Connect with us

Rhode Island

In Warren, R.I., new millennial-owned manufacturer is latest to bring metal fabrication back to US – The Boston Globe

Published

on

In Warren, R.I., new millennial-owned manufacturer is latest to bring metal fabrication back to US – The Boston Globe


In the small town of Warren, R.I., siblings Kelly and Kiffin Ward recently opened Ward’s Manufacturing, a high-tech metal fabrication company.

Kiffen Ward is Ward’s mechanical and product engineer, while his sister Kelly Ward has helped grow the business from the ground up.

Kelly Ward spoke to Globe Rhode Island about Ward’s, and why these millennials are committed to bringing manufacturing back to the US — and their home state.

Q: What exactly is metal fabrication, and what do you specialize in at Ward’s?

Kelly Ward: Metal fabrication is where you create products by cutting, bending, and assembling metal material.

At Ward’s, we specialize in fiber laser cutting, press brake bending, metal engraving, and we offer part design consulting services. So we take metal sheets and can cut any design out of them, and then we can bend them into form. We can make whatever it is that the customer needs.

Are there many metal fabricators left in the US? If not, why not?

Advertisement

Much like other manufacturing industries, metal fabrication has been outsourced over the last several decades. And so what has happened is we get a lot of our metal fabrication from mostly China, as well as some other countries across Asia. Then the pandemic caused major supply chain disruptions, and the cost of shipping went up and lead times were extended so much so that many were unreasonable for the businesses that needed these metal products. On top of this, there’s been increasingly unstable geopolitical factors that have increased these timelines and the cost of goods and services.

What are a few examples of items Ward’s has done?

It’s a real range. We’ve worked on pieces of metal equipment that goes into a tractor or a robot. We can also make a custom metal sign for a small business.

Kiffin Ward inside the shop at Ward’s Manufacturing in Warren, R.I.Ward’s Manufacturing

What kinds of businesses or industries are your largest clients?

Advertisement

Our customers are very wide ranging, but most of them tend to be in construction and in the marine industry. So anytime you need a custom metal part that you can’t just get at Home Depot, you come to a metal fabricator like us. We’re serving across industries and for businesses across the US — not just in Rhode Island.

Is there a demand for domestic metal manufacturing?

Outsourcing has become more expensive, slow, and riskier than ever. There is a domestic metal fabrication market, but it’s not big enough to handle the domestic need.

What does the current market of domestic shops look like? What makes yours different?

A lot of the domestic shops that do exist are multigenerational shops that don’t have all the latest equipment, and these shops are also backordered and the lead times are long. In other cases, these shops are massive, and don’t handle more small-scale prototypes for a new tech product or new robotics. If you need something done that’s custom work, many of these shops cannot take on a small order for a single piece.

Advertisement

My brother, who is an engineer by trade, is also a design expert. He’s working in consultation with the customer, and can then build their product.

Co-owner Kelly Ward inside the shop at Ward’s Manufacturing in Warren, R.I.Ward’s Manufacturing

Who or what is your biggest competition?

If someone has a huge order and an extremely low price point per unit is important to them, then they will probably still go overseas. When we entered this market, we thought other metal fabricators in the area would be our biggest competition. But what we found is that they’re also backordered — even if they are only three to five years old. Many of those local companies have actually asked to partner with us so we can help supply them and take orders they cannot get to.

What kinds of metals are you working with?

We use mild steel (carbon steel), stainless steel, aluminum, brass, and copper are our five primary metals. If there’s a special request for another metal, we can look into those as well.

Advertisement

What challenges do you expect to face this year?

Our biggest challenge is going to be getting the word out that we are here. We have a lot of new customers from around the country already, but we really want to build a strong base of local support to fill up our capacity so we can partner with them and understand their needs, and help make design improvements.


Alexa Gagosz can be reached at alexa.gagosz@globe.com. Follow her @alexagagosz and on Instagram @AlexaGagosz.





Source link

Advertisement
Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Rhode Island

When I die, compost me? Massachusetts, Rhode Island could legalize human composting

Published

on

When I die, compost me? Massachusetts, Rhode Island could legalize human composting


Local News

The practices are more environmentally friendly by using less fuel and releasing no carbon emissions compared to cremation, proponents say.

Micah Truman, CEO of Return Home, a company that composts human remains into soil, poses for a photo, Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021, in Auburn, Washington. AP Photo/Ted S. Warren

When you die, it’s your choice. There’s cremation, embalming, caskets and coffins, or you could just go in ground. In Massachusetts and Rhode Island, a few new choices could soon be legalized.

If you want your remains to join your family garden or even your favorite house plant: legislators are moving to legalize human composting.

Advertisement

Since 2020, seven states have legalized “natural organic reduction,” which essentially means composting a human body. The composting is part of an accelerated process to make a nutrient-rich soil from human remains, which takes about four to six weeks. 

The human body is placed in a large tank with warm air and wood chips, and — much like a regular compost — the material is turned until a soil is formed. According to Earth Funeral, which has human composting facilities on the West Coast, the process yields a cubic yard of soil.

Washington was the first state to legalize human composting, in 2020. The practice is also legal in Colorado, Oregon, Vermont, California, New York, and Nevada.

Earth Funeral calls human composting the most sustainable urban funeral process, noting its relies on renewable energy and releases no CO2 emissions.

Rhode Island, Mass. could legalize ‘burial alternatives’

Rhode Island’s state legislature is hearing the bill to allow human composting for the second year in a row, the Providence Journal reported. In Massachusetts, where the idea is also on its second try in the chamber, lawmakers want to take it a step further to legalize water cremation.

Advertisement

In addition to composting, Massachusetts’s “environmentally-friendly burial alternatives” bill would also legalize alkaline hydrolysis, which is defined as the reduction of human remains to bone fragments using heat, pressure, water and base chemical agents. 

Alkaline hydrolysis is more widely practiced than human composting, but it’s still not legal in every state.

This “water cremation” is more environmentally friendly than traditional cremation and burial by using less fuel and reducing its carbon footprint, according to the Cremation Association. Family members can receive pure white remains after the process.

The bill in the Massachusetts State Senate was sent to committee this week, meaning it may not see session this year.

While the practices are environmentally friendly, some religions don’t approve. The Catholic Church, for example, said last year that both practices do not align with their doctrines, meaning “they fail to manifest the respect for last remains that Catholic faith requires.”

Advertisement





Source link

Advertisement
Continue Reading

Rhode Island

New lanes to ease traffic over Rhode Island’s Washington Bridge – The Boston Globe

Published

on

New lanes to ease traffic over Rhode Island’s Washington Bridge – The Boston Globe


Under the plans announced Wednesday, the temporary bypass lanes will get a 50 percent boost in capacity in both directions.

“We know that adding 50 percent capacity to what is there right now is going to save a considerable amount of time,” RIDOT Director Peter Alviti said at a State House news conference announcing the plan.

In originally announcing the closure, the state said it would take about three months to repair. That estimate went out the window weeks ago: After finding more problems in the bridge, the state now says it may have to replace the entire westbound span, and expects to get reports back on it by late February or early March. Meanwhile workers will now spend about the next eight weeks, depending on weather and other factors, reconfiguring the roadway in a way that would benefit commuters no matter what the ultimate outcome is on the westbound side.

Alviti on Wednesday declined to offer more specifics when pressed by reporters about when the state would know what would be required to get the westbound side back open again, or about the likelihood that it’ll have to be rebuilt.

A spokesman for the Department of Transportation said putting the plan in place required studying feasibility, as well as getting federal approval, which is why it’s taken until now to do it.

The state is fitting the new lanes in by reducing their width by two feet, to 10 feet. Trucks will be restricted to the rightmost lane, which will be 11 feet wide. And the speed limit on the bypass lanes will be reduced to 40 miles per hour.

Advertisement

The DOT also said that because of the new eastbound configuration, traffic from South Water Street and India Street in Providence will need to yield when entering the highway, which could cause delays for drivers on the ramp to 195 east at rush hour.

Work will begin Monday with design and ordering materials, the state said. The construction will move the start of bypass lanes in East Providence about 3,000 feet west of where it is now.

State officials said the new traffic pattern should reduce travel times and ease spillover congestion on local streets, although exactly how much remains to be seen. Some people who are opting for different routes right now may go back on the bridge once the third lanes are open, which would increase traffic.

“It certainly will improve travel time,” said Governor Dan McKee, who also remarked that wasn’t going to talk about travel time as much as he had in the past, given the criticism of his previous statement that the closure was adding just 10 to 15 minutes to people’s commutes.

Advertisement

Brian Amaral can be reached at brian.amaral@globe.com. Follow him @bamaral44.





Source link

Continue Reading

Rhode Island

Investments in Rhode Island’s child-care infrastructure are as critical as funding roads and bridges – The Boston Globe

Published

on

Investments in Rhode Island’s child-care infrastructure are as critical as funding roads and bridges – The Boston Globe


Many Rhode Islanders are understandably focused on a key piece of our state’s physical infrastructure, the Washington Bridge, since a portion has been closed for months, creating frustrating disruptions in many people’s daily commutes to work.

Another piece of our state’s critical infrastructure that is essential to working families and our economy is also facing significant stresses: Our child-care infrastructure, which also requires ongoing investments to address. Just like roads and bridges, child care allows Rhode Island families to get to work. When high-quality, affordable child care is not available, it forces Rhode Island families, particularly women, to reduce the hours they work, or leave the workforce altogether to care for their young children. This has real impacts: On families, employers and businesses, and Rhode Island’s economy.

Still recovering from the disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic, Rhode Island’s child-care sector remains in distress. Many child-care providers are having to absorb higher costs due to inflation, while also dealing with an early educator staffing crisis. In 2022, the median wage for Rhode Island’s child care-educators was just $13.97/hour, less than fast-food and retail workers. As a result of this low pay, many skilled and experienced child-care educators are leaving the field for higher paying jobs in other sectors.

When a child care-worker leaves the sector and cannot be replaced, it often forces providers to close classrooms or reduce enrollment in existing classrooms to meet educator-to-child staff-ratio requirements. When a classroom closes or reduces enrollment, it creates even longer waitlists for Rhode Island families who are desperately looking for quality child-care options that engage their child and help them get to work. Indeed, it is not uncommon for child-care programs to have more than 100 families on a waitlist.

Advertisement

At the same time that providers and child-care educators are facing these challenges, too many Rhode Island families are struggling to afford the cost of child care. According to Child Care Aware, the average cost of child care in Rhode Island is more than $13,000 per year. That equals 13 percent of family income for married Rhode Island couples, and a whopping 42 percent of family income for a single parent. According to a national benchmark, families should spend no more than 7 percent of income on child care.

Fortunately, Rhode Island leaders including Governor Dan McKee, Speaker K. Joseph Shekarchi, Senate President Dominick Ruggerio, and the General Assembly have been investing in our child-care infrastructure to keep the system from collapsing. These investments have included increased rates for child-care providers, wage supplements and bonuses for child-care educators, increased funding for Head Start and Early Head Start classrooms, and expanded eligibility for the state’s Child Care Assistance Program.

One example of an innovative investment is a new Child Care for Child Care Educators pilot program included in the FY 2024 state budget. The program provides low-cost child care for child-care workers who have young children themselves, but who previously could not afford the cost of child care, forcing them to leave the workforce. Thanks to this pilot, more than 390 child-care educators are enrolled in the program and are able to stay in the child-care jobs that they love.

Several of these investments were made with federal pandemic funds that are expiring in 2024, yet the underlying challenges facing the child-care sector remain. That is why it is critical for our leaders to sustain and expand these investments in this year’s state budget.

Specifically, the General Assembly should:

Advertisement
  • Reauthorize funding and expand eligibility for the Child Care for Child Care Educators pilot;
  • Continue the Child Care WAGE$ program, which provides wage supplements for experienced, highly qualified early educators;
  • Continue retention bonuses for child-care educators to prevent the loss of staff, and the closure of more classrooms.
  • Increase eligibility for the Child Care Assistance Program, so more Rhode Island families can pay for affordable, quality child care;
  • Continue to invest in Rhode Island’s early education system, including Head Start, Early Head Start, and pre-K classrooms.

Making these investments in our state’s care infrastructure are just as important as investments in our roads and bridges. They will provide quality learning opportunities for our young children, get our families to work, benefit Rhode Island employers, and strengthen our state’s economy.

Put simply, child care is essential. Let’s make sure that infrastructure is solid and there to support our working families.

Lisa Hildebrand is executive director of the Rhode Island Association for the Education of Young Children, and Khadija Lewis Khan is director of Beautiful Beginnings Child Care in Providence.






Source link

Continue Reading

Trending