastructure excellence with Be Inspired awards
Global engineers, planners honored at event
CMMS: 7 Steps to success
The statistics are startling. Up to 80% of Computerized Maintenance Management System implementations have failed in the past. When considering the costs associated with a CMMS project, an 80% failure rate is a tough number for any company to overcome. But, with simple steps for a well thought-out implementation plan, anyone can harness the full potential that a CMMS can bring to an organization.
Unions take proactive approach to training
Located on the northern edge of Des Moines, Saydel High School is a small but progressive school with big goals. Working with a local labor union, it has implemented a program that prepares students to enter high-demand careers shortly after graduation. Ten students from Saydel High School’s construction shop class have entered a pilot program that allows them direct entry into United Ass...
Iowa unions, schools taking a proactive approach to training
Ten students from Saydel High School's construction shop class have entered a pilot program that will allow them direct entry into United Association Plumbers and Steamfitters Local Union 33 once they graduate.
Automated Guided Vehicles offer value: MHIA study
Report shows Gen Y more intuitive, will manage material handling systems better
‘Grounds for optimism’ in NAM’s Labor Day report
Organization cautions against anti-growth legislation, sees 'signs of returning growth'
Standardize automation components for strategic asset management
To save time and money, some companies are now standardizing machinery and automation system components as much as possible, and outsourcing production of configured components to qualified suppliers.
Focus floor treatment choices on safety, maintenance issues
Untreated bare concrete flooring requires frequent, often daily, maintenance to protect it and keep it clean looking. That's why most concrete floors are not left untreated. Finished concrete can be highly attractive, long-wearing, and easy to maintain. Options include unpigmented wax, colored wax, epoxy, and wet or dry polishing systems.
Hyster marks 80th anniversary in 2009
Hyster Company is marking its 80th year as a lift truck manufacturer. Hyster Company was born when Willamette Iron & Steel, originally a lumber carrier manufacturer, merged with two other companies in 1929 to form a new company named Williamette Ersted. The name was eventually changed to Hyster Company, a reference to laborers shouting "Hoist 'er!" when a load was ready to be lifted.Since introducing a smaller lift truck in 1941 and moving into the container handling market in 1959, Hyster Company now offers 130 models of lift trucks configured for gasoline, LPG, diesel or electric power, with a capacity range between 2,000 pounds and 115,000 pounds.This year, Hyster introduced the E45-70XN, an electric ac product that combines energy efficiency and productivity capabilities."Since 1929, Hyster Company has aimed to provide the best products and support to meet the material handling needs of our customers," said Hyster president Paul Laroia.
Intelligent data the key to manage fleet costs
Wireless real-time data acquisition enables managers to track maintenance and associated costs on lift truck fleets,
Give safety a lift
A commitment to training and OSHA regulations will ensure not just worker safety, but increase productivity
Employers must do more on workforce development: study
"The Ill-Prepared U.S. Workforce" report highlights gaps in employer training
Choose active solutions for power management
Using active load management allows users to cut energy costs by reducing the number or types of loads connected to the source of power or by shifting the energy consumption to a lower cost time period.
Choosing active solutions for power management
Reduced energy costs are accomplished in a variety of ways. One solution is supply side management, which reduces costs through utility rate structure optimization, load aggregation, penalty avoidance and bill verification. These methods do not reduce energy consumption but, instead, ensure that energy is consumed using the provider’s lowest cost of energy.
Survey: Manufacturing likely to lag while economy improves
Nearly 60 percent of manufacturing executives believe the economy will improve over the next six months, though they are slightly less optimistic about the prospects for the manufacturing sector. Those were among the key findings of a recent survey conducted KRC Research on behalf of the Baker Tilly accounting firm.
Removable data storage reaches the plant floor
High-volume data storage capabilities have become an ever-increasing need for plant engineers and automation professionals. These and other individuals working in the industrial sector are constantly looking for ways to improve their control system architectures, make their industrial networks perform better and lower the cost of ownership of the same.
Beyond alarm management: Improving operator effectiveness
While effective alarm documentation and rationalization (D&R) is vital to efficient plant operation, too often operators struggle to return the plant to stable operation after an abnormal situation because they don’t understand what conditions generated the alarms in the first place. The master alarm database contains the valuable information operators need to determine the causes and...
"Back in the enforcement business"
New Labor secretary tells ASSE meeting she wants to "return respect to OSHA"
UL launches power quality assessment program
Data, test labs can be tested through new service
Better maintenance procedures, better tools help improve bearing health
Managing the life cycle of rolling bearings with expert maintenance procedures and tools designed specifically for the job can help to increase plant equipment uptime, cut energy costs and reduce component replacement expenses.
Oil’s well that starts well
In today’s increasingly competitive environment, maximizing productivity is a must, especially for small and medium-sized machine shops. Typically, these businesses cannot match the overall production capabilities – in terms of volume – of their larger rivals. Furthermore, larger competitors often have more equipment, more people and more resources than small or medium sized b...
Lean maintenance offers savings, eliminates non-value activities
When the word “Lean” is mentioned, what thoughts are typically brought to mind? Is it to be able to do more with less? Downsizing? Cost reductions? If so, then the true meaning of “Lean” is missed. If an organization is considered to be Lean, it operates with minimum of waste.
Manufacturing Summit looks to the future
Attendees were informed, charmed in Charleston at Plant Engineering event
Managing collaborative production
The "next generation of MES" brings greater agility, transparency to the process
There’s not a lot of good news out there
Unemployment hits 25-year high of 8.1%; productivity declines
Fixing the global economic crisis
It’s the question of the hour: how will automation fare in today’s economic meltdown? Like the old saying goes, we have good news, and we have bad news; which do you want to hear first?
Bill Polk: Tremendous opportunity ahead in automation software
In my last column I cited reasons why U.S. manufacturers should be looking to our own shores when analyzing their value chain networks. Some of them included currency fluctuations, fuel volatility, and supply chain risk associated with manufacturing in remote, low-cost labor countries. As companies realign their manufacturing strategies in response to the catalyst of plummeting global demand, o...
The Skills gap: Solutions
Deloitte/NAM study points to the need to get aggressive on developing manufacturing workforce
Plug the Skills Gap at a grass-roots level
There were 793,000 people in manufacturing who lost jobs in 2008. Here's a story about one person who got a job in manufacturing in 2009. Julie Nechchat is a student at Valencia Community College in Florida. She went from not knowing what she wanted to do after high school to the military, which is not an unusual career path.
Dealing with uncertainty in DMM calibration
Whenever we take a measurement with any meter, we're gambling that the instrument will give us the “real” reading. Fortunately, it's a very safe bet that a quality multimeter will deliver readings that coincide with reality. Specifications quantify the confidence of getting accurate readings and the risk of seeing inaccurate readings.
Getting students informed, excited about careers in manufacturing
There are two sides to the Skills Gap issue, as this month’s cover story points out. One is understanding why more young people aren’t gravitating toward careers in manufacturing. The other looks at programs designed to create a little gravity toward such a career. A study by the American Society for Quality noted that kids aren’t aware enough about modern manufacturing to mak...
Organic knowledge: Social networking technology just may solve impending worker shortage
Benjamin Friedman, a research manager for product life-cycle strategies with Framingham, Mass.-based IDC Manufacturing Insights, thinks manufacturers can use social networking and other Web 2.0 technologies to close the knowledge gap that already is forming as workers in the baby-boom generation begin retiring.
Talent pool: IBM launches workforce management offering
IBM says a new workforce management offering combines human resources software, consulting services, and IT integration.The IBM Workforce and Talent Suite includes workforce analytics, e-recruitment, performance management, workforce deployment and scheduling, an employee portal, collaboration, and social networking. It also provides consulting services including change management, process redesign, technology integration, program management, and business performance measurement.The talent management software comes from Saba and SuccessFactors to enable organizations to access key employee data and manage workforces as a globally integrated talent pool.Says Larry Bowden, VP of IBM's portals and mashups division, "The latest advances in collaborative human capital software such as Lotus Connections, WebSphere Portal, and Cognos 8 Workforce Performance can deliver a talent management system that companies could only imagine a few short years ago.".
Indian manufacturing offers challenges and opportunities
An interview with Dr. Andreas Gruchow of Deutsche Messe
Employee Free Choice Act ‘anti-business, anti-employee’
Early in 2009, the House and Senate will be asked to vote on one of the most anti-business and anti-employee proposals to come before our Congress in many years. This misnamed proposal, the “Employee Free Choice Act” is commonly called “Card Check.” This proposed legislation would end a workers right to a private ballot election by replacing current law, in place for ove...
A perfect storm hits the skilled workforce
A number of factors, not the least of which is the aging workforce, are converging to create the skilled labor crisis. Manufacturers can help ebb the flow by investing in their talent, but will they?
Electronic auditing for 21-CFR-Part-11
This software module manages electronic records and signatures in compliance with Food and Drug Administration regulations.
Ariba teams with Kelly Services for temporary labor procurement
With the prices of core commodities largely out of their control, companies are on the hunt for opportunities to drive savings in other areas to maintain their cost structures and competitive advantage. And one category in which they are finding them is temporary labor.To help companies quickly convert these opportunities to hard-dollar savings, spend management solutions supplier Ariba reports the launch of a new, network-based offering that will enable companies of all sizes to quickly and easily procure temporary talent across categories leveraging a pre-enabled catalog sponsored by Kelly Services , a world leader in human resources solutions."A highly challenging economic environment with increasingly volatile labor markets demands that hiring managers look to temporary labor as a means to stay competitive and flexible,” says Andrew Bartolini, VP of global supply chain management for Boston-based Aberdeen Group. “Companies with the right tools and processes in place to optimize the management of their temporary labor spend will be best positioned to drive productivity and impact the bottom line.”Delivered as part of Ariba Services Procurement via the Ariba Network, the pre-enabled, temporary labor channel offers flexible and granular visibility into spend, as well as fast access to services across a wide range of temporary labor sub-categories: accounting/finance, contact center, creative services, education, electronic assembly, engineering, health care, IT, legal, light industrial, marketing, office, professional, and scientific.“Good people are hard to find, but through the power of the Ariba Network, companies can quickly access the talent they need to support their business globally and deliver results,” says Rick Collison, an Ariba director for procurement and content.
End of Boeing strike puts machinists back on the job
Eight-week strike had crippled aircraft-maker and halted Dreamliner production
Programmable controllers: How it all began
This is the 40th anniversary of the beginning of the programmable logic controller (PLC). It started in 1968 and is a real-time device that acts as the modem to your process. It is not part of the computer. My work from 1954 to 1964 was working in specialized projects such as aircraft and memory for computers.
Growing your own workforce
The demand for qualified people is estimated to be twice the supply over the next 20 years. In the state of South Carolina, the Chamber of Commerce projects that between 2010 and 2030, total employment demand in the state, based on U.S. projections, will increase by approximately 16.3%, while the traditional labor pool available to fill these jobs will grow only by approximately 7.
Hurricane strength: 3PLs use software to smooth out supply chain disruptions
Two supply chain execution specialists in particular—Ryder, and Fidelitone Logistics—rely on logistics and transportation management software—and resulting visibility—for fleet control and cost containment. Customers are reaping the benefits.
Undo the Catch-22: Why manufacturers need marketing automation
Getting budget approved for marketing automation is tough because executives normally don't want to invest more in a department they perceive to be a cost center. But as tradeshows and mass advertising lose their effectiveness, marketers must put dollars into technology that will drive more results. The trick is to fund the project out of the existing marketing budget—bypassing a lengthy approval process—to demonstrate results that justify continued investment.
The candidates and manufacturing
Editor’s Note: The 2008 presidential election is Tuesday, Nov. 4. In order to help manufacturing leaders understand the positions of the two presidential candidates on issues that affect plant and manufacturing operations, Plant Engineering has taken their position papers and made them available to our readers.
Skills saavy: FLEX timesheets set up real-time data exchange
SoftSolutions says its FLEX workforce management software is gaining traction in the manufacturing sector based on innovative metrics and decision-support tools to best leverage skilled labor markets.
Sparking new careers for welders
Unions help Native Americans fill welding shortage.
Skilled worker shortage cited again as biggest manufacturing issue
FABTECH poll finds manufacturing execs rate worker shortage as bigger issue than oil prices, economy
Eco-excellence: New international consortium targets environmental impact of materials
Granta Design announces a new collaborative project called the Environmental Materials Information Technology (EMIT) Consortium, coordinated by the U.K.’s National Physical Laboratory (NPL). The effort will target materials and process decisions that control the environmental impact of engineered products and develop information resources and software to aid members’ response to environmental regulations and to enable design for minimum environmental impact—including low carbon footprint, energy efficiency, reduced wastes and emissions, and avoidance of restricted substances.The three-year project began July 1 with founder members Emerson Electric , Eurocopter , NASA , and Rolls-Royce . It is expected to grow to between 10 and 15 member organizations.
Advanced Technology Services: Plant technicians move from memory reliance to knowledge database advantage
Many companies periodically contemplate creating a database to capture the so-called “tribal knowledge” of employees. That way, they reason, there would be a database containing details about processes, procedures, and previous experience for all employees to actively share instead of relying on the memory of more-experienced employees.
Chicago-manufacturing activity rises for the first time in five months
The Institute for Supply Management-Chicago reported that Chicago-area manufacturing activity rose slightly into positive territory in July after five months of contraction.
Pulse Survey: Globalization leads to worldwide services supply chain; the challenge lies in effective management
Outsourcing often is viewed as a one-dimensional, point-to-point solution, typically between a U.S. or Western European organization and a company in India. In reality, today’s global sourcing model is akin to an intricate manufacturing supply chain.
Energy audits get manufacturer WIRED
If you think you have high heating and electrical bills, consider this: Haynes International Inc. spends $9.5 million in natural gas and $5 million in electricity annually at its Kokomo, IN plant. The company is a leading developer, manufacturer and marketer of technologically advanced performance alloys, primarily for the aerospace and chemical processing industries.
A systematic approach to power chain management
Energy-intensive industries such petroleum-chemical, water/wastewater, pulp and paper and data centers understand that electricity has become a very significant business expense. They also realize that quality power has become even more critical to the day-to-day conduct of their business, and that effective management of the power chain is essential to accomplishing their sustainability goals.
Turning maintenance into a profit center with CMMS
The word “maintenance” is typically associated with negative connotations. Whether the word makes one think of a broken machine or a repair need, it is clearly linked with negativity and pessimism. On the contrary, maintenance is defined as “the work of keeping something in proper condition; upkeep.
Center for Manufacturing Excellence to be built on Ole Miss campus
New $22 million joint venture with state, Toyota to teach management skills to manufacturing plant managers.
Education will be the way out of U.S. manufacturing’s decline
Author's new book chronicles rise and decline of Midwest manufacturing
The whens, whys and hows of contract maintenance
The popularity of outsourcing in industrial markets continues to grow as competitive pressures and demand to do more with less have driven many companies to innovation to reduce costs.
Bentley shifts its color – and its focus – to green
One of the first thing to notice when arriving at Bentley’s annual BE Conference in Baltimore May 27 what that Bentley’s predominant blue color scheme had changed to a lighter green.
U.S. automakers close productivity gap
in 2007, Chrysler LLC and Toyota Motor Corp. were tied for the top spot in plant productivity in North America, according to a closely watched scorecard on auto manufacturing.
Outsourcing Central: IQMS enterprise module schedules SC movement; monitors work status
The practice of outsourcing certain aspects of production is proving vital in certain industries. In fact, data out of Boston-based AMR Research suggests a confluence of economic, technology, and political factors that, when combined, will drive growth of logistics and greater supply chain outsourcing.
Robotics, energy costs rise as Europe tackles plant issues head on
The robots can juggle. They can play goalie. They can float through the air and propel themselves through water. They can perform dozens of dazzling maneuvers in a clean room after only being told once what to do.
Expert access: Merger unites two organizations devoted to product development
The Product Development and Management Association (PDMA), a resource for the profession of product development and innovation, has merged with the International Association for Product Development (IAPD), granting corporate members access to a significantly expanded network of thousands of experts.
New white paper: Industry Directions on avoiding quality management crisis
When labor costs are low, some companies assume they can just throw people at this problem. As companies in emerging economies grow rapidly, their costs, complexity, competition and rate of change also rise. Adding even skilled employees cannot fix the quality threat, and may even exacerbate it.
Avnet, others address need for greater transparency in outsourced manufacturing operations
Outsourced manufacturing paired with extended value chains in fast-moving markets is a recipe for complex management challenges. Add lean to the value chain mix and more complexity will surface: inventory optimization at every step, to balance lean with replenishment order planning (ROP) and ensure coordinated responsiveness to the OEM.
Hazardous location light fixture
Induction light fixture is now available in a 165-W version, expanding the current product line’s 55- and 85-W lamping options.
Who’ll keep the lights on?
As utility company executives make plans to meet the growing electricity needs of the Southeast, they're also watching their most experienced personnel approach retirement age. Finding enough skilled personnel to operate complex power-generation facilities poses one of the most critical challenges facing the industry today.
Taking the weight off ergonomic, productivity issues
Elkhart County in north-central Indiana is a part of heartland America where horse-drawn Amish buggies share the road with not only automobiles, but also with an astounding number of recreational vehicles. Called “The RV Capital of the World,” Elkhart County has 107 manufacturers producing half the recreational vehicles sold in America.
IQS quality solution remakes automotive supply chain in U.S., then China
Bloomfield Hills, Mich.-based Cequent Group, which makes automotive towing systems, trailer parts, and associated brake and electrical components, recently rolled out an enterprise quality management system from IQS to its Chinese supplier base. Embedded in Cequent's U.S. manufacturing operations since 2002, the intention was to duplicate the system's success in establishing both a formal quali...
IDC issues top 10 predictions for manufacturing 2008
Large manufacturers will move more assertively in 2008 toward constructing globally integrated business models, according to IDC Manufacturing Insights, the Framingham, Mass.-based market analysis firm. This trend tops IDC's annual top 10 predictions for how manufacturers will invest their IT budgets.
FPC advisory: Manufacturers need to plan now for 76 million boomer retirements
New York-based FPC (F-O-R-T-U-N-E Personnel Consultants) says manufacturers are ill prepared for the the massive baby boomer retirement wave expected in the next five years. "The mass retirement wouldn't be so bad if there were enough people coming into the workforce," says Ron Herzog, CEO and president, FPC.
Face up to the challenges, get involved in the solutions
What’s the matter with U.S. manufacturing? There’s a perception that U.S. manufacturers are fleeing to set up shop in countries where labor is cheaper, and this perception has created extensive debate throughout American industry. However, this perception is far from the reality that plagues our industries today.
Database on mature workforce issues established
The Conference Board has launched its new Employer-Practices Locator, a Web database that enables employers, reporters, and researchers to locate examples of specific actions companies have taken to address the challenges presented by the mature workforce. The Locator is part of a multifaceted program by The Conference Board on issues surrounding the aging workforce.
The many roads to real sustainability
A number of factors are moving energy and climate change from the sidelines to center stage in the business world. Everyone remembers how Hurricane Katrina disrupted oil refining on the Gulf Coast, the California energy crisis, and the Northeast power outage. In response to natural disasters, geopolitical turmoil, changes in regulation, surging energy demand from emerging economies and changing...
Global manufacturing salaries on the rise; job market tightens
The world is catching up. It’s not just in manufacturing output, either. The world’s manufacturing salaries are also on the rise. There is no question the complicated, evolving global manufacturing economy has changed the game for American factories. The typical complaint is that wages for manufacturing in emerging economies such as China and India create an unfair advantage.
OSHA notice of proposed rulemaking for new respirator test protocol
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration last week published a notice of proposed Rulemaking in the Federal Register for a new fit-testing protocol under Appendix A of OSHA's Respiratory Protection standard.
GM and DOE look to engineering students for answers
Engineering students around the country will be able to apply their education to a real-world challenge. The EcoCAR challenge, a contest sponsored by General Motors and the Dept. of Energy, will offer students the opportunity to design a car that gets maximum fuel economy and minimal emissions.
Government attempts to shorten trade gap with China
U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson recently attempted to achieve a breakthrough on the unbalanced exchange rate between the United States and China. U.S. manufacturers claim that the exchange rate gives Chinese products an unfair edge in world markets.
SME releases revised guide on composites manufacturing
The second edition of Fundamentals of Composites Manufacturing: Materials, Methods, and Applications focuses on materials and composites manufacturing methods.
Global concerns: Privately held manufacturers fret over rising energy, materials costs
Rising raw materials and energy prices have become major concerns for privately held manufacturing companies, according to a recent survey from Grant Thornton International. Globally, 61 percent of surveyed businesses reported being most concerned about raw materials costs, while 45 percent listed energy costs as their greatest concern.
Integrating EAM Transcription
Full notes on reducing risk and enhancing performance in manufacturing setting through a integrated enterprise asset management system.
Mechatronics: Rethinking the machine means rethinking engineering
Plant engineers are always on the front lines in a two-front war between technology change and legacy equipment. With every equipment purchase they consider, they know they’re buying their next legacy system. So when suppliers start talking about how mechatronics could transform factory automation, plant engineers have every reason to be skeptical.
Focusing on the ‘human side of engineering’ pays big dividends
I’ve seen it time and again. So have you. Two employees – call them Paul and John – are engaged in a heated argument. Eventually their hostility is abated, but with no resolution reached. Tightlipped, they go their separate ways. John shakes his head and stalks off. Paul makes no effort to hide his anger.
Cut-off wheels feature a reinforced resinoid bonding system of aluminum oxide abrasives and a thin profile for rapid stock removal and cool cutting.
Ford is likely to follow Chrysler’s retreat
Ford will likely trim 2008 budgets and spending by up to 15% in some departments.
EVR clean air solvent is designed to remove grease, oil and dirt from metal parts and equipment. The solvent has no ozone-depleting compounds and is low in volatile organic compound content. It comes in a 14-ounce aerosol can, a 1-gallon can, a 5-gallon pail or a 55-gallon drum and complies with Ozone Transport Commission rules on VOCs, among other rules.
Rubber hydraulic hose
Twin Tough bonded rubber hydraulic hoses are designed to eliminate the labor required to bundle two separate hoses with tie straps or plastic sleeves. The line is available in four variations, each in 25 and 50-foot lengths and each featuring a one-half SAE 100R1/100R2 minimum bend radius. The 451TC variety offers a 3,000-psi constant working pressure in 3/8-inch and 1/2-inch sizes, with a one-...
Real-time collaborative manufacturing model emerges
Spurred by the growth of e-commerce, a new manufacturing model has emerged in response to customers’ needs for build-to-order products. The impact on shop-floor systems is compounded by the increasing need to outsource components or entire assemblies to external suppliers. To service their customers shop operations managers still need visibility and control of delivery, quality and config...
At 60th anniversary celebration, study takes a look at the future
The history of PLANT ENGINEERING magazine was evident at a gala celebration Sept. 26 at National Manufacturing Week. The magazine marked its 60th anniversary at a cocktail event at the show in Rosemont. But the party also served to provide the first public presentation of the magazine’s study, “The Changing Role of the Plant Engineer.
Chem Show hits New York October 30
Occupying the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York Oct. 30-Nov. 1, Chem Show 2007 features the nanotechnology and nano-bio convergence symposium and workshop, a gathering to discuss the continuing emergence and application of this cutting-edge technology. Some of the top nanoscientists and business leaders in the world will be on hand to discuss the ramifications of nanotechnology and ...
Open your eyes to the aging workforce
By 2014, the number of people aged 55 and older is expected to increase by 49% while the number of younger workers will grow by only 2.9%, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. This older population will represent 21% of the civilian labor force, up from 15% in 2004. While companies need to figure out how to attract a new generation of manufacturing employees prepared for 21st century jobs, busi...
Dallas community colleges building workforce development center
Garland, TX facility to serve growing regional manufacturing needs
Factory orders take a tumble in August; drop 3.3%
Steep drop worse than expected as auto, appliance orders fall; jobs show some rebound
OSHA guidance on selection and use of slings for handling materials
A new document has been issued to supplement and bring up to speed a 30-year-old industry standard.
GM settlement means “no more excuses”
Automaker closes cost gap, but is challenged to take advantage of the new opportunity
New findings contradict perception of parallel fan efficiency
Various factors contribute to differing levels of configuration performance.
Manufacturing’s future: Punctuating the discussion
I'll be moderating a discussion at National Manufacturing Week in suburban Chicago on Sept. 26. We'll talk about “The Future of Manufacturing.” It's a pretty weighty topic, but drinks will be served, so I think we'll get through it just fine. Any discussion about the future of manufacturing depends how you punctuate that phrase, and how that phrase gets punctuated depends on who you...
Achieving a ‘high-octane’ warehouse operation
Aberdeen report focuses on improving business processes
FKI Logistex starts graduate engineer training program
The program is designed for recent engineering grads and introduces them to a variety of material handling disciplines.
Annual Labor Day report indicates workers making solid gains
NAM report shows manufacturing workers gaining from year-to-year, and better than average members of the workforce.
CECO presentation studies ways to cut energy costs
A new downloadable presentation from CECO Energy Management details the cost impact of wasted energy in industrial buildings and processes, and explains how to reduce the energy component of manufacturing costs. Posted on the homepage cecoenviro.com, the presentation explains how seven-figure savings are attainable and justified in some cases.
The power of persistence realized in a lifelong dream completed
It was 1937. Headlines told of hard times and breadlines. I had just graduated Evander Childs High School in the Bronx. My plan was to work days to help my family weather the recession while attending City College of New York (CCNY) evenings. Jobs were hard to come by. I trod Manhattan’s streets day after day without so much as a bite.
Hackett: Typical Fortune 500 companies net nearly $400M annually via strategic workforce planning, talent management
Hackett’s research demonstrates the bottom-line impact of more effectively managing human assets, and provides strong evidence to executives, investors, and HR leadership of the value of developing intangible assets such as a company’s workforce.
Chem Show 2007 to spend Halloween at Javits in New York
New this year, the Outsourcing Services & Contract Manufacturing Pavilion will feature companies that provide services ranging from research and testing to manpower, logistical support and project management.
Reader Feedback – 2007-07-15
Beware of costly consulting contracts Back in the days when outsourcing in general was an alien concept, the novelty that anyone actually had a business for outsourced production maintenance was enough to differentiate anyone in the business. Indeed, times have changed. In fact the concept of outsourced factory maintenance is catching on quickly.
Collaboration creates new advantages for manufacturing
Manufacturing companies have increased their productivity and efficiency over time by implementing new strategies, business processes and IT solutions. Strategies range from total quality management to lean manufacturing and Six Sigma to customer-centricity. Improved business processes and supporting software solutions brought more accuracy, visibility, consistency and efficiency to manufacturi...
Beyond the ‘break-fix’ mentality is a smarter, safer workplace
Hesh Kagan, the 'Wizard of Wireless,’ was in our offices last month chatting about some new initiatives on sensors. The talk turned to low-cost sensors that would bring the cost of predictive maintenance down to the level where it was cheaper to measure equipment than to simply wait for it to break.
Changing workforce requires changes in asset management
A customer with a strong maintenance department lost 90% of its experienced people in the last two years. They were now struggling to re-learn everything this team had already learned over the last 10 years. A reliability and maintenance consulting services company based in the United States told us that 80% of their clients indicate an attrition rate among their maintenance craft personnel of ...
Victaulic Podcast covers workforce development
CompressedSchedule.com, an industry portal sponsored by Victaulic Company, has launched a Podcast series featuring industry experts who will address maintenance topics. The current edition of the newly enhanced site addresses the skilled labor shortage that the industry is facing. Registrants to CompressedSchedule.
UL’s Williams added to NFPA board
President and CEO of UL also spent time with Medtronic, GE.
OSHA settles challenges to hexavalent chromium standard
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently reached an agreement with the National Association of Manufacturers, the Specialty Steel Industry of North America and several other organizations, settling the groups’ challenges of OSHA’s Final Rule on hexavalent chromium exposure.
Tips for optimizing lift truck fleets
Lift truck fleet owners may be surprised to learn that the actual purchase price of a lift truck is typically only 20 percent of the overall cost of ownership. Operator salaries and maintenance account for the remaining 80 percent of those costs. However, many opportunities are available to reduce overall ownership costs simply by optimizing the lift truck fleet. Work with a solutions-focused dealer A solutions-focused dealer can provide the plant many ways to reduce lift truck fleet ownership costs.
Five considerations for choosing an arc flash hazard analysis
One of the critical steps to comply with NFPA 70E 2004 is commissioning a flash hazard analysis for your facility. This requirement affects almost all existing facilities that have electrical distribution systems that operate at 50 V or greater, which at some time may require maintenance or even a lockout/tagout procedure while the equipment is energized.
Steel, labor lead new alliance
Top labor and business leaders from the steel industry have formed a new association to address issues facing American manufacturing and to promote manufacturing as a strong career for today and tomorrow. The Alliance for American Manufacturing is a labor-management partnership that includes the United Steelworkers union and several major steel companies including Mittal Steel and AK Steel.
Giving manufacturers a lift
Everyone can use a lift once in a while. In fact, that was the thought behind the development of the lift truck in the first place. What began in the late 1800s as an evolution from hoists and cranes, lift trucks have long been an essential tool for manufacturers to move their materials and products through the various processes of manufacturing.
Theromography as a maintenance tool
Using IR tools drives better, more frequent maintenance, authors report
In a tumultuous year, a call to action for plant engineers
William Rothfelder, the commercial research division manager for Inland Steel, sounded disheartened when looking at the global market for his product: “Our industry is doing all it can, including investing huge amounts of capital, to cope with the import problem,” he said. “And we are fighting a losing battle unless we get help from the government.
Blog! Five Fast Things for March 9, 2007
1. Asset performance and reliability: Oh, sure — it’s a great topic to TALK about. But how do you actually get to measuring and acting on asset performance? The latest white paper now available on PlantEngineering.com will point the way.
Updating OSHA directives
Last week, my time was spent preparing for the final stages of a process I’ve worked on for well over a year. I’ve been developing a directive, which is OSHA’s way of transmitting information to OSHA field offices across the country. Directives are written for many reasons. Some of the information is routine and is sent frequently, for example, site specific targeting informat...
Cheney spurns bill in speech to NAM
In a speech Wednesday to the National Association of Manufacturers , Vice President Dick Cheney vowed to uphold democracy in America’s workplaces by opposing‘card check’ legislation. “Our administration rejects any attempt to short-circuit the rights of workers,” Cheney said. The NAM applauded his comments and urged the House Education & Labor Committee to reject H.R. 800, the so-called “Employee Free Choice Act ,” during its scheduled markup Wednesday. “The legislation would eliminate employees' freedom to choose whether union membership is right for them and their families in private,” said Jason Straczewski, the NAM's director of human resources policy. “This legislation does nothing to promote the well-being of manufacturers' greatest asset: their employees. All it does is take away freedom of choice,” Straczewski said.
The armored M12 cordsets provide protection against abrasion, cuts, water, oil and impact, and are intended for use in automotive, stamping plants and welding environments. The cordsets meet open wiring specifications allowing their use in place of conduit, thereby reducing the extensive labor, wire-pulling, cutting, bending and moisture problems associated with conduit. The armored cordsets use PVC-jacketed cable with interlocking aluminum armor that is ITC/PLTC (instrumentation tray cable) rated.
The future-shock of 1956 is close to today’s reality
The design of the new manufacturing facility capitalized on the surge in cell phones with built-in TV receivers. The facility was designed with Lean manufacturing in mind – no on-site storage for raw materials or finished products. The production rate is set by adjusting manufacturing automatically to meet consumer demand.
Pennsylvania manufacturer taps into regional resources
J.A. Reinhardt & Co., Inc. is an engineering and manufacturing company located in the heart of the Pocono Mountains in Mountainhome, PA. It designs, engineers and manufactures highly sophisticated thermal and mechanical products, such as heat exchangers, avionics chassis, complex electronic housings, microwave antennas and beryllium products for the aerospace industry.
Blog! Five fast things for January 30, 2007
1. A busy opener at AHR : The opening day of the AHR Expo in Dallas was most notable for the huige crowds that made their way into the DallasConvention Center. The facility was packed on Day 1, and it speaks well for a healthy industry that benefits from growth in both the commercial and residential markets.
OSHA seeks comment on third phase of standards improvement process
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is seeking comments until Feb. 20 on phase three of its Standards Improvement Project , the third in a series of rulemaking actions intended to improve and streamline OSHA standards and lessen regulatory burdens without reducing employee protections. Through the project, OSHA is seeking to improve its standards by revising confusing, outdated, duplicated or inconsistent requirements. The revisions will help employers better understand their obligations, which will lead to increased compliance, ensure greater safety and health for employees, and reduce compliance costs and paperwork burdens. Changes being considered include revisions to eleven standards that OSHA has preliminarily identified to be addressed during the project.
Leading change from vision to reality
Turner Powertrain Systems, based in Wolverhampton in the United Kingdom, traces its history back to 1875. Over the years, it has manufactured everything from tractors to generators. Today, the Caterpillar subsidiary manufactures hydrodynamic gearboxes for 60 to 130-hp off-road applications, mainly in the building and agricultural industries.
Blog! Five Fast Things for December 1, 2006
By Bob Vavra Editor Plant Engineering
Arc flash research findings presented at PCIC
“Effect of Insulating Barriers in Arc Flash Testing” is the title of a paper that circuit protection company Ferraz Shawmut presented at the IEEE PCIC, the annual technical conference of the IEEE’s Petroleum and Chemical Industry Committee, in Philadelphia. The paper documents the company’s research findings regarding low-voltage arc flash testing using the standard IEEE...
Blog for November 28: Five Fast things:
1.Live from Orlando, it’s Power Gen: It was a busy first day on the show floor at PowerGen in the heart of the Sunshine State. Tomorrow I’ll have the first look at Plant Engineering’s exclusive Roundtable discussion on Power Quality at the show. Look (and listen) to some of the details tomorrow. 2.
OSHA settles challenge to hexavalent chromium standard
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration published a minor amendment in Monday’s Federal Register to the compliance date provision of its hexavalent chromium standard for general industry. The amendment is part of a settlement agreement with the Surface Finishing Industry Council, Public Citizen Health Research Group, and the United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union.
Safety Webcast is on Oct. 26
Safe manufacturers reduce worker’s compensation costs and improve productivity. For those who don’t, the numbers are staggering: On-the-job injuries cost American companies $512 billion each year. “Safety – Right to the Bottom Line” is the title of the Webcast on Thursday, Oct.
Energy storage system earns UL listing
Pentadyne Power Corp. has earned an Underwriters Laboratories listing for its second-generation VSS+DC flywheel-based clean energy storage systems. According to the UL Website, the UL listing granted is based on "basic standards used to investigate products in this category…ANSI/UL 508, 'Industrial Control Equipment,' UL 1004, 'Electric Motors' and UL 1248, 'Engine-Generator Assemblies for Use in Recreational Vehicles.'" Pentadyne flywheel systems supplement or replace lead-acid battery arrays used with UPS systems. Chemical battery banks require extensive, costly and lengthy permitting processes due to their corrosive materials, fire hazards, toxic fluids and explosive gas emissions. Pentadyne's flywheel power system can completely replace, or greatly extend the life of, lead-acid batteries commonly used in most UPS configurations.
Plant floor, enterprise intersect at ‘manufacturing intelligence’
Manufacturing continues to be the engine that drives economies around the world. With competition mounting from global suppliers, and an ever increasing push towards mass customization and shortened product lifecycles, there is an increased need for manufacturers to be more responsive and flexible. They must make rapid decisions using real-time information and make continuous adjustments based ...
Avoid the misguided application of the maintenance planner scheduler
If you consider all of the organizations and companies that have maintenance departments, typically only one third of them have the planner/scheduler position in place. Within that group of companies, typically only 10% of those planner/schedulers are effectively being utilized. Why is there such a gap in the effective utilization of the planner/scheduler position? The main reason is the lack o...
A business system for the shop floor
Effective automation is at the core of successful manufacturing enterprises because it provides tools to manage information and processes. Yet automation is more than making individual machines, groups of machines or even entire enterprises work effectively. That definition has now expanded to tying together all the islands of information within the enterprise – from the plant floor to th...
Manufacturers optimistic about business prospects
Small and medium-size manufacturers are more optimistic than other industry segments, with many owners and managers projecting revenue growth and continued hiring over the next 12 months, according to the recently released results of an International Profit Associates Small Business Research Board survey. The IPA SBRB Manufacturing Confidence Index was established at 45 for the first IPA SBRB manufacturing industry poll. By contrast, the aggregated IPA SBRB Small Business Confidence Index for all small and medium-size businesses participating in the survey was 39.3, which represented a drop from 47.3 for the previous poll, concluded in May 2006. Similarly, the confidence of construction and contracting firms dropped to 30.7 from the 49.3 that was registered three months ago. Nearly half of the manufacturers that responded to the poll indicated that they are forecasting improvement in the economy over the next 12 months, and 50% of them expect revenues to increase during the same period.
Keller named president of Association for Manufacturing Excellence
Ralph Keller, a longtime leader and innovator in manufacturing processes, has been named president of the Association for Manufacturing Excellence. “As North American manufacturers struggle to compete with inexpensive overseas labor, it has become paramount that they streamline operations and run a Lean enterprise,” Keller said. “I look forward to helping AME raise awareness of how important efficiency is to the success of a company in today’s marketplace.” Throughout his 35-year career, Keller has helped dozens of companies implement and benefit from global sourcing, Lean manufacturing and Six Sigma. He also has experience in mainline manufacturing functions such as purchasing, engineering, personnel and ERP systems.
Siemens donates to ISA training program
ISA has received four Model 55M (M43) Nullmatic controls with integral setting and transfer switch from Siemens Energy & Automation, Inc., for ISA’s technical training program. The Nullmatic controllers are applicable to any process with a transmitter or transducer that provides a pneumatically measured variable signal. The controller can be changed from direct action (increase input, increase output) to reverse-control action by turning an external plate. Standard and fast-reset needle valves are interchangeable in these models without disassembling the controller. ISA course attendees will be able to align and calibrate a pneumatic controller and a pneumatic positioner and perform pipe bending for pneumatic device installation on the physical equipment. "ISA appreciates Siemens support of its training programs,” said Dale Lee, director of education services for ISA.
Food process manufacturers find old, new ways to stay efficient
Security. RFID. Uptime and downtime, and maintenance and maintenance-free. For those in the manufacturing sector, these are just a few of the buzzwords that are dealt with daily. Here’s another one: margin. Food processors, in particular, face some hefty challenges – in both their processing and packaging operations – to keep their margins up and their machines operating.
Putting stakeholders first in satisfying quality, safety and other requirements
Many readers will have encountered ISO 9000 registered organizations that failed to keep their promises. It is often the case that organizations have approached the standard with the wrong objective in mind. The intent of ISO 9000 is not to create uniform management systems. It is a set of criteria that, when applied correctly, will enable organizations to produce products and supply services t...
Converting from manual to automatic scheduling in a union environment
In large manufacturing operations with huge crews working 24/7, just getting the right people in the right jobs is difficult. In union environments, it becomes even more challenging since workers’ schedules must also conform legally to the constraints of union contracts. Contracts, often more than 50 pages long, include language that addresses senior employees’ right-to-work, bumpi...
SME sponsors nanotechnology forum Aug. 23-24
A discussion of nanotechnology and manufacturing, sponsored by SME, will be conducted at the Pollard Technology Conference Center in Oak Ridge, TN Aug. 23-24. The SME conference will highlight the current, near-term and future applications of nanotechnology and how they are transforming the way we manufacture products using innovative, top-down fabrication and bottom-up assembly techniques. This event will also provide a forum for peer networking, information sharing and technology exchange among researchers and developers of nanomanufacturing processes, systems and tools. Speakers from the Institute for Molecular Manufacturing, Georgia Tech, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics will address the conference, which is open to those interested in the next wave of manufacturing technology.
Germane Systems expansion integrates process, people
For Marc and Kerry Green of Germane Systems, a philosophy and culture of doing the right thing for their customers, industry partners and employees has paid off handsomely. Since its founding in 1997, the company has experienced tremendous revenue growth, from $650,000 in the first year to a projected $30 million in 2006.
Small innovations can have big impacts An editorial and also an article in the April 2006 issue of PLANT ENGINEERING got me thinking about readily available innovations and why the rate at which some plants adopt innovation is too slow for comfort. Certain innovations are not totally new; they have been extremely well proven elsewhere.
OSHA summer focus is on teen job safety
As millions of American teens begin their summer jobs, OSHA is focusing on keeping these vulnerable workers safe and healthy. While teen workers earn extra money and gain valuable work experience, the risk of a serious or even fatal injury is present. To address this challenge, OSHA recently kicked-off its Teen Summer Job Safety Campaign that will focus on industries that young people are like...
Scheduling the Manufacturing Workforce white paper
Scheduling the workforce is a challenge for many large-scale manufacturing companies with constantly changing production requirements. Since labor is the most significant cost of production and management is under pressure to keep their workforce lean, automating the scheduling process stands out as an area where IT should focus. Unlike call centers or airline crewing, Tugboat Software notes, in manufacturing the absence of a leading IT solution has been a conspicuous problem.
A revolution for HR managers: Unleashing employees’ talent
The human resources function has, for a number of reasons, been typically viewed by executives as peripheral to the successful performance of their organizations. Human resource management as a course in most MBA programs is often not considered as useful as offerings in finance, marketing, or information technology.
The HHP91 is a precision manometer for automotive, HVAC, laboratories and general industrial applications. Compatible with air or non-corrosive and non-ionized gases and liquids. Also compatible with all measuring systems due to its eight selectable pressure ranges. Readings are displayed and easy read in its large 15mm high digits screen.
Many facets to an effective asset management strategy
We've made considerable progress over the past several years in increasing senior management awareness of the importance of reliability principles, the foundation of operational excellence, a condition that is difficult to find in U.S. manufacturing plants. So, this progress has not been good enough, and jobs continue to move to countries with lower labor costs.
NMW keynotes cover the world of manufacturing
At a pivotal time in American manufacturing, attendees at National Manufacturing Week will get insight from some of America's top business leaders and some of the world's top business analysts. From a look across the Pacific to a candid assessment of America's own problems and opportunities, keynote speakers at this year's NMW will offer some perspectives on the state of global manufacturing C...
Keeping an eye on alignment
Ten times more? That number represents a flexible coupling's capability for misalignment compared to the tolerance of rotating equipment. That means system alignment should be based first on the minimum requirements of the driven equipment or the driver and finally the coupling. The benefits of proper alignment would seem elementary, but it is all too easy when running three consecutive shifts ...
Engineers play critical role in software implementation and selection
Software is often seen as a quick fix for any problem. It can also be the problem. Lack of foresight in installation can lead to confusion and failure. Selecting the wrong tool for the job will make the new process worse than the one that was meant to be improved. There is always a gap between how software systems should work and how they do work.
Top industry leaders to keynote NMW
At a pivotal time in American manufacturing, attendees at National Manufacturing Week will get insight from some of America’s top business leaders and some of the world’s top business analysts. From a look across the Pacific to a candid assessment of America’s own problems and opportunities, keynote speakers at this year’s NMW will offer some perspectives on the state of global manufacturing Colin Wu, president of China Business Sources, will kick off the keynotes on Monday, March 20 from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Piece by piece
Sidebars: Supplier worked ahead to meet utilities' needs Suppliers tell their stories of aiding Katrina recovery HARAHAN, LA — They started to return — one and two and four at a time, finding their ways around and through the roadblocks, both human and natural. They returned from Jackson and Baton Rouge and Houston and wherever the 150 mph winds had blown them on that fateful August night. Many returned not knowing the condition of their residences, and they returned with little more than what they could fit in their cars. They came to the only home they knew was still standing.
Precision Metalforming foundation awards $44,500 in training grants
The Precision Metalforming Association Educational Foundation, an organization established to support and develop training and education for metalforming skills and to improve the awareness of careers in metalforming, awarded a total of $44,500 in grants to three programs created to enhance the U.S. metalforming workforce: HIRED/Hennepin Technical College, WIRE-NET and BattleBots IQ.
Process controls offer opportunity
The past twelve months have brought positive margin gains for 15 out of 19 industries in the PLANT ENGINEERING factory equipment and tools market basket. In fact, margin grades improved significantly for six. The air and gas compressor manufacturing was the most dramatic. Its margin grade moved from F-minus one year ago, when manufacturing margins sat at a record-low level, to a passing B grade...
Skills Gap Survey: Begin now to attract, train and develop manufacturing workers
The vast majority of American manufacturers are experiencing a serious shortage of qualified employees, which in turn is causing significant impact to business and the ability of the country as a whole to compete in a global economy. This is the key finding of the 2005 Skills Gap Survey. The problem for U.
Inhouse imaging programs pack power into predictive maintenance
In any industry, optimizing production equipment uptime is essential for increasing productivity and competitiveness in the marketplace. How? Secure the reliability of key production assets and prevent failures through predictive maintenance. The key to successful PdM is to monitor equipment for conditions that indicate imminent failure, determine whether remedial action is warranted and then r...
For Ray Dreyfack, it’s not ‘retirement’ but a new chapter
All good things must come to an end. That includes my almost four decades of writing The Human Side for PLANT ENGINEERING. I long have had, and still have, a warm feeling in my heart for this magazine and its excellent staff. I hope my efforts have been useful to many and appreciate the kind and helpful reader response to the column.
Post a job Job Position Location Position Type Plant Engineer, more info >> Fresh Express Project Engineering Experienced Engineers, more info >> PinPoint Solutions ________________________________________ Plant Engineer: Fresh Express General Info : Fresh Express, a subsidiary of Chiquita Brands International, Inc. (NYSE: CQB), has been a leader in fresh foods for more than 80 years and is dedicated to providing consumers with healthy, convenient ready-to-eat spinach, salads, vegetables and fruits. With the invention of its special Keep Crisp bag beginning in the early 1980s, Fresh Express pioneered the retail packaged salad category and was the first to make them available nationwide.
Action needed to head off looming labor shortage
A core policy priority for the National Association of Manufacturers is preparing a skilled workforce for the 21st century. It may seem odd to speak of a manufacturing labor shortage when we have lost millions of manufacturing jobs in recent years. After all, the state of America's economy and its workers is generally good, and our manufacturing sector continues to drive an ongoing recovery and...
OSHA mobilizes to respond to Hurricane Katrina aftermath
As part of the U.S. Department of Labor's response to Hurricane Katrina, OSHA has deployed safety and health professionals to Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama to provide technical assistance to recovery workers in their ongoing efforts along the Gulf Coast of the United States. OSHA has teams of professionals in the devastated regions to help ensure that the restoration of power and telecomm...
Take charge of your battery maintenance
Batteries! You either love them or hate them. There is no in between. You love them for the convenience of being able to carry around electronic devices without being tethered to an electrical cord. Or you hate them because they seem to fail at the most inopportune times. Batteries have become a way of life in a world where the power grid, although reliable, is not 100% fail safe.
Out with the old
An annual or semiannual plant shutdown gives maintenance staff time to repair equipment, retool for a new production run or even wax and seal the floors. Plant facilities are upgraded or equipment is overhauled during these planned shutdowns. The key word is "planned," especially when it comes to the electrical distribution system.
Welding equipment industry sees margins increase
The green inflation light is flashing for industries that make factory equipment and tools. Among 19 industries in the PLANT ENGINEERING price index, inflation slowed down for only three. Fifteen industries, on the other hand, put the metal to the petal as the rate at which inflation sped up increased from March 2005 to June 2005.
Human side – 2005-08-01
When promoted, how long does past seniority last? Bill Chernoff had been a hardworking and conscientious member of Tony Royal's work group for more than three years. It was thus no surprise when, upon Tony's retirement, Maintenance Supervisor Arthur Sondheim, appointed Bill to take over the group. At the outset Bill was happy to receive the promotion and especially pleased with the pay raise that went with it. At least that's what he told himself.
Burgett appointed new ASHRAE president
The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers installed Lee Burgett as its new president at its annual meeting June 25-29 in Denver. Lee Burgett, P.E., Fellow ASHRAE, serves as consultant to Trane, a business of American Standard Companies, and others, following his retirement from Trane as vice president-new ventures.
Valuing engineering — and our readers
All too often, we get pat answers and anecdotal evidence as a response to the challenges we face on every front of manufacturing. We examine layoff numbers and study oil prices and watch global manufacturing centers emerge and wring our hands in despair. And then, every once in a while, we get some clear thinking from great minds, and we begin to see where our problems truly begin.
Jumpstart your energy management program
We have all been tasked with the effort to efficiently manage our facilities including the use and costs of utilities while effectively providing for the needs of our facilities. The term "facilities management" has been around for some time, but the meaning has dramatically changed over the years. In the past, for some people facilities management only related to the physical maintenance and o...
‘Sustainable’ expansion on track, NAM says
With the Labor Department reporting that the economy created a much higher than expected 274,000 new non-farm payroll jobs in April while the unemployment rate held steady at 5.2%, National Association of Manufacturers Chief Economist David Huether observed that, "Many service sectors and construction led the way, and this suggests that a broad and sustainable economic expansion remains on track.
Speed changers, drives and gears buck trend
Price, demand and margin trends moved in the same direction for most of the 19 industries in our factory tools and equipment market basket. First of all, average product prices accelerated. The strained budgets that plant engineers manage can testify to that. Only three bucked this inflation trend: saw blades and handsaws, pumps and pumping equipment, and instruments for electrical testing.
Five common steam line sizing errors
When operating a boiler for process or building heat, engineers deal with a dynamic system. Phase changes, mass and energy balances, mixed-phase flows, non-Newtonian compressible gases, changes in pressure and velocity, and production-based or seasonal load swings are characteristics of this complex system.
Oil analysis and preventive maintenance
Imagine the implications of neglecting to check the lubrication systems of plant equipment. Failure here would be both catastrophic and expensive. Not only because of the cost of repairing the physical damage, but also the time it takes to fix the problem and the revenue lost from the equipment not being in use.
Softwood and steel pipe prices soar
Inflation is running red hot among the products that plant engineers have to buy in order to maintain and repair the factory. Among 21 industries in the PLANT ENGINEERING construction supplies price index, product price inflation accelerated among 17. The softwood industry continued to lead the pack with a 48.
Two rules of rebounding
Depending on who you talk to, the state of American manufacturing is either robust or just a bust. The numbers are all over the board. Manufacturing production was up 5.1% in 2004, and has been on a steady rising since the third quarter of 2003. Orders for durable good, which spiked in the first quarter of 2004 then plunged, have made another steady climb and are up 9.
Human side – 2005-03-10
Planning a large layoff? Take care Plant Engineer Hank Selleck had sweated hard times before, but never this tough. The small tool manufacturing plant employed 96 people. The introduction of new technology and other industry changes had all but destroyed the viability of the company's major product line that accounted for much of its sales and profits. Profits.
New NAM president John Engler: Level the playing field for manufacturing
John Engler became president of the National Association of Manufacturers on October 1, 2004, but his record of support for manufacturing issues precedes this new role. The former three-term Michigan governor brings to the NAM a lifelong commitment to reducing the size of government as a means to boosting economic growth and job creation.
Double trouble for those seeking operating materials
Plant engineers who need to stock up on operating materials and supplies may be facing a double whammy this spring. Two trends will be converging to push up prices. One: The majority of industries that make operating supplies appears to be under extremely tight margin pressure. Two: End-market demand for supplies has begun to grow briskly.
Elements of breathing-air compressor systems
Industrial plants often require operators to work in environments where ambient air is not suitable for long-term exposure. This requires installing an airline respiratory program or breathing-air system (Fig. 1). Plant breathing air must meet the Compressed Gas Association, Grade-D requirements. OSHA CFR 29-1910.
S&C Electric Co. John R. Conrad Industrial Complex
Driving down Ridge Blvd. in the Rogers Park neighborhood on Chicago's north side, one could hardly imagine the industrial activity taking place on the other side of the wrought-iron fence. Such was John R. Conrad's vision when he began operations there in 1949. And it has been successfully executed by S&C's plant and facilities engineering function ever since.
Hewlett Packard Caribe BV
Outside the Employee Center at the Hewlett Packard Caribe BV site in Aguadilla, PR, a modest structure that resembles the front of a garage serves as a constant reminder. In 1939, Stanford University classmates Bill Hewlett and Dave Packard founded HP and built the company's first product — an audio oscillator — in a Palo Alto, CA, garage.
Book reviews: A look inside
Guidelines for protecting ac motors AC Motor Protection develops the electrical, mechanical, and thermal models that determine motor characteristics and that lead to optimum thermal and fault protection. Written for anyone who specifies or sets motor protective relays, this 90-p illustrated reference explains why understanding the relationship among motor horsepower, speed, locked rotor torque...
Maintenance Products – 2004-11-10
Handy wiper contains lubricant Wipe-On Lubricant is a non-woven, 8-in. x 11-in., presaturated wipe that is easy to carry and store. The lubricant is a greaseless film that provides lubrication and short-term corrosion protection.
Software and computers – 2004-11-10
HMI growth predicted The human-machine interface (HMI) software market, which totaled nearly $439 million in 2003, will exceed $559 million in 2008, outperforming the industrial automation market and growing at a Compounded Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 5% over the next 5 yr, according to a study by the ARC Advisory Group. HMI and related control software applications remain integral parts of the process, hybrid, and discrete industries for the access, presentation, and exchange of information for managing plant floor production processes. Manufacturers are looking to HMI software systems for a plant-wide information collection and integration tool. HMI software using flexible, multifunctional, and interoperable platforms that provide peer-to-peer interfaces with other platforms is driving factory visibility and intelligence as well as playing a major role in providing plantwide connectivity. That is why HMI software is sometimes referred to as visualization software.
Power Transmission – 2004-11-10
Linear speed adjusts mechanically Uhing rolling ring linear drives with the H-lever option provide accurate slow down and ramp-up to linear speed independently of drive motor speed. For applications requiring deceleration prior to reversal followed by gradual acceleration, the lever is an inexpensive alternative to clutches, cams, and gears. Instead of adjusting linearly with electronic controls and programming, it is done mechanically. Amacoil, Inc.
Human side – 2004-10-10
Anti-company behavior Don't sit for it When Electrician Grade II George Miller was bypassed once again for promotion by Foreman Al Clement, he went ranting and raving all over the place. "I got the seniority," he groused, "and I got the experience. It's a clear case of prejudice." "Against what?" a coworker asked him. "You're 35 years old, and you're not a minority member." "He's prejudiced against me.
Human Side – 2004-09-10
Question: If Martin follows through on a lawsuit, do you think he will win? Gershon's opinion: "Martin's chances are nonexistent or slim," Plant Engineer Vincent Gershon told the supervisor. "For one thing, he knew what he was getting into when he accepted the transfer. For another, he will have to prove that management knew that the transfer was hazardous to his health, was in a position to co...
Margins reach lowest point since tracking began
The PLANT ENGINEERING factory equipment and tools price index increased just 2.7% from June 2003 to June 2004. Over the same time period, we estimate the costs of manufacturing among these factory tools and equipment producers jumped a collective 8.3%. This spells inflation troubles ahead for buyers of equipment and tools.
Prices climb for 14 industries
The PLANT ENGINEERING construction and maintenance price and cost indexes, up 4.1% and 4.9% respectively, moved practically in tandem during the 12-month period ending May 2004. On the price front, 14 industries registered price increases, while six out of 20 pushed average product prices down during the June 2003 to May 2004 period.
Mobile technology cuts paper; improves asset management
Knowledge-driven maintenance is the cornerstone of successful asset performance management (APM). Doing more with less, cutting costs, and increasing asset reliability are some of the challenges plants face today. Companies are turning to their maintenance teams for answers. The reason is simple — technician productivity affects maintenance costs.
Human side – 2004-08-09
Labor management committee Define its power In the interest of labor-management cooperation and goodwill, the general manager decided to establish a joint committee that would hopefully create improved understanding and efficiency. The committee was composed of six members, three selected by management and three from the bargaining unit. The purpose of the committee as defined in the company's policy manual was to: Discuss work areas where modifications designed to improve operations might be made. Consider ideas designed to favorably alter communication and working conditions. Come up with ways to improve productivity, conserve materials, or introduce other economies. The joint committee functioned harmoniously for six months. Then at one meeting a proposed change involving the introduction of automated equipment was revealed by a member of management.
Optimizing total cost of ownership
When total cost of ownership (TCO) is applied broadly, the tools and concepts enable users to make a measurable impact in plant operating costs and margins. Their value comes from refocusing decision-making processes based on price and purchase cost to consider all financial impacts associated with a decision.
Human side – 2004-07-08
Employee's life is made miserable Is company liable? Jessica Kelly was a clerical employee in the maintenance department. Her life was made so miserable by John Brandon, her supervisor, that she had fainting spells, suffered a nervous disorder, and had to undergo medical treatment. Both her family doctor and a psychologist recommended Jessica quit her job.
Human side – 2004-05-10
Accommodating disabilities Can demands be unreasonable? Bert Kriegman, a service mechanic with a badly crippled leg incurred in an automobile accident a year before, complained that the company was not doing enough to accommodate his disability. He contended that as a long-time employee he deserved more consideration. Maintenance Supervisor Max Redlich sympathized with Kriegman's problem, but disagreed with his contention. "I've been bending over backward to make life as easy for you as possible." "If that's true," Kriegman replied, "you would have constructed those two ramps I requested a few months ago." "I looked into that," Redlich said, "but it would have been prohibitively expensive to build those ramps." Redlich pointed out as he had in the past that he went out of his way to assign the mechanic jobs that were as conveniently accessible as possible, and to avoid assignments where Kriegman would have to climb steps.
Inflation expected for operating materials and supplies
Plant engineers can expect a steady dose of inflation for operating materials and supplies in 2003. Upward price pressures are strong for 13 industries. The key to the price outlook lies in our understanding of the underlying cost and margin challenges that manufacturers face. In 2003, the PLANT ENGINEERING operating materials and supplies price index rose 1.
Human side – 2004-03-10 – 2004-03-10
Beware of e-mail It can be used against you Maria Sanchez was stunned when informed by Maintenance Department Foreman Pete Carlson that she was being downgraded to Administrative Assistant Class II and assigned to another section. Ann Kramer, as spelled out in the same directive, was being upgraded from Class II to Class I and assigned to take over her job. A glaring example of race discrimination as Sanchez viewed the situation.
Performance contracts reduce abatement costs
Attention is typically given to regenerative thermal oxidizer (RTO) performance only when a specific problem or fault shuts down the system or when the system is out of compliance.
IR thermography on the spot
IR thermography is used widely in predictive maintenance and numerous engineering applications. Plant engineers use it to detect leaks, electrical faults, and moisture concentrations in building materials before they become serious and expensive to repair.
Human Side – 2004-02-10 – 2004-02-10
Smoke-free policy: How far can you go? Long-time maintenance department Supply Room Attendant Rose Krause's eyes were tearing, her nose and throat were becoming irritated, and she was getting a headache again. There was no doubt in Krause's mind regarding the cause. Cigarette smoke. Sure enough, two employees were working on an electrical line no more than 30 feet away, both puffing away like smokestacks. She called out, "Please, put out those cigarettes.
Software & Computers – 2004-02-10
DAQ software instruNet World Plus is a data acquisition (DAQ) software program for Windows 95/98/NT/2000/XP that enables users to digitize, plot, control, analyze, and save to disk A/D, D/A, and digital I/O data from instruNet hardware. Software enables users to customize instrument front panels with buttons, popup menus, edit fields, dynamic text, text editor regions, and waveform graphs. Tasks such as PID or on/off control loops, multiwaveform signal generation, and mathematical calculations can be updated in real time. Omega Engineering, Inc.
Forum – 2003-12-10
Solutions In reading the Solutions in the October 2003 issue, I found that the first solution for sharp edges on wire ties was written correctly, but was shown incorrectly. There is no cutting performed in this solution, only twisting. The best device to use is side-cutting pliers known as railroad pliers.
Vacuum conveying system integral to growth
Automated material handling, including vacuum conveyor system, is the key toPiasa reaching twenty-fold growth.
Integrated control houses
From motor control centers in bustling industrial centers to remote communications equipment on mountaintops, integrated control houses are popping up just about everywhere.
General and Maintenance Software – 2003-11-01
Asset software monitors usage Datastream 7i Analytics , a new version of asset performance management software, provides analytical technology that enables users to derive valuable intelligence from their existing asset data to make better business decisions. Features include asset hierarchy management, audit trail, messenger, multiple-organization security, preventive maintenance flexibility, usage monitoring, key performance indicators, and workload inbox. Datastream Systems, Inc. : datastream.net , TO VOTE, WRITE 28 ON BALLOT For more information, write 28 on card CMMS accessible anywhere Maintenance Connection web-based computerized maintenance management software (CMMS) includes asset management, work order tracking, preventive and predictive maintenance, labor scheduling, online service requests, spare parts inventory, procedure library and reporting capabilities.
Electrical – 2003-11-01
Study targets UPS products A multivolume study, titled "The 2002 Power Protection Market Intelligence Program: Vols. I-III," concludes that the market for uninterruptible power supplies (UPSs) under 5 kVA is poised for extensive transition during the next 5 yr. The analysis, conducted by Venture Development Corp.
Human Side – 2003-10-10 – 2003-10-10
The 90-day seniority rule Is it in effect in your plant? If there's one thing you can count on in this messed up universe, it is the inevitability of change. The economic climate changes, product design and content changes, customer demands change, methodology changes, and in manufacturing plants from coast to coast manpower requirements change in response to changing conditions. A good test of an effective executive is his or her ability to predict and plan for change. But however skilled a manager may be, the unexpected occurs.
Closed pneumatic conveyor system eliminates dust and downtime
While the screw-type mechanical conveyor has its place in industry, when it comes to handling dry materials that must be kept free of contaminants, and environments where dust-free conditions are important, these conveyors systems are often problematic.
Integrated systems for industrial substations
Click here to read the Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories case study.
Collaborative maintenance: A strategy to help manufacturers become lean, mean, and agile
Increased globalization, greater competition, price pressures, and erosion of margins are placing enormous pressure on manufacturers to re-evaluate how they produce products and generate profits. Today's successful companies are not necessarily among those with the best manufacturing capabilities, but rather the best manufacturing processes.
Instrument prices could decrease
Plant engineers who are stocking up on factory equipment and tools have some good bargaining opportunities and a handful of potential pitfalls. You can see the pitfalls clearly enough by looking at the two industries with an F- margin grade. Manufacturers of motors (SIC 3621) and transformers (SIC 3612) have seen their direct manufacturing costs soar to record highs.
Human Side – 2003-09-10 – 2003-09-10
Recovering alcoholic How far backward must you bend? Utility Man Gerald Shea had been given one break too many, in Maintenance Supervisor Arthur Jolson's view. Shea's performance was only marginally acceptable when he was sober. After hitting the bottle, it was anything but. Jolson couldn't recall how many times he had been on the verge of firing the guy.
Reader Feedback – 2003-09-10 – 2003-09-10
Shortage of skilled workers I agree with Brian Varley on his comments regarding the state of manufacturing. I dare to guess that Brian is a 20-plus year veteran of American manufacturing like myself. He is dead-on when he talks about the manufacturing sector not wanting to pay for the skills they require.
Reader Feedback – 2003-08-06 – 2003-08-06
Employment paradox I just finished reading your article (in the June issue) titled 'Employment Paradox' and am concerned that there may be more to this problem than available, skilled, warm bodies. I am employed by a large international company with many manufacturing units across the globe. I have been employed by this company for almost 10 years.
In waiting mode for high demand
The economic uncertainty that existed prior to the U.S. bombing of Iraq has dissipated. Yet, an unleashing of pent-up demand has not occurred as some pundits expected. Indeed, more than half of the industries in our construction supplies index actually faced shrinking end markets in May 2003. Moreover, all but one industry (flat glass) sport end-market growth rates that fall short of the averag...
Cost savings difficult to find
Trying to find ways to save money in your budget for operating materials and supplies may be like searching for a needle in a haystack. A look at the latest round of price and cost data for the industries that make factory supplies shows margin conditions deteriorated among 10 of 19 industries. Now, 13 industries show direct manufacturing margins at record or near-record lows (see industries wi...
Vacuum cleaning system eliminates dangers of combustion
Proper vacuum cleaning of powder paint booths crucial to safety, throughput, and profit
Human Side – 2003-05-06
Safety violation: Withdraw the suspension? More often than not, discipline stands up when a safety rule is violated. Rightly so. Safety rules are set up and enforced to avoid employee injury and the loss of corporate assets.
Human Side – 2003-04-28
Undermining associates: Can he be fired? If a plant popularity contest were held, Maintenance Planner John Tyler wouldn't have wound up at the bottom of the barrel. He would have been underneath it. The word most often used by Tyler's associates to describe him was "obnoxious." Tyler regarded himself as a superior human being and wasn't hesitant to make known not only his brilliance, but his coworkers' inferiority as well, regardless of their feelings. He was always certain what had to be done, and knew he could do it better than anyone else. Tyler was seemingly oblivious to others' response to his denigrating remarks.
Human Side – 2003-03-15
Employee illness: Full recovery disputed After a tough bout with pneumonia, and following nine days in the hospital, Welder Grade I Tony Molinaro telephoned his boss that he was ready to return to work. "That's good news," Maintenance Foreman Al Comanche replied. "Did you get a green light from your doctor?" "No problem. The doc says I'm fit as a fiddle and ready for action.
Inflation mismatch could lead to higher prices
In November 2002, prices for plant construction and maintenance supplies fell 0.1%, while costs to manufacture those supplies rose 0.7%. This inflation mismatch means suppliers are facing tighter margins now and buyers could face higher prices ahead. Consider the sheet metal work (SIC 3444) industry.
MRO e-procurement: Where is it now?
I first became enamored with the proposition of purchasing maintenance, repair, and operations (MRO) parts over the internet at a trade show five years ago. Here was a technology that could make a significant impact on both purchasing and maintenance management. It promised to reduce MRO procurement costs, order lead times, inventory stock levels, maverick purchasing, and maintenance time spent...
Human Side – 2002-11-15
Money matters: Can a new hire be paid more than a veteran? When Electrician Andy Russo learned how much Electrician Joe Fallon was being paid, he all but blew a fuse. More to the point, he demanded a raise. "No way," Maintenance Supervisor Alex Dworkin replied. "Your performance doesn't merit it." "Playing favorites is unfair," Russo protested. "That remark isn't justified.
ERP solutions: Are they right for maintenance management?
Since its inception, "best-of-breed" software vendors specializing primarily in maintenance solutions have dominated the computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) marketplace. As the complexity of the marketplace and customer needs grew, top-tiered CMMS solutions evolved into enterprise asset management (EAM) systems.
Steam trap monitoring: Early warning defense system
Plant engineers know that their first line of defense in the battle to conserve steam energy is a properly functioning steam trap. Each failed steam trap can be costly, and in larger systems, where there may be hundreds of traps, the cost skyrockets. Regardless of system size, the impact is felt all the way to the profit line of the financial statement.
Plant floor optimization — Asset management in the new economy
From all indicators, it looks like the end of the current economic downturn may be within sight. This is good news for the manufacturing industry, which began to feel the first effects of the economic downturn more than 18 months ago. The sudden shift from a boom economy to a recession has caused a dramatic change in direction of how business leaders are driving their individual manufacturing f...
Many top-tier CMMS/EAM packages proclaim workflow functionality. But they usually do so in a secondary manner with words deeply embedded in their promotional literature. They also tend to do so in a way that doesn't quite fully explain what it is and what it can do for maintenance and the rest of the enterprise.
Instruments and Controls – 2002-09-15
Modular system The Entek XM series has been introduced to help manufacturers improve uptime of rotating equipment. Consisting of a network of intelligent modules, the series continuously monitors and protects plant floor machinery simultaneously. Until now, equipment monitoring and protection had to be accomplished by more than one system.
Voltage sags and what to do about them
Voltage sags are the most common events that affect power quality. They are also the most costly. Equipment used in modern industrial plants, such as process controllers, PLCs, adjustable speed drives, and robots, becomes more sensitive to voltage sags as the complexity of the equipment increases. Relays and contactors in motor starters are sensitive to voltage sags, resulting in downtime when ...
Reader Forum – 2002-08-08 – 2002-08-08
Be clear and consistent with theft policy This is in regards to the Human Side of Engineering story in the June issue "Are stealing and petty theft synonymous?" There are some serious implications. First of all, of course, that was first time caught, not the first time stealing. How much do you think was taken over a year? Be sure to include indirect costs, such as shipping, labor to stock, ...
Human Side of Engineering – 2002-08-08 – 2002-08-08
How old must one be to claim age discrimination? Utility Man Grade II Bernie Ratner was assigned to a group of employees who worked the day shift in Warehouse B. His performance rating was "Satisfactory." The way he felt about his job, however, and the way he was treated by his boss and coworkers was, in his opinion, far from satisfactory. Other workers in the five-member crew had nothing to do with him. They had lunch and snacked during break periods at a table in the employee cafeteria where Ratner was made to feel unwelcome.
Take a bow
U.S. productivity increased during the recent downturn (I hesitate to call it a recession) more than anyone anticipated. A headline in the March 18 issue of Fortune magazine announced "The productivity miracle is for real," and the article predicted that the growth in productivity "will almost certainly be a bonanza for the economy.
Manifolds simplify fluid power systems
Integrated valve manifolds provide many benefits, including the enhancement of system integrity and reliability, when employed in pneumatic and hydraulic systems. In addition, the reduction in the amount of piping and fittings results in low pressure drop and efficient operation. Early pneumatic and hydraulic control systems utilized valves that were individually mounted in or around the machin...
Maintenance leadership requirements
EDITOR'S NOTE: This column is the fourth in a series of columns based on the book, Future Capable Company: What Manufacturing Leaders Need To Do Today To Succeed Tomorrow, by Dr. Tompkins. These excerpts are provided through special arrangement with the publisher, Tompkins Press. Copyright © 2001 Tompkins Press.
Product Intros – 2002-06-15
Kit converts dock levelers to air power Air Technology Conversion (ATC) kit converts existing mechanical dock levelers to safe and simple air bag operation. The kit includes a reinforced, PVC-coated, polyester-fiber lifting module, a rust-inhibiting steel support pan, a lip extension mechanism to prevent lip damage, and a NEMA 4 pushbutton control system for fingertip leveler control. APS Resource apsresource.com Write 371 on PE card Manipulator is mobile Mini-Articularm transporter is a hybrid device that provides the ultimate flexibility in the most unusual and challenging process of lifting, handling, positioning, transporting, assembling, stacking, loading, and unloading operations. Mobility and articulation are controlled via corded pushbutton remote control or wireless radio frequency controller. Omnics International Corp.
Human Side of Engineering – 2002-05-13
Company takeover: Are employees entitled to severance pay? In this era of mergers and acquisitions employee fears range from job termination to loss of benefits. When a manufacturing company lost its bid to a major supplier, it agreed to sell out to the competitor. The departing owner agreed to stay on six months as a consultant. He distributed termination checks containing wages and sick benefits due, along with vacation pay entitlements.
Basics of electrical switches
A switch is an electromechanical device that completes or breaks a current path within a circuit, or sends current over a different path. Despite the many switch types, they have basic components in common. The operator initiates switch operation. The low-resistance metal contacts make or break the electrical circuit.
Contracting for maintenance excellence
When AK Steel built a new greenfield plant at Rockport, IN, it was faced with a daunting challenge: Establish and continue the highest possible levels of plant maintenance from day one. The solution was innovative: Build a top-flight maintenance organization quickly by contracting for maintenance services, and base the contract on performance.
Analyzing and quantifying the effects of electric power quality
With the increased use of electronic switching devices in modern manufacturing facilities, there is a need to introduce new industrial standards for electrical system power quality. These new standards should establish requirements to exceed the "IEEE recommended practices for harmonic control in electrical power systems" (IEEE Std 519-1992).
Human Side of Engineering – 2002-03-11
Lost tools: Must employee pay? The plant was well protected, and there was a guard at the gate. Maintenance Mechanic Grade II Bill Cullen couldn't remember the last time a theft had occurred. So, as he did every day, he went out to lunch without locking his tool box in his locker.
Most top-tier EAM/CMMS vendors offer integration products, services, and tool kits that link their products to ERP packages and other business systems. These interface solutions play a prominent role in their marketing literature, web sites, and sales pitches. Many companies start their EAM/CMMS selection process with the intent of tightly integrating their new maintenance package with ex...
Human Side of Engineering – 2002-02-15
Don't compare apples with oranges Electrician Grade II George Raven was more than mildly perturbed. His boss, Maintenance Foreman Pete Schiffo, was on his back again. "Get a move on, you should've finished this job an hour ago." "What are you trying to do, imitate a caterpillar?" "You're bringing down the level of productivity." "You're being paid to work, not dawdle." George was sick and tired of the abuse and decided to complain to Ed Feely, the unit's labor rep. "What's the beef?" Feely said, "Time study is a part of the labor agreement." "Maybe so, but I'm not the slowest guy in the unit, and I resent being treated like I am." "So what do you want me to do about it?" Feely asked. "If my production's going to be timed, I want to be timed fairly. I want it compared with a typical electrician, not the fastest guy in the department." "Like who?" "Like Fred Turner, for example." Feely looked skeptical, but said, "Okay, let's talk to Pete about it." When Schiffo heard Raven's demand to time his work against Turner's, he scoffed at the idea. "You have got to be kidding.
Compressed air controls: Developing an action plan (Part 2 of 3)
Implementing an action plan to improve compressor controls means getting everyone involved. R. Scot Foss of Plant Air Technology explains how to get project approval, define what is expected to be achieved, set realistic cost objectives, and examine the existing system throughly to understand the problem causes.
Advantages and challenges of implementing ASPs
The advocates of application service providers have been outspoken, while the detractors have remained relatively silent.To provide a balanced approach, PLANT ENGINEERING presents thistwo-part article on the pros and cons. The advantages are presented by James Rogers of Aliso Viejo, CA-based Fluor Corp.
Human Side of Engineering – 2001-10-01
How Open is Your Bulletin Board? The company had a longstanding reputation for freedom of speech. In fact, in the interests of good employee relations, management encouraged workers to speak their mind to get either helpful suggestions or gripes off their chest. With this goal in mind, the company bulletin board in the cafeteria was a primary source of communication. Bernie Altsheimer, 48, was a chronic complainer.
Assessing your maintenance training needs
How do you know where to start with maintenance skills training? For many of us, that's the million-dollar question. That training is needed is usually self evident. But what kind of training, in which areas, and how much training are questions not easily answered. That's what needs assessments are about.
Are your dock doors hindering plant productivity?
Advancements in material handling technology have translated into significant cost savings and efficiency for manufacturing plants and distribution centers. These developments work together to make it easier to load/unload trucks and sort, pick, store, and move increasing volumes of product more accurately and efficiently.
Using plastic for compressed air piping
Contaminant-free compressed air piping systems continue to become increasingly important with the advent of industrial automation. This article discusses the benefits to using plastic piping, the limitations of certain plastics, the do's and don'ts of installation, joint drying times for 100 percent pressure testing, provides a sizing guide for main air lines and more.
Lamp and ballast guide
Industrial lighting varies widely by environment and application. From control room to laboratory to warehouse, each has its own lighting requirements. This article describes lamp types and uses, ballast data, and how to specify the proper lighting for industrial areas.
Suggestions & Solutions – 2001-07-01
Duct liner stays dry ToughGard R with enhanced surface is a rotary-based, glass HVAC duct liner that has a moisture-resistant airstream surface. A brochure describes the liner and includes charts of available sizes, physical properties, thermal and acoustical performance, and air friction, in addition to a standards reference chart.
Pursuing the elusive promise of e-procurement
With the 'dot.com' bust and a slowing economy I suspect that some of the bloom has faded from the blossoming maintenance, repair, and operations (MRO) e-procurement business. The promise of the e-commerce revolution that last year seemed so vivid for both MRO supply buyers and sellers, now probably appears less clear and certain for many.
Human Side of Engineering – 2001-07-01
A dollar buys more than status I remember it well. Early on in my career, in my twenties, I was approached by my boss. He complimented me on my work, told me how vital I was to the department, and offered to make me a supervisor. I turned him down. The "career boost" would have qualified me as an exempt employee.
Exploring switchgear maintenance options
There are many alternatives for maintaining electrical switchgear -- reconditioning, converting, replacing or retrofilling. This article discusses the pros and cons, and costs, of each option.
Using information technology to optimize maintenance operations
Last month's Management Side of Engineering column looked at important information to consider when preparing to improve the company's maintenance operations. The discussion concludes this month as the author examines maintenance optimization, the role of information technology, and value-based asset management.
Reader Forum – 2001-06-01
Outsourcing the maintenance function I am concerned about the shift from inhouse maintenance staffing to outsourcing of the required services. Outsourcing supporters claim that it results in maximum uptime and I have no doubt this is true. Yet I take exception that higher reliability is produced by the act of outsourcing.
Human Side of Engineering – 2001-06-01
When can you hire an outside contractor? The labor agreement specified that existing employees be given preference to perform work assignments if they were qualified or, within a "reasonable period of time, could be taught to qualify for the work involved." The roofing repair job in question was complex.
Product Intros – 2001-05-01
Band saw uses clamp-on-vise AirBand portable, pneumatic band saw has a clamp-on-vise that is easily installed. The clamp quickly secures to rounds up to 43/4-in. OD, as well as squares and angles up to 3 in. 3 3 in. The product eliminates hazards posed by electric saws used in potentially explosive or wet environments.
Human Side of Engineering – 2001-05-01
Does excused absence invalidate holiday pay? President's Day fell on a Monday. During that weekend, Milton Resnick's uncle Harry passed away. The funeral was on Tuesday and Resnick called his boss, Maintenance Supervisor Tom Lincoln, and asked permission to take the day off. "No problem," Lincoln replied and expressed condolences for Resnick's loss.
2000 Product of the Year Winners
The 46 winners in the 2000 "Product of the Year" contest combine necessity, technology, and simple ideas. These concepts, teamed with innovation, embody the winners in this year's contest.
2000 maintenance tips & tricks winners
Ralph Dewey of Solvay Polymers in Deer Park, Texas, won the 2000 "Maintenance tip of the year" for his suggestion on how to quickly find leaks in gas service piping flanges.
Instructional balance: The Yin and Yang of today’s quality management system
Implementing the proper ISO 9000 compliant quality management system requires the preparation, issuance, and control of immense quantities of command media, including procedures, work instructions, and checklists.
When you start feeling good about yourself, it's time to benchmark." That's a rule of thumb from Bob Schmalbach, chairman of the Foundation for Industrial Maintenance Excellence and a retired plant engineering consultant for Dupont.
Human Side of Engineering – 2001-03-01
In this issue, Human Side of Engineering offers another case of "The Uncommon Side." This feature presents incidents drawn from actual situations faced by plant engineers that are of a special or unusual nature.
The failure dilemma: How to move towards proaction when working in a reactive environment
Consultants have the opportunity to visit many different plants across various industries. This perspective provides a unique viewpoint, especially when compared to an individual who may have worked in one plant or industry his entire career.
Human Side of Engineering – 2000-12-01
Tightening up on gun control With public concern over firearm-related violence mounting, companies are tightening up on enforcement of gun- toting rules.
Developing an E-Commerce Strategy
Scott Haraburda, PE, Chemical Demilitarization, US Army, Newport, IN The internet offers all businesses-large and small-a powerful tool for marketing, selling, and buying products or services. This system is commonly referred to as e-commerce.
Negotiate harder against higher prices
Now may be the time for plant engineers to take a firmer stand against rising prices among providers of construction supplies. Consider, for example, the millwork (SIC 2431) industry.
Maintenance Products – 2000-11-01
Training helps solve chronic problems Problem Solving Methodology is designed by and for mechanics, operators, and supervisors.
Human Side of Engineering – 2000-10-01 – 2000-10-01
In this issue, Human Side of Engineering offers another case of "The Uncommon Side." This feature presents incidents drawn from actual situations faced by plant engineers that are of a special or unusual nature.
Inflation in operating supplies widens
Price inflation for factory operating materials and supplies is starting to heat up across a wider variety of products. In the 12-mo ending July 2000, average prices for products sold by the copper rolling and drawing industry rose 7.2%.
Preparing a respiratory protection program for an OSHA inspection
Key concepts OSHA usually does not visit a plant solely to evaluate a respiratory program. However, a review of a company's program may be included within the scope of any OSHA inspection.
When a pump goes down, should you fix it, upgrade it, or replace it?
Key concepts: Pump maintenance is an opportunity to improve its performance. All economic factors must be weighed when repairing a pump.
Inside the price outlook for wood
Plant engineers were whipsawed in early 1999 by rising wood prices. But now costs for hardwood and softwood are on the decline. Unfortunately, buyers of plywood still need to be on guard.
Maintenance Tips & tricks – 2000 – #15
Pumping pinsProblem: A pin has seized in a flywheel and no amount of work will pull it out. How do I remove the pin? Solution: Drill a #3 hole from the opposite side of the flywheel and tap 1/4-28 thd. Insert a grease zerk and "pump" the pin out safely and quickly.
The wheels are coming loose
Five years ago, I asked, "When will the wheels fall off?" Well, they haven't fallen off, but they are getting loose-and for different reasons than I anticipated.
Copper & lubricating oil prices jump
While economists are busy revising their inflation forecasts upward, plant managers are already living under the strain of today's new inflationary environment.
Inside the profit margin picture
Over the past year, manufacturers have faced some significant inflation challenges, such as sharp price hikes in aluminum, copper, and energy costs.
Construction prices soar
Plant managers who have been overseeing construction repairs have probably noticed that it has been tough to hold their projects on budget. In the 12-mo period ending February 2000, average prices for gypsum products soared 18.
Comparing roofing options
Roofs protect the plant, occupants, and contents from the elements. However, performing this seemingly simple task is made quite complicated by changing cycles of rain, heat, cold, wind, and UV radiation that continually attack the roof membrane.
New...and improved? On an almost daily basis, you're likely to see or hear a company raving about its new and improved product or service.
Bearings negotiations toughe
Prices for ball and roller bearings (SIC 3562) rose sharply in January, up 0.36%. ICE model data suggest the bulk of this increase went toward improving SIC 3562's bottom line. With the cost of making a typical unit of industry output rising just 0.
Human Side of Engineering – 2000-04-01 – 2000-04-01
In this issue, Human Side of Engineering offers another case of "The Uncommon Side." This feature presents incidents drawn from actual situations faced by plant engineers that are of a special or unusual nature. Each presentation is in two parts.
Evaluating electric lift trucks
Electric rider counterbalanced lift trucks (Class I) have accounted for 15-20% of the industrial truck market for over 10 yr.
MIMS Open Enterprise is a highly scalable, multitier, client-server product that delivers complete functionality for all enterprise asset management (EAM) needs.
Navi~Gator portable lift maneuvers through standard doorways, reduces labor hours to complete a project, and uses two deep-cycle, 12-V batteries. LPI Lift Systemswww.lpi-inc.com
Comprehensive safety and health manual
Every company needs to have a safety plan of varying degrees of detail. If your company is just starting to put a safety and health program together, this book is for you. In fact, this book calls itself Your Company Safety and Health Manual.
Breaking down boundaries: Time to integrate plant engineering into the supply chain
What does supply chain management (SCM) mean? If you direct this question to someone in the corporate boardroom, manufacturing, distribution or information technology, the answer would sound something like this: "It is about the seamless flow of goods from supplier to customer. It includes all business entities or links in the production and distribution of goods. It seeks to optimize the flow of goods in the supply chain by fostering collaboration and integration between each link in the chain." If you ask plant engineering the same question, you might get a similar answer.
Maintenance management software
MOCA Soli is a multi-user maintenance management software system designed for use with 5-50 users. The software runs on multiple platforms, multiple databases, and is available in 20 languages.
Checking in on reference checking
I would like to comment on the "Human Side of Engineering" case, "Reference checking? Get the full story" (PE, January 2000, p 28).
Maintenance planning handbook filled with data to boost plant productivity
New handbook is a ready-to-use, nuts-and-bolts guide to planning and scheduling plant maintenance effectively. The book goes beyond theory, demonstrating how planning fits into maintenance, what principles make it work, and exactly how planning is done.
Focus on employee needs to minimize outsourcing anxiety
As manufacturers increasingly choose to outsource maintenance tasks, managers must take into account the impact these decisions have on current employees.
Air pollution control
New 8-p brochure describes products and capabilities for air pollution control. The literature explains customer service programs, R&D and engineering support, and laboratory assessment capabilities. Farr Co. www.farrco.
Trends in cooling towers
Cooling towers are one of industry's primary ways of conserving water and dissipating heat. They are not new technology.
How clean is your oil?
A custom analysis service for monitoring fluid cleanliness combines a state-of-the-art laboratory with trending capabilities in an effort to avert potential contamination problems and increase machine uptime.
Lube prevents rust
SiliKroil is formulated with silicone for maximum penetration and lubrication, and dissolves rust by breaking down crystals of iron oxide, which allows corroded parts to loosen easily.
Pigtail connector saves wiring time
Term-a-Nut combines a twist-on connector with a precrimped pigtail to facilitate the pigtailing of hot, neutral, or ground connectors in wiring device installations.
Repairing shafts scored by seals
The seal has failed! That's the first assumption many maintenance technicians make when they spot a telltale oil film, or worse, dripping oil around a shaft seal location. Frequently, that's not the case.
Can you eliminate personnel to cut costs?
A team of carpenters on special projects in the maintenance department was composed of two senior men and a helper. The helper's job consisted largely of lifting components, fetching materials from the supply room, and making minor adjustments.
No-skive coupling reduces assembly time
GlobalSpiral hydraulic coupling does not require skiving of high pressure, spiral wire hose, which reduces assembly time, labor, fabrication errors, and contamination of the fluid power system.
Asked to start his shift early: Is he entitled to call-in pay?
The terms of the labor agreement specified that employees entitled to call-in time would be paid for a minimum of 4 hr at time-and-a-half.
Mobile computing enters maintenance mainstream
Computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS) and enterprise asset management systems (EAMS) are marvelous tools. They provide a wealth of information to maintenance departments to better manage and execute mission-critical activities.
Encourage your children
In the October 1999 Forum letter, "Shortage of skilled workers," Thomas Haldi asks the question, "Why would you encourage your children to join the skilled workforce?" There are any number of valid reasons to encourage your children to enter the skilled trades, none of which have anything to do with making the pay scale for brain surgeons equal to that of a screw machine operator. Here are a few. 1. Not every child has the ability to be a brain surgeon or engineer.
Shortage of skilled workers
After reading your July editorial addressing a "Shortage in the Skilled Workforce" and editorials in other publications, I thought someone might get a clue on what is really happening. I am a career craftsperson who has raised two children.
Knowledge management systems: Maintenance on the front lines
Reducing repair and maintenance costs is important to improving productivity and a constant goal for all manufacturing operations that use complex equipment.
Conveyor sortation systems
The conveyor industry has entered the "blur stage" as cartons are sorted so fast that it is impossible for a person to visually count them.
Specifying motors for hazardous locations
Failure to select the proper motor for use in a hazardous location can have serious consequences -- lost production, extensive property damage, and even loss of life.
Comparing fabric filter dust collectors
Capturing nuisance and process dusts is a major concern for all plant engineers. Nuisance dusts could create operational problems, and are definitely health and safety concerns for the employees.
Should emergency leave be granted for union meeting?
Maintenance Department Carpenter Grade I Harold Newsome approached his supervisor's desk. "What's on your mind, Newsome?" "I'd like to request authorization for an emergency leave so that I can attend the union meeting tomorrow.
Uncommon side: Disloyal assistant — Part II
A flood of responses via e-mail, fax, and snail mail was unanimous in the opinion that if anyone should have been called on the carpet, demoted, dismissed, or otherwise castigated, that person was Chief Engineer Joel Chase. As respondent George L.
Is a merit pay increase always discretionary?
When Mechanic Grade B Tom Pffeifer was rejected for a merit increase, he carried his gripe to Plant Steward Andrew Brookshire. "There was nothing wrong with my performance on the job," Pffeifer groused. "I'm entitled to the increase.
Replacement refrigerants for DX chillers
HCFC-22 is the world's most widely used refrigerant. The product is used for unitary cooling, central chilled water systems, and refrigeration applications.
Best of breed, best of enterprise: Integrating CMMS and ERP
Implementing a "best of breed" solution that integrates a CMMS with enterprise resource planning (ERP) functions is a complex, multifaceted task.
Is an arbitrator’s decision sacrosanct?
Business had been in the doldrums for months. When an announcement appeared on the bulletin board in December that Christmas bonuses would be discontinued this year, the workforce was up in arms.
Spoon-feed radical change
Industrialist Charles Kettering said, "The world hates change, yet it is the only thing that has brought progress." Sometimes, to temper the anxiety and apprehension associated with change, it must be carefully and tactfully motivated.
Where there’s smoke…
I think that your final answer to the Human Side of Engineering case, "Must you provide a smoke-free work environment?" (PE, November 1998, p 32) is a little short-sighted.
Modular wiring system
SpartanFlex modular wiring system is an easy-to-install, cost-effective alternative to hard-wiring. Depending on labor costs, the system can save 27%-56% on installation costs.C.E.W. Lighting, Inc.B
All of your responses to the cases presented in the Human Side of Engineering seem to lack suggestions for one of the most fundamental remedies to overcome place conflicts.
Every plant engineer has to deal with outsourcing sooner or later. By some estimates, more than 90% of businesses currently outsource one or more activities.
Plant Engineering appreciates the information provided for this article by the following firms and individuals. - Everest Software Corp. 12700 Preston Rd, Suite 200 Dallas, TX 75230-1869 www.outsourcing-mgmt.
Are gay couples entitled to the same benefits as straight couples?
What constitutes a family? Couples these days are breaking ground for all kinds of new definitions. Some companies go along when the issue of family benefits is involved; others are reluctant to do so. The same thing goes for communities.
Survey targets key issues in MRO purchasing and management
WW. Grainger, Inc., recently conducted its third annual survey to identify issues of importance to the purchasing decision makers of maintenance, repair, and operating (MRO) products.
What’s new in low-voltage power circuit breakers
The trend toward higher reliability requirements in plant electric power systems is raising demand for economical and effective protection for those systems.
Is an employee on layoff entitled to funeral pay?
The plant was slow. Frank Eckert and two other maintenance department employees were told they could come to work Monday and Tuesday, would be on layoff the rest of the week, and could return to work the following Monday.
Basic guide to maintenance benchmarking
Benchmarking has become a common practice in all kinds of businesses, but nowhere is it more prevalent than in manufacturing.
Costs rise moderately at end of 1998
The Plant Engineering Cost Index (PECI) moved up a moderate 0.
Managing energy in a deregulated environment: Opportunity or chaos?
Be careful what you wish for. You just may get it! A choice when your plant buys power. A single energy bill from a single source. The potential to reduce energy costs significantly.
10 key indicators of maintenance performance
- Mechanical availability (asset utilization) The "business contribution" of maintaining personnel is to provide highly reliable equipment at the lowest possible cost.
Does management have an unlimited right to select supervisors?
Most arbitrators rule that management has the right to promote workers to supervisory jobs without interference from the union, unless wording in the labor agreement specifies otherwise.
Composite maintenance benchmark metrics
Representative Representative GENERAL COST RATIOS best practice range Mtce cost/ERV Process 2.3% 2% - 5% Discrete 2.0% 2.0% - 5.0% Total mtce cost/total sales Process 3.4% 1.5% - 5% Discrete 0.
Special hazards fire protection products are the subject of a 16-p brochure. The products featured protect areas, processes, equipment, or structures that normal sprinkler systems can't.
Can you change a work category on the basis of confidentiality?
Ellen Marshall had been Plant Engineer Jeff Cochrane's secretary for almost 4 yr. As his circumstances changed, Cochrane increasingly became privy to confidential information of a sensitive nature, particularly in regard to union and personnel issues.
Industrial prices remain soft
Although the overall finished goods producer price index (PPI) moved up 0.2% during October, prices for most items used at the manufacturing shop level showed little or no increase.
Cutting fluid and paste lubricate metalworking operations
Tapmatic TriCut cutting fluid and paste are designed for severe metalworking operations. The two products are suitable for most metals, extend tool life, reduce friction and production costs, and improve surface finish.
Must you tell a probationary employee why you fired him?
Midway through Jose Pele's 60-day probationary period, it was apparent to Maintenance Foreman Gary Wellman that the electrician wasn't going to make it.
Power pusher moves loads easily
Easy Mover ARL1200 pushes, pulls, steers, and maneuvers loads requiring an applied force up to 1980 lb. This portable pusher and roller helps prevent injuries and reduces labor costs; and moves loads mounted on swiveling wheels or casters.
Inflation stays low
In the overall economy, there is no evidence of inflationary pressures bubbling to the surface, despite recent reports of a pick-up in the growth rate of wages and salaries in the U.S. The GDP inflation measure declined 0.
A series of industrial air-to-air heat recovery systems is presented in an 8-p brochure. The literature explains flow paths and a unique design that enables effective recovery for processes with particulate-laden exhausts.
Are laid-off workers entitled to holiday pay?
If the labor agreement lists no restrictions, does holiday pay accrue to everyone, laid-off workers included? Many arbitrators affirm that "employee status" isn't altered by layoff if the employee is eligible to recall.
Saturday holiday: Do you have to pay?
The plant was located in an area where competent help was in short supply. In an effort to recruit good people, it was decided to include employee birthdays in the paid holidays package. When the union was voted out the birthday holidays policy continued.
Remember the wolf pack
Real progress comes from inside the plant. The more I witness real success stories in industry, the more convinced I am that real progress is nearly always internally generated and driven.
Is shaming a worker the best way to ; boost productivity?
Concerned about declining productivity in the maintenance department, Foreman Vincent Aurellio decided to crack down on offenders.
Bomb scare: What constitutes proper notification?
Terrorist incidents had increased in the area. When the president of ABZ Co. received a bomb threat at 5:39 a.m. one morning, Plant Engineer Murray Friedman took it seriously.
Do vacation benefits accrue during layoff?
Does your labor agreement clearly answer this question? It's easy to get into semantic disagreements when vacation eligibility is based on "employment.
Fume hood fans
Adjustable drive fans designed for exhausting corrosive fumes from industrial laboratory hoods are the subject of a 10-p catalog. The publication lists electrical and mechanical specifications, option information, performance charts, and photographs.
When is is right to deny an employee’s vacation preference?
Some labor agreements grant workers the vacation of their choice provided the company doesn't have a valid reason for denying it.
Quits due to plant closing: Does he get severance pay?
Although it was no big surprise, the announcement of management's decision to shut down the plant 3-mo hence was a hard dish for employees to swallow.
Getting rid of a dud? Take care
Not only is it sometimes difficult to fire an employee who doesn't live up to the mark, it can be costly as well, if the current trend continues.
Labor market strength continues to confound and astound
The nation's unemployment rate remained at 4.7% in January, and job growth far exceeded expectations.
Is overtime work a time-honored precedent?
When a consultant's Productivity and Cost Effectiveness Audit Report for ABC Co. included a suggestion calling for split lunch periods, the crew was up in arms.
Using Ultrasonic Instrumentation To Enhance Plant Maintenance
Ultrasonic technology's primary function -- to detect air and gas leaks -- plays a significant role in reducing plant energy costs and is an important part of any plant maintenance program.
Penetrating oil lasts longer
Aerokroil penetrating oil is available in a 13-oz aerosol can that fits conveniently in a tool box.
Got a sticky problem?
More Solutions To Sticky Problems, a free 30-p booklet, is a library of information about the science of viscosity and its technical applications.
Coping With Proliferating Electronic Cabling
Heavy reliance on electronic communications and a need for flexibility are hallmarks of today's industrial facilities. As a result, engineers must pay careful attention to how electronic communications cabling is routed throughout their plants.