May, 2008

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Article Index

Featured Member: What industry leads the U.S. in recycling?
Article by: Justin Dorsey
Green is "in." But, for Gopher Resource - it's nothing new. They've been part of the Green revolution since 1946. Really. How so?
Compliance News and Notes: Inspection News
Article by: Vija Kelly
The following citations come from recent OSHA inspections. These items show up repeatedly when we do walk-throughs. We recommend a self-audit to ensure that you do not get caught with these violations.
MN Economic Outlook
Article by: Dr. Ernest Goss
For the month of May 2008, reported June 2, 2008. Minnesota's Business Conditions Index from a survey of supply managers slumped to a tepid reading.
Seven Minnesota Companies to Host Interns
Article by: Krysta Larson
Each summer, MnTAP interns develop solutions to industrial waste problems for companies that are unable to tackle pollution prevention projects due to lack of time or money.
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Featured Member: What industry leads the U.S. in recycling?
Green is "in." But, for Gopher Resource - it's nothing new. They've been part of the Green revolution since 1946. Really. How so?

They're one of only fourteen (14) recyclers of automobile batteries in the entire US. Together their industry recycles 98% of the U.S. consumption of car-batteries!! Imagine that. No other industry comes close. Aluminum cans are the next best example and only 60% of them are recycled.

There's something really interesting about taking a tour of Gopher's facility. It leaves one awe-struck. At first, the sense of awe is driven by the obviously hazardous nature of the business. It's loud and the smell of smelting lead is inescapable. The seriousness of the situation is driven home on a tour which requires booties, respirator, surgical gloves, overcoat, hardhat and eye-protection - with a vigorous hand-washing before leaving the manufacturing facility. But, one is then struck with awe at the dedication apparent everywhere to being a leader in what is obviously an absolutely essential task: recycling lead (and plastic and Sulfuric acid).



Gopher's vision statement is simple, dynamic and timeless: "A step ahead and the vision to be greater." This is a multi-faceted vision. Try to imagine the regulatory environment that Gopher deals with both locally and nationally. In a tongue-in-cheek comment that ultimately speaks to the way they embrace regulatory compliance their motto is: better to spend money complying with regulations than paying lawyers to fight that compliance. But seriously, Gopher is deeply committed to environmental initiatives. By way of illustration, they were the first battery recycler in the US to be ISO 14000 certified. And, they were one of the initiators of the $5 recycling "credit" for batteries. (E.g. when you buy a battery you are charged a $5 dollar core charge, when you bring back your old battery you get your $5 back) When Dakota County turned to the private sector for help with recycling a growing avalanche of household paints and chemicals, it turned to Gopher. Today Gopher runs the Dakota County Eco-Site.

How does Lean fit in to all of this? The answer is, perfectly. Dan Olson (Training Manager) and Mark Fandrey (Operations Manager) gave different examples. By way of a high-level illustration, Mark spoke of the evolution of their recycling. "Back when we started in 1946, lead was recaptured but not the plastic or acid. Now, we have a separate facility that recycles 100% of the plastic and we are in the process of developing a recycling method for the Sulfuric acid." From a lower-level perspective, Dan adds: "the inner workings of our facility are not dissimilar to any manufacturer. We have flow-through, cells and bottlenecks. We also have a Union shop. But, the union has been a true partner of ours in our efforts to introduce Lean and 6 Sigma. Simple changes like a tiered chemical shelf that allows a Kan Ban pull-down and restructured tool cages have had dramatic affects. We haven't had to fight the distracting argument about whether Lean threatens jobs. Our folks embrace Lean as a way of keeping jobs."



So what does the future hold for Gopher? In order for Gopher to remain a leader in their industry they must increase efficiency by becoming "leaner" and by being more efficient. As costs go up, Gopher will work to stem higher operating costs by using lean and six sigma tools. They will continue developing their people to adapt to change quickly, and always work towards continuous improvement.

With respect to how the Manufacturers Alliance fits into all of this, Mark says "A core part of our culture here is partnership. We've been working with - not against - regulators for sixty years. And, we're not afraid to ask questions. None of us has the perfect answer. But, we're better today than we were yesterday and believe we'll be better tomorrow than we are today. So when we found the Manufacturers Alliance with its peer-to-peer workshops and company tours - it was a natural fit for us to get involved. And we haven't been disappointed. It's been a great opportunity to learn and share."
Justin Dorsey, Director of Sales & Marketing, Advanced Capital Group located at 50 South Sixth Street, #975 Minneapolis, MN 55402. call (612) 230-3009, email jdorsey@acgbiz.com, or visit www.acgbiz.com.

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Compliance News and Notes: Inspection News
The following citations come from recent OSHA inspections. These items show up repeatedly when we do walk-throughs. We recommend a self-audit to ensure that you do not get caught with these violations.

Standard: 1910.303(b)(1)(vi) Hazard Type: Serious

Description: Electrical equipment was recognizably hazardous, due to improper current capacity for its specific intended use. Specifically, refrigerator, microwave and copy machine were plugged into a power strip then into an outlet, creating a potential overload hazard.

Recommended Action: Equipment with higher amperage ratings such as refrigerators or microwaves should be plugged directly into a permanent duplex receptacle. Extension cords and/or power strips should not be piggy backed and used as permanent. When utilizing power strips, care should be taken to ensure they do not have the potential to be overloaded. Count and total the amperage of each piece of equipment to ensure power strips are not being overloaded for the specific intended use.

Description: Electrical equipment was recognizably hazardous due to improper current capacity for its specific intended use. Specifically, two microwaves and another piggy backed power strip were plugged into a power strip, then into an outlet, creating a potential overload hazard.

Recommended Action: Equipment with higher amperage ratings such as microwaves should be plugged directly into a permanent duplex receptacle. Extension cords and/or power strips should not be piggy backed and used as permanent equipment.

Standard: 1910.303(g)(1)(ii) Hazard Type: Serious

Description: Clear working space about electrical equipment was used for storage. Access to the working space was limited. Specifically for area 101 where a desk and equipment were stored in the working space of the circuit breaker panels.

Recommended Action: Provide a minimum safe working clearance of at least three feet in front of circuit breaker panels. This clearance depth is measured from the front of the equipment.

Standard: 1910.25(d)(1)(x) Hazard Type: Serious

Description: A portable wood ladder was not inspected frequently. The wood ladder in the mechanical room was damaged in two areas.

Recommended Action: Periodically inspect all ladders for defects such as loose joints or fittings, binding or undue play in movable parts, slippery deposits on steps, damage or decay (cracks, splinters, frays, rot, rust, etc.) Repair the ladder or take it out of service.

Standard: 1910.212(b) Hazard Type: Serious

Description: The drill press in the maintenance shop was not securely anchored to prevent walking or moving.

Recommended Action: Bolt the drill press to the floor or otherwise secure it in place. Installing the machine on a large base may eliminate movement and increase stability.

Commentary: OSHA will accept bolting drill presses, pedestal grinders and similar equipment to heavy duty (marine) plywood, usually 3x3ft.
<img src="http://www.mfrall.com/newsletter/authorpics/vijakelly.jpg"align="left">Hazard Management is a consulting and training firm specializing in occupational safety and hazardous waste management. Call Vija Kelly at 651-697-0422 for more information.

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MN Economic Outlook
For the month of May 2008, reported June 2, 2008. Minnesota's Business Conditions Index from a survey of supply managers slumped to a tepid reading.



The index, a leading economic indicator, slipped to 51.8 from April's 55.1. Components of the overall index for May were new orders at 52.9, production at 51.9, delivery lead time at 58.5, inventories at 51.0, and employment at 45.2. "Durable-goods producers in the state reported healthy business activity for May. The cheap U.S. currency, especially against the Canadian dollar, has been an important ingredient in Minnesota's economy and has partially offset weakness in other areas. The May new export orders index was a healthy 61.8," said Goss.
Dr. Ernest Goss of Creighton University, used the same methodology as The National Association of Purchasing Management to compile this information. An index number greater than 50 percent indicates an expansionary economy, and an index under 50 percent forecast a sluggish economy, for the next three to six months.

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Seven Minnesota Companies to Host Interns
Each summer, MnTAP interns develop solutions to industrial waste problems for companies that are unable to tackle pollution prevention projects due to lack of time or money.

Interns are able to develop effective waste reducing solutions and save operating costs, reduce regulatory compliance burden, and decrease environmental impacts of Minnesota companies.

By participating in the MnTAP intern program, businesses gain well-developed options for improved efficiency, cost savings, reduced waste, and decreased regulatory burden. Students, typically juniors or seniors studying engineering or science, gain hands-on experience in an industrial setting and an understanding of pollution prevention strategies for problem solving. MnTAP gains knowledge and information about specific pollution prevention and energy efficiency strategies used to solve waste problems.

The following companies have agreed to work with a student intern from MnTAP during the summer of 2008 to help solve a variety of issues.


Atritech, Inc., Plymouth. This medical device manufacturer is looking to develop a new packaging concept to reduce packaging waste.

Granite Falls Energy, Granite Falls. The intern will work at the ethanol plant to determine the feasibility of installing a steam turbine to recover energy lost through the pressure-reducing valve.

Hitchcock Industries, Bloomington. In this metal casting facility, interns will determine feasibility of using a fluidized bed system and the capability of replacing sulfur hexafluoride in the process.

Metropolitan Council Waste Water Treatment Plant, Saint Paul. An intern will investigate the efficiency of the current blower operation and how that operation could be improved with different controls or strategies.

Minnesota Energy, Buffalo Lake. An intern will conduct testing to determine appropriate treatment to recycle water within the process.

St. Luke's Hospital, Duluth. The goal of this project is to minimize hazardous materials by incorporating environmentally preferable purchasing protocols.

Twin City Die Casting, Minneapolis. The facility wants the intern to recommend ways to reduce energy use in facility including in the compressed air system.

Mark your calendars to come hear how the 2008 MnTAP student interns helped their companies prevent pollution and increase energy efficiency. The presentations will be held at the University of Minnesota on Monday, August 25, 2008, starting at 1:30 p.m.
<img src="http://www.mfrall.com/newsletter/images/Mn-Tap.gif"align="left">For more information about the MnTAP intern program and the presentations, contact Krysta Larson at 612.624.4697.

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