Many startups and small product manufacturing businesses do not have the capital needed to construct and operate a production facility. In these situations, they often turn to contract manufacturers to make their products so they do not need to invest in their own factory. Below, we provide an overview of contract manufacturing, discussing what it is, what types are available, what to look for in a good partner, and what role blanking can play in the process.
What Is Contract Manufacturing?
Contract manufacturing is a business relationship in which one company (the contracting company) outsources some or all of its manufacturing operations to another company (the contracted company). The contracted company produces parts and products to the specifications given to it by the contracting company.
There are many advantages to forming a partnership with a contract manufacturer. For example, the contracting company does not need to worry about making their products, so they can focus their resources and efforts on other parts of the business, such as sales and marketing. Additionally, contract manufacturers may offer other services that can further streamline the product development process for the customer, such as design assistance, assembly, and distribution.
What Are the Different Forms of Contract Manufacturing?
Contract manufacturing can be classified into several categories depending on what the contracted company provides to the contracting company. Four of the most common are:
Producing complete goods. This type of manufacturing relationship is also referred to as private label manufacturing. In this situation, the contracted company produces complete products for the contracting company. In addition to making all of the parts and components that go into the product, they assemble them together.
Producing parts or components. In this situation, the contracted company produces parts or components for the contracting company. The contracting company then uses these pieces in their own assembly operations to create finished products.
Supplying a service or labor. In this situation, the contracted company provides services to the contracting company, such as design, manufacturing, and distribution. The contracting company uses these services as part of their product development process. The contracted company may also supply a labor force if the contracting company does not have the manpower to carry out production.
Providing manufacturing equipment or facilities. In this situation, the contracted company allows the contracting company to use their equipment or facility to make the desired products.
7 Qualities to Look for in a Contract Manufacturer
Given the key role a contract manufacturer has in the production of a product, companies must choose who they partner with carefully. Otherwise, they risk subpar products, unmet production orders, and more.
The seven top qualities to look for in a good contract manufacturing partner are:
Good Reputation in Market
Good Financial Situation
Good Management at the Facility
Flexible to Market
Can Meet Product Demand
How Does Precision Blanking Fit in With Contract Manufacturing?
Contract manufacturing can encompass a wide range of manufacturing processes, including precision blanking. Precision blanking is a fabrication process that uses a punch and die to remove a piece—i.e., a blank—from a sheet or strip of material. Both the punch and die are in the shape of the desired component, ensuring the piece removed has the proper form.
Ohio Valley Manufacturing: Your Blanking Expert
Looking for a contract manufacturer with blanking capabilities? Ohio Valley Manufacturing is here to help you!
At Ohio Valley Manufacturing, we are an ISO 9001:2015 certified manufacturer offering blanking, stamping, and other precision metalworking services. We can produce circular blanks up to 72 inches in diameter and configured blanks up to 72 inches wide by 100 inches long from carbon steel, aluminum, and stainless steel. Equipped with extensive industry experience and quality presses, we’ve developed a reputation as one of the top Tier 2 suppliers in the United States.
To learn more about our precision blanking or other contract manufacturing capabilities and how they can benefit you and your company, contact us today.
The welding process fuses two or more separate workpieces into a single piece using heat and pressure to create a strong joint as the weld cools and hardens. At Ohio Valley Manufacturing, we specialize in robotic welding, an automated process that produces reliable and repeatable welds. Typically faster and more accurate than manual welding, robotic welding offers a safe and effective means to handle complex and high-volume welding projects.
Robotic Welding vs. Manual Welding
Manual welding requires a skilled welder to operate the welding equipment and manipulate the workpieces by hand. While more manufacturers have turned to robotic welding, manual welding still plays an essential role in lower-volume production, prototyping, one-off projects, and more. Manual welding offers superior flexibility because human operators have better awareness and decision-making capabilities than automated equipment.
Robotic welding processes use welding tools and robotic arms to handle welding tasks. The two different types of robotic welding used in manufacturing include:
Fully automated welding: Robotic arms guide the separate pieces into position and hold them, while a robotically controlled welding tool uses heat and pressure to connect them.
Semi-automated welding: Autonomous tools handle the actual welding process per a design plan or instructions. A human employee loads the unwelded pieces and then moves the welded workpiece to the next step of the manufacturing process after welding is complete.
Benefits of Robotic Welding
Both fully automated and semi-automated welding processes offer distinct advantages over manual welding, especially in today’s manufacturing environment. Some of the advantages provided by robotic welding include:
High-Quality Welds: Automated robotic systems follow programmed instructions to create welds within very tight tolerances. Each weld will be nearly seamless, with no gaps, weak points, or blemishes. This precision also reduces the labor required for potential cleanup and finishing processes.
Consistent Welds: Not only will each weld be relatively free of imperfections, but robotic welding tools can also create identical welds for dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of parts — a crucial capability for mass production.
Safety: Robotic tools handle each step of moving, holding, and welding potentially sharp or heavy metal pieces, especially during fully automated processes. Robotic handling mitigates the risk of injury for technicians involved in the project.
Speed: Robotic systems work faster and perform longer than manual welders, ultimately shortening lead times on large-volume welding projects.
Material Efficiency: Robotic welding processes are less likely to make errors or waste welding materials. A lower error rate results in reduced scrap metal, making the process more efficient, greener, and more cost-effective per weld.
Long-Term Affordability: Robotic welding has high initial expenses, but the process gains economies of scale over large orders, eventually lowering the cost per unit over manual welding. The reduced material waste and lower labor requirements also contribute to the affordability of robotic welding over time.
Common Applications for Robotic Welding
Robotic welding creates and repairs parts across an expansive range of industries. Markets that increasingly rely on robotic welding include:
Agriculture (heavy equipment components, trailer parts, outdoor power equipment)
Automotive (on- and off-highway vehicle and truck parts)
General industry (material handling components and equipment
Petrochemical (chemical processing systems)
Standard Materials for Robotic Welding
At Ohio Valley Manufacturing, we work with numerous metals and alloys, including:
Ohio Valley Manufacturing Is Your Robotic Welding Manufacturer
Ohio Valley Manufacturing is committed to quality. Our company is ISO 9001:2015-certified, and we maintain extensive quality management and quality control processes for every service we offer. We serve an array of industries with precision robotic welding services to create fast and reliable welded parts.
Progressive Die Stamping vs. Other Common Metal Stamping Methods
Progressive die stamping, compound die stamping, and transfer die stamping are the three most common metal stamping methods. With varying tolerance requirements, design elements, and production sizes required by each application, it is often the case that one of these metal stamping processes offers a superior solution for a particular project.
At Ohio Valley Manufacturing, our team has extensive experience in metal stamping, and we can guide you to the best stamping process to best fit your needs. Let’s take a closer look at when to use progressive stamping, compound stamping, or transfer stamping.
Progressive Die Stamping
Progressive die stamping is ideal for long production runs because of its ability to achieve high repeatability. This metal stamping process uses one machine with multiple die stations. A metal strip of stock material automatically moves through each station where a stamping operation is applied. The last step cuts the completed part free from the strip.
Progressive stamping has a lower setup time. Setting up the metal strip requires careful attention to ensure the accuracy of the finished products. Progressive die stamping automatically and continuously feeds material into the machine, allowing for longer production runs, as well as the production of more parts in less time. Therefore, progressive die stamping is ideal for the fast and affordable production of complex components with high part-to-part repeatability.
Benefits of Progressive Die Stamping
Faster production time
Low setup time
Lower labor costs
Compound Die Stamping
Compound die stamping is ideal for medium- and high-volume production of flat parts. The compound stamping process feeds a metal strip through a compound die that performs all cutting, bending, and punching operations in a single stroke. The one-stroke process is good for flat metal parts, like wheel blanks and 1st operation blanks for any application. The production time of this stamping process varies, as it is dependent on the size of the component being produced. Smaller and less complicated parts will finish more quickly than larger parts and parts with more complex design elements.
Benefits of Compound Die Stamping
Ensures high repeatability in single-die cases
Quick and accurate production of simple parts
Transfer Die Stamping
Unlike progressive die stamping, the first step of transfer die stamping is to separate the workpiece from the metal strip. Transfer die stamping is typically used for large parts that can’t easily move through die stamping stations. The workpiece is transferred automatically between multiple stations, with automation effectively handling the required alignment between processes.
Transfer stamping is best when working with complex design elements. This metal stamping process requires precise execution and high die durability for successful completion.
Benefits of Transfer Die Stamping
Well-suited for producing complex parts
Good for large parts
Ohio Valley Manufacturing: Your Stamping Professionals
Ohio Valley Manufacturing has extensive experience in stamping thin, standard, and heavy-gauge metal parts. We specialize in progressive and compound die stamping. We can handle production sizes ranging from prototypes to high-volume runs. We work closely with a variety of major OEMs and Tier 1 suppliers, and we’ve earned a reputation as one of the top Tier 2 metal stamping suppliers in the United States.
Metal stamping processes facilitate the creation of a variety of customized components from metal sheets or bars. Machinery-driven dies cut and press materials into the desired shape quickly and efficiently, making the process ideal for high volume production runs. With the proper setup, multiple steps can be performed on each component. With metal stamping machinery, materials can be pressed, punched, coined, embossed, bent, blanked, pierced, and notched to meet a broad range of design specifications.
A variety of metals work well in stamping processes. Stainless steel, aluminum, and hot-rolled carbon steel are all commonly used to produce stamped components.
Carbon Steel Stamping
Carbon steel is a highly malleable alloy revered for its strength. Typically, carbon steel contains between 0.8% and 2.11% carbon content. Higher carbon contents create a harder final alloy. However, these harder materials are more brittle and easily break under the repetitive stress of metal stamping and other machining processes. The average carbon steel used in metal stamping contains roughly 1.5% carbon composition. Some alloys may also include trace amounts of chromium, cobalt, nickel, and other metals to customize the metal for a particular purpose.
There are a number of advantages to using carbon steel for metal stamping:
Carbon is a cost-effective option for hardening steel.
High-carbon steel is an excellent option for manufacturing efficient and reliable cutting tools.
Manufacturing tools made with high-carbon steel ease the mechanical manipulation of other production materials.
These metals are frequently used to produce drill bits, woodcutting tools, masonry nails, saws, and other sharp-ended tools in high volumes.
Aluminum is one of the most abundant naturally occurring metals on the planet. Using aluminum in low-volume metal stamping offers some important advantages for many manufacturers:
Lightweight aluminum alloys support the production of high-speed aircraft, trains, and passenger vehicles.
Aluminum materials support sustainability efforts by lowering the amount of energy needed to produce and transport parts.
Due to its versatility, popularity, and abundance, aluminum is readily available in any amount.
Aluminum stamping also works well in high-volume metal stamping production for items such as beverage cans, hand tools, and flatware.
Metal Stamping at Ohio Valley Manufacturing
Ohio Valley Manufacturing provides metal stamping for businesses in a diverse range of industries, such as military/defense, agriculture, and automotive. Our 4000-ton presses deliver up to 24 inches of maximum stroke, and beds measuring 312-by-72 inches accommodate materials between 0.02-0.625 inches in thickness, which means we possess the capability to fabricate an expansive variety of parts and components. Our other capabilities include:
Thin and heavy gauge materials
Alongside our metal stamping capabilities, our other services allow us to customize metal products for both aesthetic appeal and functionality. We offer:
In our work with businesses in the construction, equipment, and material handling industries, we have successfully produced parts such as:
We also assist our clients with planning and designing to ensure they reach their goals in an efficient manner. In our production process, we use continuous strip stamping and progressive dies. This lets us perform two or more stamping processes on each die, enabling faster production without sacrificing quality.
Partner with Ohio Valley Manufacturing on your metal stamping production project for a fast, efficient, and reliable experience. Pleasecontact us for more information.
Manufacturers use blanking to punch pieces in specific shapes from sheets or strips of raw material. The punched-out piece is called the “blank,” hence the term “blanking.” Blanking is most often performed with tools made from hardened steel or carbide, which work on metals like aluminum, carbon steel, stainless steel, and even plastic.
Blanking has many benefits, but manufacturers must take some considerations into account before embarking on a full course of metal blanking. Although this process is a quick and cost-effective way to produce a large number of identical pieces, these punched-out pieces may have burrs or cracks on the edges. However, these drawbacks can be avoided by using high-quality tools, and they can be corrected by post-processing the blanks.
Although blanking sounds simple, this basic option can accommodate many variations. A full overview continues below.
Benefits of Blanking
Machinery used for blanking ranges from simple punches and dies to sophisticated CNC machinery. Blanking equipment can quickly be configured to end product specifications, and the process itself takes little time per part as it involves simply feeding the primary metal stock continuously into the blanking machine.
Because of this, blanking can perform long production runs that require little or no changes to the machinery or base material. The straightforward process also allows you to construct materials to strict tolerances with little part-to-part variation, and technology has become so sophisticated that it can build multiple geometries using a single process.
Furthermore, because the primary metal stock can be reused, blanking can help manufacturing firms reduce their material waste. Due to these benefits, blanking is commonly used to mass produce components for industries such as aerospace and automobile manufacturing. It’s also used for high-volume fabrication of parts for common household appliances.
Differences Between Punching and Blanking
Punching and blanking are often confused with each other since both processes remove pieces from a base sheet of material. Adding to the confusion is the fact that the same terms, punch and die, are used in both operations.
A simple way to remember the difference between the two processes is to note that an alternate term for punching is piercing. Manufacturers sometimes refer to this process as piercing because the desired end product is the pierced sheet of metal, not the metal that’s been punched out of it.
As discussed above, the punched-out slugs created by are the end products of the process, and unused sheet metal is discarded or reused after the slugs have been obtained.
There are many other operations that follow, but differ from, the basic process. Some of these include:
No matter the type of hole-punching process used, it will result in quality parts at tight tolerances.
Different Types of Blanking Methods
While the fundamentals of the blanking process are simple, they have many variations, which we describe below:
Compound Die Stamping
This type of blanking is used to precisely manufacture complex steel parts. In this process, workers or automated equipment feed a steel strip through the stamping machine, which punches out a blank every three seconds. This simple, precise, and fast technique enables firms to produce steel components in bulk.
Continuous Strip Blanking
As implied by the name, continuous strip blanking continuously feeds metal substrates through a machine. This allows punching machines to produce uniform end products around the clock, with each product having the same characteristics of those before and after it. This process is a great way to develop coins, bottle caps, and medallions.
Progressive Die Stamping
Progressive die stamping uses coiled strips of thin flat metal as its base material. In this process, progressive die machines sequentially stamp, trim, and bend workpieces to make the finished parts, which exit the machine in conjoined strips. After performing this task, the machine separates individual parts from the strip, which results in the creation of several identical parts.
Square Sheared Blanking
Square sheared blanking is a fine process that uses specialized clamping tools to produce square-edged and contoured blanks. This process is a great way to create panels, casings, and any other component that requires a uniform square shape.
This process combines metal cutting and metal blanking procedures to create highly specialized blanks. When cutoff blanking, manufacturers blank metal sheets and then cut the metal at the sheets, allowing the production of long, flat pieces.
Metalworkers use carbon steel to make industrial equipment and household tools like knives because of this material’s exceptional strength and hardness. Carbon steel’s hardness varies depending on the amount of carbon present within it, and the higher the carbon content, the harder the alloy is.
Carbon content in carbon steel ranges from 0.8% to 2.11%, and the typical value is about 1.5%. Carbon steel is more cost effective than other materials of comparable hardness, thus making it a popular raw material to use as a substrate.
Stainless steel has low carbon content but a large amount of chromium, which ranges from 10% to 30% of the final material. This chromium content makes stainless steel highly resistant to corrosion and heat.
Stainless steel may also incorporate other metals like aluminum, copper, and titanium to enhance various attributes, and even nonmetals like phosphorous and sulfur can be used to improve resistance to certain types of corrosive substances. Stainless steel is thus a versatile alloy that can take on a variety of uses depending on its composition.
Aluminum’s softness and flexibility make it very suitable. In fact, aluminum is the most common metal used to create industrial and household products because of this material’s low cost, ease of extraction, and properties like lightness, durability, and recycling potential.
For these reasons, many applications in the automotive, aerospace, energy, and packaging industries use aluminum in large quantities. Aluminum is a very cost-effective way to produce high volumes of components.
Quality Metal Blanking from Ohio Valley Manufacturing
Ohio Valley Manufacturing offers precision blanking services for clients from all industries. We accommodate all types of orders, from prototyping to low- and high-volume production runs. We’ve been in business for over 20 years and are adept at meeting the unique needs of our customers.
Contact us today for all your custom blanking requirements.
Sheet metal sees use in a variety of industries and applications globally. In the automotive and aerospace industries, it oftentimes comprises automobile bodies and airplane wings; the medical sector depends on it for operating and examination tables; construction professionals use it day in and day out to constructive massive components that become a part of buildings.
Simply put, the term “sheet metal” can be used to refer to any piece of metal that’s formed into flat pieces. These pieces can vary in thickness but are typically thin and pliable while maintaining strength and structural integrity. This strength sets them apart from thinner, ductile materials such as foils.
In the United States, sheet metal thickness is measured by gauge. This is in contrast to much of the rest of the world, where millimeters are frequently used. Gauge measurements are non-linear. Sheet metal gauge measurements work backward when compared to traditional measurements—the higher the gauge number, the thinner the metal.
The gauge measurement originated during the industrial revolution and is determined by a number of factors. Gauge factors in a metal’s weight and the number of draws that were performed on it. Each drawing reduces diameter, which is why more drawings equal a higher gauge equals a thinner sheet.
Common Metals Used for Heavy Gauge Stamping
Heavy gauge stamping is a specialized term used to refer to metal stamping that uses a raw material possessing an above average thickness. The heavy gauge stamping process requires a stamping press that offers higher tonnage than traditional machines.
The process of stamping thin metals has become a science in itself. Tests have been created for the purpose of determining factors such as formability and mechanical properties. Dealing with thick metals, however, is still a niche undertaking. Experienced manufacturers know that selecting the proper materials, presses, and lubricant can often be a job-by-job task.
Heavy metal stamping is an essential part of the manufacturing process for countless industries. Sectors that require large, thick components and parts specifically benefit from the capabilities offered by thicker metal and the specialized machinery that produces it. Trucking and railroad equipment, power distribution components, and items for the defense industries all rely heavily on heavy gauge stamping to ensure structural integrity.
Several metals see frequent use for heavy gauge stamping. These include:
Hot Rolled Carbon Steel
Heavy Gauge Stamping at Ohio Valley Manufacturing
At Ohio Valley Manufacturing, we specialize in heavy gauge stamping for a host of industries, from automotive to trucking to agricultural and military applications. We have the tools and skills to make your projects a reality. Our capabilities include a 4000-ton press rating with a 24″ maximum stroke and our beds can handle materials anywhere from 0.020″ to 0.625″ thick (.5 mm to 16 mm)
Our facilities are designed to meet a broad range of stamping, welding, and other metal fabrication needs. From circle blanks and formed stampings, Ohio Valley Manufacturing supports our clients through the entire manufacturing process.
Robotic welding requires little to no human oversight, boosting the efficiency, accuracy, and safety of the welding process. Using this technique, specially programmed robots both hold the workpiece in place and perform the weld in either partially or fully automated processes.
This differs from machine-assisted, or manual welding, which relies on worker oversight and drives up labor costs and the risk of error. Robotic welding has existed in some form in the U.S. since the 1960s, but it has improved in leaps and bounds over the past few years.
What Are The Advantages of Robotic Welding?
Robotic welding offers faster and more efficient welding processes as its technology improves. Robotic welding achieves highly accurate and repeatable designs and operates with higher throughputs than manual welding. This results in increased profit margins compared with manual welding.
Seven Types of Robotic Welding
Robotic arc welding creates electric arcs between welding units and metal reacts, heating both sides to their melting points. After this, the metal parts cool and form together, resulting in a strong metallic bond. This process benefits applications that require high accuracy and repeatability, such as car manufacturing.
Robotic resistance welding joins metal pieces using an electric current. This current creates high levels of heat, causing a pool of molten metal to form between the two pieces. As the pool cools, the pieces join together. Due to this process’s simplicity, resistance welding is highly economical.
Robotic spot welding works similarly to resistance welding, except it operates on thinner pieces that resist electric currents. Automotive manufacturers commonly use spot welding to join sheet metal frames on cars.
Robotic TIG welding uses tungsten electrodes to create arcs between welding units and resists. Because tungsten can’t be consumed, this welding process creates high-quality welds and is the most precise form of welding.
Robotic MIG welding uses continuously fed welding wires to create quick, efficient welds. This process works best for simple welds, and it’s one of the speediest welding techniques.
Robotic laser welding creates highly accurate welds using supercharged light particles. This technique benefits applications that rely on highly intricate detailing, including automotive branding, jewelry making, and medical instrument manufacturing. It also performs welds in hard-to-reach places that more traditional welding techniques can’t reach.
Robotic plasma welding feeds ionized gas through a copper nozzle to produce high temperatures, and it also allows operators to easily control and modify weld temperature and velocity. These attributes make it ideal for building electronics.
Ohio Valley Manufacturing’s Robotic Welding Services
Ohio Valley Manufacturing leads the field robotic welding. We follow ISO 9001:2015 safety standards and are TS compliant, which means you can rest easy knowing our robots are safely and efficiently serving you.
Specializing in designing, engineering, assembling, troubleshooting, and developing prototypes, Ohio Valley Manufacturing is your one-stop shop for robotic welding solutions. For more information on how robotic welding can save you money, increase your output, and improve your product quality, contact our sales representatives today.
Have you heard about Manufacturing Day? Like other causes that have a day or month to spread their message, manufacturing also has a dedicated day. Manufacturing Day is always held on the first Friday in October—this year it is October 7th.
Manufacturing Day is a nationwide celebration of modern manufacturing. It is a day for manufacturers and companies of all sizes and types to invite the community in to see how todays manufacturing industry operates. This year there are over 1,700 events planned in all parts of the country.
So, what happens on Manufacturing Day? Participating companies, in a coordinated effort, open up thier facilities to the community—students, educators, parents, neighbors—to dispel myths about manufacturing. Many people still believe that manufacturing is dirty and requires no skill. In reality, modern manufacturing consists of high-tech machinery and equipment, computers, robotics, and skilled employees to run it all. Tours, demos, job and education fairs, and community events are just some of the activities included in the manufacturing celebration.
The goal of these events is to connect with future generations, to inspire young people that a career in manufacturing is a good one, and to safeguard the ongoing prosperity of the industry. It is a day we all enjoy as we amaze both kids and adults with our production capabilities.
What we do is important and a day that helps us bring a positive manufacturing message to the public is a day worth celebrating.
Since the industrial revolution manufacturers have been finding ways to improve their operations. Take, for example, the assembly line. It was an innovative process to work smarter. It is the same for automation—working smarter allows a manufacturer to offer more to their customers. More automation is entering the market making it easier for companies of any size to take advantage of it.
Although some may see automation’s role in replacing workers with machines as a problem, we haven’t found that to be the case. In fact, the increase in business we have experienced since automating has caused us to hire more people to handle the jobs that machines will never be able to do. By letting the machines do the rote production work, our staff is able to build relationships with customers and expand our design services. In this way we are able to work closely with each customer to ensure that designed parts meet their exact needs. As our design services have expanded, we have been able to grow as a supplier to manufacturers in the automobile, truck, appliance, recreational vehicle, agriculture, suspension parts, and lawn and garden industry.
It is tough for manufacturers to meet the demands of these industries. But, the move into automation made it possible to increase our capacity to meet their needs. With the right equipment, and the experienced team behind it, Ohio Valley consistently produces accurate, high-quality parts every day, for every customer, at a competitive price. We pride ourselves on our ability to work with each customer to get them an outstanding design and a finished product that exceeds their expectations.
As a trusted and reliable source for heavy gauge stamping and precision blanking services, we have formed long-lasting relationships through a very diverse customer base. The customers we serve require the highest-quality parts for demanding applications. Our phenomenal growth over the last 15 years can be directly related to the continuous improvements of our operations. Automation and computerized technologies have allowed us to build our reputation in the industry as one of the top Tier 2 suppliers in the country. As we continue expanding and increasing our capacity even further, we are able to add Tier 1 suppliers to our customer base.
There is no need to fear the machines. Modern technology is making it easier to add, improve, and expand capabilities that keep American manufacturers competitive in the global marketplace. Here at Ohio Valley we understand the benefits of manufacturing automation and have embraced them. The precision we attain and the quality of the parts we produce could not be produced through manual operations.
As we continue to look toward the future of the industry we will maintain the goals we consistently work to achieve—meeting the needs of every customer through the highest quality and customer service. Contact us today to see how Ohio Valley can meet your needs.
At Ohio Valley, like many businesses, we like to keep tabs on the issues that affect our industry interests. One issue in particular affects an interesting cross-section of industries that we’re involved in, and so we’d like to address it here: the ethanol debate.
A concern for both the farming and transportation industries, the ethanol fuel debate has many on edge, especially as a result of the EPA’s November call for a cut in ethanol requirements for gasoline in 2014. The basic idea is this: in an attempt to cut down on greenhouse gas emissions, corn-based biofuel known as ethanol can be blended into fuel that will burn properly in most motors produced since 2001. There are different “blend levels” known as E15 (15% ethanol) and the more ambitious, but less widespread E85 (85% ethanol). Since ethanol and traditional fuel burn differently, the transition from one source to the other would be gradual by necessity, with the interim requiring motors that are capable of burning fuels of different blends equally as well.
The tension comes from farmers who benefit by producing more corn, and big oil, which benefits from producing more oil. Some think the solution is to promote the E85 option more aggressively, others advocate for offering both fuels and allowing the consumers to dictate demand. Whatever the outcome for refiners and farmers, the fuel sources for our nation will likely continue to be debated – and not just between ethanol and oil. Other renewable options like hydrogen, solar, and electricity are all being explored to various degrees of success, perhaps most notably by companies like Tesla, whose electric cars are gaining popularity.
Whatever the energy future, we’re sure farming and transportation needs will continue to endure, and we’ll be here to provide quality manufacturing services for farming and transportation vehicles alike, no matter what fuel source they use to get around.