From manufacturing demands meeting labor shortages to consumer habits shaping how much variety a manufacturer should account for in their product lines, June 2021 offered both concrete facts as well as interpretive insight into how bulk material handlers can continue to move forward this year.
Here are nine thought-provoking stories across the bulk material handling world from last month.
Food Engineering podcast emphasizes ‘O.E.E.’ in hygiene discussion
Three letters were at the forefront of the June episode of the Food Engineering Podcast. Variables related to “O.E.E.,” or overall equipment effectiveness, were discussed at length by Nestlé corporate hygienist Duane Grassman in a conversation centered around equipment performance in food manufacturing facilities. The age and maintenance of such equipment, when to upgrade or replace said equipment and the need to have a clear policy in place for when to stop the line and fix problems in a manufacturing line were topics covered in the episode.
The White House releases report sharing plan for production bottlenecks
Increasing domestic manufacturing and limiting shortages of goods in order to reduce dependencies on geopolitical competitors was the focus of a report from The White House released in June. During the pandemic, vulnerabilities in the U.S. supply chain were exposed (such as demands for medical products in the healthcare system), but a task force has now been assembled to focus on parts of the economy where there are discrepancies between supply and demand.
Specifically, CNBC reports that four products critical to the U.S. economy are now the task force’s focus: large capacity lithium batteries, rare earth minerals, semiconductors and active pharmaceutical ingredients.
Baking & Snack podcast discusses how self-care played into pandemic snacking habits
Three prominent guests were featured on the June 9th episode of “Since Sliced Bread” (Baking & Snack’s industry-focused podcast). The executive vice president and practice leader of IRI (Sally Lyons-Wyatt), the operating partner of marketing at Factory LLC (Erin Lifeso) and the senior vice president of marketing and communications for Utz Quality Foods (Bill Blubaugh) all shared their perspectives related to the shifting sales of health-conscious foods over the past year.
Lyons-Wyatt predicted that future consumers will likely continue to focus on holistic health in snacks, but will likely refrain from buying in bulk options as much as they did during the pandemic. As less assortment and varieties of healthy snacks were available during the early months of lockdown, she stressed how providing options to consumers will need to be addressed by the snack industry.
Manufacturers ‘can’t afford not to digitize’ says Q&A about new FDA release
With the FDA having released guidance for how to conduct regulatory inspections remotely back in April, two experts from intelligent manufacturing and quality management system (QMS) offered insight into a possible future of remote inspections during a Q&A with Industrial Equipment News. Chief Product Officer of MasterControl Matt Lowe and Managing Director of APAC Sara Bresee discussed the role that quality modern technology will play in situations where the FDA has declared that they must be able to remotely “review, observe, examine and evaluate” information requested.
For an example shedding light on how digitizing a system can integrate quality into manufacturing processes, Bresee stated “as medicine makes transformative leaps and bounds, the ability to ensure the same level of quality for a mass-manufactured pharmaceutical product that you can for a batch of one is the standard we have to hold ourselves to. And that is enabled through platform technology.”
Study finds women make up 41% of supply chain workforce
After 223 supply chain organizations were surveyed by research and advisory firm Gartner, it was revealed that women comprised 41% of the workforce related to supply chains in the current year. Though this is a 39% increase from 2020 (and the highest percentage since the survey’s first edition in 2016), the level of executives that were women fell from last year’s 17% to 15% currently. 84% of organizations stated that the pandemic did not affect their ability to hire and retain women in the workforce.
Both Central U.S. and Mid-Atlantic U.S. see growth in manufacturing
Manufacturing activity as a whole in both the central U.S. and central Atlantic region of the U.S. grew in June, according to Market Watch. Robust demand has helped the mid-Atlantic’s industrial sector to expand even though some factories struggle to keep up with orders due to labor shortages and “supply-chain woes. Expectations for future activity in the central U.S. were the “highest in survey history,” according to vice president and economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City Chad Wilkerson.
Ransomware-related news corner: the good, the bad and the ugly
As Industrial Equipment News put it last month, headlines have been filled with news related to ransomware attacks (as well as articles about how to protect yourself against the threat and think-pieces centered around the increasingly important role that cybersecurity offers to manufacturers). With so much material around the subject to keep track of, we’ll list just a few developments related to ransomware from June 2021:
- The Good: Ransomware hackers are getting caught and prosecuted. Mihai Ionut Paunescu (a Romanian hacker who was wanted in eight countries for helping develop and spread the “Gozo” virus) was arrested in June. Both Oleg Koshkin and Pavel Tsurkan, who operated an online encryption service helping conceal malware infections from antivirus software, were convicted last month.
- The Bad: Malicious cybersecurity breaches on the world stage have also increased, according to the U.N. disarmament chief warning a U.N. Security Council in June. Recent years have brought a “diminishing trust and confidence” among nations, according to Izumi Nakamitsu.
- The Ugly: 80% of organizations that suffer a ransomware attack also find themselves suffering a second attack, according to Industrial Equipment News and security provider Cyberreason. All too often those who attack are repeat offenders for the same companies, and 29% of businesses surveyed said that they wound up laying employees due to financial pressures after a ransomware attack.
11 facilities faced fires in June
June 8, 11, 14, 15, 18, 28, 29
Unfortunately, June saw 11 facility fires affect various industries in the bulk ingredient handling world. As always, it is crucial for companies to do all that they can to prioritize keeping their employees safe. Dust mitigation is a critical concern that should be properly addressed in order to prevent these incidents from occurring.
The NFPA sets critical guidelines for manufacturers in material handling industries, and AZO has compiled their work into various forms of content to be easily accessed on our site. Below are 10cases of facility fires and when they were reported this past month
- June 11 at a chemical plant in Dover, OH. No injuries were reported. As a result of the fire, a process in the plant was “disrupted” and caused a “hydrochloric acid release,” according to local fire officials.
- June 14 at a chemical plant near Rockton, IL. One firefighter was injured fighting the blaze and the cause of the incident was later explained to be accidental in nature and related to pipes carrying heated mineral oil to heat certain vessels used to provide lubricating greases. The incident caused a two-mile evacuation, according to local news.
- June 18 at a resin and fiber manufacturing facility in Moncks Corner, SC. Two people were injured. Local news noted the material involved in the incident was a polymer.
- June 18 at the Maxwell House coffee plant in downtown Jacksonville, FL. No injuries were logged. the blaze is thought to have started in a coffee bean roaster at the Bay Street plant, according to fire department officials.
- June 18 at a lime processing plant in Pleasant Gap, PA. No injuries were logged though the fire allegedly grew to four or five stories tall. The cause was not reported.
- June 24 at the Alto Pekin LLC facility in Pekin, IL. No injuries occurred. Dryer equipment that “frequently catch on fire” was reportedly the source of the incident.
- June 28 at the Georgia-Pacific facility in Green Bay, WI. No injures were logged. The fire likely started in a conveying system after paper products became too hot, according to fire officials and local news.
Facility fires outside of the U.S. included:
- June 8 at the SVS Aqua Technologies chemical plant in Pune, India. 18 people lost their lives and 20 more were injured as a result of a blaze possibly started by a spark in an area used for packaging plastic materials. Reportedly Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s office announced that 200,000 Indian rupees ($2,750) would be given to the families of the deceased workers.
7 facilities experienced explosions in June
June 3, 4, 7, 8, 15, 28, 30
In a month where OSHA announced they were fining a Missouri grain facility $216K specifically for safety violations that were uncovered after a December 2020 dust explosion, 7 facilities experienced similar events six months later. Here are the seven explosions in manufacturing facilities that were widely reported in June 2021:
- June 3 at the Farmer’s Co-op of Hanska’s Burdick Elevator in New Ulm, MN. One person was injured and taken to a hospital. The company is currently working to assess damages and the cause of the incident was not explicitly reported.
- June 4 at a feed mill in Sleepy Eye, MN. No injuries occurred and the cause wasn’t reported, but the blast allegedly “blew the roof off” a silo.
- June 7 at a rubber plant in Janesville, WI. One employee was injured and transported to an area hospital. The cause of the explosion was not available at press time.
It's never a bad time to ask questions regarding dust mitigation, plant maintenance or how to upgrade your facility to increase efficiency. AZO has more than seven decades of experience in handling raw materials and shaping ingredient automation along the way. Feel free to contact our sales team for any questions on how to help your plant and processes run smoothly.