How is it made? Everyday items at industrial scale...

Thread Starter

Ya’akov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
9,237
I ran across a video I wanted to share that didn't quite fit into the "skills" thread. I realized that this sort of video—industrial scale production—is one of my fascinations. The idea of "industrial scale" is so far outside most people's experience they have no idea what that scale actually is.

The size of the machines, the volume of production, and the sheer mass of materials involved are staggering when compared to our everyday lives.

LSM-industry-of-Pakistan.jpg
But there is a subset of these things that are industrial, but labor intensive and dependent on any people and manual processes. These are also amazing. particularly in the context of actually using the products and then seeing how they came to be in your hands.

http---cdn.cnn.com-cnnnext-dam-assets-170222130632-fireworks-factory---worker-fuses-tubes.jpg

Both these are really engaging, at least to me, and I strongly expect of you as well, so I started this thread which has a small overlap with the skills thread but is focused on process, not on dexterity.

I'll start this off with a couple of videos—one that I just came across, and one of my very favorite classics. I hope others will post so I can discover new videos I haven't come across yet.

Post and enjoy!
 

Thread Starter

Ya’akov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
9,237
Industrial scale to be sure, but a hybrid of machines and men. Fireworks production in China, an industry with a long history and a huge domestic–as well as foreign—market. Fireworks in China are even more integrated into culture than they are in the US.

A huge number of these fireworks are produced each year and all of it done with the constant risk of devastating explosion. Before we get too smug, though, we need to remember that we've got "legitimate" industries here which have similar records of disastrous disregard for safety¹.

Here is a video about producing fireworks in China. It's a mix of very clever machines, amazing manual dexterity, and the critical evolution and empirically earned tradition that provides the formulas and methods that make it possible.

I hope you enjoy this video as much as I did.


1. If you are not familiar with the NCSB or the amazing videos produced by it, here's an example. RABBIT HOLE WARNING
 

Thread Starter

Ya’akov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
9,237
The Rouge—a Ford-produced film about their amazing River Rouge facility is an example of something that we don't have any more, a completely vertically integrated production plant where everything that went into a Ford automobile.

The production of a car in this plant literally started with iron ore. Steel, glass, and other materials were made in the same facility as the complete cars. It was effectively a self-contained industrial city with medical facilities, fire and police departments, a massive rail yard, 1MWH electric plant and everything needed to keep a 40,000 strong, 3-shift massive industrial engine running.

A Car is Born is a similar film produced in the 1970s. This one poignantly begins with a series of explosions from an iron ore surface mining operation, the "birth" of a car...¹

A car is born
Each of these films have their own fascination, I hope you enjoy them.


1. When my oldest son was about 5 years old, we developed a dinner table tradition of him asking me how things were made. It started with cars and I said, "first start with a big pile of dirt". This became the half-joking opening of every explanation. When I first saw A Car is Born (which was before I saw The Rouge) I felt vindicated by the establishing shot of the detonations. I was also amazed at the vertical integration of the plant. truly incredible.
 

MrSalts

Joined Apr 2, 2020
2,767
The Rouge—a Ford-produced film about their amazing River Rouge facility is an example of something that we don't have any more, a completely vertically integrated production plant where everything that went into a Ford automobile.

The production of a car in this plant literally started with iron ore. Steel, glass, and other materials were made in the same facility as the complete cars. It was effectively a self-contained industrial city with medical facilities, fire and police departments, a massive rail yard, 1MWH electric plant and everything needed to keep a 40,000 strong, 3-shift massive industrial engine running.
This is really sad. I was there in October and all the Cleveland Cliffs Steel plants were operating at full rates. Most were modernized versions of the Fire Steel mills - located in the same location as the old Ford Steel mills. The Fire Stations we're all fully staffed as well.
Miles and miles of railroad tracks and several thousand railcars for low-sulfur coal, thousands of employees from Ford and Cleveland Cliffs working around the clock and building nearly 800,000 F-series pickup trucks every year.

@Ya’akov, where did you hear this dreadful and sudden news that the "amazing River Rouge facility is an example of something that we don't have any more"? Besides the police station* and glass manufacture, everything you mentioned was there last time I visited in October. My contact at Cleveland Cliffs and Ford didn't say anything about it. I didn't see anything on the news.

* Private police forces are no longer allowed In Michigan so the Dearborn, Melvindale and Michigan State Police support the Dearborn/River Rouge site.
F9F42FE9-699A-400D-BDDC-60D9BDFC402E.png
 

Thread Starter

Ya’akov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
9,237
where did you hear this dreadful and sudden news that the "amazing River Rouge facility is an example of something that we don't have any more"?
Ford still has massive plants, but they no longer produce their own steel, or glass, or many of the other parts that were once part of the vertically integrated facility.

The former Rouge Steel plant was acquired by a Russian company Severstal who sold it (in bankruptcy I think) to AK Holdings, an American company who runs it and does supply some steel to Ford—I assume some or all produced at the Dearborn plant.

But, it's not Ford, and Ford also relies on other domestic and foreign suppliers. I am far from a xenophobe by realism leads me to regret our loss of various production and manufacturing capabilities with the advent of radical globalism.

Nor am I a nationalist of the blood and soil bent, but while globalism is a corporate venture it hasn't changed the politics of the nation state and so we have a disconnect between the dependency on other countries and the attitudes of both Americans and citizens of the other countries and the reality of international interdependence.

So long as people don't recognize international common cause and consider themselves "native" and others "alien" the chance of conflict bringing a sudden and tragic end to the progress of civilization is a real thing. If there was an understanding of both the interdependence and the genuine underlying commonality of all people, globalism could be a genuine "tide the raises all boats" but that's not what we have, sadly.

Anyway, that was a digression. Ford doesn't make steel anymore, nor do they produce much of what they once did. The industrial scale of their plant is still there. but the integration is only history.
 

MrSalts

Joined Apr 2, 2020
2,767
Ford still has massive plants, but they no longer produce their own steel, or glass, or many of the other parts that were once part of the vertically integrated facility.

The former Rouge Steel plant was acquired by a Russian company Severstal who sold it (in bankruptcy I think) to AK Holdings, an American company who runs it and does supply some steel to Ford—I assume some or all produced at the Dearborn plant.

But, it's not Ford, and Ford also relies on other domestic and foreign suppliers. I am far from a xenophobe by realism leads me to regret our loss of various production and manufacturing capabilities with the advent of radical globalism.

Nor am I a nationalist of the blood and soil bent, but while globalism is a corporate venture it hasn't changed the politics of the nation state and so we have a disconnect between the dependency on other countries and the attitudes of both Americans and citizens of the other countries and the reality of international interdependence.

So long as people don't recognize international common cause and consider themselves "native" and others "alien" the chance of conflict bringing a sudden and tragic end to the progress of civilization is a real thing. If there was an understanding of both the interdependence and the genuine underlying commonality of all people, globalism could be a genuine "tide the raises all boats" but that's not what we have, sadly.

Anyway, that was a digression. Ford doesn't make steel anymore, nor do they produce much of what they once did. The industrial scale of their plant is still there. but the integration is only history.
Whether their is a Ford label or a Cleveland Cliffs Label on the door, the River Rouge plant is still the same. Steel is made there - yes, right in Dearborn/River Rouge Michigan. In the same lots on the same site. You should take a tour - it's the only auto manufacturing site that offers tours. I have no idea what the digression about globalization was all about. The steel manufacturing is currently owned by Cleveland Cliffs, Of Cleveland Ohio. They have operations around the world (some operated as ArmoCo and come as AK Steel. It doesn't change the fact that the River Rough site is a self-contained unit of material flows of iron ore to F-150 trucks.
 
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Thread Starter

Ya’akov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
9,237
Whether their is a Ford label or a Cleveland Cliffs Label on the door, the River Rouge plant is still the same. Steel is made there - yes, right in Dearborn/River Rouge Michigan. In the same lots on the same site. You should take a tour - it's the only auto manufacturing site that offers tours. I have no idea what the digression about globalization was all about. The steel manufacturing is currently owned by Cleveland Cliffs, Of Cleveland Ohio. They have operations around the world (some operated as ArmoCo and come as AK Steel. It doesn't change the fact that the River Rough site is a self-contained unit of material flows of iron ore to F-150 trucks.
We aren't going to get anywhere discussing this so I am going to bow out. Frankly, I don't care if you disagree with me or not and it is a waste of time to discuss things with you in good faith, and I am not interested in contests.

Before you say so, I already know you "don't understand" so don't bother saying so.
 

MrSalts

Joined Apr 2, 2020
2,767
We aren't going to get anywhere discussing this so I am going to bow out. Frankly, I don't care if you disagree with me or not and it is a waste of time to discuss things with you in good faith, and I am not interested in contests.

Before you say so, I already know you "don't understand" so don't bother saying so.
"Not existing anymore" and "not having the same ownership anymore" are vastly different claims. But your right, continuing even one more post about this is a waste of time. And we'd be lying to each other if we did make another post.
 

geekoftheweek

Joined Oct 6, 2013
1,249
I don't have any pictures, videos, or such as the machines were all "trade secrets", but at one time I ran a machine that produced plastic bottles from raw plastic "pellets". I wasn't one to sit around and watch machines run so I took on two of the most difficult lines over the time I spent there. There was one more that was an even bigger pain, but they were only a pain if you didn't pay attention. In all reality if you paid attention you would spend more time fighting to stay awake, but when something did happen...

Rough estimates of the last machine I ran...
12 molds weighing probably 100 - 120 pounds each attached to slides that were attached to an at least eight foot diameter plate two inches thick. I don't know the exact weight, but the rotating assembly had to be at least two or three tons. The plate did have holes where they could put them to reduce weight.
87.8 gram bottles at 78 per minute turns into 905 pounds of plastic every hour not including the "flash" that gets cut off in the trimmer (probably another 2% or so). All of what was trimmed off was ground up, and cycled right back into the blender to be used again. Most of the time 45 - 65% of the bottle was what came out of the trimmer an hour or so ago with the rest being old mulk jugs, color, and a very thin layer of virgin plastic and color as the outer layer..
The molder and extruders took up around 1000 square feet and was probably 16 foot tall at it's highest point.

I did a rough calculation once of the air requirements of the whole plant... 384 gallons per minute for just the advertised volume of the bottles produced. That didn't include air for the head space, flash, box machines, trimmers, case packers, palletizers, unitizers. lane diverters, air used to run other air valves, and I'm sure there was a few other ways I forgot by now. It wouldn't surprise me if it was enough to double the original 384.
 

MrSalts

Joined Apr 2, 2020
2,767
I don't have any pictures, videos, or such as the machines were all "trade secrets", but at one time I ran a machine that produced plastic bottles from raw plastic "pellets". I wasn't one to sit around and watch machines run so I took on two of the most difficult lines over the time I spent there. There was one more that was an even bigger pain, but they were only a pain if you didn't pay attention. In all reality if you paid attention you would spend more time fighting to stay awake, but when something did happen...

Rough estimates of the last machine I ran...
12 molds weighing probably 100 - 120 pounds each attached to slides that were attached to an at least eight foot diameter plate two inches thick. I don't know the exact weight, but the rotating assembly had to be at least two or three tons. The plate did have holes where they could put them to reduce weight.
87.8 gram bottles at 78 per minute turns into 905 pounds of plastic every hour not including the "flash" that gets cut off in the trimmer (probably another 2% or so). All of what was trimmed off was ground up, and cycled right back into the blender to be used again. Most of the time 45 - 65% of the bottle was what came out of the trimmer an hour or so ago with the rest being old mulk jugs, color, and a very thin layer of virgin plastic and color as the outer layer..
The molder and extruders took up around 1000 square feet and was probably 16 foot tall at it's highest point.

I did a rough calculation once of the air requirements of the whole plant... 384 gallons per minute for just the advertised volume of the bottles produced. That didn't include air for the head space, flash, box machines, trimmers, case packers, palletizers, unitizers. lane diverters, air used to run other air valves, and I'm sure there was a few other ways I forgot by now. It wouldn't surprise me if it was enough to double the original 384.
Something like this?
Note, the video is slowed to about. 30% of actual. Narrator explains...
 

MrSalts

Joined Apr 2, 2020
2,767
I posted a nice description of a new ethylene plant in western pennsylvania. Perhaps someone who disagreed with the description can edit it to their liking and repost it.
 

geekoftheweek

Joined Oct 6, 2013
1,249
Something like this?
Note, the video is slowed to about. 30% of actual. Narrator explains...
I used to get that question all the time. Unfortunately it's not the same. I did a quick search as the "trade secrets" had more to do with the orientation of the machine than the actual process, but the only thing I could find was shuttle type machines that do large barrels. It's similar, but still not the same. The process is known as continuous extrusion. Coming out of the extruders was a never ending hollow tube of melted plastic much like a balloon that a clown would use to make animals. The molds were mounted in a circle and as one mold closed the plastic would then lay over the next mold which would then close, and so on and on. They were known as wheel machines as it was pretty much just a spinning disc that spit out bottles every 30 degrees of rotation. Most of what we used was HDPE and Polypropelene.

There were a couple machines towards the end of my employment installed in the back similar to the video. They were no where as fast as the video, but they took raw materials, made the preforms, and blew the final bottle all in one machine. I did get to see them run a bit, but that was mostly a separate part of the plant with it's own people due to the immense difference in the process.

Edit... I did find a very small picture of what I tried to describe https://www.rbplasticsmachinery.com/blow-molding/wheel-blow-molding-machine/. They actually built all but two of the machines in the main part of the plant. There are some differences, but the general idea is there. The bottom half of the mold is attached to the center hub while the top half of the mold is attached to the orange plates in the top picture. The orange plates then slide up and down on a cam to open and close the mold.
 
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