As the economy recovers in the manufacturing sector, editor Linda Becker says you should ask yourself: Is your plant prepared to ramp up production yet continue to turn out high quality product?

According to our lead news story, “Manufacturing Index Reaches Near-20-Year High,” the manufacturing sector should end 2003 on a positive note, and all of the indexes support continued strength in 2004. As the economic recovery picks up steam in the manufacturing sector, certainly, there's cause to rejoice. But take a moment and ask yourself: Is your plant prepared to ramp up production yet continue to turn out high quality product? If you had to double your production run tomorrow, what would happen to your reject and scrap rate? If those thoughts give you pause, we've prepared a lineup of articles that will help you keep critical heating processes in spec.

In “Tackling the Tough Processes,” Bill Barron Jr. of Williamson Corp., Concord, Mass., notes that temperature is by far the most commonly measured industrial process parameter. Most temperature measurements are made using thermocouples or RTDs; however, for applications involving a moving or batch-heated product, these contact devices provide only an indirect measure of temperature. Infrared thermometers are able to provide a direct measurement of product temperature, but they can be difficult to apply without significant measurement errors. Barron describes recent developments in infrared thermometer technology that have eliminated many of the obstacles to accurate temperature measurement for this type of challenging application.

Temperature sensing accuracy is also the focus of “5 Steps for Designing Temperature Probe Assemblies” by Devin Brock of Advanced Thermal Products, St. Marys, Pa. Brock outlines a five-step process that highlights factors that affect how well a temperature assembly functions in an application as well as its ability to withstand conditions present in the application for an acceptable period of time.

If your problem is not temperature sensing accuracy but instead a process heating system that has gone offline unexpectedly, “How to Troubleshoot Your Process Heating System” by Scott Bennett of Gaumer Process Heaters, Systems and Controls, Houston, will help. Bennett outlines a systematic approach to get process heating systems back online.

If heat transfer fluids play a key role in your manufacturing process, you'll appreciate “Hot Data,” our annual Equipment Overview on Heat Transfer Fluids. Use this chart and its Internet equivalent (found exclusively on this site) to compare key fluid specs.

Finally, in “Processing Electrical Components and Assemblies,” Frank Calabrese of Grieve Corp., Round Lake, Ill., notes that whether used for curing, stress relieving or burn-in, process ovens play key roles during the manufacture of electronic components. Read this article to understand how oven layout, airflow patterns and control choices influence the success or failure of your process.

Linda Becker
Editor and Associate Publisher