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What to Consider When Implementing a Server Rack Cooling System Server Racks Quick Coupling DivisionA safe, effective cooling system to remove waste heat from computer servers is vital when creating a data center infrastructure. While many data centers rely on large air conditioning systems to remove heat, it is no longer the most efficient or cost-friendly solution. The highest operating expense for data centers is often electricity. As servers are pushed to their limits and running faster than ever, it is becoming increasingly impractical to rely on moving air to offer effective cooling.

Because of this, IT managers are turning to liquid cooling systems to efficiently perform thermal management. Since today’s microprocessors are smaller and more powerful than ever, they are producing even more heat. While this evolving solution is being scaled for complex data center operations, the most important aspect is quickly changing out servers without drips, leaks, or spills.

Parker works with cooling system manufacturers by providing component parts for those systems – non-spill couplings, tubing and hoses. Having worked in this space for several years, we understand what’s needed to implement a successful server rack cooling system.

The following are several factors to consider when implementing a new system.

Ensure scaling capabilities

While you might be confident that your current system can handle today’s thermal management standards, what about tomorrow? It’s important to think beyond the present and prepare for the future to accommodate the increasing densities. Ensuring your ability to scale is pivotal before starting with a new server rack cooling strategy.

The simplest and quickest solution is to add more enclosures or cabinets, which gives you the ability to save floor space and store equipment with different cooling needs within the same rack. By eliminating the need for a separate system for each, you can significantly reduce cooling costs.

However, before adding more enclosures, make sure you have the correct couplings and connections to handle the increased thermal load. With an increase of powerful devices, you must ensure that any additional heat can be accounted for and removed within the existing infrastructure.

Control the environment with non-spill couplings

What to Consider When Implementing a Server Rack Cooling System No-spill coupling Quick Coupling DivisionAs technology continues to advance in the form of IoT capabilities and Edge deployments, server racks are being placed in areas that aren’t intended to protect IT equipment. Frequently, spaces are not well-equipped for climate control and exposed to dust, debris and moisture.

IT managers often make the mistake of thinking that additional server usage and thermal load can be countered by the building’s existing air conditioning system. However, the air conditioning systems are not designed to keep sensitive equipment cool and offer the proper humidity and airflow requirements.

Liquid cooling strategies paired with reliable, dry-disconnect products are an effective way to control the environment while efficiently performing thermal management. Using quick non-spill couplings, IT managers can quickly change out servers without worrying about drips, leaks or spills. This compact solution for smaller and more powerful servers gives the necessary cooling attention to each server rather than depending on a less effective air conditioning system that can bump up your electric bill.

Account for increased thermal loads

Before thinking about the bigger picture of a liquid cooling system, you should first determine the existing thermal output of each of your current enclosures. If the heat buildup in those current enclosures is extremely high, it means that you should consider a closed-loop cooling strategy, which is designed for high heat areas and uncontrolled environments.

Liquid cooling is the prime example of a closed-loop system, where heat is removed from inside each individual enclosure as opposed to the overall row or room. Closed-loop cooling will maintain the proper internal climate conditions despite the outside conditions. Due to its ability to remove a higher volume of heat, liquid cooling and other closed-loop cooling strategies allow for higher installation densities. This cuts down on the number of necessary server enclosures.

Reviewing all your options   

Your existing infrastructure affects the requirements of the rack server cooling system you choose. For example, if your data center has hot aisle and cold aisle containment, you have many more options as to what server cooling system you can implement.

Optimizing the organization and placement of your data center equipment is cost-effective and possible through hot/cold aisle arrangements, containment strategies and rack placement. Still, it may not be the most efficient strategy for large increases in the volume of heat.  

Currently seen as the most effective method of thermal management, liquid cooling ensures that heat is removed from the highest installation destinations. By placing the cooling mechanism closer and more directly to the sources of heat, whether it be by rows or individual racks, liquid cooling provides a more potent and efficient solution. The most successful liquid cooling systems have dry disconnect, non-spill couplings to ensure that liquid does not spill into the server during changes.

Purchasing the right parts

There are many factors to consider when deploying a server rack liquid cooling system. If done correctly, you could be installing a more efficient, cost-effective solution to account for high-density installations and increased thermal output. Parker has years of experience in designing products that maximize flow and decrease pressure drop. Its experts’ technical knowledge in leak prevention designs makes them a prime candidate to provide components in the workspace.

With liquid cooling strategies becoming the most effective form of thermal management for data centers, Parker offers support by providing expertise in the most cutting-edge non-spill couplings, tubing and hoses. As a leader in the space, find out how Parker can help you take thermal management to the next level.

Learn more about liquid cooling connections and other products offered by Parker.

 

What to Consider When Implementing a Server Rack Cooling System Todd Lambert Quick Coupling DivisionArticle contributed by Todd Lambert, market sales manager, Parker Hannifin’s Quick Coupling Division.

 

 

 

 

 

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What is Edge Computing and How Can it Improve Business Productivity? manufacturing facility SensoNode Business UnitBy 2025, forecasts say there will be more than 75 billion Internet of Things (IoT) connected devices in use, which would be a nearly threefold increase from the IoT installed base in 2019. In addition, data volume created by IoT connections is projected to reach a massive total of 79.4 zettabytes.

Much of the data generated by IoT devices – from smartphones and smartwatches to tiny computers embedded in machines and infrastructure – is processed in the cloud, with relevant information then sent back to the device, telling the device how to react.

IoT devices use sensors and processors to collect and analyze data acquired from their environments. The data collected from the sensors is shared by being sent to a gateway or to other IoT devices. It can then be either sent to the cloud or stored and analyzed locally on the edge of the network.

As smart sensors and devices in edge locations like factories, offices, homes, stores, vehicles, warehouses and cities have become smaller, less expensive and more interconnected, the Internet of Things has created a significant boost of data created and shared. Organizations in every sector – including business, manufacturing, telecommunications, healthcare, financial services, retail, transportation, government, energy and education – are trying to determine the best way to analyze and capitalize on this data.

What is Edge computing?

IWhat is Edge Computing and How Can it Improve Business Productivity? Voice of the Machine Edge Logo SensoNode Business Unitn recent years, there has been strong consensus that Edge computing, where the processing and storage of data from IoT devices is located as close as possible to where it’s used, is the next big idea in information technology. Digital transformation, contactless commerce and data-driven decisions are driving the shift to more distributed, hybrid networks that Edge computing can deliver. 

Edge computing is a distributed computing framework that brings enterprise applications closer to data sources such as IoT devices or local edge servers. This proximity to data at its source can deliver strong business benefits, including faster insights, improved response times and better bandwidth availability.

The chief aim of Edge computing is to move data computation away from data centers toward the edge of the network, manipulating smart objects, mobile phones, or network gateways to perform tasks and provide services on behalf of the cloud. By moving services to the edge, it is possible to provide content caching, service delivery, storage, and IoT management, which results in better response times and transfer rates.

The three main factors driving Edge computing are network latency, bandwidth costs and application availability. Let’s take a look at each one:

  • Network latency causes poor performance or total failure for time-sensitive or interactive applications that require near-immediate response times. Edge computing shortens distances and requires fewer network jumps to minimize latency and guarantee application viability.
  • Bandwidth costs can increase significantly when continuously transferring large volumes of data from edge to core/cloud and back again. Edge computing reduces bandwidth requirements and congestion, while communicating required information to the core/cloud data center significantly more efficiently.
  • When an edge location relies completely on a core/cloud data center to process data, productivity is solely dependent on the network connection. If that connection goes down, business stops. Edge computing preserves application availability, even during a network failure, by eliminating the need for constant communication with a core/cloud data center.
How the Edge works

When information is stored in the cloud instead of on the edge of a network, there can be a delay in communicating critical information to the machine. A big advantage of edge computing is that the software can talk to PLCs, CNC machines, robots and large equipment operations network connected to manufacturing equipment. That means that not only is the information accessed much faster but it can quickly be communicated to a machine’s controls and automation network when immediate action may be needed.

For example, if a machine’s sensor measures that the pressure inside a hydraulic line is too great, it can send that information to the edge software where it can be analyzed and communicated to the controls network, which can then tell the valves to adjust the pressure or shut the machine down to avoid an accident or damage.

Essentially, the edge provides important connectivity and functionality that can’t be attained when information is stored solely in the cloud. Edge computing provides a more efficient and effective way to communicate with machinery because it allows read and write capabilities (analysis), rather than just data storage. Edge technology can monitor many variables that affect production and take actions based on equipment performance.
What is Edge Computing and How Can it Improve Business Productivity? Complete IoT-based Architecture Overview

Parker’s Voice of the Machine Edge solution

Parker understands the impact and potential of Edge computing and how it makes businesses smarter, more connected and efficient. Our SensoNODE™ Gold sensors and Voice of the Machine™ Edge software platforms are IoT-empowered solutions that create new, advanced condition monitoring possibilities to reduce downtime and decrease maintenance costs, helping businesses maintain production and improve efficiency.

The technology provides a customized solution that allows data to be pumped and analyzed to wherever the customer needs it. It can be inserted into existing production processes to increase efficiency and affect immediate change when needed. A programmer is recommended to help ensure that the technology is properly customized for customers’ specific applications.

Our Voice of the Machine Edge Software is designed to work seamlessly with a web browser-based user interface. Data is ingested from virtually any industrial asset. Edge allows businesses to run various applications utilizing data at the Edge or send it securely to the Cloud for seamless enterprise integration.

The system’s key benefits include:

  • App & industrial driver marketplace: Get started with free drivers such as Ethernet/IP, Modbus RTU, TCP, RS232, RS485 and more.
  • Security monitoring: Instantly find anomalies in access, external hacking, and non-permitted data transmission.
  • Remote device management: Gateways are capable of being provisioned to
  • Voice of the Machine Cloud or other system.
  • 3rd party cloud integration: Send processed and filtered data to Voice of the Machine Cloud or other third-party Cloud connectors to enable end-to-end solution creation.
  • Private marketplace: Voice of the Machine Edge provides OEMs and System Integrators with the ability to host a private marketplace applications for their customers.
  • Easy to use graphical programming interface: An extensive UI and flow-based configurations make solution building simple and easy.

Edge provides several key functionalities necessary for IoT deployment. Using a management UI, Edge enables the distribution of drivers at the gateway level to collect data from almost all legacy industrial protocols. Run applications locally (at the Edge) for quick and effective processing, so you don’t bombard your Cloud infrastructure with unnecessary data.

Features include:

  • Industrial device connectivity: Using a simple drag and drop interface, collect data from many different types of legacy or modern systems with Flows. Many downloadable drivers are available.
  • Application deployment: Includes an application marketplace where businesses can effortlessly deploy and run docker container applications at the Edge. Applications include data filtering, analytics, data enrichment, rules and alerts engine, and more.
  • Secure access: Login/password protected access to gateway with the ability to setup multiple levels of permissions.
Don’t get left behind

Edge computing is quickly gaining traction and changing the landscape of the Internet of Things and how data is utilized, analyzed and communicated all over the world. Now is the time for businesses to consider how converting to Edge computing technology can keep them from getting left behind and can help them strive to be at the forefront of the industry when it comes to data collection, storage and application.

Read more about Parker’s IoT-based condition monitoring solutions including Voice of the Machine™ Edge Software.

 

xArticle contributed by Marc Williams, IoT project lead, Parker Hannifin Corporation.

 

 

 

 

 

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Tunnel Boring Equipment Resist Vibration with Hydraulic System Flanges High Pressure Connectors Europe DivisionEfficient metro systems stand for the mobility of tomorrow. In order to efficiently advance underground expansion and new construction, clients and construction companies have relied on Herrenknecht's experience and technology for decades. All components that are installed on highly complex tunnel boring machines have to meet high demands regarding vibration resistance. It is one key reason why Parker's High Performance Flanges and EO2-FORM fittings are selected and put to the test in challenging tunnel emissions.
Herrenknecht - a unique manufacturer

The Herrenkneckt company, based in Schwanau/ Germany, is a global technology leader in this segment with around 5,000 employees. It is the only company in the world to supply customized tunnel boring machines for all geologies and in all diameters, technologies for laying pipelines, additional equipment and service packages. Herrenknecht also manufactures drilling equipment for vertical and inclined shafts as well as deep drilling rigs. To date, about 2,500 kilometers of metro tunnels have been built worldwide by Herrenknecht tunnel boring machines. 

Tunneling in different soils

Depending on the geology when constructing rail tunnels, metropolitan subway systems or highway tunnels, various tunneling methods are possible. Modern, industrially operating tunnel boring machines (TBM) make it possible to construct underground routes exactly where they are needed. TBM are adapted e.g. to ground conditions, diameters, depths, gradients, curves along the route. When the tunnel route is in soft soil Earth Pressure Balance (EPB) Shield is often used. With this machine type the excavated material is used to support the tunnel face. For more heterogeneous soils, the application range of this machine type can be enhanced by soil conditioning. This means changing the plasticity, texture and water permeability of the soil by injecting various conditioning materials such as water, bentonite or foam - thus providing great flexibility. A screw conveyor transports the extracted material from the bottom of the excavation chamber onto a conveyor belt. The support pressure at the tunnel face is precisely controlled by the interplay between the screw conveyor’s throughput and the TBM’s advance rate. It quickly becomes clear that even the smallest component and hydraulic systems must be able to be relied upon to function reliably over the long term.


Screw conveyor key to transporting overburden

One of the main parts of a EPB Shield is the screw conveyor - where failure "really hurts" in the figurative sense. The soil loosened by the cutting wheel is converted into a paste-like consistency with the help of injected foam in the excavation chamber if necessary. This mixture is conveyed by the screw conveyor onto a conveyor belt for further transport on the back-up of the machine and over long distances throughout the tunnel. The Parker High Performance Flange System (HPF), for example, is one of the connecting elements used for the hydraulic system.

 

"Among other things, we decided on this flange system because it has been proven to be highly resistant to tearing and vibration. Especially the latter is a decisive criterion for the product selection of our tunnelling machines. The compact design of the flanges also supports our fitters when installation in tight spaces is required."

Simon Weisbach, master pre-assembly technician at Herrenknecht

 

Tunnel Boring Equipment Resist Vibration with Hydraulic System FlangesThe High Performance Flange System is a mechanical flange system for weldless pipe connection systems with pipe dimensions up to 150 mm diameter and maximum wall thickness of 20 mm. The flanges are manufactured according to ISO 6162-1 (3,000 psi= 210 bar), ISO 6162-2 (6,000 psi= 420 bar) and ISO 6164 in sizes from ¾"-5" consist of an HPF insert, the flange body with hardened inner contour, screws and gaskets. The pipes to be connected to these flanges are first flanged from 10° to 37° with the Parker HPF machine in a "tulip shape".

 

 



High performance flanges are suitable for working pressures up to 420 bar with 4-fold safety. They have proven themselves as a replacement for welded systems of thick-walled pipes and the advantages for the user are obvious:

  • On the one hand, the time-consuming work steps of classic welding are no longer necessary.
  • On the other hand, completely prefabricated high-pressure pipes are delivered directly to the installation site.

"We can install the pipelines immediately," continues Simon Weisbach. An additional advantage is that the flanging process prevents impurities from getting into the tubes. This pays off in the form of a significantly reduced flushing time of the pipelines before commissioning.

 

Parker EO2-FORM fittings for increased vibration resistance

Tunnel Boring Equipment Resist Vibration with Hydraulic System Flanges high Pressure Connectors Division EuropeIn the area of the horizontally and vertically moving drill head, another Parker product is used, the EO2-FORM fitting series.

"Here, too, vibration resistance played the most important role for our customer when selecting the fittings. The customer uses EO2-FORM on hydraulic lines and pipes. When using the classic cutting ring couplings, incorrect processing can lead to e.g. over-assembly and this could lead to enormous problems when the machine is used later on in demanding underground conditions."

Robert Becker, Parker global account manager for Herrenknecht


The typical features of the EO2-FORM system are the classic EO-2 sealing ring and the cold forming of the tube. The large-volume elastomeric seal plays a major role, especially when used on hydraulic lines. The elastomer effectively blocks the only possible leakage path between the inner cone of the fitting body and the tube surface. The sealing geometry and arrangement are designed so that the sealing effect is supported by the system pressure. 


"The fitters from Jäger, Service Partner of Parker and Herrenknecht, find the cold forming of the tube by the EO2-FORM F3 machine a particular relief. For final assembly, the EO2 sealing ring is simply placed on the tube and the union nut is tightened. This allows the connections to be made quickly and reliably."

Robert Becker, Parker global account manager for Herrenknecht

 

High vertical range of manufacturing for Herrenknecht tunnel boring machines

Anyone taking a closer look at the tunnel boring machines under construction will see how many other products, in addition to flanges, fittings, filters and hoses, are used to build the gigantic machines.

"At Herrenknecht, we have a high vertical range of manufacture. The tunnel boring machines are developed, assembled in our workshops, disassembled and reassembled at the jobsite. But we cannot avoid using the services of system suppliers. It has been shown that our ordering system can be streamlined and the assembly work at the installation site can be significantly simplified if we procure several components from one source. In addition, the Parker service team supports us in the permanent optimization of our machines and gives us valuable advice on product selection and installation techniques."

Josef Gruseck, member of the Herrenknecht management board, who is convinced of the external support.



Tunnel Boring Equipment Resist Vibration with Hydraulic System Flanges high Pressure Connectors Europe DivisionWith Baden's modesty, Josef Gruseck does not mention Herrenknecht's exemplary attitude towards sustainability - a term that is currently on everyone's lips. Depending on the agreement with the customer, the underground pioneer also buys back tunnelling machines after the end of the project, dismantles and overhauls individual parts in order to then re-use them in new business in a resource-saving manner. In this sense: Good luck with the next tunnel breakthrough!

 

 

 

 

 

 Article contributed by Thomas Rüdiger, product manager flange systems, High-Pressure Connectors Europe Division and

 

 

 

 

Tunnel Boring Equipment Resist Vibration with Hydraulic System Flanges - Robert Becker, global Account Manager f- Parker Hannifin Robert Becker, global account manager Herrenknecht, both Parker Hannifin Corporation

    

 

 

 

 

 

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Liquid Before Air: Details Determine Efficient Thermal Management Thermal Management in Data Centers High Pressure Connectors Europe The buzzword "Industry 4.0" is on everyone's lips. Increasing digitization, the constant drive for information that is available quickly and everywhere, even more efficient plants, even faster transport systems are increasingly determining the world of work. What consequences do these growing demands have on the technology that makes "faster, better, more comprehensive, more livable" possible in the first place?

Thermal management

Let's look at these consequences using the example of mainframe computer systems. Here, the term thermal management quickly comes up. This is generally understood to mean the control of energy and, in particular, heat flows. In the specific example, microprocessors generate waste heat during operation. This can lead to overheating of the unit and to malfunctions or even complete destruction of entire assemblies. For this reason, these units should always have optimum cooling to ensure that the waste heat is dissipated quickly. Small dissipation areas and high temperatures require highly efficient solutions. And regardless of the area of application - whether solar and wind power systems, transportation, medical technology, semiconductors or the food industry - the components belonging to the system should provide optimum cooling at all times through reliable functioning and high material quality.

Coolant and couplers

The next step quickly raises the question of the best coolant. Cooling with water or other liquids proves to be more efficient than temperature control via air currents. In addition, cooling via liquids is associated with significantly lower noise emissions and requires less installation space than air cooling. Compact design in particular is becoming increasingly important in view of the steadily increasing power density of electronics.

Parker's High Pressure Connectors Europe (HPCE) division offers quick-connect couplings for thermal management, which are used, among other things, to connect cooling elements and lines. This can be done without the use of additional tools. The low pressure drop of these coupling systems takes into account energy savings while providing optimum performance. Greatly reduced sizes allow use in confined spaces and expand the design possibilities. This design scope is further extended during planning and installation by the Parker RNS systems for block and plate installation.

The flat-seated valve design is a uniform feature across all product series. It offers maximum safety for the operator as well as the electronics themselves and is a valuable contribution to environmental protection. This is because the design prevents air from entering the medium and the medium from escaping during coupling and decoupling, which is started before maintenance work on the electronics or batteries begins. Maintenance is noticeably shortened due to the fast coupling and decoupling. In addition, the shut-off couplings mean that the fluid can remain in the circuit during maintenance work and does not have to be drained.

Thermal management in computing systems

For IT cabinets, the RNS series was developed to enable fast and safe coupling and locking of the cooling circuits to the racks.

Parker helps customers find customized solutions and offers a comprehensive range of seals to choose from, depending on the type and temperature of the media. Another plus of Parker's quick disconnect couplings is the variety of materials. The NSA couplings, for example, are made of aluminum, in line with the trend toward lightweight designs. In addition, the nickel-plated brass or stainless steel components are corrosion-free in use with a wide variety of fluids, and like the other couplings, have a high consistent quality and long service life. The various sizes (3, 6, 9, 12, 16, 19 and 25 mm) allow the couplings to be optimally adapted to the respective cooling circuit.

Liquid Before Air: Details Determine Efficient Thermal Management Thermal Management Manifolds High Pressure Connectors Europe

In close cooperation with customers, Parker's HPCE division develops modular systems in which all sizes (3 - 25 mm) can be optimally combined, depending on their requirements. In addition, ready-to-install systems, fully tested, are offered across the individual product, from the coupling to the fitting, hose or manifold. For customers, this has the advantage that they can rely on the supplier's more than 60 years of expertise and, by receiving complete system blocks, save valuable assembly time and significantly simplify their warehousing.

 

Liquid Before Air: Details Determine Efficient Thermal Management Liana Jaskot High Pressure Connectors Europe Article contributed by Liana Jaskot, quick coupling applications and product manager, High Pressure Connectors Europe Division, Parker Hannifin.

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3D Printing vs Injection Molding: Clashing Practices or Complementary Techniques? - advanced manufacturing - Parker HannifinIf popular culture is any bellwether, a clear winner already exists in the battle between 3D printing versus injection molding. However, in the real world, 3D printing, or additive manufacturing, and injection molding rarely compete for industry attention. If anything, the two manufacturing processes are so complementary, you almost can’t have one without the other.

It’s understandable, since 3D printing sounds – and often looks – like something out of science fiction. It regularly appears in movies and on television, usually as the solution to an outrageous plot, leaving viewers with the impression that 3D printing technology is a bit of a miracle.

 

3D Printing vs Injection Molding: Clashing or Complementary Techniques? - Download our Industrial Manufacturing Trends White Paper - Parker HannifinTo learn more, download our white paper, Trends in Industrial Manufacturing Equipment Drive Innovation.

 

 

 

 

3D printing vs injection molding strength in the health care industry

There are amazing examples of how professionals across industries are using 3D technology. The “miracle” may be how engineers can turn a CAD model into a working prototype within hours, and, in many cases, a final product within days. This is a boon to the health care industry.

Quick turnaround times are crucial in healthcare, where medical manufacturers use 3D technology to create all manner of medical tools and anatomy-based, patient-matched products, such as complex knee replacements with porous materials that promote tissue growth and integration.

Additive manufacturing solutions are growing in popularity, too. U.S. hospitals with centralized 3D printing facilities have grown from three in 2010 to more than 100 in 2020, providing point-of-care product development for hundreds of patients. During the coronavirus pandemic, 3D printing techniques were used to design and produce better-fitting masks and even create 3D printed swabs for COVID-19 diagnostic use.

 

Plastics injection molding and medical technology

Injection molding machines are the workhorses of the high-volume plastics industry, a $360 billion trade in 2020. Plastic injection molding, like its flashier cousin, also plays a critical role in the U.S. medical industry.

Like 3D printing, the health care industry relies on medical-grade plastics injection molding manufacturers to produce everything from laboratory instruments and surgical equipment to implantable components. Clinicians rely on the manufacturer’s ability to provide tight-tolerance production, in which every micron makes the difference between patient success and component failure.

Medical manufacturers benefit from an abundance of available plastics materials, even when factoring in the need for stringent federal compliance and contaminant resistance. These materials offer exceptional durability and heat resistance, making some medical tools nearly unbreakable and immune to repeat sterilization.

 

3D printing cost vs injection molding cost

While both injection molding and 3D printing are critical to health care, each technology is employed in a multitude of other industries. And every project has a reason to use one process over the other - or use both in tandem.

Additive manufacturing, for example, has evolved from the rapid prototyping of component models into a solution specializing in low-volume production runs. Rapid prototyping still plays an important role in the design process, allowing designers to print, test and modify parts as often as necessary – faster and more cost effective than injection molding. This flexibility allows for low volume runs, but the 3D printing cost vs injection molding makes high volume production runs untenable.

Other benefits include:

  • Quick turnaround times
  • Excellent for small components
  • Limited material waste

 

Today, 3D printing is a $16 billion industry yet remains less than 1% of the global manufacturing market. In many ways, additive manufacturing is still in its infancy when compared to plastics injection molding.

 

Plastics injection molding: Industry workhorse

Injection molding traces its roots to the late 19th century and has evolved into one of several integral manufacturing methods supporting everything from electronics to the automotive industry. Plastics injection molding is both affordable and high-quality, and has, in many ways, become the go-to for advanced technological and scientific applications.

Manufacturers typically run into budget trouble, however, if the process requires several part iterations. Steel-made molds cost money and take time to produce. For this reason, injection molding is considered less flexible than its younger cousin. It is the right choice, however:

  • For production runs that require large volumes
  • When perfect part repeatability is necessary
  • For components with intricate, detailed features
  • When enhanced strength is required for the part

 

Complementary manufacturing processes

Most manufactures find that the decision to use 3D printing or injection molding is rarely a one or the other choice. Ideally, they are used in conjunction with one another, complementing the process. Some manufacturers, for example, enlist 3D printing to create tools to assist with injection molding, finding that this helps reduce development time and lower tooling costs.

Essentium, an additive manufacturer based in Pflugerville, Texas, combined 3D printing and injection molding to rapidly develop face mask frames for frontline workers during the coronavirus pandemic. Using 3D printers, the company tested parts against various weather elements, checked for color fastness, and subjected prototypes to different post-process surface finishing to establish predictable and repeatable results for the final injection molded part.

 

Partnering with Parker

Any manufacturing process, including injection molding, is only as efficient as the machines that do the work.

While 3D printing and injection molding work well side-by-side, the loss of a machine part to failure can increase time and cost. They keep things running smoothly, Parker provides solutions, assistance and an array of plastics injection molding components.

The same applies to both an injection molding machine and a hydraulic press: a solid industrial hydraulic motion controller teamed up with DCP Technology and Parker’s high-performance servo-proportional valves will support a more efficient, quieter operating, high-performance machine. 

 

3D Printing vs Injection Molding: Clashing or Complementary Techniques? - Download our Industrial Manufacturing Trends White Paper - Parker HannifinTo learn more, download our white paper, Trends in Industrial Manufacturing Equipment Drive Innovation.

 

 

Drive Controlled Pump (DCP) Solutions for Integrated Energy-Saving Hydraulic SystemsArticle contributed by our Fluid and Gas Handling Team and Rashid S. Aidun (top) who draws on his electrical and fluid power background to create custom drive controlled pump solutions. Prior to joining Parker 16 years ago, he worked as industrial manufacturing and fluid power and controls engineer for various OEMs. He has a BSME from Syracuse University.

 

 

 

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Follow Parker's Industrial Manufacturing Equipment Technology Page on LInkedInFor the latest industry trends, product innovations and expert engineering advice, follow our industrial manufacturing equipment technology page on LinkedIn.

 

3D Printing vs. Injection Molding: Clashing or Complementary Techniques?

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US Military Depends on Screw-to-Connect Couplings to Perform Under Pressure military Vehicle Quick Coupling DivisionWhen working under high pressure in the harshest conditions, there is no margin for error. Especially if you’re in the military. Since World War I, the U.S. military has trusted Parker to deliver the toughest and most dependable products capable of standing up to high pressure applications and challenging environments. Our products are designed to deliver peak performance at the most crucial times to ensure that failure is not an option.

Parker’s Defense Team is dedicated to supporting ground and maritime applications worldwide. The team includes some of the industry’s sharpest engineering minds collaborating with military leaders to understand their challenges in a variety of applications and environments and offer innovative solutions.

We leverage our experience and knowledge in demanding applications like construction, mining and oil and gas to develop products that meet the requirements for military ground vehicles. This includes the military environment where extreme and challenging conditions are common. We work with defense personnel on applications where screw-to-connect couplings increase reliability and uptime for military hydraulic systems used on armed forces’ ground vehicles.

Military applications

Our screw-to-connect couplings are engineered to keep military equipment ready for action. Through research and development, we have helped redefine the limits of tactical vehicles and ground-based system performance.    

From the desert to the arctic, military vehicles must operate reliably in extreme conditions like rough terrain, dirty or dusty environments or high-vibration applications.

US Military Depends on Screw-to-Connect Couplings to Perform Under Pressure Military Vehicle Quick Coupling DivisionParker’s screw-to-connect couplings check all the boxes.

Our engineers design and qualify couplings with military ground vehicles’ hydraulic systems in mind and deliver connectors that are robust, highly corrosion-resistant, and operational in high-impulse systems. All that while also being easy to connect and disconnect under high pressure and able to remain secure in high-vibration situations.

Our line of screw-to-connect couplings enables mechanics and techs the ability to perform ground vehicle maintenance tasks like installing the couplings directly on the pump, at the base or in the field without concern about causing damage or sustaining an injury when disconnecting or connecting under-pressure components.

  Parker’s screw-to-connect coupling options for military vehicles

We offer two primary coupling series that meet these application requirements – FET and 59 Series. While they each have their own individual features and benefits, they do share some application commonalities.

Both the FET or 59 series products for military hydraulic systems can be secured and disconnected by hand – no tools are required. Both product lines feature a visual indicator so the mechanic or technician can confidently know the connection is secure.

Both series of couplers can operate in heavy-duty, hydraulic applications where fluid lines require fast and easy connection and disconnection. Other common features include:

  • Connect and disconnect under pressure
  • High impulse resistance
  • Up to 6000 psi rated pressure
  • Non-spill valving

US Military Depends on Screw-to-Connect Couplings to Perform Under Pressure Screw to Connect fittings Quick Coupling DivisionThe FET Series is an excellent choice for military ground vehicle applications and directly interchange with other-like industry products. FET series couplings are produced with Parker’s same high standards of design, engineering and manufacturing.

Our innovative 59 Series is the top-of-the line coupling designed for military hydraulic systems. 59 Series products feature materials, design and functionality that are unique. The couplings are zinc-nickel coated for superior corrosion resistance. They are engineered with double Acme threading, which enables quick, strong and reliable connection in just 2.5 turns. These rugged Acme threads are resistant to damage and have a double-start feature to quickly align the threads, saving time and eliminating frustration.

The bright orange O-ring provides visual confirmation that the coupler and nipple are fully mated for a secure connection. The 59 Series also features an internal bearing to reduce hose twist and ease the difficulty of connecting fluid lines while under pressure.

 

Learn more about Parker’s FET and 59 Series screw-to-connect couplings.

 

US Military Depends on Screw-to-Connect Couplings to Perform Under Pressure Abbey Hopkins Quick Coupling DivisionArticle contributed by Abbey Hopkins, product sales manager, Quick Coupling Division, Parker Hannifin

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Safety and Maintenance Solutions for Next Generation Forklifts - Cutaway view of products in Lift Truck - Parker Hannifin Forklift and various material handling lift truck variations are confronting design teams with a number of challenges that are transforming major industrial markets worldwide. When reviewing components the engineering teams need to take into account the scalability of individual components which is critical to cost-effective production. Other challenges include:

  • Operational safety

  • Operational costs

  • Efficiently moving freight 

  • Productivity increases due to user-friendly IoT and telematics 

  • Environmental mandates

  • Electrification and alternative fuels

 

Parker offers the next generation of components and systems that can deliver on these needs including:

  • Regional manufacturing locations to reduce freight costs and facilitate speedy delivery

  • Deep knowledge and experience with regulatory standards worldwide

  • Component identification tagging to ensure accurate and prompt component replacements

  • An engineering team well-acquainted with the trends driving the forklift industry and capable of partnering with in-house design teams to provide truly customized solutions

 

Review this handy infographic to keep our safety and maintenance solutions for your forklift truck design top of mind.

 

Next Generation Solutions for Forklifts

Learn more at our Forklift product sector solutions page 

 

 

Hose, Fittings, and Connectors  Over-the-Sheave Hose

Safety and Maintenance Solutions for Next Generation Forklift Trucks - Over the Sheave Hose Parker HannifinParker's over-the-sheave hoses are designed to withstand the strains of continual flexing over sheaves. Installing a hose with superior abrasion resistance will extend the life of hoses in the application.

  • Severe temperature operation
  • Tested to over 250,000 duty cycles

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seal-LokTM O-Ring Face Seal Safety and Mainteance Solutions for Next Generation Forklifts - SEAL-LOK O-RING FACE SEAL TUBE FITTINGS AND ADAPTERS - Parker Hannifin

Parker's Seal-Lok O-Ring Face Seal offers a leak-free seal fitting design and rugged construction to make it optimal for use in situations with high-pressure, vibration, and impulse environments.

  • Reliable leak-free ORFS Connection
  • Seal retention ensured with Trap-SealTM

 

 

FEM Series ISO 16028 Non-Spill Coupling Safety and Maintenance Solutions for Next Generation Forklift Trucks - FEM Non Spill Coupling - Parker Hannifin

Parker's non-spill quick couplers and nipples are ideal for use across a variety of hydraulic applications where fluid lines require fast and easy connection and disconnection with minimal spillage and limited air inclusion.

  • Leak-free connection
  • Reliable
      Pumps and Motors MA180 Medium Forklift MCV Safety and Maintenance Solutions for Next Generation Forklift Trucks - MA180 closed Center load sense valve - Parker Hannifin

The MA180 is a closed center load sense valve developed specifically for the material handling market. The valve is economically designed using a two-section mono-block with stackable auxiliary sections.

  • Open center configuration
  • Integrated zero leak load check

 

 

500H Series Aluminum Pump Safety and Maintenance Solutions for Next Generation Forklift Trucks - 500H Series Aluminum Pump - Parker Hannifin

The 500H Series Pump is two-quadrant technology, enabling it to operate as a pump and a motor too in the energy recovery phase typical of new generation forklifts.

  • Quiet operation
  • Noise levels <65db

 

 

 

Permanent Magnet Electric Motor and Inverter

SAfety and Maintenance Solutions for Next Generation Forklift Trucks - Inverter and GVM Moter - Parker HannifinHigh power Permanent Magnet AC motors (PMAC) offer the best solution to meet the requirements of vehicle duty performance. The high power density and speed capabilities of Parker GVM motors combined with a voltage-matched inverter provide the speed and torque required to achieve breakthrough performance in a variety of vehicle platforms.

  • Up to 650 volt
  • Speeds up to 9,800 rpm
     

 

        Filters and Feedback 12AT Spin-on Filters Safety and Maintenance Solutions for Next Generation Forklifts - Spin-on filters - Parker Hannifin

Spin-On filter technology provides users with reliable performance in a lightweight, compact, and cost-effective package. These solutions provide protection to critical system components in a variety of low-pressure applications.

  • Spin-on easily serviceable filter

  • 10 bar operating pressure

 

 

 

 

Tactile Feedback Device (TFD)

Safety and Maintenance Solutions for Next Generation Forklift Trucks -Tactile Feedback device - Parker HannifinOur diverse portfolio of TFD steering units is used to satisfy a variety of customer requirements. Our portfolio includes devices capable of producing resistive steering torque ranging from 5Nm to 20Nm.

  • Programmable steering controller

  • Magnetically Responsive (MR) technology

 

   

 

Displays and Sensors PHD50 Display Module

Safety and Maintenance Solutions for Next Generation Forklift Trucks - PHD display - Parker Hannifin The PHD display family is focused on mobile machinery markets with full color, touch-capable screens. The PHD50 can both be used as operator interfaces in base machines, providing engine and system information plus backup video camera functionality.

  • 5" touchscreen display
  • CAN and USB communication

 

 

ADS50 Analog Lever Sensor

Safety and Maintenance Solutions for Next Generation Forklift Trucks - ADS50 Analog Lever SensorThe ADS50 is a 0-5V output, non-contact, analog sensor for mobile hydraulic applications. The sensor is lever-actuated and provides a linear output over 25 mm (1.0 inch) of travel.

  • 0-35 degree angle sensor
  • 0-5 volt output

 

 

 

 

 

Article contributed by our Fluid Gas Handling Team

 

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Non-Spill Couplings Keep Construction, Forestry, Agriculture and Mining Markets Moving Forestry Equipment Quick Coupling DivisionFor mobile machinery commonly used in the construction, agriculture, mining and forestry industries to work efficiently and safely, maintaining strong connections to the various equipment attachments is paramount. There simply isn’t time for productivity or connectivity problems on a job site where every minute matters.

Hard working excavators, tunnel boring, mining, oil field and forestry equipment typically use a variety of tool attachments that allow them to perform a variety of tasks, all necessary to get the job done quickly and safely. Some of these attachments require multiple connections to the hydraulic lines, depending on their individual function, like digging, scraping, scooping, grabbing, lifting, cutting or other movements.

At the job site, equipment tool attachments might be changed out several times in the process it takes to complete a project. Having the ability to quickly and efficiently swap out attachments saves the machine operator time and effort while also minimizing downtime.

Non-spill couplings for equipment attachments are key in a diverse range of markets like construction, agriculture, forestry and mining. From skid steers and excavators to feller bunchers and loaders to drill rigs, non-spill couplings enhance performance and safety in an environmentally responsible way.

Discovering the value of non-spill couplings

Non-Spill Couplings Keep Construction, Forestry, Agriculture and Mining Markets Moving Non-Spill couplings Quick Coupling DivisionThese industries are discovering that non-spill couplings reduce hydraulic system breakdowns caused by dirt and other contamination that’s common in harsh working environments.

Parker’s non-spill couplings virtually eliminate hydraulic fluid loss that can happen during disconnection, reduce the risk of contaminating ground and water and decrease exposure of equipment operators and maintenance personnel to potentially dangerous chemicals. These non-spill couplings also minimize the risk of introducing contaminants in the hydraulic fluid.

Our non-spill couplings utilize flush face valves as part of the technology to reduce leaks in demanding conditions in the construction, agriculture, mining and forestry markets where hydraulic lines are subjected to the stress of high-pressure impulses. With several non-spill coupling options, we also offer screw-to-connect couplings providing a secure connection that is resistant to loosening or disconnection caused by vibration.

Here is a summary of how our couplings benefit the various applications that rely on mobile equipment to get the job done efficiently and safely.

Agriculture

We understand the needs of farmers to simplify installation and equipment service. Our coupling solutions enable farmers to improve efficiency, reduce operating costs, meet durability and safety needs and comply with industry regulations, so they can focus on their critical role in society.

Our quick connect couplings are designed with farmers in mind, providing solutions that are robust and performance-tested to keep up with the high degree of use needed on the farm.

With the widest selection of couplings on the market, we offer a wide range of quick couplings for almost every farming application. With extensive knowledge of the hydraulic and pneumatic needs of agricultural equipment and machines, Parker leads the globe in coupling technology and innovation.

Forestry

We offer heavy duty quick couplings for all forestry applications, from heavy mobile equipment to small hand tools. These couplings allow the hydraulic lines between the equipment and the tool attachments to be quickly disconnected and reconnected without extensive downtime.

Our non-spill couplings can be used on feller-bunchers, forwarders and loaders equipment, including brush cutters, mulchers and log-splitters. Quick couplers for excavators and other heavy-duty equipment save time and improve efficiency by allowing operators to quickly and easily disconnect and reconnect hydraulic lines when switching out the tools or attachments.

Construction

Non-Spill Couplings Keep Construction, Forestry, Agriculture and Mining Markets Moving Skid Steer Quick Coupling DivisionOur non-spill couplings work well for skid steer attachments and compact tractors’ diggers, buckets and backhoes used in construction. Quick connect couplers allow loaders to use multiple attachments on a job site and allow users easily switch between attachments.

Loader attachments can be used on wheel loaders, tool carriers, telehandlers, skid steer and compact track loaders, and backhoe loaders. Hydraulic couplings can be used from within the cab, adding a safety benefit.

Mining

Whether it’s long haul, surface mining, or continuous mining (coal), controlling operating costs and maximizing performance and longevity under harsh conditions is an increasing challenge for the mining industry. Our quick couplings consistently deliver value and performance and increasingly flexible solutions for mining applications. No one knows surface or underground mining like our staff of innovative application and design engineers.

For equipment that works outside, specifying and installing non-spill couplings for equipment attachments is insurance against downtime and key in preventing the accidental introduction of toxic chemicals that can cause harm to the environment and cost a lot in cleanup time and money.

Cost of spills and contamination

Hydraulic fluid spills and contamination are a top priority for all these markets. The introduction of toxic, flammable material to the ground and water can cause harm to wildlife, fish, plants and drinking water. Spills often result in restricted work activities while job sites’ cleanup is complete.

The cost of fines and penalties, manpower, fuel, special equipment and the removal and containment of contaminated materials adds up to millions of dollars for individual companies and billions of dollars around the world.

Parker engineers have developed a deep understanding of the value of non-spill couplings for equipment attachments and designed products that pay off big time in the fight to keep the environment clean, people safe and equipment in tip-top operating condition.

The risk of wear-and-tear harm to equipment is greatly increased when contamination enters hydraulic systems. Known as “ingressed contamination,” dirt and water can enter a hydraulic system when a hose is disconnected or fluid is filled. Dirt can cause wear of hydraulic pump impellers, shafts, pistons and cylinders. Water can cause corrosion, dilute and alter the hydraulic fluid itself and lead to friction that creates damaging heat resulting in equipment failure and even fire.

Pump repairs and replacement are costly and waste time on the job where equipment uptime translates into more productivity and thus profitability.

Working hard in tough environments

Because they are employed in outdoor applications that present a wide range of conditions from weather and terrain to dust and water and extremes in heat and cold, workhorses such as skid steers, tractors, snow plows, backhoes and other equipment often require servicing in challenging situations.

Non-spill couplings for equipment attachments have proved to be invaluable. Our high-end products feature corrosion-resistant zinc-nickel plating on push-to-connect couplings that can be connected or disconnected with one hand. Attachment and detachment are quick and easy. No tools are required.

The locking mechanism and critical sealing areas are protected by flush-face valving. Non-spill couplings for equipment attachments’ connections between hoses, pumps and pistons remain cleaner. They are easily cleaned should debris accumulate.

Slim design, heavy-duty durability

Non-spill couplings from Parker’s Quick Couplings Division feature a slim design and profiles with a 90-degree option that allows for connection in tight spaces. The 90-degree couplings eliminate the need for additional fittings and reduce the number of potential leak points. They also present great safety advantages for operators and maintenance personnel as they can be connected and disconnected within an arm’s reach and require no tools.

Learn more about the features, benefits and impact of Parker's non-spill quick connect couplings.

 

Non-Spill Couplings Keep Construction, Forestry, Agriculture and Mining Markets Moving Lori Aus Quick Coupling DivisionContributed by Lori Aus, senior product sales manager, Quick Coupling Division, Parker Hannifin

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Service Expert Tests New Parker SensoControl Measuring Device The Parker Service Master CONNECT High Pressure Connect Division Europe

To measure reference values for condition-based maintenance on a die casting machine, Stefan Pinkert from Schwabenhydraulik is using The Parker Service Master CONNECT from SensoControl by Parker's High Pressure Connectors Europe Division for the first time.

Does the new device convince the measurement technology expert in practice?

One way to prevent damage to machines is to take regular measurements, the results of which are compared with reference values. From the deviation of the measurement data, it is possible to infer the wear on the machine and make a forecast about the remaining service life of certain components. Ideally, these reference values are measured before wear has occurred, i.e. on the new machine. For this reason, Pinkert, managing director at maintenance provider Schwabenhydraulik, travels to the metal foundry Druko Metallguss in October 2020. The foundry had purchased a new die casting machine six months earlier. Pinkert's goal on this day is to measure comparative values for later adjustment. In particular, he is concerned with valve technology.

He explains, "We can take the same measurement again in a year, for example. From the difference in response, we can see what the machine condition is and whether a failure is possibly imminent." Such comparative values also help in the event of an unplanned shutdown, as they can provide clues as to which fault has occurred. Two employees of Parker accompany the managing director to the appointment: Rolf Streicher, application engineer and Jörg Simon, project manager for diagnostic measurement technology.

In their luggage, the three have a brand-new diagnostic measurement system that was launched in April 2020: the Parker Service Master CONNECT. "We already had the previous model and were also very satisfied with it," reports Pinkert. "However, we had the problem that there were certain limitations, for example in the recording capacity and the recording duration."

The service provider was in close contact with Parker and learned about the new version of the device early on. Pinkert is now using the model for the first time during the measurement in October.

How does the measurement work?

Measurements that serve maintenance purposes are one of the cases in which the managing director or his colleagues are called to the site. Another is troubleshooting. In the maintenance strategy that Druko Metallguss and Schwabenhydraulik follow in this case, they connect numerous sensors to the diagnostic system. Points are checked where experience shows that failures can occur.

Service Expert Tests New Parker SensoControl Measuring Device The Parker Service Master CONNECT in practice High Pressure Connectors Division Europe"With the help of Parker's device, you can easily derive ten different measured values," Pinkert notes. "In large machines, you have up to four proportional valves on the press-fit part, so you often have to connect up to 16 different measuring points." This requires a lot of preparation, he continues, "You connect different measuring points for an hour and a half. The measurement itself is then finished after about ten machine cycles." So in failure prevention, the preparation time turns out to be quite long and the measurement time rather short.

Things are usually somewhat different when damage is detected. In this case, the failure pattern already provides initial indications of the cause. In this case, it is often sufficient to connect four to six sensors and take a measurement. Alternatively, the service employee can run the machine for six or seven cycles and compare the measurement results with the known values of previous measurements. Depending on how a machine or plant operates, longer measurements also make sense, for example overnight.

Measuring devices in maintenance

Pinkert lists what is important for a measuring device in such applications: "For me, it is important to have a recording rate of one millisecond and to be able to measure very many different measuring points. I then have to be able to store the whole thing in the device accordingly, and with a reasonable recording time, not just 60 seconds." With the new device, he can now display the complete machine cycle, even if it takes three or four minutes. "Now it is possible for us not only to measure the actual process of casting but also to repeatedly record the complete cycle," Pinkert emphasizes.

 

"For me, it is important to have a recording rate of one millisecond and to be able to measure very many different measuring points. I then have to be able to store the whole thing in the device accordingly, and with a reasonable recording time, not just 60 seconds."

Stefan Pinkert, managing director at maintenance provider Schwabenhydraulik

 

In fact, the device can record and process up to 100 channels simultaneously, confirms Simon. "We not only measured pressures on the machine today, but also temperatures, currents, voltages and so on," he relates. The device can also read out third-party sensors and machine data, he adds. "In that respect, this is a nice little electronic all-rounder."

Differences from the previous version

Parker has changed several aspects of the measuring device compared to the previous version. One of the new features is the modularity of the hardware and software: the older device had a single input module that was installed in the device at the factory and also calibrated. Today, a user can use different measurement modules, two at a time, as needed. It's also possible to buy individual modules and replace them yourself on site. "The measuring devices recognize the input modules independently. The user is free to decide what he needs, depending on the application," explains Simon. At the moment, there are three standard measurement modules:

  • The analog input module for connecting Parker sensors and analog sensors from other manufacturers.
  • The ISO variant of the analog module: It is galvanically isolated from the rest of the measuring device.
  • The CAN module for measuring, monitoring and analyzing Can systems or connecting Can sensors from different manufacturers.

In addition, individual measuring module variants are possible.

Service Expert Tests New Parker SensoControl Measuring Device The Parker Service Master CONNECT in practice high Pressure Connectors Division EuropeOperation has also been revised in the development of the new generation of devices: With a color seven-inch touch display, it now resembles that of a smartphone or tablet. Users can create so-called measurement templates for recurring measurements. Parker has also improved protection against moisture and dust, as Streicher explains:

"We have increased the protection class from IP64 to IP65." Simon adds, "In general, this device can withstand very strong shocks and vibrations. For safe operating comfort, we have added additional tactile buttons on the right, on the side." There is also a fold-out stand and carrying handles to simplify handling. In practice, the clear display of the measurement data pays off above all, explains Pinkert: "The graphic display has improved extremely. You can now simply zoom with two fingers, just like on a cell phone. Operation is now much more intuitive." In addition, he can now evaluate a great deal on the device itself, instead of having to transfer the data to a PC in advance. "So that you can see something in the target/actual comparison, it is important that the recording rate is in the millisecond range, because a nicely smoothed curve is of no use to anyone," he points out.

Additional equipment for measurements

The measurement system is available from the manufacturer either individually or as a pre-assembled kit, including a basic set of accessories. Pinkert chose this kit for the previous version and had good experiences. His conclusion: "You can already get very far with it." Parker offers various products for a wide range of applications, for example cables in different lengths, hoses, mechanical components and various sensors, as well as an outdoor case with trolley function. "One measures volumetric flow, the other might need speed or just pressure, maybe chemical compatibility, because of the aggressiveness of the media. We are very, very broadly positioned there," enumerates Simon.

Intuitive operation counts

"It is of course extremely pleasant to have a measuring device where you can evaluate voltages and pressures very easily combined with each other. That is relatively rare on the market," concludes Pinkert. This is exactly the case with the proportional valve, for example: "There is the setpoint value, the actual value; then you have an enable signal, and in addition, you may still need to measure the 24-volt supply voltage, but at the same time you also want to see how the pressures develop accordingly."


“It is of course extremely pleasant to have a measuring device with which you can evaluate voltages and pressures combined with one another very easily. This is relatively rare on the market.”

Stefan Pinkert, managing director at maintenance provider Schwabenhydraulik

 

However, another point is important to the managing director: that the device can also be operated by someone who does not have it in their hands every day. "Then, when the fault occurs, he takes the device, connects it - and has no problem with the operation. The original measurement files can be sent worldwide and interpreted by a specialist using standardized software." Simon adds, "The device has sensor recognition. This means that if you connect a Parker sensor, it immediately displays the current measured value without any additional parameterization effort."

This article was first published in the January 2021 issue of Fluid.de

Find out more on the SensoControl website

 

 This post was contributed by Jörg Simon, project manager SensoControl, Parker Hannifin High Pressure Connectors Europe

 

 

 

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Important Tips When Selecting Valves for Point of Care Testing Instruments - Point of care facility - Parker Hannifin
In point of care testing (POCT) systems, liquids are typically moved through a self-contained consumable cartridge using air pressure. These instruments can call for precise response times and critical leak rates in the fractions of a cc/min range — rates that require very high-end valves. Conducting research is particularly important when selecting a valve for a POCT instrument. If you base your valve selection on the lowest price, you will likely experience equipment failures due to high leak rates over the valve's life and low repeatability. POCT systems require valves that can feature fast response time, high flow, and repeated actuations while maintaining precision control to ensure highly precise and accurate test results. The valves should be compared using critical performance requirements including leak rates, reliability, types of materials used and subsystem availability. In this blog, we will discuss key aspects to look for when selecting valves, and possible upgrades to increase reliability and efficiency.
 
Important Tips When Selecting Valves for Point of Care Testing Instruments - download the app note - Parker Hannifin
 
 
 
 
 
 
  Leak rates
Leak rate is one of the most critical specifications for a valve used in POCT systems. Valves that have high leak rates can compromise the repeatability needed to properly move liquids in the cartridge, negatively affecting the analysis. This could result in product failure. The original valve specifications must match to ensure it can withstand the necessary pressure and temperatures in the existing system. Valves being selected for use in POCT instruments should be tested to ensure that leakage will not be an issue. Other features that need to be considered are maximum pressure capability, surface finish, power consumption, and seat and seal materials.
 
  • Pressure will directly affect the leak rate. The higher the system pressure, the higher the potential leak rate — a higher-pressure rating means better leak rate.
  • Surface finishes are essential in guaranteeing a low leak rate. Elastomers have specific leak capabilities due to material porosity/void fraction and permeation.
  • Ability to be analytically cleaned. The analytical cleaning process is essential to ensure the valves do not introduce background or any contamination into the sample stream. 
  • Seat and seal load are determined by the system forces and sealing surface quality.
  • Coil power consumption or coil force determines the spring force and pressure that can be applied to the valve. Valves with the same total power consumption can have different leak rates due to design, maximum designed pressure capability, orifice size, and magnetic materials.

 

Reliability and repeatability

When selecting valves in POCT instruments, reliability and repeatability are of utmost importance. For a valve to have repeatability, it needs a long-life cycle, high yield rates and a proven track record. When determining reliability in a valve, you must evaluate the design, quality of material, and manufacturing process, and controls of the product.

 

Power requirements

POCT instruments are designed to operate in non-laboratory conditions. This means that the instrument needs to be designed to function using the power available from a standard wall power outlet. Where multiple valves and other components can be demanding power simultaneously it is important that the total amount of power being consumed does not exceed the power rating of the wall outlet. Selecting valves designed to use less power is an important first step. Another way to reduce overall power is to use hit and hold circuits. Hit and hold circuits allow valves to be fully powered and remain in that state for a short time before voltage and current are reduced to lower levels, while still allowing the valve to remain energized. This procedure allows the valve to stay open with much less energy. This also allows the valve to generate much less heat and decreases the power draw. This type of circuit option in a valve reduces heat, increases cycle life and lowers energy consumption — an ideal solution for original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).

 

Wetted material

Materials used in valve construction are crucial for valves with critical leak requirements. The term wetted material is important to understand. The wetted material is defined as any surfaces and/or components that are (potentially) exposed to or in direct contact with the medium under pressure. A few more important things to know before selecting a valve are permeation rate, compatibility with certain fluids (specifically what your system uses), and potential out-gassing that can occur.

 

Subsystems

Finally, look for the availability of subsystems. A subsystem is a pre-assembled module that includes tubing, fittings, regulators, valves on a manifold, and other accessories.

The benefits of a subsystem include:

  • Eliminates the need to maintain multiple vendors
  • Reduces the overall bill of materials,
  • Provides integration between components, creating one single stream for technical support and customer service.
  • Cost reduction in assembly and labor time.
  • Modules can come pretested allowing them to be dropped in during manufacturing. 

Important Tips When Selecting Valves for Point of Care Testing Instruments - Parker Precision Fluidics POCT testing - Parker Hannifin

 

Take a closer look

Let's examine a simplified fluidic circuit used in a POCT system. In this case, we are looking at a molecular diagnostics system. Most POCT designs use pneumatic pumps to provide the energy to move liquids around in the cartridge. This means that compact high-efficiency pumps are critical to reducing overall instrument size.

Important Tips When Selecting Valves for Point of Care Testing Instruments - MDX system - Parker Hannifin

 

How it works

Air is controlled precisely by an electronic pressure controller. This pressurized air is fed into a manifold that is a permeant part of the instrument. Valves mounted in or on the manifold then control when and where the flow of air is directed to move the sample and reagents through the cartridge. Several types of valves are typically employed with the critical requirement that they are miniaturized to reduce the size of the manifold and therefore the entire instrument. 

Digital or on/off valves are the most common in either a cartridge valve format that is embedded in the manifold or surface mount designs that are mounted on top of the manifold. Cartridge valves can reduce the footprint of the manifold by allowing valves to be placed very close to each other. The drawback is they make the manifold thicker and more expensive. Surface mount valves have a larger footprint on the manifold but can be supported by a thinner manifold design which weighs less and takes less space. Proportional valves can be used where there is a need to vary the flow instead of just turning it on or off. In operation, the various valves open and close at the right times driving the sample and reagents through the various steps of lysis, nucleic acid purification, amplification, and detection.

 

POCT system solutions

With a broad portfolio of pumps and valves, Parker can offer the optimal fluidic components to meet your requirements. Parker can provide manifolds that are either developed to your drawings or optimally designed by our engineers. A variety of manifold materials are available to choose from.

Parker is proud to be the only company capable of offering a complete product selection by integrating manufactured components and custom assemblies. We are eager to help you with all your precision gas and fluidics needs. 

Parker Precision Fluidics has over 30 years of experience in developing valve and pump technologies. Our engineers specialize in helping OEMs update original valves that are producing low yields.

Our applications engineering team is always available to provide recommendations and customize equipment to customer specifications. 

 

Download the application noteDownload our application note to learn more about what to consider when developing fluidics for a POCT system

 

To learn about Parker's point of care testing solutions, please visit our website, or call 603-595-1500 to speak with an engineer.

 

Parker Precision Fluidics_Jonathan DeSousa
 
Article contributed by Jonathan DeSousa, customer solutions engineering manager, Precision Fluidics Division, Parker Hannifin
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Parker Precision Fluidics_Don McNeil
 
Article contributed by Donald McNeil, strategic marketing manager – clinical diagnostics, Precision Fluidics Division, Parker Hannifin. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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An Intelligent Product Modification Has Major Effect on Assembly Reliability Milling Machine High Pressure Connectors Europe

When fitters are asked what the main cause of assembly errors is, around 70 out of 100 respondents spontaneously answer: "The small dimensions are over-assembled and the large ones are under-assembled". This is a clear indication that in the world of hydraulic technology, assembly is still done by feel. Sometimes there are serious consequences when it comes to connections. Leakage or breakage due to pipe construction, vibration or force can be the result. The resulting repair of leaks is time-consuming and cost-intensive. So why not limit the potential for errors during assembly from the outset?

Overmounting protection with 24° DKO sealing cone fitting

Parker Hannifin's High Pressure Connectors Europe (HPCE) has addressed this problem and re-engineered its range of directionally adjustable fittings. The result is the new 24° DKO sealing cone fittings with over-mounting protection. Due to their special design, smaller tube sizes (06-15L) can be assembled with a higher torque using the Parker 24° sealing cone fitting. This is Parker's response to strong customer demand for standardization of torques and increased robustness in the assembly process. This standardization has a particularly positive effect on assembly results in flow assembly at large series manufacturers, in machine and machine tool construction, but also in the assembly of mobile applications. Within maintenance, too, the standardized torques simplify assembly and minimize the potential for errors. This is because assembly is still carried out according to feel and experience, and the assembly recommendations of the manufacturer are often not known or not sufficiently familiar to the assemblers.

How exactly does overmount protection work?

An Intelligent Product Modification Has Major Effect on Assembly Reliability Old vs. new version of 24 degree fitting  High Pressure Connectors Europe

With the new over-assembly protection, installers can now no longer incorrectly or over-assemble the sealing cone fitting, but rather maximally "on block". The new design ensures that even with excessive assembly torques, the cone of the fitting remains protected and does not deform. This means that over assembly protection is integrated into the system when the limits of the connection are reached. The fitter notices immediately that he is not getting anywhere when tightening the screw connection.

  Standardize torques and avoid incorrect assembly

Behind the over-assembly protection is a product improvement that is as small and simple as it is effective: In the design of the DKO sealing cone, sizes 06L-15L have been extended cylindrically at the front end by a "nose" and can thus support themselves against the 24° conical tube seat (stop) of the bolting connection in the event of excessive torques. In sizes 18L to 42L and 06S - 38S, this is already done by the overmounting protection on the "shoulder" of the DKO fitting. Externally, the extension of the sealing cone has no effect on the dimensions of the overall component. An EW that is screwed onto a straight spigot (G) continues to have the same dimensions. The product improvement is therefore not diluted for the user by forcing him to make design changes but can counteract the threat of leakage in the future.

Another major advantage is that the Parker HPCE assembly specifications do not change as a result of the re-engineering. These can therefore continue to be used unchanged. Since the tapered part of the DKO sealing cone, including its groove, has not been changed, the O-ring dimensions and the proven sealing properties also remain unchanged - so the user can only benefit from the new improvement.

 

An Intelligent Product Modification Has Major Effect on Assembly Reliability Uwe Kleis High Pressure Connectors EuropeThis article was contributed by Uwe Kleis, product engineer hydraulic fittings, for Parker's High Pressure Connectors Europe Division.

 

 

 

 

Additional helpful articles:

Five Most Important Factors You Need to Consider for Hydraulic Fittings

New Fittings Simplify & Verify Hydraulic System Connections

How Many Times Can I Reassemble a Hydraulic Fitting?  

An Intelligent Product Modification Has Major Effect on Assembly Reliability

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Brushless DC Motor Technology in Miniature Pumps - miniature pump cutaway - Parker Precision Fluidics

Medical technology continues to evolve towards diagnosis and treatment equipment that is closer to the patient - wearable or in the home. Examples include point of care diagnostics, dialysis, compression therapy machines, and negative pressure wound therapy devices. Medical equipment manufacturers are responding to this trend by designing smaller, more portable, and quiet devices to improve the patient's experience and comfort. To ensure a competitive edge, OEM design engineers are faced with integrating components that meet design specifications without compromising functionality. 

We will explore how design innovations in diaphragm pumps are helping OEM design engineers mitigate noise, improve performance, increase product life and reduce service costs. 

 

The challenge

BTX Family ImageOne of the biggest challenges to pump longevity is the brushless DC motor that operates the pump mechanism. Most diaphragm pumps operate similarly: a motor shaft rotates a connecting rod assembly that drives a diaphragm up and down to create a pressure differential that results in flow. This connecting rod and diaphragm are attached perpendicular to the motor shaft creating a reciprocating radial load. In other words, the load of the diaphragm is pushing and pulling on the motor shaft with every stroke. As you can imagine, doing this 3000 times every minute for thousands of hours can be tough on a motor and lead to increased noise and reduced life.

  The solution

Parker has a patented process to restrict the free movement of the motor ball-bearing balls so they roll in a fixed position and cannot chatter. This greatly reduces the noise, but more importantly, it allows the pumps to operate for thousands of hours at peak performance.

 

A winning combination

Parker has been building miniature diaphragm pumps for more than 20 years. Brushless motors are designed and built in the same ISO 13485 certified factory as the pumps. This combination delivers the best motor solution for customers, ensuring a reliable, long-life pump. Manufacturing the pumps and motors in the same facility also allows for strict control of the design, resulting in better quality control and change management. 

Parker Precision Fluidics NCO Production

 

The BTX pump

Parker Precision Fluidics BTX-ConnectParker’s BTX pump product line combines best-in-class diaphragm pump design, innovative brushless motor technology, ultra-low vibration, and advanced manufacturing techniques to bring a next-generation solution to next-generation device needs. The BTX Pump delivers high performance with superior quality and reliability. The product line offers a growing range of options for motor type, motor controls, and pump performance flexibility to serve a wide range of needs.


Features

  • Brushless motor design with serial UART control and monitoring available.
  • High performance to size and weight ratio for portability.
  • Fail-safe design with over-current, stall, and over-temperature shutdown.
  • Brushless motor design for high reliability, dynamic control, and long life.
  • CE, REACH and RoHS compliant.

 

Brushless DC Motor Technology in Miniature Pumps -Sample Request - Parker Precision FluidicsInterested in testing out the BTX miniature diaphragm pump? Request a sample.

 

Parker Precision Fluidics offers a wide variety of miniature pumps and valves for all your application needs. With over 30 years in the industry, Parker Precision Fluidics offers guaranteed high quality, reputable product, and market-driven innovation. Contact us today to speak to an expert engineer about your application-specific needs.

Our applications engineering team is always available to provide recommendations and customize equipment to customer specifications, call 603-595-1500 to speak with an engineer. 

For more information on our miniature and micro diaphragm pump platforms, download our catalog.

 

Parker Precision Fluidics Jamie Campbell

This article was contributed by Jamie Campbell, product manager, Parker Precision Fluidics. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Brushless DC Motor Technology in Miniature Pumps

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 The sun has been referred to as a primary inexhaustible energy source capable of meeting energy demands on a global scale. Electricity can be generated from solar energy either directly using photovoltaic (PV) cells or indirectly using concentrated solar power (CSP) technology. The advantage of PV systems is that they can be installed quickly and easily. CSP technology, however, is promising because of its high capacity, efficiency, and energy-storage capability.  

Progress has been made to improve solar energy efficiency in both options. However, the biggest challenge to fully integrating solar energy into the energy mix is a lack of solar energy storage. The global power grid is not suited for intermittent energy. So, any viable renewable energy source must be consistent and reliable, as well as cost-competitive.  

 

 Read part 2 of our white paper- 2021 Power Generation and Renewable Energy Trends, to explore renewable energy technology trends, both established and newer technologies including solar, wind, marine, and hydroelectric.

 

 

 

 

A lot is changing in solar energy, specifically regarding:  

  • innovations into efficient energy storage technologies,  

  • identification of lower cost,  

  • more abundant materials for PV solar cells, and  

  • upgrades to tracking systems to make solar panels more efficient in capturing the sun’s energy. 

One of the more exciting possibilities for solar energy is a satellite power station that could transmit electrical energy from solar panels in space to Earth via microwave beams.  

 

Satisfying solar energy storage needs with battery innovations

Battery storage is required for solar energy because of cloudy days and nightfall, both of which limit sun exposure. However, there are challenges to overcome. Currently, lithium-ion batteries still dominate the market. There are growing concerns; however, about their toxic effects, limited duration, and safety risks relative to overheating. In addition, lithium is a finite resource and environmentally taxing to mine. 

Tremendous research has been done to identify cheaper and more abundant elements that could be used instead of lithium. Elements receiving the greatest interest include silicon, sodium, aluminum, and potassium. However, the electrochemical potential of some of these elements is lower than lithium, which means the energy density of the battery may be reduced. Such limitations have opened the door to using a combination of alternative materials. 

Sodium-sulfur batteries, for example, are promising for large-scale energy storage because they are long-lasting and highly efficient at producing electricity. Sodium-sulfur battery electrodes contain molten sodium and molten sulfur, and the electrolyte is solid, A remaining challenge, however, is that these batteries currently need to operate at very high temperatures. Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, cited in a September 2019 article in Cleantech Concepts, are investigating the possibility of sodium-sulfur options that can operate at room temperature.  

 

Flow batteries: another attractive option

Flow batteries are another attractive option gaining greater interest. They consist of two tanks of liquids that feed into electrochemical cells. Their advantage is that they store the electricity in the liquid rather than in the electrodes. This makes them more stable than lithium-ion batteries and gives them a longer lifespan. In addition, the liquids are less flammable, and the design of the flow battery means it can easily be scaled up simply by building bigger tanks for the liquids. 

One type of flow battery, known as the vanadium flow battery or vanadium redox battery, is already available commercially. It is a type of rechargeable flow battery that employs vanadium ions in different oxidation states to store chemical potential energy. The attraction of the vanadium redox battery is that you can charge and discharge it at the same time, something that can’t be done with a lithium battery. China had anticipated completing construction on the world’s largest vanadium flow battery in 2020, according to a May 2020 article on the VanadiumCorp website, COVID-related lockdowns in the country put the project behind schedule. 

Like any alternative design, there are downsides to vanadium flow batteries, namely that the liquids can be costly, and they aren’t quite as efficient as lithium-ion batteries. 

Beyond flow batteries, there are plenty of other developments creating excitement in battery research and development. For example, researchers at RMIT University in Melbourne are developing a proton battery that works by turning water into oxygen and hydrogen and then using hydrogen to power a fuel cell. Other research teams are exploring 100% lithium-free ion batteries using materials such as graphite and potassium for the electrode and aluminum salt liquids to carry the charged ions.

In addition, researchers in China are looking at improving the existing technology of nickel-zinc batteries, which are cost-effective, safe, non-toxic, and environmentally friendly. Like the vanadium flow batteries, however, they don’t last as long as current lithium-ion batteries. Work is also underway on saltwater-based batteries, with one design already being used for residential solar storage. 

 

Innovations in tracking systems help capture greater solar energy

While battery innovations are helping to store more energy, work also continues to find solutions designed to capture more energy from the sun. 

The concept of using tracking systems to position solar panels in such a way that they capture more sunlight is not new. Various studies have suggested that by following (tracking) the movement of the sun, output from solar panels can be boosted roughly 20%-30%. Traditional tracking systems are built on a single axis, but newer dual-axis systems can capture more energy. The greater energy, however, comes at a steep cost, making dual-axis tracking systems cost-prohibitive for many applications.  

New designs and technologies are reducing those costs. Not only are efforts underway to make dual-axis tracking systems less expensive, but new solar panel materials are also being identified. Some solar farms, for example, are hoping to switch from silicon to perovskite, a crystal-like structure that consists of calcium titanium oxide. Preliminary studies suggest that perovskite could increase electricity generation by a third. However, no perovskite solar panels are yet commercially available as engineers are still working to overcome stability problems with the material. 

Regardless of the material used, a key concern relative to the reliable use of tracking systems continues to revolve around condition monitoring and maintenance. The trackers are subject to tremendous load variances, especially when working in dusty, windy environments. Since many solar farms in operation today are in remote areas, visual inspection of the tracking systems and solar panels is time-consuming and expensive. 

That’s why Parker launched its SCOUT™ Cloud Software and SensoNODE™ Gold Sensors, which provide a wireless, remote monitoring solution. 

By monitoring the pressure levels of the solar panel tracking system’s hydraulic loads, end users can easily calculate how much extra pressure is being put on the panels. A change in the supported load can sometimes indicate structural damage that needs to be addressed before the scheduled visit from field technicians. 

Enhanced energy storage solutions in the form of alternative battery designs and higher-efficiency, lower-cost solar panel tracking systems represent a part, but not all, of the necessary solutions to make solar energy more reliable. The power is there, but more work must be done to help solar energy reach its full potential. 

 

 To learn more about trends in the solar industry, read our Power Generation and Renewable Energy Trends White Paper – Part 2.

 

This article was contributed by the Fluid Gas Handling Team.

 

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 For decades, coal has dominated global power generation. Yet, its share of power generation is declining. The International Energy Agency predicts that global coal consumption has peaked and will not return to former levels, as cited in an article appearing in the Dec. 3, 2020, issue of The Economist.

Many factors are driving coal’s decline. Environmental concerns, economically competitive renewable energy, and declining profitability are only a few. To successfully navigate these trends, power plants are increasingly making the switch from coal to natural gas to produce electricity. 

 

 Read part 1 of our white paper- 2021 Power Generation and Renewable Energy Trends, to learn how fossil-based power generation technologies and power grids are rapidly evolving to meet the demands of the 21st-century market.

 

 

  Coal power plant advantages and disadvantages 

Nearly all coal-fired power plants use steam turbines to produce electricity. To drive turbine blades, boilers burn coal to produce pressurized steam. Coal has remained the most dominant source for electricity generation because of its abundant supply, low cost, and efficient output. 

While these advantages remain, mining and burning coal impact the environment and quality of life in nearby communities. The health and environmental effects of coal add regulatory hurdles and indirect costs that make alternatives more attractive, driving power plant conversions from coal to natural gas. 

  

The decline of coal power 

Coal’s decline is likely to continue for the foreseeable future, despite recent growth in some global markets. China, for instance, produces half of the world’s coal-fired electricity. As a result, it is the world’s largest emitter of CO². 

Yet despite the fact China grew its number of coal-fired plants five-fold between 2000 and 2019, it has begun canceling planned capacity additions and investing in renewable energy. China is expected to continue its emphasis on clean, low-carbon energy. Its plans to reach peak carbon emissions by 2030 and to become carbon neutral by 2060 will require the replacement of coal-fired power plants with renewable energy for decades to effectively phase out the world’s biggest market for coal-fired boilers. 

U.S. environmental regulations also have contributed to the decline in coal-fired generating capacity by increasing operational costs. The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards implemented by the Environmental Protection Agency in 2015 set new limits on air pollutants associated with coal combustion, including mercury, arsenic, and heavy metals. This resulted in most coal-fired plants having to install activated carbon injection technology to treat their coal-fired boiler flue gas at an average cost of $5.8 million per generator, according to a U.S. Senate Committee hearing report.

 

Improving efficiency in coal-fired plants 

In the United States, another headwind of its aging coal plants is a loss of efficiency. About 74% of coal plants today have been in operation for at least 30 years. While coal can be inexpensive, boiler inefficiency is costly. For a power plant spending $100 million annually on fuel, a 1% improvement in boiler efficiency by converting to an alternative fuel source can result in significant fuel savings, as well as a reduction of CO² and other emissions that contribute to global warming. 

Combustion technologies vary in coal-fired utility boilers. Each achieves a different level of fuel efficiency, measured as the amount of coal needed to produce the same amount of electricity. The least efficient boilers in operation today are aging subcritical units that convert less than 35% of coal energy into electricity. Newer subcritical units are more efficient electricity generators, achieving about 38% efficiency.  

Supercritical units operate at higher temperatures to generate hotter steam under higher pressure. These units produce electricity with an efficiency rate of approximately 42%. 

The most efficient coal-fired boilers, called ultra-supercritical units or high-efficiency low emissions (HELE) units, approach 48% energy efficiency. Still, even HELE units emit about twice the CO² as electricity generated from natural gas. 

 

Natural gas-fired turbine power generation grows

To remain competitive and increase efficiency, many coal-fired operations are switching plants to natural gas. Between 2011 and 2019, 103 coal-fired plants were converted to, or replaced by, natural gas-fired plants. The U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts coal to gas conversions will continue. 

In most cases, when a plant switches from coal to become a gas-fired plant, its equipment is either converted to burn natural gas or it adopts new technologies to become a natural gas-fired combined-cycle plant.  

Natural gas combined cycle power plants can reach 60% efficient power generation by utilizing both gas turbines and a special type of boiler called a heat recovery steam generator. In a gas turbine, a continuous blast of hot gasses is mixed with air in a combustion chamber to drive turbine blades. The heat recovery steam generator repurposes waste heat from burning natural gas to heat water and operates a steam turbine, boosting the plant’s total output.  

Simple-cycle combustion turbines use the same process to produce electricity as combined cycle plants, but without incorporating the heat recovery steam generator. These operations cost less and can be constructed faster. However, without the benefit of repurposing waste heat, simple cycle plants can reach only 35%-40% efficiency. These attributes make simple-cycle combustion turbines appropriate for supplying peak-load demand. 

Another emerging gas turbine technology is a smaller, lighter aero-derivative turbine. Because aero-derivative gas turbines can quickly reach maximum production and change power levels, they are becoming increasingly popular with electric utilities for providing peak and intermittent power generation.  

These advances in turbine technology, along with environmentally friendly attributes of natural gas as a fuel source, have placed conversion to natural gas-fired plants at the forefront of efficient power generation. As of 2018, the natural gas combined cycle is the technology with the most electricity generating capacity in the United States. The EIA predicts natural gas combined cycle plants will remain the top source of electricity generation in the United States for the foreseeable future. 

 To learn more about advancements in power generation, read our Power Generation and Renewable Energy Trends White Paper – Part 1.

 

This article was contributed by Fluid and Gas Handling and Parker Energy Teams.

 

Related, helpful content for you:

Defining Our Unique Contribution to the World

Parker's Solutions for Power Generation and Renewable Energy

Innovations in Power Generation and Renewable Energy

How Renewable Energy Power Plants Can Increase Output and Decrease Costs

Core Technologies Increasing Power Generation Productivity and Efficiency

Coal Power Plant Conversion to Natural Gas

Read more

 For decades, coal has dominated global power generation. Yet, its share of power generation is declining. The International Energy Agency predicts that global coal consumption has peaked and will not return to former levels, as cited in an article appearing in the Dec. 3, 2020, issue of The Economist.

Many factors are driving coal’s decline. Environmental concerns, economically competitive renewable energy, and declining profitability are only a few. To successfully navigate these trends, power plants are increasingly making the switch from coal to natural gas to produce electricity. 

 

 Read part 1 of our white paper- 2021 Power Generation and Renewable Energy Trends, to learn how fossil-based power generation technologies and power grids are rapidly evolving to meet the demands of the 21st-century market.

 

 

  Coal power plant advantages and disadvantages 

Nearly all coal-fired power plants use steam turbines to produce electricity. To drive turbine blades, boilers burn coal to produce pressurized steam. Coal has remained the most dominant source for electricity generation because of its abundant supply, low cost, and efficient output. 

While these advantages remain, mining and burning coal impact the environment and quality of life in nearby communities. The health and environmental effects of coal add regulatory hurdles and indirect costs that make alternatives more attractive, driving power plant conversions from coal to natural gas. 

  

The decline of coal power 

Coal’s decline is likely to continue for the foreseeable future, despite recent growth in some global markets. China, for instance, produces half of the world’s coal-fired electricity. As a result, it is the world’s largest emitter of CO². 

Yet despite the fact China grew its number of coal-fired plants five-fold between 2000 and 2019, it has begun canceling planned capacity additions and investing in renewable energy. China is expected to continue its emphasis on clean, low-carbon energy. Its plans to reach peak carbon emissions by 2030 and to become carbon neutral by 2060 will require the replacement of coal-fired power plants with renewable energy for decades to effectively phase out the world’s biggest market for coal-fired boilers. 

U.S. environmental regulations also have contributed to the decline in coal-fired generating capacity by increasing operational costs. The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards implemented by the Environmental Protection Agency in 2015 set new limits on air pollutants associated with coal combustion, including mercury, arsenic, and heavy metals. This resulted in most coal-fired plants having to install activated carbon injection technology to treat their coal-fired boiler flue gas at an average cost of $5.8 million per generator, according to a U.S. Senate Committee hearing report.

 

Improving efficiency in coal-fired plants 

In the United States, another headwind of its aging coal plants is a loss of efficiency. About 74% of coal plants today have been in operation for at least 30 years. While coal can be inexpensive, boiler inefficiency is costly. For a power plant spending $100 million annually on fuel, a 1% improvement in boiler efficiency by converting to an alternative fuel source can result in significant fuel savings, as well as a reduction of CO² and other emissions that contribute to global warming. 

Combustion technologies vary in coal-fired utility boilers. Each achieves a different level of fuel efficiency, measured as the amount of coal needed to produce the same amount of electricity. The least efficient boilers in operation today are aging subcritical units that convert less than 35% of coal energy into electricity. Newer subcritical units are more efficient electricity generators, achieving about 38% efficiency.  

Supercritical units operate at higher temperatures to generate hotter steam under higher pressure. These units produce electricity with an efficiency rate of approximately 42%. 

The most efficient coal-fired boilers, called ultra-supercritical units or high-efficiency low emissions (HELE) units, approach 48% energy efficiency. Still, even HELE units emit about twice the CO² as electricity generated from natural gas. 

 

Natural gas-fired turbine power generation grows

To remain competitive and increase efficiency, many coal-fired operations are switching plants to natural gas. Between 2011 and 2019, 103 coal-fired plants were converted to, or replaced by, natural gas-fired plants. The U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts coal to gas conversions will continue. 

In most cases, when a plant switches from coal to become a gas-fired plant, its equipment is either converted to burn natural gas or it adopts new technologies to become a natural gas-fired combined-cycle plant.  

Natural gas combined cycle power plants can reach 60% efficient power generation by utilizing both gas turbines and a special type of boiler called a heat recovery steam generator. In a gas turbine, a continuous blast of hot gasses is mixed with air in a combustion chamber to drive turbine blades. The heat recovery steam generator repurposes waste heat from burning natural gas to heat water and operates a steam turbine, boosting the plant’s total output.  

Simple-cycle combustion turbines use the same process to produce electricity as combined cycle plants, but without incorporating the heat recovery steam generator. These operations cost less and can be constructed faster. However, without the benefit of repurposing waste heat, simple cycle plants can reach only 35%-40% efficiency. These attributes make simple-cycle combustion turbines appropriate for supplying peak-load demand. 

Another emerging gas turbine technology is a smaller, lighter aero-derivative turbine. Because aero-derivative gas turbines can quickly reach maximum production and change power levels, they are becoming increasingly popular with electric utilities for providing peak and intermittent power generation.  

These advances in turbine technology, along with environmentally friendly attributes of natural gas as a fuel source, have placed conversion to natural gas-fired plants at the forefront of efficient power generation. As of 2018, the natural gas combined cycle is the technology with the most electricity generating capacity in the United States. The EIA predicts natural gas combined cycle plants will remain the top source of electricity generation in the United States for the foreseeable future. 

 To learn more about advancements in power generation, read our Power Generation and Renewable Energy Trends White Paper – Part 1.

 

This article was contributed by Fluid and Gas Handling and Parker Energy Teams.

 

Related, helpful content for you:

Defining Our Unique Contribution to the World

Parker's Solutions for Power Generation and Renewable Energy

Innovations in Power Generation and Renewable Energy

Reciprocating Engines for Power Generation

How Renewable Energy Power Plants Can Increase Output and Decrease Costs

Core Technologies Increasing Power Generation Productivity and Efficiency

Coal Power Plant Conversion to Natural Gas

Read more