Engineering by the inch

I remember a “Get Smart” TV episode where Maxwell Smart, in describing how a Chaos agent fell to his death while trying to jump from a building to moving truck, said, “Missed it by that much,” and used his pointer finger and thumb to indicate a very small space. If engineering isn’t that way, I don’t know what is.

04/01/2008


I remember a “Get Smart” TV episode where Maxwell Smart, in describing how a Chaos agent fell to his death while trying to jump from a building to moving truck, said, “Missed it by that much,” and used his pointer finger and thumb to indicate a very small space. If engineering isn’t that way, I don’t know what is.

The article by David Sellers, PE, on page 27 about commissioning campus chilled water systems describes how elevations of cooling towers and piping systems can’t be off by “that much”—they must be precise for proper flow. Gravity is always in the wings, waiting to mess up a system if things aren’t just right. At risk are energy efficiency, noise and vibration, premature wear, and outright system failure. Keeping in mind how large cooling towers are, and how complex chilled water designs, specifications, and installations can be, it’s not uncommon for there to be flow problems when starting up a system. It’s good to see an article that describes the challenges and approaches to resolving them.

Sellers doesn’t say so, but it can be inferred from this article and his blog, “A Field Guide for Engineers” at www.csemag.com , that to get to the level of precision needed for large-system design, engineers need to get out into the field more and visit construction sites while their designs are being installed. By seeing how things are connected and at what phase of construction, along with talking to contractors, inspectors, and commissioning providers, designers will be more prepared for future designs.

The article also illuminates key differences among commissioning providers and services that are available today. Some owners opt to contract commissioning services before design completion, when making changes is least expensive, while others do not. Some owners opt to have commissioning providers witness construction; others just have commissioning providers become part of the paper-pushing process. While it’s easy to shrug this off as owners get what they pay for, poorly planned or insufficiently funded commissioning efforts are giving commissioning a bad rap.

But back to the matter of “that much.” In a totally different realm of engineering, William Sako describes the challenges of engineering and implementing mass notification systems for campuses on page 18. Sako asserts that no matter how well such systems are planned, events will occur and people will be hurt or killed. What matters is how fast and effective mass notification will be when an event occurs. The seconds or minutes it takes for alarms to go off and the accuracy with which people are directed to shelter or evacuation are where the proper engineering and implementation make a difference.

Finally, the article on radiant cooling by Geoff McDonell, PEng, on page 46, adds degrees to the margins engineers have to deal with. Many engineers are skeptical of radiant cooling systems because they are fearful of condensation problems. McDonell addresses that concern squarely in his article.

So rather than mess up a job by “that much,” we bring you articles and information that will help you stay squarely on your feet while jumping from one project to the next. Happy reading.

Send your questions and comments to: Michael.Ivanovich@reedbusiness.com





No comments
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2015 Top Plant.
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
The Engineering Leaders Under 40 program identifies and gives recognition to young engineers who...
World-class manufacturing: A recipe for success: Finding the right mix for a salad dressing line; 2015 Salary Survey: Manufacturing slump dims enthusiasm
2015 Top Plant: Phoenix Contact, Middletown, Pa.; 2015 Best Practices: Automation, Electrical Safety, Electrical Systems, Pneumatics, Material Handling, Mechanical Systems
A cool solution: Collaboration, chemistry leads to foundry coat product development; See the 2015 Product of the Year Finalists
Digital oilfields: Integrated HMI/SCADA systems enable smarter data acquisition; Real-world impact of simulation; Electric actuator technology prospers in production fields
Special report: U.S. natural gas; LNG transport technologies evolve to meet market demand; Understanding new methane regulations; Predictive maintenance for gas pipeline compressors
Cyber security cost-efficient for industrial control systems; Extracting full value from operational data; Managing cyber security risks
Getting ready for industrial IoT; Visualizing the (applied) automation continuum; Preventing VFD faults and failures; Using wireless for closed-loop applications
Migrating industrial networks; Tracking HMI advances; Making the right automation changes
Understanding transfer switch operation; Coordinating protective devices; Analyzing NEC 2014 changes; Cooling data centers

Annual Salary Survey

After almost a decade of uncertainty, the confidence of plant floor managers is soaring. Even with a number of challenges and while implementing new technologies, there is a renewed sense of optimism among plant managers about their business and their future.

The respondents to the 2014 Plant Engineering Salary Survey come from throughout the U.S. and serve a variety of industries, but they are uniform in their optimism about manufacturing. This year’s survey found 79% consider manufacturing a secure career. That’s up from 75% in 2013 and significantly higher than the 63% figure when Plant Engineering first started asking that question a decade ago.

Read more: 2014 Salary Survey: Confidence rises amid the challenges

Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
The One Voice for Manufacturing blog reports on federal public policy issues impacting the manufacturing sector. One Voice is a joint effort by the National Tooling and Machining...
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
This article collection contains several articles on the vital role that compressed air plays in manufacturing plants.