Archive | June, 2000


2:56 am
June 2, 2000
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What do you know about your overall equipment effectiveness?


Robert M. Williamson, Strategic Work Systems, Inc.

Equipment performance and reliability has become a major concern as businesses reorganize, downsize, and aggressively pursue “lean” principles. Is your equipment doing what it is supposed to do, first time, every time? What are the causes of poor performance? What should you focus on?

Measuring and improving equipment performance is becoming a hot topic in many facilities and plants. So, what do you know about your overall equipment effectiveness? The basic measure associated with Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) has been overall equipment effectiveness (OEE). It incorporates three basic indicators of equipment performance and reliability:

  • Availability or uptime (downtime: planned and unplanned)
  • Performance efficiency (actual vs. design capacity)
  • Rate of quality output

OEE is not an exclusive measure of how well the maintenance department works. The design and installation of equipment as well as how it is operated and maintained affect OEE. It measures both “efficiency” (doing things right) and “effectiveness” (doing the right things) with your equipment.

Here is an example on how OEE is figured for a critical piece of equipment that is running 70 percent of the time (in a 24-hr day), operating at 72 percent of design capacity (flow, cycles, units per hour), and producing quality output 99 percent of the time.

When you factor the three together (70 percent availability x 72 percent efficiency x 99 percent quality), the result is an OEE rating of 49.9 percent. The OEE rating reflects how well the equipment is loaded and doing what it is supposed to—in this case less than 50 percent. Running at 55 percent OEE meets plant requirements.

Given the OEE data we then can determine the “cost of unreliability” or poor equipment performance. For example, a 5 percent decline in OEE may have led to 500,000 units not produced in a year. At a sales price of $12 per unit the cost of unreliability is $6 million of lost sales (revenues). This helps make a strong business case for improving the care and upkeep of critical equipment.

The OEE rating for critical equipment provides a relative comparison or “report card” on equipment performance and how well our maintenance and operations improvement activities are doing. The real use of OEE comes by using the factors (availability x efficiency x quality) and actual losses to determine root cause and corrective action.

What caused the 5 percent decline in OEE in the example above? What changed? This is where the factors of OEE become more important than the percent OEE itself. By tracking and trending the factors of OEE (data) one can quickly spot whether the machine experienced more downtime (planned or unplanned), or was running at a slower pace or minor stops, or produced more defects. Improper or inefficient operation can cause lower availability (setups, tool, or part changing) as can improper maintenance (breakdowns). Root cause analysis begins by focusing on the type and extent of loss, not the OEE percentage rating.

Here are some additional ways to think about OEE in a variety of settings:

Individual machine: The performance of the machine is compared only to itself over time (historical trending).

Integrated manufacturing cell: Regardless of individual machine performance, the entire multi-machine cell must function as a single unit. OEE for the cell is a good relative performance comparison.

Discreet manufacturing: Individual machines and integrated cells must function in a variety of combinations to produce many different types and sizes of products. OEE can be misleading. However, the factors of OEE become indicators of where and what type of improvements should be made.

Process plants: A process stream must perform as a whole, similar to an integrated manufacturing cell. OEE, or “overall process effectiveness” (OPE), is a good relative performance comparison. The factors of OEE should be tracked and trended to observe changes in performance of critical equipment in the process stream.

Facilities: Utility systems in schools, hospitals, and commercial buildings typically function as individual machines or processes in support of a facility, and possibly other machines. In these cases OEE ratings on critical machines should be tracked and trended to observe changes in performance. MT
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2:54 am
June 2, 2000
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Developing a sustainable advantage


Robert C. Baldwin, CMRP, Editor

A couple of months back I suggested that e-maintenance (efficiency + effectiveness + enterprise = excellence) might be what we need to make maintenance the next hot business function. Then last month, I suggested that reliability is indeed a core competency, and those who invest in it will survive, and those who do not will be deselected. But there is more to success than knowing what you need to do and how to do it. That added dimension is attitude.

The attitude for success is made up of many elements: confidence, curiosity, ability, passion, bias for action, energy, optimism, and more. These characteristics comprise what is referred to by some as the e-culture, because they are attributes exhibited by many leaders and workers in dot-com and new technology companies.

This total proactive attitude, embodied in the e-culture, whether applied to reliability and maintenance of plant equipment or the development of new technologies, depends on competency of the work force. It is almost impossible for people to be confident, optimistic, and productive if they don’t have the skills and knowledge that go with the territory.

Unfortunately, maintenance leadership has not always been committed to ensuring that people in the organization develop needed skills and knowledge. In plant after plant, there are supervisors more interested in telling people what to do rather than working with them to ensure that they understand the job and have the skills they need to do it.

In the past, training achievement has been measured by the amount of training materials on the supervisor’s office shelf. The training job was considered complete if workers were able to catch the training CDs flipped to them like Frisbees by a disinterested supervisor. Those days are over. There is no return on training without an investment of time by supervisors.

Training takes commitment on the part of plant leaders. They must lead by example, constantly upgrading their own level of knowledge, as well as by supporting the work force by providing an environment for learning and taking an active interest in the skills improvement of every worker. There are two articles in this issue that may help. “Doing the Right Training Right” (page 20) deals with training needs assessment. “Internet Workshops” (page 36) shows how a company is leveraging technology to spread knowledge through its work force.

As one technology industry leader said recently, “At the end of the day our employees may be the only sustainable competitive advantage we have.” MT

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9:57 pm
June 1, 2000
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IR Experiences

Benefits of new applications of infrared thermography include improved savings and safety.

TThe past decade has shown a significant increase in the use of thermography as a predictive maintenance tool. In part, this is due to the development of focal plane array (FPA) imagers that reduce the possibility of error, are more reliable, and are much less cumbersome than previous cameras.

Using an FPA imager, a trained thermographer can identify problems that may result in unexpected catastrophic failure, loss of electricity, or electrically induced fires. The benefits of this testing have become so well known that most insurance carriers now require thermal scans at least twice per year.

As a thermographer for a predictive maintenance service company, I have served a variety of industries. While the majority of problems, such as loose or corroded connections, overheated bearings, eroding insulation, structural breakdowns, etc., are common throughout many industries, there are exceptions that are more prevalent to specific manufacturing processes.

Cross-industry training has been valuable for identifying unsuspected anomalies that could remain hidden to a less-experienced thermographer. Two examples I have encountered recently include a rarely discovered or discussed problem known as inductive heating and a unique application on a crane.

Inductive heating
During a thermal scanning of electrical cable trays for overheated phase wires, an iron support brace was identified as “glowing” due to the extreme temperature. Glowing describes an object thermally emitting high levels of energy. Further investigation showed that the brace was erroneously mounted in between phases and directly below a transformer on the floor above. When the transformer was in operation, it produced a magnetic field inducing a current flow through the high-resistance iron support brace.

Since the brace was merely for cable support, the problem was easily remedied by moving the brace to a different location away from the phases. In doing so, the iron brace was reduced to a safe ambient temperature and the problem was eliminated.

However, had this brace not been removed from in between the phases, several problems may have resulted. Ultimately, the high temperatures created would have raised electrical costs, melted the insulation, shorted the phase to ground, and/or destroyed the transformer. Each potential failure has significant financial consequences, but perhaps most important, any direct contact by an unsuspecting electrician may have resulted in serious burn injury even though there was no electrical connection.

Crane feeder rails
While thermal scanning of cranes is not a new practice in predictive maintenance, there appears to be little attention or documentation toward crane feeder rails. Most thermographers can attest to finding anomalies on the crane motors, bearings, and even the wheels, but seldom are thermal scans performed on the rails. These rails are the power supply for the cranes, usually comprise three sections, and are butted together with a shoe (a rail splice) to form one continuous rail. To supply power to the actual rail, electrical connections are tied to the rail throughout its length.

Two problems were found and repaired. The first involved a loose mechanical connection on the rail splice; more specifically, the shoe holding the rails together was loose. The second problem was found in several instances in the rail tie-in, which is the connection between the rail and the power source. Vibration in the rails over time caused wires to separate and insulation to break down. Ultimately, this caused high resistance and resulted in higher power consumption through heat dissipation.

Had either of these problems gone undetected, the crane would likely have failed unexpectedly, making equipment repairs and/or the transfer of product virtually impossible. In many large manufacturing companies, the facilities department relies on large overhead cranes to move product from one location to another or to repair or replace very large parts and equipment. If a crane fails, product is not shipped and repairs are not performed, and this translates directly into lost time and money. Also, since cranes move over the heads of the work force, the proper operation of this equipment is paramount to ensure safety. Failure of this equipment during use could potentially result in disaster.

Thermography is one of the few predictive maintenance tools that provide immediate payback and results. Unlike vibration and oil analysis, extensive data need not be reviewed, nor compared to previous results to determine a potential problem. A trained and knowledgeable thermographer has the ability to scan both mechanical and electrical components and provide immediate feedback on areas of concern. As the technology continues to improve and as thermographers document and publicize their results, the applications in this field will be limitless. It is only a matter of time before all manufacturing facilities require thermographic scanning as part of their predictive maintenance programs. MT

Mark A. Csaszar is a Level III thermographer with ITR Inc., 817 W. Broad St., Bethlehem, PA 18018; (610) 867-0101

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3:29 pm
June 1, 2000
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Reliability Performance Enhancement: Doing the Right Training Right

The bottom line is that equipment reliability and overall productivity are improved by leveraging your employees’ knowledge, skill, and behavior.


How much do you really care about the training your employees receive? After all, training is expensive and it takes important supervisors and workers out of the plant site, reducing the overall productivity of the work force. Training is rarely important (except for safety), and rarely contributes a significant return on your investment in time, money, and people. In some cases you may even have to “un-teach” some of those new skills just so you can keep things moving the way they always have. After all, training is not one of those production and maintenance problems that keeps plant managers awake at night.

If you believe all that, you are living in the dark ages.

What you don’t know can hurt you!
HSB Reliability Technologies has analyzed hundreds of manufacturing facilities over the years. One of our findings is that 40 to 60 percent of all maintenance work, whether in cement plants, steel mills, or oil refineries, did not need to happen (Focusing on Preventable Maintenance, MT 10/95, p 23). Of those “preventable maintenance” actions within the purview of the production and maintenance department, 30 to 60 percent could be attributed to human performance deficiencies, meaning a lack of, or improper, training, insufficient training, or inadequate human factors engineering (job aids, incentives, and environment). Further analysis discovered that when expressed in terms of hours worked or cost, the work that should not or need not have been done exceeds necessary work in some cases by a margin of 3 to 1. This is a significant expense, all for the lack of a few hours of instruction.

No matter how you slice the pie, unnecessary or preventable maintenance caused by training deficiencies is expensive, both in terms of labor and material and, even more significantly, in the lost opportunity cost of employees not given the knowledge and skills they need to fully function to the best of their ability. So now that we know how important training is to improved equipment and process reliability, how do we know what training to do? How do we set up our training to provide the outcomes we want? How do we determine if training is even the right expenditure of time and funds to insure we get the results we want?

Human performance enhancement
Performance enhancement or technology is a systems engineering approach using behavioral science techniques to analyze, design, and deliver activities which promote human performance in achieving the business goals of an organization. Performance enhancement is not just training, or organizational development, or human resources management. It is a synergistic process that seeks to optimize human reliability using a wide variety of tools. Human reliability is the total of all the effort that each individual contributes to decrease the variability of a process.

For example, using a job aid or standard operating procedure reduces the chances that a pump will be started wrong, or a seal installed backwards. The job aid also helps to reduce the experience gap between master and apprentice craftspeople. Training operators and craftspeople to use those procedures further decreases human variability, thus helping to eliminate preventable maintenance. By keying reward and incentive systems to procedure usage, you further heighten the desired performance. At each step you are defining and assisting the “people part” of the process. The bottom line is that equipment reliability and overall productivity are improved by leveraging your employees’ knowledge, skill, and behavior.

In the accompanying “Performance Enhancement Model,” various solution systems are shown. This type of analysis is also called “gap” analysis because you start by determining the “gap” between the actual performance being demonstrated and the optimal performance that you desire. Once you know where you are and where you want to go you can determine what it will take to close that performance gap.

Next ask why that gap exists. Has there been a change in technology? Has there been an organization or motivational change that has affected how people perform? If it is not a knowledge or skill problem, then training is not the answer. Don’t waste time or money trying to drive a screw with a hammer.

Once you know what has caused the gap then you can select the appropriate training or non-training strategies to correct the problem.

But don’t stop there. In every process or engineering system there is a feedback loop that allows you to measure if the step you took was effective. A human performance system is no different. You must measure whether the performance intervention was appropriate and that the gap has been closed or the problem solved.

Training for performance
Having determined that training is required to improve the performance of your maintenance staff, where do you go now? Start with a Training Needs Analysis (TNA). The TNA helps you determine what kind of performance you’re after and dovetails with the performance enhancement model to provide training-specific outcomes that are required for a specific employee, craft, or responsibility. See “Training Needs Analysis or Assessment” section.

Once you have completed your TNA, you need to convert your findings into actions, to move beyond “touchy-feely” training to instruction that delivers bottom-line performance results.

Start training program development by gathering basic information: the training mission, core program goals, and operational or maintenance requirements. This will clarify the business outcomes and tie your training to a specific problem. This gives your training a target or goal right from the start and keeps it in alignment with the organization’s vision. Remember, a training program that makes you feel good about yourself is nice until you walk out the door and get back to the plant. What counts in the plant is not “warm fuzzy’s” but cold, hard knowledge and skills that can be wielded in daily business battles. Here are some examples of bottom-line skills:

  • Produce measurable gains (state what goal you want to achieve) in production productivity by improving changeover procedures to decrease time.
  • Decrease downtime due to maintenance by reducing the cycle time of maintenance through improved planning.
  • What you are after is training that produces results, that increases performance, that leaves in its wake a stronger, more robust individual or team than the one that walked into the classroom. It’s all about action, about the “rubber meeting the road,” about implementing learned behavior that produces tangible rewards. To foster this bottom-line behavior, incorporate an action orientation in the training’s learning methods:
  • Provide learners the opportunity to detail what they will do differently back at the job site. Help them develop an action plan.
  • Tailor the activities within the course of instruction to be skill-building activities that practice the desired performance. If you’re teaching maintenance planning, plan a real job with constructive feedback from not only the instructor, but also the entire class.
  • Trainers, facilitators, or coaches should develop engaging and realistic simulations that allow learners to be involved in the behavior to be modeled.
  • Whenever possible (and safe) use practical content drawn from real life. Try to avoid theory and examples that do not relate to the industry or problem at hand.
  • Use activities and methods with a bias toward action. Get people moving with exercises that stimulate all learning modalities (audio, visual, and kinesthetic). Develop with the trainer and the employee’s supervisor measures that demonstrate personal results and a bottom-line contribution, not just how happy they felt following the seminar or workshop.

Performance enhancement is giving your people the resources they need to succeed, not just handing them tool belts and saying go fix it. MT

Richard W. Lowell is the director of educational services for HSB Reliability Technologies, a maintenance management consulting firm with offices in Houston, TX, and Alexandria, VA. He has worked extensively in process and discrete manufacturing industries and the military as a trainer and performance consultant. He can be reached at 800 Rockmead Dr., Kingwood, TX 77339; (281) 358-1477

Training Needs Analysis or Assessment

There are five phases in this process:

  1. Preliminary data gathering. This step establishes the goals of the assessment and enables you to obtain a broader perspective about training needs. In this phase the majority of time is spent reviewing past assessments; interviewing cognizant managers, end users, subject matter experts, or internal customers; and establishing a foundation of how the proposed training relates to business goals.
  2. Planning. During this step, you determine what types (maintenance, productivity) and sources of data (CMMS, subject matter experts) to collect as well as what type of analysis to perform (comparison of knowledge or skills, attitude toward change). You can develop specific assessment instruments as well as use generalized tools in order to minimize development time and reduce expense. You must stay on target.
  3. Conduct assessment. This is the actual assessment step where you conduct surveys, interviews, background research, and focus groups. During this phase you will determine current knowledge and skill levels, desired knowledge and skill levels, what training materials, if any, are in existence, and if non-training interventions such as job aids can be used.
  4. Analyze data. This is a sorting procedure where data is reviewed for discrepancies or deviation and a qualitative and quantitative response is prepared.
  5. Prepare report. Take the compiled data and put it together in an acceptable format.

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