Kickstart: More flooding along the Gulf Coast

A pandemic, multiple hurricanes and a winter storm that disrupted power supplies have all hit resin producers hard along the Gulf Coast region.And the bad news keeps coming.Spring storms have caused flooding in the same regions hit by three hurricanes in 2020, with a forecast calling for continued rains for a few more days.”Rainfall totals were between 7-14 inches and flood warnings were issued for Western Jefferson County in Texas as well as for East Baton Rouge Parish and for Eastern Calcasieu Parish in Louisiana, which includes the city of Lake Charles. The National Weather Service described the situation as ‘particularly dangerous,'” .At this point, Senior Reporter Frank Esposito says companies he’s checked on — LyondellBasell and ExxonMobil — are operating normally, but we’ll continue to keep an eye on the situation there. If the old saying about business beating a path to your door for a better mouse trap is true, what are the advantages of making the equipment used to make that better mouse trap?Bell Laboratories Inc., a maker of “rodent control products,” wanted to increase output of its mouse traps because of a 20 percent increase in demand for its products, driven partially by restaurant shutdowns during the pandemic.”Last March, when restaurants shut down across the country due to the pandemic, rodents lost their No. 1 food supply from restaurant waste in dumpsters,” Jim Walsh, a designer and injection molding process engineer for Bell Labs, said in a news release. “So, they went out looking for food, and neighborhoods started seeing much higher rodent populations.”Bell turned to machinery maker to better automate its molding processes to reduce downtime and improve productivity.Bell molds the traps in Madison and Windsor, Wis., with 26 molding machines ranging in size from 110-600 tons, using recycled polypropylene and polystyrene. It first added a Wittmann sprue picking robot in 2014. It now has 15 Wittmann robots in use and plans to buy more.The robots have helped speed up cycle times, improve part removal and cut down on the wear and tear on tooling, the company said. We’re in a curious stage of the pandemic. With the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention waiving the need for masks for those who are fully vaccinated, communities and businesses alike are in the position of trying to determine if they should require face coverings inside.Our sister publication Automotive News spoke to automakers, suppliers and car dealerships alike to get a sense of what companies are doing, and the results are a mixed bag.”Most haven’t gone mask-free yet as they await state and local guidance and additional information from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration,” .The UAW says it is reviewing what the new safety guidelines should be, and automakers say they’re looking at guidance from health experts.Perhaps it’s easiest just to think of it as supplier Borg Warner puts it: “The situation remains very fluid, as it has during the entire pandemic.”  Do you have an opinion about this story? Do you have some thoughts you’d like to share with our readers? Plastics News would love to hear from you. Email your letter to Editor at Staying current is easy with Plastics News delivered straight to your inbox, free of charge. Subscribe to Plastics News Plastics News covers the business of the global plastics industry. We report news, gather data and deliver timely information that provides our readers with a competitive advantage.Customer Service:

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