Plant news

Posted on May 15, 2018 :: Plant News
Jessica Thiel
Posted by , Insight on Manufacturing Staff Writer

Robinson Metal purchases Appleton company

Robinson Metal Inc. acquired Product Handling Concepts, an Appleton-based custom engineering company specializing in designing, building and integrating automated solutions for manufacturers in tissue, food and beverage, pharmaceuticals and consumer goods.

The partnership between PHC and Robinson began years ago as a customer-supplier relationship. In 2016, Robinson joined PHC’s investment group, and in 2017 became its exclusive manufacturing partner. Since then, the two companies developed collaborative strategies to provide value to the markets they serve.

PHC’s team of engineers, project managers and mechanical assemblers will join the Robinson team at the company’s De Pere location on Eisenhower Drive. Product Handling Concepts became the fifth division of Robinson.

In March, Robinson announced expansion of its operations to Manitowoc. Its custom enclosures division, which has experienced a 30 percent increase in business each of the last two years, will be the first to expand into the new facility.

Company leaders said Manitowoc offers the space and skilled workers needed to meet customer demand. Robinson will lease a 112,000-square-foot facility previously used for production by the Manitowoc Crane Group, which moved most of its operations out of state in 2016 and 2017.

Robinson anticipates hiring approximately 30 employees initially for the Manitowoc operations as well as adding to its workforce in De Pere. The company anticipates adding workers to the Manitowoc facility over the next year as its Fab & Machine and Pipe & Vessel divisions also look to expand there.

Appleton Coated renamed Midwest Paper Group

Combined Locks paper mill Appleton Coated will begin doing business under the name Midwest Paper Group.

The new entity was established by Industrial Assets and Maynards after their October 2017 purchase of all the assets of Appleton Coated LLC. The company restarted the facility in December. After the purchase, Industrial Assets took note of the highly experienced and dedicated workforce and focused on upgrading the mill’s production capabilities and fiber handling systems.

The manufacturing facility has an annual production capacity of 400,000 tons on three paper machines and an adjacent coating and finishing complex with processing capacity of 280,000 tons. The company employs about 245 workers.

Endries International acquires Ohio company

Endries International acquired Branam Fastening Systems Inc. of Cleveland.

Branam Fastening Systems is a provider of fasteners to the original equipment manufacturing and distribution markets. In addition to stocking more than 10,000 unique general fastener items, Branam has market expertise in the stud welding product category. Operating under ISO9001 accreditation, Branam provides quality products and services to customers nationwide.

“In Branam Fastening Systems, we found a philosophy and approach that is aligned with what is core to Endries,” Steve Endries, president of Endries, said in a release. “In addition, we are thrilled with the team of associates that Branam has assembled. Together, we look forward to building upon the foundation that has been established.”

Study finds Automation fears cause worker stress

The fear that a robot or computer could put workers in the unemployment line may be directly linked to some physical and mental health issues, three Ball State University researchers and a Villanova University professor found.

“County-level job automation risk and health: Evidence from the United States,” published in the journal Social Science and Medicine, found that exposure to automation risk may be negatively associated with health outcomes, plausibly through perceptions of poorer job security.

“While estimates of potential job losses due to automation vary for our nation — with one as high as 47 percent — most people agree that the risk of automation is significant and growing,” said Michael Hicks, director of Ball State’s Center for Business and Economic Research. He found in 2015, job losses in the nation’s manufacturing sectors due to automation were as high as 88 percent in recent years.

In this study, researchers found that a 10-percentage-point increase in automation risk at the county level worsens general, physical and mental health by 2.38 percentage points, 0.8 percentage points and 0.6 percentage points, respectively.

Further, the study estimates
that the 10-percentage-point increase in automation risk increases overall costs by $24 million to $174 million due to increase in prevalence of poor or fair health; $6 million to $40 million due to increased physical distress; and $7 million to $47 million due to increased mental distress.

The actual and felt threats from automation may not immediately manifest into morbidities, but the increasing prevalence of poorer self-reported health and feelings of deteriorating physical and mental health can have a direct and lasting impact on individuals, families, and communities,” Hicks said. Φ