MRO Magazine

Research centre will study disasters in industrial properties

Conventional wisdom says one should never play with fire or fool with Mother Nature, but that's not always the case, especially in the industrial environment. As a result, FM Global of West Glocester, R.I., a commercial and industrial property ins...

February 1, 2004 | By MRO Magazine

Conventional wisdom says one should never play with fire or fool with Mother Nature, but that’s not always the case, especially in the industrial environment. As a result, FM Global of West Glocester, R.I., a commercial and industrial property insurer, is opening a new US$78-million Research Campus where creating devastating warehouse-size fires, hurricane-strength windstorms, dust explosions and electrical hazards is simply part of a day’s work for teams of scientists and engineers.

The organization will conduct extensive tests to help companies understand how to prevent such threats from affecting their properties and business operations.

“We believe it’s better to prevent a loss than to try to recover from one,” said Tom Lawson, senior vice-president, engineering and research, FM Global. “Every day at the Research Campus we’ll burn things down, blow things up and give things a good beating to increase our understanding of the property risks that threaten our clients’ operations.”

The cornerstone of the Research Campus is the world’s largest fire technology laboratory — larger than the size of two football fields and capable of replicating warehouse-size fires of up to 1,100C. Additionally, the facility houses labs for testing the latest fire-protection technology and features an eight-storey-high moveable ceiling for simulating practically any size industrial facility.


The Research Campus also includes a new natural hazards laboratory capable of creating Category 5 hurricane winds reaching 250 km/h. Similarly, debris cannons are used to fire lumber, hail and other wind-blown projectiles at speeds up to 140 km/h.

In addition, FM Global’s facilities can recreate weather extremes, like the sun’s damaging ultraviolet rays, as well as freezing, thawing and hail. Tests such as these help determine the long-term performance of building materials and the most sound ways for businesses to protect their property.

A new electrical hazards laboratory is designed to test explosion-proof and flameproof equipment for use in hazardous locations. Furthermore, a dust-explosion bunker simulates the devastating effects the accumulation of dust can have on a facility.

“Unlike companies that rely on computer modelling, our full-scale research provides policyholders with improved property loss prevention solutions, helping minimize operational downtime, supply chain interruption and loss of market share,” said Lawson. “This information is critical for companies to remain competitive in an era of globalization, outsourcing, plant consolidations, just-in-time delivery and cross-border supply relationships.”

According to a recent study of 400 of the world’s largest companies conducted by FM Global, the Financial Executives Research Foundation and National Association of Corporate Treasurers, nearly 60% of companies reported that property risks such as fire, explosion, natural disasters and mechanical and electrical breakdown pose the greatest threat to their revenue sources. Perhaps more alarming, however, is more than one-third admitted they are not prepared to recover from such a disruption to a top revenue source.


The Timken Company of Canton, Ohio, has released an enhanced version of its electronic Tapered Roller Bearing Selection Guide compact disc for design engineers. Version 2.0 allows users to analyze bearing selections for new and existing applications, calculate bearing life based on a variety of criteria and save data in electronic or print form.

Users also can conduct bearing searches for single- or double-row tapered bearings and sort bearing lists based on design criteria such as cone bore or cup outside diameter, dynamic radial load rating, cone or cup width and effective load centre location. The program, which can be run from a number of Microsoft Windows platforms, is available in English, French, German, Italian, Spanish and Swedish.

“We have enhanced this tool to allow engineers to easily calculate the lives of bearings in a two-bearing system,” says Roger Knudsen, vice-president – engineering – industrial. “This interactive software is designed to help customers simplify the bearing selection process while providing an alternative to hard-copy catalogues when searching for bearings.”

Users can calculate predicted bearing life within their environments and vary parameters to see how projected life will be affected.

The ability to save data eliminates the need to re-key parameters for similar applications and allows designers to share information with others in their organization or with Timken representatives who can provide additional assistance with bearing selection.

The Tapered Roller Bearing Selection Guide was originally released in spring 2001. Popular attributes of the first version have been incorporated into Version 2.0, including an enhanced bearing search function; installation calculations; drawing options that allow users to print or save bearing prints in electronic formats; guidelines regarding the selection process, mounting, lubrication and damage analysis; and reference tables regarding materials and lubricants.

“This guide is a valuable tool for selecting tapered bearings. The ‘Bearing Application’ section is particularly good,” says Chris Peterson, manager of application engineering, power transmission division, at Lufkin Industries Inc. of Lufkin, Tex., a manufacturer of oilfield, power transmission, foundry and trailer components. “We now can quickly calculate axial and radial loads and have a consistent way to exchange gear and bearing information with Timken engineers.”

To obtain a copy of the guide, visit or call 1-877-484-6536.


Materials and Manufacturing Ontario (MMO) has created a new spin-off company which will help improve the industrial performance and competitiveness of Canadian manufacturers.

Optimal Maintenance Decisions (OMDEC) will commercialize a new software tool that predicts and avoids equipment failures. This new optimizing technology, Exakt, which enhances the accuracy of equipment failure predictions, was created at the University of Toronto’s CBM (condition-based maintenance) Lab in Toronto.

Developed by Dr. Andrew Jardine at the university, Exakt evaluates the economic consequences of equipment failures and preventive maintenance. The methodology incorporates a statistical technique to extract useful knowledge from available data records and create a model that can be integrated into maintenance management systems.

Exakt generates optimal maintenance decisions by processing new condition and events data and builds a financial formula to assess overall risk of failure.

“Our clients are leaders in their fields who have complex equipment with a high cost of failure. For them, consistent, reliable performance is the most important aspect of what they do,” says Ben Stevens, president of OMDEC.

“Making more accurate and effective maintenance decisions is a competitive advantage for companies competing in the global marketplace. With Exakt, you remove the guesswork around failure and assure equipment uptime.”

“This is a perfect example of how MMO is helping to build a strong, competitive economy in the future — with an aggressive focus on innovation, collaboration between academic institutions and industry, and accelerating the commercialization of new products and processes,” says Geoff Clarke, president and CEO of MMO.

MMO is a not-for-profit corporation supported by the Ontario government, industrial contributions to research programs, membership fees, and revenues from the commercialization and licensing of intellectual property. Its aim is to promote commercial research partnerships between post-secondary research institutions and industry.


The People’s Republic of China was to adopt an internationally accepted method to calculate its industrial an
d agricultural growth starting in 2004, according to the country’s top statistician.

The new method is based on price indices and is widely practiced in Western countries, including North America. Li Deshui, director of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in Beijing, said at a national statistics meeting that the move was a major reform of the country’s compilation of key economic figures.

The NBS has already been using the method on a trial basis to calculate industrial and agricultural figures for 2003.

Previously, China had used a calculating method based on fixed price, which was commonplace under its planned economic system. However, as China develops a market economy that is merging into the world, the old method can no longer reflect the real trend of industrial and agricultural growth.

Li said China had reformed its economic statistics system by adopting the basic principles and calculating methods of the United Nations. It also has reformed the compilation and release of gross domestic product (GDP) figures, adopting a readjustment system of GDP according to international practice.

Li said the country will continue to reform GDP calculation at local levels. From Jan. 1, 2004, average per capita GDP will be calculated on the basis of the real number of residents in the region, instead of the number recorded at household registration.

The new reporting method should be of interest to several North American manufacturers — including several companies in the power transmission industry — who are now producing goods in China.


In an attempt to reduce confined space injuries and provide more secure rescue operations, the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) recently announced the American National Standard Z117.1-2003 Safety Requirements for Confined Spaces.

The newly revised standard establishes the minimum safety requirements for confined space operations, which include personal protection equipment, safeguarding, confined space permits, and emergency response plans.

The Z117.1-2003 standard, which is a revision of the 1995 standard, includes up-to-date definitions and information regarding identification, evaluation, emergency response and rescue, permit and non-permit requirements, atmospheric testing, isolation and decontamination, lockout/tagout, warning sign requirements, and personal protective equipment. The standard also includes an appendix providing sample permits, surveys, and evaluations.

According to Z117 committee chair Edward Grund, confined spaces continue to be a significant cause of injuries, illnesses, and fatalities in the U.S. and the Z117.1 standard will provide guidelines to help reduce these accidents.

In particular, the standard provides the minimum safety requirements to be followed when entering, exiting, and working in a confined space at normal atmospheric pressure. For more information, visit


World demand for industrial valves is forecast to increase 5.5% per year through 2007 (including price increases) to over US$60 billion, predicts The Freedonia Group Inc. of Cleveland, Ohio. This represents an improvement over the 1997-2002 period, reflecting accelerating macroeconomic growth in the developing regions of Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe.

Improving economic fundamentals — especially fixed investment levels — will bolster more valve-consuming sectors and strengthen underdeveloped infrastructures in these regions. As a result, primary energy consumption will increase, creating opportunities for valve suppliers in the key energy production sector in the developing world. These and other trends are presented in World Valves, a new study from Freedonia.

The advanced nations of North America, Western Europe and Asia/Pacific (i.e., Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea) comprise mature markets for valves. Although the valve markets in the U.S., Japan and Western Europe will all register gains that will lag the global average through 2007, all three will also see an improvement in their respective markets over the performance of the 1997-2002 period.

Stronger demand prospects for more expensive automated valves and actuators will also aid the overall valve markets in the U.S., Japan and Western Europe.

Global demand for automatic valves will outpace that for conventional valves, benefitting from the desire of process manufacturers to improve efficiency.

Industrial valve designs and technology are well established and well understood, with product innovation tending to be evolutionary in nature. Innovation occurs along such parameters as materials of construction (plastics, ceramics, etc.) and productivity enhancement (e.g. improved electronic controls for actuation).

The largest and most technically proficient valve manufacturing industries are generally located in developed nations, as indicated by the fact that the U.S., Germany, Japan and Italy together accounted for over half of global valve production in 2002, notes Freedonia.

However, China is rapidly becoming a major player and net exporter. Russia, France, the United Kingdom and Taiwan are also notable valve producers. Italy, Germany and Japan are the world’s largest net exporters of valves.


Due to increasingly slim profit margins, North American manufacturers of positive displacement pumps for process industries are finding it difficult to channel funds towards R&D, impeding the speed of technological development.

According to a recent report by research firm Frost & Sullivan, which has offices in New York and Toronto, prices in the pump market have reduced or remained static, and have not kept in pace with recent inflation rates.

To counter pricing pressures, companies will have to improve their manufacturing practices and try to outsource components or shift manufacturing to China and Latin America, the report contends.

Moving manufacturing to China and Latin America allows participants to capitalize on lower manufacturing overheads and relaxed environment laws, the company says. Established companies with worldwide distribution networks stand to gain in Asian and South American markets because these regions are the focal point of growth in industrial activity and infrastructure.

To survive competition, smaller companies need to ramp up their distribution networks to make inroads into new overseas markets.

On the flip side, in the domestic market manufacturers have to fight off a flood of low-priced imports. “To maintain profitability and differentiate their products from the plethora of cheaper and imported products, manufacturers can adopt ‘life cycle costing’ as a strategy,” says Frost & Sullivan.

Highlighting the economical benefits of assessing a product based on life cycle costing — accumulation of costs over the entire product life cycle — to end users could improve adoption rates, the firm reports.

Dwindling world water resources are prompting increased conservation efforts and better water management practices. Heightened concerns for safe drinking water, industrial water and pollution prevention and control issues ensure a sustained demand in the water industry for positive displacement pumps.

The municipal wastewater treatment sector has also been witnessing tremendous growth. “New plants are being constructed, existing plants and processes are being upgraded and novel concepts such as sewer mining are finding increased acceptance,” says the company.

Rapidly developing industries such as water and wastewater treatment, pharmaceutical processing, biotech, and food and beverages are expected to drive future growth, especially of peristaltic, rotary progressive cavity, and reciprocating piston pumps.

The Frost & Sullivan research service’s analysis of the North American Positive Displacement Pumps Market is divided into three main pump segments: rotary, reciprocating, and peristalt
ic. It provides detailed insights into recent developments, trends, and emerging applications. The service also provides market forecasts as well as competitive and opportunity analysis. The service is priced at US$4,500. For details, call 877-463-7876 or visit


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