New department responds to popular demand

For years, our annual "Tips & Tricks" feature generated requests that we run these kinds of great ideas in every issue.


For years, our annual "Tips & Tricks" feature generated requests that we run these kinds of great ideas in every issue. So here it is: A monthly department of ideas for faster, easier, or less expensive ways to deal with plant engineering and maintenance tasks.

Two types of ideas come from our readers: Those that allow the seemingly impossible to be accomplished, and those that are shortcuts. The word "shortcut" is used here in its most positive sense, referring to an approach that gives the desired result (or perhaps better) with less time, effort, or expense.

All too often, what is common knowledge or standard procedure in one plant, industry, or trade may be unknown elsewhere. Perhaps there's a cherished trick that's been passed along to you, or maybe you've got a clever idea of your own.

Each reader-submitted maintenance suggestion selected for publication will earn the sender $35. Granted, this is not a lot of money. But the goal here is to share ideas, not to make money. There is no limit on the number of ideas submitted. The best and most widely useful ideas will be published in our annual "Tips & Tricks" feature article.

How to submit ideas

Simplicity and widespread applicability are the two most important criteria for suggestions.

If you come up with a good idea, send us a detailed explanation. State the problem that existed, and then present the solution provided by your tip. It's important to include drawings, sketches, or color photos if they help to make the idea and its use clear. Also include a brief professional biography, your company mailing and/or e-mail address, and daytime telephone number.

Accurate pressure

Problem: In checking fluid handling devices, readings of the inlet and outlet pressures are often desired. Using two separate gauges can be misleading because of possible gauge inaccuracy.

Solution: Get inlet and outlet pressures from the same gauge by installing it with two valves so that each reading can be taken, one at a time. The gauge may not be exactly accurate, but the differential reading is likely to be more accurate than if two gauges are used.

Contributor: Gordon R. Watson, PE, Fluor Daniel, San Jose, CA

Pulling knobs

Problem: Small knobs that press onto their shafts can be difficult to remove.

Solution: Slide the edge of a handkerchief or thin rag under the knob, add two or three twists, then pull the knob off.

Contributor: Kelly Scott, Plant Maintenance, Quartztek. Inc., Phoenix, AZ

Top Plant
The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America.
Product of the Year
The Product of the Year program recognizes products newly released in the manufacturing industries.
System Integrator of the Year
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.
June 2018
2018 Lubrication Guide, Motor and maintenance management, Control system migration
May 2018
Electrical standards, robots and Lean manufacturing, and how an aluminum packaging plant is helping community growth.
April 2018
2017 Product of the Year winners, retrofitting a press, IMTS and Hannover Messe preview, natural refrigerants, testing steam traps
June 2018
Machine learning, produced water benefits, programming cavity pumps
April 2018
ROVs, rigs, and the real time; wellsite valve manifolds; AI on a chip; analytics use for pipelines
February 2018
Focus on power systems, process safety, electrical and power systems, edge computing in the oil & gas industry
Spring 2018
Burners for heat-treating furnaces, CHP, dryers, gas humidification, and more
April 2018
Implementing a DCS, stepper motors, intelligent motion control, remote monitoring of irrigation systems
February 2018
Setting internal automation standards

Annual Salary Survey

After two years of economic concerns, manufacturing leaders once again have homed in on the single biggest issue facing their operations:

It's the workers—or more specifically, the lack of workers.

The 2017 Plant Engineering Salary Survey looks at not just what plant managers make, but what they think. As they look across their plants today, plant managers say they don’t have the operational depth to take on the new technologies and new challenges of global manufacturing.

Read more: 2017 Salary Survey

The Maintenance and Reliability Coach's blog
Maintenance and reliability tips and best practices from the maintenance and reliability coaches at Allied Reliability Group.
One Voice for Manufacturing
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 Maintenance and Reliability Professionals Blog
The Society for Maintenance and Reliability Professionals an organization devoted...
Machine Safety
Join this ongoing discussion of machine guarding topics, including solutions assessments, regulatory compliance, gap analysis...
Research Analyst Blog
IMS Research, recently acquired by IHS Inc., is a leading independent supplier of market research and consultancy to the global electronics industry.
Marshall on Maintenance
Maintenance is not optional in manufacturing. It’s a profit center, driving productivity and uptime while reducing overall repair costs.
Lachance on CMMS
The Lachance on CMMS blog is about current maintenance topics. Blogger Paul Lachance is president and chief technology officer for Smartware Group.
Electrical Safety Update
This digital report explains how plant engineers need to take greater care when it comes to electrical safety incidents on the plant floor.
Maintenance & Safety
The maintenance journey has been a long, slow trek for most manufacturers and has gone from preventive maintenance to predictive maintenance.
IIoT: Machines, Equipment, & Asset Management
Articles in this digital report highlight technologies that enable Industrial Internet of Things, IIoT-related products and strategies.
Randy Steele
Maintenance Manager; California Oils Corp.
Matthew J. Woo, PE, RCDD, LEED AP BD+C
Associate, Electrical Engineering; Wood Harbinger
Randy Oliver
Control Systems Engineer; Robert Bosch Corp.
Data Centers: Impacts of Climate and Cooling Technology
This course focuses on climate analysis, appropriateness of cooling system selection, and combining cooling systems.
Safety First: Arc Flash 101
This course will help identify and reveal electrical hazards and identify the solutions to implementing and maintaining a safe work environment.
Critical Power: Hospital Electrical Systems
This course explains how maintaining power and communication systems through emergency power-generation systems is critical.
click me