Benefits of Steel Bollards

While everyone has come across steel bollards, very few know of their dynamic features and uses. Bollards are steel, and sometimes aluminum, pillars used to line entries to stores and sidewalks. In fact, steel bollards are categorized under street furniture and contain the potential for well-designed and artistic blockades. Only a few people take note of bollards as they walk down the street. However, there is more to them than meets the eye. Here are a few reasons to install these blockades.

Safety

Steel bollards are useful in enhancing the security of pedestrians. While auto accidents can occur any time, bollards often act as a barrier that prevent a car from entering a pedestrian-only zone. They can be seen in places like pedestrian malls, college campuses, or civic centers. Without being an eye sore or an obstructive barrier like a fence, they are an effective and minimalistic way of keeping automobiles out of unwanted areas.

Land Marking

You can hire an urban architect or planner to help design an aesthetically pleasing blockade outside your business premises. You may even use steel bollards to increase the awareness of your business as most of them are used as landmarks. In fact, storefronts with a unique blockade often become a landmark for meet-ups. That helps drive more traffic to a store. Besides being guards, companies can also use steel bollards as guides. These blockades help protect property as well as direct traffic to a specific location.

Security

You can use blockades as an anti-ram barrier for stores prone to burglary. Steel bollards create a perimeter wall that prevents drivers who intend to trespass from getting close to your storefront. It also helps prevent drivers who lose control from hitting your property. Furthermore, these blockades ensure escape cars don’t drive off while simultaneously securing the perimeter.

Add Aesthetics

Store owners may use decorative steel bollards as part of an architectural design. Moreover, business owners may also use these blockades to dress up a drab storefront or create uniformity. Steel bollards will forever be a game changer when it comes to adding fixtures to storefronts and sidewalks. You want decorative steel bollards that can add aesthetic enhancement to a storefront or security perimeter.

Create Visual Containment

Another function of steel bollards is the creation of visual containment. In fact, bollards installed along the sidewalks may obstruct pedestrians and help them keep off the curb. Steel bollards don’t lessen room on the street; instead, they create a larger visual boundary than the height of the curb. In fact, the appeal of the curb is one that delivers the first impression of a company. You may choose steel bollards to enhance the environment as well as offer security to your business premises. Steel bollards are available in custom designs to meet the needs of large sites that would want to develop a unique appearance.

Street bollards will play an integral role in the future of urban development projects. In fact, there are other purposes for steel bollards. They can be used to house lighting fixtures, security cameras, and serve as bicycle parking posts. These blockades are loved by entrepreneurs and architects alike for their design, functionality, and simplistic possibilities. In fact, the benefits that pedestrians and business owners get from street bollards outweigh the cost of design and installation by far.

How To Maintain Stainless Steel Appliances

Many homeowners, as well as home decorators and designers, love the look of stainless steel appliances in the kitchen. Although many design and decorating trends tend to come and go, stainless steel appliances seem to be here to stay, according to interior designer Elizabeth Pash.

Fortunately, this metal remains one of the easier types of material to clean. This is important, especially if the place your kids happen to love to touch the most is the front of your stainless steel fridge or if your stainless steel faucet is showing signs of hard water stains. So, how can you keep the stainless steel in home looking new and shiny?

Vinegar Solution

Believe it or not, the concoction you put on your favorite salad isn’t that much different than the solution we’ll propose here. That’s right. We’re talking about the vinegar and oil treatment.

First, you’ll clean the stainless steel object in question with a liberal supply of vinegar. Then, you’ll treat it with the oil to finish the job.

Here’s what you need:

  • White vinegar in a spray bottle (You can find a cheap bottle at the dollar store.)
  • Paper towels
  • Mineral oil or olive oil
  • A soft cloth with microfibers (Cloths used to clean cars will work.)

Once you have all the cleaning supplies you need, take a look at the stainless steel. If you look closely, you’ll see that it has a grain. Once you start wiping, you’ll want to wipe in the direction of the grain.

Next, spray the appliance with the vinegar, making sure that you apply a good amount of it. Once you’ve wet it down with the vinegar, then start wiping it with the paper towels. The purpose of this first step is to get rid of the grime and debris that is stuck to the stainless steel.

After that, pour a bit of the oil onto your soft cloth and wipe the stainless steel down with it, again going in the direction of the grain. This step should remove fingerprints and other marks from the appliance.

Dish Soap and Baking Soda

Consumer Reports recommends a slightly different approach to cleaning your stainless steel.

You’ll need:

  • Soft cloths
  • Mild dish soap
  • Glass cleaner
  • Baking soda
  • A sponge

Initially, you need to mix some warm water with the mildest dish soap you have. Wipe the appliance down with the soapy water and the soft cloth. Once you’ve done that, rinse out the cloth and give the appliance the once-over again. Dry it with a soft cloth to finish.

Sometimes, even after this treatment, you’ll still see fingerprints. Spray the appliance with the glass cleaner and wipe it down to remove those.

Finally, a paste made from warm water and a bit of baking soda will remove thick grease and baked-on food particles. Rub a bit of the mixture onto the sponge and then rub the grimy spots down. Rinse with water and wipe dry with a soft towel when you’re done.

Final Recommendations

It’s important to treat your appliances with a wax finish after you clean them so that they remain fingerprint-free for longer. An article on The Independent recommends Zep Stainless Steel Polish, though there are other brands. Just be sure that the brand you choose is made for stainless steel.

Lightly spray the appliance with the wax, being careful to not get too much of the spray onto the appliance. Give it a few minutes to set, then wipe it down with a soft microfiber cloth. Again, make sure that you wipe with the grain of the steel.

This treatment helps you keep smudges, fingerprints, and other “sins” at bay between treatments.

Lastly, you’ll want to be careful about using harsh chemicals and abrasives on your stainless steel. These products ruin the surface of your appliances.

Steel Production Booms in Great Lakes Region

Steel production in the Great Lakes region has risen sharply. Last week’s steel production reached 657,000 tons up from the previous week’s 657,000 tons, a 1.97 percent increase.

Domestic steel mills produced 1.779 million tons of steel, a 1.42 percent rise, while the capacity utilization rate in US steel mills is at 75.6 percent so far for the year; last year at this time it was at 73.7 percent. While these numbers are encouraging, a 90 percent steelmaking capacity utilization rate is considered financially healthy according to some analysts, especially for large mills.

Meanwhile, US national steel output rose 25,000 tons last week, up 1.7 percent for the year. The Southern district saw a rise in production from 652,000 tons to 667,000 tons. However, steel production in the greater Midwest declined from 163,000 to 148,000 tons.

History of Steel Production in the Great Lakes Region

Iron and steel mills have long ranked among the largest economic enterprises in the Great Lakes region. After the Civil War, the steel industry grew rapidly, contributing to America’s ascendancy as a world economic power.

Steel, iron that has had its impurities removed to make it more durable and stronger, is more useful than iron, but until 1856, it was difficult and expensive to manufacture. Meanwhile, the growth of railroads in the 1800s created a huge market for steel.

Beginning in 1863, the Bessemer process, named after its inventor Sir Henry Bessemer (1813-1898), changed all that by introducing an inexpensive way to produce steel. Prior to its invention, steel was made by a cementation process which took days.

Brought to the United States by Alexander Lyman Holley, the Bessemer process blew air through molten iron to remove carbon. Now it was possible to convert molten pig iron into steel in just minutes. This led to the rise of large integrated steel mills, where all steps of the steel making process could be carried out in one location.

From 1880-1900, steel production in the US increased from 1.25 million tons to more than 10 million tons. By 1910, production had risen to over 24 million tons, making the US the largest steel producing country in the world. Large integrated coalmines were built throughout the Midwest, in Chicago, Gary, Cleveland, and Buffalo.

By the 1920s, the US produced 40 percent of the world’s iron and steel. Steel production fell during the Great Depression, but rose again during and after World War II, peaking in the 1940s and 1950s.

More recently, there has been a shift from large integrated steel mills to small mini-mills and specialty mills where new steel products are made by melting steel scraps.

Natural Resources in the Great Lakes Region

The Great Lakes region accounts for 60 percent of steel production in North America, due to the area’s rich natural resources. Iron ore deposits around Lake Superior, composed of banded iron formations (BIFs), are found in rocks in the shallow waters around the lake. These Lake Superior-type BIFs, formed between 2.7 and 1.8 billion years ago, have enormous continuity.

Other resources needed for steel production, such as coal and limestone, could be found in the region as well. The Great Lakes provided access to waterways essential for transporting raw materials to the iron and steel works and for delivering finished products.

The presence of all of these resources contributed to the growth of steel manufacturing in the Great Lakes region, making it into an ideal location for steel production.

Impacts of Recent Tariffs on the American Steel Industry

President Donald Trump is planning to institute broad tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. These import taxes could result in lower profits for all companies that use these metals in their manufacturing processes, leading to higher prices for consumers, or a combination thereof. While the President’s plan calls for a 25 percent tariff on steel and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum, with no exemptions for any country, analysts say Trump’s proposal is sparse on details.

The Trump plan is designed to increase profits for U.S. metal manufacturers. However, analysts fear this could cause U.S. consumers of steel and aluminum to lose money, as U.S. metal makers would have increased pricing power with imported metals becoming more expensive. Additionally, aluminum costs are almost guaranteed to rise as virtually all of that metal is imported.

Scott Wine, CEO of Polaris Industries Inc., a manufacturer of snowmobiles and ATVs, says his company spends over $300 million per year on steel and aluminum. Wine says the tariffs would raise his company’s costs an estimated one percent, which he feels is manageable. However, Wine says Polaris would have to find a way to deal with the possible price increases from their domestic metal suppliers.

U.S. construction companies and automakers could be among the most impacted by the tariffs. In 2017, the U.S. construction industry accounted for approximately 40 percent of U.S. metal consumption and the auto sector accounted for just over 25 percent. However, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said the effect of the tariffs would be trivial, pointing out that the one ton of steel used to make an average vehicle would have a minute impact on overall vehicle costs.

Sales or Profits?

Based on research conducted by consulting firm Ducker Worldwide, the typical American-made vehicle weighs roughly 1.9 tons, or 3,835 pounds. This breaks down to 54 percent steel and 11 percent aluminum. However, producing parts leads to waste, which raises costs further.

Overall, Ducker estimates U.S. carmakers consume 2,925 pounds of steel and 526 pounds of aluminum to build an average car. If these numbers bear out, automakers will need to offset the higher cost by raising prices, which could negatively impact sales, or accepting a lower profit margin. However, Joseph Amaturo, an analyst with Buckingham Research Group, states the Trump Administration’s new tariffs could add $300 per vehicle, which works out to roughly one percent, the same numbers cited by Wine and Secretary Ross.

The Broad Market

The new tariffs could affect everything produced in the U.S. that contains any steel or aluminum, or a percentage thereof. Many products contain metal alloys, which contain a percentage of steel and/or aluminum. With alloys being more expensive to manufacture in the first place, tariffs could have a substantial impact on everything from tractors to tuna fish cans.

JP Morgan analysts say the proposed tariffs could put a dent in both Caterpillar and John Deere tractor sales by as much as nine percent. Edward Jones analysts say the new import taxes would affect food prices as well. Aluminum tariffs would have the potential to raise costs about seven percent for breweries, especially those whose largest market is the U.S.

Overall Earnings

According to stock market analysts, tariffs are unlikely to significantly impact Corporate America. Keith Parker, an analyst for United Bank of Scotland, with offices throughout the U.S., says the impact on total corporate earnings is driven by the overall economy. This is confirmed by large companies failing to adjust their earnings estimates following the President’s announcement. Scott Wren, equity strategist at Wells Fargo, says there will be repercussion from the tariffs, but it is not going to be the end-of-the-world gloom and doom some are predicting.

Auto Industry Reacts Negatively to Proposed Tariffs

President Donald Trump’s tariffs continue to be a topic of interest, especially for businesses that rely on steel and aluminum imports. These industries saw declines for decades, and Trump’s idea is to place a 25 percent tariff on imported steel and 10 percent tariff on imported aluminum to level the playing field for domestic producers. Naturally, these new trade restrictions don’t impact the steel or aluminum sectors alone.

Disadvantages for Automotive Industry

The automobile industry has long been a consumer of steel and aluminum, with a shift toward aluminum in recent years because of its weight advantage. The increased costs on steel and aluminum imports as a result of this policy change will result in adverse effects for American automobile manufacturers – and their consumers. To put it into perspective, steel accounts for about 60% of the weight of an average automobile, confirming the industry’s heavy reliance on it.

Industry representatives from the American International Automobile Dealers Association responded quickly to express their unease with Trump’s idea. They argue that tariffs could have unintended consequences, especially in the form of higher raw material prices, which would adversely impact the auto sector. Furthermore, it could devastate the availability of jobs in the industry, which employs more than 7 million Americans.

It’s unsurprising that the automobile companies are not happy about tariffs since they introduce a new level of uncertainty. They will make forecasting sales and production costs more difficult, which may have an adverse impact on the bottom line.

Even worse, they argue, one could consider the tariff to be a “tax” that consumers will end up paying. That makes their vehicles more expensive and the domestic auto industry less competitive.

The Controversy Behind Tariffs

Tariffs are always a controversial subject and this time is no different. President Trump is not afraid to shake things up, and there’s little question that his trade proposals are causing a lot of debate, with some pundits claiming the industry faces a job loss of 45,000 by 2019. They also argue that any attempt to protect 145,000 steelworkers at the expense of 6.5 million workers in other industries is dangerous to the economy.

Perhaps even more interesting, President Trump also proposed 20% tariffs on foreign-produced vehicles. Whether this proposal will assuage industry concerns about the steel and aluminum tariffs is as yet unknown. However, it appears the President is serious about his commitment to domestic job production, especially among manufacturers.

Uncertainty is Still High

It’s fair to say that so far none of these matters are close to settling. Several foreign countries have temporary exemptions from the tariffs which they are attempting to make permanent. Essential trade agreements, such as NAFTA, are still in negotiations.

It’s also worth mentioning that the notions of “fair trade” and “free trade” are also generating fierce debate. The open market competition that is in place offers few protections for domestic manufacturing. Traditionally, leadership tends to stay away from entering into this arena because it could become a case of the government choosing sides. Instead of natural market forces determining an eventual winner, regulations impose the will of the government into the equation.

It’s still too early to know how everything will play out for all interested parties, especially with the new proposed tariffs on imported vehicles. Whether those proposals will counter the potentially adverse impact of the steel and aluminum tariffs will require additional research. It’s also possible that President Trump may alter his stance on some or all of his current trade stance. In the meantime, automobile industry executives will have to deal with changes in the sector.