Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WSC) named October Manufacturing Month in Wisconsin and hosted a number of events to help raise awareness about the largest contributor to our state's economy. As we look back, we are pleased to see organizations throughout our state celebrate and promote the manufacturing industry. According to the WMC Foundation, manufacturing in Wisconsin employs more than 460,000 people and creates $56 billion in economic output; and Wisconsin is poised to grow its manufacturing base. The Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership (WMEP), another organization helping to promote a strong manufacturing base, optimizes stakeholder value for Wisconsin manufacturers by expanding their capabilities to grow, be innovative, and achieve operational success. According to the WMEP, although there are currently significant challenges within the industry, the outlook is good. “Labor is tightening. Technologies are changing the way work is done. Tariffs are creating a level of uncertainty. Better, faster, cheaper, cleaner, and ‘right now’ are the mantras of key customers. But the pros outweigh the cons and this environment favors the bold...”
Founded in Brazil in 1911, Tramontina brought its business to the U.S. in 1986. The company has been manufacturing cookware at the Wisconsin facility since 2005. The plant is one of the facilities made available when the former Mirro Co. cookware plant shuttered its operations in 2003. “At a time when cookware manufacturers were moving operations abroad, Tramontina revived a cookware factory in Manitowoc, Wisconsin, reemploying local laborers and bringing its aluminum production to the U.S.,” notes Tramontina’s corporate website. “Reviving this plant allowed a skilled local workforce to keep their jobs and allowed the town of Manitowoc to retain its long-established identity of craftsmanship in aluminum cookware manufacturing.” Today, Tramontina manufactures more than 25 million pieces of cookware each year in the United States. In early 2017, Tramontina US Cookware invited the A.C.E. Team to make improvements and help expand the company’s Manitowoc manufacturing facility.
Our recent work for Skana Aluminum Company in Manitowoc, Wisconsin was tons of fun – literally. More than six tons, in fact. In 2017, A.C.E. Building Service was tasked with a casthouse expansion project for a new 21,500-square-foot facility. The expansion is part of a multi-phase project at Skana Aluminum initiated to replace its 1960s-era melting furnaces. The additional square footage made way for a new, state-of-the-art furnace and expanded raw material storage area. It is designed to accommodate a new furnace as one of the future stages in the overall project. Eventually, a total of three 50,000-pound capacity melt/hold/tilt furnaces and a new casting pit will replace the existing furnaces and casting pit. A Business and a Building Steeped in Tradition Skana is in a business — and a building — steeped in tradition. By the 1890s, aluminum was widely used in jewelry, everyday items, eyeglass frames, and optical instruments. Aluminum tableware was produced by the late 19th century and gradually supplanted copper and cast-iron tableware in the first decades of the 20th century. It wasn’t long before aluminum foil was invented, a mainstay of modern kitchens. Aluminum is soft and light, making an ideal material for a multitude of uses. It was soon discovered, however, that alloying it with other metals could increase its hardness while preserving the low density — a factor which led to even more uses for aluminum.