Understanding Essential Elements

My friends good-naturedly laugh at me sometimes because nearly every new project I start begins with a book or a class. Even for subjects I have a fair amount of experience with -- gardening, for example -- I take classes, read magazines and books, and subscribe to e-newsletters. I argue that even for chores I've done regularly over the years, like fall and spring pruning, a refresher course is warranted. Over time, anyone can develop habits and methods that seem OK at the time but actually are counterproductive. When learning a skill for the first time, there's so much to take in that inevitably, some of the finer points are missed. And then, even if you practice that skill every single day, unless you check your work against an expert's, you can develop habits or methods that are wrong.

Perhaps that's why this issue, our annual Basics Series, is one of my favorites. It too gets back to the fundamentals and provides a refresher course.

Thermal imaging is the first topic on your schedule. In “Picture This Process,” Jonathon Blaisdell of Fluke Corp., Everett, Wash., notes that temperature monitoring can detect overheating delivery system components, help solve irregularities in electrical power supplies, predict operational machinery failure, and identify product inconsistencies. And while most facilities use fixed-mount sensors for permanent temperature monitoring as well as handheld tools for spot-checks, troubleshooting and predictive maintenance, thermal imagers capture a complete two-dimensional representation of an object's surface temperature. Employing thermal imaging allows you to get a full picture of your process and equipment and detect potential problems before they lead to failures.

Can you turn the dead overhead of energy costs into bottom-line profits? The tools to help you answer that question are found in “Reduce Energy Costs,” an article from Steven Rach of Megtec Systems, De Pere, Wis. Improving emission-control thermal efficiency can have a large impact on the cost of your product. Installing new regenerative thermal oxidizer technology could pay for itself in as little as two years in terms of energy savings, maintenance costs and VOC reductions.

Thermal fluid heater maintenance is the focus of “Water in Mineral-Oil Thermal-Fluid Systems” by Jim Oetinger of Paratherm Corp., Conshohocken, Pa. Water contamination in an operating thermal-fluid system is hard to ignore. What causes everybody to start scratching their heads, Oetinger says, is that the symptoms of water contamination don't always follow the rules. They can appear suddenly or over time, at relatively low or relatively high temperatures, when the system is already at operating temperature, or as it is warming up. No matter how or when it starts, it is not good news for anyone involved. And, no matter how water gets in your thermal fluid heater, it's your job to get it out. Oetinger goes over the basic steps.

Also check out “Induction Heating Primer” by Kimberly Paytash of Ameritherm Inc., Scottsville, N.Y. Long used to create tamper-evident seals on food and pharmaceutical packaging, induction heating is a quick, safe and efficient way to heat metal or other electrically conductive materials. This quick primer introduces you to a method you may not have heard of or just forgotten. PH

Linda Becker
Associate Publisher & Editor