Archive | September, 2002


1:41 am
September 2, 2002
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Outside Resrouces Contribute to Culture Change

Consultants, onsite visits, benchmarking, and conference attendance add fuel to the development of an asset management program.

The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) is responsible for providing wholesale water and sewerage services, in whole or in part, to 61 communities and 2.6 million people. In addition to its operating responsibilities, MWRA is responsible for rehabilitating, repairing, and maintaining the regional water and sewerage systems.

Since its assumption of the ownership and operations of the systems in 1985, MWRA has undertaken an ambitious program of water and wastewater system capital improvements with estimated expenditures for fiscal years 1986 through 2009 of more than $7 billion. Under one massive construction effort, the Boston Harbor Project, the MWRA assumed maintenance responsibility for the $3.8 billion Deer Island Treatment Plant designed to treat 1.2 billion gpd. It is the second largest wastewater treatment facility in the nation. The new treatment plant’s operations and discharge water quality are closely monitored by state and federal agencies and environmental organizations through an extremely stringent permit.

Initiative created
Given the significant value and critical nature of the MWRA assets, maintenance is of paramount importance. In 1996, the Facilities Asset Management Program (FAMP) initiative was created as a comprehensive, agency-wide effort to most efficiently and effectively manage the region’s water and sewer infrastructure. The purpose of the FAMP initiative is to optimize the efficiency and effectiveness of MWRA equipment maintenance practices (i.e., minimize critical equipment failures, minimize unnecessary maintenance practices, improve equipment reliability, and heighten system knowledge).

In summary, the program focused on areas such as standardization of maintenance practices, adoption of best practices, and optimization of labor and material resources. The program is a phased approach (see above).

In 1999, the Capital Programs Group, under the direction of Dan O’Brien, selected New Dimensions Solution consultants, New York, NY, to help facilitate changes in MWRA maintenance practices. The changes included implementing a Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM) strategy instead of the current time-based maintenance strategy, advancing the use and quality of the computerized maintenance management system, MAXIMO (MRO Software, Bedford, MA), and developing a design for the installation of permanent vibration and temperature monitoring for critical process equipment.

Site visits
As the Phase I program was implemented, there was uncertainty between the operating units of the benefits of a comprehensive asset management program. A critical turning point in the program’s success followed site visits to several industries. The Authority sent seven representatives, led by Deputy Director of Maintenance Gerry Gallinaro, to Dofasco Inc., Hamilton, ON, and Broward County, FL (a water/wastewater utility), to learn about the implementation of RCM and CMMS at their sites.

The Authority team was made up of a cross-section of staff including maintenance management, work coordination, process control, plant engineering, capital programs, and warehouse personnel. The host sites provided invaluable insight and lessons learned from their asset management projects including corporate commitment, culture change agents, best practices, resource requirements, and sustainment structures to support the new business approaches.

The results were presented to the various operating units and senior staff and a detailed trip report with recommendations to be implemented was prepared. The trip resulted in a giant step forward by empowering in-house staff and solidifying the FAMP program’s goals and objectives. After these trips, senior staff support increased and the program gained significant momentum.

One additional key element that was identified was the need to institute a communications plan to facilitate change. The plan was needed to institute cultural changes to a diversified staff in multiple locations and to institute standardized practices Authority-wide.

The communication plan included activities such as regular program briefings, team meetings, newsletter articles on progress, forum events, and an Intranet site. The director of Deer Island, John Vetere, held informational meetings with all staff to discuss the program elements and their importance. It proved to be an essential component to our successful maintenance management optimization campaign allowing connectivity between workforce members and business goals. In addition, the communication plan is used to highlight and track program success.

SMRP conference
As the FAMP program moved ahead, it was clear to MWRA that staff needed to look outside the box from traditional maintenance thinking. Historically, water quality professionals relied on civil engineering type conferences to gain operations and maintenance knowledge. Our consultant team recommended involvement in the Society for Maintenance & Reliability Professionals (SMRP).

Four members of the Authority attended SMRP’s 2001 conference to gain insight into high level company approaches to asset management. The results of this trip were overwhelmingly positive. Staff gained tremendous insight into “for profit” best maintenance practices approaches allowing MWRA to gain beneficial knowledge to map out future program phases and best practices implementation.


Facilities Asset Management Program (FAMP) Model

An updated FAMP Strategic Model and detailed five-year schedule or master asset protection plan (MAPP) were subsequently developed as a result of information gathered at the conference. Additional maintenance practices such as root cause failure analysis (RCFA), performance metrics, spare parts optimization, and additional condition monitoring techniques were identified and added to the program model.

An additional key element was also identified and adopted. Task teams were formed for nine key areas of the FAMP program including:

  • Metrics
  • Criticality analysis
  • Reliability Centered Maintenance implementation
  • Condition monitoring
  • Permanent condition monitoring equipment installation
  • Maintenance procedures
  • Asset replacement strategy
  • Warehouse optimization
  • Work coordination/CMMS

Team charters were developed for each task team to facilitate the MAPP implementation plan of best practices throughout the organization. The task teams have support throughout the Authority and include representatives from maintenance, operations, process control, finance, budgeting, planning, warehouse, and management.

The highlights of the conference and recommendations to implement at the Authority were formalized in both a detailed report and multiple presentations to senior management. Lessons learned from this single event fueled the program’s momentum, allowing staff to paint a clear picture of a comprehensive approach to a cost-effective asset management program that could be shared and explained easily to the various operating units staff.

Interactions with a large international manufacturing facility in Boston, MA, and Coors Brewing Co., Golden, CO, allowed the Authority to expand its asset management program base and provided useful opportunities for technology transfer. These interactions have provided insight into best practices techniques as well as allowed the MWRA to affirm the asset management program’s direction and approach.

One common thread among these companies included reorganization of staff to support the development and sustainment of best maintenance practices throughout diverse organizations. Dedicated staff are needed to work on the process of defining and implementing best maintenance practices, and refining the existing maintenance program. The “on the process” staff support the maintenance staff working “in the process” that complete the required day-to-day maintenance activities.

Another key element at these companies was the use of periodic forums as a communications plan tool. The use of such events allows multi-unit organizations, with national and/or international locations, to facilitate change and communicate consistent goals and objectives of the asset management programs. The forums allow key staff to come together and build a standardized approach to asset management allowing timely program rollout. Involvement breeds commitment.

As a result of the collaboration with these private companies, the Authority has initiated a quarterly forum with each task team presenting its results to a larger Authority group.

In the development of a strong asset management program, it is important to reach out to all available resources. Program successes need to be documented and shared to guide the organization through interim milestones on its way to achieving world-class status.

The program has had early success because of the changes initiated from the technology transfer. These successes were possible only with the support and dedication of our staff who have balanced normal workloads while implementing the new maintenance practices. The results have been significant in many ways.

National award. In May 2002, the MWRA’s FAMP initiative received national attention at the Association of Metropolitan Sewerage Agencies’ 2002 National Environmental Achievement Awards in the Operations category. It is clear that the MWRA is leading change in utility asset management as it demonstrated an “innovative and effective project developed and implemented in a cost-effective manner while achieving environmental compliance.”

Staffing reductions. The maintenance staff at Deer Island has decreased from a high of 176 in 1999 to 142 today. The reduction occurred even though more equipment required maintenance as each construction package was turned over. The staff reduction has not impacted the maintenance provided. The maintenance backlog is anticipated to remain within industry standards (3-6 weeks). An enhanced and expanded condition monitoring program is progressing—we will be able to do more with less.

Work schedule. Historically, work orders were scheduled daily by the supervisors. The Work Coordination Group initiated scheduling work one week in advance to help the program move from reactive to proactive maintenance. The goal of this initiative is to have maintenance staff thinking about work one week in advance and planning for parts, tools, and labor. In addition, each technician is assigned 8 hours of work for each day.

In the first seven months, the number of corrective maintenance and project work orders decreased from 2586 to 1454 (a 43 percent reduction). Work order backlog has been reduced from 5.3 weeks to 3.3 weeks from the implementation of this scheduling initiative. The reduced backlog has resulted in higher equipment availability and improved plant performance.

Teamwork. Through the RCM effort and task team development, teamwork is at its highest levels. The RCM effort has built bridges between the operations and maintenance staffs. The task teams have resulted in a wider circle of Authority staff being involved in the project and moving toward a common goal. In addition, the implementation of a cross-functional flexibility program includes multi-trade teams working together on maintenance activities.

Alliances built
Industry site visits and conference attendance has allowed MWRA staff to build a network of asset management alliances. This network provides an ongoing opportunity to share ideas and lessons learned, helping those involved from traveling down the wrong road that could result in lost time and money. MWRA’s goal is to continue developing alliances in its effort to reach world-class status.

The MWRA has worked hard over the past several years to research and initiate many new optimization programs. Although we have shown significant results proving our asset management program is on target, we need to remain diligent and focused on our implementation. Continuous improvement leads to maximum efficiency and effectiveness—the process is a journey not a destination. Our true challenges lie ahead as we continue our aspiration to become a world-class maintenance organization.

Details of how MWRA approached Phase I of its asset management program can be found at MT

John W. Fortin is program manager, John P. Colbert is asset manager, and Ted Regan is work coordination manager at Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, Deer Island Treatment Plant, Boston, MA. Contact Fortin at (617) 539-4249. Colbert at (617) 539-4218, Regan at (617) 539-4257.

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1:36 am
September 2, 2002
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MWRA's Facilities Asset Management Program: Phase I

The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) is nearing completion of Phase I of its Facilities Asset Management Program (FAMP) for the Deer Island Treatment Plant (DITP) and related field operations facilities to plan, manage, and coordinate the engineering, maintenance, operation, and financing required to maintain these facilities to regulatory requirements. FAMP has two objectives:

  • Cost effectively replace the less durable capital components of the facilities at the appropriate time to ensure reliable plant operation and preserve the value of the original investment
  • Prolong the equipment life and control the rate of replacement (i.e., avoid large spending spikes for consolidated retrofit or rehabilitation projects)

The Authority has initiated this project to develop the most efficient strategy to integrate maintenance, operations, and engineering activities to support the FAMP objectives.

In order to implement the FAMP objectives, standardized maintenance management practices had to be developed. Uniform maintenance information management and condition monitoring capabilities were reviewed and selected for DITP and its related facilities.

RCM Review ProcessBackground
The MWRA is responsible for providing wholesale water and sewerage services, in whole or in part, to 61 communities and 2.6 million people. In addition to its operating responsibilities, MWRA is responsible for rehabilitating, repairing, and maintaining the regional water and sewerage systems. Since its assumption of the ownership and operations of the systems in 1985, MWRA has undertaken an ambitious program of capital improvements to the systems, with estimated expenditures for fiscal years 1986 through 2009 of more than $7 billion.

Given the significant value and critical nature of the assets for which MWRA is responsible, effective maintenance of the systems is of paramount importance. The Facilities Asset Management Program (FAMP) is a comprehensive, agency-wide effort to most efficiently and effectively manage the region’s water and sewer infrastructure.

Upon completion of the construction and startup of DITP, the nation’s second largest wastewater treatment plant, the MWRA assumed responsibility of approximately $2 billion in assets (construction value $3.5 billion) to maintain. In addition the agency had embarked on other large capital projects that would require similar asset care including a new water filtration plant.

Maintenance recommendations were provided by the original equipment manufacturers (OEM) and were required to sustain warranty requirements. These OEM recommendations were calendar-based preventive maintenance (PM) tasks somewhat conservative in nature (worst case scenario) and not operation-specific.

As the warranty periods came to a close and some equipment failures became evident, the staff began strategic planning for an equipment replacement program to replace equipment in an organized and cost-effective manner to avoid large spending spikes from capital projects.

In addition to the equipment replacement program, replacement and maintenance of nonequipment assets (utilities, roofs, storage tanks, etc.) also will be addressed in Phase II of the FAMP initiative.

Management structure organization
As one of the agency’s top priorities, the FAMP initiative was intended to be implemented across all operating divisions. An organization structure composed of a steering committee, project team, and implementation teams was developed .

The groups comprised a good mix of staff from the operating divisions including senior management, union leaders, procurement, and engineering, along with maintenance trades, operators, and consultant support. This team approach was needed to effectively create change and staff buy-in.

In the beginning of Phase I, regular weekly meetings were held to facilitate the project schedule and monthly steering committee meetings were held to communicate progress and program direction.

A communication plan was developed where regular presentations are conducted (to date more than 850 people or 57 percent of the staff have received some level of project briefing) and a combination of newsletter articles and all-staff memorandum are distributed. In addition, status posters are strategically displayed throughout the facility for staff and visitors. The adoption of a communication plan has supported the culture change and conveyed to staff that senior management is committed to the project.

Phase I scope and status
In order to facilitate the Phase I program and obtain expertise in the area of asset management, a consultant was selected to support Authority staff. The Phase I work was broken down into four tasks: inventory and evaluation, condition monitoring, CMMS survey, and maintenance optimization pilot study.

Inventory/evaluation. This task included gathering technical data (nameplate data, technical data, and supplier information) for 18 wastewater facilities comprising more than 3800 pieces of mechanical, electrical, and instrumentation equipment. Tagging equipment with a unique numbering system (consistent within the MWRA) also was included in this task. Temporary tags were installed initially and correct nomenclature verified prior to ordering and installing permanent tags. This task was completed with a mixed crew of MWRA and consultant staff.

The traditional method of gathering data on paper forms was eliminated which facilitated the work and helped to meet the schedule for data input into the new CMMS. Palm-based handheld units were employed and proved to be a cost-effective alternative. The reasonably priced units were programmed to accept all the required data and automatically generate the correct tag name. In addition, the correct permanent tag size (3 or 4 in.) and type (no hole, one hole, or two holes) were also identified by design for ease of ordering.

During the inventory/tagging exercise, the team conducted a cursory overview of the equipment’s condition (visual, audible, and discussions with facility staff) and summarized the general condition findings in a detailed report. The report categorized the condition into predefined categories: excellent, good, poor, temporary, and failed. This information has been fed into the corrective action planning and budgeting process.

The Authority selected MAXIMO from MRO Software, Bedford, MA, as its computerized maintenance management system (CMMS). Although DITP began using the system in 1995, the field operations department only began using it in March 2001. The use of the handhelds for data collection allowed the team to electronically load the newly collected technical data into the CMMS ahead of schedule.

In a concurrent effort, a MAXIMO Steering Committee facilitated the software standardization effort. Policies and procedures are being shared between operating divisions and has resulted in quality data and consistent reporting.

Condition monitoring. The Authority recognized that the project’s maintenance optimization process and subsequent plant-wide maintenance optimization programs would result in predictive maintenance tasks, including vibration analysis. In an effort to support these tasks, the MWRA is installing permanent vibration analysis equipment as one leg of its predictive maintenance program.

Other predictive maintenance programs currently in use include infrared inspection, oil analysis, and a vibration analysis service contract. The review and enhancement of these and other predictive maintenance programs is being conducted under Phase II of the project.

In Phase I, the MWRA identified 70 pieces of rotating equipment as critical or of sufficient capital cost to warrant dedicated permanent vibration monitoring equipment. The list of equipment includes both DITP and field operations (remote collection system facilities) such as pumps, motors, compressors, and turbines.

Currently the new condition monitoring system is in the final stages of design and equipment installation is anticipated to begin in early 2003. Upon completion of the construction phase, vibration analysis training and establishment of baseline vibration signatures will be conducted.

An accurate and maintained CMMS is an essential component of a successful asset management program. The Work Coordination Group uses the CMMS to manage all aspects of the Deer Island maintenance program. It is used for work order management, preventive maintenance, the equipment database, planning and scheduling, asset management, recording maintenance costs, and generating reports.

CMMS survey. The objective of the survey of DITP’s CMMS (was to determine the status of data quality, present utilization, and suitability to support a maintenance optimization process.

A review was conducted on all equipment data stored in the system for the 1250 pieces of equipment in Primary Clarifier Battery “A” pilot area. The equipment data was compared and reconciled with the source data (the equipment nameplate/specification information provided by project contractors and their suppliers as part of the construction turnover requirements) to evaluate the quality, completeness, and accuracy of the data. The data modules surveyed included equipment, inventory, preventive maintenance, and work orders.

Additionally, the CMMS data and source data were compared to the hard copies of all data located in the Deer Island Technical Information Center (TIC). The review required a cross-reference and included reviewing documentation such as vendor manuals, drawings, relevant process and instrumentation diagrams (P&ID), and some field verification.

The project also included a review to determine the degree to which the CMMS system was being utilized and identified areas where it was under- or overutilized. The review included the utilization of all program functions:

  • Cross links to inventory
  • Performance reporting metrics—identified unnecessary or ineffective maintenance reports and unused or underutilized performance reporting features
  • Appropriate performance metrics to be monitored by various levels in the management, maintenance, engineering, operations, and budget departments
  • Existing CMMS procedures including staff interviews regarding use and quality of equipment data and database performance
  • Adherence and proficiency of labor and material charges to the appropriate equipment tag

A detailed report was created where deficient or substandard data and CMMS utilization was documented including detailed recommendations and a complete corrective action plan.

The survey completed an audit of Primary Battery “A.” Examples of areas needing improvement include the following:

  • Missing equipment—The CMMS lists 1247 equipment items for Primary Battery “A”; however, the DITP technical library actually has equipment data on 1646 items, a 32 percent difference. Conversely, 100 pieces of equipment in the CMMS were not in the Deer Island technical library. While the differences generally did not involve major equipment, it did include certain valves, pumps, and instrumentation. The omission of data could possibly result in equipment not receiving the proper preventive maintenance.
  • Missing equipment data— Incomplete equipment data was originally supplied as part of system turnover. A typical Equipment Data form (called a “1080” Form) has approximately 30 data entry fields. Some of the data is obviously more critical than others. However, for the 1247 pieces of equipment reviewed, the manufacturer’s name was not provided for 313 items, the installation date was not provided for 327 items, and the installation cost and replacement cost was not provided for any of the equipment items. Omission of this cost data impedes life cycle costing to be determined in an effort to predict future capital expenditures and using the CMMS to its full capabilities.
  • Tagging and equipment hierarchy—196 equipment items had conflicting tag names or hierarchy. An accurate equipment hierarchy allows maintenance costs to be allocated to the individual areas. Reports then can be generated to highlight which equipment, system, or plant areas required the most maintenance resources.

A corrective action plan has begun to fix equipment data. The audit will ensure that the information triangle is complete, and will include comparing and updating installed equipment nameplate data, CMMS data, and the equipment technical library information. Although the final plan has not been formulated, an extensive time commitment is expected so strategic, cost-effective methods will be investigated.

Administrative review—The report recommends the development of comprehensive maintenance policies and procedures to ensure the highest level of data quality to support a strong asset management program. This data is converted into useful information assisting in making accurate and timely maintenance decisions. These procedures would include maintenance planning workflow, CMMS database quality assurance, and procedures to formalize changes to the CMMS equipment, job plans, and preventive maintenance databases, as well as a link to technical documentation.

Procedures to formalize the maintenance program are in various stages of development and use. The procedures developed under this task will be used Authority-wide to ensure a consistent approach for all maintenance activities. These procedures include equipment replacement/maintenance configuration control and workflow process procedures. A Work Planning Desk Guide has been completed and is in use at Deer Island and being reviewed for use throughout the MWRA. In addition, maintenance performance metrics are being developed for a facility asset management program that focus on reliability based maintenance.

CMMS programming changes—Deer Island currently uses approximately two-thirds of the capability of the CMMS system which, reportedly, is the case with most other maintenance organizations. Additional utilization of specific modules and programming enhancements were recommended. Programming changes are in the process of being implemented to increase CMMS functionality. These improvements include interfaces with other applications, modifications to data entry features, and the use of specific dialog boxes for warnings and instructions.

Training—Specific training guidelines were provided to ensure the procedures and the CMMS are used correctly. Training is to be provided to all personnel for maintenance procedures. Development of a formalized training program is in progress and will support the current cross-functional training program as well as enhance the widespread use of the CMMS throughout the MWRA.

Maintenance optimization study. In an effort to optimize agency-wide maintenance efforts, various maintenance optimization strategies required evaluation. The selected strategy, Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM), was included in a pilot study on DITP’s Primary Clarifier Battery “A” equipment.

The pilot has been completed with favorable results and RCM has been adopted throughout the MWRA.

DITP currently uses calendar-based preventive maintenance. All the equipment maintenance tasks and frequencies were provided by the OEMs and their representatives as part of the Boston Harbor Project. A review of various industry-wide maintenance optimization strategies (i.e., Total Productive Maintenance and Reliability Centered Maintenance) was conducted to gain efficiency of maintenance resources while maintaining or increasing plant reliability. The maintenance strategies were evaluated for:

  1. Ability to establish or revise maintenance tasks (preventive, predictive, and proactive) based on the technical basis established for each equipment maintenance task, the clear cost benefit established for each equipment maintenance task, and maintenance practices established for equipment individually based on its specific application in the plant (i.e., its criticality to the plant or system process and the consequences of failure).
  2. Ability to reduce overall maintenance man-hours (emergency, corrective, preventive) and maintenance material costs with no decrease in plant reliability.
  3. Ability to identify hidden failures in plant systems or equipment.
  4. Ability to establish mean time to repair (MTTR) and mean time between failure (MTBF) for equipment.
  5. Ability to extend the useful life of the equipment or plant systems as a whole.
  6. Ability to establish technical replacement criteria for equipment and/or systems.
  7. Ability to provide feedback to the Facility Asset Management Program to aid in the planning for equipment replacement.
  8. Ability to work in conjunction with, support, or be integrated with the various equipment lifecycle methods evaluated.
  9. Estimated cost of implementation (estimated time and effort of consultant and Authority staff) for each maintenance strategy compared with the estimated maintenance savings (manpower, materials, extended equipment life, etc.) for its respective strategy.
  10. Ability to address and improve DITP maintenance metric benchmarks.

RCM was selected for the pilot program because it was capable of answering many of the questions and concerns posed above including the review of impacts to safety and the environment. Over all RCM was able to meet the MWRA’s main objective— gain efficiency of maintenance resources while maintaining or increasing plant reliability.

Twelve pre-selected systems were identified within an area of the plant (a cross section of equipment located in the Primary Clarifier Battery “A” area) where the use of RCM methodology was piloted and performance metrics compared to adjacent equipment (which use OEM-based PM tasks and frequencies) for a six-month period.

RCM is a structured process where operations and maintenance staff jointly recommend the most appropriate maintenance requirements (including tasks, frequencies, and trades) of a physical asset as it is operated at Deer Island. History has shown that the vendor’s PM recommendations tend to be conservative and do not always adjust for varying operating scenarios (i.e., does the pump run continuously for 24 hr or cycle on-off every 40 min., etc).

Presently the RCM pilot program has completed implementation of the 22 system reviews using the RCM process and monitoring of results continues.

The pilot results to date include a decrease in preventive maintenance (PM) hours (25 percent reduction in labor hours) and a 10 percent decrease in corrective maintenance (CM). While the results to date are preliminary and somewhat narrowly focused, they are encouraging.

The vast majority of operations and maintenance staff who were resistant to the RCM approach at the outset have since changed their minds, citing a variety of reasons including improved knowledge of the system and greater participation in the decision making process. RCM promises to be an integral part of MWRA’s ongoing effort to improve organizational efficiency and effectiveness, and optimally maintain the assets under its stewardship.

The maintenance strategy review also included the following benchmarking activities:

  • A telephone survey included results of discussions with six large facilities (five public utilities supplying water and wastewater services in a manner broadly equivalent to the MWRA operation, and a steel mill that is striving to be at the forefront of asset management/maintenance management technology). The survey questions addressed business strategy, organizational structure, roles and responsibilities, maintenance strategy, work orders, maintenance management systems, asset management policies, maintenance staffing, procurement, and warehousing.

    The results show that, in general, the unionized and public (utility) facilities have further to go to achieve world-class asset management when compared to private, nonunion counterparts. Even the private facility acknowledges that there are opportunities to improve and that their benchmarking has shown that world-class operations often have pockets of excellence and areas of relative weakness.

  • Two site visits at other facilities were conducted to observe and investigate any implemented (in progress) maintenance optimization strategies/programs considered for the FAMP project.

The timing of the site visits was perfect and a turning point for the project because it confirmed the use of RCM as a viable PM methodology, confirmed the need for a comprehensive condition monitoring program, helped set the roadmap for future activities, served as a workshop empowering staff to consolidate the valuable lessons learned by others and add them to the recipe as ingredients for a successful program, and showed that a company has achieved world-class status utilizing these maintenance tools and techniques.

We learned a number of lessons including:

  • Treat the program as a capital project (dedicated staff, schedule with milestones, involvement from all business functions)
  • The CMMS must be populated with accurate data
  • RCM is a good PM tool and can build a strong operations and maintenance workforce
  • There is a need for executive sponsorship and a communication plan to effect culture change
  • There are many spokes to the asset management wheel.

In addition to review and selection of RCM as the maintenance optimization strategy, an equipment replacement strategy also required consideration. A report was prepared presenting a detailed review of equipment lifecycle terminology, site-specific capital planning alternatives, and specific recommendations and an action plan to help optimize the capital planning program and equipment replacement process. The report also focused on short- and long-term planning, review, and comment on MWRA’s lifecycle cost analysis (LCCA) model and reviewed both private and public sector approaches. Further review and implementation of the various recommendations will assist in the timely planning and budgeting of capital equipment replacement.

Future steps and phases
The asset management program is one of continuous improvement and is often quoted as “it is a journey, not a destination.” It is a multi-phase program and we have initiated the second phase. The Phase II program will implement recommendations from the Phase I project including items such as implementation of maintenance business strategies, formalization of MWRA maintenance business practices, establishment of priorities for further RCM analyses, review of opportunities to further optimize the benefits of the CMMS, and recommendations for additional condition monitoring/predictive maintenance approaches for various types of MWRA equipment.

Some basic elements will remain in place to maintain the momentum to continue with a successful program:

  • Regular staff briefings
  • Team building
  • Agency-wide coordination
  • Communication plans
  • Intranet site development
  • Industry-wide benchmarking
  • Maintenance performance monitoring

The success of a comprehensive asset management program requires careful planning and a commitment of resources—a difficult task with pressures of normal workloads and competing corporate initiatives. Executive sponsorship and continuous communication at all organizational levels can facilitate the change required to maintain a successful asset management program. MT

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12:38 am
September 2, 2002
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Managing Compressed Air Energy Part I: Demand Side Issues

Data from more than 250 plants show how compressed air energy may be distributed among key usage categories. Use this information to help decide where energy management solutions should be applied first.Although compressed air systems generally are the third highest energy user in an industrial plant, they represent the number one opportunity for both energy and operating cost reductions.

Compressed air systems convert electrical work energy to pneumatic work energy at the point of use. All elements of this process need to be managed efficiently. The optimum process would produce one unit of work energy in the form of expanded mass at the point of use for every 8.5 units of compressor input energy. In industrial plant air systems, which represent more than 7.5 percent of the energy used in U. S. industry, there seems to be little understanding or effort made to achieve any level of efficiency other than the occasional attempt to buy the promise of efficiency with new equipment.

The manner in which compressed air is consumed offers a major opportunity for reduced energy and operating costs. Typically, less than 60 percent of the total compressed air consumed contributes directly to the goods and services for which production was intended. Of this 60 percent, more than a third of it is poorly applied.

The net result is that less than 40 percent of the total consumption of compressed air in industrial plants is essential to process results. The balance negatively influences the cost and quality of goods and services produced. The combination of process efficiency and usage of compressed air makes plant compressed air systems one of the most significant economic opportunities in the industrial sector. Despite this reality, compressed air energy has been increasing while the use of all other forms of energy in industry is diminishing.

Audit results
In the past five years, Plant Air Technology has thoroughly audited plant and process compressed air systems at 551 plants and cumulatively analyzed the audit results of 250 systems. The percentage of total energy used for compressed air in these plants ranged from 6-29 percent, with an average of 9.5 percent. This article will report the findings. It is particularly interesting to note that while most plant managers were aware of potential inefficiencies, the questions of how the system was specifically set up and adjusted and why it was operated the way it was went unasked and unanswered.

Most of the operating personnel in these plants did not know how much compressed air volume they used or needed. They did not know the costs of operating the compressed air system. Only two of these plants monitored both input power and compressed air consumed. There were no standards or operating procedures for the use or supply of compressed air other than maintaining a minimum acceptable result. Generally, success in system operation was determined by the lack of complaints.

The majority of operating personnel acknowledged that their education regarding compressed air systems and their operation was lacking. Most of the audited facilities did not know how their equipment was specifically adjusted and admitted that outside sources maintained the equipment and established equipment operating parameters. In all cases, neither the owner nor the service agency had any records of how or why the equipment was adjusted. The utility costs ranged from a blended rate including demand charges of 0.035 cent-0.117 cent/kW of electricity consumed.

Low load or no load tests were performed at all audit locations in advance of the final audit. All operating conditions were investigated. All parts of the system including supply, storage, distribution, and demand were measured. Problems in the system were evaluated and quantified. Operating costs of the audited systems were determined including all ancillary equipment, maintenance, water, operator costs, and depreciation. Proposed solutions were detailed and costed. Operating cost of the proposed system was determined to establish a return on investment.

Demand side energy
The basics of demand side energy will be covered here. Future articles will discuss usage factors that affect demand and supply side energy issues.

Most systems are evaluated based on perceived supply requirements. If the pressure anywhere in the system is below what is believed to be the minimum, the diagnosis is insufficient supply. Little more is done to determine what is going on in the system. In existing systems, demand is determined by adding up the rated capacity of the compressors that are on regardless of power. An “on” compressor is only an indication of cost, not an indication of need.

Without demand, there is no requirement for supply. Figuring out a reasonable needs profile begins by analyzing demand. All of these systems used air at the pressure it was compressed to with little or no storage and an uncontrolled approach toward expanding the air to the pressure needed. Less than half of the air consumed was regulated. Fifty percent of the regulators were adjusted wide open.

Total unregulated demand is typically 80 percent of the total demand. This creates a unique dynamic not seen in other utilities. As real demand increases, the supply pressure drops and 80 percent of the total use volume diminishes proportional to the reduced density of the supply air. Please keep this in mind as we move forward.

Demand categories for compressed air include:

Appropriate production use—compressed air that is well applied and controlled at the pressure of its intended use. This can include coincidental demand, critical pressure, high rate of flow, and high volume users, which provoke the operating philosophy in the manner that they affect the system and its pressure. A portion of the users necessary to production will be regulated, while the balance will be unregulated.

Inappropriate production use—applications that should use electricity, hydraulics, or mechanical power instead of compressed air. Examples include using plant air for aspiration, agitation, or aeration; using air ejectors in place of a simple vacuum; or using air instead of electric vibrators. These compressed air applications are usually developed with no understanding of cost or the consequences of purchasing alternative equipment to perform the same function.

Open blowing—using plant air for moving product, drying, wiping, cooling, or part and scrap ejection instead of using pressure blowers, knock outs, or specialty nozzles which would have to be purchased and applied.

Drainage—using plant air in conjunction with open valves, notched ball valves, or motorized or solenoid-operated drain valves to dispose of compressed air effluent such as water or lubricant instead of automatic drain traps which do not use compressed air.

Leaks—waste, which is internal to production equipment as well as in the general piping system from the internals of a compressor to the point of use.

Artificial demand—the excess volume of air that is created for unregulated users as a result of supplying higher line pressure than necessary for the application. This includes all previously unregulated consumption including appropriate and inappropriate production use, open blowing, and leaks. As the pressure supplying all uses fluctuates, artificial demand increases and decreases from a minimum to a maximum waste level. As real production demand decreases and the pressure rises, artificial demand increases. As leaks in the system are fixed, the pressure rises and all unregulated demand increases proportionate to the pressure rise including the balance of the leaks. The use of a demand expander can correct this problem when adjusted to the minimum required pressure. It will allow storage to be maintained in the supply system to handle variations in demand.

Attrition—additional air consumption for applications as a result of unmanaged wear. Examples include blast nozzles, textile machinery nozzles, etc. Unattended attrition can increase this consumption by 50 percent volumetrically and frequently provokes the increase in pressure at both the point of use and at the supply. A ½-in. nozzle with 1/16 in. wear that has been elevated from 80 to 90 psig will increase the volume by 50 percent.

Purge air from desiccant dryers— air consumed in the process of stripping air dryers of moisture. This process can range from 3-18.5 percent of the total air system capacity from one dryer type to another. There are specialty categories of air such as CDA 100 that is used in the microelectronics industry where purge can approach 25 percent of total capacity for the system.

Centrifugal compressor blow off—when the demand for air in the system is below the minimum stable mass flow for centrifugal compressors. These compressors will blow off the difference between the minimum stable flow and the actual demand requirement. It is common that all centrifugals installed in an application can be blowing off simultaneously. Depending on the design of the compressor, the current limit low adjustment, and the inlet conditions, the minimum stable flow can range from 60-87 percent of the full load capacity. This is real demand that requires energy whether it is productive or not. The objective in operating a centrifugal compressor should be to keep it fully loaded in base load and operating on its natural curve.

Bleed air or control bypass—a point-of-use consumption where air is bled off the system or bypasses an application to improve the accuracy of pressure and/or flow control. Where pressure accuracy is important and there is considerably more power and/or higher than needed pressure, the pressure will fluctuate erratically or perturbate. This is usually the result of compensating for a controls or storage problem. The most common use of bleed air or bypass is in simulation testing such as in the aerospace industry.

In general, these 10 items represent the constituents of demand that were encountered in the audited systems. The last four categories were represented in only 23 percent of all systems while the others were typical constituents.

Audit conclusions
Demand is the most misunderstood part of the compressed air system. Compressed air mass does the work. Only a few plants used mass to determine the work energy and related supply needed to accomplish their desired results. The majority used volume and pressure in a separate context. There are no standard guidelines for the use of compressed air. Without information or education, none of this is perceived to be a problem because it cannot be defined or quantified.

The audit showed an average cost of $1.66/100 cfm/hr of operation based on an average use pressure of 96 psig that was the same as supply. On a three-shift, five-day-a-week basis, the application of a ¼ in. open blowing device at 90 psig costs $9834/year to operate.

In all of the plants audited, anyone could make this application decision with no discussion or knowledge of the consequences. If this application requires the addition or loading of another compressor, the cost could increase by 10 times.

Most of the audited plants currently have an air committee and have developed standards for the use of compressed air. They also have applied standards for allowable differentials at all applicable points from one end of the system to the other. They view the addition of compressed air users to the system as a business decision (as it should be).

The average demand reduction in these plants was 43 percent although this is an on-going process. The average demand pressure requirement has been reduced by 12 psig and many feel they can reduce this further. The average savings per year including all costs of compressed air has been more than $400,000.* The average return on investment—adjusted for tax treatment, cost of capital, and adding depreciation for capital—was 16 months.

The tough question to ask in these plants is how much production revenue must be generated annually in order to do nothing. Because this is bottom-line expense and directly impacts on operating income, the answer is the potential savings times the production revenue divided by the pretax profit. The average plant making 5 percent pretax profit would need $8 million/yr to ignore the $400,000/yr operating cost reduction. This certainly does not make production at any cost a sound reason for having a poorly operated and configured plant air system. MT

*Plant Air Technology has audited more than 860 medium to large industrial compressed air systems. The average system of the 250 discussed in this article has 1485 bhp of on-line power. The size of the system and the burdened cost of energy, water, and maintenance will influence the potential savings.

R. Scot Foss is president of Plant Air Technology, P.O. Box 470467, Charlotte, NC 28247; telephone (704) 844-6666. He is the author of “The Compressed Air Systems Solution Series,” 1994, Bantra Publishing; telephone (704) 372-3400.

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12:35 am
September 2, 2002
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Choose Portable Compressors With Design Margin

One of the easiest ways to determine if a portable compressor is right for your job is to look at its “design margin.” This is the ideal operating level of a machine. Not to be confused with the maximum output of the engine, the design margin is the level at which a machine can produce without working too hard.

Also, understanding a compressor’s makeup, specifically what is needed and what is not needed, can make a huge difference in the profit margin of a job. How powerful is the engine? What kind of cooling system does it have?

One of the more costly components of any portable compressor is the engine. Most of these compressors are rated as either continuous or intermittent duty. For compressors that run all the time, engine horsepower margin (ideal operating level) is typically 85 percent of its maximum rated horsepower. Compressors that are stopped and started repeatedly have a horsepower margin of 93 percent of their maximum output.

For most diesel engines, the life of the engine is roughly proportional to the total amount of fuel consumed by it. So if an engine consumes 10 gallons of diesel fuel per hour at full load, and it is supposed to be overhauled after 10,000 hours of operation, it will require an overhaul after 100,000 gallons of fuel have been used.

If this same engine were operating at 85 percent of its maximum power, it would consume approximately 8.5 gallons of fuel per hour and would be able to run 11,765 hours before the next overhaul. This is an increase in engine life of more than 17 percent. If you compare the cost of extending the time for an engine overhaul by 1765 hours against the original difference in engine purchase cost, you may find that the margin paid for itself.

Lowering horsepower will save wear and tear not only on your engine, but also on your fuel system. Lower horsepower in a diesel engine means lower fuel pump pressure, which in turn increases the life of your pump and your checkbook. Also, the fuel injection pressure will decrease, thus helping the injectors last longer and deliver fuel more efficiently for a longer time.

Cooling system
Another system within the compressor that can provide value from design margin is the cooling system. Cooling system margin is sometimes called “fouling margin” because the coolers can handle more dirt loading without the compressor overheating. The cost of stopping to clean the coolers of a compressor that has shut down will pay many times over for the initial cost or increased rental rate of a compressor with cooling system margin.

An oil-flooded compressor’s cooling system performs two main functions. First, it removes the heat generated by the airend during the process of compressing the air. This lowers the amount of oil that is present in the compressed air. Oil vapor is present in the delivered air of any oil-flooded compressor, and the amount of oil content in vapor form increases with the air temperature. Oil vapor is a gas and it will pass through filtration or a separation system since it is not in liquid form. So if the compressor is delivering hotter air, not only will it have increasingly higher amounts of oil vapor, but the air is more likely to cool off upon entering the system being supplied, which condenses the vapor into liquid oil. Many processes, particularly industrial applications, can be contaminated by the condensed oil over time and incur enormous costs to clean their systems.

Second, the cooling system lowers the temperature of the oil that is injected into the airend bearings so they are properly lubricated. The benefit of lower oil injection temperature is longer bearing life. When oil temperatures are higher during compressor operation, the fluid gets worked harder, and the lubrication properties of the oil can break down sooner, which reduces bearing life.

Finally, let’s look at the “cool-box” vs “hot-box” design. A cool-box design means that the cooling air is drawn into the compressor package and flows completely through the unit before entering the fan, which then pushes the air through the coolers and out of the package. This type of design typically has air temperatures entering the fan of 10-25 F above the temperature of the compressor surrounding the compressor. Since the fan is pushing cool air it operates more efficiently, reducing the horsepower required by the fan and lowering the fuel use of the compressor.

A hot-box system pulls air through the coolers, through the fan, into the rest of the package, and out of the unit. Air temperatures inside the compressor with this type design can be 70-100 F above the surrounding air temperature. This means that all the components inside the compressor, from sensors to wiring, endure higher temperatures during operation. This reduces the overall life of the components, which is simply service and repair costs waiting to happen.

As the old adage goes, “time is money.” If time between repairs and service is extended as a result of design margin in your portable compressor, you’ve just made money. If you find your service personnel taking more time to resolve problems, replace fuel pumps, rebuild airends, clean coolers, or simply waiting for the equipment to cool down, you are throwing away all the dollars you thought you saved on your initial purchase, and then some. MT

Devin D. Biehler is aftermarket product support manager for Ingersoll-Rand Co., Portable Power Business, Mocksville, NC 27028; (336) 751-6502

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9:41 pm
September 1, 2002
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Are You Getting What You Expect From Your EAM or CMMS?

If there are issues with a system implementation they relate back to the definition of the project goals.

Does the word “frustrating” describe the current state of your computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) or enterprise asset management (EAM) system implementation? How is it possible that with all that time spent gathering information on equipment, preventive maintenance (PM) tasks, and parts, assigning employees, and entering vendor information into the system, all you have to show for it is a “work request/work order generator” and complaints from maintenance workers that continue to pile up. Is their complaint that it takes too much time and too much paperwork? What went wrong?

In the beginning
Was a functioning manual system in place? Or was the first attempt at organizing the maintenance department done with a computerized system? Under ideal conditions, it is best to grow from a manual system, meaning a system with handwritten work and purchase orders and a cardex inventory system. If the manual system is working well, the conversion into a computerized system is less painful and saves time.

Many companies do not have a manual system working smoothly and the implementation of a computerized system necessarily creates work and a significant culture change for the maintenance department. There is no mystery involved in introducing a computerized system; be prepared to manage the change and understand that the work involved will produce tangible benefits.

What were the goals of the project? Were they structured, focused, and clearly defined? Were they communicated to all those impacted by the project? What were the expectations? Was the goal to implement a work request or work order program to control preventive maintenance? Or was the goal to give the company a knowledge base from which maintenance decisions can be made? If there are issues with the system implementation they relate back to the definition of the project goals.

At some point, a baseline measurement must be made. Answer the question, “What do you want to get out of the system?” Will the system be used to determine service, productivity, and inventory levels? Define the goals of the project clearly or expect an exercise in futility. Without clear definitions being made and acted upon and with a lack of accountability, each user of the system will define his own, usually minimal, requirements. If this is allowed to happen, the integrity of the data in the system will equal garbage in and garbage out.

Start by reverse engineering the implementation process. Most implementations suffer from an unclear definition of what the users want to get out of the new system. Make sure the effort of data input is consistent with the goals of the project. It is easier to work with a clear idea of what you expect to get out of a system, and then prepare an analysis of what data is needed, and how it will be entered into the system to produce the end results you expect. Any system can store information but the key is taking the information and converting it into knowledge and then being able to make management decisions based on that knowledge.

Here are a few examples of benchmarks and the data that must be entered into the maintenance system in order to calculate the benchmarks:

  • Maintenance cost as a percent of equipment replacement value (3 percent)
  • First, the equipment replacement value must be determined. I have yet to work with a maintenance system in which this field was not available. However, prior to entering the data there must be a definition of equipment replacement value. Is it the original purchase price or the purchase price with a factor of inflation for today’s increased cost of replacement? The definition of equipment replacement value needs to be applied consistently to all equipment.

    Maintenance costs require more attention. How are maintenance costs defined? Do they include material from inventory, nonstock material, labor, and contractor services? If all of these costs are included in your definition of maintenance costs that information needs to be entered into the maintenance system. For example, if material from inventory is included in the definition of maintenance costs, then stock material will need to be priced and issued from the system. The same will hold true for nonstock material, in-house labor, and contractor services. To properly capture the costs, they will need to be priced and entered into the system. Again, consistency is the key.

  • Backlog hours (2-5 weeks)
  • This is a simple concept that is easy to calculate, but it requires the estimated hours—typically by craft—be entered into the system.

  • Maintenance cost by operating department
  • Earlier I discussed how maintenance costs are defined and what they include. Whatever definition is decided upon, consistency is the key.

    How are operating departments defined in the system? Is there a separate field for department, operating department, and location or are you going to use the general ledger or chart of accounts to differentiate between departments? If the location field is used to define some operating departments and the general ledger field for others, pulling the information out of the system can be extremely difficult. Again, consistency is the key.

  • Percent of time spent on corrective, predictive, and preventive maintenance work orders
  • To calculate this ratio, a definition of what corrective vs preventive maintenance work is will need to be determined. Once this is done, the work will need to be flagged as either corrective or preventive work. Then, depending on the definition of labor time, which may or may not include outside contractors’ time, this work must be entered into the system. Again, consistency is the key.

How to avoid the pitfalls
Most mistakes are made when the basic information is entered into the system. Basic information answers such questions as “What is a piece of equipment?,” “What is a part?,” and “How is preventive maintenance handled?”. More importantly, “How much detail gives us the information necessary to run the department?”

  • What is a piece of equipment? Is it the cost, the critical nature, or a life/safety issue that determines that the piece needs to be set up in the system as a unique entity? Is it anything over $500 or maybe the cost is less but it would have a significant impact on the operation (like the lock on the front door) or a fire extinguisher for safety? A policy needs to be created defining what a piece of equipment is.
  • Parts vs equipment. Parts are typically items that make up a piece of equipment and are replaced, not repaired. Disposable filters are typically parts. Electric motors can be both. Smaller electric motors are replaced as parts. As an example, a ¼ hp motor most likely would be a part, while a 25 hp motor probably would be a piece of equipment. Generally, setting up a ¼ hp motor as a piece of equipment would create a cumbersome situation for maintenance history.
  • Preventive maintenance. The caution with setting up PMs is again the amount of detail you need. As an example, an air handling unit can be set up as a number of pieces of equipment (fans, motors, condensers, etc.) with each having a separate PM or it can be set up as one piece of equipment with a number of PM tasks. Typically setting the unit up as one piece of equipment reduces the number of work orders or pieces of paper the system generates.
  • I have been at sites where the volume of paper generated for PM work orders stalled or exterminated the project. An option to reduce some of the paper yet get the detail is to set up the PMs on the larger unit (the air handling unit) but then do the corrective work against individual pieces of equipment (fans, motors, condensers, etc.).

  • Training. People are very good at their jobs and now are being asked to change; how do you get them as comfortable with the new process as they were with the old one? Training and practice is the only way they will overcome the natural human resistance to change. There is no magical solution, but the correct timing and quality and quantity of training is crucial.

Things to be aware of
There is no such thing as a turnkey implementation. You are going to be involved in setting the system up while the consultants are present, or you will be modifying it after they leave. My experience shows it is better to be involved sooner rather than later.

Consultants may want you to do it their way. Use them to make recommendations or guide on the specifics of a system, but you must remain the owner of the implementation. Make sure when it is complete, you are getting what you expect from the system.

At one turnkey implementation I saw, a small air compressor was set up as three pieces of equipment. Then each piece of equipment had separate PMs set up on it. Take this approach and then multiply it for an entire site; the implementation was a paperwork debacle that implied insufficient resources to get all the work done.

So often I see paranoid behavior because the users feel data accumulated will be used to monitor employee performance. More often I see the system being used to preserve jobs and justify the maintenance budget.

Upper management needs to be kept current on the science of maintenance management. Keep them informed by using examples of how the system has been used to save costs and company resources. MT

David E. Smith has been involved with computerized maintenance management since 1986. He has held the positions of director of training with the Elke Corp. and senior business analyst with Cargill Inc. He can be contacted at TEAMS Corporation, One Meridian Crossings, Suite 810, Minneapolis, MN 55423; telephone (612) 798-2132

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8:36 pm
September 1, 2002
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Pay for Applied Skills: The Time is Now


Robert M. Williamson, Strategic Work Systems, Inc.

Having trouble retaining top-skilled maintenance technicians? Motivating your technicians to master new skills a problem? Is recruiting promising maintenance employees difficult? Are most of your maintenance employees topped out in pay? Is your maintenance compensation program keeping highly skilled prospects from applying for job openings?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions plaguing many maintenance organizations today, you should seriously consider a “pay for applied skills” compensation plan. In such a pay plan, employees’ pay is based on the skills and knowledge they apply on the job rather than the pay rate of the job classification they hold. The difference? You are paying for what the maintenance employee actually accomplishes on the job. Higher-skilled employees earn more per hour than those employees who perform at the minimal expected levels.

In a recent manufacturing plant example many of the 165 maintenance employees were “high seniority” and at top pay in their traditional pay plan. They had been topped out for years. Regardless of the skills or the job classification, most maintenance employees were paid the same hourly rate; lubricators and truck mechanics were paid the same as instrumentation and control technicians and journeyman-level millwrights thanks to a four-year time-in grade pay plan. In this plant the I&C technicians and millwrights clearly added more value to equipment reliability and plant performance than truck mechanics and lubricators. Truck mechanics and lubricators were essential to the operation, too, but were in plentiful supply and easily trained. I&C mechanics and millwrights were a scarce resource and it took years to develop the skills.

A second problem in this case was one of “motivation.” How could you possibly encourage people to learn and apply new skills for improving reliability if they felt that there was “nothing in it for me.” New employers in the area were recruiting those top-skilled technicians and millwrights by higher pay and opportunities for advancement.

A third problem in this case was the difficulty of recruiting new, higher-skilled maintenance technicians. They struggled with minimal chances for advancement, and no provisions for starting out at a higher than entry-level pay.

So, how was the “pay for applied skills” program developed in this case? It began with a comprehensive definition of the skills and knowledge required to perform the maintenance jobs in the plant. This listing of “job-performance requirements” was developed using a duty/task analysis process. (Beware not to take a short cut with this step as it is prescribed in the “Federal Uniform Guidelines for Employee Selection Programs.”) The duty/task analysis also provided a valid and fair way to assess employees’ skills and knowledge, structure on-job and classroom training programs, and assess the skills and knowledge of prospective employees.

The next step determined the advancement requirements, or criteria, and dollar value of each pay level in the new plan.

Another important consideration here was not to develop a “general skills advancement plan” where everybody had to have the same skills and knowledge to advance. Here was an opportunity to structure the new pay plan to emphasize the skills and knowledge necessary to improve and sustain new levels of equipment performance and reliability for today and into the future. Here was the chance to develop a “multi-skilled” maintenance work force. This was a true “win-win” situation; the business wins through training and qualification of maintenance employees to perform the tasks that truly make a difference and the employees win by learning to do what they are interested in doing.

What about maintenance employees who did not want to learn and apply new skills (and you will always have some)? If they are good employees, performing needed tasks on the job, they can fit into the plan at a level that matches either their current pay or the skills and knowledge they have.

The downside of a pay for applied skills plan, and probably the biggest barrier to this effective compensation system is two-fold: it is different and it takes a bit more time to administer than the old time-in grade job classification systems.

A maintenance pay for applied skills plan may be just what your organization needs to breathe new life into a pay and progression process based on skills and knowledge of the last century. MT
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8:34 pm
September 1, 2002
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The New World of Six Sigma: Don't get left behind

“Six Sigma for asset dependability reduces the variation in design, procurement, installation, operation, reliability, and maintainability of equipment assets in order to provide predictable performance at optimal cost of ownership.”

The intent of these words has long been familiar to the reliability and maintenance community. What has been added are the words “Six Sigma.”

Originated by Motorola, Six Sigma took hold in a big way in the early 1990s. The focus was reducing variation in manufacturing processes. This was key for the semiconductor industry in its race to stay ahead of the Japanese. Companies such as Compaq, Intel, and Texas Instruments made great strides in manufacturing productivity. Along came the conglomerate giants such as ABB, AlliedSignal, and GE. Six Sigma is demonstrated to be an effective productivity and cash generator for aerospace, automotive, electrical, chemicals, plastics, and others.

As we began the 2000s, Six Sigma found new “processes” to fix: transactional, design, marketing, and new partnerships in Lean and supply chain. Now we are seeing Black Belts birthed in nonmanufacturing business segments; transportation and financial are among the industries using Six Sigma to enhance productivity.

But wait a minute—is Six Sigma in manufacturing fully matured? Are these Black Belts and Green Belts becoming more a “minimum expectation” in manufacturing? I think the answer is “yes” with one exception. Manufacturing will NOT achieve Five Sigma, let alone Six Sigma, for its internal operations unless it realizes the value of Six Sigma in asset dependability. It’s been my experience that the petroleum and chemicals sectors have recognized the value of predictable, stable operations in which asset dependability has played an important role. But have they truly achieved Six Sigma performance in the reliability and maintenance processes? I’m referring to the work processes: dependability in capital design, stores, planning and scheduling, hazardous work permitting, outside support services, reliability methods, work execution, etc.

With perhaps the exception of the aforementioned semiconductor manufacturing sector, my experience with discrete manufacturing has revealed very little regard for the value of asset dependability. The environment is predominantly reactive. Operations has little patience for preventive maintenance. There is hardly a whisper of predictive or proactive maintenance, and reliability engineering is virtually unheard of. Work processes hardly exist. Operations operates and when it fails, maintenance repairs.

Interestingly, these companies are spending tremendous dollars and resources in people, training, and improving the sigma level of their suppliers. Why do these companies all but ignore their assets’ variation in reliability, and the work processes to ensure on-going performance predictability? How can manufacturers espouse to becoming Lean when their continuous flow is interrupted by unplanned equipment downtime?

After seeing the data and talking to some of the leaders, I am convinced the answer is “they don’t get it.” There is a tremendous paradigm that assets are there at the whim of operations, and maintenance is “staffed to react.” Data reveals their overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) capability to be less than 60 percent on average. Best-in-class petroleum and chemical operations have OEE in the 90 percent plus range. Benchmark for discrete operations, I am told but I haven’t seen it yet, is 85 percent. Discrete operations have a greater degree of labor cost intensity than continuous processes.

If OEEs were driven to 85 percent, discrete operations could eliminate overtime and even eliminate a second or third shift of operation per week. If business is great, the company can achieve more capacity out of its existing equipment. This seems so obvious, but the folks leading the discrete operations typically don’t have a clue concerning their OEE capability.

If your company is truly committed to the Six Sigma philosophy, it needs to get on board with asset dependability as a key component. Even if your company is not going down the Six Sigma path, you should consider carefully that these skills are becoming more the rule to the profession than in the past where the “chosen few” were tapped to become Black Belts. My company offers Six Sigma specialization in asset dependability, as may others in the future. My promise is that you will look at your job and the world of productivity through a new set of lenses if you elect to certify as a Six Sigma Green Belt or Black Belt. MT

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8:30 pm
September 1, 2002
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How good are you? How do you know?


Robert C. Baldwin, CMRP, Editor

How good is maintenance in Europe? That question was on my mind in June when I traveled to Helsinki to attend Euromaintenance 2002, the biennial conference sponsored by the European Federation of National Maintenance Societies.

The plenary session on the second day looked promising because it included a paper on “Nordic Benchmarking Analysis and EFNMS Key Figures” by Tom Svantesson, leader of the EFNMS working group on benchmarking.

Svantesson pointed out that “today’s management often has a limited knowledge of maintenance. On top of that their available time to focus on maintenance is limited.” (Sound familiar?) This, he says, “forces the maintenance manager to address his management in business terms and not as preferred in engineering or maintenance terms.”

He went on to suggest that benchmarking and performance indicators can help create needed understanding.

The EFNMS has adopted a list of 13 indicators as fundamental maintenance performance measures. According to Svantesson, indicator selection was relatively easy; defining the terms was a bit harder.

The maintenance societies of Denmark, Finland, and Sweden have conducted a number of benchmarking analyses using the EFNMS indicators.

Their numbers are good. For example, maintenance cost as a percent of plant replacement value averaged 3 percent, “world class” according to some of the studies we hear about.

More important is the fact that the numbers are public knowledge and they are based on a standard approach developed by a recognized authority: the EFNMS. In that regard, Europe is ahead of North America. Yes, benchmarking methods and numbers are available here, but they tend to be closely held.

We need a public standard for benchmarking the performance of equipment maintenance and reliability organizations. I would look first to the Society for Maintenance & Reliability Professionals for leadership–a committee report perhaps–in defining these performance indicators.

I know SMRP members who believe the society should provide standard definitions of key performance indicators and perhaps even provide performance guidelines leading to certification. We would like to offer them our encouragement and support.

We believe it is in the best interest of the profession to have a common set of standard indicators and numbers that practitioners can use to explain maintenance performance to the rest of their company. MT


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