Gate Dispatch

Three Benefits of Having Your Production Plant Next Door

Posted by Bethamy Threw on Nov 24, 2015 2:48:07 PM

As an Engineering Coordinator for Philippi-Hagenbuch, Inc. my duties are interesting and challenging, ranging from nesting parts for the CNC operator in the plant to assigning and maintaining status of work for the Engineering department and relaying this information to other associates in the organization. For those of you who haven’t encountered nesting yet, it is the process of laying out the parts that are to be cut by the CNC (Computer Numerical Control) operator on sheet metal to ensure the best utilization of raw materials. The nesting process is incredibly important because it cuts down on the possibility of over production or under production. From my perspective, having our production plant next door is definitely a check in the ‘Pro’ column for PHIL and here are my top three reasons why.

Seeing Real Time Progress

Having the production plant next door gives us the opportunity to see how the equipment we’re designing is produced. When you’re working on parts or a piece of equipment in a design program, it can be an abstract concept until the actual physical piece is made.  When nesting the parts for the CNC machine, I can walk over to the plant to talk with the operator and watch how the cuts are made. Working closely with the CNC operator helps to better utilize the material. Yes, parts can be nested with the software, but being able see the cutting process makes modifications easier – and that streamlines work flow and reduces costs.  The next door convenience of the plant allows us to watch the design come to life as parts are being manufactured and designs are produced.

20151116_-_Hardrock_inprogress.jpgSeeing a product take shape is not only fascinating, but makes the nesting process more efficient.

Face-to-Face Contact Between Engineers and Manufacturers

It’s probably shocking, but engineers and manufacturers don’t always see eye-to-eye during the manufacturing process. However, being able to create a part and then meet with members of production regularly and discuss the design from a production perspective can mitigate the tension that could otherwise build up over the course of a job. This creates a team friendly environment where everyone can voice their concerns and brainstorm solutions. When the production team has a question on a design, we can go look at the problem and actually talk over the problem rather than get confused and frustrated with communications through email or phone. Plus, we get to see how the design works on the individual part and ask questions about the machines or materials—very beneficial from a learning perspective. In an age where so much is communicated electronically, it is refreshing to be able to connect face-to-face with every member of the process from sales all the way through to shipping.

Faster, More Efficient Work Flow

Oddly enough, nesting software doesn’t always take into consideration all the limitations of the materials and tools used any given job might encounter. Most of the time the engineering department would have no idea there was a problem until a) the production team gave them a frustrated call after having to stop production because a design wasn’t working with the machine, or b) the finished parts all had to be scrapped because they were flawed and couldn’t be used. Neither of those are ideal situations, especially from an efficiency stand point. Time is money. Putting the production on hold or restarting the job is not fast, efficient, or productive.  By watching the design come to life as parts are being manufactured and designs are produced, we can understand these limitations and make real time adjustments – saving a considerable amount of time in the process. With the plant next door, when modifications need to be made, engineers can see how the design works with the press to ensure accurate changes are made quickly and production time is not lost.


The efficiency gained from having a setup where engineers can meet with the production team can’t be beat.  Most engineers don’t get the benefit of working side by side with welders and machinists.  The value of learning how the design works with the machines and comes together is often lost and leads to repetitious rework that can take a toll on both frayed nerves and the company’s bottom line. Open communication on all sides and the ability to literally go next door to see the design in action streamlines the work flow process and makes for efficient production.


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Topics: Engineering, PHIL Campus, Production

10 Things You Should Know About Shale Energy

Posted by Abby Meister on Oct 16, 2015 10:00:00 AM

Fracking - or hydraulic fracturing, as it is formally known - is the process that releases natural gas from shale by shooting fracturing fluid consisting of water, sand, and chemicals at shale rock. While the roots of hydraulic fracturing can be traced back to 1865, the fracking we know today was first used commercially on March 17, 1949, first in Oklahoma and later that same day in Texas. The 1980s ushered in a shale boom after a sudden technological advance vastly increased the natural gas production that continues to this day. However, for all that, fracking has become quite controversial in the past few years.  According to, here are the top ten things you should know about shale energy along with some resources from us on where you can find more detailed information.

This graphic (created by Dan Vergano and Karl Gelles for USA TODAY and posted 7/2/2012) does an excellent
job of showing the set up of a fracking site as well as some reasons why fracking is considered controversial.

1. Fracking is a huge part of our domestic natural gas and oil production.

In the future fracking will account for almost 70% of natural gas development in the US if it continues at its current rate. Without fracking, within five year 45% of natural gas production and 17% of oil production could be lost. Click HERE to see some of the percentages from April, 2015.

2. Fracking is a job machine.

In 2010, shale gas development supported 600,000 jobs, showing how revolutionary the economic impacts of developing shale gas resources are to the US economy. This number has only increased in the following years and is predicted to continue rising with continued production of natural gas and oil. Read in deatail the economic impacts of fracking HERE.

3. It's not a free-for-all.

For those thinking that the big companies in shall gas development are free to do whatever they want, regardless of the consequences, think again. Robust state and federal regulations for hydraulic fracturing already exist and every aspect of fracking is regulated by a comprehensive list of state, local, and federal laws.

4. The industry is always improving standards and practices.

As with many industries, the process for shale energy is always evolving to have higher standards and better practices all filed with the American National Standards Institute.

5. Ground water concerns.

 A lot of thought has been put into keeping the ground water safe with carefully constructed wells - multiple layers made of up steel casing and cementing. (More about the casing process used for wells HERE.)

6. The contents of fracturing fluids aren't a secret.

An outcry for companies using hydraulic fracturing to reveal what is in the fracturing fluids has gotten louder in the past few years, however, the contents aren't a secret and can be accessed on

7. Yes, there is spill prevention.

A number of protective measures are in place to prevent spills - water is managed effectively and fluids are handled. Actually, a lot of forethought goes into setting up and starting a fracking site as you can see in the Marcellus Shale Coalition's (MSC) Recommended Practices: Site Planning, Development and Restoration.

8. Responsible waste management is a must.

Wastes from productions are managed responsibly - fracturing fluid is recovered and then reused in future fracturing operations. has great information covering the various options for Fluid Handling HERE.

9. An earthquake watch isn't necessary.

Seismologists and geologists have not been able to prove that earthquakes are the direct result of the hydraulic fracturing process. A chart from shows that microseismic activity from fracking hits around a -2 to -3 on the Richter scale, which is not activity that is felt.

10. Air emissions are carefully watched.

Every aspect of fracking is carefully monitored and the air emissions are no different. They are closely monitored, managed and reported at fracking sites across the country. Natural gas is considered a low burning fuel because of the low emissions of carbon dioxide, sulfur oxide, and nitrogen oxide.

Hydraulic fracturing has been around for a long time and is ever evolving to be as safe and environmentally conscious as possible while still being the economic powerhouse that it is. What are your thoughts on fracking and its impact? Let us know in the comments below, or on Facebook (Philippi-Hagenbuch, Inc.) / Twitter (@PHILsystems)!


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Topics: Mining, Safety, Fracking

Drones to Design - How Technology Is Improving Mining

Posted by Josh Swank on Sep 1, 2015 3:02:01 PM

If it has not been born or grown, just about everything you know has had to of been mined out of our Earth at one point in time to be in existence. The first wheel made of stone was a result of early quarrying of aggregate, just as the steel used in your automobile originally came from iron ore.


Today, we rely on the mining industry to extract the ores needed to create the equipment used in the mining industry. Interesting how everything comes full circle.

What many people don't understand is how much technology has enhanced the way mining is done today, versus just ten years ago. An interesting article from the Sydney Morning Herald shows off how drones are being used in the mining industry to understand the volume within stockpiles and the amount of materials left to be mined within sections of individual mines. A great video can be seen here.

Technology has always played a large role at Philippi-Hagenbuch - from our first main-frame computer that was installed at our corporate headquarters in the early 1980's to the cutting edge 3-dimensional scanning and rapid prototyping we utilize today, the detail and sophistication to our designs has never been better.

Advances in CAD software now allow us to walk through our water tank designs, lift truck bodies with our patented body lifting system, calculate stresses through finite element analysis, model loads through our patented load profiling process, and simulate the dumping of loads through fluid analysis. Technology utilizatoin at PHIL is not about what is available, it's about what can be with an emphasis on quality and efficiency.

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Topics: HiVol(R) Bodies, Water Tanks, Technology

The Top 10 Business Risks Facing Mining & Metals

Posted by Abby Meister on Jul 21, 2015 1:31:00 PM


With an extended period of lower and volatile commodity prices globally, the mining and metals sector is currently going through a "super correction" to the super-cycle, resulting in unparalleled impacts on earnings, balance sheets, and investor perceptions for the sector. Understandably, mining and metals companies are more focused on their margin, cash flow, and capital returns than anything else right now. Though steps to recovery were set into motion in the past few years with mine closures and major capex reductions, it would be premature to say that the majority of mining and metals companies are free to take the risks that they would have during the “production at any cost” boom years. From the Ernst & Young paper, the “Business risks facing mining and metals 2015-2016”, we highlight the first five of the Top 10 Business Risks Facing Mining and Metals.

1. Switch to Growth

In the mining and metals sector, most companies are in a short-term mindset, focused on consolidation and capital returns in a low-growth environment. According to Ernst & Young the time to invest in future growth is now, though most companies are finding it hard to make that switch. Whether building or buying, preparation and execution are critical to prepare for the future upswing.

2. Productivity Improvement

Productivity improvement is always vital to survival for any industry and while there have been steps in the right direction, there’s still room for significant changes in the mining and metals industry. Innovation and productivity go hand in hand and to the early adopters, productivity has proven time and again to give a competitive edge. It’s important to keep in mind that productivity needs to remain a priority - even when commodity prices improve.20150821_-_Risks

3. Access to Capital

With the cyclical downturn, fundraising options for the mining and metals industry have been slim at best. Market conditions have brought about the rise of alternative sources of financing for the mid-tier and junior companies in the industry, but those sources generally bring with them their own set of complexity, costs and risks. At this point, Ernst & Young believe it is critical to maintain a long-term strategic focus of project fundraising (rather than concentrating on short-term funding), which can be achieved through preparation, knowledge, risk mitigation, and market awareness.

4. Resource Nationalism

The fight against corruption in the mining and metals industry is going strong and, along with the sentiment that companies are still not paying their “fair share” to host nations, has resulted in new transparency laws requiring companies to start reporting taxes and other government payments. Organizations should be taking advantage of these reports to truly show the value they are adding back into the host nations. 

5. Social License to Operate

To maintain SLTO there are a complex array of relationships that must be negotiated. Recently this risk has increased under the burden of tougher global economic conditions. With the huge investments put into operations at stake, continued engagement, collaboration, and communication with all of these stake holders is imperative.


If you would like to check out the remaining top five business risks (Price and Currency Volatility, Capital Projects Execution Risk, Access to Energy, Cybersecurity, and Innovation [new]) and the rest of the Ernst & Young paper that also goes into the top ten below-the-radar risks, you can find the link here.


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Topics: Industry News

LeRoy Hagenbuch and Danette Swank interviewed by Dick Smith of Playmakers Radio Show

Posted by Josh Swank on Jun 25, 2015 11:59:00 AM

In early June, Dick Smith, the host of "Playmakers Radio Show" sat down with Philippi-Hagenbuch, Inc. co-founder and Chief-Engineer LeRoy Hagenbuch and his daughter, PHIL's current President, Danette Swank to discuss the company, sucession, and more.




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Topics: Podcast

Danette Swank Receives STEP Award

Posted by Abby Meister on Apr 16, 2015 10:00:00 AM

On March 26, our president, Danette Swank, received the Women in Manufacturing STEP (Science, Technology, Engineering and Production) Award from The Manufacturing Institute. A total of 130 women were recipients of the award that represents the honorees' leadership and accomplishments in the manufacturing industry.

The STEP Awards are a part of The Manufacturing Institute's larger STEP Ahead Initiative, which promotes the role of women in the manufacturing industry.

"These 130 women are the faces of exciting careers in manufacturing," said Jennifer McNelly, president of The Manufacturing Institute (pictured below with Danette). "We chose to honor these women because they each made significant achievements in manufacturing through positive impact on their company and the industry as a whole."


Photo by David Bhorer / National Assoc. of Manufacturers

"Being an honoree at the 3rd annual STEP Ahead Awards was such a wonderful experience," said Danette. "To be in the midst of 129 other female manufacturing professionals was very inspiring. It opened my eyes to the ways I can help others in my community and the industries I'm involved in to be aware of the many solid career paths manufacturing can take someone. I am truly grateful for this opportunity and honor."

We are extremely proud of all that Danette has accomplished here at PHIL and look forward to seeing what the future holds.

Congratulations, Danette!

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Topics: Danette Swank

Top 4 Ways an Engineer In Training Can Grow Professionally Working under a P.E.

Posted by Luke Tolley on Mar 5, 2015 11:59:06 AM

PHIL Engineering provides the DNA that makes every Philippi-Hagenbuch product unique. Based on 46 years of product research and development, coupled with PHIL standards, an engineer is able to thrive at PHIL from an exploratory standpoint, while learning and developing their skills by working with a talented Professional Engineer (PE).


Below are four of the ways an engineer can grow professionally at PHIL:

Setting Goals

An individual is able to achieve a lot in a career. Working under a Professional Engineer, especially one with passion and experience, helps an engineer in training (EIT) to see what can be accomplished in a career.  A young engineer should set lofty goals – short, medium, and long term – and then strive toward them.


Discipline and thoroughness of an individual’s work can be practiced at any point in one’s career, but engineering experience can only come with time.  Working under a PE helps provide a knowledge base to answer questions.  A seasoned PE has a careers worth of experience and having the ability to ask questions to one is very beneficial.   By understanding and absorbing the answers, an engineer in training has the opportunity to rapidly advance his/her expertise.

People and Business Skills

College is great for teaching engineers the math, physics, and science needed to receive a degree, but it often fails to prepare engineers for the social and business skills necessary for the job.  Attending business meetings with a PE aids an EIT in addressing questions that may arise from clients and prospective clients.  It is an engineer’s responsibility to know every single component of their design and be able to justify even the smallest parts.


The code of ethics for the National Society of Professional Engineers states that “Engineers shall hold paramount the safety, health, and welfare of the public” and “Perform services only in areas of their competence.” By being mentored under a Professional Engineer, an EIT is reassured that they are learning the safest practices and are receiving accurate knowledge.


For information on engineering careers available at Philippi-Hagenbuch, click here.

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Topics: Employment, Engineering, PHIL Employment

3 Reasons You Should Be Packing For AGG1 2015

Posted by Abby Meister on Feb 12, 2015 10:00:00 AM

We’ve come up to the trade show time of year again and AGG1 Aggregates & Academy 2015 and the co-located World of Asphalt Conference & Show are right around the corner. Obviously, the best reason for heading to AGG1 2015 would be to see us (duh), but for those of you who aren’t convinced that seeing our smiling faces is enough of a reason to attend AGG1 2015, we’ve thought up the top 3 reasons your person should be located in the Baltimore Convention Center when March 17-19 rolls around.


A snapshot from AGG1 2013.

3. Keeping Up with the Cutting Edge

Trade shows, like World of Asphalt and AGG1, are great for letting you see all the new ideas and technologies that have been happening throughout your industry in one location. It might not be difficult to keep up on a few key players in the industry for a year or two, but trying to keep track of every new innovation in the industry can be difficult. With 400 exhibitors, AGG1 2015 will have the leading aggregates and asphalt equipment manufacturers and suppliers in one location for three days! As the AGG1 website says, “It’s an unprecedented opportunity for you to experience all that is new in technology and equipment under one roof!” Amen to that.

2. Academic, my dear Watson

The AGG1 Aggregates Academy & Expo title doesn’t have ‘academy’ in it just to make the name of the show seem learned, AGG1 has great learning opportunities for attendees. AGG1 Academy will feature 48 educational sessions hosted by professionals from every aspect of the aggregates industry. The 48 sessions are separated into five main categories: Operations & Production; Environment, Safety & Health; Automation, Tech & Software; Leadership; and Business Management. An opportunity to join the Bluegrass Materials Quarry Tour to visit the quarry that has been in operation for more than 150 years and provided stone for the Washington Monument will also be available on March 16th.

1. Plug into the Network

Thousands of people attend AGG1 – correction, thousands of industry leading professionals attend AGG1, the aggregates industry’s leading exposition and educational event. The AGG1 Aggregates Academy and Expo co-located with World of Asphalt is the best place for anyone in the aggregates industry to expand their network of contacts and potential suppliers and clients. AGG1 and World of Asphalt draw a domestic and international audience of professionals that run in the thousands, making it ideal for expanding your network of people.

So there you have it. If seeing all of us from PHIL wasn't enough to convince you to start packing for 2015 AGG1 Aggregates Academy and Expo, our top three reasons should definitely convince you to start making your packing list. We can't wait to see you in Baltimore on St. Paddy's Day!


Got questions? Comments?? Feel free to leave us a comment below, or contact us through social media on Facebook or Twitter!



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Topics: AGG1 2015

3 Easy Ways Your Resolutions Can Set You Up For Success

Posted by Abby Meister on Jan 2, 2015 11:00:00 AM

It's that time of year again - and no, I don't mean Bowl season. It's time to set some resolutions for the New Year! Wahoo! From my own observation and personal experience, New Year's Resolutions are considered a blow-off goals that usually gets shuffled aside pretty quickly. If you find it hard to achieve the resolutions you set at the beginning of each year, don't worry, you're not alone. According to Harvard social phycologist, Amy Cuddy, we break our resolutions because we're setting ourselves up for failure. Here are three simple ways to make sure your resolutions are setting you up for success!



One common issue that can keep us from successfully stick to our resolutions is setting so many resolutions it would be impossible to be able to stick to all of them. The best course of action for successful resolution setting is to set a small number of goals and stick to those. Another goal can always be added on when one is achieved.


Vague goals leave room for loopholes and procrastination - at least they have in my experience. A review in the American Journal of Health Promotion found that success is more likely when your goal is specific. Make your resolutions concise and actionable and your more likely to stick with them.


Probably the biggest reason New Year's Resolutions fail is because the goals being set are not realistic. Setting a goal to lose 20 lbs. in a day is probably not going to happen - especially not during the holidays. Amy Cuddy points out that "we're really bad at setting reasonable goals." Setting a reasonable goal - one that can actually be accomplished in a timely and healthy manner - will definitely make it easier to stick to your resolutions!

So there you have it. Three simple ways to set yourself up for success with your New Year's Resolutions. No longer will our resolutions be a "To Do" List for the first week in January. Go forth and set goals - and have a successful 2015! Happy New Year!!

 Do you have any questions for us? Do you have a specific topic you want to know about?? Drop us a note - in the comments area, on our Facebook page (Philippi-Hagenbuch, Inc.), or on Twitter (@PHILsystems). We'd love to hear from you!

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Topics: Current Events, Resolutions, New Year

Equipment Decisions that Decrease Carryback

Posted by Abby Meister on Nov 13, 2014 7:46:00 AM

Whether it's time spent cleaning out the bodies of off-highway haul trucks, or bodies that aren't reaching their full capacity potential on each load, carryback costs mining operations around the world millions of dollars in lost opportunities each year. Now, washing your hands of all sticky materials you haul in favor of new non-sticky materials is neither a viable option nor very practical. The good news is, there are ways to cut-down on the carryback and time spent scraping out the bodies! The right equipment can be the difference in millions of dollars in lost opportunities or millions of dollars in your operation's pocket. Here's are some things to consider when making a decision on equipment for operations hauling sticky or homogenous materials.


Trying to decide on a body for a haul truck in an operation where sticky materials are being hauled can be one giant haul-truck sized headache. Not all bodies are created equal, which is especially true in operations with highly homogenous materials. Customized bodies for your operation are an option to consider wisely. With a body engineered specifically for the sticky materials in your operation, the walls of the body could be tapered with an outward angle to help the sticky material move out of the body, rather than get stuck.

Rear Eject Bodies are ideal for sticky material that clings to the off-highway haul truck and begins building up. The ejector blade pushes the hauled material out of the body, pushing out even the most adhesive of the homogenous materials. Rear Eject Bodies are unique in that they are useful in the most difficult of operations. Low overhead clearance, operating in areas without stable or consistent ground footings, sticky materials, hilly terrain - all of these are applications where a Rear Eject Body excell.


Nemesis to many an operation: Carryback 


Additions to your existing equipment can also help combat hard to get out materials. Since most carryback starts building up where the walls intersect and cohesive material can cline on several surfaces at once , hydrophobic steel lining problem areas (like corners) can cut down on the amount of material that sticks to the walls without compromising the capacity of the body

Load Ejectors are another addition you can make to an existing body. Load Ejectors are a simple, mechanical way to minimize material sticking to the front slope and floor within truck bodies. In the dump cycle, the Load Ejector pulls away from the body floor, hanging vertically or nearly vertically, to dislodge sticky material. Load Ejectors can also be used in conjunction with Tailgates and Sideboards boost productivity even farther.

Carryback is a problem that persists in mining operations worldwide, but the right equipment decisions for your operation can definitely cut down on the sticky materials clinging to your off-highway truck bodies. Be it a special body engineered for your specific operation, or the equipment you can add to your existing off-highway haul truck bodies, these options can save your operation many lost opportunities.

Download Tailgate Literature

 Do you have questions for us? Do you have a specific topic you want to know about?? If you do, drop us a note in the comments area, dfon our Facebook page (Philippi-Hagenbuch, Inc.) or on Twitter (@PHILsystems). We'd love to hear from you

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Topics: HiVol(R) Bodies, Off-Highway Truck Body, Rear Eject, Load Ejector, Tailgates, Sideboards, Carryback, Customized Bodies, Hydrophobic Steel, Rear Eject Bodies

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