Worker Productivity: Take a Break

Find out how you fare on some low-key quizzes

By Traci Purdum, senior digital editor

All work and no play makes for grumpy, lackluster employees. Indeed, numerous studies prove taking a quick break at work boosts productivity and helps get the creative juices flowing. And according to a study on the benefits of taking breaks published in the Harvard Business Review, working on a task for too long can leave you feeling overwhelmed, making it easy to lose focus. Stopping for a short time allows you to think globally for a few seconds and helps you stay mindful of objectives.

Always happy to help our readers, we’ve got you covered in the break department. For years, we’ve lightened your day with our Comical Processing cartoons and now we’ve added quizzes to the mix. Our inaugural quiz asked: “Are you a chemical engineer whiz or wannabe?” And to date, nearly 1,500 of you have ventured to find out. You can take the quiz now.

What we’ve learned is that we have a lot of smart readers. However, some areas need work. First the good news: When asked what pollutants are formed from coal combustion, nearly all respondents knew their stuff (94%). The answer: nitrogen oxides, particulates and sulfur oxides. Several respondents (81%) also were privy to the most commonly used rubber vulcanizing agent — sulfur.

Now on to where work needs to be done. Tuning coefficients seem to be troublesome for respondents, with only 27% answering our question on which statement is not true of tuning coefficients. If you need a refresher, I suggest reading “Demystifying PID Tuning Coefficients.

Flow was another area that offered surprising, and perhaps disappointing, results. Our question asking what flow is proportional to (answer: potential X conductance) was only answered correctly by 28% of the quiz takers. To help you ace future quizzes, we have several eHandbooks dedicated to flow that may be of interest. Here’s the most-recent: Foil Fluid Fiascoes.

Speaking of future quizzes, we’ve crafted part two of the chemical engineer whiz or wannabe test. You can challenge yourself here.

And if you need a longer break (our quizzes, on average, take less than five minutes to complete), why not check out our free on-demand webinars from 2016. Granted, you still need to stay focused during these webinars, but it’s an hour dedicated to learning and sometimes that’s just as relaxing. One to check out: Energy Efficiency: Taking a Systems Approach with Impact Analysis, which was presented by Riyaz Papar, director, Global Energy Services, Hudson Technologies Company, and Chemical Processing's former energy columnist. Papar noted that impact analysis is very important and refers to a study that represents the impact (savings or increase) due to changes in operating conditions, best practices, energy-efficiency projects, etc. The question that should always be asked: Is this system or component going to see a difference in its operation if a project is implemented?

And if you’re one of the folks who need a refresher course on flow, I suggest you watch this on-demand webinar: How to Tackle Difficult Flow Measurements. Brian Reynolds, analytical product manager at Flexim, an Edgewood, N.Y.-based provider of non-invasive ultrasonic flow measurement, presented the webinar. Reynolds outlined various measurement technologies new and old, their strengths and limitations, and how new metering design developments may help to solve difficult process challenges.

Additional on-demand webinars cover a variety of useful topics, including dust control, asset management, process safety, motor and drives, wastewater, pollution control and design. You can access them here.

Traci-bio-photo.jpgTraci Purdum is Chemical Processing's senior digital editor. You can email her at