Archive for July, 2010

Where do you want to work?

July 28, 2010

Wouldn’t it be nice to have an aluminum extrusion press in your living room or a cutting machine in your dining room?  Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all work from home, unfortunately, not all jobs are transferable to your home office?  As technologies advance and our lives change we will always be faced with the same endeavors whether it be where to hold the next office meeting or conference, how to reduce paper costs or should we start working from our home offices.     

After reviewing the results of a survey released by the Conference Board of Canada stating the top 10 major workplace changes leaders should be prepared to face by 2020, you often wonder are many organizations feeling the effects of the changing work force. Are you thinking to yourself “oh that is still 10 years away” so I don’t need to worry about falling behind. Well so was the year 2000 and recall the hoopla of Y2K. Much has changed since the 90’s and the way we do business, for example, workplace meetings, once held only in the office are now being held by conference calls or even over the internet reducing time, energy and of course costs. What about the need to go wireless or paperless, these are slowly becoming investments business are faced with. Much the same way those before us were faced with computers, cell phones, fax machines and pagers. If anything we will never be able to leave our work whether we are at home, office, gym or even the dentist. Thus by having a cell phone that receives calls, text, video call, picture messages, connects to the internet, takes pictures, generates maps and so on and so forth. It is impossible to say we were away from a phone, or I was outside, everything is available at your finger tips (literally). Projects that are being discussed and researched in Australia can be shared instantaneously throughout the world by the push of a button, making communications readily available from your home office or even at a resort in Cancun. Making the physical location of offices irrelevant, the only problem is manufacturing organizations will need the man power to complete the job. You never know maybe in the year 2020 we will be able to roll out of bed and start a machine who knows what will be available, it is only a day away!



The Beauty of Aluminum Recycling

July 20, 2010

Recently I made a trip to a local recycling facility to dispose of a broken toaster. Recycling made more sense as the price to repair it would have likely been more than the cost of a new one.

While thinking about how far recycling has expanded in many municipalities over the past decades, I do recall early efforts back in the 1960’s focusing on aluminum pop cans and glass bottles.   In our community there were large metal containers outside the grocery store where you could deposit glass or aluminum cans.  These items were automatically weighed, and in turn you got money back based on the weight.  Aluminum cans in the 1960’s were heavier than the current ones so this was a small gold mine for a youngster.

However, the current figures for recycling of aluminum cans in North America are not outstanding. As of 2007 only 54% of beverage cans in the U.S. were recycled compared to 67% in 19921. Is it possible that in North America we are actually going backwards in our recycling efforts when so much information and work has gone into programs to keep garbage out of landfills?

And at the same time in 2007 when almost 50% of US beverage cans were not recycled, they exported close to 2 million tons of aluminum scrap which included aluminum cans.  These figures do not make good economic or environmental sense.

All aluminum scrap including beverage cans can be captured and reused indefinitely by utilizing modern cast house technology.  Recently I toured a modern computerized facility and saw how tons of scrap aluminum was melted and cast into logs ready to ship to extruders to be manufactured into more cans, bicycles, boats, cars, aircraft, fences, windows and a myriad of other products.   The melting and reusing of recycled aluminum does not diminish the strength or other properties.

Recycling aluminum saves 95% energy and reduces pollution by 95% (Reynolds Metal Co.) versus the production of new aluminum which typically involves open-cut mining of aluminum ore/bauxite plus transporting to locations that produce the raw aluminum plus the energy to convert it to new aluminum for processing.  Recycling is a clear win-win scenario for the environment and our wallets.

– Sue Johnson
Albarrie Head Office


1.  Fielding, Roger A.P, Benchmarks, Recycling Aluminum Extrusion Scrap, Light Metal Age, July/August 2009, Vol. 67, No.4, pp 32-35

Hot time in the summer

July 13, 2010

Most of North America has been in a heat wave for the past week or so, which has been great for those lucky people who have been on vacation during this time. It is a fantastic time to have the choice on how you want to keep cool, or if you prefer enjoy that heat outside hopefully with a cool place to duck into if needed. But for industry, these times can be the hardest on both employees and equipment. Most plants do not have air conditioning, so large fans and plenty of water is normal, but other methods have been used to keep everybody hydrated. In our plant, the afternoon shift gets the worst conditions, solar gain peaks at that time period, and after the sun sets, cooling finally starts to happen.

At other plants, like a majority of our customers, those conditions are harder with equipment like extrusion press, heating aluminum billet up to 1000 F°, die ovens and aging ovens all add to the heat. These pieces of equipment run continuously so relief within the plant can be difficult. Some locations also have paint lines where ovens are used to bake the paint onto the extrusions, another heat source.

Now only if we could find a way to store this heat, and use it when that mercury drops below freezing, but I maybe only dreaming of course (or maybe not). Heat pumps have been available for a while to recover heat from the ground, but storage is the question. Can we find a way to store this heat, without losing it over the cooler months, and then extract it when needed?

Technology has developed solar panels to use the sun to our advantage; can we do the same for heat storage?

Any suggestions?

– Neil Chappell
Albarrie Head Office

Vacationland, America and Good Natured Consumerism

July 13, 2010

Perkins Cove, Ogunquit, Maine

Perkins Cove, Ogunquit, Maine

I hope that all of our American blog followers had a safe and relaxing 4th weekend. Living in a state that does not have a terrible amount of industry, here in Maine we rely heavily on tourism to boost our economy.  Cars with license plates from New York, New Jersey and Quebec pack every major route to the beaches and outlets. Mainers hate everything about this except for the revenue. If it was up to most people, tourists would just be relieved of their cash and credit cards at the New Hampshire border and sent back home. A popular bumper sticker among Mainers reads; “RESTORE BOSTON! Leave Maine alone!” This is in reference to wealthy, Martha Stewart types buying up waterfront property and subsequently causing huge tax increases so that working fisherman cannot afford to own property in the towns that they traditionally lived for generations.

Mainers are wary of outsiders. Growing up in such an insular state was interesting. I was originally from Connecticut and moved to Maine when I was four. To be a native Mainer you must be at least two generations in the state. My girlfriend was born in Maine, but her family is from upstate New York and therefore she is eyed with suspicion.  For me to not only be “from away”, but to be from Connecticut (A place hated even more then Massachusetts) I might as well of been from North Korea. Nevertheless, I feel like it is my home and there is no better place to be in the summer (winter is debatable).

Personally I enjoy blending in with the throngs of tourists. After all, they do go to these places for a reason. Over the weekend me and the lady packed up the folding chairs and headed to Ogunquit beach. This beach is on the southern coast of Maine and is a favorite of locals and tourists alike. It is a melting pot of French Canadians, New Yorkers and New Englanders all packed on a spectacular beach. It is also one of the biggest Gay destinations in all of the USA. Needless to say, it is one of the best places to “people watch” I have ever been to, although one must be prepared for questionable swimwear choices. It came to me on the 4th that the beach represented everything that is great about America; completely different people from completely different places all getting along famously for a cause; In this case, fun and relaxation. Not to mention the good natured consumerism.

Cheers from Vacationland,

– Lewiston Maine Office