The Challenges of Drum Handling

Drums and barrels are popular in most industries due to their varied utility. They are used to transport food and beverages throughout processing, they can carry oil, chemicals, and coatings, they can help to contain small components, and even finished pieces.

While some drums are used for storage, many are used for transportation of materials. Internally, drums can transport product within a facility as it is being processed. These same drums can also be used during distribution and shipping.

These cylindrical containers can be made out of everything from heavy steel to dense paperboard to plastic, depending on what they are being used for. The drums are usually either open top or welded top, but one thing they all have in common is how heavy they can be and how difficult it can be to move them when they are full.

On any plant floor or distribution facility, it is important for workers to be efficient, maintain safety, and get the job done. This can be difficult when trying to transport heavy, oddly-shaped barrels that weren’t designed with forklift handlers in mind.

Drum Handler
Motorized Drum Rotator

We create custom motorized drum lifters that are not only ergonomic for operators, but establish safety in the workplace. Our lifters are useful in many industries, especially in the steel industry where drums can be extremely heavy. Moving drum after drum can be tiring and cause injury, so using a drum lifter means less chance of on the job injuries that can result in downtime.

Using custom drum lifters makes the workplace safer, more efficient, and easier for workers to navigate. It can be impossible to move these drums by hand, and it can be dangerous to move them without specialized equipment.

If you want to learn more about how our custom material handling solutions can help you, let us know what you’re looking for and see how we can help. To learn more about what we do, we invite you to read our blog, follow us on Twitter, and connect with us on LinkedIn.

The Importance of U.S. Steel in National Security

Trump and Steel

With the Trump administration’s pro-defense stance, the U.S. will need of a robust and steady supply of steel to support an increase in defense manufacturing. A major war could cut off our supply of steel from overseas and thereby impact our ability to ramp up the requisite production of armaments. The military’s heavier utilization of domestic sources of steel is arguably the answer to many national security concerns.

National Security Issue

Unsurprisingly, domestic steelmakers argue that the best way to ensure a viable industry is by clamping down on countries that engage in unfair trade practices. In response to these concerns, the administration recently mandated an industry-wide investigation that could lead to the penalization of those behind unfair steel imports.

Section 232 Steel Investigation

The investigation being conducted by the Department of Commerce, (“Section 232”), may soon lead to the further curbing of steel imports with the imposition of tariffs beyond the existing anti-dumping penalties and quotas limiting steel imports. The concern is price increases for our many industries that depend on steel. However, it is believed that progress is being made in finding a sweet spot in which our national security concerns are addressed while consumers’ price concerns are also taken into account.

How We Fit into the Equation

As a custom material handling manufacturer, many of our customers work in the US steel industry. We provide heavy-duty equipment built for large scale projects such as infrastructure development and defense manufacturing. Therefore, the state of steel is something that we pay close attention to.

Let us know what you think about the US steel sector and the Section 232 steel investigations on Twitter. And, to learn more about Hunter Lift, give us a toll-free call at (800) 231-6501 or drop us an email at info@hunterlift.com. Also catch up by connecting with us on LinkedIn and by reading our blog.

Taking Advantage of Summer Downtime with Equipment Inspections

While we’ve been seeing a surge in business over the past several years, summer tends to be a time when our customers need their equipment inspected . It’s a great time to consider scheduling field inspections over the next couple of months to make sure your equipment is in top shape.

Lately, we’ve been getting a lot of calls for field inspections due to equipment breakdowns and failures. While this is obviously a good reason to get things checked out, it’s a much better idea to get heavy equipment inspected before a breakdown occurs. Otherwise, your facility may be at a standstill during a peak season later on.

Hunter Lift Equipment
Lifting Device Inspections

We perform field inspection services for lifting devices for  all industries regularly. For all customers  we create a database to keep track of each lifting device so that nothing falls through the cracks. Depending on the use of the lifting device, we’ll classify each as Severe Service, Heavy Service, and Normal Service.

To properly inspect each device, we provide non-destructive testing on welds and ultrasonic testing on high stressed components in addition to general operational and visual testing and observations. The inspections are performed by engineers and a Level II technician from Hunter Lift. Generally one of our 3 to 4 member teams can inspect approximately 100 to 300 devices per day.

Once the inspections are complete, we’ll provide a final report based on the findings for each device, which includes photographs of the overall device and photographs of any damage. In addition a customer ID is set up for each device for future reference. Chronic problems and failures of equipment will be eliminated through identification and redesign of equipment components.

To learn more about our inspection services and capabilities, feel free to request information via our online form. You can also call us at 800-231-6501 to speak with a representative.

The Importance of Quality and ISO Certifications in Manufacturing

One thing that sets us apart is our commitment to quality and safety standards in manufacturing. But what does it really mean when a company says they’re committed to quality?

The International Organization for Standardization has been around since 1946 to coordinate international industrial standards. The organization as it’s recognized today, ISO, officially began operations in 1947.

ISO develops requirements and guidelines to ensure that products and processes meet a certain standard. Companies can request tests and inspections to certify that they adhere to a particular standard, though certification is actually provided by an outside assessor – not through ISO directly.

But what’s the whole purpose of following these standards and procedures? And why should buyers care if a company has been certified to adhere to ISO requirements?

It all comes down reliability. In order for a company to pass an audit, they need to be performing the same process the same way, every time. This leaves little to no room for error.

For custom equipment manufacturers, there needs to be a basic foundation in engineering concepts to ensure that things are done correctly, even if they’ve never technically been done before. The whole purpose of getting certified is that you want your customer to have the same results with every order. Customer satisfaction is a main driver for certification.

At Hunter Lift, we are currently certified for ISO 9001:2008, soon to be certified ISO 9001:2015. This particular standard focuses on quality management systems and can be applied to any type of organization. As a manufacturer of custom material handling equipment, it’s vital that our customers can trust our products, which are often used in heavy duty applications.

To learn more about our commitment to quality, feel free to call 1-800-231-6501 or email info@hunterlift.com.

What You Need to Know Before Choosing a Sheet Metal Lifter

It’s no secret that many industrial companies are working with old, outdated equipment. But in many cases, you’re not really saving money by not replacing old models; in fact, in can cost you in the long run as you have to deal with unplanned shutdowns due to malfunctions.

hydraulic-sheet-lifter
Hydraulic Sheet Lifter for Metal Processing

For metal processing facilities, one important piece of equipment is a hydraulic sheet lifter. But there are a few things plant operators need to be aware of before making an order. Here, we’ve outlined a few questions you’ll need to answer when choosing a sheet metal lifter.

What is your load requirement?

The last thing you want is to order an expensive piece of equipment only to learn that it can’t support the amount of weight you require. Take stock of the types of jobs you’re performing now, and consider if you’d like to expand your capabilities or increase efficiency by accommodating heavier loads.

What are your sheet metal lengths?

Some metal processing plants only work with a specific length of sheet metal. Others have a wide degree of variability in sheet lengths. If this is the case, you may need a few sets of sheet lifter support sections that can be changed out on the fly to fit different jobs. This is very important to know so that you can include this in your initial order.

When will you need this equipment online?

Set realistic expectations for delivery. This is a heavy piece of highly engineered equipment that must undergo extensive design, building, and testing before it can be delivered. For this reason, it’s important to start the buying process before you actually need it – because by the time something breaks down, you’re looking at months of downtime while you wait for a replacement.

Once you’re able to determine the full scope of your project, you can work with a  custom material handling equipment manufacturer to design your sheet lifter. Hunter Lift is an ISO 9001:2008 certified manufacturer of lifting devices and mobile crane attachments. Our engineers will work with you every step of the way to determine your needs, answer any questions, and build the right product for your job.

If you’d like more information, feel free to contact us through our website or call 1-800-231-6501.

Prioritizing Domestic Steel for Key Infrastructure Upgrades

The US steel market has been going through a monumental slump. On the face of it the fact looks simple enough. But those who dig deeper unearth a startling truth. The demand for steel in the nation has steadily increased over the past few years.

More foreign investment, recovery from recession and rising demand of consumer goods have necessitated increased use of steel equipment and consumption of larger volumes of raw steel. And with a renewed focus on investing in United States infrastructure by repairing roads and bridges, the outlook for steel should look even better.

So why has US manufactured steel stagnated at a utilization of only 70% of production capacity?

The Real Culprit:

Countries like China have a huge advantage over the United States. First and foremost their labor is inexpensive. Even with wage revisions the minimum hourly rate is far below what US laws mandate. Moreover their steel industry is almost unfairly subsidized. This allows them to export steel equipment and raw steel at a fraction of the cost of the United States.

The surplus pumped by the Chinese juggernaut has flooded the US market. This cheap steel has been serving the needs of manufacturers, pushing home based producers to the back-burner. Illegal imports have been another cause of worry. The free US market has been unable to put a stop on the inflow of foreign steel far beyond the accepted quota. This has made matters worse.

But 2016 leading into 2017 brings good news. The Trump election led to an unprecedented spike in projected steel share prices across the Dow Jones index. And the focus on using domestic steel for infrastructure will likely continue this upward trend.

4 Reasons Why 2017 will be Better for Steel Manufacturers:

  1. The Chinese economy has slowed down. Recession is creeping to claim casualties and a preponderance of cheap steel is the very first one. By 2020 China is expected to cut down its steel production by at least 20% to 30%. Without the glut of foreign steel chocking the US market, home based producers will breathe easy.

 

  1. Globally a bullish market is calling for rising prices of steel and metal. The manufacturers who depended on imports will see less value in paying for shipping and assembly with the original margin slimming down.

 

  1. The new government will continue down its path of protecting American interests. President Trump and his team have already insisted that pipe manufacturers use US produced steel to complete key projects in Dakota. This bodes well for steel prices in the country.

 

  1. Finally the trillion dollar infrastructure improvement plan will provide impetus for strengthening trade and will make US a prime target for reshoring. The long term effect of this strategic move is bound to be growing steel demand and this time without cheap imports eating into the market share.

 

Steel producers are optimistic. And Hunter Lift – a premium provider of below the hook lifting devices and mobile crane attachments – is fully equipped to serve US steel manufacturers and other home based producers during this boom in the economy. We look forward to seeing how the market plays out in coming months and years.

2017 Might Just be the Springboard the Steel Market is Looking For

The year was 2010.

The price of steel per ton in the US was a healthy $646.7.

In 2011 it rose to $749.6.

But the ensuing period instead of being the golden era of steel production turned out to be a bitter slump that has spiraled despite assurances of stability.

The World Steel Association had predicted that the fall in demand of 2015 had led to a “bottoming out” of steel prices. So the only way to go was up.

But the US steel market sank lower in 2016.

This has been a disturbing trend for well over 6 years now.

So what does 2017 have in store for steel manufacturers?

Let’s take a look at the drivers and the possible outcome.

The Trump Presidency:

“Making America Great Again” has been the cornerstone of the Trump campaign. And the President Elect has focused heavily on improving trade ties, protecting domestic markets and uplifting national manufacturing.

In fact, after his win was officially declared, the Down Jones Steel Index registered a steep rise, the highest in two years.

In short, investors are on board with a more optimistic evaluation of the steel market.

The Slowing Down of the Chinese Economic Engine: 

For almost a decade now China has led the global economy as the most prolific producer of steel. It certainly has the manufacturing advantage of inexpensive labor and a strong domestic demand. However the juggernaut is now cutting back in terms of its export expansion. Quality conscious buyers are turning to alternative channels to procure affordable and robust goods. And with this shift China has decided to bring down its steel output by almost 20% over the coming three years.

Right now the production of steel outpaces its demand. But the move will turn the tide ensuring that the consumption of steel takes the edge again, bolstering prices across the board.

Increase in Non-Residential Construction Activities:

The American Institute of Architects has good news. It is estimating a spike in non-residential construction efforts of almost 6.7%. This increase is not inconsequential and will positively impact steel demand as well as prices.

Based on these projections it looks like 2017 will springboard the steel market. Even if the rise in prices isn’t significant right away, there is optimism for the future.

ArcelorMittal Aims to Boost Domestic Steel Supply

ArcelorMittal is promoting domestic steel, applauding the United States Department of Commerce (DOC) investigations into China’s handling of corrosion-resistant carbon steel and cold-rolled carbon steel. ArcelorMittal has also joined in the recent tribute to U.S. Navy aircraft carriers and announced plans to open a new steel production plant in Detroit.

Joining the Circumvention Case Against China

As a leader in the U.S. steel sector, ArcelorMittal’s activities carry a lot of weight. Thus it meant a lot when the company filed an anticircumvention petition, along with the petitions of three other American steel providers, that charged China with circumventing AD/CVD orders on corrosion-resistant carbon steel and cold-rolled carbon steel.

ArcelorMittal took a stand under the belief that Chinese steel producers tried to bypass these orders by transshipping steel products through Vietnam to complete finishing stages. This damages the U.S. steel industry. As a major American steel producer, ArcelorMittal used its prominent position to protect our national steel industry.

Celebrating U.S. National Aircraft

When November rolled around, ArcelorMittal proudly participated in U.S. Navy Aircraft Carrier Month, which honored the contributions, value, and achievements of the men and women who serve on the huge seaward vessels.

ArcelorMittal provides top-quality plate materials to fleets that the government continues to expand. These steel plates are used by shipbuilders to construct aircraft carriers and other U.S. Navy vessels, including cruisers and submarines. With three plate mills and comprehensive gauge and grade abilities, ArcelorMittal can provide an impressive volume of parts for use on the important ships and other vessels.

Plans to Expand to Detroit

Another way that ArcelorMittal is elevating the domestic steel supply is by opening a new Detroit-based manufacturing plant which will produce strong, laser-welded steel blanks for the auto industry.

The plant will not only provide necessary parts to major automakers but also has the potential to elevate Detroit’s economy. It will create over 120 jobs in about five years. The 317,000-square-foot building will be near I-94.

By producing vital steel parts for U.S. vessels, intending to open a new steel production plant, and encouraging the following of U.S. AD/CVD orders, ArcelorMittal is taking steps to help inspire a stronger U.S. steel sector.

The Importance of Regular Inspections and Preventative Maintenance in Material Handling

Running a business can mean having a lot of expenses, one of those being equipment. While costly equipment is often necessary, it shouldn’t keep on costing you. Having a machine break down can lead to not only expensive repairs, but the resulting downtime means a loss of productivity as well. It’s a no-win situation.

To get the most out of your equipment, it’s important to schedule regular inspections and preventative maintenance. Doing these two things means you will get the best return on investment when it comes to your equipment. There are several things that should be checked, such as weld integrity, pin wear, component wear, and general operational readiness. When regular inspections and preventative maintenance schedules aren’t followed, it can result in breakdowns, structural failures, dangerous situations, and expensive downtime.

At Hunter Lift, we provide a wide range of services including regular inspections and preventative maintenance. We can help keep your equipment up and running because we know just what to look for. We also offer field inspection of lifting devices, ensuring your equipment is working properly and safely. At Hunter Lift we can provide quarterly, semi-annual, and annual inspections and generate a custom database which can track each lifting device. This is always done under the supervision of a licensed professional engineer.

When you’re ready to get started with regular maintenance, Hunter Lift can help. When you call us, you’ll begin to reduce operational downtime, improve efficiency, reduce your total cost of ownership, and keep your workplace safe. We invite you to contact us to discuss a preventative maintenance schedule that works for you.

The Data-Driven Lift Truck

For years, lift trucks have helped improve efficiency because of their ability to lift heavy loads. While these machines did the back-breaking work for humans, they also helped to increase speed and productivity. They became an invaluable extension of the workers who used them. Now, these same lift trucks are becoming even more valuable to companies, due to their ability to store and report computerized data over long distances, a process referred to as telematics.

The data transmitted can include anything from necessary maintenance to performance issues to even alerting managers as to which employees may need more training. Should an accident occur, units with cameras installed can replay a video of what was happening before and after the accident, allowing for necessary training or safety policies to be put in place.

The information can also help to streamline productivity, offer measured analysis of productivity of a specific truck or trucks, and allow for real-time visibility of a truck. Real-time visibility lets managers and fleet owners know which units are being used, how much they are being used, and even how much time is spent with each load. This information can help to determine if a fleet can be downsized or if productivity levels could increase with additional trucks.

As the benefits of data-driven lift trucks become more widespread, estimates show there will be an increase in use between 60% to 80% by the year 2020. While some companies purchased the data-driven trucks initially, they were slow to understand and fully use the machines to their fullest potential. With increased understanding, that is gradually changing. With most technology, the price of sensors and other computer components decreases over time, so it’s likely the cost of data-driven lift trucks will also decrease over time, allowing for a greater return on investment for companies.