Learn how to get more out of your system.

Driving to work a few weeks ago, I saw a boy -- probably 12 years old -- playing in his front yard while he waited for the school bus. As I neared his house, he wrapped his arms around a giant snow chunk created by the plows as they cleared the street the night before. Then, he stretched, leaned and strained, trying to pick up the huge "snowball." Of course, it didn't move. Then his little brother came over with a shovel. As I drove past, I watched the two boys finally move the snowball by using a better tool and a little leverage. It's a lesson for all of us in this challenging economy: Sometimes, it's not how hard you work but how smart you work that matters.

Making the most of the equipment you have is the theme of the articles in Process Heating this month. In "The Ins and Outs of SCR Power Controls," Paul Evalds of Avatar Instruments Inc., Norristown, Pa., explains how to extend heater life, enjoy better control of your heating process, improve product quality while improving production speeds and reduce maintenance costs.

In "Get to the Heart of Fan Problems," Bill Howarth of Hartzell Fan Inc., Piqua, Ohio, notes that a fan-related problem can greatly reduce a process's efficiency. Identifying the cause of a fan problem can be difficult due to the wide range of fans and applications as well as the operating points for the units. Fan problems generally fall into two categories: mechanical or air-performance problems. Howarth explains how to address both types of problems to minimize process inefficiencies.

Joe Bell of Tranter PHE Inc., Wichita Falls, Texas, looks at reactive vs. proactive approaches to heat exchanger maintenance in "Maintaining a Plate Heat Exchanger." Bell notes that maintaining a plate heat exchanger and absorbing its related cost is more than a good idea -- it is a necessity for any successful business strategy concerned with continued manufacturing productivity.

In "Dryer Buyer?" the staff of Process Heating has compiled our annual Equipment Overview on Dryers. Use this bullet chart -- and its Internet-based equivalent (www.process-heating.com), which is powered by a searching tool that let's you set the search criteria -- to find that dryer that will help you dry smarter, not work harder.