A Japanese company building a manufacturing plant in the United States would seem in some small way to counter the nationalist narrative that has so many questioning our globalized economy. In 2016, Nissei Plastic Industrial Co. Ltd. (Sakaki) launched a fully-owned subsidiary, Nissei Plastic Machinery America Inc., in San Antonio, TX, to manufacture injection molding machines as part of Nissei’s global production network. The plant, Nissei’s first production facility in the United States and its third outside Japan, is set to open in May.
Feb 12, 2018 - Forestry and wood processing company, Juken New Zealand has today confirmed it is going ahead with changes to the products made at its East Coast Mill in Gisborne to return the plant to profitability and secure its long-term future.
The company told staff on January 23 that it was considering stopping production of Plywood and Laminated Veneer Lumber (LVL) products and reducing the manufacture of Structural Laminated Veneer Lumber (SLVL) at its East Coast Mill because those parts of the business had been operating at significant losses for a number of years. The Mill will continue to make high-value solid wood products used for high-end residential and commercial interior cabinetry, furniture, solid doors and feature walls and, overtime, this side of the business will expand.
Juken General Manager, Dave Hilliard said that the final number of roles to go at the Mill as a result of the changes wouldn’t be known for another two weeks. “Now that we have made the decision to go ahead with these changes, we will be working through a process to confirm exactly which roles and how many will go as result,” said Hilliard.
“This is a tough time for our people and their families. We’re a major wood-processing and forestry employer in Gisborne so a decision like this that cuts local jobs is difficult. But for local companies like us, it’s even more critical for the future of our communities that we consolidate into a sustainable business. We can only do this by making high-value products where we have a competitive advantage, so that we can keep growing job opportunities here into the future.”
“There are around 100 roles impacted by the changes, but we anticipate that the final number of redundancies will be less than this, as a number of staff have applied to take voluntary severance and we also have some roles in our sawmilling side of the business that we’ll look to redeploy people into.”
“All staff have redundancy pay provisions in their contracts. Part of the extra assistance we’ll be putting in place is to give a minimum of six weeks pay and four weeks notice for those who have been here for less than a year.”
The company has spent the past two weeks consulting staff and Unions about the changes, which follow a decline in demand from Japan, the mills’ main Plywood market. The company’s Plywood is also increasingly unable to compete in the domestic and international markets against product out of large-scale wood processing plants from the likes of China and South America.
Dave Hilliard said the consultation sought alternative proposals to mothballing the Plywood production line and reducing the production of SLVL (veneer) products.
“We’ve carefully considered the feedback received, including a suggestion to start producing plywood for ‘affordable housing’ in New Zealand. However, given the age of the machinery and the investment required to upgrade it to produce different plywood products these proposals don’t give us a viable solution to the issues we’re facing. The proposal asked for the decision to be delayed. However, we can’t continue sustaining these losses. Delaying the decision does not change the fact that the machinery cannot economically make product suitable for the low-cost housing market.”
“We have started work onsite with staff, unions, WINZ, Ministry for Social Development, local MPs, iwi, community and business representatives to support our people through this difficult process and to make sure they are supported into new jobs or re-training if their roles go. We are also working with a number of local employers, including Far East Sawmills who have come forward to offer our people new jobs.”
We’d like to thank them all for their hard work and support. We are also engaging with the Government on how we are investing to get the most value for the local industry out of our forestry resource through the manufacture of high-value products and how we are adapting to keep local processing and manufacturing competitive in the international market place.
The Juken mill at Matawhero opened in 1994 and employs around 200 full time employees. The mill processes Radiata Pine from the company’s East Coast forests to produce a range of solid wood and engineered wood products like Plywood, LVL (Laminated Veneer Lumber) and SLVL (Structural Laminated Veneer lumber), mainly for the Japanese housing market.
Jan 20, 2018 - Tetra Pak has pledged to support the European Commission’s Plastics Strategy, announced this week as part of the EU Action Plan for a Circular Economy. The carton giant said it will work with industry partners to ensure that by 2030, recycling solutions are in place for all components of beverage cartons so they can be fully recycled across Europe.
Jan 20, 2018 - The concrete contains a fungus that produces calcium carbonate when exposed to water and oxygen. If cracks in concrete can be fixed when they're still tiny, then they can't become large cracks that ultimately cause structures such as bridges to collapse. It is with this in mind that various experimental types of self-healing concrete have been developed in recent years. One of the latest utilizes a type of fungus to do the healing.
Inspired by the human body's ability to heal itself, the concrete was created by Congrui Jin, Guangwen Zhou and David Davies from New York's Binghamton University, along with Ning Zhang from Rutgers University. It incorporates spores of the fungus Trichoderma reesei, along with nutrients, that are placed within the concrete matrix as it's being mixed.
Once the concrete has hardened, the spores remain dormant until the first micro-cracks appear. When they do, water and oxygen find their way in. This causes the spores to germinate, grow, and precipitate calcium carbonate, which in turn seals the cracks.
"When the cracks are completely filled and ultimately no more water or oxygen can enter inside, the fungi will again form spores," says assistant professor Jin. "As the environmental conditions become favorable in later stages, the spores could be wakened again."
The research is still in the early stages, however, so don't go looking for the fungi concrete in a structure near you anytime soon. In the meantime, however, scientists from both Newcastle University and the University of Bath have been developing self-healing concrete that incorporates calcium carbonate-producing bacteria.
Dec 1, 2017 - Phillip Goundar, New Zealand Diploma of Engineering (Civil) student, placed in the top three in an Engineering NZ competition, earning return flights to the November ‘Engineer your Career’ forum. The second year Ara Institute of Canterbury student from Fiji believes it was his creative vision, background and experience that impressed the judges.
In answering why he chose to study engineering Goundar drew upon his own life experiences. “I originate from a rural village in Fiji called Vatukarasa. Growing up we had a very basic house and no [clean] running water. I had to walk with a two-litre bottle to a family friend’s house as they had a borehole and clean water, so I would fill it up and walk back home. I made several trips every afternoon so we had clean water to drink.”
Experiences such as this make Goundar appreciate the value of engineering. “If I don’t do something correctly there are lives at stake, so that builds pride into what I’m doing. I can see how my work is going to serve the community. I can see the importance of my job, especially after going through all of the Christchurch earthquakes and aftershocks.”
Goundar was one of eight engineering students from Ara who beat out competition from tertiary institutes across the country to attend the Wellington forum. Engineering New Zealand, formerly IPENZ, originally offered fifty forum spots for tertiary students. However, due to the high calibre of entries they decided to offer seventy-two spots.
To earn entry to the forum students had to provide winning answers to two questions: what inspired you to study engineering and what does the future of engineering look like to you?
Twenty-one year old Goundar thinks that in the future the engineering industry will place higher value on safety and innovation. Within his own career, Goundar wants to explore the concept of “designing a material which is lighter than concrete but much superior in strength”.
“The highlight of the whole event for me was to hear that grades are important but it’s a fifty-fifty split between grades and experience. For me personally, I made use of all my opportunities at Ara, not just in class. Ara gave me the platform to speak up and share my ideas. The tutors welcome questions and conversation with the students, and they keep learning engaging. It’s clear that they want you to understand.”
From December, Goundar will start working for BECA as a Civil Engineering Technician. However, since attending the forum he is considering his career pathway and exploring the possibilities of further study. “I appreciated the networking opportunities at the forum to talk with new engineers in the field and hear about the difficulties they face. I also gained a better understanding of how I could move up in the ranks within the engineering industry.”
“My goal is to study the Ara Bachelor of Engineering Degree part-time, or a Bachelor of Engineering through University. Once I have achieved that and gained work experience I want to go on to do a taught Masters. I don’t know if I’ll want to work within the industry for my entire career. One day I’d like to be a lecturer.”
Nov 27, 2017 - Primary sector and manufacturing employees may find themselves with some interesting new colleagues in the next few years as researchers develop robots that can be trained to work alongside people in factories and the great outdoors. A two-year, $2m project funded by the Science for Technological Innovation National Science Challenge Board is examining how next-generation robots can work with humans in a safe and flexible manner. Researchers will focus on developing robots to work in small-scale manufacturing and unforgiving outdoor environments. Such technology could become a global specialty of New Zealand robotics businesses, with great export opportunities and long-term solutions for the country’s economic needs. The interdisciplinary research programme involves robotics experts from Lincoln Agritech and Scion, as well as researchers and PhD students from the universities of Auckland, Canterbury, Massey, Otago, Victoria and Waikato. The programme is laying the groundwork for follow-up projects over the next few years that will focus on making New Zealand a competitive country for the production and use of robots in small-scale, flexible manufacturing businesses and challenging environments such as those found in agriculture and forestry. “We will advance the science required for a new generation of industrial robotic solutions,” says Lincoln Agritech Group Manager in Precision Agriculture, Dr Armin Werner. “These robots can provide enormous benefits to the primary and manufacturing sectors. Both industries require fast adaptation to different products and markets, and constant responsiveness to changing outdoor environments. “The robots can assist with complex tasks such as pruning tree or vine crops, safely felling trees on steep slopes or assembling small batches of appliances on demand.” To develop the technology, researchers will investigate how sensors and artificial intelligence can allow robots to perceive and understand their surroundings, flexibly handle new situations through learning or training by humans or other robots, and work in challenging environments. All the while, the robots will work collaboratively with humans, behaving safely around both people and animals. “The robots will be adaptable and create new solutions for the often small-scale and highly flexible production environment in New Zealand and many other comparable regions in the world,” says Dr Werner. “The targeted innovation represents a major shift from the notion of isolated robots solving single tasks.” The technology is expected to help the country’s industries thrive globally and create an international hub for innovative robotics development. To ensure industry-informed science project coordinators Dr Werner, Associate Professor Will Browne of Victoria University of Wellington, and Associate Professor Johan Potgieter of Massey University will work closely with an industry advisory group that includes robot manufacturers, food and manufacturing industries, Māori businesses and Government funding agencies.
| A Lincoln University release || November 27, 2017 |||
Nov 24, 2017 - Fanuc America has demonstrated a new automotive spot welding robot at the recent Fabtech event. The new seven-axis R-1000iA/120F-7B’s design is based on the R-1000iA robot series. It has a payload of 120 kg and a maximum reach of 2,230 mm. The additional axis allows the robot’s J2 arm to fold into itself, making it shorter and able to operate in very tight workspaces, says Fanuc.
At the FabTech event, the R-1000iA/120F-7B was equipped with integrated Fanuc Servo Gun Control, the Fanuc primary wrist and Solution Arm for spot welding dress out, and a servo weld gun, which performs a spot welding operation on an automotive body side.
The robot highlights Fanuc’s 4D graphics, and uses Dual Check Safety Speed and Position Check software to limit the robot’s envelope within the compact workspace.
Also featured were Fanuc’s latest R-30iB Plus controller with an intuitive iPendant for easy setup and operation.
Tim Holcomb, product manager, Fanuc America, says: “The articulation in the J2 arm now enables the robot to be placed closer to the operating point in a welding application without losing any reach.
“Since the robot can also work overhead and from behind its back, it has an amazingly large work area despite its compact design.”
In addition to spot welding, R-1000iA/120F-7B is designed for other applications including compact palletizing, machine load/unload and other operations with space constraints.
Some of the features of R-1000iA/120F-7B include:
Seven-axis articulation for maximum flexibility to reach multiple areas within a work cell, even very tight spaces.
Best-in-class motion performance provides maximum productivity.
High-speed operation minimizes robot cycle times.
Simple serial-link configuration with large operating envelope (including rear and downward side).
Upright or invert mounting accommodates a wide range of work areas.
Substantial wrist load ratings support the latest compact servo weld guns. IP67 rated wrist allows operation in wet conditions.
Handles 120kg applications.
Optional Solution Arm dressout package with internal cable routing for spot welding processes.
The latest R-30iB Plus controller features an intuitive iPendant with enhanced screen resolution and more processing capability compared to previous versions.
Fanuc says this offers a variety of intelligent functions including iRVision, Force Sensing, RoboGuide, ZDT and DCS.
Nov 24, 2017 - If you work with machine tools such as turning centers, 5-axis CNC mills, or grinding machines, you probably have some preconceptions about the quality of different machine tool manufacturers. Who makes a more accurate machine: Germany or Japan? Across the globe, whether it’s automobiles, electronics or industrial machine tools, some nations have a reputation for quality, precision and durability. Of course, generalizations aren’t always correct. A quick look around your home or office will inevitably turn up products stamped with “MADE IN TAIWAN.” But this doesn’t mean smallwares, cheap electronics and toys are all Taiwan is capable of manufacturing. When ENGINEERING.com made a visit to several major machine tool manufacturers headquartered in Taichung, Taiwan, what we found was careful engineering and precision manufacturing of machine tools.
For example, we spoke to YCM about their process for stress-relieving their castings over the course of several months to ensure better machine accuracy. Yet for all the high-caliber machine tool manufacturing happening in Taiwan, is anyone taking notice?About Goodway Machine Corporation
Goodway Machine Corporation manufactures multiaxis vertical and horizontal turning centers as well as specialty equipment for Swiss turning, wheel turning, tapping and cylindrical grinding. The firm builds equipment in Taiwan but is expanding its manufacturing in both Taiwan and the People’s Republic of China.
The company’s component assembly facility is over 200,000 sqft. of production space located in Taichung, Taiwan, which also hosts a Goodway turning center plant of 208,000 sqft.
In Wujiang, Jiang-Su Province on the mainland, Goodway operates a 720,000 sqft turning center plant and is currently building a new facility in Chiayi Taiwan that will include over million square feet of production space. All of Goodway’s production operates under ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 certification.
Watch the video above for an inside look at this massive manufacturing operation.