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Plant & Facilities Engineering

The Plant & Facilities Engineering Blog is the place for conversation and discussion about mechanical and electrical systems, automation and instrumentation, maintenance and management, and products & services as they relate to plant and facilities operation. Here, you'll find everything from application ideas, to news and industry trends, to hot topics and cutting edge innovations.

LA Port Upgrade Planned by New Owners

Posted July 11, 2017 12:00 AM by Engineering360 eNewsletter

The EQT Infrastructure III fund will buy 90% of Global Gateway South, a leading terminal in the Port of Los Angeles, with an enterprise value of $875 million. Growth strategy includes capital investments in cranes, other handling equipment, and technology to increase capacity and efficiency. Read more


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Expanded Component Range Brings Harmony to Control Cabinets

Posted June 19, 2017 12:00 AM by Gianluca Fanchini
Pathfinder Tags: Control Panel RS Components

Gianluca Fanchini, Industry Sector Marketing Manager of RS Components, looks at control cabinet components, and highlights that somehow there is the challenge of consistency when specifying panel hardware, in terms of form, fit and function.

From the operational perspective of a machine, the primary buzzwords are flexibility, agility, throughput and quality. If we take a step back and look at the design and build of the machine, we see some other expressions pop up — namely product integration, ease of installation and commonality.

“Design for build/manufacture” is a powerful ethos that pays huge dividends in the development of machines. By using families of parts that share dimensions, mounting formats, tooling and assembly procedures, machine design is now far removed from the hectic days a quarter of a century ago when a mishmash of different sized and shaped components were deployed.

Nowhere is this more obvious than on contemporary control panels, which have been around since the first automated electrical machine was pushed into service. They have evolved functionally since then, but when the ubiquitous rectangular battleship-grey cabinet first appeared, the aesthetic side of their evolution stalled. Couple this to random component formats and sizes and the control panel never really became the poster child for modern machinery, until now.

The Harmony range from Schneider Electric addresses all of these issues. As well as delivering expanded capabilities and greater human/machine interactions, its common aesthetic design makes control panels look far smarter and something that need not be hidden away.

Comprising robust, ergonomic and common-sized push buttons, switches and pilot lights, indicators, timers, sockets and potentiometers, panel designers can incorporate additional functionality, while installers see simpler installation thanks to a self-holding function when mounting, the ability to stack contact modules, and reliable and friction-locked fastening.

Functionality should always be top of the tree, but the Harmony range proves that design, build, maintenance and, of course, aesthetics needn’t be too low down either.


Editor's note: This is a sponsored blog post from RS Components.

3 comments; last comment on 06/20/2017
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Benefits to HMIs

Posted June 11, 2017 12:00 AM by ahorner_22
Pathfinder Tags: HMI instrumentation radwell

In this day and age, human machine interfaces are everywhere. Think about every point of contact a human has with technology and it becomes a reminder that as humans, we interact with machines in just about every aspect of our lives today.

As it applies to automation equipment, HMI products offer the necessary electronics to control automation equipment in an industrial environment. HMI products can range from simple to a more complex touchscreen. In most environments HMI systems must be resistant to dust, water, moisture, and extreme temperatures.

There are many benefits to using HMI systems in an industrial environment. For starters, these systems help warn operators of equipment issues before they become an emergency. If an alert shows, it can allow the operator to track potential problems before they happen. This increases overall productivity and reduces downtime. Alarm/alert capabilities allow operators to work in a much more proactive way instead of a reactive one.

Another benefit to HMI systems has to do with planning. These systems provide an overall view of operations in real time so an operator can actually control a manufacturing facility from a central location. Because HMI systems are much simpler than their predecessors, they can reduce costs greatly.

As always, when it is possible to repair rather than replace something it saves an operation money and time. Repairing an existing system saves on the cost of purchasing a new system but it also saves on time because there is no need for training on a new system.

Time is money and efficiency is a basic need to maintain and grow a profitable manufacturing environment. Because HMI systems create increased efficiency, greater productivity and a more proactive working environment, they can be the cornerstone to a better running operation.


Editor's note: This is a sponsored blog post from Radwell International.

2 comments; last comment on 06/13/2017
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Kia Enters Indian Market with $1.1 Billion Car Plant

Posted May 14, 2017 12:00 AM by Engineering360 eNewsletter

The South Korean automaker says it plans to produce a compact sedan and compact SUV especially for the Indian market at this new plant. When production begins in the second half of 2019, the plant will produce up to 300,000 units a year.


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'Toilet-to-Tap' Water is Becoming Commonplace

Posted April 06, 2017 9:48 AM by HUSH

I like beer. Do you like beer?

What I like even more than beer is enjoying beer, which to me is an altogether different matter. This means summer evenings at the farm brewery. Seeking out new craft brands and bottles. Maintaining a modest homebrewing hobby. All while trying to be as non-judgmental as possible toward macrobrews.

Yet I might’ve avoided the limited run batch of Stone Brewing’s Full Circle Pale Ale had I the chance to try it. And that’s because this beer was brewed using recycled water.

Stone Brewing, based in San Diego, brewed Full Circle to highlight the city’s new water program called Pure Water. It is a pilot initiative that currently purifies one million of the 30 million gallons of wastewater San Diego produces each day. The hope is that eventually one-third of San Diego’s potable water supply will come from purified wastewater. It would be invaluable for a city that imports 90% of its tap water, due to droughts and an unwillingness to build desalination plants.

Reusing greywater and blackwater for a second time is not a new idea. Greywater is commonly reused for things like industrial washing or process water. Even blackwater has value in irrigation. But the idea of recycling toilet water for use as drinking water is, frankly, gross. And the fact that water recycling is sometimes called “toilet-to-tap” isn’t exactly a great marketing strategy.

You might be relieved to learn that only the idea of recycled water is gross. Stone Brewing actually had to add minerals back into the water they received from the Pure Water program, as it was too clean. The brewery had been using tap water with a total dissolved solids count of 300-600 parts per million. The purified wastewater had less than 100 ppm, so solids were added to the water to make it more like tap water.

Limited research indicates (.pdf) that recycled wastewater (water that has been through at least three stages of disinfection and purification) tends to have fewer contaminants than drinking water that has been through two stages of processing, the minimum according to U.S. law. The aversion to reusing wastewater as drinking water is almost purely psychological. Thirteen percent of people said they would never drink recycled water, even after learning about purification and sustainability.

Want more [anecdotal] proof? Watch Bill Gates challenge Jimmy Fallon to tell the difference between recycled water and bottled water.

Like it or not, wastewater reuse has been occurring in some locations for thousands of years. Often, a wastewater treatment plant discharges into a water source that is used as drinking water for another town downstream. The Hudson, Mississippi and Thames rivers are all examples of this, which is called indirect potable reuse. By the time a water molecule has reached New Orleans’ via the Mississippi, scientists estimate that five animals had previously consumed and urinated that molecule.

However, the city of San Diego has not begun pumping recycled water back in to the drinking supply, at least not yet. That doesn’t mean other cities aren’t considering it. After failed attempts at cloud seeding and evaporation repression, the city of Wichita Falls, Texas, has been delivering ultra-clean recycled wastewater to residents’ taps since 2014. Other drought-stricken cities in Texas and New Mexico have followed suit, and there is a proposal to do the same in Los Angeles.

Residents who squirm at the idea of drinking recycled water might want to consider moving—or at least buying a Brita filter.

29 comments; last comment on 04/08/2017
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