Archive for June, 2010

Where are they coming from?

June 23, 2010

That’s right I am talking about those extra pounds that have creeped up on you. We are told everyday that weight gain, especially office weight gain is happening to us all. Don’t get me wrong I am as much to blame as the next person for those afternoon trips to the vending machine or indulging in those meeting muffins, donuts and cookies. Currently I am writing this article to try and take my mind off the Pringles sitting beside me. I am sure you are wondering how exactly does writing about Pringles actually take your mind off Pringles, well in fact it doesn’t, my mission has failed. It is good to know I am not alone in this forever battle, a survey conducted by Career Builders shows that overall, 44 percent of workers say they have gained weight in their current jobs, up slightly from 43 percent in 2009. Out of those who confessed to on-the-job weight gain, 28 percent reported an increase of more than 10 pounds and 12 percent said they gained more than 20 pounds.The survey was conducted from February 10th through March 2nd , 2010 among more than 4,800 workers.

So why does going to work make us fat? Here are a couple of ideas:

  • Work-related stress
  • Sitting at a desk most of the day
  • Eating out regularly
  • Workplace celebrations (potlucks, birthdays,  etc.)
  • Skipping meals because of time constraints

Just when you thought all was lost there are ways you can combat work-related weight gain. Rosemary Haefner, vice president of Human Resources for CareerBuilder has the following tips to help reduce your chance of packing on the pounds at work:

  • Create a schedule for your workday – If you are like me you do not know where you will be from one moment to the next but after consulting with a personal trainer I found out it is not good to go for several hours (let alone 5-6 hours) without eating. So in order to keep a working schedule I suggest setting up alerts in your calendar to notify you when to eat.
  • Bring your own lunch – If you are like me saving money is the number one priority. By bringing healthy choices (apples, pears, oranges, beans, peas, lentils) you will reduce the urge to head for the vending machine or eat the meeting muffins. Most of all you will save money!!
  • Bring a Friend– Peer pressure has been proven to persuade or change people’s behaviour. Therefore, by joining co-workers in the battle of the bulge you will be able to conquer your demons.
  • Bite the Bullet – After a long day of sitting at a desk the last thing you want to do is get on a treadmill although, every little bit of activity helps when it comes to preventing weight gain. If this doesn’t work for you try going for a walk at lunch or taking the stairs.

So, on that note, now that I’ve eaten the whole can of Pringles… tomorrow, I’m definitely hitting the gym!

– Holly Corbett
Albarrie Head Office

Staycation in Simcoe County Ontario

June 21, 2010

The term staycation has gained acceptance over the past few years as meaning to vacation at home.  Around 2007 during the early years of the recession the term gained in popularity when there was less travel due to tighter budgets and the higher price of gas.

It can mean a reduction in stress as you don’t need to plan as extensively as with a standard vacation, and travel time is saved getting to a destination.  Staycations should be less expensive than the average North American vacation which the American Automobile Association calculates at being $244/day for two people for food and lodging.   That $244 for one day could go a long way towards special meals dining in or out or visiting attractions around the community.

But it can become stressful if you decide to check your e-mail from home, or if your employer decides to call you about a work related matter, or worse yet; if you are called in to work due to an emergency because you are not away.

Also, if there are chores around the house that you have been putting off this could either be an excellent time to take care of them; or maybe you would just like to forget them.  So it could be more stressful if you find yourself looking at them more frequently than usual.

But personally I can’t imagine a better staycation and place to be in summer than Simcoe County with its abundance of parks, recreational facilities, tennis courts, golf courses, walking and biking trails and outdoor festivals.   Not to mention how spoiled we are with so many beautiful lakes with clean water for boating, swimming, fishing and other water related activities.

My brother and sister-in-law recently purchased a vacation home in Palm Springs which sounds wonderful for certain times of the year.  However, right now it averages 45°C during the day with no outside water other than that found in swimming pools.  And I don’t think you will find the population of Palm Springs enjoying outdoor activities in the summer other than those around a swimming pool.

Welcome summer and staycation for those who live here and to those people who will travel to vacation here.

– Sue Johnson
Albarrie Head Office
Ontario, Canada

Aluminum Handling Systems

June 10, 2010

In the manufacturing of aluminum extrusions, the handling system can be the key to a quality product. There are many types of systems being used, from flight conveyor systems to rollers with double pullers. These systems vary and are all well suited for each location depending on press size, space limitations and alloy types being used. All these handling systems have one thing in common, what to use to protect the hot extrusions from the exit of the press until the aluminum reaches the cut to length saw.

Graphite has been widely used over the years, but graphite can be very messy, leaving graphite marking on the extrusions and graphite dust lingering around in the air within the plant. Other products have started to become the standard to replace graphite such as Kevlar® and PBO (Zylon®) which do not scratch or leave any residue on the extrusion as it travels out of the press onto the handling system. These fibers can handle high temperatures, without decomposing but as everything, they do not last for eternity.

Typically, the exit temperature of an extrusion is about 950° F (510° C) from the press, and will start cooling down as it carried on the handling systems. Most locations use some type of cooling systems to help this process, but it varies from within the location depending on alloy and requirements of temper required.  Kevlar® can handle up to 570° F (300° C) with a small weight loss, and up to 965° F (520° C) with moderate loss. Above that temperature Kevlar® decomposes very rapidly. The PBO Fiber (Zylon®) can handle about 180° F (100° C) higher temperature as compared to Kevlar®.

With the development of high temperature resins, impregnating these fibers with a resin treatment can help resist absorption of water from misting systems or quench tanks so that these fibers have a longer life in those environments. These hardened products such as rollers or pads will keep their shape for a longer period of time.

To use these high temperature fibers is the key to success to any handling system. It’s like owning an expensive sports car, would you use regular gas (87 Octane), or opt for better performance from high octane (92).

– Neil Chappell
Albarrie Head Office
Ontario, Canada

Observations from the Front Line

June 1, 2010

Road Warrior

As a “Road Warrior” Sales Engineer, I relish the opportunity to speak with extruders that manufacture a wide variety of products up and down the eastern seaboard. One of the fascinating things about the aluminum extrusion industry is that it is connected by a process, not necessarily a product. These products range from picture frames to military assault rifle sighting systems. When I want to know how the economy is fairing, I don’t turn on the news. I ask my customers. With such a wide variety of grassroots, American made products one can really get a feel for where the trends are shifting.

One thing is for sure, if you have ever wanted a used extrusion press, now is the time to pick one up. With all of the closings of plants, presses as well as paint lines are being shuffled around the country. I know several extruders who have purchased a used press or paint line and are just sitting on them until they have the manpower or funds to install them. Some of this equipment can be had at auction as such a low price, that competitive extruders can’t afford not to buy them. For those of you who have always wanted an extrusion press in your own home, now is the time to buy, but you might want to consider checking with your local zoning ordinances not to mention your significant other. In the past month I have seen an increase in business relating to architectural products as well as automotive. So much that I hear complaints relating to a lack of personnel rather than the lack of business. Many extruders laid off more than half of their employees during the lean times, only to be bombarded with orders. Getting these employees back has been difficult. This is also the case in maintenance. I deal primarily with maintenance personnel because of their very intimate knowledge with what works and what doesn’t relating to handling equipment.

In the past couple of months they have had very little spare time to talk to me because they are often on the floor operating the press. The automotive related products have improved and I expect to see an increase in production in the Ohio area when GM begins producing the Chevrolet Cruze in their Lordstown plant. Aluminum is becoming more and more a part of mainstream auto manufacturing with the emphasis towards lightweight, fuel efficient vehicles.

Based on my casual observations it seems like we are clawing our way out of this recession. I have seen extruders make some tough decisions in order to stay alive. It has been very much survival of the fittest. Often I hear people around me say that American manufacturing is dead. I assure them that it is alive, well and viable. You just have to know where to look.

-Nick Rossi
Lewiston, Maine