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Transportation

Strength in Sustainability: Recycled Plastics Helping Create Critical Pipes for U.S. Infrastructure

By | Sustainability, Transportation | No Comments

We should all want to increase sustainability—in businesses and in our lives—but what does that look like? Sustainability is most often synonymous with products being renewable and eco-friendly, preventing adverse environmental impacts. The Plastics Pipe Institute (PPI) believes the future of high-density polyethylene (HDPE) pipe—a light weight, durable pipe used in public drainage applications that doesn’t leak or corrode—embodies these sustainability principles.

Standards for corrugated pipe made with virgin HDPE resin, or unprocessed materials, have been around for decades. But rising demand for sustainable materials led the Department of Transportation to evaluate whether pipe made with recycled HDPE resin matched the long-term performance of pipe made with virgin HDPE resin. The resulting report—and subsequent research by academics—found that the service life of HDPE pipe made with recycled materials could be predicted using a standardized test and that the recycled resin could be held to the same standard as virgin resins. As a result, by the end of 2017, two new standards—one through the American Society for Testing and Materials and another through the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials—were approved, allowing HDPE pipe made with recycled resins.

Prior to these standard revisions, corrugated HDPE pipe manufacturers in North America were diverting nearly a billion pounds of recycled plastic materials from landfills in production for pipe used outside of the public right-of-way and in agricultural applications. The new standards allowing the use of recycled HDPE drainage pipe within the public right-of-way will dramatically increase these quantities. This shift toward using recycled products presents an opportunity for design engineers and public utility agencies seeking to reduce their overall environmental footprint associated with storm drainage projects. An impending Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) conducted by Franklin Associates is set to conclude in 2019. The LCA will show that drainage pipe manufactured with recycled HDPE material has the lowest environmental impact of any pipe materials currently on the market for drainage applications. Corrugated HDPE pipe is demonstrating the strength in sustainability—and saving businesses money while promoting smart environmental stewardship.

Advance Regulatory Policies to Encourage a 21st Century Rail Network

By | Infrastructure, Innovation, Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy, Technology, Transportation | No Comments

Since their inception, railroads have paved the way for American industrialization, safely transporting freight across the country with an efficiency and speed never before imagined possible. The American rail network has driven some of our most consequential economic developments, using that innovation to improve millions of lives. Now, groundbreaking advances in automation and analytics are opening yet another exciting frontier for rail—one that, with the right approach from D.C. policymakers, and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) in particular, can once again redefine the world of transportation.

To craft a technology-friendly regulatory strategy, FRA need simply look to its peer agencies in the automotive sector. The recent flurry of innovation in autonomous vehicle technology is progressing thanks in large part to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) “light touch” regulatory approach toward testing and deploying these new technologies. Despite the fact that all real-world testing carries some initial risk, DOT has not allowed misconceptions to stand in the way of progress and the long-term safety benefits of autonomous vehicles. The same approach that is working there will work for rail as well.

While rare, one-third of train accidents are caused by human error, many of which will be eliminated by integrating automated processes into rail operations. Further, the deployment of autonomous technology is easier in the rail industry given that railroads operate on separate fixed tracks. In a world where DOT has vigorously supported the automation of millions of interacting cars and trucks, FRA’s support for similar—and simpler—opportunities to automate many different aspects of rail operations is an attractive and less controversial way to facilitate analogous rail-safety benefits.

Encouragingly, FRA made progress last April when it issued a request for information on automation in the rail industry. In response, Norfolk Southern provided substantive insights into the many technologies available to automate various aspects of our network—from locomotives and dispatch, to yard operations and inspections. We look forward to the next steps and urge FRA to promote the safety benefits of such technologies by issuing guidance that encourages railroads and third-party technology vendors to pursue innovation.

At Norfolk Southern, we are firmly committed to developing high-tech tools that will undeniably improve the safety and efficiency of our operations. Indeed, automated and predictive technologies can help open a new world of operational improvements, and we are working hard every day to realize these benefits and reimagine a safer, more reliable future for freight transportation. Yet we simply cannot unlock the full potential of this new technology without a 21st century regulatory environment that facilitates private innovation.

Just as it has throughout our country’s history, the rail industry is leveraging technology to surge towards transportation’s new technological horizon. By following the lead of other DOT agencies and regulating in a flexible, outcome-based manner, FRA can accelerate this technological progress, helping to dynamically transform the freight-rail industry and creating a safer system and a more efficient transportation network for 21st century manufacturers

Manufacturers Are Only as Strong as American Infrastructure

By | Shopfloor Main, Shopfloor Policy, Transportation | No Comments

Blog written by Barry Pennypacker, President and CEO of The Manitowoc Company, Inc.

At Manitowoc’s crane manufacturing facility in Shady Gove, Pennsylvania, countless truckloads of material come in and out our facility every day. Interstate I-81 is a central outlet for those trucks, and any problem with that highway is a problem for our business, our customers and our workers.

And I-81 has problems. Read More

PRESS RELEASE: President Trump Hits the Reset Button on Auto Emissions Rule

By | Environment, Shopfloor Main, Transportation | No Comments

Timmons: Let’s Get CAFE Correct for Manufacturers and Consumers

Today, the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) commended President Donald Trump for announcing that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Department of Transportation (DOT) would reconsider an EPA midnight regulation impacting automobile fuel economy requirements and emissions standards, or the program known as the corporate average fuel economy (CAFE) standards. In doing so, the president committed to restoring the midterm review of emissions standards that uses the best available data. This has been a key manufacturing priority outlined in the NAM’s “Competing to Win” agenda, to ensure smart, balanced and effective regulations with input from a range of stakeholders. Read More

FAA Extension Takes off from House on Time

By | General, Shopfloor Policy, Transportation | No Comments

Today, the House passed H.R. 636 to extend the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) programs until September 30, 2017. While manufacturers are eager for the long-term certainty that a full FAA authorization brings, the 15-month bipartisan extension negotiated between the House and Senate is a next-best option. Manufacturers appreciate the effort to avoid stop-gap extensions, which create instability and disadvantage our job creators when a bipartisan bill like this can’t get over the finish line.

To reach bipartisan consensus, the bill also includes some modest policy provisions on safety and security that were negotiated between House and Senate aviation leaders. Of note, the legislation includes additional guidance on unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), or drone use, specifically for emergency response and critical infrastructure. The innovative applications of drones are endless and show great promise for manufacturers who are looking to UAS technology to inspect and secure facilities and other land-based assets. This guidance takes a practical approach to ensure safety remains the top priority while realizing the potential of this new technology.

With a 15-month reprieve, there is still important work to accomplish, and the NAM urges Congress to seek a long-term bipartisan FAA reauthorization ahead of the September 30, 2017, deadline. Reforms that would enhance the competitiveness of U.S. aerospace manufacturing through improvements to the FAA’s certification process for aircraft design and modifications are critical and should not be delayed. As aviation technology advances and manufacturing becomes more innovative, red tape and bureaucratic inefficiencies pose a risk to our globally competitive and enviable position in this sector. The FAA international certification process must not encumber, but strengthen American exports of aerospace products, which grew its annual trade surplus to a record $82.5 billion in 2015.

Today, Congress acted to keep critical FAA programs and the world’s largest aviation market open without further delay, and manufacturers urge the Senate to quickly get the FAA extension to the president’s desk. However, Congress must now recommit to working on a bipartisan, long-term bill that addresses critical reforms that support manufacturing competitiveness as well as bold funding solutions to tackle growing airport infrastructure demand, which create backlogs that cost American travelers and manufacturers billions of dollars annually.

New Onerous Requirement for Shippers Coming Online This Summer

By | Shopfloor Policy, Trade, Transportation | No Comments

A new International Maritime Organization (IMO) rule requiring shippers to physically weigh containers and their contents before being loaded at the port of origin is expected to come into effect on July 1, 2016. This amendment to the long-standing International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) treaty places an additional burden on shippers (both exporters and importers) to obtain and certify the Verified Gross Mass (VGM), or combined weight of cargo and the container. The United States Coast Guard (USCG) is the responsible agency for overseeing and enforcing this new requirement, and it will be implemented around the world by the other 161 signatories to the treaty.

Read More

Manufacturers Support Balanced Approach to Lithium Battery Air Transit

By | Shopfloor Policy, Transportation | No Comments

Manufacturers appreciate the balanced approach to lithium battery transportation by air as outlined in Section 615 of the H.R. 4441, the Aviation, Innovation, Reform and Reauthorization (AIRR) Act, introduced by Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) last week. The provision will ensure the continued harmonization of lithium battery regulations with international standards and implement a balanced approach that ensures safety while protecting commerce and vital supply chains. In addition to building off current law as outlined in Section 828 of the bipartisan FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, the new provision includes stepped-up enforcement and education efforts as well as the establishment of a Federal Advisory Committee to help ensure proper information sharing and best practices for safe lithium battery shipments.

The NAM joined a broad coalition of interests and communicated strong support of the AIRR Act’s lithium battery provision in a letter today to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee chairman and the Aviation Subcommittee chairman. The NAM also hosted a panel of experts on the Hill from across the manufacturing supply chain for a Shopfloor event that focused on the need to maintain consistent globally harmonized standards for shipments of these batteries and products containing them. Read More

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