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Shipping_containers_at_ClydeIt’s hard to imagine a world without container ships. These ships make it possible for us to request and send products all over the world. How do you think that Chinese- made pair of jeans go to you? Container ships are a feat of engineering and the backbone to our modern economy. The container aboard these ships are able to seamlessly be transported to the ship by semi-trucks, loaded on the ship, and taken off to be transported by truck to their destination. There is no need to unload the contents as in the old days.

Before containerization was invented, items were transported in packages and placed aboard ships. It was a painstaking, time consuming process. Containers can hold up to 64,000 lbs of cargo each. Thanks to the invention of containers, the shipping time for cargo was reduced by 84% and costs went down 35%. By 2001, almost 90% of dry cargo was shipped in a container.

Shipping containers are built to hold heavy material, withstand the salty ocean air, and last a long time. They are usually made of steel, but can also be made of aluminum, fiberglass, or even wood. The invention of the container was not met with open arms. Many trade unions for dock workers balked at the idea. They believed this invention would cause massive job losses. Many companies involved in ports and railways were worried about the huge costs involved in developing infrastructure to handle these new containers.

Containers can now be loaded and unloaded from a ship in a few hours. The sturdy containers also allow for less breakage while the ship is underway. There is also less theft. Container ships now make up about 14% of the world’s fleet based on tonnage. Despite improvements in efficiency, about 2,000-10,000 containers are lost at sea each year. This costs companies about $370 million dollars. This is due to storms, or even ships sinking. Shipping by container is still the best way to go for many companies around the world. You can thank this containerization innovation next time you purchase an item made overseas.

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The penny costs more to make than its face value, so why is it still around?

One quarter, two nickels, three dimes, zero pennies. This is what you may find in the average pocket. Most people do not carry or use pennies on a daily basis. If we see a penny on the ground, we are likely to pass right over it. So why do we need the penny? Many politicians and economists are proposing to eliminate the penny altogether. The penny currently costs more to make than it is worth, so that fact alone is reason to get rid of them. So why have we kept them around and what would happen if we got rid of them?

It may be surprising to find that pennies aren’t the only coins that cost more to make than their face value. In 2011, the nickel cost $0.1118 cents to make, while the penny cost $0.0241. From the infographic, we can see the true cost of nickels and pennies. Seigniorage is the difference between the total cost of production and the actual value. In 2011, this came out to be $60.2 million for pennies and $56.5 million for nickels.

Proponents of the penny argue that the formula for making them should change. Over the last 30 years the penny has been made with 97.5% zinc and 2.5% copper. The nickel is made of 75% zinc and 25% copper. It is surprising that the nickel contains even more copper than the penny. President Obama has proposed altering the materials in the penny and nickel to decrease their cost. People opposed to keeping the penny believe this will only increase the likelihood of counterfeiting the coin.

American’s For Common Cents says that if we moved from the penny to the nickel as the lowest denomination coin it may create public anxiety over higher prices. About 77% of Americans worry that prices would be raised if the penny was abolished. Professor Raymond Lombra of Penn State found that rounding to the nearest nickel would cost consumers more than $600 million annually. About 59% of Americans worry that getting rid of the penny would cause confusion when purchasing items.

Whether you are against or for the penny, it will be interesting to see how this controversy plays out over the coming years. Next time you see a penny on the ground, pick it up and consider your thoughts on whether it should be eliminated or kept around.

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UnknownThis statue is a symbol of America and is known throughout the world. Many visitors come to New York just to view her in person. She was a gift from the people of France in 1886. During immigration, the statue became an icon of freedom for those arriving from other countries. Here are some facts you may not know about Lady Liberty.

  • 1984-1986: The statue was closed for restoration. The torch and much of the internal structure were replaced.
  • After 9/11, it was closed for safety reasons and was reopened in 2009 for limited visitors.
  • Liberty Island fully opened July 4, 2013
  • Nobody has been able to access the balcony on the torch since 1916
  • The French paid for the statue but the US paid for the pedestal on which it stands
  • There are differing opinions in how much copper was needed for the statue. Some say 200,000 lbs while another says 128,000 lbs.
  • The cost of the donated copper was $16,000 at that time (Around $354,000 in 2014).
  • American fundraising for the statue included a young Theodore Roosevelt
  • Designer of the Eiffel tower, Gustave Eiffel, also helped on the Statue of Liberty
  • To protect the copper skin on the statue, Gustave Eiffel insulated it with asbestos
  • Many Americans at the time preferred realistic artwork rather than allegorical like the Statue of Liberty
  • The proposed height of the pedestal was 114 feet, it was reduced to 89 feet
  • Some people donated as little as 5 cents towards the pedestal
  • The tradition of the ticker-tape parade started during the parade for the Statue of Liberty when traders at the NYSE threw ticker tape from the windows
  • A fireworks display was planned for the Statue of Liberty’s arrival, but it was postponed due to bad weather
  • Replacement copper for some repairs came from a rooftop at Bell Labs
UnknownMany of us are familiar with the fizzy sound that emanates as we pull the tab on a can of beer or soda. There are so many aluminum cans out in the world that 113,000 of them are recycled every minute. According to the Aluminum Association, recycled cans can appear back on shelves in about 60 days.
Where did these cans come from? Back in 1959, Coors created the first all-aluminum beverage container. Also at this time, Coors was paying a penny for each can returned to them. In 1964, Royal Crown Cola introduced RC Cola and Diet Rite in aluminum cans.
Why use aluminum? Before aluminum, beverage makers used steel cans. Aluminum proved to be much lighter and had a better surface for applying graphics than steel. Cans today weigh less than an ounce. Aluminum cans also allow for 100% protection against contaminants, oxygen, and light, according to the Aluminum Association. These cans also do not rust, have one of the longest shelf lives of any packaging, and are tamper-resistant. Aluminum cans are so strong, four six-packs can hold up a 2 ton car! In addition to providing superior beverage packaging, aluminum cans are used for aerosol products and paint.
The problem with the first aluminum cans was their opening mechanism. They required a device called a “church key” to open the cans. It is said that the inventor of the pull tab had to use the fender of his car to open his beer can, as he forgot his church key. He owned a tool company and invented the pull tab. This tab predated the tabs we are familiar with today, the “stay-on tab” invented in 1975.
The aluminum can is still alive and thriving more than 50 years after their invention. This growth can be attributed to the continued popularity of canned soft drinks, and the booming energy drink market. Companies like Red Bull, Amp, Monster, and more are utilizing aluminum cans to house their beverages. In addition to energy drinks, many craft beer brewers are using aluminum cans as opposed to bottles. The Aluminum Association found that almost 400 brewers use these cans, as they provide superior protection from light and oxygen.

Screen Shot 2014-06-27 at 10.43.21 AMAt Leveltek International, we love to keep an eye on BIG projects going on around the country and the world. There are thousands of major construction projects underway as we speak. Some are bigger than others, but when it comes down to the amount of steel manufactured to complete these projects, its truly incredible.

This week, the last steel beam was put in place on the $800 million dollar VA Medical Center Facility in Aurora, Colorado. This massive replacement project, also known as “Project Eagle”, is a joint venture between Kiewit Building Group and Turner Construction.

All in all, since 2011, this total project has used 8,700 tons of steel, which is approximately equal to 2,175 elephants.

The 2+ million square foot facility will house a 30-bed community living center, a 30-bed spinal cord injury/disease center, a 182-bed tertiary, ambulatory care facility, a research building, a central utility plant and parking structures.

The project completion date, originally set for 2015 has been pushed to early 2016.

According to a recent study by Ducker Worldwide LLC, aluminum sheet usage for light vehicle body and closure parts will grow from less than 200 million pounds in 2012 to approximately 4 billion pounds by 2025.

The Troy, Michigan-based market research firm says aluminum usage will grow exponentially over the next decade, with consumption in 2015 surpassing records set in previous decades by about 1 billion pounds.

Imagine this: pickup trucks will feature an average of 548.9 pounds of aluminum per vehicle. So, what does this all mean? Well, according to Ducker the projected growth will require, “a tremendous increase in heat-treating capacity.” Ford Motor Co., General Motors and Fiat Chrysler will be the biggest consumers of aluminum sheet through 2025.

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BENWOOD, WV – Leveltek International, an industry leader that has been operating and producing stretch leveling equipment for more than 20 years, has been selected by BlueScope, an Australian steel company, to provide state-of-the-art stretch-leveling technology for a new coil plate processing line due to start supply in late 2014.

BlueScope announced they were investing in Leveltek International’s stretch leveling technology, along with Bradbury’s CTL equipment for a new coil plate processing line May 19. This technology, not used before in BlueScope’s Australian domestic product range, will provide customers with an industry-leading standard of consistently flat and memory free coil plate products.

“Leveltek is honored to be selected by BlueScope, a well respected leader in the steel industry, to help grow their coil plate business,” says Michael Kelly, President of Leveltek International. “For more than 20 years, we have been committed to providing quality and reliable services to our partners. It is a vote of confidence that BlueScope chose Leveltek and we are thrilled to expand our footprint across the globe.”

Ken Liddle, Market Manager for BlueScope says the decision to invest in the new coil plate processing line was made after considerable feedback from their customers. “Our customers have a preference to buy locally made high-quality steel and through this investment we are able to offer them such a product. The flatness and consistency of stretch-leveling is particularly suited to the industry’s growing preference towards laser cutting and will be appreciated by our customers,” says Liddle.

“BlueScope has utilized the expertise of industry leaders in stretch-leveling technology, Leveltek International LLC in West Virginia, and industry leaders in steel processing equipment, The Bradbury Co., Inc. in Kansas.”

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Leveltek International designs, manufactures and installs stretch leveling systems for retrofit and new light-to-heavy gauge cut-to-length and coil-to-coil lines. Leveltek Stretch Leveling can help you cut sheets that satisfy fabricators’ increased demand for the memory-free steel required by laser and plasma cutting. The company was established in 1997 and has installations worldwide. Leveltek International is headquartered in Benwood, WV, about 60 miles (100km) west of Pittsburgh. For more information, call Leveltek International at 304.232.8530, e-mail sales@leveltek.com or visit http://www.leveltek.com

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