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Preparing Your HVAC System for Warm Weather

Now that the weather is finally heating up for summer, it’s important to take stock of your current HVAC system to see what maintenance or updates should be done. While you’ve probably already turned on the A/C by now, it’s still a good time to perform maintenance so that your system doesn’t break down in the middle of August when you need it most.

If you’re considering building a new system or replacing leaky pipes, one thing to consider is the number of weld points you’ll have in the new system. Each weld point creates a greater potential for leaks over time. Instead, look for tubes and pipes that are bent as needed rather than joined. The longer the pipe can extend without welds, the better it will hold up over time. While many people may be unaware of other options, HVAC pipes can actually be bent to accommodate building structures and existing systems.

In addition to reducing the chance of leaks, bending pipes rather than welding them also makes them easier to clean – which is important in an HVAC system. Since dust and dirt can build up and circulate through the air, it’s crucial to design a structure that improves flow and prevents build up. Ports can be added to the system later as needed, so that shouldn’t be an impediment when making a selection.

If after inspecting your cooling system everything seems to be in working order, remember that filters and other components still may need cleaning and replacement. Give every single piece a thorough once-over before considering the job done.

With the right maintenance and material selection, your HVAC system should run smoothly for a very long time. But if you do notice any room for updates, address those soon before they become an issue down the road.

The Role of Polished Sanitary Tubes in Public Health and Safety

Every day, it seems a new antimicrobial product hits the market. From hand soaps, to dishwashing liquids, to laundry detergents – numerous personal care brands are creating new product lines with antibacterial properties.

The question is, do any of these products actually work? And beyond that, could there be any unintended consequences?

Though most consumers will choose antimicrobial soaps versus standard options, research has found very little difference between the two. In fact, it’s the handwashing itself that has more impact on the presence of germs than the type of soap used. Frequency of handwashing and the length of time spent washing hands has been found to have the greatest effect.

There has also been speculation that antimicrobial soaps can contribute to antibiotic resistant infections. Currently the results have been inconclusive, however longer study periods are needed to observe the long-term effects of exposure.

Overall, it seems that the best way to safely eliminate bacteria is through better hygiene. This includes frequent washing at home, but actually starts with cleaning production equipment at the factories where these products are formulated.

Polished Sanitary Tubing

Polished Sanitary Tubing

When choosing equipment for sanitary production, it’s important for manufacturers to select tubing that is free of voids or weld seams. These are areas where bacteria can hide and multiply. Choosing tubes that are bent rather than welded ensures a smooth surface that is easier to clean and maintain.

By improving the cleanliness of equipment during production, companies can reduce the need for antimicrobial agents. It’s a two-fold cost saving strategy, since you eliminate the cost of antimicrobials, and tube bending is actually cheaper than welding.

At Stam, Inc., we’ve been seeing continued high demand for polished sanitary tubes used in food and personal care product manufacturing. With a strong focus on reducing illness, we don’t expect this trend to change any time soon.

To learn more about tube bending and how it can improve product safety, feel free to contact us online or call 440-974-2500.

New Industrial Opportunities Created by Solar Energy Growth

For a number of years now, demand for alternative, renewable sources of power has been steadily growing. Wind energy adoption has been in the news quite a bit lately, with more wind farms popping up across the United States. But solar power has been steadily picking up traction as well, with the primary advantage being that it can be implemented on a smaller scale, in addition to large solar fields. This means that there are more opportunities for smaller land owners – and even individual homeowners – to harvest solar energy.

Small-scale solar operations have been popping up more and more in a wide range of places. Farmers are now setting aside acreage for solar panels to help offset the energy costs associated with running a farm. Many commercial and private spaces are also installing solar canopies on rooftops to make the most use of an otherwise underutilized space. This means that even in urban areas without land area available for solar farming, people can still install solar panels and begin to harvest that energy. This is a distinct advantage over wind energy, which requires adequate space for large turbines.

The adaptability of solar harvesting has allowed its popularity to skyrocket, doubling solar installations in the United States over the last year to become the top source of alternative power in the nation in 2016.

For industrial companies, this represents new sources of demand for various products and services. At Stam, Inc. we’re seeing more inquiries for structural tubes that need to be bent and shaped to link together for use on solar farms. Structural tubes for solar power are just one example of a product seeing heightened demand thanks to the growing popularity of this energy source. And with smaller solar farms now coming into play, there are even more opportunities for service providers and distributers at all capacity levels.

As we continue to see shifts within the alternative energy sector, we look forward to helping utilities and other companies find the right tubing solutions for their needs. For more information, feel free to contact Stam, Inc. by calling 440.974.2500, or fill out an online form and we’ll get back to you.

Understanding New Tier 4 Emission Requirements

Reducing emissions and finding ways to produce energy more cleanly has been a priority for manufacturers for years. As the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regularly updates requirements to improve the safety and purity of emissions from engines, companies have been scrambling to keep up without sacrificing efficiency.

The latest Tier 4 Final emissions standards apply to both on-road and non-road engines – so many more manufacturers are now impacted by the rules, not just those associated with locomotive equipment like trucks and trains. Now, engines found in power generators and other stationary equipment will be under scrutiny as well. This especially impacts companies working in the oil and gas sector.

The main purpose of Tier 4 Final regulations is to cut back on the amount of particulate matter (PM) by 80% and nitrogen oxides (NOx) by 45% more than previous regulations. To meet this requirement, companies such as Cummins have already taken steps by implementing a selective catalytic reduction (SCR) after-treatment solution for engines. There’s a long line of chemical reactions that go on during this process, and in the end, ammonia and water vapor create the catalytic reaction that results in the reduction of NOx into a harmless gas. Full details on the chain reaction can be found on EngineerLive.

At Stam, we’ve been working with companies to ensure that our tubes meet their requirements for Tier 4 Final standards. This requires the use of Stainless Steel materials and sufficient insulation on the outside of the tube to keep the gases inside hot (extreme heat is an essential component of the catalytic reaction). The number and severity of bends in a tube can impact heat loss, so we make a conscious effort to reduce the number of bends and ensure smooth transitions to retain the most heat possible.

To learn more about our capabilities and how we can assist you in meeting Tier 4 Final requirements, feel to visit us online or call 1-440-974-2500.

Steps to Minimize the Threat of Gas Leaks

Recently there have been a lot of building explosions due to gas leaks. Early last  month, Patterson, New Jersey residents experienced a house blowing up due to a gas leak which flattened two houses. In Queens, New York, nine buildings had to be evacuated due to a gas leak. These are just two examples of problems with gas lines that are becoming more prevalent. According to data from the federal government, roughly every other day some type of incident occurs with gas, resulting in millions of dollars in damage and several deaths each year.

 

Although not all gas leaks are a result of aging or leaking pipelines, many of them are. Aging infrastructure throughout the country is plagued with outdated pipes that need replacement. The best way to replace these pipes is by having continuous piping, rather than piping with multiple welded joints. Cutting and welding pipes can create weak links in the system. At points where pipes are joined by other fasteners, there is more potential for leakage. Stam, Inc. reduces the problem of gas leaks by using bends in tubing instead of excessive cuts and weld spots. This reduces the chance of future gas leaks, keeping everyone safe.

 

As pipes begin to show signs of aging or leaking, it’s imperative to fix them immediately. Although gas is clear and odorless, gas companies add a scent to the gas, called tert-Butylthiol (t-butyl mercaptan) to ensure people recognize the smell in order to be alerted of a leak and to take action. In case you suspect a gas leak, it’s important to remember to:

 

  • immediately evacuate and call 911 from a safe location
  • don’t turn any switches off or on as they can create a spark, igniting the gas
  • leave doors unlocked as you leave and get everyone out
  • don’t use matches, phones, or battery powered equipment
  • don’t start a car or other motorized equipment

 

Following these rules can keep you safe, should a gas leak occur. However, if you suspect something isn’t right or seems unusual with a gas pipe, always call 911. It may just save a life, including your own.

Improving Food Safety During Processing

Salmonella and Listeria have been in the news lately as more and more food products are recalled. Recently in Toronto, a bakery had to recall all of their meats due to Listeria contamination. In Utah and Idaho, a recall was put in place for precooked bacon, also due to concerns over Listeria. Salmonella has also recently been linked to chicken salad in Washington, with several people getting ill. Many of these outbreaks of contamination could be stopped with proper food processing precautions.

 

Food SafetyFood processing requires equipment to carry the product from the initial stages of processing, all the way through packaging. What matters most during the process is having a smooth machinery surface which is easy to clean. This is important because the surface finish of machinery can greatly impact cleanliness. Smooth machinery offers fewer places for bacteria to hide and grow, therefore reducing potential safety issues.

 

Tubing on food processing equipment should be smooth and have as few welds as possible. This allows for easy cleaning with fewer places where biofilm can occur. Stam, Inc. offers food equipment tubing which is easy to clean and free of voids and scratches on the inside. This limits the accumulation of microbes that could potentially survive the cleaning process. Stam uses special techniques and tooling to deliver tubing with an interior finish that meets specifications for each customer’s needs.

 

For over 40 years, Stam has been dedicated to designing and manufacturing premier custom tubing solutions. Staffed with engineering and manufacturing experts, Stam is able to meet the needs of our customers for increased food safety. Our unparalleled customer service, coupled with unmistakable quality, means customers get the right product for their needs every time, keeping consumers safe.

Celebrating Manufacturing on Manufacturing Day Oct 7th

Getting to know what the manufacturing industry is all about is tough these days. Although manufacturing is talked about by our nation’s leaders, most people don’t have a direct connection to the industry. Generations ago almost every family had someone working in a factory. But as manufacturing jobs were lost, so was the link most communities had to the industry.

Five years ago with the introduction of Manufacturing Day (MFG Day), industry sponsors such as the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM), FMA, and the Manufacturing Institute took steps to “celebrate modern manufacturing and inspire the next generation of manufacturers.” This nationwide event takes place on the first Friday in October (Oct. 7 this year) with companies and communities organizing plant tours, job fairs, educational fairs, and community events and expos.

As a long-standing member of NAM, we are excited for this year’s events. Manufacturing Day highlights the importance of the industry on our regional and national economies and the valuable career options available. MFG Day events allow the industry to open its doors and let the community look inside to dispel common myths about working in manufacturing. Today’s industry is not the industry of our grandfathers. There isn’t any more grime or back-breaking labor. Today’s manufacturing plants contain state-of-the-art computer controlled machinery and equipment. And, jobs in this field are now technology oriented and vary widely from one operation to the next.

So far there are already 1,271 planned events for this year’s MFG Day. Manufacturing is a vital industry that continues to support local communities and our national economy. Did you know that in 2015, manufacturers contributed $2.17 trillion to the U.S. economy? That interesting fact and other facts about manufacturing can be found here.

Support Manufacturing Day this October 7th to keep the industry growing.

Batch and Store Products for Future Runs through a VMI Program

Have you heard of VMI? This is a forward thinking trend that’s a change from ‘manufacturing as usual.’ VMI stands for Vendor Managed Inventory which is a streamlined way for businesses to manage inventory and fulfill orders. Here at STAM we take every opportunity to offer our customers the easiest way to order and receive the parts they need. With VMI, that process is made even easier.

It works in this way: Instead of placing an order for a run of custom tubing, a customer orders a batch. The finished products are delivered to the customer’s facility if they have room or the products can be warehoused at our facility until they are needed. A RFID tag is provided for each product. When the product is used the tag is SCANNED and an invoice is issued.  An advanced version automatically creates a payable in the customer’s AP system. An alternative procedure would be for a representative to visit the plant throughout the year to count inventory and ensure that it matches our records.

What are the benefits of a VMI program? The first are the cost savings. The cost to make 1 item is disproportionally higher compared to making 10. By making a batch of a custom tubing solution the startup costs are eliminated when that part is needed again.

VMI programs also save time. For example, when an order is placed with a short deadline, having the right sized cut tubing on hand removes the time lag and ripple effect of placing a rush order though a vendor. Work can begin immediately when there is a sudden demand.

Lastly, VMI offers more freedom and peace of mind. If there is a spike in demand and the inventory is readily available it reduces the stress and workload of gets rid of the stress of contacting vendors. It eliminates the hassles associated with trying to rush order products and allows production to run smoothly.

Once a VMI program is up and running the rewards are great. It allows us to work with each customer to ensure that they have the products they need when they need them.

Are you interested in STAM’s VMI program? Give us a call to learn more!

Stam, Inc. Encourages the ‘Class of 2016’ to Consider Careers in Manufacturing

Congratulations to the Class of 2016! As the high school graduation rate in the U.S. continues to hit all-time highs in recent years, we hope these graduates, who were born just before the turn of the century, consider studying, training for, and pursuing careers in manufacturing. Advanced manufacturing jobs present many career options and opportunities for today’s graduates, and many of these jobs are available right now. More manufacturing jobs will be opening up in the coming years, as well, as the manufacturing sector is seeing a skilled-labor gap grow wider and wider as the “Baby Boomer” generation retires and exits the workforce.

U.S. manufacturers are taking action and attempting to change the image and perceptions of manufacturing jobs to make manufacturing careers more enticing to the younger generation. “Manufacturing is cool” is the title of a recent article from Industry Week which says the people entering, or soon to be entering, the workforce needs to be exposed to the “modern manufacturing environment” to change the perception and image of manufacturing jobs as being “dark and dingy and dirty” – a perception that’s been prevalent for several decades. The Industry Week report says, “If we want to attract today’s youth to manufacturing careers, we need to change their perceptions about what the manufacturing industry is like and show them what great career opportunities exist in the industry… The spotlight needs to be on the high-tech environment of modern manufacturing.”

The same report adds, “Manufacturing careers pay 25% to 50% higher than non-manufacturing jobs.” Robotics, 3D printing, advanced analytics are the manufacturing skills of today and tomorrow, reaffirming “the reality that a career in manufacturing does not entail working in a dirty, dangerous place that requires no skills.” In fact, advanced manufacturing skills are in demand by employers around the world today, and the U.S. needs to keep pace in order to remain competitive in global manufacturing.

At a recent conference, four U.S. state governors participated in a panel discussion about the shortage of skilled workers in the United States. The discussion was moderated by Eric Schmidt, chairman of Google’s parent corporation, Alphabet. A BusinessFacilities.com report about the discussion says,  “The governors all had the same message: the United States is in a global competition for 21-century jobs and, if we don’t have the skilled workers needed to fill the requirements of advanced manufacturers or emerging players in new high-tech growth sectors, the U.S. will lose this worldwide competition and its long-held crown as the heavyweight champ of industrial giants.”

More work definitely needs to be done to encourage the younger generation to pursue careers in U.S. manufacturing. The skilled-labor gap “still has not been bridged,” according to the Business Facilities report, even though “there’s no shortage of bright young graduates,” and that “the key to bridging the gap is workforce training: making sure our graduates have the necessary skills to move directly into the high-tech workplace as soon as they get their diplomas.”

These are all great ideas, and we will do our part to try to help encourage the Class of 2016 to pursue careers in manufacturing – and we encourage our fellow U.S. manufacturers to do the same!

 

How Safe are You? June is Safety Awareness Month

June has been designated as Safety Awareness Month by the National Safety Council (NSC). The goal is to provide information and raise awareness of staying safe at work, at home, and on the roads. We agree that it is extremely important to take safety precautions when working in a manufacturing environment. Although we all have safety protocols and procedures in place, we still see accidents. And, most of the time accidents are preventable. It isn’t the result of a faulty system, it’s the result of a human error.

Humans are the biggest obstacle when it comes to safety. We’ve all done it a time or two—cut corners to save time, taken shortcuts, or decided to break the rules “just this one time.” Unfortunately, those are usually the times that someone gets hurt. Poor decision making is something that can’t be regulated. If an employee doesn’t think something could happen or didn’t think following a safety rule would make a difference, then it is almost impossible to avoid accidents. But, we must try and reduce the number of accidents in manufacturing facilities.

Here is a perfect example of how cutting corners can lead to an accident: If something gets stuck in a machine and, instead of following proper procedures (shutting down machine, putting on safety equipment, etc.), the employee tries to pull it. This could lead to a serious accident. Hands, arms, head, and chest are all exposed to harm.

Accidents can also be prevented by being proactive. Checking machinery to ensure all bolts, belts, motors, wiring, or guards are in good working order will prevent accidents and save time in the long run. Anticipation and being proactive can seriously reduce the number of accidents and keep operations running smoothly. Accidents hurt people and productivity.

Remember Murphy’s Law? It’s just waiting for us to take that shortcut! The majority of safety and quality accidents are simple and small human failures. Procedures are in place for a reason and paying attention to them is important!

What’s the best safety advice? “Safety is no accident.” This is the message we give all our employees: Follow safety rules and policies, avoid shortcuts, and be proactive. Those are the best tools for being safe at work, at home, and on the roads!

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