Archive | May, 1998


3:39 am
May 2, 1998
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What Is Asset Management

While driving through northern Arizona, I noticed a prominent sign in front of a real estate office: “Specialists in Asset Management.” Many people are using the term asset management to describe a maintenance process. Several suppliers are promoting products and services for asset management. Very possibly a product or system with asset management in its name has been proposed or even demonstrated as the solution to your challenges. But just what is asset management?

For the answer let’s return to the real estate office. In their case asset management clearly is not connected to equipment maintenance–they don’t have any. In their world, asset management is achieving greatest return from a property (land or house). Return is measured in only one way–money.

The conclusion is clear: asset management is directed to gaining greatest monetary return from some type of asset. In addition to real estate, the term asset management can be and is applied to stocks, savings accounts, and even things like hotel rooms and hospital beds. In the latter two areas, asset management means maintaining a high level of occupancy to maximize the return on investment. Return is measured strictly in financial terms.

In the maintenance field we hear similar sounding terms: asset utilization and asset effectiveness. Both are essentially defined as availability times production output. Returning to the motel analogy, I suggest that asset utilization is keeping the rooms filled. But that objective can be accomplished in several ways, low pricing for example. Rooms are full, but you are not making money. Asset management is thus the Jerry McGuire version of asset utilization: “Show me the money!”

By now I hope you are convinced that financial return is the distinguishing element of asset management. Compared to other like-sounding terms, asset management demands that resources and efforts be directed toward maximizing the financial return on the assets, whatever they might be. With this definition, the realtor, motel manager, and maintenance mechanic are all working toward the same goal: ending the day with more money than they started with.

If we are in agreement so far, let’s next try to identify the essential elements of a system or process to accomplish asset management.

An asset management product or system must have an integral financial model of your specific business conditions that provides an objective means to identify and evaluate opportunities, prioritize and manage resources, and measure results. The model must be able to tell you the return from any given investment on an overall and individual basis under various assumptions. The ability to play “what if” is essential. And in a complex process or manufacturing environment this may not be an easy task. Market conditions, variation of product margins, value of reliability and availability, impact of safety and environmental violations, and the effect of reduced efficiency are just a few of the many factors that must be accommodated in the financial model required for asset management.

The motel owner has it easy. Multiply average occupancy by the room rate and subtract operating expenses, including the share to your friendly state and national governments. You’d better have enough left over to pay off the mortgage and end up with a return on funds invested that is higher than you can obtain at your neighborhood bank. Otherwise why be in business in the first place?

The preceding discussion is a greatly simplified description of the method used to calculate economic value added (EVA). In my opinion EVA will become the favored method of scoring asset management.

As a final question, can the principles of asset management be applied throughout an enterprise? The answer must be yes. Everyone must be aware of and focused on his or her role in maximizing monetary value. Asset management must demonstrate that saving money today by purchasing inferior equipment or components and accepting substandard practices will likely have a very poor return when analyzed objectively over any reasonable period of time. Thus, the top to bottom financial analysis tools that must be included in asset management and asset management systems will go a long way toward eliminating the ill-advised decisions that are so ruinous to effective maintenance and assuring all within an enterprise are pulling toward a common goal. MT
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3:37 am
May 2, 1998
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Playing Catch Up

bob_baldwinI love technology. But recently I have been having heretical thoughts that technology may be getting too far ahead of ordinary business practices. However, I kept those thoughts under control as I walked into COMDEX Spring 98 in Chicago’s McCormick Place.

The event is the daughter of the premier computer and information technology trade show and conference held each fall in Las Vegas. The exhibits put up by major companies were large, well designed, and expensive, and they showcased some interesting technology.

Among the items that happened to catch my eye were a hybrid CD-ROM/Internet application that could be useful for training and troubleshooting; a low-cost Java application that allows users to view CAD drawings over an intranet or the Internet; an industrial control application running under Windows CE; and a variety of mobile communications solutions running on all sorts of tiny devices. But, overall, these booths didn’t seem as exciting as those displaying manufacturing-oriented technologies at the National Manufacturing Week event a month before.

Even though this show was a bit less than I expected, I was still having fun until mid-day when I sat down at a table in the back of the hall to eat a slice of Chicago-style pizza. A young man sitting across from me inquired about my badge. I told him that I represented MAINTENANCE TECHNOLOGY, the magazine of plant equipment maintenance and reliability technology. His response: “Is maintenance so advanced that there would be something of interest at this show?”

I was not surprised that he didn’t understand maintenance because most people don’t. So I launched into my basic explanation of modern maintenance practice. I was shocked, however, when I found out that he worked for the head of maintenance for a school district. He knew nothing of planning and scheduling, preventive maintenance, or predictive maintenance. He was amazed that there was low-cost software for the personal computer that could help manage maintenance. To him, maintenance consisted of answering complaints by dispatching a handyman with a bag of tools. Although my luncheon companion was computer savvy, he was not in a position to use any of the advanced maintenance technologies until his department got its maintenance act together.

Perhaps the real issue is not that technology is getting too far ahead, but whether you know enough about your business that you can take advantage of the technology. Where are you? Leveraging technology or playing catch up? MT

Thanks for stopping by,


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7:06 pm
May 1, 1998
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Ultrasound and Infrared Make An Effective Team

Corona and tracking do not produce readably detectable infrared emissions but they do produce ultrasound that can be detected by scanning switchgear door seals and air vents. (Photo courtesy UE Systems.)

Why do infrared and ultrasound work so well together? One answer is to look at our own senses. The more senses we use, the better we are able to navigate through our world.

To expand on this concept, infrared inspection and ultrasonic inspection are expansions of the senses of sight and hearing. Infrared “sees” what we cannot see; ultrasound “hears” what we cannot hear.

By combining them we advance our ability to detect problems. In essence, infrared will detect changes in emissions related to heat characteristics of equipment it “looks” at, while ultrasound senses changes in sound patterns. Without getting into the basics of each technology, let’s examine some of the common areas of application for these two inspection methods.

Steam systems
There are many opportunities to use both ultrasound and infrared in steam system inspections. A simple way to determine when to use a specific instrument is to look at the system from an objective perspective. Which components have more of a tendency to produce a change that is heat related and which are more sound related?

As an example, the loss of or weakening of insulation is measured best by determining heat-related changes. Pressure is calculated by checking temperature changes upstream and downstream of a valve or steam trap. Sound-related processes are best tested by using ultrasound. Valve leakage, steam trap inspection, and conditions such as cavitation in pumps are examples of sound-related inspection.

Heat or infrared alone cannot be used to validate steam trap operation. There are many subtle and not-so-subtle pressure changes that occur in and around the steam trap that can effect changes in temperature which can in turn lead to a false diagnosis.

Since a trap produces a distinct sonic signature, listening to the sound of the trap as it cycles can accurately determine the trap condition. Many steam trap manufacturers refer to this as a “positive” test. Infrared is useful in determining blockage conditions and whether a trap is on-line because the former will indicate a lower temperature than a working trap in the same area and the latter will be observed as producing heat. Using both infrared and ultrasound together will help make certain that the most common conditions of trap operations can be thoroughly inspected.

Using the two technologies in valve condition inspection also can provide useful information. In some cases, heat can be used to determine valve condition, while in other situations, the fact that a valve leak can be isolated and heard will help improve the accuracy of the diagnosis. By using an ultrasonic sensor’s contact probe to touch a valve upstream and downstream, valve leakage or valve blockage can be identified. A leaking valve will be heard through the headphones as a gurgling or rushing sound while blockage will produce no sound. Valve blowby in steam systems will produce a higher temperature reading downstream. Ultrasound will tend to find smaller leaks, especially when the fluid does not have a higher temperature.



Loose connections and damaged conductors, electrical problems that produce increased resistance resulting in higher temperature of affected elements, are easily detected by inspection with infrared thermography. (Photo courtesy FLIR Systems, Inc.)

Heat exchangers
The two technologies can be utilized quite effectively in the inspection of heat exchangers. An infrared scan of a heat exchanger can indicate heat-related changes that can be diagnosed as anything from flow blockage of the cooling element to tube leakage. Once the condition is spotted with the scan, an ultrasonic detector can be incorporated to confirm a diagnosis and, in some instances, locate a leaking tube.

The ultrasonic inspection is performed while the exchanger is either on partial load or off line. By pressurizing, or by keeping a vacuum on the shell side, the headers of the exchanger can be removed and the tube sheet scanned to identify the leaking tube. A leaking tube produces a turbulent, rushing sound as air flows from the high-pressure to the low-pressure side of the tube leak.

The sound will be isolated to the leaking tube and will be heard as the scanning module passes over it. Combining infrared and ultrasound provides a fast, accurate way to keep on top of heat exchanger problems.

Underground leaks
Underground water leaks of any type are a very difficult proposition. Unless the leak is so gross as to produce an obvious wet pool or bubbling around the site, many days can be spent trying to locate the source. There are often situations in which inspectors have been called to locate a leak after most other methods have failed. This experience indicates that not one method works all the time. However, utilizing ultrasound and infrared together can produce effective results.

In an actual event, a condensate return line in a major airport was reported to be leaking. The area of investigation covered about 3 miles of piping located approximately 6 ft below the asphalt surface. Standard methods using listening devices that detected only the audible range were not successful. To find the leak quickly, a method incorporating ultrasound and infrared was devised.

Recognizing that condensate was heated water, it was determined that a late-night scan would be effective because the heated water would be easier to locate with the cooler ground around it. A scan of the piping system as determined by piping diagrams was performed. Every hot spot that could be suspected as a leak site was marked.

Metal wave-guides were then positioned in the ground over the marked hot spots. A contact probe from the ultrasonic detector was placed directly on the wave-guide and an operator listened for a flow. The IR/UL inspection began shortly after midnight and continued until 4 a.m. Identified leaks were repaired before the end of that same day.

Motors and pumps
Here we have a combination of electrical, mechanical, and fluid flows that produce heat and sound. While the condition of most bearings can be diagnosed through changes in sound as determined by ultrasound, as well as by vibration analysis, there are also IR scans that detect heat-related problems.

According to NASA research, the earliest indicator of incipient bearing failure is a change in the amplitude of a monitored ultrasonic frequency. Ultrasonic inspection also can reveal lack of lubrication and prevent overlubrication.

Bad motor coils, windings, stators, or rotors can cause an increase in resistance and will produce heat that is readily detected with an infrared scan. In addition, overlubrication, misaligned belts, and bearings in advanced failure states can be quickly spotted due to the heat generated by friction and metal fatigue.

Pumps running dry, plugged feeds, and distorted vanes are all candidates for infrared detection. Cavitation, which is caused by air bubbles being trapped in fluid and then bursting under pressure, can destroy a pump or valve over time. Because these bursting bubbles produce a distinct sound, ultrasound inspection can trend the cavitation from onset. As it continues toward destructive levels, there is a combination of sound and heat.

Hydraulic valves and actuators
Heat is a good indicator of a leaking hydraulic valve. The forces of fluid moving through a leak can produce heat as a by-product. This has been a useful effect in aircraft inspection.

However, not every leaking hydraulic valve will produce heat, and the proximity of valves in certain configurations can lead to a potentially inaccurate diagnosis due to heat (and in some instances sound) transference. This inspection process can be aided by incorporating ultrasound with infrared. A valve, when leaking, will produce a louder sound downstream. By comparing infrared results and ultrasonic readings taken upstream with those from downstream, an operator can quickly make a positive diagnosis.

Electrical equipment
This is the most common area of application. While infrared detects problems related to resistance and heat, the ultrasound detector can be used to locate sonic-related problems. Corona and tracking in its early stages do not produce readably detectable infrared emissions but they do produce ultrasound.

In addition, with enclosed switchgear and transformers where surface heat cannot be relied upon for diagnosis, scans can be aided by using ultrasound to listen. This can be accomplished by scanning switchgear door seals and air vents while listening to the sonic pattern. Corona produces a steady buzzing sound while tracking has a gradual build-up followed by a sudden drop off of signal. Arcing is heard as sudden starts and stops.

Inspection time can be greatly sped up by utilizing IR and UL scanning. Since switchgear can be inspected by scanning doors and air vents, there is no need to open each compartment.

In all types of mechanical function, changes in heat and sound are the most reliable indicators of potential problems. Fluid flow patterns, line blockage, and leaking valves and steam traps are best-diagnosed through IR/UL inspection. Hydraulic systems produce sound and heat that can be observed through an integrated approach, as does high voltage equipment.

Using IR/UL inspection will allow users to accurately determine the condition of operating equipment as well as identify the location of problems. These two technologies complement each other and advance the goals of condition monitoring programs. MT

Mark Goodman is vice president of engineering at UE Systems, Inc., Elmsford, NY; (800) 223-1325; Internet . This article is based on his presentation at IR/INFO ’98 produced by the Infraspection Institute, Shelburne, VT; (802) 985-2500. Continue Reading →


5:41 pm
May 1, 1998
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PM and Inventory Procedures Vital to CMMS

The system you choose should have a routine for developing and scheduling PM tasks. Then you have to implement the CMMS.

One very important aspect of a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) is its ability to handle preventive maintenance (PM) procedures. This critical component, as well as the scheduling and planning functions discussed in a previous article (MT 12/97, pg 14), are key checkpoints for the selection of a CMMS. Here are some guidelines for evaluating PM procedures and for implementing a CMMS.

PM schedules must be established before plant management can determine the overall workload of the maintenance staff. A survey of plant equipment allows personnel to determine the frequency and schedule dates for PMs and to compile complete PM data records, as shown in the sections “PM Establishment and Flow Procedure” and “PM Data Worksheet.”

The CMMS under evaluation should have tools in place to develop, maintain, and schedule this preventive maintenance. These questions should be asked in the CMMS selection process:

  • Does it have a separate module for maintaining and scheduling PM work orders?
  • Are forms developed for establishing PM tasks and entering the information into the CMMS?
  • Does the PM module have the ability to link specific job plans for performing these PM activities?
  • Many PM tasks are not equipment specific. Does the CMMS have PM route capabilities where you can schedule multiple equipment PM tasks such as lubrication and greasing routes?
  • Does it have a PM activate routine that allows review of PM tasks due and creates PM work orders with associated job plans?

Preventive maintenance is an ongoing program that must be audited continuously for continuity and validity. Among the reports that should be available in the CMMS to review and adjust the PM program are estimated PM man-hours by craft between dates, PMs by frequency and area, PMs by craft, and PMs by equipment.

Inventory systems
The plant’s maintenance storeroom is set up to provide maintenance personnel the parts and materials required to keep the plant’s facilities and production machinery running efficiently.

Proper management and control of maintenance storeroom parts and materials will ensure that (1) the parts are there when needed, (2) redundant items are not being purchased, (3) items will be automatically re-ordered as needed, (4) obsolete items are reported upon for deletion, (5) cost-effective methods are being used for purchasing lot type items, (6) item usage costs are being documented and reported to management, and (7) parts and materials costs are being allocated against equipment and accounts as used.

Important inventory management questions to ask about the CMMS you are considering include:

  1. Is a form developed for compiling inventory information and is this form compatible with the CMMS data entry inventory screens?
  2. What tools are available for establishing and maintaining maintenance inventory?
  3. Does the CMMS allow review and adjustment of inventory before automatic reorder?
  4. Does it contain inventory search and sorting capabilities by part or material categories?
  5. How does the CMMS handle inventory stock item types such as nonstocked, vendor stock, maintenance stock, etc.?
  6. Does it offer stocking classification codes such as general supplies, safety, insurance, obsolete, etc.?
  7. Does it offer ABC inventory value by usage capabilities?
  8. Can spare parts be committed to work orders?
  9. Can spare parts be looked up via the equipment record screen and are the number of spare parts required per piece of equipment maintained in this record?
  10. What procedures are in place for issuing and posting inventory items against work orders or accounts? Are parts issued against a work order so material costs are tracked back to a job and subsequently to an equipment number? Can parts be returned and credited against a work order number?
  11. What reports are available for maintaining and controlling inventory costs? Among them should be:
    • Equipment spare parts cross referenced to an inventory catalog that also references warehouse and stock bin location
    • Inventory value report, sorted with group totals by stock classification code (general supplies, PPE, maintenance stock, insurance, obsolete, etc.)
    • Nonequipment usage report, sorted by stock type and usage in descending order
    • Equipment usage report, sorted by usage in descending order
    • Stock-out report, sorted by inventory item number with highest to lowest stock-out occurrences
    • Slow moving inventory by value report, sorted by value in descending order
    • Surplus/obsolete inventory report, sorted by vendor and value in descending order
    • Usage by location reports, sorted by stockroom and bin location.

With the major CMMS components evaluated, the next step is developing an implementation plan. This involves both personnel and hardware/software considerations.

Staffing for implementation
Choosing an implementation staff will depend on the size and scope of your organization. Among things to consider will be:

  • Who will input information into the CMMS? If it is to be built through manual data entry, you should consider a data entry clerk and develop forms for input. If file data transfer from an existing software program is feasible, you must decide who will develop the translation and transfer formats.
  • Who will survey and obtain equipment specifications, PM requirements, and spare parts information?
  • Who will survey your on-site maintenance inventory?
  • Who will develop and manage PM requirements?
  • Who will manage and coordinate planning and scheduling functions? This includes maintenance as well as production personnel.
  • Who will maintain the inventory system?
  • Who will maintain the CMMS network, including data backups?

Hardware and software considerations include whether the CMMS will be networked and what the plat- form will be, the number of workstations necessary, and the hardware requirements.

Implementing the system
Once you have determined which CMMS best fits your needs, you should decide how you will implement the system. Consider the following guidelines:

  • Software training. No matter what system you purchase, your personnel should be well schooled on their level of use in the system.
  • Account codes and system tables. Account codes are usually the first thing required to be entered into the CMMS. Once the codes are established, system tables should be established.
  • Tables. These are used throughout most systems to provide look-ups for quick data entry, to validate choices, and to provide searching and sorting options. Some of these tables can be built as you enter data for that particular module, but all tables should be reviewed and built.
  • Equipment records. Before any work orders or PM records can be built you will have to establish your equipment records.
  • Preventive maintenance records. Before you can determine your maintenance workload, PM requirements have to be identified. At a minimum, daily, weekly, and monthly PM records should be established prior to implementing work order planning and scheduling.
  • Work order planning and scheduling. Once your equipment and PM records are established, you should be able to implement the work order system. At this time, you should review staffing requirements and work order planning and scheduling flow procedures.
  • Inventory records. It is not absolutely necessary to establish inventory records before implementing the work order system. However, most systems allow you to cross reference spare parts to equipment and allocate them to work orders.

Issues associated with maintenance inventory management will be discussed in a future article. CMMS selection issues associated with work management functions were discussed in a previous article (MT 12/97, pg 14). MT

Ronald Hemming is president and managing partner and Daniel Davis is a senior maintenance management consultant of Maintenance Technologies International, LLC, a plant maintenance management consulting and engineering firm in Milford, CT, with an affiliated office in Niagara Falls, NY. Hemming may be contacted at (203) 877-3217; Davis at (716) 284-4705.

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