Category Archives: Uncategorized

Keeping the Arecibo Observatory Scanning the Sky

As a manufacturer, nothing brings you more joy than discovering that your products are helping humanity expand its horizons. At Chicago Nut & Bolt, we are proud that our custom fasteners help keep the famed Arecibo Observatory going strong. Referred to as the National Astronomy and Ionosphere Center, the observatory, which is located in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, is the home of the world’s largest and most sensitive radio telescope on the globe. The 1,001-foot radio telescope has played a major role in collecting valuable data on Mercury, Venus, Jovian satellites, and Saturn’s Rings, according to its website, as well as searching for life beyond our galaxy. It has also been featured on the popular T.V. program Modern Marvels and in the James Bond film, Goldeye.

As one might imagine, the Arecibo Observatory, which is celebrating its 50th year of service, is in constant need of fixing and fine-tuning. This is where Chicago Nut & Bolt’s custom fasteners play a major role. The telescope is comprised of almost 40,000, 3 ft. by 6 ft. perforated aluminum panels, which require maintenance to guarantee accurate readings, as seen in this article. It just so happens that Chicago Nut & Bolt supplies the custom nuts and bolts made from a unique stainless steel that hold each of these critical panels in place.Arecibo Observatory

If our custom nuts and bolts are trusted to keep this scientific marvel working at peak performance, just imagine what they can do for your next project! To learn how we can help you meet your fastener needs, no matter how big or small, contact Chicago Nut & Bolt today.

Fastening your Bridges for a Smooth Ride

With views overlooking the San Francisco Bay, the Bay Bridge is a well-known construction in northern California, expanding between San Francisco and Oakland. Since its opening back in 1936, it has gone through a number of upgrades and renovations, as any bridge typically does. Recently, the eastern span of the bridge was shut down while undergoing major repairs when it hit a huge snag in its renovations. According to this article, 32 of the bridge’s 17-foot long bolts cracked due to poor material quality and hydrogen infections. Illustrating the importance of fasteners in a huge construction project, the opening of the bridge has now been delayed.

If you looked across the bay, you would see San Francisco’s other famous bridge, the Golden Gate. Found in many famous photographs and attracting thousands of tourists, the Golden Gate’s integrity is a necessary part of its existence. It’s important that, like its Bay Bridge counterpart, faulty parts are not discovered. When it comes to the Golden Gate’s construction, this is something we know much about, as we are a continuous supplier of fasteners to the bridge engineers.Golden Gate bridge

The upkeep on any bridge is a 365-days a year project, for its engineers and its suppliers, like us. Sections of the bridge will be taken apart and at this point, it is determined what repair and replacement fasteners are needed. When it comes to the fasteners, the designers decided the types of bolts that are going to be used; they will specify what they need, and suppliers will provide those bolts. Since maintenance is done year-round, these parts are needed as quickly as possible. On our end, this means custom making the needed bolts and sending them out with as little lead time as possible. The biggest challenge? Ensuring they are of the highest quality, for we would never want our bolts to be faulty, causing delays in the bridge’s construction. This means following a variety of standards, including ISO, as well as investing in strong materials and using proven machining processes.

A bridge can only be as strong as its fasteners and as bolt and nut suppliers, it’s our hope that any bridge’s integrity is the nuts and bolts of its maintenance.

 

The Importance of a Safe Workplace

According to OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, “Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance.”

All employees are entitled to a safe workplace. First and foremost, it is of utmost importance that employees are not in danger. Secondly, work-related accidents account for lost time and money, high legal and workmen’s compensation costs, and poor morale. A healthy work environment is good for everyone.

This is especially true in manufacturing, where workers are often involved in the use of heavy/complex machinery and physically challenging conditions. There are many OSHA standards and programs related to general workers as well as specifically to manufacturing, and it’s important for employers and employees to be aware of these standards. For instance, OSHA just announced a National Emphasis Program on the hazards of isocyanates, compounds used in building materials, furniture, packaging, and coatings, which have serious potential risks. Workers and employers should always be aware of the related symptoms and practice the safety/preventative procedures.

Thankfully, most companies are aware of the guidelines and reasons to adhere to them, and realize the detrimental effects of employee injuries, as well as the incentives to comply. At Chicago Nut & Bolt, we are vigilant in our efforts to keep our employees safe and to comply with all related standards. We are audited regularly, which is a very good practice for companies to take part in in order to ensure worker safety.

By remaining aware of all relevant standards and how to comply with them, taking part in audits, and keeping employees educated, safety can be assured, and then everybody wins.

Choosing Alloys for High Temperature Applications

The economic recovery appears to be on an upward swing as the automotive, natural gas, and petroleum industries move into high gear. Whether it is the new fuel-efficiency automotive engines or a fast moving natural gas pump, the use of fasteners that can withstand high temperature operations is critical.

Choosing fasteners fabricated with the right alloy that can operate in high temperature applications provides design challenges, as there are only certain types of fasteners that will function in high temperature situations. Fortunately, special alloys have been formed. Fasteners made out of these metals will perform well. Able to withstand temperatures up to 1000 degrees Fahrenheit (587 Celsius), these alloys are heat-treated in high temperatures and then forged together to give them this high temperature tolerance.

Some alloys that are used today in fasteners include:

  • Stainless Steel 309 & 310—these are higher in nickel and chromium content than most other alloys of similar properties. These are recommended for use in high temperature applications. Additionally, the 310 offers extra corrosion resistance for salty or other similar harsh environments.
  • Stainless Steel 630 is a precipitation-hardening stainless steel. They are hardened by a combination of low temperature aging and cold working. It is one of the most widely used precipitated-hardened steels for the fastener industry. This alloy has high tensile strength and good ductility.

However, these two are just a sampling of various alloys available. Whether special alloys, coated metals, or stainless steel, many different metals can perform in extreme temperatures, knowing which one is right for your specific application will be crucial.

Chicago Nut & Bolt recommends that you go to the best resource for help in determining the right alloy. The best information source for determining the correct alloy for your particular design need or industry application is the ASTM A193 / A193M – 12b. This is the Standard Specification for Alloy-Steel and Stainless Steel Bolting for High Temperature or High Pressure Service and Other Special Purpose Applications.

The wise thing is to consult the ASTM specifications and then to spend time talking to your materials engineer to make sure that your particular fastener application, whether it is for automotive, aerospace, energy production, or some other industry, is covered by the correct alloy.

Why Made in America is Back

If you can make it here, why don’t you make it here?

It is a straightforward question which America’s industries are coming face to face with in 2013. There once was a time when a vast majority of manufactures in the U.S. fled the country for the cheaper labor and deals offered by Central America and Asia. The exodus devastated many American towns and cities. Manufacturing hubs like Detroit, Cleveland, and Louisville found themselves stripped of jobs, factories, and pride. Recently the trend of outsourcing has been slowly but surely reversing itself, as seen in this recent article. The factors for this much-needed switch are as varied as the reasons companies left in the first place. They include:

  • The Natural-Gas Boom and Oil Prices

Oil prices have skyrocketed internationally, while the U.S. has moved closer to a level of energy independence unimaginable a decade ago. This has made shipping costs spike, and has made it easier to open energy-intensive factories in the U.S.

  • Labor Costs

According to J.P Morgan, in 2000 Mexican manufacturing workers cost 3x as much as Chinese. Now the cost is almost equal. While these costs are still much lower than the U.S., you also have to factor in the aforementioned shipping costs, along with intellectual property and regulatory costs. The profits from offshoring shrink as every day passes, as evidenced in this article.

  • Quality

We like to believe that things made in America are in general of better quality. However, what we really mean by quality is that you have access to a pool of workers with better training and educational backgrounds. Additionally, more companies are finding that putting R&D facilities near production speeds up innovation.

While there are even more specific reasons for the increase in reshoring, the bottom line is just that…the bottom-line. In the end, manufacturers had to see that the move back to America was going to be cost and quality effective. In the end reshoring is a matter of national security; in order to regain our place as the economic powerhouse, we must be less reliant on others to make the things we buy everyday.

Sustainability Touches All Industries and is More Than a “Trend”

Read today’s headlines in the news and you’ll see that the topic of “sustainability” is a popular one, and it touches just about every industry out there. From the global mining industry to the food and beverage industry, to the transportation and construction industries, there really isn’t an industry or business in the world that isn’t somehow affected by what many people call “the sustainability trend.”

What does it mean to be “more sustainable”? To be more sustainable, businesses in all industries are focusing on reducing waste and using resources – energy, water and materials – more efficiently. They’re employing closed-loop processes to help protect the environment. Manufacturers are being much more conscientious about considering a product’s entire life cycle, and they’re practicing ways to restore renewable resources and their communities.

How do companies implement sustainability strategies? According to the Sustainability Learning Centre, “There is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ strategy for implementing sustainability… Some companies need to start with considering ‘whether they want to pursue sustainability’ while others know that this is a priority and want to know ‘how to implement sustainability.’”

Sustainability is here to stay! We predict the topic of sustainability will continue to be popular around the world, and all industries will do their part to employ sustainable practices. Businesses and organizations are gathering together and planning trade shows and expos to highlight sustainable practices. A few examples are the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week which took place earlier this year, and, in the U.S., the University of Pittsburgh is hosting Engineering Sustainability 2013, and the International Society of Sustainability Professionals (ISSP) is hosting their conference in Chicago in the coming months – and there are many other sustainability-related conferences planned this year.

We believe sustainability really is more than a trend: It’s a new way of life and a new way of doing business for everyone.

Should you use Warehousing and JIT Delivery Services?

What are warehousing and JIT delivery services? Warehousing products is a streamlined form of manufacturing, where production is done for a high volume of products, though these products are distributed by the supplier in a periodic timeline. Specifically, a given number of products needed for a year can be supplied on a monthly or quarterly basis, as the manufacturer would have produced the larger volume at once before holding the inventory for the time period. JIT delivery, then, allows for the supplier to distribute the products exactly as they are needed.Warehousing services

When do warehousing and JIT delivery services prove to be beneficial? There are a number of occasions where you will find warehousing advantageous:

  • Low pricing: Are you looking to receive high quality products at a low cost? Mass production pricing is less than manufacturing a smaller amount of products continuously over a period of time. Depending on your project, the inventory can then be released to your facility on a monthly or quarterly basis.
  • Inventory turn assistance: Does your facility need help with inventory turns? By utilizing warehousing services, you won’t need to hold your whole inventory, and you can receive your parts exactly when you need them.
  • Flexibility in products: Will you need one amount of a specific product this month and a different amount next month? No problem—warehoused inventory allows for flexibility in your parts’ shipment. Need a shipment pushed back? That can be arranged as well.

With our warehousing and JIT delivery services, we know firsthand the benefits to our customers. For the manufacturers, like us? It is more efficient on our manufacturing end to allow a machine to produce an annual volume of products, since the tooling and machines are already up and running. Do your particular needs fit the criteria for warehousing and delivery services? If so, ask us how we can help!

Our New Year’s Resolutions Revolve around our Customers!

Happy New Year to you and all your friends and family – from all of us here at Chicago Nut & Bolt!

Did you make your New Year’s resolutions this year? According to various studies and polls, there are personal resolutions that come up again and again each year. People also say they plan on losing weight… quit smoking… learn something new… spend more time with family… save money … and be less stressed. Chicago Nut & Bolt made a few New Year resolutions, too! (Keeping our customers in mind, of course.)

  1. Improve services any way we can. We’ve got 20 years of experience under our belt with custom-made fasteners, warehousing, engineering and prototype work, as well as short lead times, and even the ability to accommodate an emergency rush order overnight, but we are always looking for ways to give our customers even more. Please let us know if there’s something we can do for you!
  2. Reach out to new customers. Because we offer custom fasteners and standard fasteners for all application types, and we have the capability to sell single quantities — or up to hundreds of thousands of pieces at a time — Chicago Nut & Bolt is the right supplier for every company, large or small.
  3. Improve efficiencies. That speaks for itself, doesn’t it? We are constantly looking for ways to improve! How else to stay relevant in the market place?
  4. Decrease lead times. This goes hand-in-hand with resolution #1. So whether you need your order on a moment’s notice, overnight or within hours, we’re able to get it to you. Even without “RUSH” marked on the purchase order, standard delivery is just one week.
  5. Hold inventory and release it as needed. For example, we can ‘warehouse’ a year’s product volume so it doesn’t pile up on the job site. That’s a lot more convenient for our customers!

It’s the New Year and while our resolutions here at Chicago Nut & Bolt can’t help you quit smoking or lose weight, our top five resolutions can help your company save time and money! Here’s to 2013!

Test us out for your Prototype Needs

Prototype: A first or preliminary version of a device or vehicle from which other forms are developed[1].

Essentially, prototyping is a form of short term production that enables customers to test run components or pieces prior to full production. This allows for changes and modifications to be made to a specific part prior to a full production run. Rapid prototyping is something we here at Chicago Nut & Bolt are very familiar with.

Although some machine shops can only work on larger volume runs, we have the capabilities to run smaller numbers of pieces, which makes us good candidates for prototyping services. How does the prototype process work with us? First, our customers present us with blueprints of the specifications they require and ask for a small number of pieces to be machined. Since we stock many bolts, screws, and other fastener blanks, we can perform machining processes on a rapid basis. Need a specific material? We work with a variety of materials, including carbon steel, alloy steel, raw steel, and stainless steel, and can assist in choosing a material that meets all environmental and corrosion requirements. Once the prototype is created, you can test it to your specific applications and ensure that it complies with your specific geometry, joint design, and structure.

What happens once the final prototype is machined? In many cases, we can turn the prototypes around into a larger volume—we work with our customers from the prototype phase through the final production run. Why choose numerous manufacturers when you can come to us, with our experience of engineering prototypes into your final products?
[1] Prototype definition provided by Oxford Dictionaries.

National Manufacturing Month puts the Focus on American Manufacturing

Manufacturing matters! The reports are all in – a strong manufacturing sector is vital to the recovery and the continued growth of the economy. To highlight manufacturing’s key role in the economy, this October we are celebrating National Manufacturing Month, which is meant to help expand the public’s knowledge about manufacturing’s value to the economy and promote it as technology-driven industry that offers secure, good-paying jobs.

There are abundant benefits associated with using a U.S. manufacturer. The first one that comes to all of our minds is that it creates jobs and helps put more Americans back to work. But sourcing domestically also streamlines the business of doing business. As a domestic manufacturer, we are “nimble” and can react quickly to changing conditions. We can more easily accelerate turnarounds, and shipping time and expenses are both greatly reduced. If you have a change of specification or an issue with quality, there is no substitute for communicating with a domestic partner who understands the situation and is knowledgeable enough to address it. Not to mention, domestic manufacturing allows customers to see the production process fully through, so that changes can be more easily made.

We are proud contributors to “Made in America.” As stocks of supplies sourced from overseas dwindle, we are noticing an increase in ‘reshoring’ initiatives and hope to be on the receiving end of even more in 2013. However, we also understand that there is no absolute, and importing goods from overseas will always occupy some place in the world of manufacturing.

In the recovering economy, the benefits of manufacturing in the U.S. continue to far outweigh the once lower costs of going overseas. Supporting American manufacturers supports growth, and we are happy that October has been set aside as a time to reflect on the success of American manufacturing and what it means to improving economic conditions.