Mark Pfaller

Implementation of a Lockout/Tagout Program

To successfully implement a lockout/tagout program at your facility, each of the 5 elements below are needed:

1. Program: Lockout/Tagout Program Documentation
To create the Lockout/Tagout program documentation, several areas need to be addressed. These topics include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Purpose and Scope
  • Rules
  • Lockout Procedures and Techniques
  • Removal of Lockout Devices
  • Training
  • Tagout Procedures

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Tom Kovanic

Hasn’t Everyone Deployed 10G Ethernet?

The other day I was participating in a conversation with a customer about LAN and SAN speeds greater than 10G. It was a good conversation and the customer had numerous questions about migrating to 40G Ethernet; what is happening with 100G Ethernet, using multiple fibers for Fibre Channel, etc.

Toward the end of the conversation I asked them about their plans regarding deploying 40G Ethernet. They replied that they had no immediate plans for deploying 40G and that the reason they wanted to talk about it was to make sure that their LAN infrastructure could support it in the future. They plan on deploying 10G Ethernet in the new data center.

That revelation hit me with the same impact as participating in an ice bucket challenge.

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Thomas Wilk

Are We Approaching a Technical Skills Shortage?

A concern has been growing in recent years over the potential for a technical skills shortage in the U.S., Canada, and elsewhere around the globe, particularly in science, and engineering-related occupations.

It is generally predicted that, by 2018, a mass wave of retirements by members of the Baby Boom generation will result in 1.2 million U.S. job openings in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields, and there will likely be a significant shortage of qualified applicants to fill them.  The full depth of the STEM skills shortage may be even greater than this, as 50 percent of jobs that require STEM skills do not require a bachelor’s degree or better, according to Plant Services.

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Andy Chaloupka

Incentives For Energy Consumption

I recently had the opportunity to discuss an application for a retrofit containment system installed into an existing data center with a sales person. Not an uncommon story, given the effectiveness of separating cold and hot air streams in the data center to reduce cooling energy consumption. The part of the story that stood out for me was that the sales person enthusiastically related how the end user realized an instant payback on the containment system and had money left over. It sounded too good to be true. My first thought was just how badly is this data center being operated that the retrofitting of a containment system would yield an instant payback and still have money left over???

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Fred Dorman

Short Circuit Faults – Are You Protected?

When running power cable through a facility using a ladder rack, the design considerations on how to affix the cables to the ladder arise. Options such as nylon cable ties, stainless strapping, cable cleats, tie wire and, believe it or not, even doing nothing at all, are all practices that have been witnessed in the field. In addition to cable management, engineering firms must also consider the implications of a short circuit fault as part of the design process. When a short circuit fault occurs, tremendous magnetic forces repel the power cables from each other resulting in violent forces that damage everything in their path.

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Thomas Wilk

K.I.S.S. for Better Network Planning and Increased Collaboration

Collaboration between Information Technology (IT) and Operations Technology (OT) is becoming a necessity to design and deploy an industrial network architecture that follows IT best practices for security, high availability, and quality of service.

However, skills gaps still exist between IT and OT that can jeopardize effective planning and configuration of the physical and logical network fabric, especially at the switch level.  In the words of Panduit Solutions Manager Dan McGrath, “My contention is that two kinds of switches are found in many plants today: (1) unmanaged and (2) poorly managed!”

Dan makes a point worth considering, as unmanaged switches are often deployed to enable quick initial startup of the machine or process.  However, this short-term gain can turn into a long-term loss when the time comes to scale more nodes or integrate single machines into the wider factory network, in the form of increased time and materials costs.

Deploying managed switches is a definite step up, but can give plant teams a false sense of manageability and security. If managed switches are deployed as plug-and-play devices without attention to configuration and setup, IT/OT directors may be left with a network that works on Day 1 but is teetering on the edge of functionality or with major security flaws.

To update a famous acronym, I think there is a better approach that IT and OT teams can follow that will drive better network planning and increased team collaboration:  Know, Integrate, Simplify, and Standardize, or K.I.S.S.

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Thomas Wilk

Joliet Catholic Academy Enhances Learning Experience

It’s Back-to-School season for many readers and their children—time for students of all ages to meet new friends and teachers, get some fresh school clothes and/or uniforms, and check for the closest wi-fi hot spot.

Technology has become a significant part of students’ everyday lives, with tablets and interactive eBooks starting to replace heavy textbooks in everyone’s backpack, according to SecurEdge Networks.  In fact, SecurEdge reports that the average college student now uses three devices daily, and 67% of surveyed students claim that they cannot go more than one hour without using some sort of digital technology.

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Sarah Juley

Safety in the Workplace

Recently we had the opportunity to guest write on Thorne and Derrick’s blog.  Below is what we published on the topic of Safety in the Workplace!

You may ask yourself why you need a safety services program in your organization?

It’s expensive, I need additional staff, and we haven’t had an incident yet…YET is the key word! It’s time to start being proactive instead of reactive! In addition to the numerous industry-wide standards for hazardous energy, electrical safety and environmental standards, the safety of your workplace and personnel should be a top of mind concern.

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Paul Schildhouse

Ultracapacitor vs. Battery UPS

Manufacturing companies can experience an average of 3.9 power outages per year, and when the power goes out…production STOPS! Even short power blips can be detrimental.  Every minute you wait for network equipment to restart can cost your company thousands of dollars. So what can we do about it?  Install a UPS or Uninterruptible Power Supply System! Well that’s a great start, but traditional UPS systems rely on batteries, and if your UPS battery fails, your risk of downtime goes up…the very thing we’re trying to avoid.  Batteries require maintenance and operating expenses such as inspections, testing, replacement and in most cases hazardous waste disposal.  As an alternative to a traditional battery UPS system, an ultracapacitor UPS system improves uptime and eliminates maintenance, which saves you money!  Let’s compare the two with our infographic below.

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Tom Kovanic

Practicing Good Fiber Hygiene

There is something lurking about in today’s data centers that is not mentioned in polite company and quite frankly, is ignored. Although it will not go away, one hopes that it will not rise up and wreak havoc, bringing the enterprise to a halt.

That’s right . . . bad fiber hygiene!

EEEK!

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