Commentary Stories


It appears the honeymoon with China is over-will we skip marital bliss and head straight for divorce and, if so, how ugly will it get?
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You know the Seinfeld episode where everything is backward? Frankly, when I look at the world today, I feel like I have been transported to Seinfeld's Bizarro World.
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INSIDE CI: Operation Innovation

To the consumer, porcelain tile probably seems like a very straightforward product. Different shapes, sizes and colors are available, certainly, but how those effects are achieved isn't relevant as long as the tile looks great. Manufacturers know differently, of course. Especially in terms of pressing and decorating processes, tile manufacturing has experienced significant innovations over the last several decades.
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Glass at a Glance: Moving into High Gear

When an industry starts working together, there's no end to what it can accomplish. The sky's the limit as the U.S. glass industry pursues a number of strategic objectives - from improved glass strength to better energy efficiency and reduced melting costs.
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Inside CI: The Spirit of Teamwork

The athleticism of the competitors in the Olympic Games is awe-inspiring, as is their dedication to their sports. I imagine the multitudes of other people - from parents, coaches and trainers to friends and neighbors-who have worked together to support each athlete and help them succeed. The process isn't so very different in industry. So many people throughout the various levels of a company all work together to achieve the same goal - a successful business.
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Refractories Review: UNITECR'05

The world refractories community convened in Orlando, Fla., at the Rosen Centre Hotel, November 8-11, 2005, for the 9th biennial gathering of the Unified International Technical Conference on Refractories (UNITECR). The UNITECR'05 Proceedings was provided to each registrant and includes 226 papers. Steel industry topics make up 44% of the papers, and 30% deal with monolithic refractories.
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Special Report: Designing for Changing Markets

Several hundred attendees are expected to gather at the Flamingo Hilton in Las Vegas, Nev., March 26-28 for the Society of Glass and Ceramic Decorators' (SGCD) DECO '06 seminar and exhibition. With the theme "Designing for Changing Markets," the event will cover new decorating trends and technologies, as well as challenges such as Proposition 65 and Toxics Release Inventory (TRI) reporting.
In addition to an informative seminar, nearly 30 exhibitors will showcase new developments in decorating equipment and materials, such as kilns and lehrs; colors, coatings and glazes; screen printing equipment and supplies; ultraviolet (UV) inks and equipment; blankware and other substrates; and specialty products.
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Kiln Connection: Used Kiln Economics

Many used kilns are on the market today, due to the number of plant closings that have occurred in the past few years, and their selling prices often seem very low. Whether it is a wise choice to purchase a used kiln depends, like all things, on the specific details pertaining to how the new-to-you kiln will fit and perform in your facility.
The used option can be a great buy, but sometimes it's a poor investment. Here's how to evaluate the value of this possibility for periodic kilns.
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Inside CI: The Energy Challenge

Ask any manufacturer what their biggest challenges are, and the cost of energy is likely to be at or very near the top of the list. Companies in the ceramic and related industries that fire with natural gas have seen their gas prices double, triple and even quadruple over the last few years, as supplies have tightened due to increasing demand and damage from several major hurricanes. Manufacturers who want to stay competitive must either reduce their energy consumption, or find an alternative (cheaper) energy source.
While new options such as landfill gas and biomass fuels are under development, switching to an alternative energy source isn't feasible for most existing plants. However, just about every facility has room for improvement when it comes to reducing energy consumption.
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INSIDE CI: Beyond the Minimum

Over the past decade, as U.S. and European manufacturers have struggled to find a competitive edge in the throes of enormous pricing pressures, it has become all too easy to relegate the idea of quality to a lesser status. Sure, it would be nice if products could meet the highest possible standard all the time...but if you can save a little here and a little there by using lower-cost raw materials and scrimping on operations and personnel, certainly the savings is well worth a small compromise. After all, doesn't everyone expect some defects and recalls now and then?
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