Our video series is back with more chances to guess burst pressures and win
After taking a break for a few months, our video series "When Will It Burst?" will return on Wednesday, November 5th. It's our way of bringing a little bit of fun to a very serious subject. Normally, we don't take it lightly when something bursts. It halts production and might seriously injure someone. Our burst demonstrations are designed to show the safety that is built into every Swagelok product. They perform under pressure.
These videos had their origins in the training classes we provide. One of the highlights of our tube fitting safety seminar is the tube burst demonstration. We do it to show that, when properly installed, Swagelok fittings can handle higher pressure than the tubing itself. We put an assembly in a clear protective chamber, then pump up the pressure beyond what the tubing is rated to hold. The Swagelok fitting doesn't leak, even as the wall of the tubing swells and bursts. To make it a bit more fun and interesting, we ask attendees to guess how much pressure it will take to burst the tube.
Good and bad
In our initial series of "When Will It Burst" videos, we were impressed at how accurate the winners were with their guesses. In fact, the winner in our first video was only a few PSIG from the actual burst pressure.
But we also were surprised at how far off some of the guesses were. In each video, we pointed out that the manufacturer's minimum estimated burst pressure also comes with a built-in safety factor. Most of the safety factors are 4 to 1, so if the maximum suggested working pressure is 1000 psig, the safety factor would put the minimum burst pressure at 4000 psig. Even with that information to help them, some people guessed below the manufacturer's burst pressure ratings, and some guessed much higher.
That underscores the importance of understanding how the parts are designed to perform if you want to get the most use from them.
A quick preview
If you didn't get a chance to see our first run of videos, here's a short introduction of where we're about to take you. As you can see in the introductory video, most of the time we play it completely straight with tubing or hoses of different materials. But once in a while we toss in something unusual. Viewers of the first series have offered some suggestions that we hope to use in the future, including bent tubing and sample cylinders.
Ready to test your knowledge (or at least your intuition)? Look for the start of our new series Wednesday, November 5th, enter your best guess at www.swagelok.com/whenwillitburst, and see how you stack up against the competition.
A one-day on-site visit from a Swagelok Steam System Engineer provided advice and training
Learn more about a one-day on-site consultation from a Swagelok engineer and request a free phone consultation here »
Calera Corporation has a novel method for turning a greenhouse gas into something useful. The Los Gatos-based company captures carbon dioxide gas from industrial sources and transforms it into calcium carbonate cement with economic as well as sustainable advantages. The white powder can replace some of the commonly used Portland cement in traditional concrete, or is used as the sole binder in new kinds of products, such as a fiber cement board.
The resulting construction materials are green, while having superior performance over other currently available construction materials.
In making the fiber cement board, Calera utilized steam during the curing step of its fiber cement board products. Because adding a steam system meant getting into new technological territory, the company wanted to ensure they got everything right from the outset. Calera brought in Casey Rivera, Swagelok Northern California’s Steam System Engineer, to look over the design and make recommendations for efficient operations.
"We have used Swagelok fittings, and they told us they had a team specializing in steam systems, so we said, 'Let's see if we can add some value to our design and optimize our system,' " says Jacob Nagar, engineering manager.
Rivera spent two half-days at Calera. First he reviewed the drawings of the 150-psig steam system. Then he made an on-site inspection of the final installation of the boiler and piping, which measure about 20 feet by 20 feet. He also trained Calera's operators about best practices for optimizing system performance, including proper startup and shutdown procedures.
"He was able to understand our process drawings and figure them out pretty quickly. He is knowledgeable about the types of fittings that we needed to use, and on the ASME code behind his recommendations," Nagar says. "Safety is first for us. We don't want to play with something, especially since it was the first one."
Calera is a research and development company, so it's always looking for a way to improve on an idea.
"We make a lot of changes as we go," Nagar says. The steam system installed should be able to keep its configuration and still deal with changes on the front end. But if not, or if Calera wants to scale up the operation, Nagar adds, “We will bring Casey back to help us continue to refine and improve our process.”
New eBook shows the high cost of an inefficient or leaking steam system
Read how blowing off a little steam will hurt your bottom line. Get a copy of our new eBook here »
Steam technology has been around for so long that it's easy to take for granted. If a system isn't working at top efficiency, or even if it leaks a little, is it really such a big deal?
Yes, it is.
A new e-book from Swagelok Energy Advisors and Swagelok Northern California, "Plan Your Steam System Success Vol. 1 - Steam Loss Prevention," shows you how to calculate just how expensive wasted steam can be. During California's drought, we've all been made aware of how important it is not to waste water. But even if water were free and abundant, you pay for the fuel to heat it. You get no benefit from heat that's lost to radiation or which goes out the flue. If your system isn't hitting the benchmark of 90 percent condensate return, it means more make-up water must be injected and heated.
The difference between getting 80 percent returned condensate and using 80 percent makeup water could mean spending tens of thousands of dollars a year for a facility that produces 50,000lb./hr. of steam on average, with a 70 percent run time.
For a truly detailed look at the cost of steam, also figure in emissions payments, waste disposal, labor to operate and maintain the system, and other factors.
As the e-book shows, there are ways to bring costs down. Less expensive fuels, lower operating steam pressure, higher boiler efficiency and other steps can make a big difference.
If merely running an inefficient steam system is expensive, think of the extra cost when steam escapes through leaks. Leaks in a steam and condensate system can be as great as 19 percent of the overall energy consumption in a plant's operation. The good news is that most leaks can be corrected without expending large capital.
As our eBook explains, the biggest cause of steam and condensate leaks is the use of threaded pipe connections. Welded or tube fitting connections make a big difference in performance. Another common source of trouble is the packing on standard type valves. Steam is very corrosive when it comes in contact with packing. It's important to use steam isolation valves designed for that type of service.
Another problem to watch for is water hammer. It should never happen in a well-designed and properly run steam system. When it does happen, it can damage pipe connections.
One of the top priorities in any steam producing system should be reducing the overall operating cost. Using the roadmaps and guidelines provided in the new eBook from Swagelok Energy Advisors and Swagelok Northern California, you can expect efficiency, reliability and safety from your steam systems.
Now, don't forget to get a copy of the new eBook here »
Tube Fitting Safety and Tube Bending Seminars get high marks from attendees
We're putting the finishing touches on our upcoming seminars, VCR Fitting Installation on Oct. 14, Tube Fitting Safety on Oct. 15, and Tube Bending on Oct. 16. In preparation, we've been looking at participant evaluations from previous classes, looking for ways to improve the seminars and learning from attendees what is working well. One thing that attendees say over and over is that they appreciate the hands-on nature of our seminars. They aren't just learning theory. They aren't just watching somebody else show the proper way to handle tubing and tools. They get to try out the techniques in person, with the instructors on hand to answer questions and check how well everyone is doing. Mike Carrier, who attended our September Tube Bending seminar, said he came because "I wanted to learn the proper techniques of bending and measuring so I can apply what I learned directly to my job." He said he appreciated learning the math to determine where to mark the tubing for bends, and eliminate guesswork. Even people who think they know the right way to handle tubing have taken our classes to make sure they are doing the work correctly.
Next week's sessions start with our VCR Metal Gasket Face Seal Fitting Installation Seminar on Tuesday, Oct. 14 in our Fremont office from 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m (we will provide lunch). The Swagelok VCR fitting has become the go to fitting in high purity applications that need a high purity vacuum or positive pressure seal, a make and break point with virtually no clearance, and a fitting that can handle some of most toxic, flammable and corrosive fluids in industry. Some of the goals of this training are to teach you how to optimize the performance of the fitting while ensuring complete understanding of proper installation techniques through hands on practice and trouble shooting common installation errors.
Our Swagelok Tube Fitting Safety Seminar on Wednesday, Oct. 15 is also in our Fremont office but starts at 12:30 p.m. and ends at 2:30 p.m (lunch included). Why do we call it a safety seminar? Because people seldom think much about tube fittings until there is a failure in the system. For most customers a failure is normally defined as a leak. In some cases a leak may be only a minor inconvenience, but there are times when a leak can be a safety problem. We know from experience that by employing the techniques provided in the Tube Fitting Safety Seminar most of this leakage can be prevented.
Bend it like Swagelok
Then on Thursday, Oct. 16, we continue with our Swagelok Tube Bending Seminar. Again, it's at our Fremont office, this time from noon to 2 p.m. with lunch included. Tube bending is a skill that is normally passed from a craftsman to an apprentice. As a supplier of high quality tube benders and tube preparation tools, we offer this class to provide a training resource that demystifies one aspect of fluid system fabrication. Good tube fabrication techniques can improve system performance. Good layout and execution can enhance the aesthetics of a system and reflect on the quality of the product. Knowledgeable, skilled technicians help increase productivity and reduce waste and scrap.
Each course is $149, and if you sign up for both you can take two for $135 apiece, and all three for $119 each. Sign up here today.
Swagelok University is your digital portal to fluid system training
No matter how much you know about scientific fundamentals, plant operations, safety, industry or fluid systems, there's always something new to learn. Swagelok makes it easier to top off your education with more than 130 interactive industrial online training courses with audio. We call it Swagelok University.
We've recently put together the video below to give you the "campus tour," so to speak. Of course one of the great advantages of Swagelok University is that you are already on campus as you read this.
While you can take the classes right at your own desk, you never have to feel like you are on your own at Swagelok University. Administrators can track learner progress, assign due dates and create reports. Each course also has an assessment, so you can gauge your understanding of the course content.
Here are just a few brief video samples of what it's like to take a course:
• Analytical Instrumentation
• Needle Valve Basics
• Types of Pressure
Mix and match
We also make it easy to find the best combination of courses for your needs. We offer 17 Swagelok University pre-made course bundles or you can create custom bundles in groups of 10, 20 or 30 courses. You can also choose courses a la carte. And, we'll even give you a free 30-day trial with unlimited access to 12 pre-selected online training courses. Simply complete this Swagelok University 30-day free trial request form. And one of our customer service associates will be in touch to set it up for you.
Every Swagelok University course and bundle now has a Continuing Education Unit value, making the courses a convenient way to meet continuing education requirements.
Ready to see where you can expand your knowledge? Sign up now for a 30 day free trial »
An on-site visit from a Swagelok Steam Systems Engineer can uncover ways to trim costs
A day with one of our steam systems engineers has saved many companies $1000s per year by reducing production downtime and maintenance costs, lowering fuel and energy costs, and optimizing production quality get more info »
If you can’t afford to pull a field engineer for up to a week to do a ground-up inspection of your steam system, consider a one-day, on-site visit from Swagelok Energy Advisors, experts in steam and condensate systems.
We send out a steam specialist to look at a specific problem, such as a valve that keeps failing for unknown reasons or water hammer, and you get a report on how to fix the specific problem and suggestions about what else to look for in your system, as well as a roadmap for how to implement the recommendations. It is a chance to open a window into your steam system and uncover cost savings, explore opportunities for improvement and gain from the experience and capabilities that our engineers bring to the table.
While the engineer is on-site, you will also have a chance to pick their brain without having to worry about getting a sales pitch for a specific brand of product. That's because, as enthusiastic as we are about Swagelok products, most steam system requirements go beyond the typical scope of Swagelok products. Swagelok does not manufacture boilers, steam traps, desuperheaters, heat exchangers or pumps, so you can be confident that our steam systems engineer will recommend only what’s best for your specific application without regard to manufacturer.
It is natural, then, to ask how Swagelok got into the business of inspecting steam systems. Back in 2008, the Swagelok acquired Plant Support and Evaluations Inc., a Naples, Florida-based training firm with extensive experience specializing in the evaluation of steam systems. It is now known as Swagelok Energy Advisors, or SEA. This acquisition has proven invaluable in helping customers achieve the highest level of performance and reliability of their steam systems.
What kind of things does a SEA field engineer get called in to look at? You might want an inspection of your system's condensate recovery, pressure reducing stations, desuperheaters or steam traps. You also might be having temperature control issues in a heat exchanger or a dryer. The plant could also be venting excess steam, which is wasting significant money and energy.
We will give you a questionnaire so that you can provide basic information on your steam system prior to our visit. That could include the kind of equipment you use, the size of your system and whatever is causing trouble now.
"There are a lot of things I’m called in to look at," says Casey Rivera, steam systems engineer. "Before I go on site, I print out a scope outline and bring it with me that covers which area we’ll look at, and how long that will take. While it’s a rough schedule that's flexible, it helps makes clear what three or four topics we have time for in a day on site."
Rivera has even gone on site to check out a brand new steam system that a customer was installing and wanted an expert eye involved. Rivera was able to recommend some improvements right at the outset.
Within a week after the inspection, the SEA engineer will write up and send you a report outlining the findings and recommendations. It is a good starting point for further discussion, perhaps leading to that full system inspection you may have been thinking about.
The one-day visit from a local engineer comes at a substantial discount from SEA's normal rates. What kind of savings you will net from implementing the recommendations are unique to each steam system, however, it is common that improvements from our recommendations will pay for the site visit in a few months.
So for a healthy discount on one-day of service, and the possibility of saving money and energy in the long term, schedule a brief phone consultation with our local steam systems engineer, Casey Rivera. He can answer any questions you have about the SEA one day site visit and help you take control of your steam system get more info »
His hands-on experience gives him invaluable insight on what customers need
If you visit our Will Call in Fremont, you will probably meet Peter Fraser, and if you meet Fraser, he will suggest you attend our training get more info »
You naturally expect Swagelok Northern California associates to be familiar with our catalog of products and how they work. That's only the baseline, however. Some of our associates bring a lot more expertise to bear. Take Peter Fraser, who mans the counter at our Will Call in Fremont. Before he joined us about eight years ago, he worked for a large compressed gas company. As a result, he has years of hands-on experience using Swagelok components in the field.
Seeing beyond the parts list
Just by listening to a customer, asking questions, and looking at the list of parts on an order, Fraser often can tell the intended use. That's good news for the customer. For instance, a check valve is designed to keep fluid moving in a single direction, much like the valves in your heart keep your blood flowing in one direction. But people sometimes try to use them in applications where they really need a proportional relief valve instead. When Fraser suspects that's the case, he speaks up.
"There are a lot of little things I pick up on," he says. "I'll share any concerns. I help customers through these conversations because I don't want them to come back disappointed."
Sometimes Fraser's knowledge can save a lot of money for a customer. One time a customer came in to order Swagelok's CT Series Convoluted Metal Tubing.
"The customer explained the application in which he intended to use the convoluted metal tubing. I suggested he take a look at Swagelok's flexible metal hose, specifically the FJ Series all-metal hose instead," Fraser says. "The FJ hose was more durable for their application which required repeated installation and removal. The customer ended up buying more than 30 hoses, saving about $120 apiece."
Fraser doesn't always have a suggestion that will save the customer money on the initial purchase. Depending on the application's pressure, temperature, media, and other factors, he may suggest a product that is more expensive, but only when it is more appropriate for the job. "In the long run, the right part will save our customer money, even if the initial price is higher because it will last longer and require less maintenance," Fraser says.
In one case, Fraser noticed that a customer had a vice mounted on the back of his truck. So he asked whether the customer ever used a Swagelok preswaging tool. Before long the conversation expanded to cover a wide range of Swagelok tools: T wrenches, cutters, reamers, and preswaging tools in several sizes.
"This guy was ecstatic with the tools I showed him. He was grateful he was asked a simple question," Fraser says.
Whether the customer is new to Swagelok or a mechanical contractor with several decades of experience, they end up learning from Fraser. For example, he always asks if they are aware of the proper way to install a Swagelok tube fitting. And if they are not, he explains it to them and suggests they attend one of our tube fitting safety seminars.
"If they are over-tightening, it lowers the life span of our tube fitting," Fraser explains. "And if they are under-tightening, the tube fitting may leak which can cause all sorts of problems. If they don't know how to use our tube fitting, we probably won't get them back for any of our other products."
He still gets calls from the company where he used to work, new employees ask about the right way to tackle certain jobs. Even at the large semiconductor companies, each new generation comes in with lots of knowledge about calculations, but little hands-on experience. They discover Fraser is a fountain of knowledge.
That part of his job is likely to get bigger now that the Will Call area has tools on display. That makes it easier to bring them to everyone's attention and make sure they know how to use them.
"We recently installed a vice at the Will Call. I have some pre-cut tubing, so I can have customers deburr it and install a tube fitting right there," Fraser says. Giving the customer a chance to practice, especially if it's been a while since they've handled a particular tool, helps them leave the Will Call with more confidence.
Fraser isn't boastful about his expertise, and he is still furthering his own education. "Learning Swagelok's inventory is a marathon, not a sprint," he says. "I never used pipe fittings, so I still make double sure to look up the part number so I don't get too overconfident."
Rivera has been championing energy efficiency since he was a teenager
Industry focused steam system training courses with practical ideas and action points to immediately improve your steam system get more info »
Joining Swagelok Northern California in October of last year, Casey Rivera is Swagelok’s newest steam systems engineer, and he is currently the product manager of services for Swagelok Northern California. Rivera has hit the ground running by helping to pioneer two new industry focused steam system training courses this November in Northern California. Each course focuses on steam system topics most relevant to your industry with practical ideas and action points to immediately improve your steam system. The Food, Beverage, Dairy, Pharmaceutical steam system training course focuses on steam system topics like process hot water and CIP systems. The Refinery and Petrochemical steam system training course targets topics like steam turbines and reboilers.
For more details about the courses, including more complete lists of topics, dates of the training courses, and registration information, click here »
Since he was a teenager, Rivera has been interested in the way the world works, and helping it work better. His first job was working for the water treatment facility in his hometown of Keene, N.H., at age 15.
“My main responsibilities were to conduct daily lab tests on water clarity, turbidity, and chemistry. It really kick started my passion for the sciences at a relatively young age,” Rivera said.
His interests got more complex when he went off to Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Worcester, MA, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in chemical engineering. There, he became a member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers.
“One of the projects I helped to start and lead at my time there was the ‘ChemE Car.’ The idea behind the project was to develop and build a small car that could run completely on a chemical reaction,” Rivera said.
“Throughout the year, we designed a car run on a small fuel cell and started fabrication. The group had strong participation, and continued on after I graduated.”
“Throughout my college career I knew I wanted to work to promote energy efficiency. I had researched alternative energy production measures, particularly fuel cells,” Rivera said.
Prior to graduation, he got a job for a company that packaged steam turbine generator sets, and promoted the efficient use of steam to generate on-site power.
“During my time there, I realized that there is a lot of potential in steam, and I knew that I wanted to focus my career in that field,” Rivera said. When he learned there was an opening at Swagelok Northern California, he determined that the position was a good match to his experience, interests, and career goals.
Full steam ahead
It may seem like a big jump from chemical engineering, but it was really a natural progression.
As a steam systems engineer, Rivera will recommend improvements to existing systems, helping customers get the full potential from equipment that has been performing inefficiently. He finished seven months of advanced training under the experts at Swagelok Energy Advisors around the country.
“Some of the best advice I have ever received was to ask questions,” Rivera said. “I have learned that when you ask the right questions at the right time, you can open up a lot of doors and opportunities. Simply stated, you never know if you don’t ask.”
Rivera plans to continue to promote energy efficiency, safety and reliability, and high performance in steam systems all throughout Northern California and northwestern Nevada with the hope of becoming a trusted resource for Swagelok’s customers.
Attendees learn a lot more than just the proper way to bend tubing
Watch our Using a hand tube bender video
below to get an introduction to our popular Swagelok Tube Bending Training course, and then learn more and register for next week's training course here »
There's a lot more to tube bending than simply bending a tube. In fact, the basic bending instructions are not that complex. Swagelok has a short video that covers the basics in only six minutes. But our tube bending seminars go much further. Here are some of the major takeaways.
Good tubing isn't cheap. Some companies end up throwing out thousands of dollars of scrap tubing each year because it wasn't cut to the proper length before bending. Someone willing to take a little extra time and do a little basic math will end up with the right length for the job. We'll show you how it's done.
It's easy to make up the extra time on measuring if you use efficient fabrication techniques. We cover them in our hands-on seminar.
Works of art
A good design gets the tubing from point A to point B with elegance and a minimum of bends. Done right, the design not only helps improve system performance but pleases the eye. Our seminar includes exercises that explain the use of expansion loops and offsets.
Handling with care
Scratches, dents and dings all hurt the performance of tubing. When tubing is handled properly, it is more likely to go into service unscathed. We'll explain how to care for your supplies.
It's one thing to listen to an instructor. It's a completely different experience to get your hands on the tools and put theory into practice. Past participants have singled this out as one of the best parts of the training, saying:
"Very hands on, lots of real practice, well done!"
"Room and materials were well prepared. Didn’t waste time sharing tools."
"Extremely well presented, the training actually exceeded my expectations."
Now that we've raised your expectations, give us a call to talk about how we can help your team improve their skills. Our next tube bending seminar is Thursday, September 11th from noon to 2 p.m. We only have 10 spaces available, it costs only $149 per person, and we'll serve lunch, so register online now.
Swagelok Northern California makes a group effort to support ALS research
Challenge Accepted!! You can watch our ALS Ice Bucket Challenge video below »
All across the country this summer, people have been taking the Ice Bucket Challenge. The challenge is to get doused with a bucket of ice water on video, or donate money to charity, or both. Those who accept the challenge then challenge three others.
The Ice Bucket Challenge caught on earlier this summer and quickly became associated with raising awareness and money for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease.
This past month my son Jaxon accepted the challenge, and decided to nominate Swagelok Northern California.
A lot of us wanted to be involved, but we were also mindful of California's drought. You can see how we came to a good compromise by watching our video.
Rod Fallow, our company president, took the lead by volunteering to get the full-bucket treatment. Then came the question: Who would get the honor of dumping a bucket of freezing water on their boss? We had a lot of volunteers, so we held an auction and added that money to our donation.
The challenge has really caught on in the past month or so. As recently as Aug. 6, the ALS Association was asking "Have You Heard about the Ice Bucket Challenge?" Ten days later, donations to the association had passed the $10 million mark. A week after that, the total had topped $62 million. As of Tuesday this week, the total stood at $88.5 million.
For us, taking the challenge was more personal than just participating in a social phenomenon. Jaxon's grandfather has had ALS for 23 years. Life expectancy of a person with ALS is two to five years, and only 5 percent of people with ALS live more than 20 years after diagnosis. Jaxon knows firsthand that a long-term illness is hard both on the person with the disease and on their family who are often their primary caregivers.
We also know that the ALS Association is not the only organization working to fight the disease and help families of people living with ALS. Some local organizations include the Family Caregiver Alliance, the UCSF ALS Center and the Forbes Norris MDA/ALS Research & Treatment Center.
If you have received The Ice Bucket Challenge, the ALS Association asks you to use common sense. Think before dumping a bucket of ice and freezing cold water on small children, the elderly, anyone in poor health, or animals of any kind.
Now that we have been soaked, we are challenging our friends at Swagelok Edmonton, Swagelok Denver, and Swagelok San Diego. After all, Swagelok is all about fluid systems. Show us what you've got.