Oct 23

OSHA VPP: Clow Valve (Foundry)

Clow Valve FoundryIn our ongoing series of posts highlighting companies that have taken extra steps to satisfy Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) safety requirements in their Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP), a cooperative program that recognizes employers and employees who proactively prevent worksite injuries and illnesses, here we look at Clow Valve, a subsidiary of McWane, Inc.

Since 1926, Clow Valve has been recognized as one of the country’s leading and most experienced manufacturers of ductile iron pipe. The company’s machine shop and metal casting facility in Oskaloosa, Iowa, manufactures fire hydrants and water valves. The metal casting facility produces gray iron, ductile iron and brass castings for valves and hydrants.

Even after decades of safety efforts – including written safety programs, training, machine guards, lockout/tagout programs and more – Clow Valve was experiencing incident rates above the national average for its industry. In 2005, the company overhauled its safety programs to incorporate core VPP elements. In 2007, Iowa OSHA’s VPP team conducted a nine-day VPP onsite audit, and Clow Valve’s metal casting facility achieved VPP Merit status.

Clow Valve’s work with on-site consultation and participation in the Iowa VPP resulted in improved workplace safety, health performance and other benefits. For instance, the metal casting facility reduced its incident rates to below the industry’s national average, and employee turnover rates fell from 89 percent in 2000 to 13 percent in 2010.

Today, commitment to safety and health is part of the company’s culture, with employees engaged and taking ownership of safety. Clow Valve is now an advocate of OSHA cooperative programs, such as VPP, and mentors other facilities seeking to enter the VPP process.

Oct 14

Pharma Manufacturing Quality in the Spotlight

Pharma Manufacturing Quality in the SpotlightWithin all aspects of pharmaceutical manufacturing operations, maintaining a rigorous level of quality assurance is of critical importance. Urging greater focus on contractor quality, the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued new guidance in May that provides specific strategies for manufacturers to ensure drug quality from third parties.

The new FDA document maps ways to define and document the responsibilities of all parties involved in commercial production of human and animal drugs, biotechnology products, combination products and active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs).

“A main theme is that the owner of a new drug application is ultimately responsible for any failings or shortcomings by contractors,” PharmTech reported last month. “While all parties to a contract must prevent adulteration or misbranding, FDA emphasizes that owners cannot escape responsibility by pointing to vendor failings.”

The FDA has issued various guidelines in the past addressing quality management principles related to contract manufacturing operations and recommended the use of Quality Agreements (QAs) to facilitate compliance with current Good Manufacturing Practice (cGMP) requirements, but the new draft guidance is significant for its focus on the importance and the details of written QAs.

In the draft guidance, the FDA recommends that a QA not only stand separate from commercial contracts but also clarify which of the cGMP activities are to be carried out by each party and track the basic subparts of the cGMP regulations or guidelines. At a minimum, the QA should cover the following basic topics: purpose/scope; terms (including effective date and termination clause); dispute resolution; responsibilities (including communication mechanisms and contacts); and change control and revisions (including subcontractors).

Health Care Law Matters has noted that “areas of responsibility include Quality Unit, facilities and equipment, materials management, product-specific requirements and responsibilities, laboratory controls and documentation.”

As manufacturers work to produce safe and reliable prescription drugs, maintaining clear and effective relations with contractors to balance the demands of meeting regulations and production costs is of the utmost importance.

Sep 24

Innovation in Manufacturing Matters

Innovation in Manufacturing MattersInnovation is fast becoming a top strategic priority for a majority of companies today. While the notion that innovation drives prosperity is not new, it’s important to remember that innovation should not be considered an end in itself but rather an ongoing process that adds continuous value.

“The country can innovate until the cows come home, but if it can’t translate that innovation into something substantial – something that adds to the economic output of the United States – it does little for America,” Ralph Gomory, a research professor at the Stern School of Business at New York University and President Emeritus of the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, recently wrote in a piece published by both Manufacturing News and the Huffington Post.

That is why innovation in manufacturing is so important.

“Innovation in manufacturing is what turns ideas into things that change the world,” Gomory, who previously served as senior VP for science and technology at IBM, wrote. “There are ideas, and then innovation in the manufacturing process steadily improves them. Much of the progress and the competition in manufacturing is based on incremental innovation whose cumulative effect is enormous.”

Gomory gives examples of how much of the progress in manufacturing’s past has been based on incremental innovation with an enormous cumulative effect: it took 150 years of steady improvement for the steam engine to evolve to become a machine powerful enough to create the industrial revolution; and it took 60 years of continuous miniaturization of the transistor to produce a pocket-sized cell phone with enormous computing power.

Looking ahead, it isn’t unreasonable to expect the greatest innovations of the 21st century will be incremental in nature and help address human needs rather than those that solely create the most profit. To meet those needs, however, more importance must be placed on manufacturing, which Gomory describes as “the great innovation engine that turns ideas into reality.”

At DeMarco Industrial Vacuum Corporation, innovation has always been one of our core values and it continues to be the foundation of our vacuum technology.

Sep 17

Overview of Film Dedicated to “Made in America”

test12aBeyond a sense of restoring national pride, the recent resurgence of American-made goods makes economic sense again for manufacturers in the United States. Today, as economic conditions drive many overseas manufacturing operations back to the U.S., a new film explores the history of American manufacturing and its impact.

The feature-length documentary, titled American Made Movie, reflects on the glory days of U.S. manufacturing and also examines the factors that have contributed to the decline of the American manufacturing workforce, including technology and globalization.

While the documentary explores the decline of America’s manufacturing workforce, it also looks at people and families who have adapted and thrived, as well as successful companies that have prospered, showing the positive impact manufacturing jobs have on national and local economies.

Even more, the directors of American Made Movie, Vincent Vittorio and Nathaniel Thomas McGill, illustrate the integral role consumerism may play in getting the economy back on track, showing the relationship between people and what they buy. The film demonstrates how each American consumer can make a difference in the future of U.S. manufacturing.

In a recent 32-city, 32-day bus tour, Vittorio and McGill aimed not only to promote the film (which hits theaters nationwide Aug. 30), but also to educate and encourage people to purchase American-made products. Ultimately, the film asks who will be responsible for the resurgence of American manufacturing, and answers: Americans.

Sep 10

Grain Dust Removal: What Features Should You Look at in an Industrial Vacuum?

industrial vaccum systemGrain dust is highly combustible and can burn or flare up if enough becomes airborne or accumulates on a surface and finds an ignition source. To help reduce or eliminate accumulations of ignitable dusts inside a plant or facility, industrial vacuums are the ideal solution for efficient and effective cleaning.

The amount of grain dust accumulation necessary to cause a risk for explosion can vary greatly. This is because there are so many variables – the grain dust particle size, the method of dispersion, ventilation system modes, air currents, physical barriers, and the volume of the area in which the grain dust cloud exists or may exist.

The OSHA ventilation standard, 29 CFR 1910.94, contains ventilation requirements for certain types of operations (such as abrasives, blasting, grinding, or buffing) which involve dusts, including dusts that can become combustible. Additionally, 29 CFR 1910.22(a)(1) requires employers to keep work places and other areas clean, which includes the removal of dust accumulations.

In nearly all industries, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) recommends vacuum cleaning as the preferred first defense method of controlling dust. The 2013 revision of the NFPA 654 standard, issued by the Standards Council last year, states that vacuuming is the preferred method of cleaning.

When choosing an industrial vacuum to safely remove grain dust, what features should you look at in an industrial vacuum?

HEPA Filtration – If the collection of ultra-fine particles is a concern, the vacuum should utilize a multi-stage HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filtration system. HEPA filters remove 99.97 percent of particles at 0.3 microns, and they keep pollutants from re-entering the air supply. A heavy-duty, multistage filtration system will provide minimal material carryover to filters, catching and retaining particles as they move through the filter layers.

Continuous-Duty Operation – Cleaning times for manufacturing equipment can vary, so select a vacuum that provides continuous-duty vacuum operation. The vacuum should include a high-performance, automatic pulse-jet cartridge filter cleaning feature to save on manual labor and vacuum downtime. Look for a vacuum that doesn’t require shutdowns for filter cleaning.

test14aLimited Lifetime Warranty – Any industrial vacuum should come with a limited lifetime warranty. Purchasing a vacuum system is a long-term investment decision, which is why it is important to get a manufacturer’s warranty giving you the assurance and long-lasting protection in the product you are buying. It marks the manufacturer’s unwavering commitment to quality that lasts.

These are just a few of the many factors to consider when purchasing an industrial vacuum system. Ultimately, the overall solution must address the process requirements, materials and the volumes processed.

Sep 03

Overview of Rolls-Royce’s Partnership with Singapore University

car transmission productionDeMarco Industrial Vacuums like many other manufacturers have a long history of making revolutionary advancements in products and processes to improve efficiency, quality and safety. In an effort to showcase innovation in manufacturing, over the coming year, we will be highlighting companies that are making strides to increase innovation, quality, and productivity.

One company that is building on a legacy of innovation is Rolls-Royce. Rolls-Royce recently announced a new multimillion-dollar partnership with Singapore University that will focus on fundamental research and pioneering technology to develop innovative solutions to overcome challenges in large-scale manufacturing and repair, such as reducing noise and emissions.

The centerpiece is the $75 million [email protected] Corporate Lab, the first of its kind in the world with a university, focusing on three core research areas: electrical power and control systems; manufacturing and repair technologies; and computational engineering.

“Running 32 distinct research projects over the next five years, the lab aims at inventing more efficient and reliable energy delivery systems, developing innovative manufacturing technologies to complement more robust power systems and extracting information from equipment and processes so that operators can make timely and informed business critical decisions,” Engineering & Technology magazine explains.

singaporeThe [email protected] Corporate Lab is located at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University, which is recognized as one ofAsia’s foremost research and development hubs and one of the fastest-rising universities worldwide in terms of ranking. The lab will have a team of more than 300 top-level talent composed of research staff and technical experts.

Rolls-Royce is no stranger to NTU, having forged a close partnership with the university in the last eight years, when research collaborations were initiated in the domains of power generation, power electronics and control systems. This isn’t the company’s only academic partnership, having forged collaborative relationships with universities in subject areas ranging from composite materials and fuel cell systems to thermo-fluid systems and nuclear engineering.

Aug 27

The State of “Made in America”

test12aApproximately 65 percent of American consumers are willing to pay more for 10 key product categories – including electronics, appliances and apparel – as long as these goods were made in the United States, according to a late-2012 study from the Boston Consulting Group (BCG).

The findings are part of a research project known as “Made in America, Again,” which shows that the U.S. is becoming increasingly attractive as a location for making certain products for the domestic market, as well as becoming a base for global exports.

Buyers’ preferences for American-made products may be indicative of a broader trend that is making the U.S. more competitive with China, whose overwhelming manufacturing cost advantage over the  U.S. is shrinking rapidly and, ultimately, changing cost considerations.

money handlingYet labor costs are only part of the picture, according to earlier BCG findings on the changing economics that are starting to favor the manufacturing of certain goods in the U.S.A. growing number of U.S. companies are considering reshoring, or shifting previously offshored operations back to the U.S., to also improve product quality, ease of doing business and proximity to customers. Relatively affordable energy is also making “Made in America” more attractive to businesses.

The results are consistent with evidence that the great migration of manufacturing offshore is beginning to reverse. According to findings published by Accenture last summer, approximately two-thirds of large U.S. manufacturers have moved factories in the past two years, with the most popular destination being the U.S.

This trend is expected to reach a tipping point over the next few years, as the total landed cost gap between the U.S. and China continues to shrink, driven in part by rising wage inflation inChina and continued productivity improvements in the U.S.

DeMarco Industrial Vacuum Corporation is proud to be Made in the USA. This is one of our core beliefs.

Aug 20

VPP Success Story: GE Sayre Railcar Repair Shop

railway repair carCompanies that believe workplace safety planning should be proactive rather than reactive address the safety of their employees before dangerous incidents occur and beyond only what the law mandates. In the first of a series of blog posts highlighting companies that have taken extra steps to satisfy Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA) safety requirements in their Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP), a cooperative program that recognizes employers and employees who proactively prevent worksite injuries and illnesses, here we look at the General Electric Sayre Railcar Repair shop.

Located in north-central Pennsylvania, this GE full-service railcar service shop’s 100+ workers repair and service all types of railroad cars. GE Rail Services was first recognized as a Star worksite under VPP in 2001. VPP Star status recognizes the efforts of managers and employees who have achieved exemplary safety and health management systems.

At the Sayre service shop, a number of safety improvements were made due to the site’s ergonomics team – made up of 18-20 employee team members – which was involved in determining worksite needs in relation to best ergonomic practices. Supported by management, the team has conducted employee comfort surveys to gauge the quantitative risk associated with job tasks.

In addition to performing repairs and/or modifications, the many activities at the Sayre shop include removing residual commodity and removing paint and interior lining (abrasive blasting).

OSHA believes that by using good work practices, the risk of exposure to air contaminants and other safety/health risks associated with abrasive blasting can be minimized. Such practices include using industrial vacuum systems equipped with High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filters or wet methods when removing accumulated dust. Companies looking to participate in the VPP program while facing dust issues related to abrasive blasting should consider a DEMARCO Industrial Vacuum system.

Demarco industrial vacuum

Aug 12

Purchase Options for DEMARCO Vacuum Systems

Purchase Options for DEMARCO Vacuum SystemsAt DeMarco, we understand the importance of purchase options. We realize that, even as the economy continues to recover, limited resources are still causing many sourcing professionals to do more with less. We also believe an industrial vacuum is a sound investment, helping to ensure a safe workplace and a prosperous and efficient business.

That is why we offer a convenient selection of buying options that enable our customers the greatest purchasing power designed around their needs.

In addition to direct purchase, we provide a financing/leasing option, wherein customers can choose from a variety of flexible plans with competitive rates.

There’s also a rental with purchase option. Currently, both weekly and monthly rental plans are available to customers. Up to 100 percent of rental payments may be applied toward their vacuum purchase.

Purchase Options for DEMARCO Vacuum SystemsWith our “remanufactured” option, DeMarco Industrial Vacuum Corporation will rebuild any DEMARCO industrial vacuum to “Like New” condition at affordable pricing. All remanufactured vacuums come with our 2-year DEMARCO Rebuild Warranty.

Finally, we also accept trade-ins for cash credit towards a DEMARCO Vacuum purchase.

At DeMarco, we’ve made it our mission to provide our customers with a favorable buying experience. We know that forming long-term customer relationships is the lifeline of our business, which is why we take the extra steps to ensure you obtain an unparalleled foundation of trust. Contact us today to speak with one of our industrial vacuum engineers and determine what purchase option will work best for you.

Aug 05

Cleanliness in the Electronics Industry

Cleanliness in the Electronics IndustryDid you know that the desired cleanliness level for integrated circuit manufacturing is far greater than the guidelines for general operating rooms, pharmaceutical production and even medical-equipment manufacturing by a factor of 10,000 or greater? That is why critical electronic components today are often assembled in clean rooms where HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) vacuums are used to maintain clean conditions.

While electronics, semiconductor, high-tech, medical device and other crucial types of manufacturers operate clean rooms today, all of the effort and expense involved in creating an immaculate, if maintained properly, contaminant-free atmosphere could very well be saved.

Today, industrial vacuums are integral to the production and packaging processes of companies all across the electronics industry. Among innumerable applications, they help clean up debris in TV tube production and wire trimmings in plug-and-switch assembly lines, all to ensure high product quality. Ultimately, industrial vacuums help electronics manufacturers prevent product contamination, which in turn minimizes the expenses related to product reliability loss.

Electronics IndustryIn electrical and electronics industries, where cross-contamination and the collection of ultra-fine particles is a key concern, the ideal industrial vacuum should utilize a HEPA filtration system, which removes 99.7 percent of particles that have a size of 0.3 microns, and they keep contaminants from re-entering the air supply. Because maintaining clean-room standards requires proper cleaning of all floors and surfaces, the HEPA-filtered vacuum should meet stringent standards in collecting and retaining microscopic particulate that can damage the most sensitive electronics equipment.