Friday, July 16, 2021

Plumbers, Pipe-fitters and Steam-fitters

 Plumbers are not Pipe-fitters.  Each has specific skill sets.

Steam Fitters...have specific skill sets that are NOT akin to Pipe Fitting and Plumbing.

POINT...if it's a STEAM job...don't hire any outfit that does not provide TENURED, SKILLED steam fitters.

Best Practices with steam fitting is not something to lay off on a jack of all trades.

The Low Bid a picture

So...when you pick the lowest bid...what's the total spend?


Monday, July 27, 2020

Slates: Equipment Monitoring

Slates: Companion Tags

Slates™ are customized anodized aluminum smart tags that are fixed to your steam trap or any desired component.  Every Slate tag is laser etched with a unique QR code, and a unique ID number, that you can easily scan using the Slate Pages app, available for iOS.  Upon scanning a Slate tag with the Slate Pages app, you will be presented with your steam trap’s or any equipment's up-to-date information.

The Slate Pages app empowers you to track and explore any desired information using custom information fields (text, URL, photos, dates, location & more). For example, Slates fixed to steam traps commonly feature the following maintenance information fields:

  • Component Name (e.g. Steam Trap #12)
  • Component Manufacturer/Model (e.g. Armstrong Series 811)
  • Photo of Component
  • Map/Location of Component
  • Date of Last Inspection/Service
  • Copy of Operating Manual
  • Purchase or Install Date
  • Warranty Expiration Date
  • Maintenance Journal

Smart Tag

Your Trap information is also available on a Web Portal!

Get an overview of all of your steam traps & other industrial components in an instant by tagging your entire facility with Slates.  Sort your steam traps by any field such as last inspection date, manufacturer/model, or component name for easier decision making.

Falied Steam Trap List

For those facility managers with a large campus, with a number of buildings, Slates allows you to capture a GPS coordinate and gives you the ability to sort and color your failed traps in a map view. (red=failed / green=good)

The Slate Pages app was designed to make information about your steam traps more easily accessible. Your team can access, view, & edit any information with the proper user permissions, set by the account owner.

If you have a steam trap survey file that you would like to incorporate SLATES...send us the data in Excel or CSV format and we will generate a presentation to illustrate the merits of SLATES for your specific facility.

To learn more about Slates Steam Trap Tags contact Rick Bockwinkel at, or call 913-579-7688.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Steam Trap Surveys. Steam Trap Management.

STEAM TRAP Energy Conservation Measure (ECM) with compelling paybacks.  

Some states offer rebates and incentives that further improve cost recovery while boosting heat integration at your facility.

click here --> Rebates and Incentives Offerings

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Root Cause of Failure: Steam Specialty Equipment

Customer Advocacy

As experts in the field of steam-rated valves, controls, pumps, and even steam traps...we are often asked to provide objective support for manufacturers who are committed to providing extraordinary customer satisfaction.  When performance challenges are made by end users (customers), ERB & Associates resolves all concerns equitably...but always with a bias to the customer.  For, without customers, there would be no manufacturers.

Monday, April 1, 2019

STEAM TRAP SURVEYS...Keeping you on the path of peak energy optimization.

Request For Quote Form --> Click -->  STS-ERB

The objective of the plenary program is to integrate specifications (product selection and sizing) and standards complemented by installation best practices.  The program includes:
  1. Site-wide steam trap study (more deliverables than a performance survey)
  2. Audit of Specifications
  3. Audit of Standards
  4. Audit of Purchases/Warehouse stock
  5. Development of integrated solutions
Several other scopes are available as listed below.  Call or email for details.
  1. Baseline
  2. Benchmark
  3. Audit
  4. Pass/Fail
  5. Performance
  6. Turnkey

Rick Bockwinkel
Phone:  913.579.7688

Saturday, June 2, 2018

OSHA Personnel Protection Standards... BURN Prevention

General Reference:  OSHA Personnel Protection Standards relating to high temperature surfaces.

OSHA does consider exposed heated surfaces, if there is a potential for injury, to be a hazard and will issue citations if employees can come into contact with such surfaces. While there are not any OSHA standards, except those that are applicable only to specific industries, which address exposed heated surfaces, there are several OSHA general standards, which address such hazards. Those standards are:

Steam and hot-water pipes. All exposed steam and hot-water pipes within 7 feet of the floor or working platform or within 15 inches measured horizontally from stairways, ramps, or fixed ladders shall be covered with an insulating material, or guarded in such manner as to prevent contact.

Steam pipes. All pipes carrying steam or hot water for process or servicing machinery, when exposed to contact and located within seven feet of the floor or working platform shall be covered with a heat-insulating material, or otherwise properly guarded.

Regardless of height, open-sided floors, walkways, platforms, or runaways above or adjacent to dangerous equipment, pickling or galvanizing tanks, de-greasing units, and similar hazards shall be guarded with a standard railing and toe board.

1910.147: The control of hazardous energy (lockout/tagout) standard covers hazardous energy, including thermal, during the servicing and maintenance of machines or equipment. Thermal energy may be dissipated or controlled, and it is the result of mechanical work, radiation, or electrical resistance. This standard addresses practices and procedures that are necessary to disable machinery or equipment and to prevent the release of potentially hazardous energy while maintenance and servicing activities are performed.

Protective equipment, including personal protective equipment for eyes, face, head, and extremities, protective clothing, respiratory devices, and protective shields and barriers, shall be provided, used, and maintained in a sanitary and reliable condition wherever it is necessary by reason of hazards of processes or environment, chemical hazards, radiological hazards, or mechanical irritants encountered in a manner capable of causing injury or impairment in the function of any part of the body through absorption, inhalation or physical contact.

The personal protective equipment standard would apply to hot surfaces where the hazards have not been eliminated through engineering or administrative controls. This standard requires employers to assess the workplace to determine if hazards that require the use of PPE are present or is likely to be present. The employer must select and have affected employees use properly fitted PPE suitable for protection against these hazards, as well as provide employee training and conduct periodic inspections to assure procedures are being followed. Suitable thermal protection would be necessary to provide employees with thermal insulation from hazardous hot pipe surfaces.

Section 5(a)(1) of the OSHAct:
Each employer shall furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment that are free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to his employees.

The private sector has specifically addressed the issue of exposed heated surfaces. The national consensus standard, "Standard Guide for Heated System Conditions that Produce Contact Burn Injuries (C 1055-92)," issued by the American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM)1 addresses this issue. The standard establishes a means by which the engineer, designer, or operator can determine the acceptable surface temperature of an existing system where skin contact may be made with a heated surface. Personal injury resulting from contact with heated surfaces can be prevented by proper design of insulation systems or the usage of other protective measures. A copy of that standard has been enclosed for your information.

Also, ANSI A13.1-1975, "Scheme for the Identification of Piping Systems," issued by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers2, is enclosed. This standard specifies the identification of the contents of piping systems on the basis of legends and color to warn personnel of outstanding hazards inherent in the materials involved.

Finally, enclosed is an article, "Preventing Burns from Insulated Pipes."3 It answers the question: "What is an acceptable temperature to ensure that no skin burn will occur if a surface is touched?" The article is based on guidelines given by the National Insulation Manufacturers Association (NIMA) and gives the amount of insulation needed to ensure that the acceptable temperature is not exceeded.

1 "Standard Guide for Heated System Surface Conditions that Produce Contact Burn Injuries (C 1055-92)." American Society for Testing and Materials, Philadelphia, PA.

2 Scheme for the Identification of Piping Systems, ANSI A13.1-1975, American National Standards Institute. New York, NY: American Society of Mechanical Engineers.

3 "Preventing Burns from Insulated Pipes," Chemical Engineering, Vol. 88, No. 15 (July 27, 1981), pp. 58-64.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Heat Exchangers Hammering? Tube Bundles Fouling and Failing?

Do you have heat exchangers (i.e. Reboilers) HAMMERING and/or losing tubes like this heat exchanger?  

This device is not evacuating condensate, thus the significant temperature differential.  This backing up of condensate in the heating space reduces surface area AND poses a potential for thermal and hydraulic shock that will damage tubes, create leaks and destroy equipment.  It also reduces throughput and can impact product quality.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Steam Trap AUDITS are not Steam Trap SURVEYS

Relatively Speaking...
You should have an Audit of your Steam Trap Survey....

When it comes to steam trap services, be careful about using the words "SURVEY" and "AUDIT" interchangeably.  There is a difference.

A Survey mandates a physical inspection…whereas an AUDIT is a study of a SURVEY.

So…what's the POINT?

If you have had a Steam Trap Survey and don't know what to do with it, we can help.

Send your steam trap survey as an editable file (i.e. Excel format) or in a PDF format and a QUICK audit of that data and a one page summary of observations and opportunities will be returned.

No obligation...

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Best Practices: Steam Control Valve Installation Illustration

The illustration provided is accurate with regard to componentry and sequencing. 

However, what is not shown is SIZING and SPECIFICATIONS. 

ERB and Associates specializes in coordinating the installation and commissioning phase of projects to ensure performance and lasting results.

Friday, February 14, 2014

When you say Steam...what do people think?

People invariably think of steam as something for cleaning or ironing...or running a locomotive.  But steam is much more pervasive than that!  Steam is the single most widely used DERIVED energy source on the planet.

Get the most out of it...and hone your competitive advantage.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Why Fix Steam Leaks?

Steam Leak Surveys provide compelling paths to energy savings with paybacks in MONTHS!!!

Monday, June 27, 2011

A Primer on BOILER PRIMING / Carryover Problems

If you are experiencing "boiler priming", sometimes called "carry over", resulting in boiler plant shut-downs and/or water hammer, there is good news.  

There are a number of solutions that can readily mitigate this.  

Contact ERB and Associates, Inc.
Richard Bockwinkel by phone: 913.579.7688 or eMail:

The PRIMER...In a boiler steam bubbles are continually bursting at the steam water interface and ejecting boiler water drops into the steam space.
As the rate of steaming increases a point is reached where the steam bubbles are arriving at the surface faster than they are being removed, they accumulate as foam.

Steam released from the bursting bubbles move towards the steam outlet carrying with it smaller water droplets and taking with it any foam.

The steam also drags the surface of the boiler water towards the steam outlet so that the water level at that point can be higher than elsewhere, depending on the positions of the level controls this may cause the feed pumps to deliver water and thus raising the water level further.

As the water level is raised the volume of the steam space is decreased, the speed of the steam across the surface is increased drawing foam and water droplets towards the steam outlet. A sudden increase in steam demand can cause a slug of boiler water to enter the steam outlet.  This is known as priming.  Operation of the boiler below its design pressure will also produce a similar effect.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


And in the foyer, in the VISITOR log that is on DISPLAY...see below...the name... 
Thomas Edison, Inventor.

Unfortunately there was no room on that page for me to sign in ;-)

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Pre-Insulated Tubing EQUALS Instant Steam/Condensate "PIPING"

Less Costly...More Satisfying.  

The beauty of pre insulated steam tubing is its ease of installation; not to mention that you can color code fluid transfer lines...steam, condensate, compressed air, nitrogen and so forth...  

The practicality is impressive.  There are less fittings required; thus less leak points...less time to install...and less contamination potential from thread sealant materials migrating into the fluid space.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

90.9% of all Electrical Power is DERIVED from STEAM

Steam is not only a POWERful energy, it is a tremendous GREEN utility that provides outstanding heat transfer as it changes phase from GAS to LIQUID...a fluid you could pour in any river and thereby improve the water quality of that stream...
Richard Bockwinkel has been optimizing steam systems since 1975.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Is this steam trap failed?

This is NOT a failed steam trap. It is overloaded.

KNOWing the difference is our expertise that saves you money by allowing you to retrofit this undersized steam trap with a properly sized steam trap, WHILE allowing you to retain the smaller capacity steam trap for other appropriate service.  As such, you save materials AND provide for proper performance of your steam trap.

Managing your steam trap population saves you energy dollars AND equipment dollars too!