Chill Your Drinks with Stainless

Halloween is the unofficial mark to the holidays being “just around the corner.” The gathering together for parties, gifts, drinks, and food turns into a weekly affair during the holiday season.

However, with the parties comes constantly-need-to-be-filled ice buckets, watered-down drinks, and the possibility of a splattered beverage on a new white blouse.

So what do party mishaps have to do with steel, you may ask. Well, dear Buzz Readers, with this fun use for steel these party mishaps will be a thing of the past.

stainless steel ice cubes from BrookstoneStainless steel is known for its sanitary benefits which makes it an ideal candidate for an ice cube replacement. These little steel cubes are a modern day solution to your “on the rocks” drinks.

Stainless steel ice cubes prevent your aged scotch, fine whiskey, or sweet Irish cream from becoming diluted by melting ice. They also provide a longer lasting chill because each cube is filled with a non-toxic gel that holds the coolness in.

The prolonged chill prevents a host(ess) from having to refill ice buckets and guests from having to constantly plop more ice cubes in their drinks. This essentially helps to prevent the disaster of a beverage splattering onto a new shirt, tie, dress, or blouse because of a rouge ice cube.

The cubes are also reusable. After a wash, the cubes can be placed back into the freezer until ready for use.

So tell me, what will you be serving at your next party?

Photo courtesy of Brookstone.

Our Processes: Precision Blanking

Part three of our processes series delves into the precision blanking process.

Precision blanking can be looked at as a step beyond the tradition cut-to-length and slitting processes. It is a method for sheet metal, including slit coil, to be cut to a smaller size and prepared for further fabrication by our customers.

OK, so what does that mean?

Well, let’s take a look.

Precision Blanking Process

precision blanking lineThe precision blanking process allows slit or smaller coils to be leveled and cut-to-length in narrower widths and closer tolerances than compared to shearing or the standard cut-to-length line. It basically makes the material easier and more efficient for our customers to use.

A blanking line functions similarly to a cut-to-length/leveling line. The slit, or narrow, coil is sent through a leveler to straighten the bend in the coil that occurs from it being coiled. It is then sent through a set of shears to cut the material. Blanking lines have side trim capabilities and can maintain specific cut-to-length accuracies.

The blanking technology used at OFR Metals produces tight tolerances regardless of material length and speed. We can also process various thicknesses and grades as well as surface-critical material. For a complete list of our blanking services check out our capabilities page.

Precision Blanks

precision blanking line 2After a coil is sent through a blanking process it is now called a blank. Precision blanks are flat metal pieces that are ready to be fabricated. Further fabrication processes may include stamping, roll forming, punching, bending, etc.

We have the capability to produce custom blanks in a variety of aluminum, carbon steel, and stainless steel material. If the material you need is surface-critical, we can also provide protective packaging to ensure you receive a high-quality material. Just tell your local sales representative you want it!

Look for the next part of our processes series, where we will focus on polishing, in the coming months.

October ONI Insight: Market Indicators

A hot topic in September 2015 was the proposed interest rate increase. The Federal Reserve decided that the recovery of the U.S. economy was still too fragile to risk lifting interest rates from the near-zero level. A top Federal Reserve official said, “The best time for a rate hike may not come until the middle of next year.”

It appears that the Feds held off on raising short-term interest rates in September due to rocky stock markets, feeble unemployment rates, the strong dollar, and concerns about a global slow-down. A hike in rates is inevitable to normalize, but when it occurs it will need to be nominal and slow-going to avoid shaking markets further.

Key economic indicators, including Architectural Billings Index (ABI), Steel Capacity Utilization, and the Purchasing Managers Index (PMI), all saw decreases this past month.

The ABI slipped in August to a score of 49.1. This is down from the mark of 54.7 in July-any mark above 50 indicates an increase in billings. Domestic raw steel production was 1,735,000 net tons while the steel capacity utilization rate was 72.6% week ending September 26, 2015. This represents a 7.6% decrease from the same period last year, but is up 1.7% from the previous week ending September 19, 2015.

The September PMI registered 50.2%, a decrease from the 51.1% reading in August. New Orders Index registered a 1.6% decrease from the previous month to a reading of 50.1%.

For more information on what is going on in the metals market view the “October 2015 ONI Insight Guide” below.

ONI-Insight-October-2015

10 Service Center and Manufacturing Safety Tips

The safety of employees is often the top priority for many service centers, and most companies doing business today. Many organizations have in place procedures and programs to ensure every employee goes home every day.

While there are many ways to ensure employee safety in manufacturing, here are 10 service center and manufacturing safety tips.

Policies, Procedures, and Preparedness

Safety policies can cover broad topics from employee responsibility to hazard assessment and corrective action. They are used as reference guidelines for employees upon hire. Policies help to show employees what is valued and expected of them and the organization.

Safety procedures cover specific activities. Some may be specific to a certain job and/or task, while others cover how to implement a policy. Safety procedures can cover, but are not limited to:

  • Basic safety rules for the company
  • Hazard reporting and assessment
  • Steps to safely complete a task
  • Protective gear/equipment
  • Chemical use
  • Emergency preparedness
  • Equipment use/safe operation

Having policies and procedures help to ensure a company, and its employees, are prepared in the event any emergency or incident were to occur. They also help to prepare employees to prevent accidents from happening.

Employee Training

The next step along the line to service center safety is employee training. After you have written policies and procedures in place, you need to train employees on how to implement them.

At OFR Metals, we use an advanced safety awareness training called SafeStart as part of the companywide safety program. SafeStart helps teach employees that many incidents occur because of one’s own actions. The simple techniques used in the course help employees minimize risk of an accident.

Hands-on training is essential to ensure safe equipment use and operation. While an office employee may not need much hands-on training, an employee hired to work a forklift, overhead crane, or cut-to-length line needs a more kinesthetic learning style approach.

Take Safety Seriously

It might seem like a “duh” statement to take safety seriously, but it is true. Safety is important to ensure employees go home to their families every day.

As an organization and an employee it is important to develop good work habits so every task done is done safely. At OFR Metals, safety is something our company values. It is at the core of everything we do.

In our safety handbook it says:

 Why take safety seriously?
Do it for your family. They expect you to come home in the same condition you left in.
Do it for yourself. Give yourself the satisfaction of a job well done.
Do it for your coworkers. If you’re injured and can’t be at work, an important part of the team is missing.

One’s Own Actions

While there are other uncontrollable factors that can result in an emergency or accident, employee error causes an even greater number of incidents.

Many accidents are caused when an employee becomes complacent with their job and assigned tasks. A person’s habitual and unintentional behavior, along with four key mental states (below), are almost always directly involved in workplace injuries.

  • Rushing – when you exceed the pace at which you normally perform a task.
  • Frustration – caused by personal influences, equipment problems, inadequate tools, excessive pressure, etc.
  • Fatigue – too tired to do the job safely, either physically or mentally, may cause slower reaction times or may make it difficult to concentrate.
  • Complacency – when you are familiar enough with the hazards and become less concerned about them you may ignore the consequences they present.

It is important to learn how to recognize each state and determine what can be done to minimize their impact.

Protective Gear

Proper safety gear is worn to protect you from physical hazards associated with a job or task. And although sticking to procedures and best practices is the best way to avoid hazards, proper gear can minimize the effect of accidental exposure.

Protective gear for service centers may include, but are not limited to:

  • Steel toed boots
  • Appropriate clothing
    • Supplied uniform
    • Proper fitting clothing that will not get caught
    • Flame-resistant clothing for jobs with exposure to open flames or welding
  • Cut-resistant gloves
  • Protective arm guards
  • Hearing protection
  • Safety eyewear
  • Long hair must be pulled back

Housekeeping

Maintaining a clean and organized work area help keep the facility free from hazards. It is the responsibility of each employee to ensure the work area is tidy.

Tasks that can assist employees in maintaining a clean work environment can be anything from emptying garbage cans on a regular basis to keeping aisles, walkways, paths, stairs, etc., clear of obstructions. It can also include keeping the floors dry, rags in appropriate receptacles, tools and equipment stored properly, and forklifts and trucks free of trash.

Good housekeeping is an important factor in helping to prevent accidents. It also shows that employees take pride in where they work.

Machine & Material Safety

Machine safety can vary depending on service center (or fabrication) capabilities.

Machine guards are designed to protect the body from pinch points, flying debris, and cutting operations. All types of tools and equipment require proper guarding. Power tools, belts, shafts, cranks, and gears must have their guards properly attached.

To help ensure employee safety from machine accidents, operators should inspect equipment and tools before beginning a new shift or job.

While machine accidents can happen they are not the only aspect of processing that can be a hazard. Material processing has its own dangers.

Metal coils can weight up to 45,000 lbs., and individual skids of sheet or plate can weigh up to 15,000 lbs. Machines are designed to safely handle these heavy loads, but employees need to be mindful of the material as it is being processed. While processing any size load, keeping it under control and persons out of the line-of-fire should be a top priority.

Steel also has very sharp edges. Exposed edges can easily cut an employee who is not wearing the appropriate protective gear or someone who has become complacent.

Material Transportation

Transporting material can be done by forklifts, cranes, and trucks. It also includes the way the material is stored.

Forklifts should only be operated by employees who have been properly trained on safe operating procedures. Drives should be mindful of their speed, keeping loads low (no more than 6-8” off the ground) while traveling, parking vehicles with forks in lowered position, keeping eyes out for others, and not traveling with loads weighing over capacity.

Chains, slings, and straps play an integral role in everyday operation. These items may be used for lifting material, or keeping it on a truck. Careful inspection, proper use, and determining the correct device for the job will help keep employees safe from dangers associated with chains, slings, and straps.

Cranes are necessary when it comes to moving heavy material. A high percentage of hazards associated with crane-related material handling can be reduced by responsible use, inspection practices, and careful maintenance.

The stacking and storage of material can be extremely hazardous if not done properly. Material should be stored in designated areas while not obstructing visibility or access to a fire extinguisher or exit. When stacking, material should always be stacked in a uniform manner with larger, heavier bundles at the bottom. Make sure all material is stored on a solid foundation.

Visitors and Guests

Anyone who enters the warehouse must wear approved eye protection and footwear. Visitors and guests should be prepared with proper clothing. At OFR Metals, we also recommend anyone entering the warehouse while machines are running should wear hearing protection.

All visitors must keep in mind that safety is our (and many other service centers’) first priority. We want our visitors and guests to be as safe as possible.

Accident Investigations

In the event that a workplace accident happens, regardless of the severity, it must be reported. The reasoning behind this is so that the cause can be addressed and corrective measures can be put in place to prevent it from happening again in the future.

Safety is incredibly important to all of us at OFR Metals. Taking the above safety steps helps to minimize risk of an accident.