Simple Solutions



Getting a long reach

Problem: When a tool or part falls through grating into a deep pit or sump it is difficult to retrieve. Is there a way to get the item back without going into the pit?

Solution: Make a "grabber." Jam one handle of a pair of pliers into a length of 1/2-in. thin wall conduit. Drill a hole in the conduit just past the end of the plier handle. Attach some fish line or light cable to the free handle of the plier. Feed the line through the hole and out the other end of the conduit. When the line is pulled, the pliers will close and grab the dropped item.

Contributor: Ralph Dewey, Solvay Polymers, Deer Park, TX.

Welding pipe

Problem: Sometimes two pieces of pipe have to be welded in the field, away from a work bench. How can the pieces be held together for welding?

Solution: Make a simple fixture for holding the pipe or other small sections. Use a suitable length of 11/2-in. angle iron as a foundation. Weld three pieces of 31/2-in. square, 1/4-in. plate to the angle iron as feet. Tap a hole in four pieces of 4-in. pipe, 11/2-in. long. Weld the pipe to the feet as shown. Weld handles to pieces of threaded rod and screw them into the pipe sections. This fixture will hold and align pipes and other small objects to be welded.

Contributor: Mike Recker, Premcor Refining, Lima, OH.

Pulling tape through conduit

Problem: Pushing steel fish tape through conduit can be difficult if it is long or has many bends in it. How can the tape be safely fed through the conduit?

Solution: Using compressed air can be dangerous because of excessive pressure or flying projectiles. Take nylon twine and tie it to an object approximately the size of the conduit ID. It can be a piece of cotton or the cap from spray paint. Attach a shop vacuum cleaner to the other end of the conduit and turn it on. Feed the string into the conduit. The vacuum will quickly pull the string to the other end.

Contributor: Bob Keiser, Shift Coordinator, Carpenter Technology Corp., Reading, PA.


In all cases, even if not specifically mentioned in the writeups, verify that the tip does not violate any relevant code, standard, or practice. Always use the appropriate safety equipment and procedures when applying the maintenance tips.

The Top Plant program honors outstanding manufacturing facilities in North America. View the 2017 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.
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The cloud, mobility, and remote operations; SCADA and contextual mobility; Custom UPS empowering a secure pipeline
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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

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