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Laboratory Balances Need Special Care — Does Your Lab Weigh Up?

Posted by on Dec 2, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Does your lab have a best practice policy for the use of balances? Do all the personnel know how to care for and maintain them in perfect condition? Weighing is likely to be the most common task performed in your laboratory and plays an important role in its overall efficiency. Technological advances have ensured that today’s laboratory balances operate with much greater precision than their predecessors and are much simpler to use. Weighing times have been reduced and the balances are more adaptable. However, absolute care is necessary to maintain their accuracy and reduce the opportunity for errors. It doesn’t take very much to throw off the sensitive equipment. This guide provides a practical overview for the proper care of laboratory balances, and important information for all lab staff when handling them. The External Environment There are numerous external factors arising from the environment that influence the precise operation of an analytical balance. The major concerns are: Maintaining Uniform Temperature The balance is designed for operating in a normal range of temperatures. However, once acclimatised to the lab’s atmosphere, any sudden variation in temperature can cause problems and produce unwanted variances. Avoid these potential risks when positioning balances: drafts from windows, air conditioner vents and doors that constantly open and close exposure to direct sunlight Avoiding Vibration Ideally, balances should be positioned on a concrete floored laboratory. However, this is not always possible and a weighing table located on a solid countertop will absorb vibrations adequately. Additionally, balances should be placed well away from heavy traffic areas as these are likely to produce unwanted movement. Preventing Electrostatic Charge Often dry samples and containers will acquire an electrostatic charge which causes weighing errors. Some more sophisticated balances can detect this automatically, but placing an anti-static device or discharge ioniser next to a balance will prevent the issue. Other external factors concerning the setup for overall efficiency and safety in the laboratory should not be overlooked when locating balances. Allocating specific spaces and separating wet and dry areas is paramount. The Causes for Internal Error A number of errors can occur because of a lapse in operating procedures when weighing and handling samples. Common problems occur when sample weights do not stabilise and gradually increase or decrease. Proper Handling of Warm and Absorbent Materials Weigh hygroscopic samples rapidly and ensure they are well protected as they will quickly absorb moisture. Allow warm substances, particularly those from drying ovens, to cool in dry environments, preferably in the lab’s desiccator, to prevent any moisture absorption before weighing. Handling the Balance Naturally operators understand that careful handling is mandatory for correct weighing, but unfortunately small slip-ups happen from time to time when lab personnel are not totally alert. Common inaccuracies occur when they are not careful when performing simple tasks such as: Closing the door of the balance properly to completely isolate the sample from the lab environment Taking care not to leaving fingerprint oils on samples or containers Avoiding breathing heavily on samples Proper Maintenance Procedures It is essential to initiate a calibration schedule for all lab balances. Some models will have an internal self-calibration function, but many require a manual calibration. This is where the services of a professional calibration company are an excellent option. They can also carry out checks to...

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Why Curing Is Critical When Making Concrete

Posted by on Dec 1, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Many construction projects rely extensively on concrete. This material has excellent hardened properties, and is effective in situations where you need something that’s durable, strong and resistant to harsh environments (like salty or humid air). Concrete gets these properties from a process known as curing. Learn more about curing, and find out how this process helps create the most durable, long-lasting concrete. Concrete composition Concrete is essentially a mixture of air, Portland cement, various crushed rocks (aggregate) and water. Manufacturers mix Portland cement with water to create a paste, and then mix this paste with fine and coarse particles of rock. A chemical reaction (hydration) subsequently takes place, which allows the mixture to harden, forming the rock-like material that you will recognise as concrete. A typical concrete mix has: 10-15 percent cement 60-75 percent coarse and fine aggregate 15-20 percent water 5-8 percent air Manufacturers create strong, durable concrete by carefully mixing and proportioning these ingredients. For example, a mixture that doesn’t have enough paste to fill the gaps around the aggregate particles will result in a porous concrete. A mixture that has too much cement mix will create a smooth surface, but the concrete is likely to crack easily. High-quality concrete comes when the water-cement ratio is as low as possible.  The benefits of curing To make sure your concrete is as strong as possible, you need to control the amount of moisture the hardening concrete loses. You also need to keep the concrete within a reasonable temperature range. This process is known as curing. Curing can also prevent cracks in the concrete, and can cut the amount of cement you need in the overall mixture. In turn, this process can also help you save money and lower your carbon footprint because cement production uses a lot of energy. The most critical period for curing is immediately after you place the concrete because the sun’s heat and the wind can quickly dry out concrete. Indeed, concrete that dries naturally without curing will generally only have half the strength of cured concrete. Curing methods Construction companies generally use three curing methods: Moist curing keeps water in the concrete during the early hardening period. If you’re curing a flat surface, you can use small sand dikes to flood the concrete surface. You can also use lawn sprinklers or hoses to continuously spray or fog the concrete surface. Alternatively, you can keep the concrete surface moist with water-saturated materials. A method called sealing stops water evaporating from the hardening concrete. You can use various materials for this purpose, including plastic sheets, liquid membrane-forming compounds and impervious paper. The material you use will vary according to the surface area, your budget and the weather conditions. Steam curing accelerates the concrete’s strength by applying heat and moisture to the concrete. You can cure concrete with steam, either at high or atmospheric pressure. If you follow the process correctly, you can boost the concrete’s strength in 3 days to the same level that would normally occur after 28 days, so this method is particularly useful when you are short of time. The impact of weather The prevailing weather conditions can significantly impact the results of curing. During normal weather, most curing methods will work, as long as you keep the concrete temperature above 5 degrees. In...

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Two Steps To Turn Your Garage Into The Perfect Man Cave

Posted by on Nov 24, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

There are not many rooms that the male of the house can claim as their own, and this is where the idea of the man cave came from. According to the Official Man Cave site, the first man cave was discovered in 1992. Your garage is the perfect area to be turned into a man cave if you do not have a basement available for conversion. However, before you can head out there and claim this spot as your private sanctuary, you need to make a few improvements so that you can lounge in comfort. Here are the top two steps for a successful garage man cave conversion. Insulation and Ventilation When you originally erected the garage, you no doubt did it on a budget. Since the only thing residing in there was the car, was there any insulation added to the walls and roof cavities? If the answer to this is “no”, then you are going to be in quite the hot box when the next summer rolls around. In order to reduce some of the heat retention, and save on your air conditioning bills, there are three types of insulation you can add to your garage: A roof ventilation system. This type of system uses a fan to force the warm air out of the roof cavity of your garage. The system is attached to a temperature gauge, and when the set temperature is reached, the fan will begin removing the air from this space. This means your garage air conditioning does not have to work so hard in the summer, but the trapped warm air will help to keep the garage warm in winter. Garage door insulation. This type of insulation consists of thin foil sheets or foam panels being attached to the inside of your garage door. They are lightweight enough that they will not strain the door when it is lifting. Just like wall insulation, garage door insulation helps to keep in the heat during the winter, and reflects it out during the summer. Wall insulation. If your walls are open frames, then it is a small task to fill in the gaps with insulation bats, and attach some plyboard over the top to create an insulation barrier. The Department of Industry estimates you could see up to a 40% reduction in your energy bills with the right insulation. Once you have decided on which insulation will work best for you, it is time to give thought to power. Electrical Needs Your garage will already be fitted with electricity and power points from the time it was built. If you do not have electricity in your garage already, then this is a project where you will need to call in professional help. In Queensland, for example, WorkCover Queensland is in charge of all electrical licensing. They clearly state that “Doing electrical work without a licence is illegal in Queensland. Only an electrical contractor can do electrical work in your home, unlicensed work is unlawful.” Damage caused to your garage that can be traced to unlicensed electrical work could void your insurance policy, so it is not worth taking the risk. What you can do legally, however, is to determine what sort of electrical devices you plan to move into the man cave and where they will be...

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Stand Out From The Crowd With Christmas Flags and Banners

Posted by on Nov 17, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

No sooner has the excitement of the Melbourne cup subsided when the festive season is upon Australia. The holidays are approaching and the busy Christmas trading season begins. Your store can attract attention and take part in the festive spirit by using a unique decorative style. Why not try something different and use Christmas flags and banners to show some individual flair. This guide will give you a little more information about flags and banners and how you can use them to advantage in promoting your business. A Few Flag and Banner Essentials Outdoor flags and banners are a highly effective means of grabbing the attention of passing traffic, both motor and pedestrian. They provide a commanding display medium because their movement make them so much more effective in drawing notice than static signs. You may visualise the flag in the traditional image of a brightly coloured rectangle of woven material, usually of national significance, fluttering from a wooden flagpole. However, with today’s new technologies and materials, flags have evolved into a superb variety of shapes, materials and graphics. Teardrop and feather shapes, flexible lightweight fittings and a wide range of durable materials make them a great choice for promoting a business. Custom printed designs and graphics, together with your unique message, are a cost effective advertising media. An outdoor flag or banner, being exposed to the elements, should be made of durable material. Knitted polyester is extremely strong and is the best choice for continual outdoor display. It will not fray or fade when open to the wind, rain and intense sunlight. The range of flexible fittings and accessories make flags and banners easy to erect. With light-weight poles and bases, and simple snap together clamps, your messages can be up and flying almost instantly. Suggestions for Your Christmas Flags and Banners Advertise Your Holiday Specials Draw in clients with a large store-front banner. Have a colourful Christmas theme together with your compelling special offer. Attract plenty of notice if you have a street frontage with a series of pavement flags or banners. Each could display Christmas spirit and a particular sale item. Complement your outdoor advertising and street presence with in-store banners, custom-designed to suit your d├ęcor. If your business does not have access to a street and you are located in a mall, make optimal use of your store window to stand out from the crowd. Use Christmas banners that flutter in a slight breeze created with a cleverly concealed fan. Depending on the mall regulations you may be able to display a couple of flags at your store entrance. Promote a Special Event Use custom designed messages on your banners to promote your store opening hours. Extended Christmas trading hours and popular all night trading events are a terrific promotional tool. The novelty of shopping in the small hours attracts crowds of people. After attending the many Christmas work functions and pre-Christmas parties, people will often visit the stores in celebratory holiday mood and tend to be in generous spirits when buying presents. Budget Considerations You can be assured that whatever message you want to deliver to your customers, using flags and banners is a sure-fire attention getter. Because the materials are durable, your investment can be used not only for the current season, but...

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Five Money Saving Ideas For Business Owners Who Use Pumps

Posted by on Oct 29, 2014 in Uncategorized | 0 comments

Whether you have a pump to drain flood water out of your investment properties, to power a waterfall in your hotel lobby or for any other commercial purpose or application, you can save money while owning it. With the right strategies, your pump can perform its function without draining your bank account. If you are a business owner who uses pumps in your line of work, here are five cash-saving strategies you should employ: 1. Outsource your pump repair needs Whether you own one pump or an arsenal of pumps, outsourcing your pump repair needs can help you to save money. When you outsource your repairs, you don’t have to employee repair professionals on your own team, and that saves you payroll, insurance and other costs. If you have general maintenance professionals on staff, they can focus their efforts on other tasks while you have a professional work on your pumps. Pump repair professionals have precision tools that you may not have on hand, and they know how to use them in ways that a general repair person may not understand. This means that you don’t have to buy and maintain these tools, and it ensure that you get a quality repair every time. 2. Respond immediately after a typhoon or flood affects your pump If your pump is affected by a typhoon, make sure that you respond to the situation immediately, even faster than you would respond to a non-salt-water flood. Salt is extremely corrosive, and its destructive nature gets stronger the longer it is allowed to sit on your machinery. Even if you don’t notice damage right away, your pump will be subjected to even worse damage as the salt is allowed to sit and corrode the metals. As soon as possible, hire someone to take apart the pump, clean the salt off thoroughly and replace parts as needed. 3. Schedule regular condition analysis for your pump Outsourcing repairs is a great start, but if you really want to save money, you need to focus your efforts on preventative maintenance rather than emergency repairs. If your pumps break down in the middle of a work week, it destroys your ability to complete jobs, potentially creating a poor impression with clients whose projects may be delayed. In addition to disrupting productivity, emergency repairs can be extremely expensive. Avoid emergency repairs by scheduling regular condition analysis. As implied by its name, condition analysis evaluates the condition of your machines. Experts look at how your pumps are working, and they repair or replace anything that needs to be addressed. Then, they help you create a timeline for future repairs and estimated replacement dates. That allows you to plan ahead financially, and it eliminates the financial panic associated with an emergency repair. 4. Consider custom controls for your pumps If you have a pump that is working overtime, it will use more energy than necessary. Similarly, if you have a pump that is too large, it can also waste energy. To mitigate this situation, consider having a pump repair specialist install custom controls for you. These controls ensure that you get the exact lift and pump that you need, without wasting excess energy. Custom controls can be useful in all types of applications. For example, if you are designing a water...

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