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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.

Staying Cool: Increasing the Lifespan of Your Electrical Components

Posted September 17, 2017 12:00 AM by ahorner_22
Pathfinder Tags: cooling Electrical safety radwell

Warm temperatures can wreak havoc on electrical components and other manufacturing machinery. Heat may cause system failure, thermal aging and reduction in thermo-mechanical cycle life. To prevent catastrophic equipment failure, it is important to be familiar with potential issues and solutions. By putting these solutions in place proactively, facilities can insure that equipment failures and other negative effects are minimized or even eliminated. There are many systems and solutions available for proactively reducing the effects of extreme heat in enclosures.

Enclosure Air Conditioners: Designed to work directly inside an enclosure, air conditioners can be installed in various positions depending upon need and space. They are environmentally friendly as well.

Enclosure Water to Air or Air to Air Heat Exchangers: These specialized cooling systems convert hot air to cool air or utilize water to convert hot air to cooler temperatures. These unique units operate effectively when mounted in any position. The units use a closed-loop system that makes them an ideal choice for use in dirty environments.

Ventilation Systems: There are a large variety of blowers and fans designed to help clear out or circulate air to cool down an enclosure. These systems are designed to provide airflow in various applications. They are easy to install, and operate with equal effectiveness in any mounting position.

Condensation Reduction Systems: When condensation accumulates on the interior surface of an electrical enclosure, the chances of damage or failure become considerably higher. Internal heating systems or light bulbs can help reduce some moisture but has to be balanced so as not to damage the electronics with unnecessary heat. Moisture can be removed through the use of a dehumidifying system which can also help with condensation. The bottom line is that moisture exists and has to be managed in some way so equipment is not damaged.


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

2 comments; last comment on 09/26/2017
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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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