Safely View the Solar Eclipse

A rare total solar eclipse will be visible in parts of Illinois on Monday, August 21. While the best area to view the eclipse from within Illinois is at the southern tail around the Carbondale area, those who can’t make the trip down south can still see a partial eclipse.

In Northern Illinois and Northwest Indiana, viewers can expect the moon to cover 86.7 percent of the sun. The moon will be in the sun’s path beginning at 11:53am and continuing for 2 hours and 48 minutes. The best time to see the peak of the eclipse will be 1:18pm, according to NASA.

Because even a partial eclipse can be harmful to the eyes, it’s recommended that you consider some safety precautions when looking at the eclipse. Due to the intensity of the sun’s rays, NASA encourages the use of special-purpose solar filtered sunglasses, or another method that will protect your eyes. One Chicago weather broadcaster is using welding glass to view the eclipse.

According to NASA, this is only a good idea if the welders glass is of a Shade 12 or higher, which is much darker than the filters used for most kinds of welding.

“If it’s less than 12 (and it probably is), don’t even think about using it to look at the Sun,” the agency warns. “Many people find the Sun too bright even in a Shade 12 filter, and some find the sun too dim in a Shade 14 filter — but Shade 13 filters are uncommon and can be hard to find.”

Be aware that the slight crescent of the sun, known as the solar corona, which is visible despite the moon blocking the sun, can damage the retina.

Here are some additional NASA tips to help make your eclipse experience safe when admiring the solar eclipse.

  • Inspect your solar filter for scratches and other damages.
  • When about to look at the sun, stand still and cover your glasses before looking up. Never take off your eye protection while looking at the sun.
  • Looking at the sun through an unfiltered camera, telescope, binoculars, or an alternative optical device is not recommended.
  • The same goes with using these devices as an add on to your special eye protection. “The concentrated solar rays will damage the filter and enter your eye(s), causing serious injury” according to NASA.
  • Lastly, if you wear normal eye glasses, wear them under the special eye protection.

How To Use Social Media to Benefit Your Company

June 30th is Social Media Day. In honor of the special occasion we will reflect on some interesting and successful social campaigns being implemented across popular social channels by three different brands. The following campaigns provide great examples of effective uses of social media (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and YouTube) any company can beneficially emulate to drive customer engagement.

CARHARTT 

Carhartt has campaigns across Facebook and Twitter that allow interactivity for fans and followers – for example, hashtag contests like #OutWorkThemAll encourage users to share photos of themselves working on tough projects while wearing Carhartt gear.

carhartoutworkthemall

Carhartt engineers consistency across Twitter and Facebook, with many similar campaign attributes being utilized in both networks. Hashtag campaigns like #OutWorkThemAll thrive cross-network, sharing photos of customers and products, providing Carhartt with a cost-effective grassroots promotional product campaign.

Carhartt also actively posts several videos and playlists on YouTube – one of which is the helpful “Do-It-Yourself” series of videos. These instructional videos provide customers with an easy guide of how to use products or how to complete tasks. They help answer customers’ questions giving Carhartt a practical extension to their customer service operations.

diy carhartt

KOHLER

Kohler too promotes their individual campaigns across multiple social media networks. For instance, the #HurricaneStrong campaign is run across Twitter and Facebook. This hashtag campaign is dedicated to preparing for power outages caused by Hurricane storms.

hurricaneprep

Kohler also tweets about timely events, tying into their brand. For instance, how they partnered with another company to help with the Flint Water Crisis. An organization or brand that posts content in relation to current events allows followers on social media to see real-world examples of how brands can affect or have a positive impact in responding to a current crisis.

Kohler additionally provides up-to-date information on details from trade shows and other events that they attend. This allows users to find an event they may be interested in attending to learn more about industry-related topics pertinent to their business.

flint

Kohler further has an active YouTube channel used to showcase their products and technology. From videos on the manufacturing of Kohler Generators to the importance of backup power generators for both homes and businesses, there are several reasons for users to view the Kohler YouTube channel.

Audiences can find value in Kohler videos for a multitude of reasons – perhaps they want to see a step-by-step guided process or learn how to undertake a task. Some videos can help teach processes, while other videos may show future technology and upcoming product releases, providing sneak previews of next generation innovations.


PHILIPS LIGHTING

Photos of Philips lights and lamps used for illuminating the exterior of buildings around the world are displayed on Twitter. Philips’ Twitter account shares colorful lighting photos that showcase the latest innovations from the lighting industry. Philips also shares articles from magazines, promoting stories that feature Philips products and services. Sharing these publications gives Philips positive recognition from third-party trusted sources.

Philips Lighting’s Facebook page contains contests, such as a chance to win Philips and Star Wars lights by simply telling them what makes your child a Star Wars fan. Philips also shares images of LED lights in use, such as in the Amsterdam Arena. Similar to Kohler, Philips utilizes current events to advantageously position their brand.

philips facebook led

facebook philips

With several videos, from “How To” demonstrations to featured products, there are numerous choices available for viewing on the Philips YouTube channel. The “How To” videos provide guidance, while the featured products showcase the range of innovative products that Philips Lighting offers.

As a worldwide company Philips also localizes their videos by translating them into several languages catering to the copious local markets they serve, which means you’ll find many Philips videos offered in multiple languages.

Philips additionally shares invitations for seminars and webinars through LinkedIn, encouraging more participation from readers and followers. The free seminars offer pertinent information on relevant and timely industry topics providing continuing education on practical applications of the latest trends.

Posting a variety of useful and timely content on social media networks – from current event related information on community outreach initiatives – to featuring new products – to event invitations – to contests – provides information that is helpful and engaging to your target audience. Having customers continually return to engage with your brand underscores the importance of utilizing social media to capture mindshare that ultimately leads to market share.

Additionally, another benefit of being active on social media is interaction – not only with customers but with other companies that are also present and active on social media. This allows for the potential of cross-promoting each other to audiences, sharing to each customer base, as well as creating the opportunity for building a working relationship between the two (or more) interacting companies.

There are countless strategies and uses for social media that any company can benefit in, but even simply being active and maintaining a presence online (answering customer feedback or questions) is advantageous to any brand. In this digital age, more customers and prospective customers flock to the internet to learn more about a company, or to just find a brand for their particular interest or need, therefore it is absolutely essential to be ready and represented online.

Machine Safety and the Integration of Pneumatic Technology

Why do we need Safety Standards? For years, standards and safety have been developed and adjusted as time went on. Everyone at some point is careless, complacent, overconfident, distracted or fatigued. We sometimes take risks or misunderstand things. Because all of these human traits are ingrained in all of us, we need to make sure machines are safe and ready for use – which means we also need to consider processes which govern how we utilize machines in order to prevent accidents and injury.[i]

With the increasing use of automation, the requirements governing protection of machinery have changed and evolved. Technology advancements have allowed for the integration of protection devices into the work process, thus improving safety and productivity.

Safety is a basic need – the objective for safety equipment  and safety standards is to provide the machine operator, personnel and others a safe environment when working with machinery. Managers are responsible for the safety of their employees. Most accidents are due to human error, which is why safety procedures need to start at the executive level and be adopted throughout the entire organization.[i]

In this article we’ll cover safety functions of Pneumatic technology, as covered by ASCO at Steiner’s 2016 Automation Technology Summer Symposium.

Risk Assessment

The first steps are taken by the machine operator and OEM to analyze the possible risks that are associated with the design of a machine. The risk assessment and analysis gives information that is required for the risk evaluation. This allows the operator or OEM to determine ultimately whether or not a risk reduction is required.[ii]

The process of risk reduction allows for the OEM to eliminate the potential risk that is found in the assessment. If the areas of risk cannot be eliminated, they are to be addressed with safety-related components.

A risk graph provides guidance when looking at the safety risk and safety function. The graph should be considered for each Safety Function identified as part of the risk assessment and risk reduction process.

Risk Graph
Risk Graph

Safety System Architectures and Categories

There are three architectures of elements – The Input Element, the Logic element and the Output element. The Input element includes Gate Switches and Light Curtains; the Logic element includes Safety PLC and Safety Relays and the Output element includes valves and motors.[ii]

There are four categories – Category 1, Category 2, Category 3 and Category 4. Category 1 systems rely on reliability data of components or well-tried components. With Category 1 there is no diagnostic monitoring.

Category 2 systems rely on Category 1 data plus feedback monitoring and periodic testing of safety functions. Category 3 systems rely on Category 2 data plus redundancy. In Category 3 safety systems, most faults are detected. Category 4 systems rely on Category 3 data plus greater diagnostic monitoring – in which all faults are detected.[ii]

Safety System Categories
Safety System Categories

Methods of Pneumatic Implementation

There are three main methods of satisfying a pneumatic Safety Function, including: Discrete components, Point-of-use “Dump” style units, and Manifolds with integrated Safety Functionality.[ii]

Discrete components have individual valves and pressure switches. Switches are limited to a single motion and can be used for multiple motion elements or actuators. These discrete components can be adapted to various pneumatic safety functions. Discrete pneumatic components are best used on single axis or individual motion elements in order to satisfy a pneumatic safety function. The pneumatic components are considered Safety Related Parts of a Control System.

Point of use “Dump” style units are individual assemblies that are made of redundant units to provide safe release of energy in the form of air. These are best used on Lock-Out Tag-Out (LOTO) applications. These type of units can be used to release or “Dump” the pneumatic energy to a gated machine in most instances.[ii]

Finally, manifolds with integrated safety functionality are manifolds that have the ability to satisfy many pneumatic safety functions while providing that function for multiple motion elements, or actuators. These Manifolds are best applied for the following:

  • Multiple axis of motion (actuators)
  • Requires Safe and Non-Safe Valves or motion
  • Requires additional pneumatic features such as regulation, speed control or circuit manipulation
  • Requires different safety functions on the same manifold
  • Requires a Fieldbus interface

Further Considerations

  • Safety functions are defined by the Risk Assessment or Reduction Process.
  • Machine Safety is a systematic approach
  • A Pneumatic safety function doesn’t always need to trap energy – there is a safe stopping of motion and a safe return to the home position
  • Indirect monitoring or pressure sensing, can provide the highest level of direct current

Protective devices should be integrated into the control system. Control systems are made of input elements, logic units and power control elements in addition to the actuator or work element. Safety-related parts of the control system should safely perform normal functions. Because of this, special requirements are placed on their reliability and resistance to failures. Safety standards and devices allow for an increase in the attempt to prevent injury. Because all humans can be careless, forgetful or distracted, it is important to implement and follow standards and procedures.

For more information on automation safety and to speak with one of our application engineers please call 1-800-STEINER (783-4637).

[i] Guidelines for Safe Machinery – Six Steps to a Safe Machine. N.p.: SICK Sensor Intelligence, n.d. PDF.

[ii] Machine Safety and the Integration of Pneumatic Technology. N.p.: ASCO Emerson, 2016. PPT.