Optimation Blog

Skid Systems, SCADA AND IIoT

Posted by Bill Pollock on Mar 14, 2018 3:02:46 PM

At Optimation we design and fabricate many skid systems. These systems are used by manufacturers for a broad variety of applications. Skids can be built as carts, in frames, in shipping containers or trailers. They can be built as prefab production lines units that can be bolted together to form larger systems. Physical layout can be tailored to the complexity, geography and environmental conditions the skid needs to perform in. Some are mounted indoors in factory conditions, others may ultimately be located in the arctic, or on an offshore oil platform. Applications also vary. Some are used for chemical delivery or small scale chemical processing. Others have been used for hydrogen distribution, high pressure test systems, food processing or testing medical devices. Skid systems have the advantage of being built in a shop in controlled conditions and then installed in remote or challenging locations.     

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Topics: Skid Systems, Controls

How I Grew Up To Be An Engineer

Posted by Pete Sherer on Mar 1, 2018 2:55:51 PM

Recently, during a visit with my 4-year-old grandson, I had the opportunity to answer some of his questions, and reflect on the career path that I have chosen.  It started with him wanting to know what his Poppa did at work.  So, I told him I was an engineer, and I helped sell machines that make things (it’s challenging to give a 4-year-old your sales “elevator” speech and have him understand it). 

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Would George Washington Celebrate National Engineers Week?

Posted by Bill Pollock on Feb 23, 2018 12:12:36 PM

By the time I was nine or ten I knew I was going to be an engineer. By then everyone in my family, and everyone else, I knew also knew I was going to be an engineer. I have three brothers. They all became engineers. Maybe there is something genetic about becoming an engineer. Or perhaps it is environmental and we are taught from an early age. I am not certain about the cause, but I do know that I have enjoyed the practice of engineering from the time I began my career until now.  There is something exciting about cause and effect, about creating things that work, and about applied science in general. 

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Happy National Engineers Week!

Posted by Wendy Smith on Feb 21, 2018 1:11:41 PM

Engineers Week promotes recognition among parents, teachers, and students of the importance of a technical education and a high level of math, science, and technology literacy. The intent is to motivate youth to pursue engineering careers in order to provide a diverse and vigorous engineering workforce. 

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Machine Safety, Machine Guarding and The Gotcha Stick

Posted by Bill Pollock on Feb 7, 2018 2:00:00 PM

Getting employees to follow the rules, even rules that keep them safe, is difficult. For some segments of the population this seems impossible.  Everyone knows, for example, that talking on a cell phone while driving is dangerous, and against the law in most states. But a large percentage of the population continue to talk on a handheld phone while driving anyway. This is even more true of texting and driving.  And accidents and deaths continue. 

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Topics: Safety, Machine Guarding

Biomass Goes High Tech at Alfred State College

Posted by Bill Pollock on Feb 1, 2018 9:02:41 AM

Wide grassy path through field of fading wildflowers and scrub trees by woods at end of October in northern Illinois, USA.jpegAt Optimation we’ve been engaged in many renewable energy projects over the past few decades.  Early on much of the focus was the production of ethanol as an alternate fuel.  Most of the early production was from corn.  Many states, like New York, mandated that commercial gasoline be blended with ten percent ethanol.  There were some unintended consequences of these original plants.  The large demand for corn, to convert to ethanol, caused disruptions in the food supply.  There were also unanticipated maintenance issues for many using ethanol blended gas to power lawn mowers and other small engines.   

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Topics: Education, Energy

Web Handling Problems? Don’t Treat Your Web Conveyance Equipment Like Your Car

Posted by Pete Sherer on Jan 30, 2018 11:23:00 AM

Have you ever experienced a problem with your automobile, where you hear an unusual noise, or feel a different dynamic (a hesitation or a loss of power), and wonder if your trusty transport is going to leave you stranded at the side of the road? 

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Topics: web handling

Is your Roll-To-Roll manufacturing line operating on the level? Literally?

Posted by Pete Sherer on Jan 23, 2018 2:00:00 PM

Here’s a good conversation starter:  Stop what you are doing and look around you for anything and everything that is a thin film or sheet made of paper, plastic or metal. In my office space I have a calendar (paper), a computer display (film), a crumpled wrapper of a roast beef sandwich (metal foil), sticky notes (paper), office memos (paper), a trash can liner (plastic)…you get the idea.  Products like these, manufactured from the noted raw materials (metal, plastic, wood) are all around us, within the touch of our finger tips.  They are so commonplace that we don’t give much thought as to how they were made, and what some of the challenges might have been to convert the raw materials into something useful for us.

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Topics: Equipment, web handling

Risk Assessment & Mitigation in Project Management 

Posted by Steve Beyer on Jan 9, 2018 3:13:56 PM


It’s that time again—looking at our practices to find areas for improvement. Today’s subject is project management: risk assessment and mitigation. Risk is a big deal here at Optimation. We are managing not only our own risk, but also that of our partners, suppliers, and clients. It’s a form of stewardship, that is, caring for the well-being of assets entrusted to us. Very often our clients hire us explicitly to help manage their project risk. This can come in the form of scope, schedule, or budget dimensions, each of which poses its own unique challenges to a client's ability to achieve their goals when undertaking capital projects.

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Topics: Project Management

The American Revolution and the American Industrial Revolutions

Posted by Bill Pollock on Dec 6, 2017 7:30:00 AM

I am a registered member of the Sons of the American Revolution. Two of my ancestors were enlisted as privates in the Pennsylvania Militia and fought in the Revolutionary War under General Washington.  Before enlisting in the army, they were farmers.  This was true of most others who fought with them.  At the time of the revolution, America was primarily an agricultural society.  Farms and farmers were the primary producers of wealth for the colonies.  Manufactured goods were imported from England and paid for with the currency gained from the sale of farmed commodities. 

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Topics: Trends, Internet of Things

Welcome to the Optimation Blog

Tips, tricks and trends

The goal of this blog is to be helpful to readers by providing useful information about applications in industrial engineering, design and skilled trades, as well as industry knowledge. We're passionate about manufacturing in the United States. We have a little fun with it too.  


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