This machinery constitutes a class which in the roughness of its operation exceeds all others. Moreover, it is machinery which for the most part is in continuous operation - 24 hours per day and 365 days in the year. Hence refinement, even such as might be permitted in the preceding class of Structural Machinery, would be fatal here. The conditions that surround plant machinery are unfavorable in the extreme to the life of any material or metal, and it is not possible to change these conditions or give more than partial protection to the operating parts. Hence the design of such machinery must proceed primarily on the assumption that abuse and neglect, grinding away of surfaces, chemical eating away of metal, flooding of parts with water gritty and corrosive, subjection to sudden bursts of flame and intense heat, etc., will in a relatively short time totally destroy, perhaps, the entire structure.
In view of the continuous nature of the working process, which must be kept up in spite of these almost insurmountable conditions, the problem in each case becomes one of expediency; and the designs and arrangement of machinery must be so worked out that operation, repair, construction, and installation can all go on simultaneously without stopping the continuous process, and with but a small degree of inconvenience to the operation of the plant.
This problem, difficult though it may seem, can be worked out successfully, as is evidenced by the great number of plants of the continuous character operating at high efficiency throughout the world. The engineering and designing skill required to accomplish this, is perhaps of the highest degree met with in modern practice, for in it is involved a working knowledge of the possibilities, if not the detailed designs of machinery included in all classes. And yet, as in the most elementary case of simple design that can be conceived, the result is accomplished in the same way, namely, by studying the conditions (analysis), developing an ideal application to those conditions (theory), and then reducing the ideal design to a practical basis (modification).