Archive | February


10:57 pm
February 21, 2013
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My Take: A Gathering Of Innovative Eagles

newjaneresizeBy Jane Alexander, Deputy Editor

I had the joy of sailing around the post-holiday doldrums last month by spending a couple of days at the 2013 Shell Innovation Summit. As an invited media guest, to say that I felt like an odd duck among a gathering of eagles would be quite the understatement. But you know me: I do love “innovation”  and will travel far and wide to learn about the concept—then write about it as it applies to your jobs, your suppliers and our magazine. 

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10:17 pm
February 21, 2013
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Uptime: Don’t Believe Everything You Read: The Skills Shortage Is Very Real

bob williamson thumb thumbBy Bob Williamson, Contributing Editor

“I just got through reading a report that said something about the ‘worries of a skills gap crisis are overblown.’ From where I sit and from the people I talk to in manufacturing, this report can’t be right. We have a skills gap in our plants now and it’s probably only going to get worse. What’s going on? Help me understand this skills gap crisis, please. It is real?”

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10:13 pm
February 21, 2013
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Overcoming Your Challenges: Protecting Your ‘Heart’

04cacWith some imagination, one can equate your plant’s compressed air system to the circulatory system of the human body. Think of the air compressors as the heart, pumping life into your production machinery. Your compressed air system’s dryers and filters perform similar functions to the kidneys and liver, removing undesired components from the compressed air. The compressor room and plant piping might be thought of as arteries and veins, directing the compressed air where it needs to go to keep your production equipment running smoothly.

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10:06 pm
February 21, 2013
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For On The Floor: What’s Your Site’s Capacity For Disaster?

rick carterBy Rick Carter, Executive Editor

Industrial professionals have always lived closer to the potential for disaster than average citizens. But the frequency and scope of catastrophic events today (from natural disasters to armed, disgruntled workers to fires and explosions) seem to defy conventional ability to prepare for them. We asked our Reader Panelists about the disaster preparedness of their own operations.

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9:00 pm
February 20, 2013
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Lubrication Checkup: Synthetics For Ammonia Compressors

lubrication checkup 0809

By Ken Bannister, Contributing Editor

Symptom:  “Dear Dr. Lube: In the past we’ve always used mineral oil to lubricate the ammonia-refrigerant compressors that operate our ice rinks. As part of our sustainability program, I have been asked to review the use of synthetic lubricants. Are these available for refrigeration compressors? Can I expect benefits to offset their cost?”

Diagnosis: The life of a compressor lubricant is not easy! A regular mineral-based oil can deteriorate quickly. Deterioration leads to oxidation-caused carbon, gum and varnish buildups that result in excessive wear of all mechanical moving parts, increased energy costs and reduced compressor efficiency and availability.

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Prescription: A variety of synthetic compressor fluids for large commercial ammonia refrigeration systems have been formulated to relieve many of the problems associated with volatile solvent-refined paraffinic and naphthenic mineral oils, including:

  • Wax deposit problems at very low temperatures
  • Excessive oil consumption resulting from oil carry over into the refrigerant low-temperature side
  • Premature oxidation causing oil thickening, deposits and sludge formation

In large commercial refrigeration operations, temperatures can be lower than -60 F (-51 C). Synthetics provide the viscosity stability required for dealing with the extreme hot and cold temperatures. They’re also less soluble in ammonia refrigerant than their mineral counterparts and can significantly reduce oil consumption and subsequent refrigerant contamination effects.

Compared to typical mineral-based lubricants with a recommended maximum life of 3000 hours, synthetics are often rated for up to 8000 hours, thus reducing downtime, maintenance and environmental impact. Synthetic-oil manufacturers also claim energy savings of up to 4%. Your choice of synthetic type will usually vary among polyalphaolefins, alkyl benzines, polyol esters and polyalkylene glycols. Selection is based on compressor type, operating conditions, oil-separator efficiency and system design.

To learn if a synthetic is right for your application, discuss the refrigeration-system design with your lubricant supplier. Based on that information, the vendor can develop a business case with a return-on-investment statement that will allow you to determine if the change meets the needs of your sustainability program. MT

Lube questions? Ask Dr. Lube, aka Ken Bannister, author of the book Lubrication for Industry and the Lubrication section of the 28th edition Machinery’s Handbook. He’s also a contributing editor for Maintenance Technology and Lubrication Management & Technology. E-mail:

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