by Eric Lanke, NFPA CEO
The U.S. Department of Energy maintains more than 20 Industrial Assessment Centers (IACs) around the United States—university programs where energy management engineering students perform no-cost assessments of industrial facilities and make recommendations for reducing their overall energy consumption. According to the data I saw when I attended an IAC directors meeting last year, these centers perform about 500 assessments annually, identifying $33 million in energy-saving recommendations each year. And up until recently, none of those recommendations had been focused on the more efficient use of the ubiquitous hydraulic and pneumatic systems that are in these plants.
“They’re a black box to us,” one of the IAC directors told me at this meeting. “We see them operating in our facilities, but we don’t know how to determine if they’re operating efficiently, or what changes to recommend even if we could.”
Game on, I thought. There are lots of experts in the fluid power industry who could teach the student assessors what to do and recommend in those situations, and, with the help and support of the International Fluid Power Society (IFPS), I was able to find two great ones.
Earlier this year, two webinar presentations were given to IAC directors and their students across the country. Tom Blansett, CFPS, and formerly of Behco-MRM, presented “Increasing Energy Efficiency of an Industrial Hydraulic System,” and Jon Jensen, CFPPS, CFPECS, of SMC Corp. of America presented “Pneumatics Best Practices.” Both presentations provided the basic information engineers and technicians need to diagnose, correct, and maintain energy-efficient fluid power systems.
Both presentations can be downloaded for local viewing on the IAC website (www.iacforum.org:8080/iac/webinars.jsp), which I would encourage you to do for your own education and training needs. They’re so good, in fact, that we’ve asked Tom and Jon to repeat their performances at the upcoming Energy Efficient Hydraulics and Pneumatics Conference, which will be held in conjunction with IFPE, March 8-10, 2017, in Las Vegas, Nev.
The feedback from the IAC directors was quick and immediate. “Thank you,” they said. “Now our students have some idea what to look for and recommend when they encounter hydraulic and pneumatic systems in their assessed facilities.”
But things won’t end there. Now that fluid power is on their radar screen, the students and their directors are going to need ongoing support for any technical questions they may have. And the plants that receive the improvement recommendations are going to need suppliers and vendors with the expertise to implement those changes. This new opportunity is available to any interested company.
If you’re willing to serve as a non-compensated resource for IAC students and to have your firm listed in the referral directory given to companies that receive an IAC assessment, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll need a contact name and information, as well as a short description of your company, the regions it serves, and the specific areas of expertise.