Simple Solutions


A hole in one

Problem: An electrical enclosure has a hole in it that is no longer being used. How can the hole be covered and not be noticed?

Solution: Put masking tape on the outside of the enclosure. Fill the hole from the inside with RTV sealant. When the sealant cures, remove the tape. The hole is now flush with the enclosure surface and can be painted to blend in.

Contributor: Joe Rossi, Senior Control Technician, M&M Mars, Hackettstown, NJ.

Very large emergency strap wrench

Problem: Emergency repairs have to be done on a large PVC pipeline. How can you unscrew the pipe or fittings without damaging them?

Solution: Build a strap wrench with a 2 x 4 and a cogged fan belt. Put a slot in the 2 x 4 the width of the belt. Cut the belt, pass one end through the slot with the cogs facing as shown, and fasten it to the 2 x 4. Wrap the other end of the belt around the item to be removed, back through the slot, and lock the cogs together. This tool can be as large as needed, provided the belt is long enough.

Contributor: Tom Baldwin, Eminence, MO.

Keep photo-eyes clear

Problem: Photo-eyes on machinery in dusty environments have to be periodically cleaned or they will give false indications. Can these devices be kept clean automatically?

Solution: Pipe exhaust compressed air to regularly blow off the lenses of photo-eyes. As long as the air-operated devices cycle regularly, the lenses should stay clean. Be careful to pick an exhaust source that is not downstream from a lubricator or from a lubricated device. The oil in the exhaust air will cause a greater dirt accumulation on the lenses.

Contributor: William E. Jacobyansky, Plant Engineer, Temple Inland Forest Products Corp., Shippenville, PA.

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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

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Randy Steele
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