Astec Industries announces Q1 2014 results; net sales down 4%, domestic sales up 8%

AstecLOGOAstec Industries saw a 4-percent decrease in net sales in the first quarter of 2014, but domestic sales were up 8 percent for the same period, according to results released by the company on Tuesday.

The company reported that net sales for the quarter, which ended March 31, were $238.7 million, down 4 percent from the $247.8 million in net sales in the first quarter of 2013. Additionally, earnings were down year-over-year. The company reported $9.5 million in earnings or $0.41 per diluted share for the first quarter of this year — a 28-percent drop per diluted share from the $13.2 million in earnings or $.57 per diluted share in the first quarter of 2013.

Domestic sales were up this quarter, though the company saw a decrease in international sales. Astec Industries reported $175.5 million in domestic sales for the first quarter of 2014 — an 8-percent increase over the 161.9 million in domestic sales in the first quarter of the previous year. International sales were down 26 percent. The company reported $63.2 million in international sales for the first quarter of 2014, compared to $85.9 million a year ago.

The company’s backlog was up 8 percent from $276.5 million in the first quarter of 2013 to $299.6 million in the same period of 2014.

The domestic backlog was also up, while the international backlog fell year over year. The company reported a domestic backlog of $167.3 million for the quarter, which is 18 percent higher than the $167.3 million reported a year ago. The international backlog was down 6 percent from $109.2 million in the first quarter of 2013 to $102.7 million in the same period of 2014.

Astec Industries CEO Benjamin G. Brock says that, despite a decrease in total sales, he is encouraged by the company’s gross margin as well as ConExpo-Con/Agg sales.

“Although total sales decreased slightly we held our gross margin steady which is a testament to our focus on lean manufacturing and cost management,” Brock says. “Our presence at ConExpo in early March added $4 million to our S,G,A&E expenses for the quarter, however, we were pleased by the strong attendance in our booth and the interactions we had with customers.”

Brock also notes that the company’s latest product — the Telestack, which was released April 1 — is expected to boost earnings this year: “We expect them to be immediately accretive to earnings and to positively reinforce our backlog and outlook for the remainder of the year.”

AEM adds new graphics to Roller Compactor, Directional Drilling Tracking Equipment Safety Manuals

Roller Compactor Safety Manual AEMThe Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) has updated its Roller Compactor and Directional Drilling Tracking Equipment Safety Manuals, adding new pictorial graphics.

AEM says the graphics “conform to ISO and ANSI standards” and “more clearly reinforce manual safety text, and they harmonize with current machine safety sign and manufacturer manual practices.”

The updated manuals are available at shop.aem.org. Additionally, the graphics can be downloaded through the AEM Pictorial Database.

TSA collects thousands of dollars in left-behind change

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Do you remember the days after high school graduation or back in college when you’d search your car or couch cushions to find loose change to pay for your late-night coffee while studying – or, ahem, that late-night meal after an evening out at various establishments with friends (consuming only coffee and soda pop, of course!)?

I do. I’m far past my college days, but I actually did that a couple of weeks ago while at the car wash hoping to find quarters so I could vacuum my car. (Hey—it’s an age of people often paying for items with credit or debit cards. I rarely have much cash or change on me.)

If I worked for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) at the airport, I’d never be searching for change. In fact, I’d have thousands of dollars right in front me.

According to a December 2013 article in the Washington Post, TSA collected $531,395.22 in change left behind at checkpoints. The fiscal 2012 report, obtained by the news agency, reports that TSA collected about $499,000 in U.S. currency, and another $32,000 in foreign currency, at their checkpoints.

TSA is required by federal law to report to Congress the amount of unclaimed money it keeps every year.

Current law requires the TSA spend that money on providing civil aviation security, according to the Washington Post report. However, in 2013, the government agency only used about $6,500 of the money it collected in 2012. In the TSA’s report to Congress, the money was spent on the translation of some airport checkpoint signage into foreign languages and on miscellaneous administrative overhead, the Washington Post reports.

In early December 2013, the House also passed a bill –  the TSA Loose Change Act – that would require TSA to give nonprofits such as the United Service Organization nearly $500,000 in quarters, dimes, nickels and pennies it collects every year at the airport screening checkpoints, USA Today reports. The money would help fund airport programs that support service members as they go from city to city, according to the report.

Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Florida), who was the main sponsor of the TSA Loose Change Act – says what seems like a small amount of change left behind actually amounts to hundreds of thousands of dollars every year and it can help the U.S. military.

“The TSA has been keeping the pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters from your change purse to pay for their bloated bureaucracy,” Miller says in a press release from his office. “If TSA representatives get to play ‘finders keepers’ with your hard-earned cash, what’s the incentive to try to get the loose change to its rightful owners?”

He says he would rather see the unclaimed change help military personnel on their way home from the battlefield than let TSA keep it.

“The lost change should be put to good use, and I know that the thousands of coins will have a positive impact on millions of our nation’s warriors,” Miller says in the press release.

According to the USA Today report, the following 10 airports reported finding the most money left behind by travelers at airport checkpoints during fiscal year 2012:

1) Miami International: $39,613

2) McCarran International (Las Vegas): $26,900

3) O’Hare International (Chicago): $22,116

4) Los Angeles International: $21,916

5) John F. Kennedy International: $21,201

6) Dallas/Fort Worth International: $20,190

7) San Francisco International: $19,874

8) Washington Dulles International: $16,537

9) Logan International (Boston): $16,406

10) George Bush Intercontinental (Houston): $16,082

For a video from the Washington Post’s Reid Wilson about the TSA Loose Change Act, click here.

INFOGRAPHIC: Engineering has second-highest fatality rate in construction

Screen Shot 2014-04-22 at 3.58.36 PMConstruction Safety Day, which takes place Wednesday, is a good chance to brush up on safe practices.

Though motorists do play a big role in highway construction site safety, it’s your responsibility as a worker to ensure you are following all safety guidelines.

Between 2003 and 2012, the engineering sector of the construction industry had an average of fatality rate of 17 percent annually — the second highest percentage, according to information compiled by Viewpoint based on data from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). That’s a percentage that could definitely afford to be lowered.

For more safety statistics, check out the infographic below.

Click image to view large version

Infographic courtesy of Viewpoint.

Ohio DOT to begin largest construction season ever with 936 projects totaling $2.5 billion

OhioDepartmentofTransportation-MovingOhioIntoAProsperousNewWorldThe Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) has announced that the 2014 construction season will be its largest ever.

ODOT says the season is made up of 936 projects statewide totaling $2.5 billion. Most of the funding will come from the Ohio Turnpike which will provide $1.5 billion over the next six years.

This year’s season includes $1.5 billion in roadway resurfacing projects, 84 Interstate safety upgrades and 30 bridges repaired or replaced. In total, the state plans to invest $3 billion in new infrastructure spending in the next six years.

The largest project contract awarded this year was the Portsmouth Bypass project at $370 million, ODOT says. Other notable projects from the season include:

  • Construction of Cleveland’s eastbound George V. Voinovich Bridge

  • Interstate 75 highway reconstruction program through Wood and Hancock counties

  • Reconstruction of State Route 57 in Lorain County

  • Widening of Interstate 271 in northern Summit County

  • Construction of Cleveland’s Opportunity Corridor Other large projects beginning or continuing this year include:

  • Construction of a new interchange at Interstate 71 and Martin Luther King Blvd. in Cincinnati’s “Uptown” area

  • Reconstruction of the interchange at U.S. Route 23 and Interstate 270 in northern Franklin County

  • Modernization of Interstate 75 through Dayton

  • Replacing the bridge on Interstate 70 over State Route 9 in St. Clairsville

  • Reconstruction of Interstate 75 in Lucas County

Editor’s note: Wayne Grayson is online editor of sister site Equipment World.

Oklahoma DOT looks to Caltrans for bridge assessment advice

The Pony Bridge is one of more than 7,000 bridges in Oklahoma.

The Pony Bridge is one of more than 7,000 bridges in Oklahoma.

Bridges across the nation are aging, with many now well past their projected life spans.

Oklahoma’s bridges are among those aging structures. In the “Better Bridges 2013 Bridge Inventory,” Better Roads reported that 14 percent of the state’s 7,664 bridges were either structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.

Add that recent seismic activity, which, according to a Governing report, has Oklahoma transportation officials concerned enough to have some bridges inspected multiple times a week. Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) Director of Operations Paul Green told Governing that nearly 1,200 of the bridges in the state will be at least 80 years old by 2021.

“Those bridges were designed in the Model A era,” Green told Governing. “They certainly weren’t designed for today’s traffic loads. So anything that puts additional stress on those bridges is worrisome.”

Governing reports that the Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) recently sought help from the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) for post-earthquake inspections. The report notes that California is the only state with more earthquakes than Oklahoma.

Caltrans shared its checklists for post-earthquake bridge assessment and explained which bridge designs are most likely to be damaged from seismic activity, such as narrow spans and those with unstable bearings or supports that are not perpendicular to the ground, according to the report.

Caltrans also uses the QuakeCast computer program to monitor bridges after an earthquake, though the report notes that ODOT doesn’t plan to use it.

For more details about Oklahoma bridge conditions, check out the “Better Bridges 2013 Bridge Inventory.”

PHOTOS, VIDEO: MoDOT employee finds a new way of transportation… skydiving

Photo courtesy of Doris Dumey

Photo courtesy of Doris Dumey

With the nation’s congested highway, one woman who works for the Missouri Department of Transportation’s (MoDOT) Southeast District has found another way to get around – by parachute!

Photo courtesy of Doris Dumey

Photo courtesy of Doris Dumey

Doris Dumey, CAP-OM (pronounced Demi, like Demi Moore), is the executive assistant to the MoDOT District Engineer, Mark Shelton, at the Sikeston, Missouri District office. After I wrote the blog post, “Woman Skydives into Moving Car,” for our blog (which later ran in the December 2013 print edition of Better Roads), the MoDOT district engineer showed Dumey the article because she is a skydiver.

Excited to see an article about females skydiving not only in something other than Parachutist magazine, but in an industry in which she also works, Dumey wrote to me.

“He [Shelton] brought this to my attention because I am a skydiver,” Dumey wrote. “I made my first skydive on September 1, 2001. I thought I just wanted to do it once so I could say that I did it. I was bitten by the skydiving bug and have not stopped since. As of January 1, 2014 I have made 1,101 skydives.”

Dumey wrote to me a couple of months ago, so I’m sure that number has risen since.

She has earned her A, B, C, and D licenses as well as her Coach, I.A.D. Instructor and PRO Ratings. She shoots video and takes still photos while skydiving with experienced skydivers and tandems. Dumey jumps with the Southeast Missouri Skydiving (SEMO) club, which is based out of Cairo, Illinois.

Photo courtesy of Doris Dumey

Photo courtesy of Doris Dumey

Some of the aircraft from which she has jumped include the following:

  • AN2
  • DC9
  • Casa
  • Skyvan
  • Caravan
  • Twin Otter
  • Super Otter
  • King Air
  • Carvair
  • C130
  • Hot Air Balloon
  • Huey Helicopter
  • R9 Helicopter
  • Sikorsky Helicopter
  • Bell Helicopter
  • Cessna 172
  • Cessna 182
  • Cessna 205
  • Cessna 206
Photo courtesy of Doris Dumey

Photo courtesy of Doris Dumey

“I do demonstration jumps carrying flags, or flying with smoke canisters at airshows, county fairs, carry the game ball into football games, and even jump into family reunions,” Dumey wrote. “Although I have not skydived into a moving vehicle, I have dived through hula hoops, gone out of the plane in an inflated raft, put pieces on Mr. Potato Head, passed a tennis ball to other skydivers, and played Rock ‘em Sock ‘em robots all while freefalling between 110 to 120 mph.”

That’s pretty cool – and one heck of a way to get around!

I have not gone skydiving yet. However, when I mention that it’s on my bucket list, some friends ask me, “Why would you want to jump out of a perfectly good airplane?”

Although I’m sure I will completely freak out once I am ready to jump, I think it would be amazing to see the world from that perspective. It’s also, of course, about the thrill.

Since having kids, I’m still pretty adventurous, though just a bit more cautious. Next time when someone asks me why skydiving is on my list to do, maybe I should answer, “To get around Chicago-area congestion.”

When I finally do decide to go skydiving, I’ll know who to call up!



Maryland SHA seeks non-traditional project proposals

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The Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) is seeking proposals for projects that would be funded through the Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP).

TAP has about $10 million in federal funds for non-traditional transportation projects such as on and off-road facilities for pedestrians, bicyclists and other non-motorized transportation.

Created last year under MAP-21, the TAP Program offers funding to eligible activities including projects to provide safe routes for non-drivers, community improvement activities and environmental mitigation activities.

Maryland SHA notes changes from previous programs include the design and planning activities that are eligible for partial funding. SHA adds that projects will be considered for up to 80 percent of eligible program costs.

The agency will accept applications through May 15.

For more details, click here.

 

VIDEO: First vehicles cross new Milton-Madison Bridge

The first vehicles traveled across the new Milton-Madison Bridge on Thursday at 7:20 p.m. (Photo credit: Milton-Madison Bridge Project)

The first vehicles traveled across the new Milton-Madison Bridge on Thursday shortly after the span opened at 7:20 p.m. (Photo credit: Milton-Madison Bridge Project)

One week after the record-breaking slide of the Milton-Madison Bridge, vehicles are now able to drive across the span connecting Milton, Ky. and Madison, Ind. across the Ohio River.

The span, which opened Thursday evening, replaces a bridge that was built in 1929. The new structure will allow large trucks to travel across for the first time in many years.

The bridge spans nearly a half mile, making it the longest bridge in North America to be slid laterally into place. At 2,428 feet long and 40 feet wide with two 12-foot lands and 8-foot shoulders, the steel truss bridge is twice the size of the old bridge.

The $103 million project was funded in part by a $20 million TIGER grant.

Though the span is open, crews will continue to work on the bridge over the coming months. Further improvements include completion of the pier caps, removal of the temporary piers, installation of measures to protect the refurbished piers, additional painting and the addition of a 5-foot-wide cantilevered sidewalk.

Check out the included video for more information about the new bridge.



CBO: Highway Trust Fund would shortfall under Obama’s proposed budget

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The Highway Trust Fund (HTF) would run out of money under President Barack Obama’s proposed $302 billion, four-year highway budget, according to data released from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).

In addition to allocating funds to various transportation sectors, the bill offers a one-time $150 billion cash infusion. However, the CBO says that is not enough.

Related: VIDEO: DOT Chief Foxx reiterates urgency to fix Highway Trust Fund during Alabama visit

“Under CBO’s reestimate of the President’s proposals, the highway and transit accounts of the Highway Trust Fund will have insufficient revenues to meet obligations starting in fiscal year 2015,” the CBO notes in its report.

“Some of the taxes that are credited to the Highway Trust Fund are scheduled to expire on September 30, 2016,” the CBO continues. “Those include taxes on certain heavy duty vehicles and tires and all but 4.3 cents of federal taxes levied on fuels. However, under the rules governing baseline projections, these estimates reflect the assumption that all of the expiring taxes credited to the fund continue to be collected.”

The DOT uses the HTF to reimburse state and local agencies for their transportation projects.

The report points out that the DOT “needs at least $4 billion in cash balances available in the highway account” to keep up with infrastructure obligations. However, the CBO’s data show that the highway account would start 2015 with a balance of only $1 billion.

This prediction focuses on HTF under President Obama’s proposed budget. It differs from what the DOT released last week, which noted that the HTF will go bankrupt in late August if Congress takes no action in the coming months.

To see the CBO’s data outlining the HTF accounts under President Obama’s 2015 budget proposal, click here.

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