Articles by Ralph Ruark

KILN CONNECTION: Fuel Conservation in a Slow Economy

Efficiency can be improved by making a few fundamental changes in the way a kiln is operated with reduced output. At a time when plants are struggling to achieve breakeven with low revenue, this technique can help brick manufacturers reduce fuel consumption.
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GUEST BLOG: All Eyes on the Economy

In essence, American taxpayers are bailing out the reckless and the greedy, demonstrating once again that being irresponsible in this country has limited consequences.
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KILN CONNECTION: Sleight of Hand Heat Recovery

Energy can be recovered from kiln exhaust gases in many ways, including the generation of hot water, the use of hot air for direct or indirect cooling, hot oil exchange, and combustion air heating for the burners on the kiln.
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KILN CONNECTION: Bright Spots on the Dial

I have been vocal about unfair trade over the past several years. In the past year, though, I have seen the tide turn a bit.
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Delivering Fuel Savings

The modification of a kiln's combustion design can achieve fuel savings of 30-45%, as well the added benefits of upgraded controls and safety systems.
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KILN CONNECTION: Connection Lost

When I worked in manufacturing as an employee, I looked forward to my annual salary increase to help cover inflation, and maybe provide a little more breathing room between my expenses and income. What do you look forward to today? There doesn't seem to be much cause for optimism for U.S. manufacturing engineers and technical people.
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<strong>KILN CONNECTION</strong>: Safety First

If you have a kiln, it is wise to take several safety steps. Sound like too much trouble? Can't afford the downtime? Then you could have a surprise coming from your kiln, and it will mark the worst day of your career.

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<strong>KILN CONNECTION</strong>: Silver Bullets, Anyone?

Everyone is looking for a silver bullet-that miracle weight loss pill, cold prevention remedy, or special golf swing training aid that makes you drive like Tiger. Most of the time, though, the silver bullet just ends up in your foot instead of helping you achieve your hopes and dreams. Then again, sometimes the silver bullet does exist, and companies occasionally write to me with their versions of what it might be. Two of the most interesting bear further examination.
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KILN CONNECTION: Persistence Pays Off

I have talked about energy conservation in this column many times over the past several years. For those of you who are tired of my litany of energy tips, directions and summaries, you will be pleased to know that this installment is not about my work in that area. Instead, it is a report about the success of a hard-working manager in a plant I visited early this year.
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You know the Seinfeld episode where everything is backward? Frankly, when I look at the world today, I feel like I have been transported to Seinfeld's Bizarro World.
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