HEAT ILLNESS CAN BE DEADLY. When employees are exposed to hot temperatures, maintaining a safe work environment can be more challenging than you think. As summertime temperatures continue to rise, it becomes increasingly important for employers to focus on providing workplace conditions that are safe from the excessive heat.
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA), thousands of workers become sick and even die as a result of exposure to heat each year. In the United States, an average of 400 deaths per year are directly related to heat, and an estimated 1,800 die from illnesses made worse by heat.
Many industries face challenges when it comes to providing a cool working environment, particularly in heat-susceptible areas such as industrial plants, warehouses, and manufacturing facilities. When surface temperatures on pipe and equipment routinely exceed 140° F (60° C), measures should be taken to improve the working environment. Without adequate cooling or precautions, workers are put in danger while equipment and manufactured products are at an increased risk of failure, which can impact worker safety and productivity, and certainly, a company’s bottom-line.
So how can you protect your employees from heat exposure while also ensuring that the work is accomplished on time?
According to OSHA, “The best way to prevent heat-related illness is to make the work environment cooler”. However, the dilemma now becomes how to efficiently and economically cool large, open areas where high ambient outdoor temperatures and heat-generating machinery are factors.
Fortunately, the use of industrial insulation on process equipment and piping not only saves money and energy, but also reduces the potential for heat- related illnesses. As insulation is added to systems, the surface temperature of these systems is dramatically reduced. This provides a cooler work environment that yields higher productivity, as workers do not require as many breaks and are less concerned with the potential for burns from hot surfaces. Furthermore, insulation helps reduce the amount of work your machine has to do by decreasing the amount of energy used without sacrificing quality or performance. Learn more about the energy saving benefits of insulation.
The use of UniTherm’s UniVest® and ISOCOVERS Insulation Systems product lines provide easy and efficient ways to save energy and money while creating a cooler and safer work environment. Additionally, these product lines can be purchased online because they now are available in standard “off-the-shelf” sizes, which drastically reduces the time and costs often associated with custom insulation jobs. For all of our heat prevention products, view our online shopping cart here.
For additional tips on how to keep your facility cooler and your workforce happy and motivated, click here for more information about preventing heat-related illness.Share your stories about dangers of heat illness and let us know how you are preparing for the coming summer months on our social media pages: Facebook Twitter Linkedin
We come across many people who have the wrong idea about industrial insulation and think what we offer is not right for them. We ask them a few questions, and usually they are left wondering why they haven’t insulated their equipment sooner. We throw them a UniVest and they rush out the door to install it (cause it’s really that simple).
So we don’t have to go through the same spiel every time, we’ve compiled the most common misconceptions people have when it comes to industrial insulation.
1. Insulation is for my home, not my machines
This is the most common one we come across and it’s pretty obvious why. The first thing people think about when you say insulation is their home and what’s inside their walls. That’s a perfect analogy because UniVests work the same way. Properly insulating your home saves you hundreds of dollars a year on home heating and cooling costs. It protects outside temperatures from affecting the temperatures you want inside. The easier it is for your home to maintain its temperature, the less you spend at the end of the month. UniVests are no different, except we deal with higher inside temperatures. Take a second and think, if you save hundreds by properly insulating your home, imagine how much could be saved when insulating your machine. We’ll give you a hint…its much greater!
2. No Budget for Insulation
We all have budgets. Yeah, and we know they can be small and hard to deal with. Trust us, Windows 98 is getting really old at the office. Making new purchases on things that you are already operating without can seem like a luxury purchase. Little known fact is that with proper insulation, a company can see ROI (Return on Investment) in under 12 months. In the right conditions, a single set of UniVests or ISOCOVERS can last 5+ years after installed. That’s 5+ years of return. In 12 months or less, most companies make back the purchase price of a UniVest from energy savings alone.
3. My machines are working fine now without insulation
We’re sure they do, but wouldn’t you like for them to work better? Insulation minimizes the downtime of the machines they are on and relieves stresses from a hard working machine. This even increases the lifespan of the equipment. Wouldn’t we all like to work a little easier? Your machines would too.
4. Who Needs Protection Anyway
The biggest thing that people don’t realize is that insulation also improves workplace safety. As seen in a few of our videos on Youtube, a heated barrel with a UniVest on it can be touched and worked around without any special protective gear. More Safety = Less downtime and less liability. Insulation can also decrease surrounding ambient air temperature. Decreasing work fatigue due to high temperature and more comfortable work areas.
Here’s typically the point where some people are kicking themselves for not already having insulation installed. If you didn’t make it this far, we completely understand. Our insulation systems are much more than the sum of their parts and offer a lot more usability than most people realize. If you’ve finally come to the conclusion that insulation could benefit you, take a look around our online shopping cart at www.shop.unitherm.com. For some help finding the product, measuring, or just want some more insulation entertainment like this blog, visit our youtube page: www.Youtube.com/UniThermInsulations
Flying cars were expected to be the future by 2000; despite erroneous expectations, cars have become radically advanced within recent years. Cutting-edge technology has prompted the birth of the car of the future due to anxieties of energy efficiency and rising pollution.
By 2025, all new U.S. vehicles must be equipped with a 55mpg+ fuel range. To contend with new fuel regulations, each year a car must be 5% more fuel-efficient. The price at the pump is expected to increase 25% by 2025; presently, the average vehicle gulps an annual average of $1700. Future hybrid & electric vehicles may cost $2400 more, but consumers will save $8200 in additional expenses.
Plug-in vehicles (PEV) or electric vehicles (EV) are gaining in popularity, but critics cite inflated prices, shortage of fueling stations, and limp technology advancements as probable disappointments. Despite the EV knockers, the Tesla Model S recently earned Car of the year for 2012 by Automobile Magazine and received Motor Trend’s Car of the Year honors in 2013. Cadillac, BMW, Audi, and Honda are soon to follow in the EV trend in 2014.
Alternative fuels are the clean fuels of the future: liquid petroleum gas (LPG), ethanol, biodiesel, and natural gas. LPG and natural gas are undoubtedly promising; these domestic fossil fuels yield less toxic pollutants and greenhouse gases. Biodiesel, unlike its petroleum counterpart, originates from vegetable oils and animal fats. Corn and other domestic crops create ethanol. The government promotes these unorthodox fuels with alluring tax incentives to qualifying consumers.
House Bill 2453 may leave an unpleasant taste in some consumer’s mouths after it is passed. This tax, to be blunt, fines individuals to drive an electric vehicle. This gas tax would be aimed at 2015 or later vehicles, with 55 miles/gallon or more. A little background information: 60% of state projects are funded by taxes on gasoline. Thus, states are collecting less tax money because of existing and future electric and hybrid vehicles. Point blank, the fee would be 1.56 cents per mile.
These destined energy efficient vehicles could conceivably constitute 65% of the market in 2025. Consumer demand, credits, and government incentives will determine the car dealership of the future.
Companies always look to make the best decisions when selecting capital projects to work into the budget; simple metrics like Return on Investment and Internal Rate of Return tend to dictate how the budget for these projects is written each year. In an effort to increase the bottom line, investments are often times funneled toward projects and purchases that directly affect sales rather than decreasing operating costs, but sales growth is never guaranteed.
In other cases, capital projects are indefinitely suspended, forcing companies to make due with what they have until either more funding becomes available or sales increase. [Read more…]
The New York Times reports that manufacturing is “one of the few bright spot of the recovery, restoring 489,000 jobs since the beginning of 2010.” The article also describes geographic distinctions in growth, with half of the most manufacturing-specialized metropolitans now located in the Midwest.
Plastics News reports that in California a controversial pro-plastics lesson has been removed from a new statewide curriculum on the environment. After the EPA looked over the proposed curriculum, the section titled “Advantages of Plastic Shopping Bags” was replaced with recycling statistics in an 11th grade textbook.
ICIS News announces that researchers at technology company Siemens have developed an alternative to ABS plastic. The new material—made with 70% renewable content—is the result of a three-year project funded by the German Research Ministry and was successfully used to make a vacuum cleaner cover.
GreenBiz examines the Sustainability Leadership List, which recognizes environmentally-conscious companies each year. But because some criticize the results, they also discuss plans for the Global Initiative for Sustainability Ratings that would develop a standardized method of measuring and ranking sustainability performance.
Plastics Today recognizes Dignity Health, the founding sponsor of the Healthier Hospitals Initiative, as one of the first hospital groups in the country to start using pigment-free patient plastics. This California-based healthcare organization is a leader in sustainability efforts to reduce hospitals’ impact on the environment by adopting innovative alternatives.
What is a smart grid?
Just as smart phones have evolved into multi-purpose devices that support a wide range of applications, smart grids have become a way to computerize the electric utility grid and better manage the increasing energy needs of 21st century consumers.
The “grid” encompasses all the networks that carry electricity from the plant where it is generated to the homes and office buildings where we consume it. Smartgrid.gov refers to our current grid as an “aging infrastructure” set up to handle only simple energy demands.
For the past 100 years, utility workers have had to go out to gather much of the data needed to provide electricity — reading meters, looking for broken equipment, measuring voltage, and so on. And most of the devices utilities use to deliver and manage electricity rely on manual or analog systems. Now, the electricity industry is taking great strides to modernize the process.
A smart grid system digitizes data collection and also acts on information about consumer behavior — similar to the way Google learns your online searching habits and Netflix knows your movie preferences. Each device on the network has hi-tech sensors to gather data and automation technology that allows the utility company to adjust and control each individual device or millions of devices from a central location.
In addition, a smart grid system can
- Detect faults and isolate outages
- Restore electricity quickly and strategically after power disturbances
- Reduce management costs for utilities, lowering power costs for consumers
- Reduce peak demand, which will also help lower electricity rates
- Enable active participation by consumers in demand response
- Integrate large-scale renewable energy systems
- Integrate customer-owner power generation systems
- Operate resiliently against physical and cyber attack
Who supports the smart grid?
In 2007, Congress passes the Energy Independence and Security Act, which supports the DOE in leading and coordinating a national grid system. Such a system would involve upgrading the current system or replacing it altogether. Smartgrid.gov advocates that a modern grid be constructed “from the bottom up to handle the groundswell of digital and computerized equipment and technology dependent on it.”
In 2009, the Obama administration allocated $3.4 billion in grants as part of a stimulus package to help utilities develop and implement technologies such as smart meters, digital transformers, and automated power monitoring and management systems.
We have seen smart grids deployed on a smaller scale in cities like Austin (2003) and Boulder (2008), and several areas in Europe and Canada are currently working towards large-scale smart grid systems.
Smart grids are designed to give consumers more control over their energy use. Imagine monitoring and managing electricity just as you do your bank account. Smart grids will provide a clear and timely picture of how much electricity you use and when it costs the most to run.
As we grow more aware of our environmental impact—and as utility bills grow more costly—energy efficiency becomes a central concern in construction projects and building updates. LEED certifications set efficient buildings apart from the rest. Pink attic insulation doesn’t quite cut it anymore.
Although it’s a hot topic now, energy efficiency—insulation in particular—is nothing new. Since the beginning of time, the Earth and its inhabitants have found remarkable ways to regulate temperature. Atmospheric gases gather in the ozone layer, water surrounds land, mammals grow fur and store body fat, birds are born with feathers, and early on, humans discovered heat-trapping material like wool.
We have always put extra effort into shielding ourselves from the elements. Early humans built their homes out of natural insulators like grass, leaves, straw, mud, ice, and mountainsides. And landscaping wasn’t always about aesthetics—trees planted near houses provided precious shade and insulation.
While keeping extreme temperatures out, people also came up with ways to generate heat within. Some buildings in the Roman Empire and ancient Korea used empty spaces in floors and walls to conduct air heated by furnaces. By 1700, Russian engineers began developing water-based systems to circulate heat.
With the advent of modern heating systems came the need for better insulators. After all, gas and electric systems don’t come cheap like heat from a wood-burning furnace, and they create conditions that need to be regulated in order to work properly.
In 1930, Dale Kleist, a researcher at the Owens-Illinois Glass Company, made one of those lucky mistakes that so often leads to a monumental discovery. While trying to seal two plates of glass together, he accidentally shredded the glass into tiny fibers with a high-pressure air hose. Thus, fiberglass was born and soon found its most common form in blanket insulation.
Meanwhile, manufacturers began to realize the benefit of insulating not just their buildings but their heat sources as well. This helped protect workers and equipment, save energy, and improve overall efficiency.
We’ve come a long way since adobe huts and igloos. Today, engineers use R-values (the measure of thermal resistance) to quantify and compare the insulating capability of different materials. In this way, they can combine the most effective insulators and create premium insulation.
As more and more manufacturers see significant energy savings after insulating their machines, insulation jackets are becoming priority number one in many energy management strategies.
UniTherm has been supplying insulation jackets in the plastics industry for over 30 years, and with each new product and custom service, UniTherm strives to address a specific processing need. With this innovative mentality, UniTherm can provide opportunities for greater efficiency, as it has with its new product called QuickCool.
QuickCool is an insulation jacket with an additional feature—it is designed to open easily so that machines can quickly cool as they are prepared for different processes. QuickCool wraps completely around the barrel and insulates as well as UniTherm’s other jackets, but it has high-temperature straps on the inside to hold it in place while the top flap opens to release heat when necessary. Otherwise, the top flap velcros tightly to the rest of the jacket to keep machines working at high efficiency with minimal heat loss. This way, barrels and heater bands are always easily accessible without having to remove the entire jacket, and machines can reach and maintain different desired temperatures as needed.
Barbara Arnold-Feret, custom molding expert and new addition to UniTherm’s sales team, calls QuickCool a “flexibility enhancer.” QuickCool, she explains, “offers all the advantages of insulation along with the ability to change temperatures quickly. It allows great flexibility for molders looking to cool their machines for whatever reason, including material changes.” No longer do custom molders need to worry about insulation encumbering their access to the machines or their ability to switch processes involving different materials. “It is especially convenient when working with polyolefins and perfect for molders that make a little of everything,” says Barbara.
In fact, a custom molder with 3,000 molds running short runs with PolyPro and ABS installed QuickCool blankets on its machines and found that the product allowed them to cool from 550˚F to 350˚F in the time it took to change the mold.
UniTherm has been supplying insulation for over 30 years, and the Research and Development team continues to explore new energy-efficient solutions. They are excited to offer a product that will not only save energy but also adapt to the alternating processes in custom molding.
Another great week ripe with industry news. Here are the highlights:
Plastics News reports that the shortage of nylon 12 has led the auto industry to seek alternatives resins to use in fuel lines, connectors, tubes, and other key components. Molders and resin makers have offered a variety of possible alternatives, and automakers have established a system to begin testing.
The Huffington Post addresses the current the job market as US Congressional Candidate Stacey Lawson proposes a plan for creating jobs and rebuilding our middle class. Lawson stresses that we can by reclaim the American dream by “restoring the high-wage jobs that are the foundation of a sustainable economic recovery,” and she lays out 7 priorities to help us get there.
Clean Technica overviews the Department of Energy’s voluntary energy savings specifications designed to help building owners, operators, and manufacturers develop minimum performance requirements. The DOE recently released new specifications for lighting troffers and parking lot lighting, which could reduce energy use by 40%.
Industry Intelligence announces a new compostable bioplastic film that extends the shelf life of fruits and vegetables by up to five days. The new film, developed by Sira-Flex Resolve, creates an ideal atmosphere to better preserve stored food.
And in a free webinar, Design World discusses how Design for Manufacturability (DDM) eliminates many restraints associated with conventional manufacturing. The webinar examines how DDM can create plastic parts, layer-by-layer without machining, molding, or casting.
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