Insulation System Modeling

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Based upon the upcoming Electrical Insulation Conference paper “Simulating Insulation Discharge Processes in the Laboratory Part 2” (draft downloadable from in the “archives”), these videos show the model in action.

Good Insulation System: 

Contaminated Insulation System: 


Breaking the Chain of Bad

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In a recent forum discussion surrounding business practices a few of us were bouncing around ideas and I happened to say, “breaking the chain of bad.”  I was thinking in terms of applying root-cause-failure-analysis to the business issues.  In the world of RCFA, there is usually a chain of events that lead to a failure along with the root cause.  Often you can eliminate this chain of events by severing a link in the chain, or breaking it.


Is the concept unique?  No.  Eliyahu Goldratt uses it as a theme in his various stories demonstrating the ‘Theory of Constraints.’  When the members of the forum were discussing ‘ best places to work,’ it was characteristically seen, as well.  The chain, in this case, often involves culture change and identifying and breaking down the activities that block it.

If you begin to study the organizations that have been successful in the journey towards ‘best places to work,’ you will also see phenomenal business success and improvement in branding.  What you also see is that actions carry all the weight, not just lip service.

I have seen far too many instances where companies have paid lip-service to such things as ‘empowerment’ or other keystones to improved workspace and increased profitability, all requiring significant employee morale, but the actions do not reflect these values.  If the company must constantly use verbal re-enforcement of ‘teamwork,’ or other values, then something is not working.   It becomes even more pronounced when managers and employees are unable to make decisions, or feel the need to have to go to someone in greater authority for even the most basic decisions.  Trust that managers and employees will perform in the interest of the company and customers/clients is a necessity.

Can a chain be shattered without significant changes to employees, or other drastic measures?

Absolutely.  I’ve seen it in action and it is a wonder to behold!

When reviewing the ‘best places to work,’ a few things stand out:

–          There is a focus in reduction of employee stress.  This is HUGE!

–          Removal of distractions (goes along with stress reduction) both business and personal

–          Fun, activities, and spontaneous teambuilding that are not overly-structured

–          Active team troubleshooting and problem solving

–          Trust

The companies that have accomplished ‘best place to work’ status, such as Google, SAS, Starbucks, and similar companies, including service and manufacturing companies, have found that an employee that is both empowered and removed from distraction (focused), with the ability to break away and perform some sort of stress relief, such as exercise, games, or other entertainment, tend to be far more productive than those workers who quickly burn out through overwork and high stress environments.  These organizations also have the added benefit of a significant number of applicants, both solicited and unsolicited, with salary being lower on the list than most other companies.  The fact that the companies each provide health and other benefits (ie: companies such as Google and SAS have on-staff doctors) stands for more as well as the social interaction within a company.

An area of great concern is Trust.  In several recent studies by the American Psychological Association (APA), it is cited that more than 50% of workers do not trust their companies and over 65% identify stress as a major issue related to dissatisfaction at work.  Within the studies, 46% felt that they were fairly compensated, 43% said that any recognition, rarely, received is based upon fair and useful performance evaluations, and 47% say that they are not heard in the workplace.  Of that group, 37% say that their input is used to make changes within the organization.  42% state that their companies support healthy lifestyles and 52% say companies promote a healthy work-life balance.  More than 50% of employees in the workforce do not trust their employers.

With that in mind, the APA sees opportunities for companies improve success by reducing job stress, emphasizing a healthy lifestyle and work/life balance, and empower employees if it is even just following through on information.

When considering ‘breaking the chain of bad,’ an organization has to look at how it performs in areas such as real recognition, real empowerment, stress reduction and focus, in order to identify weakness and then break the chain.

Social Media and Internet R&D

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If it is in writing, it must be true.


That is an incorrect statement, yet everyone looks at un-vetted information as if it is the same as vetted information – ie: a conference paper for a professional society versus a regular conference or even magazine article.  Now, with the internet, everyone is a source for information, whether the source is accurate, or not.  This includes sources such as Wikipedia, which counts upon ‘crowd sourcing’ for accuracy.  In reality, people can go on and source incorrect information which would then be posted as ‘fact.’

Properly used, the internet can be a fantastic source for information.  However, the user must be able to filter the information that is available.  For instance, in both my daily job and hobby, I use the internet and video for research.  However, it is important that I have enough training and education to know if what I am looking at is accurate or not.  In addition, I pay for access to professional society and vetted medical/training sites for professional papers to perform collaborative research on the technical part of information that I am looking for or trying to vet.

The ability to discern fact from opinion/editorial requires active thinking and common sense.  For instance, if I am looking at political blogging, I can guaranty that most of the information is going to be OPED (opinion/editorial) regardless of the information being presented or sourced.  At the same time, reviewing information by manufacturers or representatives concerning their own product is not necessarily a good idea without vetting it, as well.  For instance, during the purchase of my new Chevy Volt, I had specific information on the vehicle and it’s reliability.  However, there were some issues with the tires.  When reviewing the manufacturer’s site and video, including the tire manufacturers, there were no issues cited.  When performing a Google (which is actually now a verb for internet search) I found site after site identifying complaints about random blow-outs of the tires at highway speeds.  This provided enough information to determine that the risk was high enough to switch the tires to another brand with similar rolling efficiency as the ones installed.

The power of the internet should not be left aside.  The ability to perform research with a few keystrokes is far too powerful to ignore!  When performing RCFAs and looking into past experience with failures, accessing discussions to obtain others’ opinions on an issue, selection of product based upon experiences by others, access to experts world-wide, the internet cannot be beat.  In a recent issue, I had just a partial model number on a component from an electric motor.  I was able to enter the description and partial model number which helped identify the manufacturer.  Armed with the information that I had, I was then able to contact the technical support group at the manufacturer to obtain the information that I required.  All of this was completed in minutes versus hours or days.

Social networking through groups such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or open forums, is valuable for any number of reasons, both personally and professionally.  However, you must be very, very careful to ensure that the information that you are sharing from these sites is vetted before you use it.  Just like email, there are very few people in this world that will provide $5 million to a random stranger through email, there are few people who will not color information with their opinion.  When you are asking questions and performing research, you need to ensure that you are obtaining that information from an unclouded source or an organization that provides vetted information from experts in that field.

Evaluating Electrical Insulation Life

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Abstract— In the design of electric machines for a variety of applications such as hybrid electric vehicles, severe and regular duty applications, it is important to determine the reliability of the machine.  The insulation system, in particular, is subject to multi-factor stresses including electrical, thermal and mechanical that impact the reliability of the machine.  In this paper we will present a model for the analysis of multi-factor aging an insulation system developed to estimate the reliability of machine insulation systems in the design phase.

Select ‘Archives’ Above to Download the Article!


April 2014 Updates and the Chevy Volt

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It has been a busy 4 or 5 weeks, so those of you who were wondering; no, I did not send any newsletters for a little while.

Over the past few months I was a site coach at the Arnold Classics for powerlifting in Ohio, I have competed successfully in the APF/AAPF Illinois State Powerlifting Championships taking gold in both masters and open, replaced the Hybrid Tahoe, traveled, presented, researched, and had my leg cleared for basic strength training.  We also published “Ernie Frantz’s Ten Commandments of Powerlifting” by the gentleman who was instrumental in moving forward modern powerlifting in the 1980s.

The Arnolds adventure can be viewed:


[Above: Barzeen Vaziri (1000lb+ squatter); Howard Penrose; Tiny Meeker (1103lb benchpresser)]

Adventures at the Illinois State Powerlifting Championships can be viewed:

Yes, the article does include the radical change from a large Hybrid Tahoe to the Chevy Volt.  It is an excellent vehicle with only one problem – I have limited locations to charge it.  Does that make a difference?  With the smaller gas tank I have to stop every 250 miles (I like to stop at about ¼ tank) to refill in-town driving using the on-board generator.  With a full charge I have gone as far as 37 miles in-town.  I have an affinity for this vehicle having taken a small part in its development – not as much as the Tahoe, but a little bit.  At 110,000 miles I started to run into problems with the mechanical components of the Tahoe that relate directly to the rather rough life I subjected it to.  The Volt is a much more ‘relaxed’ vehicle… kind of.  It is a sports car with the pick up that would be associated with such a vehicle, especially when the ‘sport’ selection is picked.  The only major change I implemented upon purchase of the vehicle was to replace the Goodyear ‘eco’ tires and replace them with Bridgestone ‘eco’ tires.  These are tires with a much lower ‘rolling resistance’ that improves mileage and efficiency.  The Bridgestones are quieter plus a review of the vehicle and stock Goodyear tires indicated (in online reviews by end-users) that they have a number of instances of having ‘split’ or failed catastrophically at highway speeds.  The Bridgestones did not receive such a review, although were found to be slightly less efficient than the stock tires.


Yeah, I’m thinking like that.

Dreisilker installed an outlet at the company sign with plans to put in electric vehicle outlets in the future.  Pretty cool when your company springs for that following the purchase.  On the other hand, I live in a condo and we are still working on permission to install the charger.  Difference operating on charge versus fuel?  Not that much.  You can barely hear the generator and the acceleration and performance does not change noticeably.

Most important, the cockpit is big enough for me to relax comfortably and in a few three hour drives, it is almost as relaxing as the Tahoe was.  Lastly – the techy part of the car is just plain cool!  Heck, I can even completely control many of the aspects of the vehicle live over my cell phone including remote starting and checking on the status of the fuel and charge.  I am still exploring all the cool features of the onboard computer and entertainment system.  I’m looking forward to the next long drive!

I’ve started training the injured leg by performing special deadlifts as well as other specialty exercises.  The doctor and I discussed the condition of the tendon at the ten month point and decided it was time to rebuild the leg.  At the 12 month point, we plan on releasing the leg to start squat rehab.  The plan is to return to full powerlifting competition at the 2015 Illinois State Championships.

I did also get a chance to visit both of my sons during the Doble Conference during the first week of April:

The release of Ernie Frantz’s book met with global acclaim both in eBook and hard cover by powerlifters and prospective powerlifters and strength athletes.

Once things settle a bit the newletter will be bi-monthly with a number of technical projects underway there is plenty of material for publishing!


Howard W Penrose, Ph.D., CMRP