A Traveling Tower – For Your Next Deer Hunting Trip

Reprinted with permission by the  Journal of the Minnesota Precision Manufacturing Association:

Deer hunting in Minnesota has long been a passion (an obsession, some might say) for many of us, and how fortunate can we be when our interest & love of the sport can turn into not only a profitable business venture, added manufacturing activity here in our state, but can also generate several good “patentable” ideas that can help our citizens and industry.

Such is what was born, in a hunting stand, back in the fall of 2009, by partners Todd Rubey and  Jeff Olson.  Having been hunters all of their lives, they had that “…let’s build a better mouse trap…” moment when they came up with their “Traveling Tower” idea.

The Traveling Tower, which is also the name of their newly formed company, is just being sold this fall for the first time.  Designed and built right here in Minnesota, and according to Todd and Jeff’s plans, going to stay that way, the Traveling Tower has many uses, with deer hunting being only one of them.  The other uses include:

—Use in the construction industry.  Possibly installing gutter systems, used by painters, used by siding companies – used anywhere you would want to quickly and easily erect a platform, that is also very easily transportable, to service a vertical wall or area that is 8 feet to 12 feet off the ground.

—Use by Videographers.  Shooting films where quickly erecting a portable tower, capable of supporting some very heavy video equipment, along with one or two operators also, is a huge time savings.  And the platform on the tower can be lowered, moved to a new location, and then erected, without the need for removal of any of the equipment on the platform.  The platform can remain fully loaded, and horizontal at all times. 

—Use in theAgricultural Irrigation Industry.  Right now almost all of the farmers and technicians that work on those large irrigation systems you see on farm fields access all of these connections, sensors, valves, piping, etc. that need service, by moving a ladder from point to point to point along that irrigation line.   How about using a 4 wheeler as transport around the field, and having this platform that can quickly be extended to the height necessary to access all of this equipment which is approximately 12 feet off the ground.  The time/labor savings when utilizing a “Traveling Tower” is tremendous

Todd Rubey, one of the founders of the company, had long used a “tower” concept in the fields that he likes to hunt on his property, and always felt that there was a way to make the whole concept portable.  A way to move it from place to place due to the fact that deer change their paths and movements in the field. 

Another big advantage of the Traveling Tower comes with the weight and stability added by being mounted to that 500 pound, 4-wheeler underneath (although the Traveling Tower has all the stability required to allow the operator to detach their 4-wheeler from underneath and use that for transportation in the field).  If you are in a hunting spot where the ground is not altogether stable, the added support of the 4-wheeler is a tremendous advantage.

Most notable is that the design, that Todd & Jeff came up with, has been submitted last year to the U. S. Patent Office, has been evaluated by the U. S. Patent Office, and the Patent Office has “deemed worthy” for full submission of patents on 3 operating areas/functional designs, built into the Traveling Tower:

—The lifting mechanism, which employs a cable system capable of lifting the structure from a horizontal, folded position up to its vertical, erected position

—The design of the platform, which maintains its horizontal attitude whether in the folded position or in the erected position, allowing gear to be left on the platform all the time, and allowing gear to be loaded onto the platform from the ground rather than being lifted up to the platform level only after being erected

—The design of the attachment mechanism to the 4-wheeler, and the quick and easy removal from that 4-wheeler

All of the Traveling Towers currently being manufactured employ these three designs noted above, and all are issued with “Patents Pending” as per the U. S. Patent Office.

Another version of the traveling tower, which is only in the design stages at this time, would service and provide access to handicapped hunters (handicapped in that the hunter still has use of his/her upper body, and can pull themselves onto the platform when still in the folded position).  The Traveling Tower would serve as the perfect “deer stand” that would afford them that elevated position for hunting while at the same time making it very easy to into the platform in the field. 

Todd & Jeff have already done a great deal of preliminary marketing, having taken the Traveling Tower on the road to many regional hunting shows such as the Sportsman’s Show at the Minneapolis Convention Center, the Deer Classic this past Spring at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds, along with several out-state hunting shows.  At the Sportsman’s Show in Minneapolis they were most pleased to get mentioned as one of the “Top 3 Neatest Ideas” on display at the show.  They are hoping that future Sales & Marketing efforts of this Traveling Tower will include some of the big names in hunting, such as Cabela’s and Gander Mountain and preliminary discussions have already taken place.

Best of all, for we Minnesotans, is that their idea was born here in Minnesota, is coming to fruition here, and, according to Todd & Jeff will “…stay here…” in Minnesota for the foreseeable future.

Bill Remes

Vice President, Sales & Marketing, AmeriStar Manufacturing Inc.

Providing Metal Stamping (Short and Long Run), CNC Machining, Sheet Metal Fabrication, Assembly, Welding, Metal Finishing, Laser and Waterjet Cutting

Website:  www.ameristarmfg.com

Email:  BillR@ameristarmfg.com

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China Manufacturing – Now Returning to the U.S.

July 14, 2011

I was recently speaking with another customer of ours, and I heard still more China stories about some of their experiences and the efforts they had made, and some of their results and ensuing decisions.

They had decided that they needed to pursue sourcing some of their parts – both plastic and metal – as well as some of their tooling – overseas in an effort to save money.

Now they did not just do this lightly.  They did take a “naïve” approach to this and simply find a firm in China on the Internet and send some drawings and a purchase order over there “blindly.”  They searched for companies with the correct capabilities, sought out referrals, found several companies, and then went and visited these companies in China.  After having selected the companies with whom they wanted to work, they truly attempted to enter into a “partnership” with them and emphasized that – a “partnership” – in all their discussions.  They made all of their technical people available to advise them so as to make sure they got what they were looking for, made several trips, etc.  Then they even had representatives from these Chinese companies visit them here in Minnesota so as to see a lot of their technology here, made sure they understood how they were using these components and tooling, and made a real investment in an effort to establish this true “partnership.”

This customer shared two very specific outcomes with me, with which they were very dismayed.

The first was in the area of Injection Molded Tooling that they wanted to have these Chinese companies make for them.  The specifications from this Minnesota company were that the tooling must be made from 420 Mold Quality Steel.  Why 420 Mold Quality Steel?  Because they had found, over the years, that if they ran into a situation where they wanted to modify the tooling after it had been made that this 420 Mold Quality Steel lent itself very nicely to being welded (i.e. build up an area of metal inside of the molding, then machine that area into the exact size & shape of the modification that they wanted to make).  This material was good, they felt, for how they wanted to work with this Molding Tooling in the future.  One day they tried to do this with one of their tools – weld onto it.  And it would not weld.  They were perplexed and started to investigate why.  They came to find out that this material was not a 420 Mold Quality grade of material.  An inferior grade of material had been used, and had been used on many of their tools, unbeknownst to them.

The second problem they encountered was with a metal part that they were sourcing.  It was to be made of a mild steel, nothing really too special, and the part was then powder coated.  So the material surface was not showing when parts were received.  They were not happy with some aspects of the parts, and they started to go through the basics in checking these parts.  The first thing they discovered was that the material in these parts was not even magnetic!  It was not capable of holding their test magnet!  Clearly it was not a grade of material that matched their request.

And this is with a “Partner” company with whom they had invested a lot of time and effort, not to mention money, at the very beginning of the relationship, and they were not providing product as per the agreed upon, and well communicated, specifications.

This customer of ours has decided, while they are not completely abandoning all of their suppliers and parts/products that they buy over in China, he did tell me that approx. 50% of the metal parts that they had decided to source in China were now coming back to the United States.  They had had it!

 Bill Remes, Vice President, Sales & Marketing, AmeriStar Manufacturing  ( www.ameristarmfg.com )

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True Cost & Associated Problems – Are They Worth It?

The other day I was visiting a customer, and he told me something very interesting about the way he sources parts, and from where.

He told me that he much prefers sourcing parts from the U.S., but he feels a great deal of pricing pressure from his competitors.  He knows that they, his competitors, are getting some of their parts that they buy from China.  So he feels that he should source some of his parts from Chinese sources and try to save money in so doing.

He sources about $10 million per year in parts, and of that about $2 million (20%) are from Chinese sources.  Now this customer of ours is a wonderful gentleman, very kind and gracious, and he really did feel personally bad about that.  But I told him that I fully understood and he needed to do what he felt that he needed to do.  And we continued with our conversation.

Later as we chatted he told me about a weekly meeting that he has with all his Department Heads, Buyers, Operations Managers, etc.  They talk about operations and each week they specifically talk about problems with components – particularly with components that they have outsourced from other companies.  And he admitted that, in this meeting, 90% of all their problems with incoming outsourced parts are from parts that they have brought in from China.  I was so surprised that I clarified with him to make sure I understood – these parts from China represent only 20% of your incoming volume, and yet they represent 90% of the issues, problems, rework, etc. that you & your managers have to deal with.  Yes, that is what he told me.

I asked about how he was able to deal with these issues, these non-conformances, etc. when China is so far away and any rework or resolution would take so long in transit.  He said that they, at their facility, with their personnel, have had to set up a rework operation to correct/fix all of these problems internally with these parts that they receive.  Really?  I was incredulous.  And I think he could see that, and he was a little embarrassed by what he had just admitted to me.  I did not push further as I did not want to embarrass him, but I still had many more questions that I would have loved to have asked.  Who pays for this rework?  If they are able to do it, are they able to charge their rework time & materials back to the manufacturer who provided parts that were not to print?  Has he ever really “gotten his hands around” the true costs associated with his people doing all of this rework on these incoming parts?  Is he confident that he really has the “true cost” attributed to these parts that are causing such consternation & effort within his company?  I just left those questions unanswered.

Bill Remes

Vice President, Sales & Marketing, AmeriStar Manufacturing Inc.

Providing Metal Stamping (Short and Long Run), CNC Machining, Sheet Metal Fabrication, Assembly, Welding, Metal Finishing, Laser and Waterjet Cutting

Website:  www.ameristarmfg.com

Email:  BillR@ameristarmfg.com

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Energy Conservation – Sage Electrochromics

Reprinted with permission by the  Journal of the Minnesota Precision Manufacturing Association:

Faribault, Minn., is home to a new technology, with tremendous energy- saving capabilities that may well revolutionize the exterior window glass industry – it is the home of SAGE Electrochromics.  Since 2004, SAGE has been selling its glazing product into commercial buildings and residential projects across the country. Called SageGlass® glazing, this truly innovative technology promises to be a huge advancement in the conservation of energy. It also improves our indoor environments by inhibiting the undesirable effects of sunlight such as excessive heat gain, glare and fading.

SAGE’s glass is coated with five layers of ceramic materials, which have a total thickness of less than 1/50th of a human hair. Low-voltage electric current is applied across the coatings and ions travel from one layer to another layer, where a reversible, solid-state change takes place, causing the coating to tint and absorb light. Reversing the polarity of the applied voltage causes the ions to migrate back to their original layer, and the glass returns to its clear state.  And switching from clear to darkly tinted is done with the push of a button or a simple command from a building automation system!!!

When tinted, SAGE’s glass blocks 91% of solar energy penetration. In contrast, standard low-e windows block 70% or less of the sun’s energy contributing to uncomfortable temperatures and increased cooling loads. According to data from the U.S. Department of Energy, SAGE’s tintable window technology can reduce a building’s annual energy bill by as much as 28%, and cut on-peak demand for electricity by as much as 25%.

In addition, SAGE’s electronically tinted glass blocks nearly 100% of harmful UV radiation and the portion of visible light that causes fading to furniture, artwork, carpet and other materials.

In their tinted state, SageGlass® products transmit 3.5% visible light. The breakthrough benefit is that when the glass doesn’t need to be that dark—for instance, when it’s cloudy outside and you want light or it’s winter and you want heat from the sun—the untinted glass brings the visible light transmission up to 62%. It’s like having two types of glass in one window opening.

Because in many situations SageGlass products eliminate the need for shades or blinds, less artificial lighting is required enabling further energy savings without sacrificing natural light and outside views. Research shows that providing people with daylight and a connection to the outdoors can increase retail sales, improve children’s scholastic achievement, reduce absenteeism, and boost productivity in the workplace.

“The benefits and energy-efficient aspects associated with our products have a significant, positive contribution to green building practices, reliable and sustainable performance, and current economic opportunities,” says John Van Dine, SAGE’s president and CEO.

Van Dine founded the company in 1989 in a small laboratory in Valley Cottage, N.Y. After several years of research and development, SAGE moved to Minnesota, or as Van Dine calls it, “the Silicon Valley of the window industry.”

SAGE moved into its current facility in Faribault Minn., in 2005, and today is planning a four-fold expansion of its operations.

SAGE is currently developing systems that will control the intermediate levels of tint in the glass.  They expect to offer this feature at the end of 2009. SAGE is also working on a photovoltaic-powered (solar-powered) glass product. Larger glass unit sizes, along with glass panels beyond rectangular in shape (i.e. triangles, trapezoids, etc.) and glass panels that are not flat (curved, as in the windshield of your car), also are in development.

In the future, Van Dine sees SAGE’s technology used in a wide range of products including many forms of transportation windows and specialty applications.

Bill Remes

Vice President, Sales & Marketing, AmeriStar Manufacturing Inc.

Providing Metal Stamping (Short and Long Run), CNC Machining, Sheet Metal Fabrication, Assembly, Welding, Metal Finishing, Laser and Waterjet Cutting

Website:  www.ameristarmfg.com

Email:  BillR@ameristarmfg.com

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Bright (Solar) Ideas, to Produce More Energy

Reprinted with permission by the  Journal of the Minnesota Precision Manufacturing Association:

In 2008 the founders of tenKsolar founded their company with an idea – the idea that they could design and build a better solar panel.  Identifying the problems with solar panels as they currently existed, they knew that they had better ideas for a design that would produce more energy, more safely, and with less cost – as the old saying goes, they could “build a better mouse trap.”

They have now launched their new line of RAISTM modules – which stands for redundant array of integrated solar – being built here in Bloomington, Minnesota.

The current design of most solar panels involves each one of the cells being wired/linked together in “Series,” which means that when one or several of the cells is blocked and not working, large areas of, if not all of, this portion of the solar panel fails to work and will not generate power.  [Remember when we were kids, the old strings of Christmas Tree lights, that when one of the lights went out, all of the lights went out?  Solar panels, when linked in Series, are almost that bad.]

tenKsolar’s RAISTM modules utilize a cell/matrix architecture design in their coupling and output, and one portion of a solar panel may be blocked, or fail, and the majority of the power will still be generated by that panel.  And each module can stand alone – generating power when other modules for whatever reason may not be operating.  The modules are designed so that they energy literally finds an alternative path, toward the output coupler.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has established an industry standard for the efficiency rating of solar panels, measured in “PV (photovoltaic) Watts.” NREL rates other currently available solar panels, as having generally a 77% to 82% efficiency rating, with only a 72% to 74% efficiency rating after 10 years of operation.  The tenKsolar panels are showing test results, due to the efficiency of their design, as having an initial efficiency of 91% to 92%, with an efficiency of approx. 87% even after ten years of operation.

Not only is the operating efficiency higher, but they also allow the use of reflected light to boost the efficiency even further.  Most solar panels only use direct sunlight, whereas when possible, mounting of highly reflective panels adjacent to a tenKsolar panel will add a significant amount to the total energy output.  And with tenKsolar panels, having the exact, optimal mounting angle of each solar panel (which is generally equal to the latitude at which the panels are installed – at 45 degrees latitude for us here in Minnesota) is not quite as important due to the fact that light can be reflected onto the panels when the optimal angle of installation is not possible.

Two other important features that tenKsolar has designed into their product offering:

—Product safety.  Each panel operates at 48 volts – a voltage that is much more safe for anyone that may come in contact with the panel.  Conventional panels operate at as much as 600 volts – a lethal dose of electricity if you came in contact inadvertently, while at only 48 volts, yes, you would get a slight shock, and it would sting (in many instances the body would not even feel a 48V shock), but there is far less chance that it would be a fatal dose.  Additional safety/hazard devices have also been included in tenKsolar’s modules.

—Lightweight.  tenKsolar panels are all made with an aluminum backplane insuring a good silicone seal which also keeps humidity out.  The installations are virtually all aluminum structures, which is far less costly and far less weight than steel.  This weight reduction means that many solar modules, and particularly large solar modules, will not over burden the weight bearing capacity of the structure that they are mounted on, and in most instances, the modules can be attached with no roof penetration (less opportunity for a roof to leak).  tenKsolar claims to have the lowest pounds per square foot (with the highest kWh rating) available today.

Bright ideas, designed into these new state-of-the-art solar panels, conceived and produced right here in Minnesota.

Bill Remes

Vice President, Sales & Marketing

AmeriStar Manufacturing Inc.

Providing Metal Stamping (Short and Long Run), CNC Machining, Sheet Metal Fabrication, Assembly, Welding, Metal Finishing, Laser and Waterjet Cutting

Website:  www.ameristarmfg.com

Email:  BillR@ameristarmfg.com

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Give Your Concept a “Power Review”

AmeriStar has initiated a new Marketing effort entitled: “Let’s give your Concept A ‘Power Review’”

A “Power Review” from AmeriStar includes our working with you to best determine:

—How could this part be best made?

—Given the use of this part, is it toleranced correctly?

—Are there manufacturing processes available that will reduce the cost to make this part, saving us (and you) time & money?

AmeriStar can quote your parts using multiple different processes (stamping, machining, laser, waterjet, wire EDM), so we can quote your parts:

—Not only in the prototype stages

—But also in the production ramp up stage

—And into full production

Let AmeriStar review your part Designs, Drawings, Ideas, Concepts, etc. for Manufacturability in any and all of these multiple processes listed.

Talk to AmeriStar Estimating Staff directly, to discuss your project.

Call 507-625-1515, Ext 222, and ask for our “Estimating Staff,”

Or Email us at fab@ameristarmfg.com

Bill Remes

Vice President, Sales & Marketing

AmeriStar Manufacturing Inc.

Providing Metal Stamping (Short and Long Run), CNC Machining, Sheet Metal Fabrication, Assembly, Welding, Metal Finishing, Laser and Waterjet Cutting

Website:  www.ameristarmfg.com

Email:  BillR@ameristarmfg.com

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Clean, Green, and Cost Efficient

Reprinted, with permission, from Precision Magazine, Journal of the Minnesota Precision Manufacturing Association

“Clean, Green, and Cost Efficient”

During the 1970s oil embargo, Marvin Schwan (founder and owner of The Schwan Food Company), wanted to find a reliable, more cost effective method for fueling his large fleet of home delivery route trucks.  Frustrated with seeing his trucks waiting in line for fuel at crowded gas stations instead of selling their great food, Marvin Schwan looked for an option. Propane became an obvious choice to the more popular gas or diesel option. It was a fuel that was readily available in bulk everywhere in the country as a home heating fuel.  What Marvin’s company began in 1970 is even more valuable, more timely, than it was back then!

Bi-Phase Technology, a wholly owned subsidiary of The Schwan Food Company, designs and manufactures liquid propane electronic fuel injection systems that allow fleets to convert their vehicles from gasoline to propane, reducing cost and environmental impact.  Their system, called LPEFI®, is unique in that it burns liquid propane in the engine while in the liquid state – not in the gaseous state.  Conversion of liquid propane, from a liquid to a gas, never occurs making the entire system much more stable (less susceptible to an accidental ignition or an accident).  Cold starting is also improved with this system, as well as reducing the problems with engine backfires.  (Bi-Phase holds patents for every part of their system, totaling over 100 individual patent claims.)

The Schwan’s Food “depot system” is very conducive to utilizing an onsite fueling station for their delivery trucks, so getting the bulk fuel at the depot was relatively easy. Converting the trucks was somewhat more challenging, but the technology to retrofit a gas engine to propane was much easier in the older carbureted engines. Bi-Phase came into existence with the advent of fuel injection. When truck manufacturers made a change to fuel injection in their medium duty trucks, Schwans in turn needed a propane fuel system option. Schwans purchased Bi-Phase from a private entrepreneur and has utilized it almost exclusively for their own use, up until now.

Propane changes from its liquid state over to a gas state at a very low temperature. It is the patented system that Bi-Phase Technologies has developed that is unique to other types of propane conversion systems.  The LPEFI® is a dedicated multi-port fuel injection system for modern engines.  It uses specifically engineered tanks equipped with a Liquid Propane Delivery Module (LPDM) designed for easy installation on many different models of trucks (i.e. Chevrolet, Ford, Isuzu,).  Many of the major truck manufacturers advertise that their engines are compatible with liquid propane fuel.

Some key points regarding this system:

—Vehicle operators do not notice a difference in power as compared to a gasoline or diesel engine.

—Liquid Propane fuel is substantially lower in cost than gasoline or diesel fuel (especially at times such as we recently went through in 2008 where the price of gasoline and diesel fuel reached an all-time high.  Even at today’s prices, the cost of LP gas is still very attractive as compared to gasoline and diesel)

—There are also federal and local tax incentives available to offset both the conversion cost for a vehicle, as well as to the fuel costs.  With smaller fleets of vehicles, up to 80% of the conversion cost qualifies as a tax credit.

—Schwan’s Home Service, Inc. fleet estimated fuel savings are over $30 million annually.

Bi-Phase Technologies’ plans are to take their product to the truck aftermarket. They are currently actively looking for distributor partnerships that will provide sales and marketing support for their product. They will continue to provide all manufacturing of this liquid propane electronic fuel injection system and they will continue with their R&D efforts. Their target customers are fleets with metrics similar to Schwans in that they are medium duty vehicles that conduct business from a central depot/warehouse and come back each night.  

The Schwan’s fleet of home delivery trucks is one of the cleanest medium duty truck fleets in the USA for its size, and the first to be certified as an “Ultra Low Emissions Vehicle” by the EPA in 2004.

Bill Remes, Vice President, Sales & Marketing, AmeriStar Manufacturing (www.ameristarmfg.com)

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Managing our Energy Resources Wisely

Reprinted, with permission, from Precision Magazine, Journal of the Minnesota Precision Manufacturing Association

One of our countries’ greatest needs is the development of alternative sources of energy.  And a St. Paul company is at the forefront in developing solar/electric energy technology.

Founded in 2007 in St. Paul, Energy Harvest Group (with its “sister” company, iCel Systems Inc, in Van Nuys, CA) is pursuing their vision, which is that “…energy storage, management, and communication will be an integrated component of everything that is electric.”

Solar energy (generated through photo voltaic) and wind energy have long been identified as viable, available, renewable energy sources, but one of the problems has been to cost effectively store and manage that energy.

The mission of Energy Harvest Group is 1) to save energy, and 2) to wisely distribute energy (distribution of energy includes collecting, storing and applying energy to specific functions) (which they call providing “despatchable energy”)

They will soon be manufacturing, here in St. Paul, an Integrated Cell of Electrified Lithium, which they call an “iCel™.”  The primary model manufactured will be an iCel 714, which is capable of storing up to 1 killowatt hour of electricity.  [And just as a frame of reference, a typical U.S. household uses approx. 18 – 30 killowatt hours per day of electricity.]  This iCel, made up of 98 individual ten (10) watt cells, stores and manages electricity captured from solar energy, wind generated energy, and even electricity off of the electric “grid” (during off-peak hours).  We here in the Midwest are not used to considering “Peak” and “Non-Peak” usages of electricity, as most Residential use is not subject to a differentiation between Peak and Non-Peak usage.  Commercial/Industrial users of electricity are, but not Residential users.  Where the cost savings would come into play in some States for Residential or Commercial users, is that the iCels could be charged for the day during the Off-Peak (usually nighttime) hours.  The electricity then consumed would be at the lower rate.  We here in the Midwest enjoy very low electricity rates  (approx. $.07 to $.08 per kilowatt hour) versus other areas of the country (such as Hawaii, where the rates are approx. $.80 per kilowatt hour).  Being able to download less costly electricity, store it, and then use it during the day could provide a large cost savings, and provide extra capacity to the entire electric grid.

These model 714 iCels can be configured in a racking system (in a “plug & play” configuration) to provide almost any size/capacity energy storage system.  While in operation, if a failure should occur, an individual model 714 can merely be unplugged and a new unit readily installed.  iCels also have the dual capability of being charged, and still discharging/managing energy simultaneously, unlike most other battery systems. 

When in full operation, Energy Harvest Group hopes to be manufacturing between 2000 – 4000 of these model 714 units, along with some other iCel units of various sizes/capacities.

The iCel actually describes a complete system, including the energy storage capability, but also includes a complete system of energy management circuits and controls including communication, maintaining a system operating history, safety devices, and connectivity to the Internet.  This system stores power for the system owner, monitors system operation, and can communication information regarding the system status and its operation back to the owner.

Safety is a big key with this design.  The iCel runs cool – at approx. room temperature – unlike sodium batteries which run at temperatures as high as 600 degree F.  A battery at this temperature can be extremely flammable, and is also a hazard if touched during operation.  iCels components will also be fully recyclable or fully re-useable.

Energy Harvest Group is currently in a very exciting developmental time in their company because, as they like to say, they are “inventing markets” as they go.  Many different Manufacturers, Electric Cooperatives, Medical Device Manufacturers, etc. all have expressed interest in this iCel technology.  One of the possible applications, that they have just begun to explore, is making a unit appropriately sized to provide energy to Hospital Operating Theater Personnel – to their Headlamps that they wear during operations.  Of particular interest is the fact that this iCel is “smart” – monitoring its own function, providing status information, operational information, etc. so as to provide enhanced reliability.

As a Minnesotan, born and raised, I am very proud of the technology advances that so often come from companies here in Minnesota, and in the upper Midwest.  Energy Harvest Group is making a great contribution to our nation’s future technology and energy needs.

Bill Remes, Vice President, Sales & Marketing, AmeriStar Manufacturing (www.ameristarmfg.com)

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The Fabricator Magazine, and their “Fab 40” Successful Companies

In the June 2010 issue of The Fabricator Magazine, the cover story was about fabricators “…who have climbed to the top…”  The article, entitled the “Fab 40” was the magazine’s list of “…some of the most aggressive and successful shops in the magazine’s subscriber base.”  AmeriStar was most pleased to be included in this list of Top 40 Job Shops!!!

The shops included reflected a wide variety of types of shops within the metal fabricating industry.  And they pointed out many of the things that these shops have in common (most of which we are doing here at AmeriStar):

—Investing in new and used equipment to bolster current capabilities

—Strengthening relationships with current customers to see if they (we) could create new business with familiar faces

—Targeting new sales efforts in new markets to diversify the customer mix

—Looking for internal opportunities to root out waste to improve the bottom-line performance when margins were as tight as ever

We are proud of the fact that AmeriStar was included, and we wanted to point out a couple of items:

–that there must be as many as 10,000+ companies that are part of this “Fabricated Metal Products/Job Shops” category in the U.S. that could potentially have been included in this group, but AmeriStar made the top 40

–that AmeriStar is not an Advertiser in The Fabricator Magazine.  So rest assured that our inclusion in this article was not based upon any existing relationship with the publishing staff at the magazine.

AmeriStar has been in business for 102 years – since 1908.  And we are looking forward to our next 102 years!

Bill Remes, Vice President, Sales & Marketing, AmeriStar Manufacturing  (www.ameristarmfg.com)

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Reducing Vendors – Cost Savings Measures

To add, maintain, etc. multiple vendors in your Purchasing Department’s systems can be very costly.  That is why a vendor, with multiple capabilities, can be a cost savings measure to your company.

AmeriStar has multiple different manufacturing services available, eliminating the need, in many instances, for multiple vendors in your system.

With some frequency, when I am calling on a customer (most often a new customer), they tell me a story regarding how they have obtained parts, from some of our competitors in the past.  For example, one customer 1) sourced his sheet stock material from a steel distributor, then 2) sent it out for processing (i.e. stamping, bending, laser cutting, etc.), then 3) was sending it to a 3rd vendor to have it plated, powder coated, etc.  I explained that we at AmeriStar take complete responsibility for all of these 3 operations, and would deliver his parts “complete, per print” saving him a great deal of time, not to mention his transportation cost of transferring these parts from vendor to vendor to vendor.

AmeriStar offers:

Metal Stamping, CNC Machining, and Assembly (Short and Long Run).  Our stock inventory of standard form dies means lower tooling and run costs.  We have complete in-house tool production and maintenance departments.

Sheet Metal Fabrication.  Our CNC machines offer greater flexibility for prototype development and production modifications.

Welding and Metal Finishing

Laser and Waterjet Cutting

–Tooling manufactured “in-house” for short lead times

–Painting, E-coat, and Plating available

Bill Remes, Vice President, Sales & Marketing, AmeriStar Manufacturing (www.ameristarmfg.com)

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