Loading
Search
NEWS STORIES

Small school, big fix: Florence High School fab lab helps Upper Michigan garbage truck manufacturerSubmitted: 07/12/2017
Story By Lane Kimble

Small school, big fix: Florence High School fab lab helps Upper Michigan garbage truck manufacturer
FLORENCE - Charlie Van Ginkel knows the ins and outs of a 30-ton, $250,000 garbage truck like the back of his hand.

"We build them from the ground up," Van Ginkel said.

Van Ginkel is the Chief Engineer for Kingsford, Michigan-based Lodal, Inc.  The company has built garbage and recycling trucks since the 1950s.  It produces around 100 trucks each year.  But this year, Van Ginkel faced a big problem on a small scale.

"We were already down to the point where we were getting in pretty dire need of them," Van Ginkel said.


Lodal, Inc. lost its warning panel light vendor, which meant it didn't have anyone to print important messages like "anti-lock breaks" or "check transmission" on lens covers for new trucks.

"We just get smaller quantities, [so] a lot of people didn't want to touch it," Van Ginkel said.

It turns out small is right in Florence High School's wheelhouse. Van Ginkel turned to the school's fab lab to see if it could help.

"You think engineering, it's mostly science and math, but this just seemed easier than that," former Florence student Glenn Berry said.

Berry, who graduated with 29 other seniors in June, took a fab lab class basically on a whim last semester. Berry was assigned the project along with seven other students.

"It was kind of a competition who could create the best product and then we would all come together and work on the better product," Berry said.

The students knew their laser engraver could do the job, but the machine kept burning the lens. A tip from a local business led to an easy fix: scotch tape.

"It worked great," Berry said.

"We did a little bit, a little bit, a little bit and then we keep moving forward," fab lab instructor Kay McLain said.

Lodal, Inc. was happy with the end result. The company now puts in small orders of 30 lenses often.

"They quickly worked through it and got us some, so, got us out of a bind," Van Ginkel said.

Berry says he prefers English courses to math and science, but he's happy to have helped out a business. Berry will go to UW-La Crosse in the fall to study physical therapy or medicine.

"Say I became like a doctor or something and I had a patient and had to brainstorm, see what their issue is, see how I can treat them, and that is the same [kind of problem solving as this,]" Berry said.

Lodal's trucks can be found as far away as Florida and Alaska. The company doesn't pay Florence for the school's work yet, but the two sides are working out a future deal.

"There is a lot of pride and I think we weren't afraid to jump in to the unknown," McLain said.

Florence wrapped up its second year with a fab lab in June. The school plans to expand the fab lab room --which used to be essentially a storage closet -- in the next year.

Text Size: + Increase | Decrease -
| Print Story | Email Story
Sponsored in part by HodagSports.com





 IN OTHER NEWS

PARK FALLS - Big upgrades may be coming to the downtown area in Park Falls.

According to a press release from the city, the Park Falls Common Council was presented with a $1.5 million dollar plan this week.

+ Read More

Play Video

LAC DU FLAMBEAU - The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program was first introduced in four states 17 years ago, but Wisconsin adopted the program in 2008.

Only two school districts in the Northwoods have this program in place. 

The Lac Du Flambeau Public school was one of the schools in the Northwoods to receive a grant for the "Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program."

Super Intendent Larry Ouimette said this type of program helps students eat healthy.

"If they are getting the nutrients that they need, then they can perform better in and outside of school," said Ouimette.

+ Read More

Play Video

RHINELANDER - The Rhinelander District Library hosted its annual Holiday Tea Party Wednesday afternoon. The event was a success, thanks to the help of some friends.

The Friends of the Library is a volunteer organization that helps the library in a number of ways. They organized everything for the tea party, from the snacks, to the decorations, to the free raffle prizes.

"It's a way to give people some Christmas joy," said Friends of the Library leader Claudia Baker. "There's a lot of people that like to just come here and listen to the music."

+ Read More

Play Video

RHINELANDER - As temperatures dipped to 20 degrees below zero across North Central Wisconsin Tuesday night, some people woke up their cars barely starting. Others discovered that their battery died. O'Reilly Auto Parts in Rhinelander encourages people to make sure their batteries are ready to go for winter.

Batteries wear down overtime and usually have a life expectancy of four years. Anything beyond that time can create some uncertainty. If people try to jump their cars on a frozen battery, that can cause other problems too.

+ Read More

OSHKOSH - Bail has been set at $1 million for a 16-year-old Wisconsin boy charged with attempted murder for allegedly stabbing a school resource officer with a barbecue fork.

Grant Fuhrman was charged as an adult Wednesday in last week's attack on Oshkosh West High School Resource Officer Mike Wissink.

+ Read More

- There is a new E. coli outbreak linked to Fresh Express Sunflower Crisp Chopped Salad Kits.

According to the FDA and CDC, the outbreak has sickened eight people in three states including Wisconsin. There are 16 cases in Canada as well.

+ Read More

WISCONSIN - The "Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over" holiday campaign begins on Friday, December 13th.

The campaign aims to keep people from drinking and driving during the holidays.

+ Read More
+ More General News
Search: