Computers, or new technology as a lot of people like to refer to them, have changed a lot of things in our lives. At home, the computer has become as much a part of our lives as the telephone, radio and television. We send e-mail back and forth and participate in online chat sessions just as naturally as we used to have conversations over the backyard fence. Almost every kind of popular music is available online. And, it won't be long before we get all of our news and entertainment programming over the world wide web.
Computers also have had a major impact on the ammonia refrigeration industry. Most modern refrigeration systems have computerized controls. Through the use of modems and dial-up connections, a contractor located in Yakima, Wash., can monitor and adjust the operation of a system located in Gainesville, Fla. All of these changes have require some getting used to.
Another major change that has occurred is the job description for the average ammonia refrigeration operator/technician. Time was when most operators came straight off the farm or out of the armed services. They had the right kind of mechanical aptitude and a good work ethic. More often than not, they worked on the same ammonia refrigeration system for most of their careers. They were familiar with the facility's operational idiosyncrasies and they knew just what valve to turn, and how much to turn it, on a hot and humid day to keep the system operating at top efficiency. Now, computers have taken over a lot of the job of adjusting system settings to compensate for fluctuations in the plant refrigeration load. These days, operators/technicians have to be equally at home in front of a computer terminal as they are with a wrench in their hands. All this new technology has made systems much safer and much more energy efficient and, as my grandchildren say, "That's very cool."
But even with all this automation, problems can arise. Operators, contractors and design engineers need to know where to find the solution to a problem when they don't know the answer themselves. For the past 30 years or so, most folks in our industry have maintained a bookshelf that is lined with the bulletins, standards and technical papers published as proceedings from the annual meetings of the International Institute of Ammonia Refrigeration. These publications contain a wealth of technical information, case studies, design information and safety procedures. But researching a topic sometimes required a significant investment of time trying to find the answer to a problem that may be plaguing a system. That's about to change.
IIAR is now offering online access to electronic files of Bulletins R1, 107, 108, 109, 110, 111, 112, 114, 116, the current and three previous editions of IIAR 2, and The Ammonia Data Book. By the end of the year, all of the technical papers will be added, as will each new standard as it is published. There are several currently in development.
IIAR is calling this new technical resource The Ammonia Refrigeration eLibrary. It will work like an online subscription service. Using your name, member ID number and password, you will be able to access the eLibrary through a new icon located in the upper right corner of the IIAR homepage, www.iiar.org. Each publication is keyword searchable individually or collectively. In a matter of minutes, an individual can locate and review specific topics. Access to this new area of the website is restricted to IIAR members only.
Back in the 1970s when a group of us sat around in a Philadelphia hotel room and came up with the idea of forming IIAR, we believed it would be an industry leader, providing many benefits, including the latest in safe, energy-efficient engineering information for industrial ammonia refrigeration systems. This new member benefit is something beyond anything we could have dreamed of back then.
This is more than a desktop resource. All you need is a PDA or laptop with wireless Internet access, your name, member ID number and password, and you'll be able to carry the entire library with you on the job. It's the kind of resource that every facility operator, contractor, project manager, design engineer and consultant should have these days.
There have always been a lot of good reasons to join IIAR. But this one is one of the best to come along in a few years. I am convinced that it will motivate a lot more people to join. That can only be good for IIAR and ultimately for the entire ammonia industrial refrigeration industry. PCE