In 1821, Thomas Johann Seebeck discovered thermo-electricity and developed the preliminary design for thermocouples. At this time, the idea of electricity in every home was a stretch and the NASA space program was a complete work of fiction. Nearly two hundred years later, thermocouples can be found in virtually every industrial, commercial and residetherntial building. Simple in design, thermocouples are constructed of two distinct metal wires joined together. If the temperatures changes, the voltage readout also changes and alerts users to the difference. In some ways these devices are like common thermostats, but for electronics rather than room temperature. They have become such an integral element of temperature sensory that researchers at the NASA Glenn Research Center continue to expand upon Seebeck’s original idea for both space and earthbound applications. Research conducted there and independently by manufacturers allows for innovative thermocouple technology that can be applied in the home, in the workplace and in outer space.
When was the last time you cleaned behind your refrigerator? Perhaps never, but for those diligent cleaners out there that have, I bet it wasn’t too difficult to move that 400 pound appliance all by yourself. That may seem like an amazing feat, but really, it was those small wheels attached to the base of the fridge that did all the work. They’re called casters, and these simple devices have revolutionized more than just deep cleaning your house-they can help virtually any piece of furniture move with ease, eliminating the need to lift hundreds of pounds with a light push or pull movement that almost anyone can accomplish easily, even my Grandmother. I’m sure you’ve seen them all over the place. They’re the small black rubber wheels on the bottom of shopping carts, and, since you’re using a computer at this very moment, there’s a good chance they are supporting your weight as you read this. Does your chair move back and fourth with a little push off the desk? If so, look down…casters! They are everywhere.
There’s a statistic out there that claims we use only 20% of what we own, and when I look around the office and think about my full-to-the-brim closet at home, that sounds about right. I think it’s also true for factories and warehouses, probably more so. The other 80%, whether in your home or workplace, must be stored somehow. And if you want to make your life a whole lot easier, it should be organized. In industrial environments, where large amounts of bulky, heavy boxes and equipment require tough steel shelving, there are tons of different options out there to consider for organizing unused inventory, equipment and supplies. Before you get too overwhelmed and choose the wrong system, peruse these options and decide which best fits your workspace, time and weight capacity.
Carbon fiber and graphite reinforced polymers are materials that have, and will continue to revolutionize the products we use everyday by making them stronger, lighter and more durable. However, the manufacturing process can have serious environmental ramifications and immediate danger to human health if careful consideration is not given to emission control at the production phase of these materials.
A Gantry crane is a type of overhead crane that lifts objects, machinery, materials and parts as high as 30 stories. They come in many different sizes, but the largest are used everyday to help manufacture some huge structures. This type of crane is composed of 2 vertical concrete supports with steel reinforcements and a horizontal beam, which has winches made of extremely strong wire rope that can hold up to 2 thousand tons each. Gantry cranes’ movements are limited to vertical up and down and left and right motions. They cannot shift, rotate or turn, and their supports are not easily moved.
Aren’t we all familiar with that achy pain after getting home from work some days? We feel it in our necks, backs, the soles of our feet or various joints. Whether in an office, commercial, or industrial environment, repetitive motion all day in a standing or sitting position has the tendency to do that. This is why ergonomics is so important in the workplace, and why OSHA has a four-pronged comprehensive approach to ergonomics. Since, in the broadest terms, workstations are used in office, IT, home, school, and manufacturing settings, OSHA has specific workstation guidelines, such as ones for computer workstations.
In your home and on the job, gas leaks are always something to worry about. If gone undetected, leaks of all kinds could do serious harm and put people’s health at risk. Some leaks could result in an explosion or death, while others waste money and create unsafe working conditions. Regardless, a gas leak, whether it be natural gas, Freon, or air, causes all sorts of unwanted problems. But don’t start panicking just yet-instead of putting your family or employees at risk, wasting your money and causing system malfunctions or product damage, there is something you can do to catch leaks as soon as they happen! They’re called leak detectors, and they not only alert inhabitants that a leak has started, but they are able to identify, distinguish and locate exactly where it is happening.
When I hear the word mezzanine, I immediately think of that field trip to an opera version of Romeo and Juliet in ninth grade. All I remember from that experience is sitting in the theater mezzanine wishing that those two star-crossed lovers would stop singing and just die already. But we did have great seats. A mezzanine in a theater is the lowest balcony, a nice elevated position to see all the action. Mezzanines in commercial and industrial settings serve a similar function of creating another level within a building.
A couple years ago, a high-pressure vessel containing water and air was operating on a much higher psi than its design allowed. After years of too much pressure, a small leak developed. It was caught and welded shut. But a month later, the welding job, which did not adhere with safety codes, failed, causing the vessel to rupture and explode. Pieces of shrapnel metal weighing over a thousand pounds traveled at extremely high speeds up to a half-mile before landing on nearby highways and railways. A large portion of the plant was destroyed, half the state was without phone or electricity, and 3 plant workers were killed. If the contents had been flammable, there would have been an explosion too, making the accident much more devastating. Pretty intense, huh? Unfortunately, pressure vessel incidents like this happen much more than they should.
The full range of today’s hydraulic presses is some of the most powerful and versatile manufacturing equipment. Achieving the highest compressive force of all the power presses, these machines are crucial for the forming and molding of a wide spectrum of materials: metals, plastics and composites, rubber, wood, and laminates. From deep drawing essential parts, such as tanks and fenders, for the production of motorcycles to creating 2,640 plastic credit cards per hour, the manufacturing realm would be lost without hydraulic presses. The scrap metal processing industry also relies on shear hydraulic press force to smash discarded cars and such into compact, manageable squares of reusable material for pop cans, paper clips, etc.
Those that work in a factory, warehouse, assembly line or mill know-storage racks are a necessary component to an industrial manufacturer. They keep any sized product, part or material organized and easy to find, utilizing all space and increasing efficiency among workers. An organized workspace runs smoothly and easily keeps track of stock. Storage racks are easy to assemble, adjust to the size of different items, and are able to join together. The question is-with so many differently sized parts and products to organize, what kind of storage rack is right for your business? After a quick look at the different options, the next step is choosing the right set-up system for your shelving. Pallet racks are a very popular option when storing products and materials in an industrial setting. These allow storage of large, flat structures that support packaged goods while being lifted by a forklift. The standard pallet racks have many isles between the rows of shelving, which can take up much space, but there are a couple other pallet rack alternatives to consider. If your business has a lot of inventory that shifts on a regular basis, drive-through pallet racks could be a better solution because they have a denser arrangement that uses 80% less space than standard pallet racks. Pushback racks are optimal when space is very limited. They are similar to carton flow racks, because the pallets sit on a tray that rides along a set of rails in the rack frame that are set on an incline. This rack uses gravity to save space and quicken picking time.
You can almost hear the grinding and crushing as you say the word pulverizer – the consonants and vowels combine to create hard sounds as you enunciate through the syllables. I enjoy deepening my voice to emphasize the harshness of the word. You try… it’s like a ‘grr’ from the back of your throat. Now, while saying it (and making pounding motions with your fists if you really want to get into it), imagine what it would take to smash stones into powder. The bulk material handling and process industries, including mining, waste recycling, plastics, food & pharmaceuticals, rely on this kind of de-agglomeration controlled at various intensities within pulverizing machines, making materials more useful or reusable. It’s destruction with a purpose; breaking down to make better. Pulverizers take the idea of mortar and pestle to the extreme.
A surprising 15% of American car owners never wash their cars; they just let the rain take care of it. Many wash their vehicles in their driveway with a hose and household cleaners. Some claim they don’t have time, others don’t want to pay for a professional cleaning. Today, there are 100,000 professional car washes in the United States. Whether you’re part of a small business or working for a large chain, owners of car wash equipment need to advertise the benefits of their company to the public. Virtually every type of car wash system used today-whether touchless, coin-operated, automated or hand-operated, has advantages that far outweigh the alternatives. Perhaps the most attractive advantage to the consumer, using professional car washes is a money-saving method of protecting an expensive investment. Washing a car twice a month can protect from environmental factors, including acid rain, salt on roads during the winter and bird droppings, all of which can cause serious damage over time. These unavoidable issues will harm the finish, age the car and significantly decrease its overall resale value-on average, about 20%.
When it comes to drying large amounts of raw material, there are a number of options for manufacturers to choose from, depending on their budget, space and properties of the material being dried. Industrial dryers are often used to remove moisture from materials such as powders, foods and chemicals for the pharmaceutical, paper, pollution control, food and agricultural industries. If your company is in the market for a new industrial dryer, there are 5 main types for different applications, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Dryers that pass material through a large, revolving metal drum and heated by gas, liquid or solid fuel are commonly used in the chemical, food and mineral industries. Rotary dryers have low maintenance costs and allow vast amounts of material with differing particle sizes to dry at one time. However, because these dryers are powered by gas, moisture control is difficult and they often create fire hazards as a result of drying flammable materials. Because the drum is often quite large, these dryers often require a lot of space.
Everyone has had plenty of experiences dealing with electrostatic discharge-reaching out a hand to open the car door on a dry winter day and hesitating, because you know that zap is coming. Annoying isn’t it? Unfortunately, ESD can be a lot more harmful than that. Without proper prevention, it could damage a computer to the point of no return. The zap you felt when you opened the door was at least 2,500 volts of ESD, caused by the transfer of electrons from one surface (the door handle) to another (your hand). Charges as weak as 200 volts can severely damage your computer, and since they are below the threshold of human feeling, you might have no idea it’s happening. Catastrophic failure, damage to your computer that cannot be undone, is commonly due to ESD, and it can be direct or latent. Direct isn’t really a problem to anyone but manufacturers, since it is usually detected in initial testing. Latent catastrophic failure is what you should worry about. Low-voltage static charges may be slowly causing damage to your computer system, and may not show symptoms for weeks or even months. Then, suddenly, out of nowhere, you’ve got a computer that won’t turn on and can’t be fixed.
Within the past 5 years or so, the concept of reducing emissions has been the automotive industry’s most popular issue. It’s all over their commercials, boasting fuel economy and environmental friendliness. Though less advertised, non-road diesel engines, including forklift trucks, are no exception. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been working since 1996 on a 4-tiered program to greatly reduce emission pollutants and sulfur content in fuel. Program From 1996 until last year, non-road diesel engines have complied with lenient emission standards and still accounted for 44 percent of diesel particulate matter (PM) emissions and 12 percent of total nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions, an excessively large amount of total emissions from mobile sources. So in January of 2008, the EPA put the 4th tier into effect. The new standards involve models built in 2008 and later and aim to reduce 90% of NOx and PM emissions, in comparison to unregulated engines. They are also reducing sulfur in fuel to 15-ppm.
Pollution Control can be very expensive!’ you may say. And you’d be right. It can be. With ever increasing pressure to reduce emissions of gaseous pollution (and a company’s carbon footprint), many are choosing to install fume abatement systems on process exhausts where pollutants are present. In fact, regulations require pollution control equipment for many industries. The popularity of the Thermal Oxidization process for pollution control is, for the time being, high enough that it is considered the norm. Some companies have to endure the cost of cleaning exhausts for the environment. That is the responsibility element companies have to get used to. But it doesn’t have to be all bad news. I would bring to your attention several possibilities of secondary Heat Recovery worthy of your consideration. Process exhaust Heat Recovery can offer exceptional payback. The right industrial-grade air to air heat exchanger, correctly designed, engineered and built for your application, can allow you to reduce negative impact on the environment and your operational energy costs – dramatically. For instance: If you have a Regenerative Thermal Oxidizer (RTO) abatement system you know the final outgoing RTO exhaust temperature is higher than the incoming process air temperature. If, for example, you have 200°F entering the RTO from your process, the RTO exhaust could be as high as 400°F – even higher if the bypass is open. When RTOs are sold with high thermal efficiency expectations, companies often overlook the energy recovery potential of the RTO application.
Explosions in dust collectors Dust explosions are possible whenever the process produces combustible dusts. Not all combustible dusts will produce explosions. For instance, even combustible dusts may not have the characteristics to produce an explosion. A coarse combustible dust such as coal may burn well but not explode depending on how fine the dust is. To produce a conflagration the dust must have a sufficient ratio of surface area to weight to sustain the rapid oxidation for creating and sustaining an explosion. When a dust can sustain an explosion, the dust concentration must be within the explosive limits. These are often defined as: L.E.L. (Lower Explosive Limit): Below this level of concentration, an explosion will not occur and propagate itself. There is not enough concentration of fuel to allow the flame front to grow. A typical range of values would be 20-30 grains/ cubic foot. U.E.L. (Upper Explosive Limit): Above this limit the concentration of dust is so high that there is insufficient oxygen to oxidize the fuel and the unburned fuel stops the spread of the flame front. Ignition of the dust depends on several factors (1) Chemical Composition (2) Shape and fineness, briefly described above. (3) Dust distribution in the gas stream or atmosphere (4) Concentration of oxygen in the gas stream. (5) Initial temperature and pressure of the gas. (6) Energy level available to detonate the explosion Intensity of the explosion is dependent on the rate of pressure rise and maximum pressure developed. Factory Mutual ran lab tests to determine these values and are contained in their publications. It must be pointed out these tests and values are run with a spherical test chamber with power ignition source in the center of the sphere. These numbers are relatively high when referring to explosions in a dust collector housing, because the bags usually obstruct the expansion of the explosive flame front.
With all the ‘green’ alternative energy, recycling and sustainable manufacturing facilities popping up across the U.S., it seems only fitting to talk about heat exchangers. Recycling re-usable materials like aluminum, steel, HDPE, rubber and pulp products is a topic of frequent discussion in both consumer and manufacturing industries, but what about energy recycling? Industrial facilities and process manufacturers in pharmaceutical, bio-diesel, pulp and food process industries have been using the heat exchanger – a rather basic design concept – for decades to transfer heating and cooling. In recent years engineers have been tweaking the design, replacing typical coolants with gases or liquids which need to be heated anyway, allowing facilities to recycle their own energy. Automotive radiators, heater cores and evaporators work this way, with tubes of liquid coolant absorbing excess energy from the engine, which is then blown by fans into the car interior as heating.
It’s hard to imagine what the manufacturing industry was like before waterjet cutting. Sure, there was laser cutting, but waterjet cutting accomplishes so much more on such a wide spectrum of materials that it’s difficult to believe we were ever able to manufacture parts without it. If you work in or own a job shop, you’re likely already familiar with the range of materials that can be cut by waterjet – it’s far easier to list which materials can’t be cut by waterjets.They are: tempered glass, brittle ceramics and diamonds.