Friday, April 28, 2017

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?


Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Rich_Hunzinger

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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

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, April 22, 2017

Reasons for Investing in an Industrial Ventilation System



Manufacturing facilities are expected to meet health and safety norms laid down by organizations like ISO. To ensure that all the necessary measures are met, many companies go for industrial ventilation systems. These help in capturing dust, smoke, vapor and other contaminants that may be harmful to employees. Industrial facilities have to take into account factors like internal and external environment, air regulation, air quality, and overall health benefits. Industrial ventilation systems provide a one stop solution to both problems.
Why invest in industrial ventilation systems?
The following are the advantages for investing in an industrial ventilation system:
  • Protection from Contaminants: Manufacturing facilities are prone to a variety of hazardous substances. These include gases, aerosols, small inhalable particles, smoke, fumes, and vapors. Continuous exposure can lead a person to suffer from illnesses such as headaches, eye irritation, chest pains, siderosis, cancer, and pulmonary edema. Its exhaust components are designed with a vacuum that easily captures the above mentioned substances with ease.
  • Economic efficiency: While one would think installing system incurs more expenses, the reality is quite the opposite. Many companies have found that investing in industrial air cleaning systems can actually bring down costs. The reason for this is, the expenses required to install and maintain the system is quite equitable. Manufacturers design their system to be self sufficient to minimize need for maintenance or human intervention.
  • Control and Regulation of Air: This is perhaps the biggest advantage of installing a system in your facility. An industrial air cleaning system gives you complete control over the airflow in the facility. It gives you the freedom to create a comfortable work environment for employees. The system can also help to change the temperature inside the facility depending on the external temperature. The employees will no longer have to bear with the extreme spikes of internal temperatures.
  • Air Quality: It improves the indoor air quality by getting rid of pollutants. It can filter and condition the air flow and prevent problems like moisture and mold issues.
  • Protection from Accidents: A variety of production operations generate combustible dusts. When these dusts interact with gaseous elements in the factory's internal atmosphere, it can lead to explosions and fires. To prevent such accidents, manufacturers design their industrial ventilation systems with dust collectors. The exhaust components are also constructed to prevent any dust particles from leaking back into the facility.
It is evident that one can reap several benefits from installation of industrial air cleaning system in a manufacturing facility.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/8333831

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

4 Effective Ways of Preventing Explosions - Fire Safety Structural Protection



Explosions are a common cause of fires and a lot time and resources has been spent in coming up with the best ways of preventing an explosion ever happening. The following 4 techniques of 'Structural Prevention' involve constructing buildings in such a way that is specifically designed to prevent fires. The techniques have been proven to effectively limit the risk of explosions and fires, helping save lives in an often subtle way.
The first technique to be described is 'compartmentation'. Dividing a building into compartments or fire-tight cells using fire resistant materials can prevent the spread of fire and smoke within a building as well as the passage of vapour or dust clouds.
Fire compartment walls, floors and doors generally must provide a 60-minute resistance to fire, but this may vary depending upon the level of risk within the compartment. Walls, floors and doors subdividing such compartments generally must provide a 30-minute resistance.
Ceiling and floor voids as well as openings around pipe work and other services can allow air to feed a fire, as well as assisting in the spread of fire and smoke. Fire Stopping can be described as preventing the spread of smoke and flame by placing obstructions across air passageways.
The second effective technique is isolation. Isolation stops the explosion reaching other areas of the plant through pipes and ducts. It prevents the pressure from a primary explosion starting a secondary explosion and prevents the possibility of jets of flame issuing from long pipes. Depending upon the maximum explosion pressure, vessels may be constructed to contain the explosion. Most vessels that may be at risk of dust explosions are designed so that they will absorb the force of an explosion and not rupture.
The third technique is effective plant layout. Buildings that could be in danger of dust explosions must be designed along the same lines as any plant which has an explosion risk. The following features should be considered:
• Wherever possible, they should be isolated from other buildings
• Buildings should be preferably one storey high
• If inside, the vulnerable area of the building should be reinforced
• The rest of the areas of the plant must protected by a blast wall
• Sufficient venting to avoid structural damage from over pressure must be provided
The fourth technique is suppression. There are 3 ways to avoid creating an explosive dust cloud without modifying the dust itself:
• By adding inert gas to the atmosphere. This will reduce the amount of oxygen in the process area and thus reduce the chances of explosion
• By ensuring the dust is outside of its explosive (flammable) limits
• By adding inert dust, however this is not suitable for many industries as it contaminates the product. 

The above 4 techniques are some of the main fundamental ways of preventing loss from fires right at the first stage of building an environment to live in or to work in. Designing a structure in such a way that helps prevent fires and helps limits the potential of loss during a fire is the best way of ensuring survival in the case of a fire emergency. Further information should also be sought to learn about the additional ways of preventing loss due to fire, to ensure that all eventualities are considered.


Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/6464399

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Dust Collection Equipment - Facts You Should Know


The presence of dust at an industrial facility can be extremely harmful to the operations and personnel working onsite. There are a myriad of hazards associated with combustible dust. Several industrial facilities in the United States have experienced fires and explosions caused by dust getting ignited, that have killed hundreds of personnel and injured many more. Dust collection equipment can help industrial and commercial facilities deal with several concerns pertaining to handling dust.

When dust abounds in the ambient air, a simple source of ignition such as a welding or brazing operation or an overheated motor could cause a catastrophe. Once a fire has started, it will invariable spread through other areas such as ventilation ducts where dust deposits are often found. Even a small explosion involving combustible dust could dislodge higher amounts of dust that has accumulated in ducts and containers. This could cause several secondary explosions that could prove to be more destructive than the primary one.

An overview of the functions of dust collection equipment

Industrial manufacturing processes mostly need high-quality dust collection systems. The American Conference of Governmental Industrial Hygienists refers to these processes as 'specific operations'. An off-the-shelf solution could miserably fail in your operations because dust collection systems have to be configured in keeping with the demands and requirements of your specific industrial operations.

These systems should be designed by a certified designer of industrial ventilation systems. If these systems are now in place in keeping with the mandates of OSHA, you will likely fail OSHA's inspection of your facility's industrial ventilation system.

A firm that is a certified industrial ventilation systems designer will also be able to offer you customized dust collector systems that adhere to the prevailing local and state codes that govern your industrial operations.

Even in situations where an existing dust collector needs to be optimized to meet the latest standards, the services of such a firm may be engaged. The best aspect of partnering with a manufacturing firm is that you can also expect ease in procuring spare parts and services at a later stage.

The applications of dust collection equipment are many. In addition to collecting combustible dust, these systems are also widely employed for the purpose of collecting fumes and hazardous material. A range of ancillary equipment is available to enhance the operations of various dust collectors. These include components such as dust capture arms, bin vent and portable dust collectors, air showers and personnel environmental booth and so on. As more and more enterprises strive to follow LEAN manufacturing concepts, the demand for dust collection equipment continues to see an upward rise.

When investing in such systems, always focus on energy efficiency and ease of operation and maintenance.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Maria_J_Peter/1527637

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Thursday, April 13, 2017

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. 

Monday, April 10, 2017

An Overview of the Refining Process


Ever wondered how an oil refinery works? Now you can learn more about the technology involved in refining crude oil into the thousands of petroleum-based products you use everyday.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Dangers of Dust in the Workplace


Dust extraction safety codes are strictly enforced in every industry. Work area dust extraction systems remove macro and micro sized particles from the air keeping workers safe from work area hazards. Workplace safety is a high priority and a workplace that does not meet health and safety regulations can receive a heavy fine. An effective air cleaning system is an important component of any fabricating or manufacturing plant.

Dust must first be confined before it can be removed and disposed. The vacuum unit draws material towards the intake in the capture hood which is designed for particle containment. The particles are prevented from entering the workspace atmosphere and the particles collect in the removal system disposal unit for safe disposal. The system air flow must be maintained at a constant velocity in order to keep the machine from clogging with dirt.

Dust extraction machines capture, convey, and collect particulate from the air for safe disposal. The particulate is trapped by a capture hood and then conveyed through a series of ducts. The soot is then collected through a pass through filter or the fume extraction arms.

Dust related illness is a major concern because dirty air can lead to such devastating illnesses such as mesothelioma, silicosis, and asbestos lung cancer. Dirty air in the work place can lead to poor skin conditions, eye and nose damage, emphysema, and asthma, if the air is not constantly filtered. Employers are now required to make the workplace a healthy area for their employees meaning that employers must install proper air cleaning devices. Business owners will receive code violation fines if their work place does not have a proper air safety system in place.

Employers must install an exhaust ventilator to clean dirty air from the site the dirt is generated along with a dilution ventilator. Employees working in high dirt areas are required to wear dirt masks with respirators which are more effective than so called nuisance dirt masks. In order to protect skin from constant contact with soot employees must wear protective clothing.

Employees are required to have regular medical checkups in order to identify and signs of soot related illness. An employee that can show that his respiratory or skin illness is a result of employer negligence can file a work compensation claim and receive damages. The safety codes are strictly enforced in order to keep workers healthy and to limit work compensation claims.

Many people do not realize that soot can be explosive depending on the elements in the soot. Soot in a flour plant can gather in the air and become combustible. If a flame is introduced into the cloud of flour soot an explosion can occur which is another reason why soot extractors are so vital in the workplace.

Employers are required to install dust extraction systems in their workplace in order to keep workers free from soot related illnesses. Particulate can enter the airways and cause a number of health disorders such as asthma, emphysema, and even lung cancer. The dangers associated with soot, fumes, and other particulate must be taken seriously which is why companies that do not meet safety code requirements can expect heavy fines. This is why it is important to have the proper dust extraction equipment.


Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/expert/Adriana_N./479208

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Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Refinery Processes:Blending


Blending is a process of mixing different refinery products to make finished petroleum fuels.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Acquire Automation to Increase Manufacturing Capability


In order for your company to do an effective job of implementing automation as a tool that you can use to improve your manufacturing operation, you will need to do some real planning to acquire an effective installment of advanced automation. You need to decide if your company has the capability to go through the process of creating an advanced automation project that brings you more profits. Do you have the expertise to do it? Can you design a plan acquire automation then execute it? You have to answer these questions positively to be able to do it.

Most of the time a company will not have the proper expertise to do the technical tasks that are required to build the plan to acquire automation then execute it. This type of task requires the skills of engineers experienced in the details necessary to acquire automation in order to do it correctly. This kind of experience can only come from having been involved in the analysis of many manufacturing operations before automation is installed. It will be very troubling for your business if you build a plan to acquire automation without the assistance of those with foresight and expertise in evaluating for automation. There are many pitfalls that can be built into an automation plan that will be manifested later during the execution of the plan. You may think that building and executing the plan for automation of your manufacturing operation will save you the expense of hiring an expert to help you. Please do not fall into this trap. In an initial meeting with an experienced automation provider you will learn certain details that you may have thought were the right way to go are not after all the best choice of paths to take.

Even before you start to evaluate the automation system that you think you want to try to implement for your manufacturing operation, there may be other obstacles to getting this task done. It is good to know before you get started what you will have to overcome to actually get an automation system in place that will create savings and increase profits. The expertise of the engineers of an automation provider can give your business the right direction to go. Having the expertise of these experienced folks will probably save you from some very expensive mistakes that you might attempt in trying to do the planning and implementing on your own.

The company culture that is in place in your organization when you are about to acquire automation may have well-defined impacts on the success of the addition. It is wise for a company to set up a plan for implementation of the automation technology with the objective of easing the major changes into the corporate culture so that success can be realized. The target objective of the addition or changing of automation technology in your company should be to increase the productivity and reduce costs of operation while improving the corporate profits.

In setting up the automation in your business, you will have input into the components that will be used to bring your business into a new age. The devices that are used should give your manufacturing well-defined direction. Not only do the robotics and automation devices included require that there be speed in their coordination, but also there needs to be control. The tasks of automation control fall to the controller. The best way for your company to get the optimum work from the automation processes is to have the proper automation control supplied by a controller that is well suited to the requirements of the operation.

One of the hardest parts of moving your manufacturing operation into the current century is the process of justifying the investment to acquire automation. If your company is like most it will require that there be well-defined economic justification for a capital expenditure for automation. Normally the process of determining the payback on capital expenses is done by calculating the payback or the net present value of the project expense. The calculation is not the hard part, but determining all the costs that will need to included sometimes is difficult. The automation provider that you choose should be able to give you some very definite answers to your questions about capital expenditures and the realistic payback on your automation investment.

Your first stage of planning for automation and robotics should be a very wide view of what your market place is like, what are your requirements for automation and robotics, and what are the broad constraints that your business would have. This is the stage that you must decide what is the competitive strategy of your business. This will have a direct impact on the type of automation that you will need in your business. Certain types of automation may not be supportive of some strategies. For instance, if your company requirement is to reduce product prices, automation targeted toward the production of custom-made products may not be compatible with this plan. It will be important for you to discuss your requirements in detail with your automation provider in the planning stage. Get the right solution to fit your needs.

Depend on your automation provider to help you to answer the increased demand in the market place. It is a given that when the demand in the market place starts to rise for any given product, your company needs to be as responsive as possible to meet the demand before their competition takes away the customers for themselves.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=John_F_Mitchell,_Jr

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