Simple Solutions


Identifying screwdrivers

Problem: When working on a ladder or other overhead platform, it is often inconvenient or unsafe to continually scrounge through the tool pouch to find the right screwdriver. Can the right one be found without a look-see?

Solution: Engrave the end of the screwdriver's handle and use your fingertips A straight line depicts a blade screwdriver, while an "X" indicates a Phillips tip. Use various size engravings for different blade sizes. Going over the engravings with a yellow metal marker makes for easier locating in low light conditions.

Contributor: Angelo Garofali, CLC Container, Hermitage, PA


Drilling drywall screws

Problem: When using drywall screws for applications other than drywall, the hole should be predrilled through the first layer. If fastening two layers of wood together and you don't do this, the screw jacks the layers apart. This occurs because the screw makes its own threads in the first layer and then pushes away the next layer as the screw point tries to enter. For example, when fastening the plywood cover on a shipping crate, a tight fit requires both a screw gun and electric drill. Is there a way to make this connection?

Solution: Use the screw itself to drill the clearance hole. Drive the screw in to a depth about equal to the first layer thickness. Then reverse the screw gun rotation and drive the screw out again. Continue reverse rotation and apply downward pressure to force the screw back through the first layer, which reams out this layer to the exact screw diameter. Once the screw has worn through to this depth, switch the gun back to a forward rotation and drive the screw home. The job is done with just one tool.

Contributor: Gordon Salmela, Raytheon Co., Sudbury, MA


Determining fork position

Problem: Knowing whether the forks on a lift truck are horizontal can often be a problem, particularly when operating at higher elevations or when the forks are inserted into a pallet. Is there a way to determine if the load is level?

Solution: Clamp or tape a piece of conduit or channel to the overhead guard. A quick glance comparing the position of the conduit/channel and the top of the mast indicates whether the forks are horizontal, or tipped up or down. The indicator bar must be placed high enough to clear the crosshead of the mast when it is tilted back.

Contributor: John Jessiman, Plant Engineer, The American Belt Co., Bensalem, PA

Each item published will earn the sender $35. Send your tips to: Simple Solutions, Plant Engineering magazine, 2000 Clearwater Dr., Oak Brook, IL 60523-8809. e-mail:, fax: 630-320-7145

Top Plant
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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.
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
March 2018
SCCR, 2018 Maintenance study, and VFDs in a washdown environment.
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
December 2017
Product of the Year winners, Pattern recognition, Engineering analytics, Revitalize older pump installations
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

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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