Tag Archive | LED bulbs

Delta College training machinists to meet manufacturing demand

A recent survey of manufacturers in the Great Lakes Bay Region shows they are having trouble finding qualified machinists.

That news came as a surprise to Kathy Conklin, executive director of the Great Lakes Bay Manufacturers’ Association, who compiled the survey in 2012. The 27 companies that responded said all were seeking qualified skilled workers and that they’d need 639 operators and 443 machinists within five years.

“We know there is a great demand,” Conklin said.

Delta College hopes to meet that demand with its accelerated computer numerical control, or CNC, machinist program. The next session begins in May, and spaces for students are filling up, said Harvey Schneider, Delta’s Skilled Trades liaison specialist.

Schneider said manufacturers often are looking for entry level workers with a few years experience, yet those people typically have jobs. The Delta program helps others learn a skill set to find employment as well, he said.

Delta’s 11-week program immerses students in the world of a CNC machinist, with four 8-hour days in the classroom and one day spent job shadowing at an area manufacturer each week.

The accelerated program, Schneider said, is different than Delta’s Fast Start programs, which are designed with a specific employer in mind.

Students receive college credit and a certificate of completion for the accelerated CNC program, and can go on to earn an advanced CNC certificate or skilled trades associate degree.

Operators and machinists work locally for companies like Emcor, Bay Cast and Fullerton Tool, that produce pieces for larger machines or devices in industries ranging from aerospace to medical.

Interested students can attend an informational session from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday, April 16, in room N012 at Delta College, 1961 Delta Road in Bay County’s Frankenlust Township. Delta is set to run four sections of the program, including one that will run from 4 p.m. to midnight, Schneider said. The cost for the program and books starts at $2,500. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, computer-controlled machine tool operators earn a median wage of $35,580 annually, and as much as $52,850 a year.

Of the 22 students who completed the first session last year, 10 got jobs and seven returned to Delta the next fall for classes, said program coordinator Terry Morse.

Morse said manufacturers where students are shadowing are even offering students jobs before they complete the program. “Companies from Oscoda to Genesee County are starting to call us,” Morse said.

Morse and Schneider explained students are learning the skills employers are demanding, and are being taught by instructors working in the field.

“It’s pretty exciting,” said Conklin from the Manufacturers’ Association. “We are starting to build a pipeline that really works.”

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Oncor’s grid work with CREZ continues to evolve

Texas’ CREZ concept redefined the development of renewable energy and transmission infrastructure across the state. Born from a 2005 senate bill that established a renewable energy program and instructed the states public utility commission to carve out competitive renewable energy zones (CREZs), five specific geographic areas are currently at play: Panhandle A, Panhandle B, Central West, Central and McCamey. And Oncor, along with other utilities in the state, is part of the plan to bring all those areas together.

“At Oncor, we’re investing in Texas and solving real problems,” said Jim Greer, COO of Oncor Electric Delivery.

Oncor, overall, is all about solving power delivery problems. The company owns and operates 118,000 miles of transmission and distribution (T&D) lines with no generation of their own and no retail options, though they do serve, in their T&D capacity, 10 million Texans. According to Greer, Oncor has invested more than $5.5 billion in the grid over the last five years, including within their top-priority CREZ projects.

Primarily put into place to benefit wind energy, CREZ projects are projected to increase the state’s current level of wind generation capacity to 18,456 MW, but it will also help provide transmission infrastructure necessary to meet the long-term needs of the growing area west of the I-35 corridor between San Antonio and Killeen, Texas. What was started to promote renewables will additionally promote transmission by design.

Oncor’s specific CREZ projects are always names for the substations or geographic areas where the lines begin or end, including: Bluff Creek/Brown, Brown/Newton, Central B/Central A/Tonkawa, Central Bluff/Bluff Creek, Clear Crossing/Willow Creek, Ector North/Moss, Krum West/Anna, Newton/Killeen, Riley/Bowman, Riley/Krum West, Tonkawa/Sweetwater East/Central Bluff and Willow Creek/Hicks.

And, each project intricately involves multiple connections. The Tonkawa/Sweetwater East/Central Bluff project, for example, is actually four projects requiring builds on 90 miles of double-circuit 345 kV electric transmission line. The Bluff Creek/Brown project is really two, also about 90 miles of double-circuit 345 kV electric transmission line.

Overall, Oncor is building more than 1,000 miles of the CREZ transmission grid, with 2,200 miles of the combined project planned for completion next year, allowing Oncor and other utilities more elbow room, so to speak.

“The cost of the CREZ line will be overwhelmed by savings from alleviating congestion on the grid,” Greer said. “The cost of power will reflect this increased supply.”

Projects like the collaborative effort of Texas’ CREZ brings everyone together to share in those steps to project completion, without a burden falling too heavily on a single entity. And, while it’s intention was to push wind energy—and ERCOT has seen a positive growth in that area in the last five years—CREZ is also bringing together Texas utilities in new areas perhaps not initially thought of in the first few rounds of planning, namely smart grid areas like data exchanges and data interoperability.

“From our standpoint, we have all these disparate things going on with wind power and CREZ to consumer facing, and the smart grid makes this an integrated system,” Greer noted. “It’s all about trying to connect the dots.”

To save gas, turn wires into light beams

To save gas, cars of the future could shed some weight by replacing all the wires under the hood with beams of light, according to research on optical wireless technology.

Basic LED lights are sufficient to send data between engine parts, such as between the brakes and the car’s speed control system.

Infrared light can also be used in situations where invisible light is preferred, according to the researchers at the University of Warwick in the United Kingdom.

Such lights are inexpensive, meaning the technology isn’t a cost prohibitive replacement for wired systems.

What’s more, the university says, unlike the heavily regulated and often congested radio wave communications such as your cellphone uses, optical wireless is an unlimited and unregulated spectrum.

“Optical wireless is relatively unknown at the moment,” Roger Green, who is leading the research, said in a news release.

“But it is not hard to imagine a day when passengers can watch TV streamed through a beam coming from their overhead light, or when parts of the engine can ‘talk’ to each other without wires.”

To get there, Green and his colleagues are focusing their research on “how to transmit the beams of light around corners, how the materials inside the car affect the signals as they are transmitted and how to adjust those signals accordingly,” The Engineer reported.

If successful, the technology could help reduce the weight of vehicles, which in turn will make them more fuel efficient.

Given the recently announced fuel economy standards that will require all new vehicles to have an average of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025, this technology could help auto manufacturers hit that target.

Green recently presented his research at the International Conference on Transparent Optical Networks held at the University of Warwick.

Also, unlike CFLs, some LEDs can be dimmed as low as an incandescent bulb. Another plus is that they come to full brightness instantly.

Consumer Reports also tested light bulbs’ brightness and color temperature in a sphere and a computer analyzed the results.

“We found that some LEDs have the same warm glow as incandescents,” said Dan DiClerico with Consumer Reports.

But not all LED bulbs are stellar. The Miracle LED claims to be equivalent to a 60-watt incandescent. However, it’s not as bright as a 40-watt bulb. While it’s long lasting, it gives off a strange bluish-white light.

With all LEDs, the big disadvantage is the price. Many cost $20 or more per bulb.

“LEDs are more expensive, but they’re designed to last so long – 23 years or more – that you’ll likely save about $130 over their lifetime,” said DiClerico.

So which LEDs are best? Among 60-watt equivalents, Consumer Reports top-rated two bulbs: the EcoSmart from Home Depot that produces a white light and a 12.5-watt Philips that has a warmer, yellower light. Both cost around $25.

Consumer Reports says prices of LEDs are coming down and are expected to continue to drop even more. Also, unlike CFLs, LEDs don’t contain any mercury. That means cleanup is easier if a bulb happens to break.