Bird Control Group
Bird Laser

So That Happened: Lasers Shooting Birds, Pew Pew

Nov. 16, 2022
IW editors look into that story and the FDA's possible deeper oversight of food packing, Michigan protecting its position in mobility and NAM supporting marriage legislation.

Editor’s note: Welcome to So That Happened, our editors’ takes on things going on in the manufacturing world that deserve some extra attention. This will appear regularly in the Member’s Only section of the site.

How Would You Feel About More FDA Oversight?

Hey food packaging manufacturers, you could have the Food and Drug Administration eyeballing your operations with a little more vigor should suggestions in a new report come to pass.

A report released by the U.S. Government Accountability Office earlier this month recommends strengthening the FDA’s oversight of non-food substances that come in contact with food. The report references substances such as those used to grease-proof paper takeout containers, for example, saying that some of such substances could post health risks.

It’s not that the FDA has no authority now over such things. The agency reviews information about the safety of such substances before their first use, and it may re-evaluate as new information becomes available, the report notes. And the agency has played a role in stopping the use of several substances, such as some per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).

However, there are limits on the agency’s ability to act, which is what the GAO seeks to amend. It is making two recommendations to the FDA:

  • The FDA should request specific legal authority from Congress to compel companies to provide information needed to reevaluate the safety of substances.
  • The FDA should track information in such a way that allows it to more readily identify substances that may merit post-market review.

The agency agrees with the second recommendation and has not commented on the first.

Only time will tell whether the recommendations translate into action. On its website, the GAO says about 75% of its past recommendations are implemented over a four-year period. 

Jill Jusko

Legislating Authenticity?

Both sides of the aisle joined together on Nov. 14, announcing they had reached an agreement on legislation called the Respect for Marriage Act, paving the way for the Senate to take up the bill.

The National Association of Manufacturers, which over the past few years has been vocal about a number of social issues, is throwing its support behind the bill.

Why? Well, they are embracing the concept of authenticity, which many workforce experts espouse as necessary for employees to feel comfortable and work and thus be engaged.

Here is their statement:

“Manufacturers know that individuals truly thrive in their careers when they can bring their authentic selves to work and feel confident that their families will be safe from discrimination or worse in the places they have chosen to live. The Respect for Marriage Act would ensure that the legal protections around which so many Americans, including manufacturing workers, have ordered their lives will not be suddenly rolled back. Codifying federal protections for interracial marriages and same-gender marriages with appropriate protections for religious liberty will help keep all families equal under the law and ensure that manufacturers can continue to hire and retain a diverse and talented workforce. It will deliver families and businesses the certainty they need and deserve.”

 —Adrienne Selko

Laser Scarecrows: Next-Generation Bird Deterrent

Before the Industrial Revolution, there was the Agricultural Revolution, and ever since that time at the dawn of history, mankind has sought to keep birds away from stuff, using scarecrows, animals and other technology. Today, enabled by advanced manufacturing, more high-tech solutions are available: specifically, lasers.

Last month, Lidar Magazine reported that a laser bird deterrent device was deployed in South Korea for the first time by Hyundai Steel, a subsidiary of the car company. The steel company’s warehouses were a popular nesting spot for pigeons, the presence of which “can result in hygiene and personal safety issues, mechanical and structural damages, as well as clogged drains and ventilation shafts,” according to Lidar. Hyundai turned to Bird Control Group’s AVIX Automatic Mark II, an automatic device that shines a bright green laser across bird flight paths, scaring them off without harming them. According to Lidar Magazine, the company has saved $54,000 over the past four years by using lasers to reduce bird nuisance.

Though Nature magazine notes that lasers have been used to deter birds from airfields since about the 70s, Bird Control Group notes that the systems could be of use in other applications, such as wind turbines.

—Ryan Secard

Michigan Pushes Mobility

Advanced mobility isn’t all about self-driving cars or vehicles at all. Making sure that Michigan remains in front of the mobility world of tomorrow, the state’s economic development wing is pumping $260,000 into three companies to develop and test electric vehicle technologies, materials for bridges and electric commercial work trucks through its Michigan Mobility Funding Platform (MMFP).

“Shaping the next generation of mobility solutions means developing more than just automobiles. It means future-proofing our roads and bridges, as well as ensuring that our alternate and last-mile mobility solutions can support the areas where we live, work, visit and play,” said Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist II.

Grant recipients are:

  • Evenergi will transition internal combustion engine school bus fleets to zero-emission vehicles with its BetterFleet program in Lansing and Grand Rapids.
  • HiPer Fiber will manufacture advanced steel fibers with the goal of helping maintain bridges and eliminating decaying infrastructure in St. Clair Township.
  • Workhorse Group Inc. will sustainably connect communities and demonstrate new commercial pathways for on-demand and last-mile drone deliveries in West Michigan. Ohio-based Workhorse is best known as the company that unsuccessfully bid to create electric work trucks to replace the aging U.S. Postal Service fleet.

Launched by the Office of Future Mobility and Electrification (OFME), in partnership with the Michigan Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) and the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), the MMFP focuses on catalyzing and scaling mobility solutions that improve environmental sustainability by encouraging electric vehicle (EV) adoption and charging infrastructure buildout, increasing access to affordable and reliable transportation options, and modernizing existing transportation systems.

Robert Schoenberger 

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