One Degree of Difference

Have you ever thought about the difference one degree can make? When the air temperature is 99, could 100 feel that much hotter? Probably not. A hot summer’s day is a hot summer’s day whether it’s at 99 or 100. But there are times when one degree of difference can and does change things dramatically.

Think about water for a minute. When water is at 211 degrees, it's hot; however, when you increase the temperature by just one more degree things really change. With one more degree water begins to boil. When water boils, steam forms, and steam power changed the world during the Industrial Revolution. Steam was the force that began to power manufacturing and change lives, and all it took was one more degree.

It takes a lot of energy to get water to 211 degrees, and with a little more effort, raising it one single degree, you get the true payoff for all of your initial effort. In this case, you get steam – the energy that used to power the world. The result of that extra effort is exponentially more valuable than the energy it took to get the water to just below boiling.

At the other end of the spectrum, water at 33 degrees is just plain cold. However, if you reduce its temperature just one more degree, you change its state again. Water that was just plain cold now freezes. Ice helps preserve food; ice cools your drink on that hot summer day; ice makes hockey possible. Precipitation at 33 degrees is miserable, but when the temperature is one degree colder, that precipitation turns the world into a winter wonderland.

Think about athletic races. One additional degree of effort or even one fraction of a degree of effort can make a huge difference. The difference between winning and losing is often a second or less. In the recent Olympics, many athletes learned that the difference between a gold medal and finishing in fourth place, off the podium, depended only on a small degree of extra effort.

What does this mean for your organization? You probably have countless areas where you can make great improvements with just a little more effort. If you can produce 60 widgets an hour, can you increase that to 61? If your total throughput time is ten days, what's keeping you from reducing it to nine and a half? Can your sales representatives make one or two more customer calls a day, and can your accounting department send two or three more invoices every day? The answer to all these questions is: Very likely, and with a little more effort, the results can be astounding.

You've already expended the energy to get where you are (like water at 211 or 33 degrees), but most of us can't see how close we are to really making improvements… improvements that may not change the world but will certainly impact your bottom line. One degree really can make a difference.


At MPower we specialize in helping you figure out where a little bit of difference in your process can make a huge difference in your plant. Contact us so we can put the measurements in place to help you turn your hot water into real steam.