Monday, June 23, 2014

An Overview of Agriculture in North America 2014: Part 2

What to Expect from the 2014 Harvest in North America

In our last blog, we looked at the current state of agriculture in North America—and the takeaway was thanks to both harsh weather and lower prices, things remain in flux. To try to bring some clarity to the situation, we want to fill you in on what we can expect from the 2014 North American harvest.

·         As of April 2014, the USDA reported that 19 percent of U.S. crops have been planted, but it varies from state to state. For example, Missouri farmers are at 47 percent while Iowa’s are only at 15 percent. There is a chance that planters will fall farther behind thanks to wet weather, but historically, the later a crop is planted, the less likely it will end up robust.

·         In what is a vicious cycle, if commodity prices remain low, then farmers will plant fewer acres. This in turn will lower the yield, but then futures prices will rise; this seems to be what 2014 will produce.

·         As anyone knows from watching their local weather report, it is next to impossible to predict the future. Despite this inherent difficulty, some believe we might be in for a wild ride this summer. This includes the possibility of a major El Nino that would bring North America a mix of unpredictable weather.

·         Finally, there is the level of farm equipment sales. After a robust 2013, experts are expecting sales to be flat or lower in 2014.

In the end, it is difficult to predict a harvest this far out, but we hope that this blog is of some help in decoding what to expect from the 2014 harvest in North America. For more information on our conveyor belt solutions for agriculture, head over to our website.

Monday, June 9, 2014

An Overview of Agriculture in North America 2014: Part 1

The Current State of Agriculture in North America

People who make their living in the agricultural field know one thing is certain: No two years are ever exactly alike because the number of factors that define a year’s planting and harvest season is overwhelming. 

Because our conveyor belting solutions are prominently used in North American agriculture, we wanted to breakdown the state of the industry and harvest in a two-part blog series. To begin, let’s get a feel for where agriculture is at a few months into 2014. Below, we’ve broken down the industry by factors and topics.

This past winter was one for the record books. In the western parts of North America, drought conditions ruled the day. Currently, 100 percent of California is suffering from some level of drought, but conversely, much of the rest of North America was slammed by an extended and harsh winter that saw both record snowfall and unmatched low temperatures. As you might imagine, any type of extreme weather condition will directly impact both planting and fieldwork.

Crop Progress and Condition
As we mentioned before, no two years are alike, and this is also the case when it comes to states and regions. One helpful tool, at least for the U.S., is the USDA’s State Crop Progress and Condition website. This site allows you to get detailed reports on the current and past crop reports.

Current Prices and Equipment Sales
Though prices are currently lower than last year, the numbers coming in show that projected acres planted are significantly lower in corn and soybean. This is something to keep an eye on because it might shock prices down the road. The same goes for equipment sales as they are directly linked to prices and planting levels.

Overall, the current state of agriculture in North America is one of wait-and-see. Will prices stay low? Will the uneasy weather continue into the summer months? In our next blog, we look to answer these questions by taking a closer look at what the experts believe we can expect from the harvest season of 2014.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Conveyor Belts and North America’s Marine Industry

Making a living on the open waters in and around North America is demanding and dangerous work. Any equipment or technical advances that can reduce risk and wasted effort makes the lives of everyone involved easier.

At The Furnace Belt Company, we have a long history of manufacturing custom metal conveyor belts specifically for the marine and fishing industries. You might be wondering how conveyor belts play a role in the marine sector. A perfect example of this synergy is the shrimping industry.

Recently, the North American shrimping has been booming. Demand and prices for all types of shrimp products has skyrocketed over the past year. Of course, these shrimp do not just jump into the boat they need to be carefully harvested. To do this, shrimpers use a wide variety of pots and nets to capture the shrimp and bring them on to the boat. It is at this point in the process that high-quality conveyor belts are critical.

Due to the varying size of the shrimp, they need to be sorted and stored into different sections of the boat. While this complicated task was and still can be accomplished by hand, modern conveyor technology makes it easier and more accurate. Any time that can be cut from processing only adds to the amount of time shrimpers can stay on the water.  This also goes for all different types of fishing all across the world. The use of conveyor belts is without a doubt the present and future of the entire industry.

We not only take great pride in supporting such a critical North American industry, but also helping streamline and modernize it so that it can survive and thrive throughout the 21st century. If you want to learn more about the role of conveyor belts in the North America’s marine industry, please contact us today.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

5 Important Packaging Trends for 2014

Across the board, 2013 was a great year for the global packaging industry. According to the latest numbers, the market brought in a staggering $709 billion in 2013, and it is expected to be worth close to a trillion dollars by 2018.

Of course, to get consumers come back and buy packaged goods, the industry must find a way to stay fresh and up-to-date. So, what new ideas and trends are driving this ever-growing industry? There are quite a few, but five standout to us.

Sustainable Packaging
Going “green” is a popular trend in almost every aspect of modern life. In the packaging industry, it is all about sustainability. The sustainable packaging market will be worth close to $244 billion by 2018, according to a new study from Smithers Pira. This includes reducing size and weight, while increasing recycled content.

Millennials Love Packaging
It turns out that 18-34 year-olds are more influenced by high-end packaging than other generations. In fact, a study shows that Millennials are less brand conscious and more attached to the experience.

Flexible Packaging
More companies and manufacturers are moving from rigid to flexible packaging. The market should grow 3.5 percent annually over the next five years, hitting $231 billion by 2018.

Nano Packaging
Everything is getting smaller, so it is no shock that packaging is also heading in that direction. Nano packaging brought in $20 billion in 2013 and should grow leaps and bounds as it becomes more feasible and affordable. Nano packaging is not only better for the environment but also protects products from spoilage and tampering.

Better Design
Design is always important, but it seems that it has become more critical than ever. While amazing fonts, rebranding, and “hipness” don’t keep products safer, the do drive sales, especially with the aforementioned Millennials.

These are just a few of the important packaging trends for 2014 and beyond, but we think they the ones you need to keep an eye on! 

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Frozen Foods and Furnace Belt: A Perfect Match

Since their invention in 1924, frozen foods have fed the harried men, women, and children of America—they offer an unbeatable combination of freshness and expedience. In fact, some experts believe that frozen vegetables are more nutrient-rich than raw.

Because of their popularity, the American frozen food industry earns $28 billion in revenue a year and employees more than 90,000 workers. As one might imagine, an industry this massive in size and importance, demands the most innovative equipment to operate at peak performance—and this is where Furnace Belt fits in.

We recently discussed our work in the food processing industry, but this month (maybe because the cold weather is a reminder) we wanted to talk specifically about frozen foods. At Furnace Belt, we do not freeze the food you find in your supermarket—but we do make the process possible. We supply the wire mesh beltings that are perfect for low temperature conveying that is at the heart of the frozen food processing industry. Both our round and flat wire beltings come in a wide variety of weaves, sizes, and metals.

In addition to our outstanding selection, Furnace Belt offers something more: outstanding customer service. The experts at Furnace Belt have worked closely with the biggest names in the frozen food industry since our company’s inception, so we will never allow you to buy a product that does not perfectly fit your needs.

If you need the perfect conveyor belt solution for your frozen food business, then don’t waste time and money—contact an expert at Furnace Belt today. 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Supporting American Made Manufacturing

For those looking to support American made manufacturing, you’ve come to the right place. Furnace Belt is a provider of conveyor belting solutions, but we’re also big supporters of the “Made in the USA” movement—and we’re not alone.

After celebrating October as National Manufacturing Month, we jumped in to celebrate November’s American Made Matters Day on Nov. 19. This event is hosted by the American Made Matters mission, anyone across the country can join in by making the commitment to purchase products that are made in the U.S. through the holiday shopping season. Buying goods made in our own company supports companies, industries, and the people who make them run. While all aspects of the economy can benefit, we’re pushing toward awareness for the manufacturing industry.

According to an American Made Matters press release, every dollar invested in American-made products pushes an additional $1.35 into the economy, which is astounding. Considering the manufacturing industry boasts some of the biggest contracts within the economy, making those investments creates a huge return—and a ripple effect.

For Furnace Belt, making our weaves and wires in the U.S. is crucial. Not only does this save money on shipping and many other costs, but it’s important to our business to invest in the industry and future generations of American manufacturers. We’re committed to building a solid future for the industry and economy, and if you’re looking for more information about our American made initiatives and products, check out our website.

Monday, October 7, 2013

The Importance of Conveyor Belt Weave Size

Balanced Weave Belting
In a previous blog, we discussed how conveyor belts are suited to each processing job—primarily emphasizing the importance of picking the correct weave material. Choosing the incorrect material can damage the product, regardless of whether it is food, steel, or plastic, but we want to highlight something equally as important: weave size.

At Furnace Belt, we research our customers’ products, calculate the best fit, and present our findings. Product size isn’t the standard issue for the products on our belts because we offer a plenty of wire belting solutions, some with more open weaves and some with closed weaves. For example, if the parts on the conveyor belts are small screws, it wouldn’t be wise to use a heavy-duty flat wire belting because the product would fall through… one of our round wire beltings might be more appropriate.

But it’s not just about the size of the weave—we also calculate how the different air flow affects the product and how the belt’s heat absorption factors in. We don’t want to over- or under-compensate, so we make very precise measurements.

Regardless of what you’re manufacturing, our range of conveyor belts are custom crafted for every application, so don’t hesitate to reach out to us at 1-800-354-7213 or check out our website for more information.