Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

Manufacturing Day 2014: This Isn’t Your Grandfather’s Factory

By Adam Cromack, SPI, Marketing and Communications Specialist

Logo-MFG-DAYDespite what some people may try to tell you, manufacturing in the United States isn’t dead. Today it represents more than 17.4 million American jobs, accounting for nearly 12 percent of our national gross domestic product (GDP). And as representatives of the third-largest manufacturing industry in the country, SPI knows how critical it is to get this story out in the open.

That’s why SPI member companies joined forces last year for Manufacturing Day, to tell the plastics industry’s story of how the right skills can make a difference. By opening their doors, these companies and thousands of others had a unique opportunity to share what they do with the communities where they operate. As a true grassroots initiative, everyone involved is committed to closing the gap in skilled labor, which represents the single largest challenge to manufacturing in practically every industry.

Public perception of manufacturing jobs is, to say the least, disturbing. Common myths smother the conversation, painting a picture of low-skill jobs that offer low pay and little personal reward. As SPI and its members know, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

Today’s manufacturers are some of the most highly-trained, well-paid employees in the workforce, working on state-of-the-art equipment. This one fact alone represents the first hurdle that must be cleared in changing public perception. Participation in Manufacturing Day allows companies to interact directly with job seekers and students who are still forming opinions about potential careers, and starts the dialogue for a manufacturing job as a legitimate opportunity. No longer will young professionals see a factory as an antiquated dungeon filled with tired, worn-out workers unhappy with their jobs.

Manufacturing Day exists to directly confront these misconceptions, and to promote facts about the manufacturing industry that are often overlooked:

• Modern factories use an abundance of advanced technologies including automation, 3D printing, robots and screen technology.

• The average annual salary of manufacturing workers is more than $77,000.

• Manufacturing workers have the highest job security of all other jobs in the private sector.

• Ninety percent of manufacturing workers receive medical benefits from their employer.

On Oct. 3, hundreds of companies will once again open their doors to the public and show what they are really made of and, more importantly, what they are not made of. SPI is proud to continue its role as a supporting sponsor of Manufacturing Day, and is even more excited for its members to display the power of plastics manufacturing.

Learn more about Manufacturing Day and how you can get involved at

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

Composite Decking of 685-ft Bridge Installed in Three Days

In  another display of the economic and performance efficiency of plastic composite technology, the decking for one of the world’s largest composite pedestrian/bicycle bridges was installed last week in just three days. Part of the District of Columbia’s Anacostia Riverwalk Trail Project, the 685-ft-long and 16-ft-wide seven-span bridge lets foot and bicycle traffic cross a road and active railroad tracks in safety.

Final composite deck panel installed on Anacostia Riverwalk bridge

You can install 685 ft x 16 ft of bridge decking in three days—if it’s made of high-performance, prefabricated plastic composites.

The 88 composite decking panels that complete the bridge each weigh 1,250 lb, are 8-ft long and 3.5 inches thick, and employ a sandwich construction of fiberglass top and bottom skins enclosing closely-spaced internal webs that function like a series of I-beams.

The combination of straight and curved panels that turn the bridge’s graceful S-curve design into reality were designed and built by Composite Advantage LLC (Dayton, OH), and form the company’s largest project to date. The deck panels feature a non-slip wear surface that, like the rest of

the structure, is colored beige to meet customer specifications.

Composite Advantage was able to shrink onsite construction time and cost by prefabricating scuppers for drainage and curbs that would hold handrails and light posts. It also built electrical junction boxes for the lighting system into the panels and bolted clips to the bottom of the decking that connected the panels to the steel support beams.

And it’s no exaggeration to say that along with the high functionality and cost/time savings from using plastic composite technology, the finished product is an attractive bridge that will hold its good looks for a long time. Composites clearly can create amazing airplanes and high performance autos, but the technology holds multiple promises for infrastructure that will outlast and outperform the old alternatives.

Composite deck panels include non-slip surface, custom color matching, and many built-in easy-install features.