At the risk of tempting the snow fairies to dump even more precipitation on the Chicagoland area, I will assert that winter seems to be nearly over. In my humble opinion, spring cannot come soon enough -- and certainly could have come 50" or more of snow ago. With the change in season, though, come chores. Especially in spring, I’m tempted to skip some of the preventive steps for the snowblower and other equipment. However, having learned my lesson the hard way in the past -- by overlooking the manufacturers’ recommendations, only to be left with nonfunctioning equipment when I need it -- I ignore my worst impulses and proceed. The alternative could be hand shoveling 17" of snow next December, which is certainly worse than a few minutes spent running the snowblower now.

Perhaps you too have been tempted to ignore preventive maintenance. Certainly there are times when process constraints prevent timely attention to routine maintenance. For help handling those circumstances, Joao Castro and Harold Bufe of Lytron Inc., Woburn, Mass., explain in “Protecting Your Recirculating Chiller Investment” how safety options such as valves, filters and remote-start functions can make operating and maintaining chillers easier and help minimize the risk of premature system failure.

Sometimes, the best preventive maintenance is to ensure that the equipment can operate properly in the ambient environment. For example, heaters are used with some valves to maintain the temperature of the valve or the material flowing through it. However, if the heater fails, it can cause serious damage, halt the process or compromise safety. John Pape of St. Louis-based Watlow outlines the “best case” scenario -- understanding the application’s heating needs in the early stages of system design -- and looks at alternatives when the “worst case” -- considering the need for system heat only as an afterthought -- occurs.

Understanding how to maximize transformer pump life is the focus of “Tips for Transformer Oil Pumps” by Greg Stem of Cardinal Pumps and Exchangers, Salem, Ohio. Stem asserts that transformer oil pumps, once thought of as routine maintenance replacement items, have transformed into critical process tools marked by sophisticated engineering and high quality construction. One of the most challenging aspects of transformer oil pump design is the fact that the transformer oil also functions as the pump’s lubricant.

Spray drying is one of the oldest forms of drying, in which the feed material is atomized or sprayed into the drying chamber in fine droplets. In “Spray Dryer Guide,” Darren A Traub of Drytech Engineering Inc., Irvine, Calif., describes the principles operation of these continuous processing machines.

“Extending Ethanol’s Environmental Reach” describes how molded one-piece, semi-rigid blanket and flexible board products simplified insulation installation on piping and equipment during a plant expansion at Wyoming Ethanol.

Finally, if you are considering using contact thermocouples vs. optical sensors for temperature measurement, take a look at “Sensor Q&A.” Turn to it for a list of questions to ask about the process you wish to monitor as well as factors to consider.

Linda Becker
Associate Publisher & Editor