Monday, August 25, 2008

Paul Holstein, COO of, offers expert tips on what makes a hand tool ergonomic, and how to choose the right one for your body and the job.
Drop into any hardware store or home improvement centre, and you're likely to find aisles full of tools labeled "ergonomic" But what exactly does that mean for consumers? Simply put, ergonomics is the science of designing and producing tools, furniture, and other work-related implements that improve a worker's efficiency while reducing discomfort, fatigue, and risk of injury.

Ergonomically enhanced tools can include helpful features like angled handles, padded handgrips and nonslip coatings. However, no matter how impressive a tool's design is, it's almost impossible for it to be universally ergonomic since human physiques and project applications vary greatly from one to the next. Whether you're shopping for ergonomic tools or just trying to select the right one for the job from an existing collection, the key things to consider are whether or not the tool fits your hand, how well it suits the job being done, and whether or not it eases your work and prevents you from straining in ways that could lead to injury.

To make the decision process a little easier, offers the following guidelines for choosing the right ergonomic hand tool for your body type - and the job at hand. Because finger size and placement differs from person to person, avoid using tools with handles that have built-in finger grooves. When fingers don't naturally align with grooves, excessive pressure from the raised groove edges can cause discomfort and injury. Choose tools with handles that are covered in a soft material, like foam or flexible plastic.

Cushioned handles are not only comfortable for long hours of use, but they provide a much firmer grip and cut down on slippage. Hard-handled tools can be quickly and inexpensively converted by just adding a sleeve. Ensure tool handles are free from sharp edges and seams that might irritate or cut the hands. When selecting double-handed gripping and cutting tools, opt for ones with spring-loaded handles that will automatically return to the open position. If you need to forcefully pinch or grip an object for an extended amount of time, prevent muscle strain by switching from standard pliers to a clamp or grip.

Only use tools that allow you to work with your wrist in a straight position. For tasks that require force, such as torquing screws and nuts, hammering, and heavy chiseling, choose single handle tools with handle diameters that range from 1.25 to 2in. Larger handles allow fingers to wrap comfortably around the tool in a power grip, which prevents slippage and reduces stress and impact on hands, fingers and wrists. For tasks that call for more precision and delicacy (like fine chiseling and driving miniature screws), opt for single-handle tools whose grips fall within the 0.25 to 0.5in range.

The smaller diameter handles make it easy to comfortably grip tools between the fingertips without overexerting fingers, knuckle joints, or hand muscles. Just as grip diameter affects work with single-handle tools, the grip span of pliers, snips, cable cutters and other double-handled tools can either make your job easier or cause you hand fatigue. For maximum comfort and efficiency for tasks that require more force (like gripping with large pliers, cutting wires, or snipping through sheet metal), choose tools with a maximum "open" grip span of 3.5in, and a "closed" grip span no less than 2in across.

Detailed jobs that involve grasping small parts and components with pincers, tweezers or tongs are best done with double-handle tools whose grip spans range from no less than 1in (closed) to no more than 3in (open). When a work space is tight but the task at hand requires a good deal of force, opt for "power grip" tools (with handle diameters from 1.25 to 2in), which are grasped with the entire hand instead of just pinched between the fingertips. This type of grip lets you finish the job in far less time, with far less physical stress. Tool length should also be matched to space constraints.

Excessively long tools can force you to assume awkward work postures and wrist positions when you're trying to reach components in cramped areas. Instead, choose short-handled tools that give you the freedom to meet the target work area directly, while keeping your wrist straight. The palms of your hands are full of pressure-sensitive nerves and blood vessels, and in order to avoid damaging these during high force tasks, it's important to make sure that the handles of your tools are long enough that their ends won't press into your palms.

To measure, hold your hand palm-up, with fingers together and thumb against the side of your hand. As long as the tool's handle is longer than the widest part of your hand (the span from the outer edge of your pinkie to the outer edge of your thumb), it's safe to use. offers a wide assortment of ergonomic hand tools, including: insulated pliers, insulated screwdrivers, Klein Tools insulated nut drivers, and ergonomic Ty-Rap cable tie guns.

Monday, August 18, 2008

BHR Group has completed development and installation of two intensified full size biodiesel reactor systems. Drawing on its chemical process design expertise in mixing systems, process intensification and scale up, BHR Group has completed development and installation of two intensified full size biodiesel reactor systems. Using its in-depth understanding of chemistry, chemical engineering, kinetics, mass transfer, mass and energy balances BHR Group has ensured these units consume some 70% less power than batch systems.

The subsidiary BHR Biofuels has successfully installed and demonstrated the process intensified reactors at a chemical plant producing biodiesel from waste and virgin oils. Both the esterifier and the transesterifier models were producing biodiesel (on specification) in-line with the EN14214 standards with all feed stocks. Dr Richard Jackson, BHR Biofuels Technical Director, explains: "The novel process intensification technology means that the Transesterifier reaction time is less than 1 minute to completion".

"In addition the continuous nature of these reactors means that capital and operating costs are kept to a minimum and as they have no moving parts within the reactor the maintenance costs are lower". "The overall objective of the project was to prove the technology at production scale which these site trials did very well, and because the system operates at steady state, the system was much less operator intensive than the original batch reactors, making work at the factory both quieter and safer".

Friday, August 15, 2008

Steering wheel torque sensor fits in place of a standard steering coupler to measure the driver-applied torque on the system. The Techmor SW-1 steering wheel torque sensor is designed to accurately measure driver-applied torque on the steering wheel. This allows driver "feel" to be correlated with an actual value.

A direct replacement for a standard steering coupler, this unit provides a millivolt output for torque applied in either direction. The SW-1 can easily be mated to the Techmor SG-1strain gauge amplifier for 0-5V output.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The UltraFlex hose is highly resistant to corrosion and offers outstanding working and burst pressures. PCL has launched a lightweight ultraflexible hose it reckons is the ideal companion for its range of handheld air tools Ideal for applications and environments where space is at a premium, yet complete freedom of movement is required, the UltraFlex air hose is a superb alternative to the traditional inflexible and heavy hose.

Manufactured in a quality three-ply construction, using highly flexible PVC and polyester yarn reinforcement, the UltraFlex hose is highly resistant to corrosion and offers outstanding working and burst pressures. UltraFlex also has a very good "memory", which enables bends and kinks to straighten out so that the hose can return to normal after use. Available with a blue cover and black inner tube in 30m coils, UltraFlex is a convenient and cost-effective piece of equipment designed to make life easier for the user.

The UltraFlex Air Hose complements PCL's extensive range of air tools, which includes everything from impact wrenches and ratchets, to sanders and grinding tools, all designed to meet the rigorous needs of a modern workshop. The portfolio has recently been extended with the addition of the Prestige range of high quality products, featuring low vibration, low noise, ergonomic grip and higher performance.

System includes precision aerospace pressure sensors, transmitters, receiver and all necessary mounting equipment in a carrying case. The Techmor TP-1 allows accurate measurement of tyre pressures while on the track or the road Outputting at 4Hz, the TP-1 provides a smooth datastream that makes subtle pressure variations on track visible. A transmitter mounted to each hub sends wireless messages to a single receiver mounted inside the car.

The pass-through titanium valve-stem sensor allows pressures to be checked and adjusted without removing hardware. Systems can be quickly installed on any standard Nascar hub and switched between wheel sets and cars with no extra equipment. Outputs are available in analogue, RS232 or CANbus. The system includes precision aerospace pressure sensors, transmitters, receiver and all necessary mounting equipment in a carrying case.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

The TTxGP will provide an opportunity for innovators in racing and clean emission technologies to compete and prove to the world that being green does not mean being slow. The Institution Of Engineering & Technology (IET) is set to take part in a new chapter in racing history as it becomes the exclusive institutional partner involved in the world's first clean emissions Grand Prix The TTxGP, which will take place in June 2009 on the famous Isle of Man TT motorcycling circuit, will provide an exciting opportunity for leading global innovators in racing and clean emission technologies to compete and prove to the world that being green does not mean being slow.

According to Robin McGill, IET Chief Executive: "The Isle of Man TT race is famous across the world and we are delighted to be part of this new chapter of racing history". "The IET is a global organisation, representing 150,000 members in 127 countries across the world and through this partnership we can combine the greatest road racing circuit with state of the art alternative technologies".

"Alternative fuels are crucial to the future of motorsport and innovative events like the TTxGP will inspire our next generation of engineers, who will be responsible for developing and designing the green vehicles that many of us will be using in the future". "This partnership with the TTxGP puts the IET at the forefront of this work".

Simon Maddison, Fellow of the IET, and Technical Director of TTxGP, said: "The TTxGP is an enormously exciting prospect from an engineering perspective". "It comes at a time when we are reaching a tipping point in the search for and acceptance of alternative energy sources". "The TTxGP provides a fantastic way of promoting and popularising these new technologies, serving to inspire young engineering professionals to turn their skills to tackling the pressing energy issues of the modern world".

The world's first clean emissions Grand Prix was launched at a special event at the Science Museum on Tuesday 5th August. Speakers included John Shimmin, Minister of Local Government and the Environment, Isle of Man Government, Azhar Hussain, Founder, and Robin McGill, Chief Executive and Secretary, IET.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Sola/Hevi-Duty offers a broad range of transformers to meet many applications. These dry-type transformers are offered encapsulated, ventilated or non-ventilated, 600 Volt Class, isolation type, single and three phase, through 500 kVA. Indoor and outdoor models are available.

General Purpose Transformers can be located close to the load. No vaults are required for installation and no long, expensive feeder lines are needed. Common applications include inductive and resistive loads such as motors, lighting and heating. Hevi-Duty general purpose transformers are manufactured to meet applicable industry standards, are listed in accordance with UL 506 and UL 1561 specifications and are classified as isolation transformers. The family of transformers includes:
  • Distribution Transformers
    • General Purpose

    • Low Temperature Rise

    • K-Factor

    • Copper Wound
  • Automation Transformers

    • General Purpose

    • Hazardous Location

    • Buck-Boost

    • Drive Isolation

    • Industrial Control