Monday, September 28, 2015

Fire and Explosion Caused by Human Error and Equipment Failure



I’ve spent much of my 40+ year career in the petroleum and chemical industries. One might say I’ve pretty much seen it all when it comes to accidents. Unfortunately, I’ve have firsthand experience with the loss of good friends and coworkers due to what I call the human factor.

The human factor is at work every second of every day in every type of business and personal setting. It’s when hard working, good people get careless while performing routine everyday tasks. For whatever reason, a procedure intended to protect personnel is intentionally bypassed or carelessly forgotten and in most instances it involves only one or two steps being bypassed or forgotten that allows all of the stars to line up, and then tragedy strikes without warning which in most cases lead to serious injury and sometimes death.

I’ve spent much of my career using technology to create iron clad solutions that overcome human error and equipment failure in hazardous types of operations found in every day businesses that we are all familiar with. One such business is the loading of fuel onto large tanker trucks that take fuel to the local gas station that all of us pump into our cars. One such iron clad solution developed by Frontline Environmental addresses the more than 1500 spills that happen every day throughout the United States in truck, marine and aviation fuel loading facilities. The GuardDog™ is a patented technology designed to overcome human error and equipment failure during the loading of fuel at high transfer rates of more than 10 gallons per second. In “real-time” GuardDog™ continuously monitors the fuel delivery equipment to determine if it is performing properly or not. If not, the GuardDog™ will take a preemptive action to prevent the spill accident within 750 milliseconds. The Department of Defense and the USAF determined GuardDog™ to be 100% effective in eliminating spills over a 12 month period during a case study and real world test conducted at Travis Air Force Base. Due to its success Travis AFB has since standardized on GuardDog™ and is protected 24/7 365 days a year from spills.

For more on GuardDog™ and other bullet proof solutions that protect life, the environment and assets give me a call at 707-331-3503. 

Friday, September 25, 2015

Groundwater Remediation, A Pressing Need in Today's Times


Water pollution today has reached alarming levels in most parts of the world. Surface freshwater bodies like ponds, lakes, streams and rivers have become increasingly polluted. This has resulted in groundwater becoming an important source of drinking water in many countries. In the U.S alone over half the population depends on groundwater supply for daily water needs. Groundwater is today used for a variety of purposes from agriculture to industrial, to irrigate large farms as well as in the production of goods.

Groundwater pollution causes

Increased human activities like construction and mining have resulted in pollution percolating into natural groundwater reservoirs. Some of the causes of groundwater pollution also include stagnant storm and rain water as well as surface water runoffs containing high amount of chemicals and organic waste like sewage. This results in large scale contamination of groundwater resources rendering it unfit for human use.

Groundwater remediation

Along with waste water treatment plants which seek to use recycled water, groundwater remediation has also become an important initiative to provide safe and clean water for human use as well as conserve the environment. Groundwater remediation involves specialized equipment and experience to conduct the various purification operations. Groundwater filtration involves removal of solid and dissolved impurities which includes organic material, chemical substances as well as gaseous elements.

Different remediation techniques

There are different techniques used to purify groundwater. An effective method involves use of vacuum machinery to pump out groundwater for treatment as well as extraction of gaseous vapors from ground water and soil. The method known as dual phase extraction makes use of carbon adsorption process by way of granular activated carbon filters and portable water filtration units.
Most groundwater remediation techniques use a combination of different methods for water purification depending upon the requirements. For example if the groundwater contains a high concentration of heavy metals then chemical precipitation reaction is used to ensure conversion of the metal ions into insoluble compounds. These particles are then removed by way of simple filtration or by way of settling chambers.

Activated carbon particles

Activated carbon is an important part of the purification process owing to its high surface area which causes organic impurities to chemically bind to the carbon particles. This process is known as adsorption and is highly efficient in removing dissolved organic impurities which even boiling the water does not render harmless. Active carbon is used in the form of fine granules spread out over a wire mesh to further increase their surface area for maximum effectiveness.

Groundwater remediation is an important aspect of maintaining public health and as such should be conducted at regular intervals by the concerned health authorities.

Ashley writes for Pureeffect.com about the various ways in which the effects of pollution can be remedied. For more information about environmental solution visit our site.
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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

What is the SCADA System?


A SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) system is a system that consists of a number of remote terminal units (RTU) that collect the field data and connected back to the station master through the communication system.

Accurate and timely data (usually a real-time) provide optimization of the operation of the plant and process. Another advantage is more efficient, more reliable and more important, safe operation. All this results in the operating cost is lower compared with the previous non-automated systems.

There is a reasonable level of confusion between the definition of SCADA systems and process control systems. SCADA have additional remote control or remote operation. The question is not how 'far' - that usually means more of a distance so that the distance between the location and control of the location controlled very large direct-wire control is not useful (for example, a communication link important component of the system).

SCADA successful installation depends on using proven and reliable technology, with comprehensive and adequate training of staff in the operating system. There is a history of failed SCADA systems - factors that contribute to this system, including inadequate integration of the various components of the system.

Today hardware reliability is less of a problem, but the increasing software complexity is producing new challenges. It should be noted in passing that many operators judge a SCADA system not only by the smooth performance of the RTUs, communication links and the master station (all falling under the umbrella of SCADA system) but also the field devices (both transducers and control devices).

Richard Binder, SCADA Security Specialist. Visit my website about SCADA at http://www.controlscada.com
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Saturday, September 19, 2015

A Guide to Finding the Right Engineering Company


If you have been trying to seek out a really good engineering company for a very long time already then it is clear that there are quite a few things you should go out of your way to take into careful consideration before you make the choice to hire any one company in particular, and the reason to do all of this is so that the company you eventually end up hiring for the project is going to be a company that will be the best of what you can afford. It can take time to find the right engineering consultants out there but at the same time it is always a good idea to take as much time as you feel you may need, since you really want to be able to say that the engineers you ended up hiring were the ones that were best for the job. Along the way it could be really helpful if you spent a bit of additional time trying to find out more about engineering companies in general, so that you would immediately know what to expect if you were offered any good deals in the future.

Remember that it is likely you will find a lot of different engineering companies out there, so at the end of the day a big part of what makes a good deal lies in being able to choose a proper company that can offer you a very high standard of service but that at the same time is going to be able to get you what you want for a lower price. This is important because depending on the size of your project and how much work needs to be done, you may end up spending a very large amount of money on engineering services, and this cost can go a long way towards ending your budget. It would therefore make sense to go out of your way to compare offers and try to see if there is any possible way that you would be able to get a special offer for services of this sort, which are certainly in very high demand in this day and age.

The very best way to make it easier for you to find a really good engineering company would be to go online and do a bit of your own research on the topic, with the intentions of learning as much as you can about engineers and what services they offer to people like yourself. This will help you a lot because you will then be able to make a selection based on a good understanding of what engineering is all about, and this can help you to make a good deal and save some money.

As you can see, it is clear that there are a great deal of things to keep in mind when you are out there on the hunt for a really good engineering company to assist you with your new project in the future.

So are you searching for the finest engineering consultants Perth has to offer? E-Tec Consultants is the right place to be. Check out their website etec.com.au for more information.
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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Our Commitment to Our Customers


Frontline Environmental are automation and control systems specialists with heavy "hands on" experience. Our emphasis is providing the customer with a single source for engineering and services related to automation, control systems, and communication technologies. Our commitment to the customer has been the cornerstone of our success. We consistently provide a broad range of clients with reliable services designed to bring in projects on time and on budget. We supply on-going technical support and instrumentation components and equipment required to maintain customer's facilities in the day to day operation. Our commitment means that we provide 24 hour emergency response service 365 days a year.

Periodically, we offer a free technical training workshop to our customers. The workshops are held at our office in Benicia, California. We provide one or more technical personnel from an equipment manufacturer and an environment for a concentrated education on a particular product or system. We have found that the workshops are well received, and provide a forum for both social and technical exchange.

As a further commitment to our customers, we offer 24 hour "Emergency Response"services 365 days a year, and routinely travel throughout the continental US, Alaska and Hawaii. Our field engineering experience and technical trouble-shooting expertise saves our customers valuable time and money by evaluating and eliminating improperly designed or tuned control schemes which can be the primary source of nuisance interruptions in the production or facility process operation.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Energy 101: Wind Turbines - Update



See how wind turbines generate clean electricity from the power of wind. The video highlights the basic principles at work in wind turbines, and illustrates how the various components work to capture and convert wind energy to electricity. This updated version also includes information on the Energy Department's efforts to advance offshore wind power. Offshore wind energy footage courtesy of Vestas.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Finding Big Data Opportunities in Industrial Automation


Here we are in the world of Big Data and all of its possibilities. Just look at all the data we have available to us: production, maintenance, distribution, personnel, finances - real-time, historical and predictive. There is more data being collected more quickly and from more sources than ever before. We are swimming in it.

So, now what? Now that we've gathered all of this data, what does it mean to us? Personally, having reams of integers, floats, strings and timestamps in my hands doesn't make me feel any smarter. As the old adage goes: Data is not information. Data without context offers no insight. Data without structure reveals no opportunities. How do we get from data to information? How do we get from information to knowledge? And how do we get from knowledge to action?

Finding the Anomalies

The US Department of Defense employs a process known as Activity-Based Intelligence (ABI) to find useful details in large sets of data. For example, in 2013, when two bombs exploded near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, investigators immediately had at their disposal hundreds of hours of surveillance footage, cell phone photos, and time-stamped video from dozens of angles. To manually review all of this media would require thousands of man-hours - time that is obviously not available in a situation like this.

To make use of this constellation of data, investigators were forced to find a way of automating the investigation. They decided to establish a specific set of details they wanted to locate in all of these photos and videos. Namely, they were looking for any individuals at the scene of the bombing who were not running away or looked unafraid. The behavior recognition technology existed, so it was a simple matter to enter a set of variables into a program and to let the software review the footage in an effort to find the activity that matched these variables. Soon, two suspects were revealed.

While it would have been nearly impossible for human analysts to review all of this footage in a timely fashion, investigators discovered that Big Data could in fact be very useful if combined with a mechanism to compare and contrast the thousands of data points being reviewed.

A similar technique is now being employed in cancer research. A so-called "Big Mechanism" has been created to review the vast and complex medical records of cancer patients that have been established over the years to find overlapping patterns or consistencies that can lead to a new understanding of root causes or precipitating circumstances. By automating the research, we are now able to analyze data sets of much greater size and complexity than would be possible using only human analysts.

Can Similar Techniques be Employed in Industrial Automation?

Today's industrial enterprises find themselves in a situation similar to those described above. Huge amounts of data are being recorded and opportunities for improvement are known to exist, but how do we know what to look for and how do we find it? The same sort of ABI employed by the DoD may well have a place in the commercial world.

If we can review our historical process data to define the circumstances surrounding certain conditions (unplanned downtime, spikes in energy consumption, etc.), we may be able to recognize repeated patterns or anomalous activity related to these specific circumstances, thereby enabling us to take action to correct the situation before it happens again. By finding the data that stands out from the rest, detailing the characteristics of that data, and looking for those characteristics elsewhere, we may be able to pinpoint causal relationships that were previously obscure or misleading.

On the flipside, the same techniques can be employed to define the circumstances surrounding periods of extended productivity or energy efficiency. The same techniques used to discern the cause of deficiencies can be used to optimize asset performance and improve the quality and efficiency of our processes.

By creating analytic mechanisms aligned with the principles of ABI, we are able to create a safer, more efficient, more productive work environment. Of course, some of this runs counter to the way most of us are programmed to think. We tend to put more stock in consistent, reliable information, while discounting the anomalies. ABI encourages us to find the anomalies and focus on them.

The key to navigating the world of Big Data may not lie in the massive set of data, but in the tiny subset of data that teaches us about the abnormalities or anomalies we find. Look for the data points that stand out from the rest and ask yourself why. Consider the circumstances surrounding the collection of that data; can we map certain plant floor conditions to specific results?

Thus far, the Big Data movement has been a combination of hype and optimism, with very little practical value in daily operations. Some companies are finding ways to take advantage of the opportunities, while others have fallen behind.

Can you find the opportunities?

If you are serious about finding new opportunities and increasing productivity in your process control environment, it begins with having access to the right tools. Learn more at http://scada.com.
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Sunday, September 6, 2015

The Differences Between Software Development and Software Engineering


Software development and software engineering go hand in hand when it comes to the implementation of software. Software development deals more with the creation of the software and when this is complete, software engineering takes over with the creation of software systems. Both of these disciplines are at times interchangeable and without much difference to the layman. If you just want to have one specific piece of software designed, such as database software that will keep track of your bird watching hobby, then you'll just need software development. If, however, you want your bird watching database to be able to support multiple functions, such as delivering a report with statistics and results, then you'll more likely need the expertise of software engineering.

Software engineers will implement and design software applications through the use of many mediums. These software applications will then be used for a variety of purposes that include business practices to entertainment purposes. It is these software applications that allow users to make their time on the computer as functional and productive as possible. Types of software applications include language applications, office applications, entertainment packages, and applications for education.

The cost of hiring a software developer will be significantly less than hiring a software engineer. Before you make your final decision about what you want the software to do you need to plan you budget, your timeline, and determine what you want the end result to be. The industry of software development continues to grow each year as more and more businesses are having their own software developed for them that is specific to what they do and what they want the software to do. Most companies will already be using some type of software application, such as Office Suite, and most likely won't need another application developed for them. For most intents and purposes you'll be fine hiring a software developer for you and your business needs.

James Hunt has spent 15 years as a professional writer and researcher covering stories that cover a whole spectrum of interest. Read more at [http://www.software-development-center.com]
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Thursday, September 3, 2015

Building Automation Systems Design and Engineering


Effective building automation systems design can offer a number of distinct advantages for building owners, occupants and facilities managers. The most common type of automation applications maintain lighting and comfortable temperature levels while reducing energy costs, but automation and controls can handle many other sophisticated tasks as well. Building control systems are only as effective as their design, however, so it's important to identify and engage a knowledgeable and competent engineering consultant early in the planning stages of the project.

The Advantages of Building Automation Technology

The power of building automation systems (BAS) is such that the technology has become almost ubiquitous today for medium-to-large commercial facilities. From an economic perspective, BAS can significantly reduce power use and the associated costs. Ecologically, building controls have been proven to decrease the environmental footprint of those companies that implement them - significantly in many cases. The frequency of replacing costly HVAC and electrical equipment is reduced as BAS curtails wear and tear and alerts you early to any potential problems. Automation systems free up key facilities personnel, allowing them to turn their attention to less mundane tasks. Finally, building occupants enjoy a more secure environment and an increased level of comfort, even while usage, costs and downtime drop. Today's BAS interfaces are easy to use. Whether you have a single building or an enterprise-level portfolio of properties, you can view status and control systems remotely, using a desktop, laptop, tablet or even a smartphone.

A Powerful Scope of Automation Services

Typically, BAS services control some or all aspects of the facility's mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems. On the mechanical side, this may include boilers, chillers, air handlers, fans and heat pumps. Electrical aspects may include security systems, lighting, CCTV, fire alarms or building access. BAS can even monitor and control plumbing systems and the water resources used in the facility's central plant (chilled, hot or condensed water). Services can also be expanded to incorporate many types of specialized technology, including communications systems, servers and clean rooms.

Effective BAS Design for Achieving Desired Outcomes

Although new technology has transformed automation from the complex, difficult-to-understand behemoths of the past, today's user-friendly systems are more challenging than ever to design and plan. For any customer considering or planning a remodel or new facility construction project, a qualified BAS engineer is critical for even the earliest phases of the project. Involving your engineer in the early stages of design can greatly improve the cost of the project. This proactive approach can also cut time from the schedule and, perhaps most importantly, ensure that all aspects of the system meet your needs. Consider using the design-build approach with your engineer, which delivers the most benefit to the client while reducing the project cost and time to completion. Your BAS engineering consultant can assist with drafting construction plans and specifications and help your general contractor select and manage those vendors and subcontractors necessary to handle the installation and programming.

When selecting a mechanical, electrical or automation systems engineer, look for a professional firm that is responsive and seeks above all to understand your needs and goals. Conducting research to find the right engineer prior to launching your project will help ensure a successful building automation systems design.

Jillynn Stevens is a writer and researcher. She is the Director of Digital Content Marketing for Be Locally SEO where she enjoys helping clients expand and improve their businesses through articles, blogs, website content and more. DesignTek Consulting Group's electrical engineering team consists of engineers and experienced technicians trained in automation systems in Salt Lake City, Utah.
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