Articles in Category: Logistics

This is part three of a series on how 3D design and construction procurement was used in the restoration of Wrigley Field. See parts one and two if you missed them.

Wrigley Field’s bleacher restoration schedule was aggressive and precise, since the MLB off-season is among the shortest in pro sports. It’s also the coldest, as the term “boys of summer” means the only time to work on your stadium is during winter. The Chicago winter. Known for its wind and snow.

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The Chicago winter did not cooperate with the off-season schedule. Much colder than the relatively light winter in 2013, the weather complicated the ballpark restoration and concurrent city of Chicago work to modernize underground utilities serving the stadium and the neighborhood.

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Structural steel placement for the new Wrigley Field jumbotron had to take place during the cold winter months. Image: Pepper Construction

The bleacher phase of the project was completely exposed to the elements and that made for a grueling and challenging January, February and March. Safety is the number one priority for general contractor Pepper Construction and many days the temperatures were simply too cold for the team to safely work.

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This is the first of a multi-post series on a major infrastructure and historic preservation project near and dear to our hearts here at MetalMiner headquarters in Chicago, and how structural steel procurement and delivery helped it succeed.

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Structural steel installation in the bleachers of Wrigley Field. Source: Pepper Construction

Major League Baseball’s Chicago Cubs began one of the most important offseasons in the club’s  history last year. The 1060 Project, named after the street address of Wrigley Field at 1060 W. Addison St. on Chicago’s North Side, got underway immediately after the Cubs season ended.

The development, led by the Ricketts family, will preserve the beauty, charm and historic character of “the Friendly Confines” that fans have cherished for more than a century, while simultaneously updating and improving it for both fans and players.

The 1060 Project: Phase One

The primary focus of the first phase was structural work to prepare Wrigley Field for enhancements and improvements over the course of the construction plan, and the restoration and expansion of the Budweiser Bleachers.

  • Structural steel and concrete work throughout the facility
  • A 500-seat Budweiser Bleachers section restoration and expansion in left and right field
  • 300 new standing room positions in the bleacher deck
  • An additional 15 feet of space in the left- and right-field bleachers
  • Additional concession areas and new restrooms
  • New outfield group terraces
  • Outfield signage in the bleachers
  • A 3,990-square-foot video board in left field
  • A 2,400-square-foot video board in right field
  • Work on the third-base side concourse, including new restrooms
  • Excavation, foundational and structural work in the triangle parcel adjacent to the stadium along Clark Street to prepare for the Cubs’ new clubhouse, a concessions prep and staging space, and office development in phase two.

Using Technology to Document Existing Conditions

Pepper began the process with laser scanning to reliably document the exact geometry of visible existing conditions in the pre-World War I ballpark. The information from the scan was used to create as-builts, which were shared with design firms VOA Associates and DAIQ. This will help the team plan for future phases of the project. As progress is made, the team will continue capturing data for as-built conditions.

“You can theoretically ‘walk’ the entire stadium beginning at gate K and do a loop around the whole ballpark over the concourse in the 3D model imported from the scan,” said Kevin Heatter, project executive at Pepper.

The concourse is a key part of the renovation, supporting the expanded seating in the bleachers, providing more accessibility and improving access to expanded concessions. The ceiling and below-grade areas also house the mechanical, piping and steel structural supports of the bleachers. By creating a model of this area, engineering and construction teams could make well-informed decisions.

In part two, see exactly how that information was used in the construction process. Follow Jeff Yoders on twitter at @jyoders19.

Glencore assured investors it is reducing its debt pile this week and President Obama rejected a request to suspend review of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

Glencore Says Debt Payoffs On Track

Glencore said on Wednesday it was on track to reduce its debt and boost liquidity thanks to asset sales, and plans to deepen copper output cuts to help lift prices.

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Swiss-based Glencore has pledged to cut its net debt to $20 billion from $30 billion by the end of 2016 to regain the trust of investors after its shares tumbled to record lows this year.

Obama Still Wants to Rule on Keystone XL

President Barack Obama wants to rule on the long-pending Keystone XL oil pipeline by the end of his presidency, the White House said on Tuesday, calling a request by the project’s Canadian developer, TransCanada, to delay a review while it works out route details with Nebraska officials “unusual.”

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Last week, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s passed the Surface Transportation Reauthorization and Reform Act (STRRA) of 2015.

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The $325 billion infrastructure bill includes authorizations for infrastructure projects for the next 6 years. Read more

US steel shipments decreased in July and a major steel trade association backed lifting limits on trucking tonnage in a new transportation bill.

Steel Shipments Decrease Again

For the month of July, US steel mills shipped 7,591,897 net tons, a 2.1% decrease from the 7,758,087 nt shipped in the previous month and a 10.6% decrease from the 8,492,744 nt shipped in July 2014. Shipments on the year-to-date in 2015 are 51,572,190 nt, a 9.9% decrease vs. 2014 shipments of 57,269,890 nt for 7 months.

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A comparison of July shipments to the previous month of June shows the following changes:  cold rolled sheets, down 1%, hot rolled sheets, down 4% and hot-dipped galvanized sheets and strip, down 5%.

AISI Backs Higher Trucking Tonnage Limit

The American Iron and Steel Institute applauded the introduction of a bill by Rep. Reid Ribble (R-WI), the Safe, Flexible, and Efficient Trucking (SaFE) Act, which enables states the flexibility of permitting six-axle trucks to carry up to 91,000 pounds.

Thomas Gibson, AISI president and CEO, said, “With nearly 70% of all US freight tonnage moved by trucks and overall freight tonnage expected to grow to nearly 25% truck weight reform needs to be included in the surface transportation reauthorization legislation when it goes before the House this Fall. Like many manufacturers, the steel industry utilizes all modes of transportation to move goods, but steel products moved by truck can easily reach current federal weight limits before they maximize truck capacity. AISI has long-supported this legislation to improve efficiency and safety, and lower logistical costs.”

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“We applaud Congressman Ribble for introducing this critical measure, which will reduce road wear, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, minimize bridge impact, make truck transportation safer, and preserve state and local control. We urge the House to include the language in any House transportation funding bill,” Gibson concluded.

A giant robot fight will happen sometime next year.

I won’t try and justify this by the metal content — which is interesting in its own right  — or by the turn of fortunes that has been created by taking an old repair shop for cargo ships and turning into a new industrial enterprise, admirable as that is, no this posts stands on its own two mechanical feet as pure fun.

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The robot constructors of the American entry are three engineers who basically wanted to live out their childhood fantasies and build a fighting robot. Weighing in at 12,000 lbs. and measuring some 15-ft. tall the MegaBot MKII is everything a child could imagine and more.

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MegaBot MKII. Image courtesy of MegaBot.

The backers have found a worthy opponent in Japan’s Suidobashi Heavy Industries Kuratas, against whom they can wage war. Read more

Earlier this week the London Metal Exchange announced that its clearinghouse would now accept offshore Chinese renminbi as collateral, effective immediately. MetalMiner Editors and Co-Founders Lisa Reisman and Stuart Burns discuss the significance of this announcement but more important, its potential impact on industrial buying organizations.

US dollar vs. RMB

For the first time, the LME will accept renminbi as collateral.

Lisa: Do you think this could mean that eventually metals are offered in a currency other than US dollars?

Stuart: I think that is still some way off for the main London market but the HKEx has run RMB-priced Asian mini metals markets for aluminum, zinc and copper since late last year in Hong Kong. This announcement by the LME now is about collateral placed by market participants for open positions. They are not suggesting London contracts will be priced in RMB.

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 Lisa: Why do you think the LME made this move?

Stuart: On one level there is the recognition of the RMB’s growing importance as an international (although we’d like to point out, not freely traded) currency and of China (and Chinese companies) importance as a major player in the global metals markets. On another level, it could also be seen as a political move. The LME is owned by the Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Group (HKEx) and the key to unlocking fair value in their purchase of the LME was always their ability to open up China as a market for the LME’s services. Anything they can do to make the LME more accessible and more acceptable as a trading platform for Chinese companies is a beneficial step in that direction. Read more

The Commerce Department said Friday that housing starts in June climbed 9.8% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.17 million homes. All of that growth came from a 28.6% surge in multifamily housing that put apartment construction at its highest rate since November 1987. Starts for single-family houses actually slipped 0.9% last month.

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An Associated Press report said that strong job growth and a rebounding economy have increased the number of buyers and renters searching for homes, while gradually rising mortgage rates have spurred homeowners to finalize deals. The Wall Street Journal also noted that rental-apartment vacancies remain near multi-year lows, and lease rates have risen by 10% in the past three years to the highest monthly average ($1,194) since research firm Reis Inc. began tracking the figures in 1980.

Apartment/Condominium Boom

The boom in apartment and condo construction is regional, however. Housing starts jumped 35.3% in the Northeast, while climbing 13.5% in the South. In the Midwest and West they were actually down.

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The US House voted last Wednesday to approve a short-term, $8 billion extension of federal transportation funding, which will last until December.

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House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has called on the Senate to pass the House’s $8 billion transportation funding patch “without any unrelated measures.”

Exports, Imports are Not Infrastructure

Ryan said after the temporary patch was approved on a 312-119 vote in the House, that the Senate should follow suit and send the lower chamber back a clean highway funding extension with no “unrelated measures.” Ryan was referring to a Senate plan to include an extension of the US Export-Import Bank’s charter in the upper chamber’s version of a new highway bill.

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The US Export-Import Bank is closed for business and House Republicans don’t want a new charter for it attached to a Highway bill.

The Ex-Im Bank’s charter was recently allowed to expire and House Republicans have soured on the credit institution for US exporters. Many conservative groups view the bank as an outdated federal bureaucracy ready to be thrown on the scrap heap of government innovation and streamlining, believing that private banks can provide loans for exporters as they can for any other financial transactions. The Ex-Im Bank’s supporters claim it’s a vital institution needed to support US export competitiveness. Read more

The US stock market is demonstrating resilience against economic worries such as the Greek Crisis, falling oil prices, weakness in emerging markets and the recent Chinese market sell-off.

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Some argue that the bull market has already run for too long, and that concerns outside the US are putting enough pressure to make the stock market tumble. However, the opposite might be true.

The Tenacity of the US Stock Market

The unwillingness of domestic stocks to fall is a sign of strength and we could see stocks rise even further, especially if things start to calm down globally.

Dow Jones Industrial Average Index 1 year out

Dow Jones Industrial Average Index, one year out. Graph: MetalMiner.

Major market indexes like the Dow Jones Industrial Average, S&P 500 and the New York Stock Exchange remain range-bound since February. We recently pointed out that this trendless period was causing investors to  hesitate. It was hard to tell whether the market is going to roll over or continue on its way up. Some new clues are pointing to the latter.

Nasdaq Composite Index 1 year out

NASDAQ Composite Index, one year out. Graph: MetalMiner.

The fact that US stocks held their values well as Chinese markets plunged proves that Chinese financial news can only affect US stocks in the short term. In the longer term, China does not lead the US and its recent troubles do not appear to affect markets here that much.

What This Means for Metal Buyers

Moreover, the NASDAQ (a technology-focused index) recently hit an all-time high. The fact that technology stocks are leading the market is a positive sign. Lower oil and commodity prices are hurting the shares of energy and commodity producers, which helps explain why the other indexes are still range-bound. But, good earnings reports from leading tech companies are increasing the appetite of funds to buy stocks.

In conclusion, the US market is not immune to what happens outside the US. Further bearish news from outside could weigh on US shares, but, so far, things are looking good for US stocks in the second half of the year.

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