Tips & Tricks

The collision of the creative and practical parts of the brain gives us the world’s great inventions. The basic tools man has invented – the lever, the wheel, the pulley – haven’t been improved on centuries later, but the way those tools are adapted continue to evolve. Electricity is a force of nature and physics, but the taming of that force allows it to move mountains ...


The collision of the creative and practical parts of the brain gives us the world’s great inventions. The basic tools man has invented %%MDASSML%% the lever, the wheel, the pulley %%MDASSML%% haven’t been improved on centuries later, but the way those tools are adapted continue to evolve. Electricity is a force of nature and physics, but the taming of that force allows it to move mountains and still remain safe to use.

This is how Tips & Tricks was born 20 years ago %%MDASSML%% by facing the problems we see each day on the plant floor and crafting a creative solution. Hundreds of great ideas over two decades have helped PLANT ENGINEERING readers out of tight spots and helped get the job done safely and efficiently.

Even in today’s high-tech world, the basics of tools and nature haven’t changed. How we use them has changed dramatically. But there always will be room in a high-tech world for innovative ways to move motors, measure voltage or simply fill in a hole. Here are the 2007 contributions from PLANT ENGINEERING readers to the legacy of Tips & Tricks:

Moving motors to change bearings

When changing a bearing, coupling, etc. the motor normally needs to be moved out of the way to access the equipment. For heavier motors, remove the motor mounting bolts, disconnect the coupling and lift each foot with a small flat pry bar. Put a 1/8” x 4” nipple under each foot and roll the motor out of the way. Once out of the way place a washer in front of and behind two of the roller pipes to keep it place. After repairs, remove the washers and roll it back into place and remove the roller pipes.

Jack Jones

Electrical Engineer

Guardian Industries Corp., Pittsburgh

Saw in reverse

When cutting PVC with a hole saw. Run the saw in reverse and the holesaw will not twist and jerk out of your hand.

Ken Borgen

Maintenance & Facilities Manager

The Michaels Furniture Co., Sacramento, CA

Test lights as indicators

I find neon test lights to be handy when used as intended, but also as indicator lights. Cut off the tips, crimp on terminals, and install across AC components. Use several, as test lights are inexpensive, have a wide-voltage AC range, and don’t take up much space. Troubleshooting is easier when watching a sequence of events. I leave them in place, because there is not much reason to pull them out. Watching them helps explain operating details to someone else.

Craig Cox

Project Engineer

Corporate Engineering, Racine, WI

Filling the gap

When filling in a hole that has been worn open past an acceptable tolerance, a piece of copper pipe (with an outside dimension of the size that is needed) can be inserted into the hole. A welder can fill the gap between the worn sides of the hole and the copper pipe. When the welding is complete, simply knock-out the piece of pipe.

Gary Hawkins

Plant Engineering Supervisor

3M, Nevada, MO

Testing fan speeds

Hinge a small vane in the moving air so it rests on a contact point that triggers a solid state relay, Adjust the vane’s weight so the switch opens when the fan’s speed is higher than desired. When it slows down, the contact closes and the speed increases. The switch contact can be optical to avoid the exposed arc of a true mechanical point contact.

Craig Cox

Project Engineer

Corporate Engineering, Racine, WI

Protecting bump strips

On automatic doors, when there is a bump-strip to prevent shutting while anything is in the way, a flexible piece of material can be used to cover the bump-strip so that if an item such as a pallet jack in the door is moving when the bump-strip is contacted it will not pull the bump-strip out of its track.

Gary Hawkins

Plant Engineering Supervisor

3M, Nevada, MO

Testing for loss of ground

Use a non-contact voltage tester for the loss of ground to electrical equipment. Test first in an outlet, then hold the tester close to the metal case of a piece of equipment connected to the outlet with a three-prong plug. If properly grounded, the probe will not light or sound. Then connect the three-prong plug to a two-prong adapter. Plug into an outlet, and then hold the voltage probe close to the metal case. The probe will sound and light indicating voltage.

Bennie Kennedy

General Industries Outreach Electrical Safety Trainer

Square D/Schneider Electric

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.
Each year, a panel of Control Engineering and Plant Engineering editors and industry expert judges select the System Integrator of the Year Award winners in three categories.
Doubling down on digital manufacturing; Data driving predictive maintenance; Electric motors and generators; Rewarding operational improvement
2017 Lubrication Guide; Software tools; Microgrids and energy strategies; Use robots effectively
Prescriptive maintenance; Hannover Messe 2017 recap; Reduce welding errors
The cloud, mobility, and remote operations; SCADA and contextual mobility; Custom UPS empowering a secure pipeline
Infrastructure for natural gas expansion; Artificial lift methods; Disruptive technology and fugitive gas emissions
Mobility as the means to offshore innovation; Preventing another Deepwater Horizon; ROVs as subsea robots; SCADA and the radio spectrum
Research team developing Tesla coil designs; Implementing wireless process sensing
Commissioning electrical systems; Designing emergency and standby generator systems; Paralleling switchgear generator systems
Natural gas engines; New applications for fuel cells; Large engines become more efficient; Extending boiler life

Annual Salary Survey

Before the calendar turned, 2016 already had the makings of a pivotal year for manufacturing, and for the world.

There were the big events for the year, including the United States as Partner Country at Hannover Messe in April and the 2016 International Manufacturing Technology Show in Chicago in September. There's also the matter of the U.S. presidential elections in November, which promise to shape policy in manufacturing for years to come.

But the year started with global economic turmoil, as a slowdown in Chinese manufacturing triggered a worldwide stock hiccup that sent values plummeting. The continued plunge in world oil prices has resulted in a slowdown in exploration and, by extension, the manufacture of exploration equipment.

Read more: 2015 Salary Survey

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.
The maintenance journey has been a long, slow trek for most manufacturers and has gone from preventive maintenance to predictive maintenance.
Featured articles highlight technologies that enable the Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT-related products and strategies to get data more easily to the user.
This digital report will explore several aspects of how IIoT will transform manufacturing in the coming years.
Maintenance Manager; California Oils Corp.
Associate, Electrical Engineering; Wood Harbinger
Control Systems Engineer; Robert Bosch Corp.
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me