It ain’t over ‘til it’s over!” I was reminded of Yogi Berra’s famous malapropism while working on this issue’s lineup of articles, which all emphasize a similar thought: start at the beginning. You might ask, where else would you start? But only a disingenuous few could ask that with a straight face. It is possible to start at the middle or the end -- simply jumping into a project without adequate research, preparation or funding, for example -- and then be forced to muddle though with the hope that the results achieved are those intended. If you, like me, have done that one too many times, take some good Yogi-like advice and start at the beginning.

If you’re responsible for selecting heat transfer fluids or the process equipment in which they are used, taking that advice is as easy as turning to “Choosing the Heat Transfer Fluid,” by regular contributor Jay Hudson, P.E. With this article, Hudson begins a six-part series on specifying a thermal fluid system. He notes, “The heat transfer fluid is the most important decision to make in specifying a system. The fluid’s properties have to be matched to the process requirements, and the equipment has to be matched to the fluid properties.” In other words, if you start by specifying equipment and figure you’ll select whatever fluid is cheapest later, you’re asking for trouble.

Also, turn to our annual Equipment Overview on Heat Transfer Fluids, which begins on page 26, for a matrix that allows you to compare specifications such as density, specific gravity, thermal conductivity and flashpoint for fluids from many different suppliers. While the temperatures used to calculate the data may not be your process temperature -- and you would certainly want to gather this data for your specific process temperature -- it provides a baseline to compare different fluids. From there, you can narrow the field to a manageable few and perform more process-specific calculations.

With “How to Ensure Success After Installation,” Earle Pfefferkorn of C-B Package Boiler, Milwaukee, explains that selecting a boiler is about more than simply the equipment specs. He offers nine tips on how to evaluate suppliers up front with an eye toward aftermarket service and support.

Also in this issue, “Is Your Process Right for Heat Tracing?” asserts that any tracing method considered must be able to meet the functional requirements of the process piping and equipment being traced. To find out whether it can, consider four key aspects -- before selecting the system. A complete tracing system analysis should consider the specific application; functional performance, system energy performance; and total installation cost.

My favorite Yogi-ism is when he was asked him if he wanted his pizza cut into four pieces or eight. “Four,” he is said to have replied. “I don’t think I can eat eight.” Don’t make the job of optimizing your heat processing equipment larger than it has to be.