September Power Manufacturing Award Nominees

September is here, and so are this month’s nominees for the Power Manufacturing Award. Manufacturers making the cut are Frontier Swiss and Alpine Distilling.

frontier swiss


Frontier Swiss is a manufacturer based in Provo that produces, according to their website, “the highest quality, precision screw machine parts.” Family owned since its inception, Frontier Swiss values their highly skilled employees and the attention to detail of the machine parts they manufacture on a daily basis. We chose Frontier Swiss due to their innovative factory floor processes that guarantee consistency in each batch of machine screws.



Alpine Distilling

Alpine Distilling, a craft beer and wine manufacturer in Park City, is all about perfecting tradition. Founded in 2011 by a descendant of Kentucky moonshiners, the company utilizes family tradition with brewing techniques learned from the owner’s world travels to create a unique experience in a bottle, while doing so in a way that is 100 percent Orthodox Union Kosher certified. It takes serious concentration and innovation to pull that off, which is why they were nominated by a Powerblanket employee for this month’s award.

After careful deliberation by our panel of judges, one of these manufacturers will be chosen as Power Manufacturer of the month. Keep an eye out towards the end of September for the announcement.

Power Manufacturing Award

Don’t see your company nominated this month? Send your nomination via email to Power Manufacturing Award Director Adam Jacobs at [email protected].

August Power Manufacturing Award Winner

Hammerton dominated August’s Power Manufacturing Award, beating out the other nominee to stand as this month’s Power Manufacturer. 

Hammerton LightingBased in Salt Lake City, Hammerton creates intricate, stunning light fixtures that must meet the high standard set by company founder and lighting legend Levi Wilson. The company was nominated by the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce for standing out as an innovative manufacturing business. Joel Head, Creative Marketing Manager for Hammerton, says there’s a reason for that. 

“It’s all about innovation,” Head said. “We stay close to our customers and quickly translate market insights into new lighting designs.”

In addition to valuing and implementing customer feedback, Hammerton has sought ways to become a lean manufacturer. 

“All our operations are under one roof, which allows us to move fast in developing new designs and the capabilities required to bring them to life,” Head told Powerblanket. “For example, we brought all our hot glass operations in-house just three years ago, and today we fabricate well over a ton of blown and cast glass weekly.”

All Power Manufacturers display success in the face of adversity. Hammerton does this on a daily basis as it strives to meet the vision of every client. 

“Our operations involve a tremendous level of complexity, so scale is very hard to achieve,” Head said. “But we’ve succeeded in growing the business several fold in the last decade alone. And we’re still growing.”

Congratulations to Hammerton for being this month’s Power Manufacturing Award winner! We at Powerblanket look forward to sending Hammerton their award certificate and trophy. Hammerton is also in the running for the 2019 Power Manufacturer of the Year. 

Wish your company was a Power Manufacturer? Nominate it by contacting Power Manufacturing Award Director Adam Jacobs at [email protected].

Power Manufacturing Award

August Power Manufacturing Award Nominees

This month’s Power Manufacturing Award nominees were nominated by the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce. Each nominee is a member of the chamber, and we’re more than happy to showcase these potential Power Manufacturers. Get ready to meet Wasatch Container and Hammerton.

Wasatch Container

Wasatch Container is one of premier packaging companies in the Mountain West. Founded in 1995, Wasatch Container has become a leading manufacturer of packaging materials. The North Salt Lake company was nominated for their employee-centered work culture and their identity of constantly finding how their manufacturing processes can be improved. Wasatch Container was a PMA nominee in June, and though they didn’t make the cut then, the Salt Lake Chamber of Commerce persuaded us to give them a second look. 



Hammerton Lighting

Next is Hammerton, a leading lighting designer and manufacturer also founded in 1995. A perfect example of lean manufacturing, Hammerton combines innovation with traditional metalsmithing into what they call “lean craft.” This unique method of manufacturing has allowed them to experience unprecedented growth both in their business and in the solutions they have for their customers. As such, they were the first American manufacturer to use metal mesh as a structural element in lighting. 

Both of these companies are prime examples of what it takes to represent the Utah manufacturing industry. One of them will be selected to be the Power Manufacturer of the month. Stay tuned!

Don’t see your business on our nomination list this month? Email [email protected] to nominate your company for the Power Manufacturing Award!

Power Manufacturing Award

July Power Manufacturing Award Winner

Though summer has started to wind down, the innovative companies that are the Power Manufacturing Award winners keep rolling in. Among those was ALTA Racks, a bike and snowboard rack manufacturer based in Cottonwood Heights, Utah, that was chosen to represent the Power Manufacturing Award for the month of July. 

ALTA Racks

ALTA Racks is an incredible company. As a Six Sigma manufacturer, ALTA Racks practices lean manufacturing in order to streamline both its production and shipping times. In fact, the company says it only takes one week to complete an order. 

“We continuously identify bottlenecks and long lead/labor items and plan accordingly by purchasing the raw material ahead of time of need, and building high labor product at a higher quantities,” a company spokesperson told Powerblanket. 

The spirit of entrepreneurship is alive and well at ALTA Racks. The same company spokesperson gathered advice to share for entrepreneurs looking to get a start in the manufacturing industry. We’re sharing a few here:

  • If you want easy, don’t start. 
  • Continue to improve your products and process. Let your customers have a voice in the design of your product. After version one, the customers should be driving improvements and revisions.
  • Be physically fit, this lifestyle calls for endurance.

You’ll find the rest of the advice ALTA Racks gave us in our upcoming Small Manufacturers Guide. It’s that kind of wisdom, innovation and entrepreneurship that won ALTA Racks July’s Power Manufacturing Award! Congratulations!

Don’t see your business on our nomination list this month? Email [email protected] to nominate your company for the Power Manufacturing Award.

Power Manufacturing Award

July Power Manufacturing Award Nominees

This month’s Power Manufacturing Award is extra special. We’re happy to announce that both of our featured manufacturers were nominated by the University of Utah Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), a program that unites experienced engineers with up and coming manufacturers to find industry solutions. The nominees have benefitted from MEP’s resources, and as a result we’ve decided to nominate them for July’s Power Manufacturing Award. 

Let’s get to know the nominees: 

Thrive Life

Thrive Life is an American Fork-based freeze dried food provider. The company supplies customers all over the United States with fruits and vegetables trapped in a state of perfection until water is added and it’s time to eat. Produce is flash frozen within hours of being picked at the farm, then put through a unique freeze drying process via sublimation, holding in valuable nutrients and vitamins. Thrive Life is a leader in promoting innovative freeze drying technology. 

Alta Racks

ALTA Racks is a military-grade bike rack manufacturer located in Cottonwood Heights. They’re a one-of-a-kind builder that relies on multiple local businesses to get their product to customers. With a one-week lead time and conversion equipment for mounting skis and snowboards, ALTA Racks utilizes an efficient manufacturing facility with highly-skilled employees to lead the bike rack industry. 

Both companies will be contacted to let them know about their nomination. Which one will be crowned the newest Power Manufacturer? Tune in at the end of the month to find out. 

Don’t see your business on our nomination list this month? Email [email protected] to nominate your company for the Power Manufacturing Award!

Power Manufacturing Award

Got honey? Powerblanket and Dadant team up

style Bee Blanket

Powerblanket’s Bee Blanket is a crucial piece of equipment for honey producers. That’s why we’re proud to partner with Dadant, an Illinois-based beekeeping supply company that specializes in the finest equipment on the market.

Dadant is the oldest, largest beekeeping supply company in the United States and has been in business for 156 years. The company founder’s family’s seventh generation is still involved in the business today.


Early beginnings

It all started with an immigrant entrepreneur, Charles Dadant. Born and raised in eastern France, Dadant fell in love with beekeeping after watching a local priest extract honey from a hive. In 1863, Dadant moved to Illinois where he envisioned growing champagne grapes and raising bees. When his investment in grapes didn’t work out, he turned his full focus to beekeeping. 

By the end of the Civil War, Dadant had nine colonies of honeybees and was well on his way to becoming one of the largest beekeepers in the nation. He employed his son in his efforts, and between the two of them, made innovation after innovation, improving the function of hives and gaining international fame for their work. They also became responsible for translating the 1885 edition of “The Hive and the Honeybee” into multiple languages.

A family effort

Since then, the company has only continued to grow as sons, grandsons, great grandsons, and others stayed loyal to the family business. Dadant keeps the beekeeping world going by supplying beekeeping equipment and publishing the American Bee Journal. With 10 branch locations nationwide and four manufacturing facilities, Dadant is ensuring the art of beekeeping stays alive and well for ages to come. 

Bee Blanket

Protecting honey

Powerblanket offers its Bee Blanket through Dadant, helping promote the beekeeping industry in the United States and Canada. The Bee Blanket adds value to Dadant’s line of products, allowing honey to be kept at a warm temperature without damaging natural enzymes and nutrients. 

For more information about Dadant, visit the company online at or call 888-922-1293. 

June Power Manufacturing Award Winner

For the first time, a brewery has been named the monthly Power Manufacturing Award winner! Congratulations to Salt Lake Brewing Co. for being the standout nominee for the month of June. 

Salt Lake Brewing Co. is one of the most popular craft brewers in Utah. Since 1989, the company owns the Wasatch Brewery and Squatters Craft Beers brands, with both having brewing locations and pubs across the state. The brands are the fruit of an innovative group of entrepreneurs who decided to stand out in a new niche market, leading to a massive craft brewing industry in Utah today. 

Wasatch BreweryWasatch Brewery was the very first brewery in Utah after pubs were legalized in the 1980s (an effort led by Salt Lake Brewing Co. founder Greg Schirf, no less!). The brand is known for its IPA, lagers and porters, but also has a unique non-alcoholic “Brigham’s Brew” root beer. Seriously, if you haven’t tried it, give it a go. 



squatters craft beerSquatters Craft Beer is Salt Lake Brewing Co.’s “green” brand, with pubs run on clean energy and environmentally friendly products. Along with superb beer, the brand places a heavy focus on community involvement. Squatters has partnered with groups like Utahns Against Hunger and Green Bike SLC to make the area it does business in a better place for everyone to live. 

Salt Lake Brewing Co. employs more than 500 people as it continues to grow the craft beer industry in Utah. For what they’ve done and what they continue to do for those who drink, as well as the local community in general, we’ve made them June’s Power Manufacturer.

Power Manufacture Award

June Power Manufacturing Award Nominees

Summer is finally here, and so are this month’s nominees for the Power Manufacturing Award. These nominees were discovered while searching for businesses that do a lot of behind-the-scenes work. Their products and services focus on supporting other companies, and are essential to the growth of businesses across the nation.

Love-less ash

First off is Love-Less Ash, an industrial-grade vacuum manufacturer based in Price, Utah. These vacuums have been locally made since the 1980s after the company founder created a prototype for his wife. Years later, Love-Less Ash has perfected their product and is one of the leading manufacturers in its community. The company’s commitment to the city of Price and manufacturing an specialized product is what got it a spot on this month’s nomination list.



squatters craft beer
Second is Salt Lake Brewing Co., a brewery based in the state capital, is one of the top brewers in Utah. The brewery manufactures craft beer under two brands, Wasatch and Squatters. According to, the brands have won more than 100 awards at beer competitions around the globe. Operating on the talents and skills of 400 employees, this company has proven that their innovative beer production methods creates the ideal beer to drink.


Wasatch Container


Finally, we have Wasatch Container. Founded in the mid-1990s, Wasatch Container has become a leading manufacturer of packaging materials. Their products include corrugated boxes, displays and wooden crates. The North Salt Lake company was nominated for their employee-centered work culture and their identity of constantly finding how their manufacturing processes can be improved.




Stay tuned for this month’s winner of the Power Manufacturing Award, which will be announced at the end of June.

Power Manufacture Award


May Power Manufacturing Award Winner: Wasatch Window Well Covers

The Power Manufacturing Award has been given to another worthy winner. Let’s give a big round of applause to the Power Manufacturer for the month of May: Wasatch Window Well Covers.

Wasatch window well covers

Wasatch Covers has been a significant part of the home construction industry in the Mountain West, being one of the largest window well cover manufacturers in Utah and Colorado. Company founder Ryan Anderson created Wasatch Covers after discovering the lack of quality window well cover products way back in 2002. He told Powerblanket that the company has learned many lessons over the years as it constantly seeks to innovate and improve.

“Over the last several years, we’ve spent a substantial amount of time and resources to the development of a process that allows us to do all things digital,” he said. “We first developed software that uses a mobile device, and through AI, can not only identify a window well through the device’s camera, but can also compensate for perspective and image distortion to create measurements within 0.5% accuracy. This was unheard of in an uncontrolled environment until we produced it.

“From that, we are well into the process of completely automating our processes for manufacturing the window well covers. This is one of the things that has allowed us to mass produce a custom product. The dimensions of every single window well cover are different. We are able to produce thousands of these each month.”

As a result of going digital and utilizing AI to meet the customer’s needs, Wasatch Covers has been able to expand into other markets as their ability to produce quality products has increased.

“Through our manufacturing processes, we’ve been able to grow our coverage areas,” Anderson said. “We now cover Utah and Colorado, with plans to launch nationwide by late 2019. We’ve been the clear leader in Utah and Colorado, in volume, customer service, and quality for quite some time. Over the past 5 years we’ve seen over 30% growth year over year, and 2019 is looking to continue that trend handily.”

The phrase “Always Get Better” is the mantra of Wasatch Covers. Seeking out customer input has been critical to ensuring products are always meeting the standard of being exactly what the customer needs. The company even has a full-time position dedicated to seeing how the company can improve, from the R&D desk to the manufacturing floor.

An example of this concept in action is one of the features of the window well cover products, created by inspired feedback from customers.

“One of several things that makes us stand out against our competition,” Anderson said, “is our ability to understand what our customers want and then to be able to give it to them. One example of this is our EZ lift system. This allows for a person (of almost any size) to be able to gain access or egress from any window well.”

“Always Get Better” is also the advice that Anderson said he’d give to any entrepreneur getting into the manufacturing industry.

“No matter the success or failure, continue to work hard,” he told Powerblanket. “Niches and routes to success come as you move forward in the pursuit of greatness. Also, you can’t do it alone. Align your organization both within and externally with other great companies. Learn from them, and let them do what they are best at.”

The Power Manufacturing Award has one purpose: promote the manufacturing businesses of Utah and the surrounding North American Mountain West region by showcasing innovation, customer respect and employee welfare. Wasatch Window Well Covers has proved itself to be a true Power Manufacturer, and we at Powerblanket are proud to share their story.

Power Manufacture Award


Become a Power Manufacturer

Is your company worth recognizing for their manufacturing excellence? Send an email to Power Manufacturing Award Director Adam Jacobs at [email protected] to get started.

May Power Manufacturing Award Nominees

It’s a new month, and with that comes new Power Manufacturing Award nominees. Let’s meet the contestants:



Power Manufacturing AwardWasatch Window Well Covers

Our first nominee for May is Wasatch Window Well Covers, an Orem, Utah, based business that manufactures covers for (you guessed it) window wells. Their products reflect the company’s priority for user safety. Not only does their product prevent falls down into window wells, but also allows for users as young as children to unlock the cover when the need to escape becomes real, such as a house fire.

Power Manufacturing Award



OraTech is a full-end manufacturer for the healthcare industry. Originating as a dental products maker in Utah, the South Jordan company has expanded into multiple aspects of healthcare. OraTech is known for using innovative manufacturing methods for their clients, including a rare 3-color 3D printer used in crafting syringes.


Dyno NobelPower Manufacturing Award

One of the largest industrial explosives manufacturers in the world, Dyno Nobel bases its operations in Cottonwood Heights, Utah. The company defines its crowning characteristic as good communications, meaning that employee insights and consumer feedback are both taken seriously.


These three manufacturers are what we consider to be some of the best examples of innovative, boundary-pushing and communication-focused companies in the Mountain West. We look forward to diving into our award process to determine which of these companies will win the Power Manufacturing Award

Don’t see your business on our nomination list this month? Email [email protected] to nominate your company for the Power Manufacturing Award!

Power Manufacture Award

April Power Manufacturing Award Winner: Milgard Windows and Doors

The Power Manufacturing Award is given to companies that demonstrate the ability to lead the manufacturing industry based on their ability to create high-quality products, respect the customer and value employees. That’s why we’re announcing our first regional Power Manufacturing Award winner, Milgard Windows and Doors!

Milgard Windows and DoorsMilgard Windows and Doors was nominated for their outstanding manufacturing solutions and employee-centric company culture. But that’s not all to their story, and why they deserve to be dubbed a Power Manufacturer.

Founded more than 50 years ago in Washington State, Milgard has been known for being open to customer comments and has produced an innovative manufacturing floor environment. In its manufacturing plants scattered across the American Mountain West, the company creates windows and doors suited to homeowners’ needs by making its own fiberglass frames, insulated glass units and vinyl components.

“To ensure top quality from start to finish, Milgard begins by precisely controlling our vinyl compound formulation to withstand harsh climate conditions,” a Milgard spokesperson told Powerblanket. “We extrude our own frame material, and fabricate all vinyl windows and doors to order, giving us the tightest control over quality. Our fiberglass windows and doors receive the same level of attention.”

In the manufacturing industry, it takes quality to make quality. That focus led Milgard to win the 2019 Best Quality Vinyl Window from BUILDER Magazine. That success is only made possible by Milgard employees.

“To be the best, we hire the best,” the spokesperson said. “More than 3,000 Milgard employees work hard every day to give our customers high-quality products and superior service. They’re a big part of the answer to the question: Why Milgard?”

Power Manufacture AwardBecoming a Power Manufacturer means being the best your company can possibly be. Focusing on the product, respecting and valuing employees, and pursuing innovation are what the Power Manufacturing Award is all about. That’s why we’re happy to have Milgard Doors and Windows featured as the Power Manufacturer for the month of April.  

April Power Manufacturing Award Nominees

The Power Manufacturing Award process has undergone several changes, the biggest of which is our promoting of deserving award nominees. One of these four nominees will win the Power Manufacturing Award for the month of April. 

Powerblanket is excited to announce the nominees for April’s Power Manufacturing Award: Advanced Composites, Aero Tech Manufacturing, Milgard Windows and Doors, and Biovation Labs. These businesses have shown to be exceptional when it comes to the key characteristics of a Power Manufacturer: innovative, unique and persevering. 

April Nominees


Advanced Composites

Advanced Composites: Operating out of Salt Lake City, Advanced Composites has worked hard for nearly 30 years to become one of the nation’s top carbon filament winding companies. With an eye for detail and a reputation of safety (this is their 7th year of being accident-free), Advanced Composites has earned their spot as a nominee for April’s Power Manufacturing Award.


Aero Tech ManufacturingAero Tech Manufacturing: One of the most employee-focused companies we’ve ever seen, Aero Tech Manufacturing was nominated for their recognition that good products are a result of good workers. For the past 25 years, employees have led the way in developing ways to innovate the manufacturing process, and according to the company’s website, that’s one of the things they’re most proud of.

Milgard Windows and Doors


Milgard Windows and Doors: While not based in Utah, Milgard Windows and Doors has a fantastic manufacturing facility in Salt Lake City, where company values result in a top-quality product. Those values, which got Milgard the nomination, are to focus on the customer, cultivate high-performance teams, and continuously improve, just to name a few. 



Biovation Labs

Biovation Labs: One of the most transparent manufacturers in Utah, Biovation Labs is a do-it-all nutritional supplement maker. From supplement creation to product packaging, Biovation has a hand in every part of the manufacturing process. Their policy of allowing tours of their facility, what they call “your own quality audit,” is one of the reasons for their nomination.


Each of these companies display the traits of a Power Manufacturing Award winner. We’re proud to recognize them as examples of excellence in the Utah manufacturing industry, and we look forward to working with them as we move ahead in the nomination process. Keep an eye out for the announcement of the winner later this month!

Power Manufacture Award

Become a Power Manufacturer

Is your company worth recognizing for their manufacturing excellence? Email Power Manufacturing Award Director Adam Jacobs at [email protected] to get started.

March Power Manufacturing Award Winner: Cal-Pack

Ever innovating is the spirit of the Power Manufacturing Award, and that’s why this month’s award goes to California Packaging and Display.

Cal-PackCalifornia Packaging and Display, also known as Cal-Pack, is a 40-year-old packaging business with corporate headquarters in Utah and California. Cal-Pack works with companies around the globe, meeting their packaging needs and continually improving shipping methods. With nearly a hundred products in their lineup, Cal-Pack has made itself essential in the packaging industry in Utah and the world.

The Power Manufacturing Award is given to companies that are definition of Utah manufacturing: innovative, unique and persevering. A spokesperson for Cal-Pack said the company has come a long way in order to meet that definition. “Our Utah manufacturing facility has moved 4 times in 30 years,” he said. “We roughly doubled space and equipment with each move, expanding our capacity and manufacturing abilities.”

The spokesperson added that Cal-Pack focuses on three things that have lead to their success as a manufacturer: listening to customers, looking for needs not being filled, and using creativity to solve problems.

Power Manufacture Award

“We are constantly looking at the changing retail/wholesale environment, customer needs, and updating or adding equipment as necessary to meet demand,” the spokesperson said.

As a congratulations, Cal-Pack will be featured on the Powerblanket website and be in the running for the Power Manufacturer of the Year Award, as well as receive an award badge on their website and a special Power Hammer for their offices.

Do you know a manufacturer that deserves recognition? Contact Power Manufacturing Award Director Adam Jacobs at [email protected] to submit your nomination!


With a new year comes a new winner of Powerblanket’s Power Manufacture Award. For the month of January, Cox Honeyland has been chosen to receive this prestigious recognition. We’ve noticed their manufacturing prowess in creating some of the most delicious honey in the Mountain West, and felt the world needed to be aware of this outstanding manufacturer.

Cox Honeyland Power Manufacture Award

Cox Honeyland is a family-run honey business based in Logan, Utah. The company began in St. George, Utah, back in the early 1900s, where members of the Cox family created a bee keeping empire in the desert. Cox Honeyland is the modern incarnation of that same idea, raising bees and churning out honey for the world to enjoy.

One of the unique aspects of honey from Cox Honeyland is the nature of their nectar.  According to the company’s website, their bees travel across the northern Utah mountains to collect nectar from flower blossoms that result in three particular flavors of honey: Clover-Alfalfa (light and mild), Cache Valley (darker with more flavor), and Mountain Snowberry (mountain wildflower flavor). With that honey, Cox Honeyland manufactures a wide variety of products such as beeswax lip balm, honey popcorn and fruited creamed honey.

A spokesperson for Cox Honeyland said the reason they’ve been in business for over 100 years is because of their high manufacturing standards.

“We value our customers and are consistent and dependable,” the spokesperson said, adding that Cox Honeyland is already recognized for many local and state awards for their entrepreneurship. The company is also the recipient of the Golden Hive Award, issued for outstanding beekeeping.

Cox Honeyland will be one of many of this year’s Power Manufacture Award winners. Representatives from Powerblanket will be delivering an award plaque and issuing a Power Manufacture Award badge for Cox Honeyland’s website. The honey manufacturer will also be in the running for the 2019 Power Manufacturer of the Year.

If you’d like to nominate your business for the Power Manufacture Award, contact Powerblanket at [email protected].

Power Manufacture Award

Tracks on Fire: Keeping Train Tracks Thawed

Winter has a habit of freezing progress in its tracks. Snow and ice can make roads unsafe to travel on, bury runways, and cause fuels to thicken. Even railroads can’t escape the damage done by Jack Frost.

In fact, railroads have to deal with some of the most dangerous effects of snow and ice. Track switches that freeze up lead to costly delays, as well as the potential for derailments. Keeping tracks thawed and switches ice-free is critical for operating a safe and efficient railroad.  

The Long Island Railroad uses a variety of methods to keep their switches from freezing, even by setting their rails on fire. According to the Long Island Railroad blog, electricity, natural gas, kerosene oil and a hydrocarbon oil called Hexane, are used every winter across the railway to ensure switches are thawed and operational.

rail heating
Gas heating along a rail line keeps the tracks thawed and operational.

These days on the LIRR, most switch heaters are electric. They are made up of high resistance metal bars that are bolted to the sides of the running rail. One end is grounded to the running rail and the other end is tied to the third rail through a knife switch in a little box. Most are activated onsite, but there are some that are remote controlled.

rail heating
Workers monitor tracks as they thaw with help from natural gas.

The gas powered switch heaters are older: vestiges from an age when electric power was expensive and unreliable and gas was cheap. The gas powered heaters would keep a place like Jamaica open even if electric power failed. Today the gas heaters use natural gas that is provided by the utility companies (at one time they used manufactured gas from coal). The gas to these heaters is supplied by a one-and-a-half inch pipe with a globe valve down in a pit near the switch. A mechanic from the LIRR’s Buildings and Bridges department turns on the gas and lights it with a fuse. Then the winds blow it out.

rail heating
Some railroads use a snowblower to thaw rails. The heat blast eliminates ice build up, but the process is slow.

These days it is the gas heaters which are less than reliable; they blow out in high wind and have to be re-lit (a tricky task in the middle of rush hour).

The LIRR still also uses the really old “switch pots” which are filled with kerosene and burn a wick under the switch points. These are maintained by the track department. Trackmen work through the storms filling and lighting these.

And no story about switches and ice can be complete without mentioning “switch oil.” To thaw out frozen switches, trackmen use Hexane, a hydrocarbon oil that is dumped along the rail from a long snouted can that looks like a flower watering can. Another trackman follows the first with a blazing broom that was soaked in the stuff which he uses to light up the oiled switches. The goop burns for fifteen minutes, effectively de-icing the frozen switch. 

ground thawing warming blanket
Ground thawing blankets eliminate the need for costly heating systems and are easily portable.

There is an easier way, of course, to keep rail switches thawed during winter storms. Introducing: Powerblanket Extra-Hot Ground Thawing Blankets. These provide a cheaper, more efficient method to prevent delays that come from iced tracks.

Simply plug the blanket into an electrical source, and the thawing begins. With a preset of 150 ͒ F, the rapid thaw blanket is a maintenance-free heating solution that reduces downtime, eliminates headaches associated with frozen ground, and saves money.

Reliance on manual labor or antiquated heating methods can stay where they belong: in the past. Use the Extra-Hot Ground Thawing Blankets to keep rail switches thawed, passengers safe, and trains on time.

Power Manufacturer of the Year: Taffy Town


Powerblanket is happy to announce the inaugural winner of 2018’s Power Manufacturing Award of the Year: Taffy Town! The Power Manufacturing Award of the Year is chosen out of that year’s monthly winners, based on their excellent standard of manufacturing and innovation. Taffy Town continues to succeed in their example of positivity and deviation from the status quo, and are a clear choice for this year’s winner!  

taffy town After a year to look at many candidates in the Utah Manufacturing Industry, Taffy Town has caught their industry’s attention. This is the second recognition Taffy Town has received for manufacturing excellence, the first being in January 2018 as the Power Manufacturer of the month. We were able to spotlight many amazing manufacturers this year who are doing amazing things in business and manufacturing, so choosing a winner for this award was difficult. In the end however, Taffy Town became the clear choice.

The Power Manufacturing Award is given to companies that display standard-setting trends in manufacturing. Based in West Jordan, UT, the company has 50 employees and creates more than 20,000 pounds of taffy every day, with sales across the globe.

As reported in January of 2018, Taffy Town does not use the traditional taffy-pulling process that some may remember seeing in store windows. Instead, they have a competitive edge by using a whipping process and 24 hour-long batch conditioning process to produce a soft texture taffy that melts in your mouth. Their products contain no peanuts and no tree nuts, and they are gluten free and use kosher dairy. However, their commitment to their top quality product and 100-year old tradition is what won them the title of Power Manufacture of the Year.

Congratulations to our fellow manufacturers at Taffy Town!


*Know of a manufacturing business who are doing amazing things? Nominate them for The Power Manufacturing Award! Simply contact us with the details and they will be in the running!


Concrete Curing in Freezers

Curing concrete in a deep freezer is a unique experience. Walk-in freezers are crucial to any organization that handles temperature sensitive material. The ability to store mass amounts of cold product in a controlled environment allows for meat, ice cream, cadavers, liquid oxygen and more to be used nearly anywhere in the world, so long as there is a freezer to put it in.

Most often, these freezers have a concrete flooring that is specially cured to handle the frozen environment around it, while keeping the heat from nearby room temperatures out. On top of all this, concrete flooring also needs to be able to withstand everything from footsteps to forklifts in ways that mitigate as much repair as possible.

Image taken from

When preparing and pouring cement for freezer floors, there are several steps that one should consider, especially since this isn’t your usual concrete constructing picnic:

  • Maintain the mix: Be sure that your mix of concrete doesn’t contain too much water. Not only is it likely to cause cracking due to shrinkage, but it can also lead to water freezing within the concrete if it’s not cured enough by the time the freezer begins operating.
  • Seal the deal: The United States Dairy Association has a zero-tolerance policy regarding leaks in the freezer space. Frozen food should be stored at 0°F (-18°), as “freezing to 0° F inactivates any microbes — bacteria, yeasts and molds — present in food.” Any leakage would lead to moisture invading the freezer, potentially allowing mold and other harmful bacteria to grow. Any concrete installed as part of a walk-in freezer must be properly set and sealed to prevent leaks from happening.

Restoring Concrete Freezer Floors

With that in mind, you might be wondering how to repair concrete floors in freezers. Damage to the concrete floor like cracking or chipping can happen via forklift accident, replacing glycol heating systems, or subsoil moisture freezing.

Cracking occurs naturally in concrete, and there’s virtually no way to prevent it from ever happening. The best tools for repairing concrete freezer floors are low-temperature grade epoxy seals and additional concrete.

Equally important of what to use is what not to use. Repair product manufacturers like Polycote advocate against hard repair mortar when fixing floor joints. Doing so will create an inflexible bond that will not allow for any concrete movement, increasing the chances of additional concrete cracking.

Things to Keep an Eye Out For

Our friends at Concrete Mender offer several challenges that pose a problem when repairing concrete, which include frost, working conditions, and curing:

  • Frost: Frozen moisture in the concrete will act as a barrier between the repair material and the pores of the concrete. Most repair materials will try to bond to the frost coated concrete. When the temperature increases, the frost melts and so does the bond.
  • Working conditions: Working with materials in the cold is challenging to both man and materials. Mixing epoxies or mortars in the cold is especially challenging. As the temperature decreases, the viscosity and flow rate of these materials increase making them harder to mix and much more difficult to work with. Drum heaters are an excellent solution to keeping epoxy and mortar warm while waiting to use on a freezer job.
  • Curing: With most materials, cure times in cold environments are extended significantly. A product that normally cures in an hour at room temperature may take as much as 12 hours in a cold environment. Some materials may not cure at all before actually freezing solid. Use a concrete curing blanket to help the concrete cure for maximum strength.

If You’re Gonna Do a Job, You’d Better Do It Right

Fixing a freezer is a job you only want to do once. Making crack repairs can be tedious and have to be done exactly to specifications in meeting safety requirements. After all, keeping that freezer sealed tight with a good concrete job will keep the cadavers cold and food frozen.

The best tools to help with a quick, clean concrete repair job are drum heaters and curing blankets. For more information on these items, check out Powerblanket’s concrete solutions.

All About Concrete Cracking Repair

Concrete gets old with age, just like we do. When laid correctly, concrete doesn’t really pose any problems until the cracking and wearing part of the life cycle begins. Concrete cracking happens naturally, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do anything about it. 

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Cracking is a constant in concrete. Nearly every slab of concrete ever laid will feature cracking at some point. This can lead to a series of important questions:

  • What is causing the cracking?
  • Is the structural integrity of my concrete compromised due to cracking?
  • Can cracking be repaired without replacing the concrete?
  • What can be done next time to help mitigate cracking?

Concrete Cracking Causes

The Concrete Network lists five causes of concrete cracking: excess water in concrete mix, rapid drying of concrete, improper strength concrete poured, lack of control joints, and poor ground conditions before pouring.

  1. Excess water in concrete mix: Concrete shrinks as it dries thanks to the water within the concrete mix evaporating. Though water is an important part of the concrete mixture, too much water will create a “soupy” concrete mix. When the water evaporates, the remaining concrete shrinks to maintain its strength. According to the Concrete Network, “concrete slabs can shrink as much as 1/2 inch per 100 feet. This shrinkage causes forces in the concrete which literally pull the slab apart. Cracks are the end result of these forces.”

    The best way to mitigate cracking of this type from happening is to be careful with how much water is added to your concrete mix. A low water-to-cement ratio will go a long way in preventing cracking.
  2. Rapid drying of concrete: Concrete will often not be able to achieve its maximum strength if it cures too fast. Hydration is the chemical reaction that allows the cement mixture to absorb water, changing from a liquid mixture into a solid slab. This process can take days, even weeks to become stiff enough to achieve desired strengths. Using a concrete curing blanket can allow less impact from external variables that affect concrete drying.

    Powerblanket image
  3. Improper strength of concrete poured: Not all cement mixes are created equally. Different mixes suit different purposes. You can bet that the concrete slab you poured to make the kids’ basketball court is a different strength than the Normandy bunkers stormed by the Allies on D-Day. Pouring the wrong strength of concrete can set you up for cracking. Check with your concrete provider to ensure you’re using the right strength of concrete for your project.
  4. Lack of control joints: Control joints let you choose where the cracking occurs. By allowing for spacing between concrete slabs, you can make sure cracks happen in straight lines and don’t spread due to temperature fluctuations and movement.

    Image taken from Concrete Construction Magazine

    When control joints aren’t used, cracking will happen in the most natural way possible with no direction from you. Cutting control joints must be done within 12 hours of pouring concrete, or as soon as the concrete has hardened.

  5. Poor ground conditions: Do not pour concrete on frozen ground. The poured concrete will bind to the ice inside of the frozen soil, and will become unbound once the ice melts. If you have to pour concrete in cold weather conditions, use a ground thawing blanket to get ground surfaces to the right temperature. This will ensure proper joining of ground and cement layers. The ground should also be dry, so make sure you’re not pouring concrete into a puddle or saturated soil.

Cracking Impacts Concrete

Structural integrity is what concrete is all about. Properly evaluating the impact of cracking can help you decide if your structure is sustainable, or if you need to replace that part of the project with another concrete pour. Opting to repair your concrete is feasible only once it’s been confirmed there are no structural issues.

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Repairing Cracks

Concrete Construction says that if you’ve noticed cracking in your concrete, you’ll want to follow several steps before taking any repair measures:

“Before repairing your next crack, perform a crack evaluation and establish the repair objectives. Decide what type of repair is needed. Choices include a structural repair using epoxy, a route and seal repair using a flexible sealant to accommodate future crack movements, and a hard or semi-rigid filler repair to support crack edges, with or without routing. Also, establish the cosmetic requirements. After choosing the repair material and procedure, follow the manufacturer’s recommendations.”

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After completing the crack repair, reassess the area to see how you can blend the look of the repair back into the concrete, giving your project a smoother look.

Cracking: It’s Going to Happen

Though repairing cracking will allow for longer-lasting strength for your concrete, mitigating excessive cracking from happening in the first place is best. It can’t be stopped, but it can be controlled. Refer to the above guide next time you’re on a concrete job to make sure you have all your concrete cracking bases covered.

Check out Powerblanket’s concrete solutions here.

Cold Coconuts: Prevent heat loss with Coconut Blankets

Different jobs come in different sizes, and Powerblanket serves them all. Some jobs are as simple as heating up a 5-gallon bucket, and they’re just as important. So when Dan McFarland at BodyTech Cosmetics needed a solution to a freezing problem with coconut oil, he turned to those who do it best. 

BodyTech Cosmetics, which manufactures handmade skin care products, realized it had a need for Powerblanket’s Coconut Blanket to help maintain temperatures for a key ingredient. Without it, McFarland wouldn’t be able to maintain the high quality of his products. 

We use a lot of coconut oil,” McFarland said, adding that he usually used a microwave or other methods to warm up his oil. He also said doing so was very ineffective. 

At times, McFarland said he had to get creative.

“For a couple of years I had been using an aquarium heater to melt the oil,” he said. The oil is difficult to use when it becomes too thick.

While points are given for innovation, McFarland realized that he needed a solution that was tailor-made to heat up the coconut oil. That’s when he discovered Powerblanket’s Coconut Blanket pail heaters, which he says completely changed the game.

“By keeping out coconut oil melted in the pail it saves having to use a microwave or other inefficient means of melting it,” he said.

The Coconut Blanket is an affordable, dependable warming wrap. Just like BodyTech Cosmetic’s products each pail heater is handcrafted, and can quickly heat up to a maximum temperature of 145º F. The insulated full-wrap design evenly heats material to a steady temperature. It also meets UL and CSA safety standards.

No matter how small the job, Powerblanket’s 5-Gallon Bucket Pail Heater makes a big impact on businesses like BodyTech Cosmetic. For more information, contact a Powerblanket representative today!

Grave Digger Solutions: Unthawing cold ground with Powerblanket

North America experiences a variety of weather patterns during the winter months. However, most of the continent will undergo cold enough temperatures that freeze the upper layers of ground soil.

This can be highly problematic for those needing to dig into the ground during the winter. Projects that normally take a few hours worth of digging now takes days to unthaw and break through the frozen topsoil.

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Powerblanket’s Ground Thawing Blankets were essential in saving the Hailey Cemetery time and money during the Idaho Winter of 2017. Wayne Burke, maintenance supervisor for the cemetery, said that winter was colder and less wet than years previous, causing the soil to freeze much deeper than normal.

“There’s usually six inches of snow on the ground,” Burke said, adding that the snow acts as a layer of insulation, preventing the ground from freezing as much. “It always worked out great. But last year it got really cold and there was no snow.”

Burke knew he needed solutions fast to meet the demand of the cemetery’s burial service schedule. He reached out to Powerblanket, and within two days of ordering, received his Ground Thawing Blanket.

“You guys sent it just in time. I used it the first day, and only had it on for 12 hours. It still worked,” he said. “A few weeks later, I needed it again. We also loaned it to another cemetery and they were really happy with how it worked too.”

In years prior Burke said he used propane torches to thaw the soil before digging. In addition, the cemetery landscaping had to be torn up and replaced after each dig.

“It worked perfect,” he said. “It thawed about 14 inches down into the ground. The grass greened up and I was able to cut it up into strips and roll it up. The sod was in good shape and I stored it in our garage. After the burial we put the dirt back in a rolled the sod back out. Normally we tear the sod up and throw it away and replant it in the springtime.”

Burke said the Ground Thawing Blanket was exactly what he needed to break through the tough winter soil, saving him hours of manual labor and nearly $100 in landscaping.

“I was really happy with it, and we’ll be using it again this year,” he said.

How to Stain Concrete: Stain your way from gloom to glam

Let’s get one thing straight. Plain, gray concrete is best used in military bunkers. Other than that, it’s downright boring. What can you do to spice up your concrete patio, concrete counter-tops, and concrete floors? There’s one solution: stain it. Staining concrete takes time and effort, but the results are beautiful.

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Types of Concrete Stain

If you’re a parent, the word “stain” probably doesn’t make you think of something beautiful or decorative. Nonetheless, concrete staining is a great way to turn a slab of gray into luxurious concrete with color or shine. Concrete experts generally use one of two ways to stain concrete: acid and water-based stains. Each one has a specific purpose, but which one should you use?

Acid Concrete Stains

  • Acid stains are made up of metallic salt minerals dissolved into a water-acid mixture. The acid causes a chemical reaction during the curing process that permanently changes the concrete surface color and texture.
Acid stained porch in Colorado. Image taken from

Non-Acid Concrete Stains

  • Non-acid stains treat concrete differently than an acid stain. Instead of altering the structure of the concrete, non-acid stains create a layer over the concrete surface, filling pores and leaving behind a flat, smooth finish.
Non-acid stained concrete. Image taken from

Concrete Staining Process

Do Your Prepwork

According to industry experts, the best way to stain concrete is as follows:

  • Thoroughly clean and prepare concrete
  • Apply concrete stain
  • Clean up and neutralize concrete stain
  • Seal concrete for lasting protection

In order to stain concrete, the concrete must be cured to its proper strength. This can take up to 48 hours, but with concrete curing products, this time can be nearly cut in half. Powerblanket’s Concrete Curing Blanket helps keep concrete at stable temperatures above 50°F, curing 2.8 times faster than open air curing. This is especially helpful when staining concrete in places where temperatures are variable or close to freezing. Make sure your concrete creation cures correctly.

Once it is cured, you can move on to the concrete staining process. Begin washing down the concrete surface. You don’t want any food crumbs or shoe scuff marks to get in the way of the stain, so make sure to give it a good scrub down. Also remove any layers of glue, sealers or curing membranes that might prevent the stain from coming in full contact with the concrete. Finally, apply a concrete acid cleanser to the project surface to ensure the concrete is as porous as possible. Once it has dried, rinse the concrete with water. Some concrete manufacturers, like Quikrete, even make their own cleaners, etchers, and de-greasers so you know you are using the best products on your concrete.

Let The Staining Begin

After the concrete is no longer wet from rinsing, use a brush or roller to spread the stain across the project surface. If it’s a puddle you can splash in (don’t), it’s too thick. If it disappears right after applying it (i.e. it absorbed into the concrete), you need more.

Once your initial layer is down, allow 24 hours of drying before applying another layer of stain, even if it’s the same stain color.

Most concrete stains have difficulty drying in cold temperatures. If you must do a concrete staining project in the dead of winter, a Concrete Curing Blanket can save the day, allowing the stain to dry within a controlled environment.

Protect Your Project

You’re so close to being done! After the stain has dried, use a sealer or wax to protect the stain from dirt or grime that could change the color or texture over time. You’ll need to regularly clean the concrete surface, but don’t use powerful chemicals like bleach, vinegar or ammonia. Such solutions can damage stained concrete. And you wouldn’t want that, would you?

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Finally, bask in your work. Enjoy the fruit of your labors and invite friends and family over to see your decoratively stained concrete.

Concrete Solutions From Powerblanket

All successful projects start with a solid foundation.  Concrete Curing Blankets from Powerblanket ensure your pour cures quickly, strongly, and is ready for the next step in your project.  Contact us today to find a solution for your concrete needs 855.440.0208 or [email protected]

Wrapping and Heating Valves in Dangerous Locations

No workplace would be complete without its own hazards. Whether it’s slippery floors, loud noise or dealing with harmful chemicals, there’s always something that employees need to be careful of in order to stay safe. Companies are expected to establish worker safety in these environments, as well as maintain proper care of equipment and products.

Keep Valves Protected

Valves are a critical piece of equipment in any work environment. They are  literally the “off-and-on” switch to efficiency and productivity. Making sure valves are heated to prevent freezing stiff in cold weather is critical for proper use. When a valve is inoperable, progress can come to an immediate halt, creating potentially dangerous situations.

Preventing valve freezes isn’t difficult to do. In fact, there are plenty of products out there that can help. The trick is to find a solution that won’t be compromised by the hazards of your work environment. For example, it’s probably a bad idea to use a warming system that utilizes incandescent heating elements where the air is filled with ignitable vapors. It’s also unwise to use a rigid heat wrap on piping that change shape due to thermal expansion.

Warming Wraps

Powerblanket warming wraps allow for efficient methods of valve heating without compromising safety. Each wrap is self regulating, so there’s no need to constantly monitor if the wrap is working or not. Certified to UL/CSA safety 

standards, Powerblanket wraps are safe to use in virtually any hazardous environment and can be custom fitted to any valve size. They’re also incredibly easy to install, which means less time winterizing and more time doing what you do best.

Using Warming Wraps in C1D2 Environments

Working in an environment with ignitable vapors is one of the most dangerous places to operate equipment. In a C1D2 workplace, one small spark from a light or heating element can lead to catastrophe. Regardless of the danger, equipment still needs to be handled and used to get the job done, even in cold weather.

Warming wraps are critical to keeping equipment warm and operable, but how do you know which wrap product is safe to use in a C1D2 environment? ETL certified to UL and CSA safety standards, Powerblanket’s warming wraps meet the strict safety requirements demanded in areas where the air can ignite at any time. That’s why businesses that use warming wraps call on Powerblanket for help.

In addition, warming wraps allow for quick and easy installation, taking away little time from daily operations. The warming wraps are self regulating, so there’s no need to constantly check up on them to see if they are maintaining the correct temperature.

When you need a specialized warming wrap to keep your valves, containers and pipes from freezing, turn to Powerblanket for the solution. No matter what size or material, or what type of vapor is in the air, Powerblanket’s Warming Wraps will ensure that your safety and efficiency needs are met.

Bananas: Grocers Worst Nightmare

What is the worst fruit of all time?

In terms of its ability to waste, Food and Wine magazine rates bananas as the worst. A February 13, 2018 article said bananas are the biggest source of grocery store waste.

Bananas are not the only produce products to rot before it gets to consumers: food is wasted at every step of the supply chain. But bananas stand out because consumers tend to only purchase bananas that they perceive are ripe, which in most cases are a spotless yellow or yellow-green.

What consumers don’t understand is that bananas are ripe and edible while green all the way through until black. The darker the banana, the more sweet it is. The lighter the banana, the more starchy it tastes. Bananas can be eaten alone, used in baking, mixed in a smoothie, as a topping for oatmeals and ice cream, and even fried. How they are used is determined by the fruit’s starchy or sweet consistency.

However, a significant amount of banana waste comes from the transportation of the fruit. Ash Ngu, an expert of banana transportation, described on Quora how the process works.

“Bananas that Americans eat are imported from countries like Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and Panama. They’re harvested green and unripened so that they can last the 3-4 weeks it takes to get them into grocery stores. During processing, they’re broken up into bunches, labeled with those little stickers and boxed up in order to protect them during shipping.

Source: Costa Rica Daily Photo 

“The bananas are transported across the ocean in temperature-controlled ship holds. Once they get to their destination port, a ripening manager inspects the bananas. They’re visually inspected, their temperature is taken, the peel is peeled, banana flesh color and texture is evaluated. Then they go into pressurized rooms which force air through the banana boxes for consistent ripening. The temperature of the room can be controlled to quicken or slow the ripening process. After they are ripened appropriately, the bananas are sent on their final journey in trucks to various grocery shelves across the nation and into your hands.”

Some producers use chemical gases to speed up the ripening process of bananas. This chemical is called ethylene. A small hydrogen gas, ethylene is a naturally occurring byproduct of ripening fruit, including bananas. Producers will often use ethylene to encourage the ripening of bananas to time their peak “fresh appearance” with the date at which consumers will see them on store shelves.

One conclusion that can be gleaned from learning about the process it takes to get bananas from tree to store is that doing so is very expensive. There are a few items out there that can help with bringing more fruit to the customer, but refrigeration and ethylene are the main methods used by producers and grocers today.



This month’s Power Manufacture Award goes to an innovative company that has found a way simplify the freeze dried food industry, reaching the masses with  an affordable solution: Harvest Right.

Based in Salt Lake City, Harvest Right manufactures freeze dryers that can fit inside of one’s own home kitchen. Harvest Right spent four years in R&D trying to figure out how to downsize hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of freeze drying equipment. Out of that came an assortment of freeze dryers, including variants for pharmaceutical, scientific and home use.

Before Harvest Right, freeze drying technology was around $30,000 to $100,000 and only available to commercial companies, the US military, and NASA,” said a Harvest Right spokesperson. “It took years for Harvest Right to engineer and manufacture a freeze dryer that was affordable, small enough for a home, and automated enough to make it easy to use for the home consumer.”

Due to Harvest Right’s unique, home-based approach to freeze drying appliances, the market for its products has taken off internationally.

“We are most proud of being able to provide an affordable freeze dryer to those that want to freeze dry on their own,” the spokesperson added. “Harvest Right freeze dryers are now being used in Australia, India, Europe, South America and all over the United States. Instead of canning and dehydrating, the world has discovered that freeze drying is the better solution when it comes to food preservation.”

It’s that kind of innovation and focus on the needs of the consumer that led Powerblanket to first be attracted to Harvest Right, and ultimately beat out the competition to become the October 2018 Power Manufacture Award winner. Those qualities are found throughout the company from bottom to top.

“The founder of Harvest Right has a passion for both helping people and food preservation [which] led him to create a home freeze dryer that people could use at home,” the Harvest Right spokesperson said. “Our advice to future entrepreneurs would be to make sure that you are first passionate about whatever you are pursuing.”

With companies like Harvest Right leading the way in manufacturing quality, consumer-focused needs and innovative products, the future of Utah manufacturing is in good hands. For more information about Harvest Right, visit

Ultimate DEF Reference Guide


Diesel Exhaust Fluid (DEF)

DEF is a key factor in making sure our trucks run smooth, efficient and clean on America’s highways. This liquid is used in nearly all diesel-fueled vehicles in the United States, from pickup trucks to ambulances to 18-wheelers. With something so commonplace, you’d think that most people have heard of DEF. But that’s not the case. Do you know what DEF is? Join Powerblanket as we explore DEF in why it’s important, how it’s used, and what to look out for so you use it correctly.

What is it?

DEF is a mix of synthetic urea and deionized water. Urea is naturally found as a byproduct in urine, but urea in DEF is created in a laboratory. (On that note, it’s a good opportunity to mention that if you run out of DEF, under no circumstances should you urinate in your DEF tank. But more on that later.)

DEF is most often seen as a clear, odorless liquid. When it dries, it solidifies into white crystals.

A dried piece of DEF

Why is it Important?

DEF is a critical part of the exhaust system in diesel engines. The Environmental Protection Agency has been limiting nitrogen oxide emissions since 1994, with additional reductions in 1998, 2002, 2007, and 2010. According to the web-based science, research, and technology news service, “Nitrogen oxides (NOx) are poisonous gases derived from nitrogen and oxygen combustion under high pressure and temperatures…[it] can cause breathing problems, headaches, chronically reduced lung function, eye irritation, loss of appetite and corroded teeth. Indirectly, it can affect humans by damaging the ecosystems they rely on in water and on land—harming animals and plants. In Britain alone, known NO2 emissions have been estimated to kill 23,500 people every year, according to aerosol science professor Ian Colbeck of the University of Essex, southeastern England.” The World Health Organization classified NOx as being a cause of cancer in 2012.

NOx diesel exhaust fumes also emit particles that are too fine for human lungs to filter, which can harm one’s ability to breathe in ways such as asthma and other chronic breathing problems. Those same particles are also causes of lung cancer and, according to, “premature death in people with heart or lung disease.”

Before the 1990s, exhaust systems were not regulated. Beginning in 1994, diesel regulations limited the amount of NOx pollution released by diesel-fueled vehicles. Since then, DEF has become a staple in virtually all diesel trucks on American roads in their Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) system, where exhaust is treated in the exhaust system instead of the engine itself. As the exhaust leaves the engine, a mist of DEF is sprayed into the exhaust. The two mixes into ammonia and NOx, which then goes through the SCR catalyst, which changes both into nitrogen and water vapor. This final result is harmless.

Applications of DEF

Nearly all diesel-fueled vehicles in the United States use DEF. This includes ambulances, fire trucks, and wildland firefighting engines. Powerblanket met with the Madison Fire Department in Rexburg, Idaho, to discuss the uses of DEF within its firefighting fleet.

In Rexburg, winters can drop outdoor temperatures well below -20°F. In order to make sure the temperature doesn’t affect DEF quality, all Madison Fire Department vehicles are equipped with internal heating devices to ensure DEF does not freeze. Several vehicles, such as the ambulances and pickup trucks, have internal DEF tanks equipped with heaters.

Standard fire engines and wild land fire engines, on the other hand, use external DEF tanks.

The nearest DEF pump station is located 30 miles away, so fire crews have to purchase DEF locally in 2.5 gallon containers to fill both internal and external DEF tanks.

The U.S. Military also has a large vehicle fleet that consumes diesel fuel. However, DEF is not commonly used in bases across the world. With the exception of vehicles used for local travel, heavy-duty vehicles such as tanks and work trucks are exempt of NOx reduction regulations. This is due in large part for lack of high quality, low sulfur diesel fuel in places such as Iraq and Afghanistan, whereas jet fuel, that has a high sulfur content that would quickly clog filters that use DEF, is plentiful. 

In the U.S. Military, being able to take a tank brigade and armored truck division out of Louisiana and send them into combat zones across the world is paramount. Using jet fuel, which negates the need for DEF, is essential to that mission.


DEF Pump Stations on the Rise

As federal government regulations increase the demand for quick access to DEF, gas stations are rising to meet that need, particularly those that cater to long-haul truckers. DEF refilling pumps can be most often seen next to diesel fuel pumps. Such pumps are clearly labeled with “DEF” on them, and most DEF tanks are fitted to not allow diesel fuel to be accidentally pumped in.

A Word of Warning

DEF is probably one of the least dangerous chemicals in your vehicle, though that doesn’t mean it should be treated lightly. There are a few things to keep in mind that will help you maximize the effectiveness of DEF:

  • Running out of DEF: When your vehicle is low on DEF, a warning light will come on to alert the driver that if the DEF tank is not filled soon, the vehicle’s performance will undergo a sudden change. When the DEF tank is completely empty, the vehicle will slow to a maximum speed of a mere five miles per hour. This is so the vehicle is preserved until the DEF is refilled. Once the DEF tank has been replenished, vehicle performance will resume as usual.
  • DEF expires: DEF has a very short shelf life. In fact, purchasing DEF that has been sitting on the shelf for more than a year and pouring it into your exhaust system will cause damage to the vehicle. If stored away from sunlight and between 10°F and 90°F, DEF’s shelf life can last up to a year.

    • How do you know if your DEF is expired? All DEF containers that are purchased at automotive supply shops have an expiration date on the package, not too dissimilar from food expiration dates. DEF pumps at gas stations do not have a labeled expiration date due to the constant cycling of DEF into the pump.
  • Never mix: Though DEF itself is also harmless–spills can be simply wiped up with a rag–it should never be poured into the fuel system. In addition, other liquids, such as additives, should never be added to the DEF tank.
    • Some people think that because DEF is made up partly of urea, it’s acceptable to urinate into their DEF tank when they’re low on DEF. This is not true. DEF uses a synthetic urea not derived from biological sources, and is made to have a highly purified solution of urea. Agricultural urea fertilizers should also never be poured into a DEF tank.
  • Keep it heated: DEF freezing in your truck will not damage the SCR system. Operating a vehicle with frozen DEF is fine, but less effective than if it was thawed. Many vehicles use internal heating equipment or the engine heat itself to keep DEF thawed enough to use. However, if DEF is stored in bulk in an external tank, a heating source will be required, such as a hot box. Keeping DEF at a regular temperature between 10°F and 90°F is critical to ensure quality DEF.

DEF is an important part of diesel-fueled vehicles. Though not part of the drive system, DEF is essential to making the world a better place by lowering vehicle exhaust and smog. It’s a key part of the trucking industry, and will continue to be as the EPA’s NOx regulations are in place.

September Power Manufacture Award Winner: Stealth Gear USA


In what seemed like an underserved market, one business has been leading the way in quality gun accessory manufacturing. That’s why the September Power Manufacture Award goes well-deserved to Stealth Gear USA.


How it all Began:

Based in American Fork, Utah, Stealth Gear USA was created on the idea of a better gun carrying case. According to the company’s website, founder Paul Laemmlen, it all started with a mishap with his handgun while shopping at a local store.

“It all started the day my loaded handgun fell out of a poorly-designed IWB holster and onto the floor of a busy retail establishment,” he says on the company’s website. “That holster (manufactured by a major US holster company) was retired that day to the reject holster pile. After an exhaustive search for a better IWB holster, I was disappointed with the poorly-conceived and over-priced offerings on the market.”

It wasn’t long before Stealth Gear USA was born, bringing quality and practical gun holsters and accessories to the world.


The Product:

What truly sets Stealth Gear USA apart from its competitors is their carefully-crafted, award-winning, American made VentCore® holster. The product was one of Laemmlen’s original creations when he first designed the product out of his garage in 2012. With 30 individual components handmade to order, including parts that utilize rust-free metal and breathable fabric, the holster serves citizens, military and police forces in more than 50 countries.

Not your Average Gun Accessory Maker:

Stealth Gear USA isn’t content in participating in the latest trends in accessory manufacturing. According to a company spokesman, Stealth Gear USA seeks to be on the cutting edge of what’s next in the market.

“We don’t release a product unless its innovative or better than what’s currently available on the

Market,” the spokesman said. “Too many companies ‘pile on’ and just copy their competitors. With our Research and Development Department, Market Research Committee, and New Product Development Committee structure – which is composed of team members with significant engineering and product education experience and backgrounds – we believe we are capable of bringing a more robust and cross-disciplinary product development process to our products.”


Creating a Proud Legacy:

Getting into an industry market can be tough in today’s environment for small businesses. Stealth Gear USA knew this to be a fact, and strove to regulate its growth in ways that would allow its top-quality employees to be the drive of expansion and profit.

“Early on, it was very challenging trying to keep up with the overwhelming demand while building an underlying business that could support the demand and grow to meet market needs,” the spokesman said. “It didn’t take long for us to discover that our industry is subject to  hyper-competition, political realities, and knock-offs and imitations. Through all these challenges we focused on what we could control – the quality of our products and our customer service.

Looking to the future, Stealth Gear USA says it’s well prepared to face a world where the market is ever changing.

“We are extremely proud of the team we’ve built and the processes we have refined over the past five years. We’re in a position now to aggressively pursue new and exciting products not only within the concealed carry market, but beyond.”

Powerblanket is proud to award the Power Manufacture Award to Stealth Gear USA due to the company’s excellence in manufacturing a quality product that puts them above the competition. Fore more information on Stealth Gear USA and its products, visit