Lott develops process to help Toledo reuse traffic signsWritten by Duane Ramsey | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Lott Industries has developed a hydrostripping process that will help the City of Toledo save on the cost of traffic signs by stripping existing signs to the bare aluminum so they can be reused.
Lott Industries and the City of Toledo will celebrate this new service during ribbon-cutting ceremonies April 15 at Lott’s facilities on Hill Avenue from 9 a.m. until noon. Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins and officials from the city, Lucas County and Lott will participate in the ribbon-cutting at 10 a.m.
Revised federal guidelines require that traffic control signs be more reflective than previously, which creates a situation where it is not easy to reuse signs, said Dennis Lechlak, commissioner of the Division of Transportation for the City of Toledo.
The transportation division needed to find a way to both meet federal reflectivity guidelines and to refurbish used materials in the most cost-effective, environmentally friendly way possible, Lechlak said.
The city’s chief planning engineer, Gary Stookey, and David Harris, superintendent of the sign shop for the transportation division, began researching options for stripping signs and reusing the clean aluminum blanks to produce new signs. They discovered hydrostripping, a relatively new process that removes the reflective material from the signs using ultra-high pressure waterjet technology.
However, the potential cost savings would have been nullified by the cost of shipping the signs to those who provided this service, Lechlak said.
To solve that problem, Lechlak contacted Tim Menke, business development and sales manager at Lott, to see if they might be interested in finding a way to provide the service locally.
“The City of Toledo came to us with a potential opportunity. We investigated it to determine its feasibility,” said Dan Clemens, engineering and quality manager at Lott. “We visited a company with a similar process about possibly buying the machine that performs it [but] it just wasn’t a good fit for the services we wanted to provide.”
Instead, Clemens developed the concept and specifications for a hydrostripping operation that would meet their needs and be cost effective. He worked with automation and robotics in manufacturing with several firms in Northwest Ohio before joining Lott.
Lott hired two Northwest Ohio companies to help produce the equipment. Koester Corporation of Napoleon developed the detail design and manufactured the machine, while FS Solutions of Toledo provided the pump and high-pressure equipment for it, according to Clemens.
“We teamed up to provide a customized solution utilizing local resources. It was a perfect fit for the City of Toledo, Lott and the services we provide,” Clemens said.
“Lott analyzed the existing process and completely re-engineered it. They designed and built a machine to hydro-strip our used traffic signs that will be reused in making new signs,” Lechlak said.
He said the city replaces about 13,000 signs annually, with the aluminum sheets for the signs costing about $2.15 per square foot. Lechlak estimates the city could save more than 25 percent on the cost of replacing those signs, reducing the cost of a new stop sign from $6.50 to $4 using the process at Lott.
Assisted by an economic development loan from the City of Toledo Department of Development, Lott Industries purchased and installed the hydrostripping operation at its facility on Hill Avenue. Because of the close proximity of that facility to the Division of Transportation on Westwood Avenue, there will be no shipping charges associated with the transport of signs for processing, Clemens said.
The hydrostripping equipment has been tested and workers at Lott expect to begin transforming used traffic signs into blank aluminum sheets for refurbishing almost immediately, Clemens said.
Legislation for contract services is currently being drafted for the processing services between the City of Toledo and Lott Industries. Once City Council approves that legislation, Lott could begin processing signs for the city, according to Lisa Ward, public information officer for the City of Toledo.
“It’s all about the partnership with Lucas County and the City of Toledo while doing it right environmentally and saving money,” Clemens said.
The process will provide training and work opportunities for some of Lott’s existing employees. He said they already have people lining up to learn the new operation.
Lott Industries is a nonprofit corporation affiliated with the Lucas County Board of Developmental Disabilities that provides employment opportunities and training for individuals with developmental disabilities.
Tags: City Council, City of Toledo, City of Toledo Department of Development, city’s chief planning engineer, commissioner of the Division of Transportation for the City of Toledo, Dan Clemens, Dennis Lechlak, detail design, engineering and quality manager at Lott, Gary Stookey, Koester Corporation of Napoleon, Lott Industries, Lucas County Board of Developmental Disabilities, Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins, traffic signs