Custom Fasteners for the Unique Needs of the Mining Industry

One of the many advantages of being a custom fastener manufacturer is that we are able to meet specific, challenging, and often changing needs within the industries we work with. We know that fastener requirements can be quite unique, and we also know that as industries change and grow, so do their needs.

We have provided custom fasteners for the mining industry for many years, and have seen the changes take place. Currently, a lot of mining is happening in the oil sands of Wyoming and Canada, which is currently a hot bed of mining activity. The industry has developed new, innovative techniques to extract oil from these sands, and as a result, there are new equipment needs.

We’re currently working with many mining equipment manufacturers, producing larger custom fasteners for their bulldozers, excavators, cranes, and large mining trucks—all of the machinery used in the active oil sands arena. Oftentimes, within this area, larger sized fasteners are needed for parts. For example, a recent project we worked on involved bolts that weighed 60 pounds each.Large custom mining bolts

As custom manufacturers experienced in adaptation, we are regularly engineering our fasteners specifically to these applications and requirements, fabricating them to not only fit the larger sizes, but also choosing materials that are high strength and able to perform in the temperature extremes of these environments. In fact, this particular market is a niche for us—typically large parts and shorter run productions—and we’re able to meet these needs, no matter how challenging or unique.

2013 was a down year, but as industries are changing and growing, we’ve seen a significant increase in the start of 2014, and we expect to continue seeing this. We look forward to continuing to meet the needs of the mining industry, and all industries we serve.

Is Manufacturing on the Cusp of a 3D Printing Revolution?

Some people are describing it as the catalyst for the next Industrial Revolution. Others are predicting it will one day become so commonplace that it can be found in a home. It’s no surprise, then, that more and more businesses are paying close attention to the emergence of 3D printing.

Also known as additive manufacturing, 3D printing is one of the newest and latest technologies to affect the manufacturing industry. According to this article, 3D printing allows for “designers and engineers to imagine, computer-model, and build objects within hours…objects are built from scratch, layer by layer, with no wasted materials.” Due to this technology, the manufacturing process is aimed to change dramatically.

Already, we are beginning to see how 3D printing is being incorporated into the industry. We certainly feel as if manufacturing is on the cusp of a 3D printing explosion, and we do believe that it is going to be the future of manufacturing and industry. But how will it directly affect our company and our business of custom fasteners? To start, we think the additive technology will make the machining process much smoother and it will be used with a wide range of materials. Not only do we believe that at some point in the future we will be using 3D printing to produce fasteners, but we also believe it will be incredibly useful when it comes to prototyping, especially in rapid prototyping. As a company that does a fair amount of prototype work, we can see how 3D printing can revolutionize the process.

While we are not investing in 3D printing at the moment, we are certainly aware of its potential and we’re watching its progress in the industry. We’re excited to see what comes next!

The Process of Prototyping through Production

As leaders in the manufacturing of custom fasteners, we make it a priority to provide our customers with solutions to every need, for any application. What this often means is that we will work closely with our clients from prototyping through production, maintaining close contact and answering all needs along the way.

In our business, it’s quite common for an engineer to want/need a prototyped product before beginning a full production run. The benefits of prototyping include the ability to provide a custom, initial product very quickly, meeting any time-crunch demands—we stock blanks in a variety of styles and sizes.Prototyping

It all begins with an initial blueprint created by our team, specific to a client’s requests. We provide assistance and expert guidance, while listening carefully to goals, concerns, and needs. We then create 50-100 prototype parts, which then undergo testing. We test the form, fit, and function of the prototypes, paying close attention to dimensions and tolerances, making sure they work as intended and particular grade requirements are met. Oftentimes, there will be many changes along the way, going through multiple phases of prototyping until it’s just right.

Once the prototype is approved and meets all requirements, we then move on to production. Often, the production run is very different than the original prototype, which makes the prototyping an important means of reaching desired results. The process ends with a production run that is highly efficient, having determined the best designs, features, and methods throughout the process. All along the way, it’s typical for the customer to be involved in every aspect.

In the end, the result is a quality product that is exactly what it should be, made effectively and precisely, with cost-efficiency in mind.

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.

Minding the Right Mining Fasteners

It comes as no surprise to those in the industry that mining is a rugged occupation with extreme temperatures and can take place anywhere in the world. Because of this, it’s essential that all mining equipment remains in peak condition. Custom fasteners are a critical component to the mining industry. They are used in a variety of applications such as:

  • New construction of mine shafts as well as the ongoing maintenance of these underground mine shafts.
  • Heavy-duty large scale dump trucks, large excavating equipment, bulldozers, and other earth-moving equipment.
  • Exhaust systems that take out bad air laced with CO2 and bring in fresh air to the mines.

Mining is a rugged operation and includes very high powered equipment in actual mining operations as well as the movement of the products. To be sure that all fasteners are in working order, it is imperative that inspection of fasteners be a critical part of ongoing maintenance on mines. Mine inspectors should be certain to look for potential joint failure to avoid dangerous situations.

Due to the rugged conditions of mining, the low temperature environments and the volume of vibration within mines, nut and bolt systems can often become loose or lead to a weakening of the structure of the mine.

Many of the bolts used in the mining industry are highly customized for the application that they are used in and are often made of high strength alloy steel. These are very large bolts that in some cases may weigh as much as 30 lbs. each. They must have tight tolerances and are made to very exacting specifications.

Chicago Nut & Bolt has been supplying fasteners to the mining industry for many years. If there is a breakdown in the field, we can provide replacements within 24 hours. Our engineers understand the importance of fasteners in the mining industry and we are here to make the mining process as seamless as possible.

Get Low: Finding Fasteners for Low Temperature Applications

With the holidays upon us and the winter season approaching, it’s time to begin thinking about the colder weather. In our business, that means evaluating how fasteners will withstand the cold temperatures while maintaining their strength. Take, for example, Santa’s sleigh—all of the sleigh’s components need to handle the low temperatures, cold winds, and snow-covered roofs that they will be facing. What exactly needs to go into the design and development of these components?

When it comes to producing fasteners for low temperature applications, we focus on the alloys of the parts. Typically, the materials meet ASTM A320 specifications, meaning they are usually alloy steel or stainless steel and conform to a certain chemical composition. This enables them to maintain specific characteristics they need to work in the cold, including corrosion resistance, tensile strength, and ductility.

Maintaining certain strength is essential in low temperature applications. Santa’s sleigh needs to stay aloft, pipeline uses need to remain intact, ski lifts or ski towers need to remain standing. Whatever the application, structures that are exposed to low and harsh temperatures need to be ductile and secure. For these applications, strong alloys, such as steel or stainless steel, are usually options that stand strong.

Celebrating Manufacturing on MFG 2013 and Beyond

Everyone at Chicago Nut & Bolt looked forward to this year’s annual National Manufacturing Day, which was held across the country on October 4th. Manufacturing Day is a celebration of all that is great and transformative about American manufacturing. It is also a day to dissuade people of the notion that the importance of “Made in the USA” is outdated. Leaders from a wide variety of industries sponsored events throughout the nation. Big names like Shell, Kelly Services, and IHS GlobalSpec joined with thousands of smaller manufacturers like Chicago Nut & Bolt to highlight what is making manufacturing in the U.S. strong again.

Overall, we have seen increased activity when it comes to manufacturing recently. Due to this manufacturing comeback, we are excited to see what lies in the future of manufacturing. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the most recent numbers:

  • In 2012, manufactures contributed $1.87 trillion to the economy, according to this report.
  • August’s Manufacturing ISM Report on Business shows that manufacturing expanded for the third consecutive month, hitting its highest level of the year and its strongest since June 2011. In addition, the overall economy grew for the 51st consecutive month.
  • U.S. manufactures have added 520,000 jobs since January of 2010, as seen in this article.

In keeping with the concept of a renaissance in manufacturing, MFG Day’s goal was to focus on the role of youth and technology. There is little question that if we have any hope to continue growing the sector, we must get more young people, with the proper technical skills interested in manufacturing. That’s why it is necessary for all companies in the industry to showcase the importance of manufacturing and educate others on the skills and opportunities within the manufacturing sector. For us here at Chicago Nut & Bolt, every day is a celebration of manufacturing; we hope you join us!

Automation and Manufacturing: A Partnership in Innovation

It’s no secret that American manufacturing is coming back. Gone are the days when companies are expected to send their business overseas, where labor is cheaper and dependence on foreign manufacturing is the norm. Small manufacturers and Fortune 500 companies alike are returning to our shores, realizing the value of manufacturing independence and true American quality.

One of the greatest reasons behind this reshoring is the technology and innovation that’s showcasing this country’s leadership in the industry. And one of the best examples of this is automation. Almost every industry is now realizing the value of automation and the ways in which it can help them.

In fact, according to a recent article in The Economist on automation: “If people on the factory floor or in workshops are provided with easy-to-use robots they can become more productive…Bring together these new robots with innovative manufacturing technologies, and you could get a manufacturing renaissance.”

Today’s automation involves sophisticated robots that can take over the menial tasks once done by entry-level workers, saving time and money while creating roles for more skilled employees. They are advanced machines that, according to that same article, “fetch and carry parts, hold things, pick up tools, sort items, clean up and make themselves useful in myriad other ways.” They are helping to create efficient workplaces that manufacture higher quality goods in a shorter amount of time.Automation

At the same time, these robots need to be programmed and maintained, creating new career opportunities for Americans. Rather than replacing workers, as some had feared, they are creating the need for more—albeit higher skilled—employees. Furthermore, the efficiency, quality, and cost savings from automation are helping American manufacturers compete with overseas labor rates, continuing manufacturing’s reshoring.

American manufacturing has always stood for advanced technology and innovation, and automation is making this as true now as ever.

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.