Road Salt Production

Slick Roads?  Don’t Get Salty!

Spring in the Midwest brings a lot of challenges our way, and few more dangerous than icy roads and sidewalks.  Cue the music, and bring in the salt trucks!

Road salt is the most commonly used substance to deice roads and help produce traction in icy conditions.  So where does it all come from? 

Sodium Chloride (basic table salt) is the main type of salt used on roads.  Mines in Ohio, Michigan, New York, Kansas, and Louisiana are responsible for 90% of the salt on roads in the US.  While salt is the most efficient substance to clear ice, it does have drawbacks.

As spring melts winter, the used salt goes into runoffs, streams, lakes, and rivers.  These deposits can cause major animal/plant disruption, and too much salt can cause death to habitats.  Salt also causes corrosion on vehicles when not washed off for periods of time.

Because of this, sand is often substituted or supplemented with salt.  It does not melt snow/ice, but rather provides traction/friction for tread.  Sand is also about 75% cheaper, and causes less damage to wildlife.

Regardless, pay attention to conditions as you drive, and look for those beautiful trucks tossing grains in front of you.

To see which of the states use the most salt/sand, please click the links below:

http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/sr/sr235/017-030.pdf

https://www.carcomplaints.com/resources/guides/salt-belt/

 

About the Author

Picture of Dave Rohlfing

Dave Rohlfing, Senior Technical Solutions Coordinator

Earth Day

Celebrating 50 years of Earth Day

Every April 22, we stop to give thanks to the Earth on Earth Day.  To thank her, (or him, it’s probably debatable) we ride a bicycle to work, we plant a garden, we walk through our neighborhood picking up trash, we blow kisses to the blue skies above, and we wrap our arms around a tree (please tell me I’m not alone here?).  For 24 hours, we focus our attention on what we can do to make a difference.

But what happens at 12:00 am on the morning of April 23?

We move on. We shift our attention to something we deem more important and we don’t hug another tree for 364 days. If you’ve ever read The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein, you know how incredibly sad that makes the tree.

According to earthday.org, “Earth Day was a unified response to an environment in crisis – oil spills, smog, rivers so polluted they literally caught fire.”  It was on April 22, 1970, that millions of Americans protested in honor and in hope for a better, brighter, healthier future for this home we so often take for granted.

Knitted tree sweaters from Eureka Springs, Arkansas

Earth Day 2

As COVID-19 has forced us to change up our everyday habits over the past several weeks, maybe now is the perfect time to create new, Earth friendly habits that we can stick with all year long.  Simple things like:

  • Switching all of your bills to e-bills
  • Having a recycling plan in place (and if you already do – how much further can you take it)
  • Stop drinking bottled water
  • Consider changing your light bulbs out to more environmentally friendly bulbs
  • Getting out and enjoying nature
  • Fixing something/DIY rather than buying something new
  • Showing your neighbors how much you care by creating a window sign (check out this link for ideas)

For even more ideas, check out earthday.org/resolutions-isolutions-for-coronavirus-self-isolation.

However you choose to celebrate, the Earth needs you and your actions. Let’s get to it!

 

About the Author

Picture of HR Manager, Beth Bangtson

Beth Bangtson, HR Manager

National Poetry Month

Did you know April is National Poetry Month? Here are some fun facts to learn more about why we celebrate:

 

  • It’s the largest literacy celebration in the world
  • It was established in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets following the success of other celebrations like Black History Month (February) and Women’s History Month (March)
  • According to the National Poetry Month website, the goals are to:
    • Highlight the extraordinary legacy and ongoing achievement of American poets
    • Encourage the reading of poems
    • Assist teachers in bringing poetry into their classrooms
    • Increase the attention paid to poetry by national and local media
    • Encourage increased publication and distribution of poetry books, and
    • Encourage support for poets and poetry.

 

For more information about National Poetry Month, check out the website at www.poets.org/national-poetry-month

national poetry month

In honor of the month, I let my creative juices fly and put together a little something.

 

In a time where all seems uncertain,

I look to my children for comfort…

for the twinkle in their eye

and the smile on their face.

There they go, saving me once again.

~ Beth, HR Manager

 

About the Author

Picture of HR Manager, Beth Bangtson

Beth Bangtson, HR Manager

Women in Manufacturing

This month is Women’s History Month. To celebrate, we wanted to bring attention to three women of history who have influenced manufacturing. In addition, we outlined the story of one woman currently influencing manufacturing with her goal of uniting all women in manufacturing. She is sure to be on the list of historical women in manufacturing, in the future!

Rosie the Riveter Sign

Rosie the Riveter

Rosie is one, if not the, most well-known woman in manufacturing. She represents the bold and determined American attitude and the influence of women in American manufacturing. The image of Rosie came to be during World War II. It was meant to encourage women to take on factory jobs while men were away at war. However, the image was known less for its original purpose and more for the morale boosting message of empowerment, which working women wanted.

picture of stephanie kwolek

Stephanie Kwolek

Far less well-known than Rosie, but still VERY much influential, is Stephanie Kwolek. Stephanie never planned to do the work she did. As a matter of fact, she wanted to be a doctor. To pay for medical school, she took an opportunity to work for DuPont in New York. Over the course of her next 40 years at DuPont, Stephanie discovered a multitude of industrial fibers including one of the most famous fibers used in manufacturing – Kevlar. Kevlar is common in skis, parachute lines, boats, airplanes, and ropes. However, the most famous application of Kevlar is likely that of bullet-proof vests.

*Fun Fact: Stephanie discovered Kevlar when she was tasked with finding a material to replace the steel used in tires. What she found was heat-resistant and lighter than fiberglass, but still five times stronger than steel!

If you’re looking to know more (and enjoy chemistry) find out more about Kevlar here!

Picture of Ella May Wiggins

Ella May Wiggins

At the height of the Industrial Revolution, women made up 75% of the workforce in textile mills. One of the most influential women was Ella May Wiggins. Ella May was a single mother of five children working in a textile mill as a spinner. During her time in the mills, she was an advocate for the rights of workers and women in the workforce. She participated in one of the most famous textile mill strikes and even wrote ballads for strikes to condemn and criticize the way in which industry standards were grossly inadequate for women and mothers alike. There isn’t enough space to give Ella May all the credit she deserves. Read her story here! Also, if you’re interested in listening to one of her most famous songs, check out the Mill Mother’s Lament.

Allison Grealis

Allison Grealis is the Founder and President of the nonprofit trade association Women in Manufacturing (WiM). WiM started as a small networking group within the Precision Metalforming Association. What started as a networking group grew very quickly into a trade association operating independently of Precision Metalforming Association. Check out this interview to read more from Allison on the importance of women in manufacturing. You can also hear more from Allison with a quick read here.

These women are just four of many women who’ve influenced or are currently influencing American Manufacturing. With the current state of affairs in manufacturing, and with the need to bridge #theskillsgap and developments in #industry40, women will be more important than ever in #manufacturing.

 

About the Author

Picture of Kim Mooney

Kim Mooney, Technical Manager & Coach

Daylight Saving

How do you Save Daylight?

When daylight saving was first introduced by Benjamin Franklin in 1784, it was an economic evaluation that spoke to artificial lighting and its effect on the economy.  Fast forward a couple hundred years, and we have a greater selection of screens that create more artificial light than we had oil lamps manufactured in the US.

In 1908, a couple hundred Canadians in Ontario made the jump to spring ahead an hour.  After Germany introduced the concept in 1916, country after country started to follow suite.  Though public support was limited, and changes have been made since then, 70 Countries world-wide participate in Daylight Saving each year.

In the United States, Hawaii and Arizona (with the exception of the Navajo Reservation) are the only two states who’ve opted out.  American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and the Northern Mariana Islands also don’t participate.  If you had your choice, would you?

Contrary to popular belief, American farmers didn’t lobby for daylight saving.  For Farmers, the clock didn’t dictate their schedules, but rather the sun.  For the rest of us now using artificial light, how do we make the best of the phantom extra hour of daylight we have in a day?

Did you enjoy these fun facts about day light saving? Read more fun facts here 

Reminder! – Spring ahead this Sunday, March 8.

 

About the Author

Picture of Kelly Grohowski

Kelly Grohowski, Client Solutions Manager

Leap Year

The new year is up and running, January has come and gone, and here we are in February. However, 2020 is a little different; it’s a Leap Year with a leap day.

Have you ever wondered – Why is another day tacked on to February every four years? Here’s what I found.

What is Leap Year & Why Do We Have It?

Leap year happens every four years and leap days are always February 29. The calendar we all know and use is called the Gregorian calendar. In leap years, we add an extra day (February 29) to the Gregorian calendar to synchronize it with solar years.

A solar year is the time it takes the earth to complete its orbit around the sun (365.24219 days, to be exact). This is 5 hours, 48 minutes, and 46 seconds longer than the time allotted in a Gregorian calendar.

Through a simple (actually, it’s likely a very complex) mathematical equation, it’s been determined that adding one extra day, a leap day, every four years, realigns the two calendars again. Without leap years, the discrepancy in time between the solar calendar and the Gregorian calendar would cause events scheduled in a Gregorian calendar to misalign with the seasons of the solar calendar (e.g. Christmas would eventually become a summer holiday!)

Fun Facts

Can’t remember if it’s a leap year or when the next one will be?

It takes a little math to figure it out. If the last two digits of the year are divisible by 4 (2012, 2016, 2020, 2024 etc.), then it’s a leap year. The exception to the rule is century years. These years must be divisible by 400. For example, century year 2000 is a leap year; century year 2100 is not.

What are the odds that someone will be born on a leap day?

The simple estimate is one in every 1,461 days. You can find more detail on the odds of being born on a leap day.

What do we do on Leap Day or during Leap Years?

Not much really, but Irish tradition encourages women to propose on leap days. Find details on that and more here.

You can start your own tradition by turning on the TV to watch this movie.

For more fun, find 29 things that happened on leap day.

Most importantly, start planning for the upcoming holidays because leap year 2020 means:

  • Fourth of July is on a Saturday
  • Halloween is on a Saturday
  • Christmas is on a Friday
  • New Year’s Eve begins a 3-day weekend

About the Author

Picture of Kim Mooney

Kim Mooney, Technical Manager & Coach

Presidents Who Helped the Working Class

US Presidents’ Support of Manufacturing

The cornerstone to America’s strong economy has always been its labor force.  While most Presidents claim they will help out our workers, some actually made major steps in doing so.  In honor of President’s Day, here is a small list of US Presidents who helped the working class.

Picture of three US presidents

William Taft

William Howard Taft is responsible for signing the creation of the US Department of Labor (D.O.L) in 1913.  The D.O.L. is responsible for promoting the development of wage earners, job seekers, and retirees.  Also, the D.O.L. is responsible for many of the laws keeping workers safe, productive, and well compensated.

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) into law in 1938. As one of the most important labor legislation ever signed, this Act changed hours and regulations across the board.  The FLSA created the 40-hour work week, 8-hour work day, and ended child labor practices.

Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt, known as the ‘Trust-Buster’, worked hard to regulate large companies from exploiting workers.  While known for his boisterous and bullish personality, Roosevelt supported workers’ rights, supported unions, and curbed wage cutting during his presidency.  Often, he would also confront business owners in public on behalf of workers.

 

Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, Warren G. Harding, Harry S. Truman, Donald Trump, Jimmy Carter, and George H.W. Bush all owned small businesses before being elected.  Each of these Presidents were known for supporting workers over companies during their legislation.

The backbone of the US economy will continue to be its labor force.  Years of hard work, legislation, and tenacity has created the protection and opportunity for workers to be productive and compensated fairly.

To learn more about US President roles in manufacturing, please visit  https://www.usnews.com/news/blogs/data-mine/2015/10/28/which-presidents-have-been-best-for-the-economy

 

About the Author

Picture of Dave Rohlfing

Dave Rohlfing, Senior Technical Solutions Coordinator

Love & Appreciation At Work

Why is showing appreciation at work important?

Love and appreciation can be shown in simple and inexpensive ways in the workplace. Increase your company’s productivity, loyalty, and happiness by incorporating it into your everyday.

At some point in our careers, it’s likely we’re either shown appreciation or received it in the workplace. Whether you’re the giver of appreciation, or receiver, we could all agree being recognized feels pretty darn good. The best part about this type of love is it doesn’t take much of your time; it’s free; and research shows it builds an enormous amount of loyalty and increases productivity.

Isn’t it a wonderful feeling when our hard work, efforts, and time are noticed – especially by the boss. Being noticed and appreciated naturally creates and builds a deeper connection to those around you. Think back to a time you recognized a co-worker’s efforts or your efforts were recognized. How did that make you feel? Warm and fuzzy? Empowered? Motivated?

It’s in our biological makeup to need and yearn for all types of connections. We strive for acceptance in social groups; we want to do a good job at work and have it recognized; and we always strive to contribute to something bigger.

Research shows that love is a common denominator uniting us regardless of upbringings, cultures, religions, or beliefs. It’s the one “thing” that can slice through some of the most dynamic and complicated topics that make up who each of us are as individuals. Pretty incredible if you ask us.

Are you struggling to find joy at work? Check out our post on  How to Fall in Love…with your Job! 

How do you show love & appreciation at work?

If love is truly our one common thread, regardless of circumstances, then why the heck don’t we show and share it more often? We asked a number of PMG employees what comes to mind when they think of the word “love” in our office. Here are some of their responses.

I felt appreciated when my team surprised me with a thoughtful card and gift on national boss’ day. I had NO clue this was even a thing, but it made my entire month, no YEAR! The card is still hanging up on my refrigerator at home and it makes me proud to have the team I do.

It made me feel appreciated when Amy (PMG’s President) called me directly to tell me I’m doing a great job during a challenging client situation.

When my grandma passed away, my amazing coworkers sent beautiful flowers to the funeral home. When I flew back into town, I had a card waiting for me in the mailbox signed by each of my coworkers.  It really made me feel loved after such a hard time in my life.  I’ve never worked for a company where I’ve felt so much love and understanding. I truly do love my PMG family!

I loved it when Tess got me coffee and left me a note on my desk last time we were in MN.

In the spirit of St. Valentine’s, we hope this post inspires you to share a little extra love and appreciation with those around you.

Love, Kelly and Tess

About the Authors

Picture of Tess Dailey

Tess Dailey, Client Solutions Manager

Picture of Kelly Grohowski

Kelly Grohowski, Client Solutions Manager

Recycling in Manufacturing

Keep Calm & Recycle; Manufacturing Is

Recently, I brought a load of recycling goods to my local center and noticed a massive pileup of scrap metal.  I realized it was not material coming from a household, it was from a commercial/industrial drop.  That got me thinking – how are US companies dealing with their leftover materials?

While most of us grew up hearing, ‘Recycle, Reduce, Reuse’, it’s a mantra for many manufacturing companies today.  The US government has tried to push that narrative along as well, with federal government allowing kickbacks to companies that recycle.  In addition, 25 states currently give tax breaks/kickbacks to companies that recycle.

In terms of quantity, steel is the most commonly recycled metal, comprising more than aluminum, paper, glass, and plastic combined.  The US recycles roughly 88% of steel, making it the most recycled industrial material.

In terms of efficiency, it’s 57% more energy effective to recycle aluminum than to create it from raw material.  Aluminum is also 100% recyclable, meaning it’s not lost in the process and you get a pure return.

While companies are reusing their metals, they’ve also pioneered reusing other needed substances.  Concrete is now recycled at its highest rate, plastics are recycled as fuel, and oil can even be processed for additional industrial use.  A certain kind of plastic is also now capable of being 100% reusable, saving close to 68% in processing costs.  With finite materials, this looks to be a continued trend in manufacturing moving forward.

While recycling may still be a dirty business, it isn’t going out of style any time soon.

To learn more about new recycling processes and improvements, please visit https://www.roadrunnerwm.com/blog/manufacturing-recycling-challenges-opportunities

 

About the Author

Picture of Dave Rohlfing

Dave Rohlfing, Senior Technical Solutions Coordinator

Made in America

Holiday décor is hanging around; radio stations are playing seasonal music; and mall Santas everywhere are back on the grind. Yes, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. As advocates for American manufacturing, PMG wants to encourage everyone to consider what they’re buying and where it’s from this gift giving season.

Did you know December is National Made in America Month? President Ronald Reagan’s proclamation made it so in 1985. Yet, every year, as our total average spending has increased during the season, our percentage of dollars spent on American made goods has decreased.

The Facts

According to the National Retail Federation, the average American’s seasonal spending will approach $1,000 in 2019. That’s close to a 4% increase compared to just two years ago. It’s not just gifts and food that are driving that number either. Americans will spend over $200 per person this year on holiday decorations alone.

Total seasonal retail sales could gross over 700 billion dollars in just 2019. That’s more than 70% of the way to one trillion dollars! Some estimates say that keeping all of that money domestically could create over 4 million jobs in the USA. If this seems unattainable, however, experts recommend starting small.

A recent report by ABC’s World News suggests that if Americans each spent a mere $64 of their personal annual holiday budget on goods made in the USA this year, it would create nearly a quarter million domestic jobs alone. In December 2018, just over 300,000 jobs were created across the ENTIRE American economy, meaning we could collectively DOUBLE national job creation for the month by putting just a little forethought into how we spend $64 individually. Amazing!

If you’d like to help grow this economy while crossing off your gift list this holiday season, we’ve found five great Made in America gift lists where you can start your search.

If you’re still wondering why this topic even matters, here’s a link to 10 reasons to shop American made goods from the Made in America Movement.

 

About the Author

Josh Erickson, ReTool & Technical Solutions Associate

 

For more information about manufacturing, check out our post Not Our Fathers’ Factories: Manufacturing Truths