Archive for February, 2010

Olympics 2010

February 24, 2010

Do you Believe? The luge can travel down the track at a speed on average of 80 miles per hour (128 kilometers per hour). A downhill skier can travel at a speed of 156 miles per hour (251 kilometers an hour).  A ski jumper can jump on average 103 meters. Can I be an Olympian at the Games, I would like to believe. Has it been 4 years already since the last Olympics Games, it is hard to believe.  As I watch and admire the Olympians I wonder how much time and effort has been given for this one moment some lasting as little as 30 seconds. How many hours on the hill or on the ice, how many chocolate cakes at birthdays avoided, how many squats have been done, and the list goes on. It is amazing to see on  every olympian’s the sweat and joy showing on their face. I made it!!

Is it possible we turn every office and plant into an Olympic stadium making years of our sweat and tears shown in every piece of work we do, I believe this can be done. How many hours have we stayed after work, how many calls have we answered, how many hours have we spent travelling. My challenge(if you choose to accept it) is to believe you are an olympic hopeful working for that one moment where it is your time to shine. Take time to follow-up with customers, research new areas and fields in which your company could venture, listen to everyone’s questions and come up with the best answers possible. These are our opportunities to reach the best that we can be whether that be in sales, customer services or in production.  Good Luck to you all and remember do you believe!

– H. Corbett
APC Team

Thoughts on Housekeeping

February 20, 2010

Recently I saw an online job posting for an aluminum extrusion roller operator, and one of the key qualifications for the position was that the applicant should keep a “clean and organized work place for every project”.  It got me thinking about what housekeeping meant growing up as far as clean rooms and desks requested by parents, teachers and eventually bosses. However, after working at a manufacturer for decades and touring extrusion facilities; it now brings to mind serious concerns for safety, the environment and product quality.

Safety – There are a myriad of potential accidents waiting to happen if equipment and facilities are not properly maintained.   Just to name a few areas that could spell accidents would be walkways and common areas not being kept clean and open, the dust off buffing machines and other finishing equipment not being properly controlled to prevent explosions and oil applied too liberally to machines through operature misuse or leaks.  Speaking of oil, I almost landed flat on the floor at one extruders due to a large spill.  Fortunately, a co-worker noticed the spill first and warned me in time to avoid.

Another safety concern at extruders is the hot extrusions themselves.  With the exit temperature off the press in the neighborhood of 1000°F, and the cooling down time being considerable; it is not surprising that burns can be common.  I have heard of people touching extrusions along the cooling process as they believed the product looked cool. This is in part due to lack of process knowledge, but also these cooling extrusions should not be located where workers or visitors could inadvertently back or walk into them.

Environment – There is great concern for our environment.  By using high temperature fabrics in the handling of extrusion profiles, whether it be strips, pads, rollers or sleeves; there is less waste than using cardboard or graphite as the fabric products can be reused over an extended period of time before they need to be replaced.   Also, they do not create a housekeeping nightmare like graphite does.  Turning off lights and switching off cooling fans on the extrusion lines when not in use are just a few other housekeeping tips to save on energy and the environment.

Product Quality – It is possible that poor housekeeping could result in dirt, dust and other inclusions making their way into the furnance and billets as well as cooling extrusions.  I have witnessed an irate maintenance manager showing perplexed sales people small bits of exploded belting which had flown all over their plant and up to the rafters.   He wrongly believed that the failed product was one which the sales people had supplied when in fact it was a competitor’s product.  Typically high temperature fabric handling products are utilized in extrusion plants to improve the finish and quality of the extrusions, not to detract from them.

Housekeeping is not just a virture but needs to be a top priority for the smooth and successful operation of every plant.

– Sue Johnson
Albarrie – Head Office

Math I never thought I would use in real life…

February 17, 2010

Math was never my strongest subject.  I make jokes about it a lot. I tell people that my older brother, an accountant, got the math gene while I got the good looks. Learning long division in 4th grade had me in tears. In high school, thinking that I wanted to become a Marine Biologist, I had to take university level math prep courses – I failed…twice! So, it made sense that when deciding my career path and planning for college, I specifically chose programs and courses that had zero math because, let’s face it…you’re never gonna need to know this stuff in real life, right? WRONG!  Somehow, for the last 11+ years I’ve been working in a job that involves math – a lot of math.

When I began to work in the customer service department at Albarrie, my fear of numbers came back to haunt me. Nevertheless, I figured that sales math is nothing more than basic multiplying, adding and subtracting, right? Sure – that’s sales math. But working with Engineers and Technicians in Aluminum Extrusion industry has taught me a lot. Quoting engineered items such as rollers, roller sleeves, spacer bar sleeves, pads and even rolled goods requires more in-depth math than I ever thought I would need to know in real life.  Geometry & Algebra were my nemeses in high school but at work, words like ‘perimeter’, ‘area’ and ‘circumference’ were tossed about. I had to remember what the difference between ‘diameter’ and ‘radius’ was. Conversions of metric to imperial, calculating angles and even using Pi in costing formulas was commonplace and I could no longer pretend that math was something I’d never need. Luckily, I had co-workers and supervisors that were patient with me. They showed me, often more than once, how to get to the answer.

Persistence and patience paid off and I surprised myself how easy it became when you apply it to real situations. Though it will never be my favorite subject, math isn’t all that scary and sometimes, it’s even fun…just don’t tell my 4th grade teacher that!

by S. Craig

Removing graphite rollers from a plant

February 10, 2010

We were approached by a US Extrusion company to help remove graphite rollers from their plant. In the extrusion process, graphite has been used to support the aluminum extrusion downstream of the press. The problem is that graphite can transfer its carbon thus marking the extrusion which can make it hard to paint, anodize and weld. Also carbon dust will be removed from the slabs and could possibly expose workers to a fine airborne graphite and zircon silicate. We proposed two products to them, our fullback rollers to be installed at the beginning of the line, followed by our halfback rollers (sleeves) farther down. Both of these products are designed to with stand the high temperatures associated with the extrusion process without marking or damaging their product. The company purchased our product, installed them, and has reduced graphite marking. They are very impressed with the outcome, that they have asked us back to help redesign the lead out table with a similar product.

– Neil Chappell
Albarrie – Head Office

“These are the best darn resin treated roller covers I have ever used!”

February 1, 2010

The industrial landscape of the United States is fascinating to me. The geographical differences and cultural similarities constantly compare and contrast in my mind as I travel country roads and state highways. As a Sales Engineer for Albarrie Process Control; a Canadian based engineered textile company, I sell nonwoven, high temperature felt products to the aluminum extrusion industry. These products replace old graphite technology with new highly efficient, very durable pads, belts, roller covers and spacer bar sleeves. By phasing out graphite, extruders enjoy mark free extrusions, a cleaner work environment and less waste. I am the face of this product and I travel from extrusion plant to extrusion plant loaded with samples, brochures and a will to make my customer’s product better. It is satisfying to feel like you are making a difference in a customer’s bottom line. I enjoy treating customer right and hearing;

“These are the best darn resin treated roller covers I have ever used!”

In these difficult times I see one commonality no matter where I travel. From post steel boom Ohio to the industrial outskirts of Miami, I see extruders buckling down, making hard decisions, adapting and surviving. This is exciting to me because of the symbiotic relationship I share with extruders. I think it is more meaningful for the bigger picture of manufacturing in North America; determined individuals working hard and looking to that light at the end of the tunnel.

– Nick Rossi
Lewiston, Maine