High school co-op student dies at work placement

At a time when we’re having a hard time finding people interested and willing to go into trades, despite a shortage, it’s inexcusable that co-op students are exempt from health and safety laws.

High school co-op student dies at work placement | Toronto Star.

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U.S. Steel Canada files for creditor protection

The former Stelco, now a division of U.S. Steel, is in trouble. Creditor protection is the “only option”. This, on the same day as another article proclaims “Canada’s manufacturing sector posted record sales for July and topped expectations as it gained 2.5 per cent”. If they cannot make a profit when manufacturing is good, how will they fair later?

U.S. Steel Canada files for creditor protection | Toronto Star.

Canadian manufacturing sales hit record monthly high | Toronto Star.

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Canada manufacturing growth index at 4-month low in December – Yahoo Finance Canada

Canada manufacturing growth index at 4-month low in December – Yahoo Finance Canada.

Manufacturing activity has been expanding for nine months in a row. It hit a 2-1/2-year peak in October.

Still, the manufacturing sector should gain momentum in 2014, said Paul Ferley, assistant chief economist at RBC.

“Our outlook for 2014 is underpinned by the assumption that Canadian exports will firm as the U.S. continues on a path of recovery – this will provide a healthier environment for manufacturing to further grow in the new year,”

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2 Ontario firms allege Chinese steel sinks violate trade rules, probes launched – Yahoo! Canada Finance

2 Ontario firms allege Chinese steel sinks violate trade rules, probes launched – Yahoo! Canada Finance

The Canadian International Trade Tribunal will begin a preliminary inquiry to determine whether the imports are harming Canadian producers and hand down a decision by Dec. 28.

The border services agency will investigate whether the imports are being dumped and/or subsidized and will make a decision by Jan. 25.

Last April, the Canadian International Trade Tribunal announced imports of steel grating from China will be hit with anti-dumping and countervailing duties. The tribunal found the dumping and subsidizing of non-stainless steel grating from China had harmed Canadian companies.

I’d say it’s about time. It’s been going on a long time. Many companies have gone out of business waiting for their complaints to be heard.

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Firefighters respond to fire at former LMS building

Firefighters from two area departments along with the Sebewaing police were dispatched Wednesday to a fire at the former Lapeer Metal Stamping (LMS) building in the village.

LMS opened in October 2004 after the former Tower Automotive plant closed in 2002. When LMS was accepting applications prior to the opening of the plant, about 900 people applied, according to a story published at the time by the Huron Daily Tribune. LMS closed its doors in 2008. Approximately 100 people were employed there at the time of the closure.

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American Axle to avoid Chapter 11

From the Detroit Free Press

American Axle & Manufacturing Inc. said Thursday it reached a new deal with its lenders and its largest customer, General Motors Co., that will allow the supplier to avert a bankruptcy filing.

The new deal ends months of negotiations between the Detroit-based supplier, its banks and GM after American Axle breached the terms of its loan when its debt and interest costs ran too high.

This passed me by at the time, but it’s dated September 18th. A friend who lives in the effected area pointed it out to me.

The deal American Axle negotiated doesn’t cut the company’s debt. But it does give American Axle cash to maintain its operations through the industry’s downturn, to a time when the company might be able to repay its loans.

I imagine this is good news for their suppliers and workers, but also might set a precedent (and perhaps a blueprint) for metal stampers to follow through these hard times.

Posted in auto, manufacturing | 2 Comments

China coal mine accident kills 13, 66 missing

Via Yahoo! Canada News

A coal mine accident early on Tuesday killed 13 people and 66 others were missing in central China’s Henan Province, the Xinhua news agency reported, citing the state work safety watchdog.

China’s mines are the deadliest in the world, due to lax safety standards and a rush to feed demand from a robust economy. More than 3,000 people died in coal mine accidents in 2008 alone.

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Metaklett, A Steely Hook And Loop Fastener

From Science Daily:
Hook and loop fasteners have become commonplace features of both industry and households. However, they have one snag: they are too weak for many applications. Hook and loop fasteners made of spring steel have now been developed at the Institute of Metal Forming and Casting of the Technische Universitaet Muenchen. These fasteners are resistant to chemicals and can withstand a tensile load of up to 35 tonnes per square meter at temperatures as high as 800°C.

Spring Steel Velco, that’s what we’re talking about here.

Temperatures in excess of 800 °C and aggressive chemical solutions do not pose any problem for Metaklett, which also offers adhesive strength of up to 35 tonnes per square meter when tensile force is applied parallel to the fastener surface. When it is applied perpendicular to the fastener surface, Metaklett can still withstand a force of seven tonnes per square meter. Moreover, like a standard Velcro® fastener on a child’s shoe, it can be opened and closed again without the help of any tools.

You can read the original press release from TUM (Technical University of Munich) in English . A German language version is also available on that page. Use the language buttons in the upper right corner.

Posted in auto, manufacturing, Steel | 5 Comments

MEPS FORECASTS GRADUAL UPTURN IN WORLD STEEL PRICES OVER NEXT TWELVE MONTHS

From MEPS, a steel consultancy in the UK.

The MEPS – World Composite All Products carbon steel price peaked in July 2008 at $US1160 per tonne. In the subsequent ten months the value fell by more than 50 percent to $US562. However, the production curbs are beginning to bite as customers start to rebuild inventories in most regions of the world.

There are now clear signs that steel producers internationally will be increasing output to meet the anticipated higher market demand. This has, in fact, already started. Global production of steel in July 2009 was approximately 11 percent down on the equivalent month in 2008. In comparison, steelmaking in the first six months of this year was almost 20 percent below the figures recorded in the same period of 2008.

Since May, most steel prices have increased steadily – with the MEPS – World Composite figure rising by $US49 per tonne (8 percent) over the past three months. Further growth in transaction values is forecast for the next twelve months.

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Testimony on behalf of Michigan’s tool and die industry

Joe Brown gave testimony before the Michigan Republican House Task Force on Jobs. While much of what he wrote applies to stampers all over, this part effected me the most. This very nearly happened to me.

Skittish banks are declining loans to many tooling suppliers since they consider anything with the terms “manufacturing” or “automotive” as red flags in the application or renewal document. How can these companies retool themselves without this? More disheartening is the devastation this has caused many long-time [...] manufacturers and suppliers who were small business owners with impeccable payment histories. In an instant, many owners’ lives turned upside down.

The following excerpt is from my interview with Michigan’s 1993 Women’s Entrepreneur of the Year and a decades-long small business owner of a MTDM supplier in Fraser, Michigan. Her name is Nina Sylvester and sadly her story is similar to many other past—and current—Michigan manufacturing shop owners:

“Bank of America called and told me that they ‘No longer find that Automotive and Manufacturing are lucrative to their business and therefore will not renew my loan and I have 90 days to find new financing.’ Keep in mind that I was never late on a payment, nor am I to this day, 10 months later. I am at the office everyday collecting what little money is left in receivables which is a job in itself. No one is paying their bills, and I hear the same story from everyone. I had in excess of $100,000.00 in bankruptcies alone since the end of last year. I called and had packages put together and interviewed with 20 different banks. They all said the same thing. One bank in particular, Huntington National Bank, I asked them what they were doing with the money that was given to them by the government and she told me that they had it in an account collecting interest and were going to acquire other banks with it.

I also contacted the SBA and was told that they have programs for new businesses but nothing for existing businesses. Meanwhile the bank is on me to pay off my loans in their entirety. They forced me to stop manufacturing and taking orders, forced me to sell off equipment that was appraised in 2006 for $683,000.00. A boring mill that I paid $210,000.00 for, sold at auction for $15,000.00, and that is just one. Tooling that cost in excess of $20,000.00 went for $25.00. Now, I have a building that I paid $470,000.00 for in 1991, they are telling me I will be lucky to get $375,000.00 for. I still owe the bank $650,000.00 and don’t have a clue as to how I’m going to pay that back.

I have been in business 24 years, and have nothing but debt to show for it now. I have worked in this industry for 35 years, and never in my wildest dreams did I ever think that this would be happening in this country. Our government is quick to help foreign countries and will not help their own people. They continue to send work overseas when large corporations here are closing left and right.””

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