The Wire

  • New tunnel, premium RV section at Talladega Superspeedway on schedule despite weather

    Excerpt:

    Construction of a new oversized vehicle tunnel and premium RV infield parking section at Talladega Superspeedway is still on schedule to be completed in time for the April NASCAR race, despite large amounts of rainfall and unusual groundwater conditions underneath the track.

    Track Chairman Grant Lynch, during a news conference Wednesday at the track, said he’s amazed the general contractor, Taylor Corporation of Oxford, has been able to keep the project on schedule.

    “The amount of water they have pumped out of that and the extra engineering they did from the original design, basically to keep that tunnel from floating up out of the earth, was remarkable,” Lynch said.

  • Alabama workers built 1.6M engines in 2018 to add auto horsepower

    Excerpt:

    Alabama’s auto workers built nearly 1.6 million engines last year, as the state industry continues to carve out a place in global markets with innovative, high-performance parts, systems and finished vehicles.

    Last year also saw major new developments in engine manufacturing among the state’s key players, and more advanced infrastructure is on the way in the coming year.

    Hyundai expects to complete a key addition to its engine operations in Montgomery during the first half of 2019, while Honda continues to reap the benefits of a cutting-edge Alabama engine line installed several years ago.

  • Groundbreaking on Alabama’s newest aerospace plant made possible through key partnerships

    Excerpt:

    Political and business leaders gathered for a groundbreaking at Alabama’s newest aerospace plant gave credit to the formation of the many key partnerships that made it possible.

    Governor Kay Ivey and several other federal, state and local officials attended the event which celebrated the construction of rocket engine builder Blue Origin’s facility in Huntsville.

2 months ago

Drinking Water Week: Alabama’s iron and steel manufacturing contributes to public health

(Manufacture Alabama/Contributed, YHN)

This is National Drinking Water Week, a week in which we highlight the essential role of drinking water in our society and economy. Given the current environment, the dependability of our public water supply is probably more appreciated than in years past. But how did we get here?

Municipal water systems are a more recent development than many realize. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, workers and their families moved from rural areas and cities grew to support the factories driving the Industrial Revolution. Many got their water from a well in the backyard and used a nearby outhouse in the same back yard. Waterborne disease was common, and in what seems too familiar today, it was not unusual for cities to lose tens of thousands to fevers and other water-borne diseases, especially in hot summers. Visionary leaders in various locales across the country 150 to 120 years ago saw the need and the resultant benefits of municipal water systems.

438

As a result, clean water is the greatest advancement in public health in the history of the world. We see clean water ministries and initiatives around the world today and they are worthy of our support. We take for granted here in America that our tap has clean and pure water safe to drink, cook, and bathe. And while the price we pay for this precious and necessary component of our lives is moving toward the cost to provide it, it remains the greatest value in our budgets.

When these municipal water systems were built, options were few, and cast iron was the pipe material of choice. With a plethora of contemporary material options today, modern ductile iron continues to be the strongest, most sustainable and most resilient material. Ductile iron pipe is made from recycled iron and steel, requires less energy to operate and use, lasts longer, and has greater life-cycle value than seemingly glitzier alternatives. Other pipe materials such as lead, asbestos-cement and PVC have come and most have gone, but iron pipe remains sure and steady as the standard for quality municipal water system construction.

Birmingham, Alabama, is the ductile iron pipe manufacturing capital of America, and many steel mills across our state make coil used to make larger-diameter water pipe. The Alabama Iron and Steel Council is proud to salute our ductile iron and steel members and the products they manufacture to build the world’s safest and most sustainable drinking water systems. Alabama’s iron and steel industry directly employs 14,900 manufacturing jobs and 76,388 indirect jobs providing a multi-billion-dollar payroll and tax base.

So, as you enjoy refreshing, clean, and pure water this week and every week, and as you wash your hands with soap and clean water each hour, think of ductile iron and steel water pipe and the iron and steel industry here in Alabama that manufactures it.

Maury D. Gaston is Chairman of the Alabama Iron and Steel Council, a council of Manufacture Alabama, and a Director and past Chairman of the state of Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame. The AISC operates as an independent industry council of Manufacture Alabama, the state’s only trade association dedicated exclusively to manufacturers and their supplier/vendor partners. AISC member companies include AM/NS Calvert, AMERICAN Cast Iron Pipe Company, CMC Steel, McWane, Inc., Nucor Steel, Outokumpu Stainless USA, SSAB Americas, U.S. Pipe & Foundry, United States Steel, Alabama Power Company, Colburn Construction, Inc., ERP Compliant Coke, OMI-Bisco Refractories, O’Neal Manufacturing Services, Reno Refractories, Southeast Gas, and Southern Alloy Corporation. Gaston is a mechanical engineering graduate of Auburn University and Manager of Marketing for American Cast Iron Pipe in Birmingham.

2 months ago

50 years of Earth Day: Alabama’s iron and steel manufacturing contributes to our environment

(Manufacture Alabama/Contributed, YHN)

I was in fifth grade on the first Earth Day. There was an abandoned earth mover in the woods near my elementary school, and Mrs. Fields’ social studies class painted it with bright colors to improve our visual environment. It was 1970, Richard Nixon was president, and later that year would establish the Environmental Protection Agency.

Little did I know then it should have been our science class, there are economics within environmentalism, and I would have a career promoting stewardship of the earth.

Clean water is the greatest advancement in public health in the history of the world. In the span of human history, it was not too long ago that foul water was a much greater threat than today’s virus. Did you know Wilbur Wright of Wright Brothers fame died of typhoid fever in 1912, 36 years before his brother’s passing? Frankly, it was not uncommon.

342

Into that environment, the municipal water industry developed, providing clean water and sanitary sewers. Iron pipe was the predominant material then and remains the most resilient and robust today. And of special interest on Earth Day, today’s modern ductile iron pipe is made from 100% recycled iron and steel.

Other materials have been developed or used for water pipe, but they have soon been exposed for their shortcomings and retired from service, leaving in their wake innumerable problems and costs. Iron pipe, however, continues to serve faithfully for generations. And even better yet, because of its strength and flow properties, less energy is required to deliver water through iron pipe than plastic PVC pipe. That’s less electricity for pumps, fewer carbon emissions for the atmosphere, and better financial life-cycle returns for public and private utilities using iron pipe.

Not only iron pipe, but all of Alabama’s extensive iron and steel industry uses recycled iron and steel as raw materials, serving to clean up and restore our environment while we build new infrastructure, automobiles, homes, and appliances. Millions of tons of Alabama iron and steel are recycled each year, providing tens of thousands of jobs and promoting positive environmental policy with proven economics.

Iron and steel: safe for you, good for the environment – on Earth Day and every day.

Maury D. Gaston is Chairman of the Alabama Iron and Steel Council, a council of Manufacture Alabama, and a Director and past Chairman of the state of Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame. The AISC operates as an independent industry council of Manufacture Alabama, the state’s only trade association dedicated exclusively to manufacturers and their supplier/vendor partners. AISC member companies include AM/NS Calvert, AMERICAN Cast Iron Pipe Company, CMC Steel, McWane, Inc., Nucor Steel, Outokumpu Stainless USA, SSAB Americas, U.S. Pipe & Foundry, United States Steel, Alabama Power Company, Colburn Construction, Inc., ERP Compliant Coke, OMI-Bisco Refractories, O’Neal Manufacturing Services, Reno Refractories, Southeast Gas, and Southern Alloy Corporation. Gaston is a mechanical engineering graduate of Auburn University and Manager of Marketing for American Cast Iron Pipe in Birmingham.

4 months ago

World Water Day: Alabama’s iron and steel manufacturing contributes to public health

(Manufacture Alabama/Contributed, YHN)

World Water Day is March 22. In the context of today’s news, speaking about clean water and public health is more topical than usual, and today’s example is encouraging.

At the turn of the previous century, the time of my grandfather’s birth only 120 years ago, most people got their water from a well and used an outhouse. These were often near one another, contributing to the spread of disease.

At about the same time, the industrial revolution was in full force and thousands were flocking to cities for manufacturing jobs. Birmingham is known as The Magic City because her early years were so robust the city grew “like magic.”

320

The need for clean and sanitary public water and wastewater systems was the genesis of the cast iron pipe industry in Birmingham. The presence of necessary resources such as iron ore, coal, and limestone within our region made north central Alabama an ideal location. Cast iron pipe manufactured in Alabama has built public water systems and ensured public health all across America and even around the world. It’s not at all a stretch to say that clean water is the greatest advancement in public health in the history of mankind. I’m grateful and proud to have spent my career in such a noble and beneficial industry.

Today, modern ductile iron pipe is made in Birmingham, and steel used for water pipe and construction of water facilities is manufactured across Alabama. Instead of ore, today we recycle scrap and thereby contribute to sustainability in a significant manner.

Alabama’s iron and steel industry directly employs 14,900 manufacturing jobs and 76,388 indirect jobs providing a multi-billion-dollar payroll and tax base.

So, as you wash your hands with soap and water each hour, think of ductile iron and steel water pipe and the iron and steel industry here that manufactures it.

Maury D. Gaston is Chairman of the Alabama Iron and Steel Council, a council of Manufacture Alabama, and a Director and past Chairman of the state of Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame. The AISC operates as an independent industry council of Manufacture Alabama, the state’s only trade association dedicated exclusively to manufacturers and their supplier/vendor partners. AISC member companies include AM/NS Calvert, AMERICAN Cast Iron Pipe Company, CMC Steel, McWane, Inc., Nucor Steel, Outokumpu Stainless USA, SSAB Americas, U.S. Pipe & Foundry, United States Steel, Alabama Power Company, Colburn Construction, Inc., ERP Compliant Coke, OMI-Bisco Refractories, O’Neal Manufacturing Services, Reno Refractories, Southeast Gas, and Southern Alloy Corporation. Gaston is a mechanical engineering graduate of Auburn University and Manager of Marketing for American Cast Iron Pipe in Birmingham.

5 months ago

Recognizing our engineers

(Manufacture Alabama/Contributed, YHN)

This is Engineers’ Week, a week during which we honor the profession of engineering and the contributions of engineers to public safety and quality of life.

Whether it’s clean water you drink; gas and electricity you use to keep warm in winter and cool in summer; medical advances that add to your quality of life; or fast, safe and efficient transportation, the contributions of engineers are literally everywhere and benefit everyone.

360

Economic growth and productivity, public health and safety, energy independence, military security and freedom all have their foundations in the profession of engineering.

Alabama is blessed with eight colleges of engineering to train and prepare individuals from around the globe to contribute to the betterment of mankind through the profession of engineering. These universities and associated accrediting agencies equip our engineers to make sound and thoughtful decisions concerning product specifications – products that result in safe and secure systems and procedures.

While some would use a one-size-fits-all, lowest-initial-cost approach to product selection and purchase, experienced and knowledgeable engineers are best qualified to make these judgments. Let’s leave it to the educated and experienced professionals to ensure product reliability, long-term value and safety of our infrastructure systems. These priorities must always outweigh expedient and short-sighted criteria such as initial cost.

Manufacturing in Alabama is strong, and we have engineering powerhouses in our iron and steel, aerospace, medical, automobile, agricultural, pulp and paper, timber and other industries. According to the National Association of Manufacturers, Alabama manufacturing employs 260,000 highly paid workers who represent 13% of Alabama’s workforce, more than one in eight of all our jobs. This is the fifth highest concentration of manufacturing jobs in all our 50 states.

This Engineers’ Week is a great opportunity to thank an engineer and a profession who down through the years has made our lives better, safer, more comfortable, and secure.

Maury D. Gaston is Chairman of the Alabama Iron and Steel Council, a council of Manufacture Alabama, and a Director and past Chairman of the state of Alabama Engineering Hall of Fame. The AISC operates as an independent industry council of Manufacture Alabama, the state’s only trade association dedicated exclusively to manufacturers and their supplier/vendor partners. AISC member companies include AM/NS Calvert, AMERICAN Cast Iron Pipe Company, CMC Steel, McWane, Inc., Nucor Steel, Outokumpu Stainless USA, SSAB Americas, U.S. Pipe & Foundry, United States Steel, Alabama Power Company, Colburn Construction, Inc., ERP Compliant Coke, OMI-Bisco Refractories, O’Neal Manufacturing Services, Reno Refractories, Southeast Gas, and Southern Alloy Corporation. Gaston is a mechanical engineering graduate of Auburn University and Manager of Marketing for American Cast Iron Pipe in Birmingham.

7 months ago

Saturday’s Iron Bowl and America’s water pipe

(Manufacture Alabama/Contributed, Wikicommons, YHN)

Saturday will be the 84th playing of the Auburn vs. Alabama football game. The first was played in 1893, and following a tie in 1907, the game was not played again until 1948 after a mandate to resume by the state legislature. It’s as well-known as any college football rivalry, and many fans of other teams will acknowledge it as the nation’s most intense.

Why is it called the Iron Bowl, who named it that, and why?

In 1964, Auburn’s Coach Ralph “Shug” Jordan said the “Iron Bowl against Alabama would be Auburn’s bowl game”, and the moniker has stuck tightly ever since. But why?

407

First of all, it was played in Birmingham’s Legion Field, the “Football Capital of the South,” until Auburn moved their alternating home game to campus in 1989 and Alabama later followed, and Birmingham is well known for her iron and steel industry. In fact, the Magic City grew like magic due to deposits of iron, coal and limestone in the Birmingham-area Jones Valley and the rapid rise of a massive iron and steel industry. All three producers of ductile iron pipe, the primary material for our nation’s public water supply systems, have operations in Birmingham. Other iron and steel manufacturers have operations in the area and across the state producing various applications of iron and steel to build our infrastructure, automobiles and durable goods.

The primary reason the Iron Bowl is so appropriately named is that it’s a tough game, played by tough men, fighting toughly for their teams and universities, and their fans care perhaps even more. Tough, hard-hitting, durable, resilient. All describe both the players in the Iron Bowl and the performance of iron pipe.
What’s not as well known is that today’s modern ductile iron pipe is made of recycled iron and steel, requires less energy to pump water through, has a long and dependable service life, and is recyclable if retired from service. In fact, it’s the only pressure pipe material to be certified as sustainable by the SMaRT gold rating. Iron pipe is good for the environment, good for public health and fire protection, and good for a utility’s long-term financial strength.

So when you tune in to Saturday’s Iron Bowl at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, you can be the most clever one in the room and speak of the origin of the name as well as the attributes of ductile iron pipe from Birmingham, Alabama.

Maury D. Gaston is Chairman of the Alabama Iron and Steel Council (AISC), a council of Manufacture Alabama; a 37-year veteran of AMERICAN Ductile Iron Pipe in Birmingham; and an Auburn University mechanical engineering graduate. The AISC operates as an independent industry council of Manufacture Alabama, the state’s only trade association dedicated exclusively to manufacturers and their supplier/vendor partners. AISC member companies include AM/NS Calvert, AMERICAN Cast Iron Pipe Company, CMC Steel, McWane, Inc., Nucor Steel, Outokumpu Stainless USA, SSAB Americas, U.S. Pipe & Foundry, United States Steel, Alabama Power Company, Colburn Construction, Inc., ERP Compliant Coke, OMI-Bisco Refractories, O’Neal Manufacturing Services, Reno Refractories, Southeast Gas and Southern Alloy Corporation.

10 months ago

Labor Day is a tribute to American labor

(Manufacture Alabama/Contributed, PIxabay, YHN)

When many of us were growing up, Labor Day was the traditional end of summer, and we started back to school the next day. Since then, many things have changed, including a much earlier start-to-school date.

What has not changed – although it may be forgotten – is that we observe Labor Day in honor of those who labor.

440

Labor Day is a tribute to American labor, to those who make and build things. It is a tribute to the American factory worker, skilled craftsman, carpenter and farmer. It is a tribute to those who create wealth through their labor and to those who made the United States an economic, industrial and military powerhouse through their labor and skill.

Wealth and value are created by manufacturing products, harvesting agriculture and extracting minerals. Without this original wealth creation, there would be no service industry or multi-faceted economy.

Personally, I take great pride in working for a manufacturing company. Especially one that makes products contributing to public health through clean water, to public safety through fire protection, to economic strength through energy production, and to agriculture and mining through machinery. I am proud to be part of the American iron and steel industry and to be a part of manufacturing products that built and continue to build America and the world. Our roads, bridges, buildings, automobile and aerospace industries, agriculture, military and so much more depend on manufacturing and the labor behind it.

Indeed, the American iron and steelworkers who melt, cast and process iron and steel are the backbone of local, domestic and global economies. These workers make possible everything we enjoy.

There are nearly 10,000 iron and steelworkers in Alabama stretching manufacturing facilities across our entire state, and another 63,000 Alabama workers are indirectly supported by the industry. Alabama iron and steel employment is highly skilled, utilizing the latest manufacturing technology and innovation, and average annual earnings are more $95,700.

Labor Day dates to 1887 and became a Federal holiday in 1894. It grew from the American labor movement, which is alive and well today. It is driven by those who do the work, and it has led to improvements in productivity, safety and innovation that contributes to the advancement of mankind.

While happily joining in the traditional celebrations of Labor Day, I salute the virtue of American labor and Alabama workers. Within Alabama’s iron and steel industry, every day is Labor Day.

Maury D. Gaston is Manager of Marketing Services at AMERICAN Cast Iron Pipe Company in Birmingham, Alabama, and current Chairman of the Alabama Iron & Steel Council (AISC). The AISC operates as an independent industry council of Manufacture Alabama, the state’s only trade association dedicated exclusively to manufacturers and their supplier/vendor partners. AISC member companies include AM/NS Calvert, AMERICAN Cast Iron Pipe Company, CMC Steel, McWane, Inc., Nucor Steel, Outokumpu Stainless USA, SSAB Americas, U.S. Pipe & Foundry, United States Steel, Alabama Power Company, Colburn Construction, Inc., ERP Compliant Coke, OMI-Bisco Refractories, O’Neal Manufacturing Services, Reno Refractories, Southeast Gas and Southern Alloy Corporation.

11 months ago

Interstate anniversary showcases Alabama industry

(AlabamaWorks!/Contributed, Wikicommons)

This is the centennial anniversary of a historic trip that changed the American economy.

In a test of military mobility, a cross-country 80-vehicle convoy left Washington, D.C., on July 7, 1919, and 61 days later arrived in San Francisco, California.

324

Among the 24 officers and 258 enlisted men was Lt. Col. Dwight D. Eisenhower. Years later, he would see the military effectiveness of the German autobahn.

As President in 1956, Eisenhower lobbied for and Congress funded the first projects that eventually grew into the Interstate Highway System, which today carries Eisenhower’s name. It was built to military standards concerning width, height, and weight capacities so that it could rapidly deploy all types of military equipment.

And of course, it transformed interstate commerce and opened up much of the nation for economic development, similar to the advances of the transcontinental railroad a century earlier.

None of this would be possible without iron or steel or without American ironworkers. Iron and steel reinforces the roadbeds and crosses the ravines and rivers making possible this visionary and transforming public works infrastructure.

Despite daunting challenges presented by illegal practices of foreign competitors, America’s iron and steel manufacturing sectors are as robust as ever, and iron and steel remain the bedrock of our transportation and infrastructure systems. Alabama’s iron and steel products are the foundation of our roads, bridges, structural, energy, and water infrastructures, as well as the primary components of many vehicles that Americans drive every day.

The Alabama Iron and Steel Council and Manufacture Alabama are grateful for that propitious 61-day trek and the visionary leadership of Lt. Col. Eisenhower.

Maury D. Gaston is Manager of Marketing Services at AMERICAN Cast Iron Pipe Company in Birmingham, Alabama, and current Chairman of the Alabama Iron & Steel Council (AISC). The AISC operates as an independent industry council of Manufacture Alabama, the state’s only trade association dedicated exclusively to manufacturers and their supplier/vendor partners. AISC member companies include AM/NS Calvert, AMERICAN Cast Iron Pipe Company, CMC Steel, McWane, Inc., Nucor Steel, Outokumpu Stainless USA, SSAB Americas, U.S. Pipe & Foundry, United States Steel, Alabama Power Company, Colburn Construction, Inc., ERP Compliant Coke, OMI-Bisco Refractories, O’Neal Manufacturing Services, Reno Refractories, Southeast Gas and Southern Alloy Corporation.

1 year ago

What’s behind today’s drinking water?

(Ductile Iron Pipe Research Association/Facebook)

This is National Drinking Water Week, a week in which we highlight the essential role of drinking water in our society and economy. But how did we get here?

Municipal water systems are a more recent development than many realize. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, workers and their families moved from rural areas and cities grew to support the factories driving the Industrial Revolution. Many got their water from a well in the backyard and used a nearby outhouse in the same back yard. Waterborne disease was common, and it was not unusual for cities to lose tens of thousands to fevers and other water-borne diseases, especially in hot summers. Visionary leaders in various locales across the country 150 to 120 years ago saw the need and the resultant benefits of municipal water systems.

270

As a result, clean water is the greatest advancement in public health in the history of the world. We see clean water ministries and initiatives around the world today and they are worthy of our support. We take for granted here in America that our tap has clean and pure water safe to drink, cook, and bathe. And while the price we pay for this precious and necessary component of our lives is moving toward the cost to provide it, it remains the greatest value in our budgets.

When these municipal water systems were built, options were few, and cast iron was the pipe material of choice. With a plethora of contemporary material options today, modern ductile iron continues to be the strongest, most sustainable and most resilient material. It’s made from recycled iron and steel, requires less energy to operate and use, lasts longer and has greater life-cycle value than alternatives. Other pipe materials such as lead, asbestos-cement and PVC have come and some have gone, but iron pipe remains sure and steady as the standard for quality municipal water system construction.

Birmingham, Alabama, is the ductile iron pipe manufacturing capital of America, and the Alabama Iron and Steel Council is proud to salute our ductile iron members and the products they manufacture to build the world’s safest and most sustainable drinking water systems. Iron Pipe: It’s what America is Built On.

Maury D. Gaston is Chairman of the Alabama Iron and Steel Council, a council of Manufacture Alabama. He is a mechanical engineering graduate of Auburn University, 37-year water industry veteran, and Manager of Marketing Services for AMERICAN Cast Iron Pipe.