Thursday, July 30, 2009

What a difference a word makes!

For at least 15 years we have specialized in retractable guarding to protect factory employees who must work in close proximity to dangerous machinery. In the past, a lot of our work has been in the steel processing industry, a manufacturing segment that has recently been hit hard by the recession. To be frank, in this economy the installation of effective guarding is frequently considered to be a discretionary expense that can be put off until the champagne once again flows — or at least until an OSHA inspector creates a previously absent sense of urgency.

So, I've recently been pouring over OSHA reports to see which industry segments have significant guarding violations, hoping to uncover a new market for Extendamatic guarding, and hopefully to do some good at the same time. Among others, the oil drilling companies stood out. It appears that OSHA visits drilling sites on a regular basis. Who knew?

But most intriguing to me was how retractable guarding could be a perfect solution for protecting workers in a hazardous, compact area such as an oil rig. At least in theory. After all, perception is not always reality and I needed to know for certain.

I began calling drilling companies both large and small, some with serious OSHA violations and accompanying fines, and others that were as clean as the proverbial whistle. I was both pleased and surprised at their interest in my spiel, particularly when I uttered the magic word — retractable! It seems that guarding that virtually disappears when not in use is of keen interest to them. As one safety director put it, "If you can blow me away, I'll be calling you back." I gave him the website address and am now staring at the phone in the eager anticipation of his return call.

One word. Retractable. It's power is amazing, because it reveals possibilities that never before existed. What was confined and difficult to guard is now easy — what was potentially dangerous is now safe.

I wonder if Extendamatic guarding will work on submarines?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A Rant on Business Practices in General

Times are tough in business, and when things are tight any expense that doesn't contribute to the bottom line is jettisoned. That's understandable. Companies have to take certain actions today to assure they will be around tomorrow. However, we have been shedding American employees for some time now, not because they don't contribute to the bottom line, but because they don't contribute enough to the bottom line.

I once heard the saying, "Corporations don't cry". It's one of those tidbits that leave an indelible imprint on the mind. Whenever I call an American company and end up talking to someone named "Howard", who I know damned well is halfway around the world, I can actually hear the bubbling sounds that my boiling blood is making.

I know I'm not alone. I am in communication with people every day. Today, one of my customers expressed delight when I answered his question about where Extendamatic gating is made. "Right here in the U.S.A.", I said proudly, and added, "by Americans". I don't purport to know if that's important anymore. All I know is that it's important to me!

Maybe it's because I'm older and remember stuff, like how I used to be able to approach a cash register and simply buy something without the pathetic exercise of club cards and tracking systems that make transaction time intolerable and personal privacy invadable. Or, how about trying to call a company hoping to get an intelligent, helpful person on the line instead of a recorded menu with a "bridge to nowhere". Yeah, I remember stuff. Corporations may not cry, but I swear I can hear them laughing at me.

What's sad to me is that this has become the normal accepted business model and it is not one that we subscribe to at Deken. We now have a generation that doesn't know what it means to wind a watch, so business activities and transactions that place the burden of inconvenience squarely on the customer are now considered normal. Nobody seems to remember what it used to be like. At Deken, we do. And we strive to bring that personal and caring experience to everyone we meet.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Developing the Perfect Coil Cradle #3 of 3

(Third and final in a series of short blogs on steel coil storage systems)

Steel coil cradles are probably the most traditional way to store steel coils. By themselves, however, they can score or mark the outer perimeter of a precious coil, so they are to a degree limited in their value. Various methods of combining steel with wood blocks/chocks have been used in the past to alleviate the scoring problem (even by us), but wood eventually splinters and degrades requiring clean-up and replacement.

We've solved this problem by attaching high strength polymer pads to the steel cradle at the points where the coil rests. I hesitate to use the word indestructible as it is misleading, however, these high strength polymer pads are about the closest thing to it. They are very strong, do not shatter and offer many years of coil perimeter protection. One would expect a material such as this to be very costly. Not so. While they do add to the cost of a basic steel cradle, we feel the additional expense is minimal, particularly when you consider the savings you gain from having undamaged coils. Of course, you can also buy a basic steel cradle without the PolyPad protection.

Deken's steel cradles are manufactured according to your specifications for coil width and diameter. They have the flexibility of either being mounted directly to the factory floor or left freestanding so they can be repositioned to various locations when required. In both configurations, you can stack coils 2-high, however, in the case of free standing cradles they must be linked so that they remain in alignment and cannot spread apart from the downward forces applied by the top coil. Steel connector links are provided for this purpose. You can store coils that weigh 100,000 lbs. or more.

These durable cradles are inexpensive to buy and cost nothing to maintain because they are maintenance free.

For those of you who have pride in your factory's appearance, Deken's steel coil cradles are powder coated safety yellow, which makes them both attractive and highly visible. When multiple units are properly configured, you can efficiently index your coil inventory so that your crane operator will have an easy time placing and retrieving coils safely.

Link to website

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Developing the Perfect Coil Cradle #2

(Second in a series of short blogs on steel coil storage systems)

We've done a lot of research into the use of high-strength polymers in the manufacture of coil cradles and are confident that these new products will make a significant positive impact on safety and efficiency. They meet all eight of our criteria for the perfect coil cradle (see previous blog) — most notably they are cheap to buy.

PolyPlus Cradles have many features:
  • You can safely store coils weighing over 100,000 lbs.
  • Coils can be safely stacked 2-high
  • They are non-marking
  • You can fasten them directly to the floor or use them as free standing units
  • They are strong, durable and maintenance free
  • They are inexpensive
Deken has been making floor mounted adjustable coil racking systems for over 15-years and we've reached the conclusion that they are cumbersome, inflexible and expensive to build and maintain. Assigning each coil its own cradle is the best solution in our opinion, as they can be free standing or floor mounted — your choice. It's nice to have choices! On top of that, a row of 10 PolyPlus cradles will cost less than a 10-coil floor-mounted racking system hands down.

Our research indicates that most companies generally store and use coils that are relatively consistent in their diameter and width (for example, 48" to 54" diameter by 60" wide). During manufacture, we simply adjust the width of the resting pad to produce the correct distance needed between the chocks. We do this without passing on any added tooling and setup costs to the customer. If a company uses several different coil sizes, it is no more difficult or costly to provide them with their desired range of cradle sizes.

We are currently experimenting with a design for a self-adjusting PolyPlus cradle that will automatically expand and retract to accommodate a wider range of coil diameters. I'll keep you posted.

If you are looking for an inexpensive solution to spiff up a junky or unsafe coil storage area, Deken's PolyPlus cradles are worthy of your consideration.

And for you guys who want steel cradles — my next blog is for you.

Link to Website

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Developing the Perfect Coil Cradle or Saddle

(first in a series of short blogs on steel coil storage systems)

I've seen a lot of designs for storing steel coils and some are more sophisticated than others. At one end of the spectrum you just kick a 4 x 4 block of wood under each side of the coil and chain them together so they don't roll. It works and it's cheap, but if you have a lot of coils (row after row of them) you end up with splintered wood and rusted chain scattered all over the place. It's a safety and management nightmare. At the other end of the spectrum are highly sophisticated systems that do a great job but are not necessarily affordable to everyone with a coil storage problem. There are also some products that fall in between, but none that meet all of our criteria for the perfect coil storage cradle.

The Deken Criteria for the Perfect Coil Cradle
  1. IT MUST BE CHEAP. Cheap to buy that is, not cheaply made. Coil cradles are an expense and no one wants to spend any money on them. Sure they improve plant safety and operational efficiency, however, they contribute nothing to a company's bottom line.

  2. It must be able to accommodate a complete range of coil sizes. Coil widths can be as wide as 96-inches. Diameters vary, too, generally from 36-inches to 72-inches.

  3. It must safely store a steel coil that can weigh over 100,000 lbs.

  4. It must be able to support the weight and forces required when coils are stacked two high on top of each other. You can only imagine the mayhem if a 100,000 lb. coil gets away from you (that's gotta hurt).

  5. It must be non-marking. We tend to think of steel as indestructible, however, exterior damage and abrasion to the outer layer of a steel coil is costly and wasteful.

  6. It must be portable enough to be moved from one location to another within the plant with relative ease, or alternately, permanently mounted to the factory floor.

  7. It must be durable enough to sustain the pounding and abuse associated with the coil loading and unloading cycle.

  8. It must be maintenance free.

While the available range of coil storage products address some of these criteria, we at Deken have strived to meet them all, and we have done so in such a way that our customers have choices. Some customers believe that coil cradles should be made of steel (us old dogs don't learn new tricks easily). Others embrace the economy and convenience of our new high-performance poly-plus cradles that will soon be available. Still others prefer steel cradles with non-marking poly-plus pads. As well, others want to see some custom touches that are unique to their application. It's nice to have choices.

I will continue this story and spotlight our coil storage products over the next few days. Stay tuned.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Deken Power Welcomes Jim's Supply

It's always a good feeling to have a plan come together. We've just shipped a set of 3 linked coil cradles to Jim's Supply in Bakersfield, California. These cradles each accommodate a 36-inch steel coil and allow two more to be stacked on top. In other words, 3 coil racks can safely store 5 steel coils (very efficient). In addition, each cradle is padded with a non-marking PolyPlus covering that prevents marking and damage to the steel coils. The cradles bolt together so they cannot spread when the second layer of coils is stacked on top of the first.

Jim's Supply has locations in both Central and Northern California. They manufacture and distribute a complete line of vineyard products for a flourishing California wine industry, as well as fencing, gates, chutes, pens, etc. for a robust livestock industry. And they ship internationally!

What's that got to do with steel coils you say? I'm glad you asked. Because Jim's is also a notable full service steel service center that distributes hot and cold rolled steel products, expanded metal, grating, steel tubing, new and used steel pipe (and it doesn't stop there).

The company has been a key supplier since 1959. Their corporate office is in Bakersfield, California. You can learn more about them by going to their website at:

More on Deken's steel coil cradle product line in another blog. This is exciting stuff.

You can also follow me at

Monday, July 6, 2009

Where does our stuff go?

I started to write about the revelation I've recently experienced in trying to design the perfect cradle for storing steel coils (next blog). However, my mind kept drifting to the manufacturing environments where our product will be used.

I've had the pleasure of touring a stamping facility where you could literally eat off of the floor. I've also visited a factory where simply walking across the production area, at the very least, would guarantee a compound fracture.

Some companies are just damn proud of their operations. Their appearance is akin to the personal grooming regimen that I go through no less than once a day. Factories have a resemblance to people, the older you get the more it takes to maintain your image (ear and nose hair, eyebrows, etc. — you get the picture). However, if you are proud of who you are, you do your utmost to look your best every day (do corporations have personal dignity?). What's it take to preserve your image and make your workplace safer and more pleasant? Pride in your workplace and the investment of some extra time. If there is some cost involved I'm pretty sure it is dwarfed by the resulting benefit.

I used to have a trick that I used when interviewing a potential new employee. After the interview, as a courtesy, I would walk the applicant to his/her car. Yikes! I learned more from looking into that car than I did during the entire interview (are you sure you don't live in this thing?). I knew immediately if this person would enhance or distract from our working environment.

We design our products to enhance your corporate image, while improving safety and increasing productivity. Just putting a Deken product on your floor will make you look better, feel safer and be more productive. The rest of your environment is up to you.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Extendamatic Heavy-Duty Industrial Guarding

Guarding heavy industrial production machinery presents unique challenges. Many of these machines are absolutely huge and being too close to them during an operation cycle can be hazardous (even deadly).

OSHA has guidelines that say these machines must have guarding in place and that is far enough away that an operator cannot reach over, under, through or around the barrier and make contact with the machine. It's not as easy as enclosing the machine with fencing, because in most cases it is necessary to have complete access to the machine for the purpose of loading material, servicing, etc. In many cases this involves heavy equipment such as loaders and cranes, sometimes operating on rails. Stationary fencing by its very nature just doesn't cut it.

15-years ago Deken's Extendamatic guarding was conceived to address this problem and, indeed, the original units are still in use today. Extendamatic provides a significant barrier that collapses to approximately 15% of its extended length. Additionally, it can rotate 252 degrees allowing it to be folded back out of the way when not in use. Unlike other scissor-type mechanisms that tend to be floppy, Extendamatic is extremely rigid, so much so that it can support itself without a wheel (up to 100-inches), which gives it the ability to clear floor obstructions such as rails, conduit, etc. It is intricately engineered and balanced to practically float open and closed.

Operator safety is enhanced further with the addition of an electrical interlock. Extendamatic can be internally wired to the control panel that operates the machine. When the gate is closed from the outside, the machine will operate. If the gate is opened while the machine is in operation, the machine shuts down.

I could go on and on, however, if you have an interest a trip to would be worth your while.

I also invite you to follow us on Twitter

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Welcome to the Deken Blog!

Some of the best finds in life are the little known secrets we come across now and then that have a positive impact on our lives going forward. We are confident that the product information you find in these posts will be of benefit to you.

Deken Power had its origins back in 1974 when it started out as a distributor of fluid power products, serving the Orange County and Los Angeles areas. The owner, Dennis Hurst, left an industrial design career in Detroit to relocate in California and become an entrepreneur.

The distributorship grew quickly with some surprising twists. Fluid power customers continually kept coming up with manufacturing problems for which there was no solution. Dennis would step up to the plate, and using his industrial design background, would design and manufacture a machine that solved the problem. Most of these products were one-of-a-kind solutions and were not generally considered to be marketable. However, that is no longer the case.

We have reviewed the considerable list of products that have been designed over the years and some gems definitely stand out for their broad market appeal. These are now being actively promoted and sold throughout the U.S., Canada and Mexico (thanks to the power of the internet) and we will be highlighting them here in subsequent posts.

We recognize that to an extent we are working at a disadvantage. All of the products we design and manufacture must meet the requirements of being strong and durable, attractive in appearance, maintenance free, easy to repair or replace if damaged, and be cost efficient. These products serve niche markets, so they are not made with the same manufacturing cost efficiencies you get when you make a gazillion of them. Additionally, they are made here in the U.S.A. (I'll get going on that topic in another post). So cost efficient doesn't mean that they are the cheapest. It means that the value you receive is, in return, worthy of your investment.

At Deken we are still serving two different markets. We are one of the best fluid power distributors you will ever find. As well, we design and manufacture some pretty nifty industrial stuff. You can view our website at:

Stay tuned.