Today in Manufacturing Ep. 7: Tesla Crashes, Amputations at Fairbrook & Preparing for 'The Big One'

Also on the podcast, Real Water causes liver problems in kids, GM pickups get less efficient and legitimately good news out of Mack Molding in Vermont.

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Welcome to the Today in Manufacturing Podcast, a new podcast brought to you by the editors from and Industrial Equipment News (IEN).

In each episode, we discuss the five biggest stories in manufacturing, and the implications they have on the industry moving forward. This week, we discuss:

Oregon Dam Could Fail in Large Earthquake

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says that a large earthquake could cause the spillway gates of the Detroit Dam in Detroit, Oregon to buckle, causing “a potentially catastrophic flood.”

An earthquake of such magnitude is expected in the Pacific Northwest sooner or later and, to minimize the danger, engineers next month will begin reducing the maximum height of the lake by five feet.

Hundreds of thousands of people live downstream from the Detroit Dam, which was built in the 1950s.

Real Water Linked to Liver Illness in Kids

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has warned everyone not to drink, cook with, sell or serve Real Water, a Las Vegas-based bottled water brand.

Real Water has been linked it to liver illness in five hospitalized children, specifically acute non-viral hepatitis which is caused by exposure to toxins, autoimmune disease or drinking too much alcohol.

Real Water is marketed in boxy blue plastic bottles as mineral-rich and “alkalized” and “infused with negative ions."

GM Pickups Now Less Efficient

The semiconductor shortage is forcing GM to move along production of some 2021 light-duty pickup models without standard fuel management modules.

The chip is responsible for deactivating some cylinders in an engine, when possible, to improve fuel efficiency. 

GM says fuel economy will be reduced by one mile per gallon.

Repeated Amputations at Fairbrook Foods Ice Cream Plant in New Jersey

Fairbrook Foods is owned by Wells Enterprises, which makes and sells Blue Bunny, Blue Ribbon, Original Bomb Pop and other brands. Wells is the largest privately-held, family-owned ice cream manufacturer in the US, producing more than 150 millions of ice cream per year, but it has some safety problems.

Back in 2018, a sanitation worker at a Fairbrook facility in New Jersey lost a finger and fractured another when his hand got caught in the crimping bar of a jammed ice cream wrapping machine.

It happened again in September 2020, when a maintenance mechanic lost two fingers to the same machine.

For repeated lockout/tagout violations, OSHA has proposed $237,000 in penalties.

NHTSA to Investigate Tesla-Semi Crash

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration sent a special crash investigation team to Detroit to investigate a “violent crash” involving a Tesla that drove beneath a semitrailer.

Two people were critically injured in the crash which is similar to others in Florida in which Teslas drove beneath tractor-trailers, causing two deaths.

In both crashes, in 2016 and 2019, the cars were being driven while using Tesla's Autopilot partially automated driving software.

Tesla has previously said that Autopilot and “full self-driving” are driver-assistance systems and that the driver must be ready to intervene at all times.

In Case You Missed It

Mack Molding Facility Passes 1,000 Days without Lost-Time Accident

Mack Molding is a custom plastics molder and contract manufacturer. Last week, the company's facility on East Arlington Road in Vermont* passed 1,000 days without a lost-time accident. The plant's previous record was 981 days. To celebrate, plant leadership made Reubens on St. Patty's Day.

*In the podcast, David incorrectly states that the Mack Molding facility is in Virginia. He misspoke. The facility that passed 1,000 days without accident is in Vermont. 

Breakfast Cereal is Back in Style 

The pandemic appears to have boosted America’s appetite for familiar, shelf-stable foods and cereal is having a resurgence.

Kid-targeted cereals have been flying off the shelves, with Post describing demand for its Pebbles brand as “on fire.”

Even adult-targeted cereals are in high demand, and cereal makers believe it’s because older adults are looking for nostalgia and comfort and Millennials may be trying these brands for the first time. But is this cereal growth sustainable post-pandemic? 

Homemade Narco Sub Seized

A homemade narco-submarine that can carry up to 2 metric tons (2.2 tons) of cargo was seized in Spain. The 9-meter-long (30-feet-long), 3-meter-wide (10-feet-wide) semisubmersible craft is made of fiberglass and plywood panels, but authorities say the vessel had never sailed.

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