Archive | October, 2003


2:30 am
October 2, 2003
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My Life Without Spam

For anyone who reads this column on a regular basis, you know that I rally against spam.

I define spam as a commercial e-mail message that did not come from a list that I subscribe to or do business with. The other common element is that the e-mail does not come from the company domain address, like In fact, most spam does not include any contact information about the sender. Last but not least, I define spam as an offer that is of no real interest to me, like diet plans (perhaps I should be more interested in these messages), hair loss, my golf swing, long-lost classmates, Nigerian money laundering, and body part growth.

Spam has continued to multiply and now makes up more than 50 percent of all e-mail. Spam is worse than junk mail because it is often disguised as e-mail from a friend or other contact. Some of these messages carry files and programs that can be harmful to your computer by releasing worms or viruses. Some contain unwanted adult images that could be stored in your computer and cause problems at work.

At best, American workers spend at least some part of their day deleting spam rather than being productive. All of these problems are reducing the wonderful utility that e-mail provides. I am not willing to let a bunch of cyber-marketing miscreants muck up one of my favorite modes of communication. Spam must die!

Recent upgrades to AOL, Earthlink, and other popular Internet services include some basic spam filtering systems. Even if they are only 50 percent effective, this feature can still eliminate a large amount of unwanted e-mails. Of course, you should check your spam folder after each download to make sure that it has not grabbed opt-in e-mail newsletters and other e-mails that you want.

There are many choices for standalone spam filters, but most are based on rules that you must set up in advance to grab offending e-mails. As an example, most companies block e-mails with the word “free” in them.

But then you will not be getting much e-mail about free speech (a concept our country is built on), a free maintenance seminar in your area, or a free white paper about reliability strategies. Most spam senders use fr*ee or other spaces and characters to avoid spam traps anyway. As much as I abhor spam, I do not feel that I should hand over control of my online communication to a kid in the corporate IT department who sets up my e-mail rules.

Imagine if you will a system that tracks what e-mails you delete as spam. It also tracks what e-mails I delete as spam and what e-mails 600,000 or more people are deleting as spam. When you, I, or 600,000 other people click “Delete” to remove a spam message from our inbox, it disappears from all our inboxes. Spam filtering rules that are defined by an online community of 600,000 people and are based on their actual spam-deleting behavior are rules I can live with. Enter SpamNet by Cloudmark.

SpamNet is a Microsoft Outlook add-in program that can be downloaded (there is a 30-day free trial offer) and installed automatically. When a spam message is reported by a SpamNet user, the message is sent to a central computer or database that records the spam. When other SpamNet users download their e-mail, the software checks the new messages to see if they contain reported spam. If the system finds a spam message, SpamNet moves it to the Spam folder. This process ensures that your inbox remains clean of spam messages and that none of your regular e-mail is lost or blocked.

Forget the rule-based spam filters and jump on board the SpamNet train. If you would have downloaded a free copy when I first wrote about it, you would be paying only $1.99 per month right now. If you waited, you can currently get SpamNet for just $3.99 per month. If you spend more than 1 minute per day deleting spam, your time is worth more than the service fee. Since I started using SpamNet I feel like I am plugged into a whole different Internet. Now my e-mail inbox is actually filled with e-mails I want to read. MT


The recent sobig worm and other nasty viruses are spread by e-mail from unprotected computers. The new pattern seems to be that when Microsoft announces a software patch that is related to security, the virus writers rush to release a program that can exploit the security flaw within 30-90 days after the announcement. They know a large percentage of users will not download the Microsoft patch.

This pattern will be with us well into the future, so please practice safe e-mail by installing antivirus software and updating it weekly. This will go a long way toward slowing the spread of viruses and worms. Antivirus software packages are available from Symantec or McAfee.

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9:51 pm
October 1, 2003
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Project Links VFDs with Data Network

New installation provides information not readily available previously that identifies and rectifies potential problems directly related to VFD components.

In installation of 97 variable frequency drives (VFDs) at the New Jersey International & Bulk Mail Center (NJI-BMC), Jersey City, NJ, in 1994-95 had reduced energy usage for the USPS. But a recent revitalization of the drives, which slashed the yearly utility bill by approximately $300,000, and installation of a drive link communication scheme for the HVAC controls further enhanced overall maintenance resources.

The new data network provides communication with all drives, and relays this information to a centrally located data link network PC workstation where craft employees can view various online parameters for all drives. But it was not an easy process to put this network in place.

Electrical distribution system
NJI-BMC, the largest among 21 bulk mail centers, includes three main buildings that occupy about 1.7 million sq ft. The high voltage 26 kV system equipment is located in a fenced-in high voltage outdoor switchyard. The medium voltage 5 kV system is housed in an outdoor switchgear cubicle. The low voltage distribution system is comprised of eight double-ended, 1000-1500 kVA transformers 4160-480/277 V, with main, tie, and subfeeder breakers. These subfeeder breakers provide power to various motor control centers (MCC).

These MCCs furnish 480 V, 3 phase, 60 Hz power to the VFDs. Ninety-seven UNICO Inc. 1100 HVAC Series drives and auxiliary equipment were installed in 1994-95 to conserve energy and reduce monthly electric bills. At that time, we assumed that installing the drive link network communication, which was estimated at $30,000, was not cost effective. Furthermore, we had not developed the skill sets needed to operate and maintain the overall drive link network or VFD components.

Field data shows problems
In the summer of 1998, during one of our periodic site inspections, we found that the air handling units (AHU) control systems were not functioning as designed. Our field data showed that some of the motors had failed and burned out, and some of the motors would not function in the VFD mode. One of the reports indicated that 80 percent of AHUs had minor to major problems and were switched to the “bypass” mode.

At that time we realized that we needed a centralized data gathering system that would retrieve, collect, and monitor data for all 97 VFDs. Usually, our technician, with a handheld pad and pen, would go to a VFD panel, insert the key, open the door, and start retrieving various parameters using the VFD touch keypad. The technician would scroll through the display screen and note the data on the pad. Repeating this simple procedure for 97 VFDs that are located throughout a 137,000 sq ft area was tedious, questionable, and labor intensive.

Moreover, we did not know how to manage all the VFD data effectively to ascertain if the HVAC was functioning in the optimum modes. We were not confident that we were capturing any financial benefits from the VFD technologies. Without a comprehensive data network system, it was difficult to gauge and validate VFD operation. It was an extremely laborious and tedious task monitoring all drives on a periodic basis.

Complications of a new data gathering network
In general, most of the data system service contractors would replace existing components and install a new independent data system. Customarily, this is a common solution and an easy option.

This option includes hiring an architect/engineering design firm to prepare design and engineering, and install and validate the system operation. Installing an independent new communication data link and modules could require removal of certain original components in the VFD cell configuration and surrounding structure. This option would require a power outage because the installing contractor must shut the power off prior to entering the power/controls compartment of the VFD cell.

Estimated costs for this option, as expected, were high, and a return on investment (ROI) criterion was less favorable than other options. A rough estimate for the new communication data link for 97 VFDs was conservatively assessed at approximately $60,000.

This hardware and software link, designed to communicate with all drives, would gather data, generate specific data files, and prepare operating trends, defaults files, reports, etc. It then would communicate this information to a PC centrally located in the plant. At the PC, a craft employee could view various online parameters individually for all drives. Based on the existing VFD’s keypad display, we selected eight parameters including rpm, Hz, A, ac and dc, V, kW, torque, fault history, etc., to be displayed on the PC monitor.

Looking for lower cost options
During 2000 and 2002, the U.S. Postal Service was under serious budgeting constraints, and virtually no funding was allotted for any new projects. The NJI-BMC maintenance staff had to look for a nonexistent no-cost option.

When we began looking for the no-cost option, the first step was to assess our on-site resources. The maintenance craft personnel and technical staff reassessed the work scope and determined that our in-house electronic technicians could complete the fieldwork.

However, there were some inherent difficulties in this method. One of the major problems, when using our crew as compared to acquiring outside contractors, was how to reallocate the regular assigned work, which is dictated and approved by the mail-processing department. Any changes impacting mail processing could adversely jeopardize our revenue.

Primarily, we needed to procure all material, install the main hub, install all wiring to and from the VFDs, and test the hardware and software. However, we were somewhat skeptical and concerned because of our limited experience in installing such a sizeable network.

There was also the issue of questionable availability of manpower for a long period of time. We had limited resources and could not reallocate our on-site maintenance labor for other project work. Our facility operates on a 24/7 basis, and it was somewhat difficult to commit the availability of a maintenance force that was specifically dispensed and reserved for maintaining the mail processing equipment.

We presented this concept to our facility’s management, USPS headquarters, procurement, and purchasing departments. They highly favored the concept of motivating our maintenance crew, who would be completing the major work. Additionally, NJI-BMC management was pleased we would be developing and acquiring in-house communication network skill sets, using our on-site resources. Of course, the overall cost reduction was the critical component for favoring this option.

Contact with the VFD supplier
Although we could manage the on-site labor for completing the installation and field validation of the data link network, we needed the hardware and software package from the VFD supplier at no cost. Initially, when we discussed our proposal with the supplier, they were interested in validating the network, but had no instant response for the no-cost option. In return, we offered our unique test site for gathering and sharing the actual database for the 97 VFDs. Furthermore, we assumed that in the future, this database and communication link could be used to appraise cost effectiveness and optimization of manpower resources.

We mutually agreed that the online network data could be used to pinpoint miscellaneous faults that are not directly related to the VFD components and its operation.

Historically, most of the failures in operating the AHUs that are equipped with VFDs were presumed to be the failures of VFD technologies. In general, a maintenance worker would switch the unit to a bypass mode whenever the AHU malfunctioned or had any problems. The worker may not investigate or may lack the skill sets to find out if any component in the VFD (rectifier, converter, controls, etc.) malfunctioned, or any of the AHU’s components (filters, dampers, belts, bearings, coils, etc.) malfunctioned. At the VFD panel, it would display a default message whenever the VFD shut down. The proposed data link might resolve some of the problems in pinpointing a faulty component.

Following further discussions, the supplier agreed to provide the data link software and any technical support at no cost. We agreed to complete all on-site work including material procurement and installing data link hubs, wiring, PC, modems, etc. This consideration would minimize overall cost, was less risky as compared to other options, and was comparatively easy to accomplish.

Evaluating safety concerns and shutdown impacts
Since the concept of linking 97 VFDs had not been tried elsewhere, we did not know how to evaluate any risk factors that might hamper our mail processing operations. Management was apprehensive regarding the testing of any equipment or systems that were not tested before.

At the NJI-BMC, we are very much influenced by the safety and comfort level of employees. What if the air handling control system malfunctioned because of the newly installed network? A common mode failure could propagate fault to other drives, and might adversely impact the operation of other drives.

Since our facility operates around the clock, any shutdowns that impact our air-handling HVAC system could cause an adverse environment for employees and equipment. In general, minimizing the number of shutdowns in the air handling system, regardless of whether intentional or unintentional, is critical for our overall mail processing operations. Initially, we estimated one or two shutdowns. However, we were successful in completing the revitalization project without any shutdowns.

Project delays encountered
We encountered several unforeseen problems in completing the project as scheduled. The as-built drawings that were retrieved from the library were questionable because our 30-year-old plant had gone through several modifications and building expansions and drawings did not match the actual layout. Another major problem that the supplier faced was retaining its information technology experts. The supplier had to reallocate the manpower, or needed to hire new IT experts.

We had to delay the overall schedule by several months. One critical reason was ongoing manpower reorganization and reallocations. Just as the supplier faced difficult problems in retaining skilled data link communications experts, we could not allocate our maintenance resources as committed.

In spite of all the hurdles, the supplier’s engineering staff was proactive, resolving major problems with the hardware and software. The supplier developed the software specifically for our application.

The chip sets that were installed in the 87 VFDs that were manufactured prior to 1995 were not built for a linking data network. We had to replace all the original chips and reprogram them to communicate with the installed data link software.

Project is ongoing
The project team continues to find substantial changes and modifications that would enhance overall ease and user-friendliness of the network. Recently, in conjunction with the supplier, we found out the following:

• The existing script file should be modified to formulate and create a database that would:
1. Enhance the fault file to be retrievable on a daily basis. Study and analyze the default file logic.
2. Create a database that includes a watch file for each of the VFDs. Record all faults.
3. Create a “norm-parameters file” for a group of alike/similar VFDs (5, 10, 15, 25, 40, 125 hp) and display those VFDs and parameters that exceed/lag the specified values.
4. Set up a file that shows a log of underperforming AHU or VFD components. Display the file periodically.
• A new block should be added for the operator to type in remarks or notes on the setup screen for later reference.
• A display should be added to view all faulted VFDs.
• A display should be added to view all VFDs that are approaching tolerance limits or operating beyond the specified parameters.
• A display should be added to reset and, if required, to modify tolerance limits.
• A display should be added to archive or retrieve VFDs that were on the watch list.

Newfound information solves problems
So far, our experience with testing the installed data link system is encouraging and useful. The system has provided detailed information that was not readily available prior to the data link installation. We found this information to be useful in identifying and rectifying potential problems that were not directly related to the VFD components.

Initially, we did not know how to interpret and use the information provided on the screen. We observed that the values of some parameters were questionable, and appeared to be abnormal as compared to similar VFDs.

We found out that these parameters indirectly pointed to problems with blocked filters, broken belts, flapping belts, inadvertent damper operation, or dampers not operating at all. Based on this data, we replaced filters and belts, adjusted sheaves, cleaned coils, etc. Subsequently, we noticed the improvement in AHU operations. Reviewing the faults history indicated problems with local power supplies, mismatched micro chips, bad boards, capacitor burned out, etc.

Recently, after we replaced the motor on one of the 125 hp drives, it would not operate properly in the VFD mode. The drive repeatedly displayed high dc V faults, and shut down. Immediately, we blamed the VFD for causing the repeated shutdowns. However, checking various parameters, specifically, the rpm for the supply side motor/fan and the return side motor/fan, we found that the rpm settings were incorrect because of the mismatch of the recently installed new sheaves sizes. Fan speed for the supply side was 37 percent less than the settings. This inadvertent setting resulted in forcing the supply side motor to become a generator, eventually raising the dc V and shutting down the drive.

We noticed that the majority of the VFD shutdowns were caused by faults in motors, fans, belts, sheaves, bearings, filters, dirty coils, dampers, etc.

Recent developments
In late February 2003, we crossed one of our milestones in communicating with the VFDs as we began retrieving 16 VFD parameters from the data link.

Our preliminary data analysis indicted that 80-90 percent of our 30-year-old AHUs are functioning in the very favorable or acceptable range. We are on a learning curve and frankly do not know, yet, how to interpret all this complex data.

We knew that the data would be extremely useful in pinpointing those AHUs that were not operating in an acceptable range, as compared to other AHUs in the same group. Based on the data collected, we identified several AHUs that displayed high torque, amperes, speed, etc. Subsequently, our maintenance crew cleaned coils, greased bearings, replaced filters, repositioned dampers, and implemented other corrective measures that resulted in improving the AHUs’ performance.

The data showed that only eight VFDs were occasionally shut down, generally waiting for parts or manpower allocations, or temporarily locked-out for periodic maintenance. Because of the design redundancies in AHUs, shutting down of a few did not have any major impact on overall mail processing operations.

We were extremely pleased to notice two outstanding parameters: total rated motor hp at 1455 and energy usage of 322 kW. We were saving energy, and drastically reducing kW demands by monitoring and optimizing the VFD operations. MT

The authors appreciate the efforts and assistance from the following USPS and UNICO Inc. personnel: NJI-BMC: Joseph Becker; Edward P. Pfeiffer; Tom Finan; John Beadling; Gary Carnevale; senior supervisors; managers of maintenance and operations; Frank P. Tulino, plant manager UNICO: Al Blasinski, Rich Johnson, Chris Ryshkus, Maurice Morrone, Donald Utech, Spencer J. Koenig (former employee)

Joseph C. Pearson has been the manager of maintenance at the United States Postal Service’s New Jersey International & Bulk Mail Center for the past 13 years. The facility’s maintenance department consists of approximately 500 managers, engineers, and craft employees. Dilip A. Pandya has been an electrical engineer at NJI-BMC for the past 4 years, and manages electrical requirements for the plant. He is responsible for investigating and implementing innovative cost-effective technologies. Pandya can be contacted at (201) 714-6727

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9:49 pm
October 1, 2003
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Electric Power and Electric Motor Monitoring and Analysis Guide

Portable instruments for checking electrical systems

With facilities dependent on a steady supply of electric power and continuous operation of electric motors, any disruptions in these processes could prove disastrous to a company’s productivity and profitability. Monitoring and analysis can identify problems that could harm equipment performance, result in motor failure, and leave a company with extensive downtime and lost production.

As facilities and production processes have become more automated, they also have become more sensitive to voltage variations, such as momentary interruptions, sags, and transients. With electric motors, it is vital to assess their condition to plan repair or replacement before actual failure. Portable instruments make it easier to perform the monitoring and analysis techniques that help ensure efficient operation.

Today it is possible to gather, store, recall, and analyze the data needed to perform predictive maintenance because of the portable instruments that make motor monitoring easier. Resistance to ground testing, surge comparison testing, high potential testing, motor current balance testing, partial discharge monitoring, motor circuit analysis, motor current signature analysis, motor power or electrical signature analysis, motor flux analysis, and motor normalizing temperature analysis are some of the major techniques involved.

Reliability is reason for program
A recent motor diagnostic and motor health study found that the primary driver behind a company’s developing a motor diagnostic program was reliability (cited by 70 percent of respondents) with production at 16 percent. Other drivers were troubleshooting (7 percent), energy (3 percent), and other reasons (4 percent).

The study was sponsored by, BJM Corp., and SUCCESS by DESIGN Publishing.

It also found that users prefer instruments that are easy to use, handheld, accurate, and with a short learning curve.

Among the suggestions respondents offered to companies beginning a motor program were:
• Do pre-planning and equipment selection based on company needs.
• Get buy-in from upper management; it is essential.
• Stay with the program.
• Purchase equipment intelligent and simple enough to avoid the need for a dedicated operator.
•Start with a few critical motors, then expand the program.
•Know that initial training is required, but follow-up training 6-12 months later is advisable also.
•Do not rely on just one test method; use all available methods before making a call.

Using motor diagnostics technologies will save money for a company. Howard Penrose of BJM Corp. offered a hypothetical example of a plant with a motor management program that has 100 critical motors. Based on numerous studies, at least 14 of those motors will have mechanical/electrical problems and eight of those will have electrical issues. Assuming only three motors fail in one year, with the average cost of downtime $10,000/hr (and counting only an average 3 hours for coupling/uncoupling and no other costs for troubleshooting, moving, transportation, etc.), the minimum savings would be $90,000/yr by detecting a problem through motor diagnostics and correcting it during planned downtime. MT

Questions to Consider Prior to Making a Motor Diagnostic Equipment Purchase

• What are the training requirements? How much time will have to be invested in learning the equipment and software?

• What is the setup time per motor?

• What are the annual costs? Is there an annual maintenance fee associated with the equipment? What are calibration and repair costs associated with the equipment?

• Are there technical support fees? What is the technical/motor system background of the technical support staff (D&B ratings can be very helpful here)?

• Are there fees for software updates? What are the associated costs? Will the software maintain equipment history from previous versions?

• Are there fees for equipment updates? What are the associated costs?

• How much information does the equipment require to perform an analysis? Motor nameplate? Number of rotor bars and stator slots? Load information? Operating speed? No information required? How easy is the information to obtain?

• How long does it take to complete a test? Is the data analysis automated? Are the diagnostic rules straightforward and applicable?

• Does the equipment require a constant load during testing? What load? How long must this level be maintained?

• Can the test be performed from a distance (i.e., motor control center or disconnect)? Will it detect cable and other circuit problems?

• If a suspicious unbalance is detected, does it require rotor testing or more extensive time testing to confirm if a fault exists?

• Will the equipment operate successfully in the plant electrical environment? Will it allow frequencies other than 50/60 Hz systems to be tested without compromising fault detection?

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9:45 pm
October 1, 2003
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Benefits of Electric Power Monitoring

The blackout of August 14, 2003 was a sharp reminder of the essential nature of electricity and just how dependent we are on its very existence.

Much of the electrical equipment in an industrial facility requires high-quality electricity; it will not tolerate sags, swells, transients, or harmonics, and it certainly will not tolerate power outages, no matter how short-lived. Recognizing the limitations of grid-delivered power (99.9 percent reliable, which translates into about 9 hours of downtime a year) and the fact that 80 percent of all power quality and reliability problems occur inside end-user’s facilities, it behooves all maintenance and reliability managers to understand the power quality susceptibilities within their facilities and of their key equipment.

Look inside the plant
The blackout aside, most power disturbances come from within the facility itself, such as large loads turning on simultaneously, improper wiring and grounding practices, the start-up of large motors, and “electronic” equipment that can be both a source and victim of power quality phenomena.

These disturbances can interrupt production lines, cause damage to products and equipment, result in lost orders or transactions, corrupt data communication and storage, and cause an overall decrease in productivity in today’s global economy. Estimates put power-quality-related losses at $50 billion to $150 billion annually in the U.S.

Power monitoring can address these issues in a number of ways:
• Evaluation of incoming electric supply and distribution throughout the facility to determine if power quality disturbances or variations are impacting, or have the potential to impact, facility operations and/or manufacturing processes
• Identification of power quality trends to provide a baseline for establishing predictive maintenance activities and avoiding interruptions of critical business activities
• Optimization of power mitigation equipment using a reliability- or condition-based monitoring approach. Power parameters can be correlated with process performance and output to locate production defects caused by poor power quality.
• Reduction of energy expenses. In some industries, such as textiles or pulp and paper, electricity consumption of electric motors alone accounts for 90 percent of the total energy bill.
• Assessment of energy and electricity issues related to capital investments and new equipment. There are many examples of multi-million-dollar equipment that performed flawlessly at the vendor’s test site, but did not operate as specified at the customer location due to poor power quality.

Focus on motor reliability
Electric motor systems account for 65 percent of all electricity consumed by U.S. industries. Motors represent a significant capital expenditure, but more important, a sizeable ongoing expense as the average motor consumes 50-60 times its initial purchase in electricity during its life. Further, motors are sensitive to power quality problems such as unbalance and harmonics, and can produce sags (the power quality event that characterized the blackout) for other equipment on the circuit.

Improving the performance, reliability, and cost-effectiveness of these motors is an important goal for industrial maintenance specialists. When a motor is first energized, a large inrush of current results, typically 6-10 times the normal steady state current running levels. This large current change results in a significant voltage drop across the source wiring impedance and the resulting sag leaves less voltage remaining for the loads connected to the same circuit.

Power monitoring systems are used to manage these inrush conditions associated with start-up, as well as to provide critical information on voltage irregularities, one of the five factors attributed to most motor failures. Often overlooked, incoming power quality can have a direct impact on motor performance.

For example, undervoltage and overvoltage conditions can cause rapid heating in the windings, shortening their life. Transients can trigger failures in the winding insulation, while harmonics from nearby equipment can contribute to overheating of the windings. Unbalanced voltage conditions between phases will result in increased current flow and overheated windings as well.

Power monitors are used to baseline incoming power, identify any conditions that might contribute to motor failure, trend parameters that could lead to long-term degradation, and provide data to reduce energy consumption.

Beyond the blackout
While volumes will be written on the cause of the August blackout, the lessons learned about power vulnerabilities at the facility level should spur immediate action. Today’s power monitoring instrumentation is a predictive maintenance tool that can help facilities avoid power quality problems that lead to equipment malfunction, overheating of circuits, and system failure.

Whether used to baseline power infrastructure, troubleshoot power quality problems, evaluate power availability prior to purchasing new manufacturing equipment, or bringing key processes on line, power monitoring instrumentation delivers a significant return on investment. MT

Information supplied by Dranetz-BMI, 1000 New Durham Rd., Edison, NJ 08818; (800) 372-6832

Monitoring the Blackout

Now considered the most significant blackout of modern times, statistics surrounding the August 14, 2003 event are worth considering:
• What started out as a “typical” summertime power plant trip at 2 p.m. in Ohio set off the cascade of massive outages across eight states and two countries.
• Over 100 power plants and transmission lines shut down during this period—most after 4:10 p.m. within a 9 second span.
• 50 million people experienced power loss, some for up to 72 hours.
• 61,800 MW of customer load was impacted.

Monitoring data was captured using Dranetz-BMI’s Signature System, a web-browser-based, continuous monitoring system, at numerous locations across the impacted area. This data proves useful in understanding the cascade of events across the region. In fact, system customers who recognized the unique “signature” created by the simultaneous 3-phase deep sag were able to affect an orderly transition to their UPS systems and backup generators.

The type of data generated by these monitoring systems enabled customers to implement and evaluate backup generation programs, assess the impact of power quality events on key process equipment, and bring that equipment successfully back on line without damaging product quality.

Fig. 1 shows the rms voltage recorded in New Jersey at the time of the unraveling. The voltage has a drop that showed the system was becoming overloaded as generation was going off-line and power flow reversed through parts of the grid. (The faulty current increased during this time as the monitored office building drew more amps to compensate for the reduced voltage.)

Fig. 2 shows a frequency rise in New Jersey that occurred when load was dropped and there was temporarily too much generation compared to load in the remaining system.

Fig. 3 shows the frequency jump in Knoxville, TN. This is because the grid is interconnected and the utility was feeding power north into the affected areas. When Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, etc., were lost, then the same situation occurred: There was temporarily too much generation in the system.


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9:13 pm
October 1, 2003
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Whose Job Is It Anyway?

A new equipment project that is properly designed, installed, and operated can be efficiently maintained post commissioning.

When a project installs new equipment in a plant, mill, or an oilfield, whose job is it to set up the preventive and predictive maintenance activities that ensure the post commissioning equipment life cycle reliability?

Whose job is it to set up the startup and sustaining repair parts inventory to ensure the availability of the equipment through short mean-time-to-repair?

Whose job is it to ensure the maintenance staff receives all of the technical information associated with the new equipment?

Whose job is it to identify and ensure fulfillment of maintenance training requirements needed to effectively support the new equipment?

These questions are asked repeatedly in all industrial environments. Following failure of recently installed equipment, management usually asks the questions. They want to know why the maintenance organization cannot quickly and effectively restore the equipment to operation.

Everyone has a different answer
The answer to the “whose job is it” question almost always depends upon whom you ask.

If you ask the project prime contractor, the response will be that the responsibility rests with the owner. Most construction/installation contracts only require the contractor to deliver copies (usually three) of drawings, equipment manuals, cut sheets, and other bits and bytes of technical information. The contractor deliverable, if any, is often a box containing technical data that is not indexed and may or may not contain all information needed to effectively maintain the equipment. Buried in the box may be equipment bills of materials but no recommendations for startup or sustaining repair parts.

Sometimes, the box marked for maintenance never arrives and is searched for only following an equipment failure. Many contracts are written for delivery of technical information several weeks post commissioning. So, not having technical information at equipment startup is not unusual.

Do not expect the project engineer to accept responsibility; he or she is focused on completing the project on time and within budget. His or her efforts are devoted to systems and equipment installations and commissioning. What happens post commissioning is not a concern.

Maintenance by default
The prime contractor is not responsible, the project engineer does not have responsibility, and therefore, by default, responsibility flows to the facility’s maintenance organization. Its expectations are that someone else is taking care of the issues raised above. Maintenance staffers are waiting for the equipment care information to be provided in some fashion. Just give them a list of maintenance requirements and a schedule and they will respond.

Parts identification and stocking becomes a maintenance issue only when needed parts cannot be found. Personnel training on how to properly maintain the equipment is an unknown until the dedicated maintenance person is faced with an equipment failure at 2 a.m. on a holiday and has neither the technical information, training, or personal knowledge to effect repairs.

Getting all of the requisites in place for post commissioning equipment care has a cost. In management’s view, this is new equipment and therefore should not be failing so why make an investment in preventive maintenance activities or stocking of expensive repair parts or acquiring technical training—at least not now.

This lack of ownership to provide technical data, preventive and predictive maintenance activities, parts or special tools, and training leaves maintenance between the proverbial rock and a hard place. When the first equipment failure occurs, the department is woefully prepared to respond but respond it will to the best of its ability.

The technical documentation needed to troubleshoot the problem is not available, the parts or special tools to correct the failure once identified are not available, and lastly, the expertise to conduct the repair may not be available. If the organization is thinking straight, the right thing to do in this circumstance is to call in the factory technical representatives to make the repairs. But, too frequently, maintenance charges ahead with good intent and may cause more harm than good including voiding factory warranties.

Find the person in control
So, before we get ourselves into the situation described above, let us attempt to answer the question of “whose job is it.” Some of you are not going to agree with the answer provided but here it is—the job belongs to the project engineer, project manager, project coordinator, or however you describe the position of ultimate responsibility to see the project through to completion. From this point forward that position will be identified as the project engineer.

Why the project engineer? The simple answer is this is the one individual in CONTROL. It is his ultimate responsibility to deliver a fully functional installation. How can an installation be described as fully functional if post-completion life cycle maintenance requirements have not been identified and properly provisioned?

To be fair to the project engineer, we must go back to the beginning of the project design and the writing of the contract. The contract should contain the requirements for the prime contractor to provide:

• All drawings and technical documentation (fully indexed and as much on disc as possible)
•Recommended post-installation routine maintenance requirements (preventive and predictive tasks)
•Recommended repair parts for both start up and sustaining operations
•Training for both operations and maintenance personnel

Granted, the focus of most contractors is not the business of meeting these requirements but there are many third party maintenance management-consulting companies offering this expertise. The cost and details of meeting these requirements should be part of the project bid and proposal.

Set up a project team
The project engineer should not be alone in ensuring the success of this endeavor. First and foremost, a project team must be assembled to assist the project engineer in addressing all of the issues raised above.

The project team includes the project engineer (lead), prime contractor representatives (including any third party maintenance management subcontractor), company maintenance representatives, company operations representatives, company training representatives, and equipment manufacturer representative(s) for new technology introduction. The team-developed project plan identifies each participant’s roles and accountabilities and sets the timeline for completion. See accompanying section “Summary of Roles and Accountabilities of Project Team.”

As an example of project team work, technical documentation that describes the manufacturer’s recommended preventive and predictive maintenance activities and repair parts recommendations is directed to the maintenance representative for review as the equipment is being validated. The task for the maintenance representative is to evaluate the manufacturer’s recommendations and meld them into the existing maintenance requirements and parts inventory, identify any gaps, and provide recommendations to the project engineer to fill the gaps. Identification of new maintenance requirements sets the baseline for determining if existing personnel resources are adequate for maintaining the new equipment.

The maintenance representative also will work with the training representatives and equipment manufacturer representatives to identify technical training requirements from new technology introduction. The edited manufacturer’s recommendations and new training requirements are returned to the project engineer for final action. The company maintenance representative should expect to be fully engaged in final action activities.

New equipment installations that are properly provisioned for post commissioning care provide the opportunity to achieve the inherent equipment reliability and availability and the expected return on investment. Following the guidelines above will help ensure that a project that is properly designed, installed, and operated will be efficiently maintained post commissioning. MT

John Rasberry is an independent maintenance management consultant at Measured Maintenance Management Consultants, Inc., 3001 Waterway Blvd., Isle of Palms, SC 29451-2426; (843) 886-3468

Summary of Roles and Accountabilities of Project Team

Project engineer: Delivery of a fully functional system including:
• Operability (meets design specifications)
• Maintainability (PM, PdM, special tools, and test equipment)
• Logistically (parts and spares)
• Training and training materials for maintenance and operations

Prime contractor: Coordination, collection, and delivery of all technical data
• Drawings and technical manuals
• Recommendations for startup and sustaining parts and spares
• Recommendations for preventive and predictive maintenance activities
• Training and training materials for maintenance and operations

Operations representative: Provide operations input
• Provide operability input into project design and installation
• Evaluate the need for operations training, identify requirements to training group
• Ensure all operations information (procedures) is available and fully tested

Equipment manufacturer: Provide recommendations for
• Startup and sustaining parts and spares
• Preventive and predictive maintenance activities
• Operations and maintenance training

Maintenance group: Review and evaluate equipment manufacturer’s recommendations for
• Startup and sustaining parts and spares
• Preventive and predictive maintenance activities

Evaluate the need for maintenance training, identify requirements to training group

Provide maintainability input into project design and installation

Contracts: Include in contract timely delivery of
• Drawings and technical manuals
• Recommendations for startup and sustaining parts and spares
• Recommendations for preventive and predictive maintenance activities
• Training and training materials

Training: Identify and coordinate delivery of all project training requirements

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6:39 pm
October 1, 2003
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Using MTBF to Determine Maintenance Interval Frequency Is Wrong

Collecting failure data to calculate mean time between failures (MTBF) in order to determine accurate maintenance task intervals is wrong and should not be done. MTBF is a measure of reliability. It is a measurement of the time between two successive failure events.

Failures fall predominantly into two categories—age related and random. Typically, age related make up less than 20 percent of all failures while random make up 80 percent or more.

For age related failures, it is not MTBF, but rather useful life that is significant when attempting to determine maintenance task intervals to avoid failures. There is a point in a piece of equipment’s lifetime at which there is a rapid increase in its conditional probability of failure. The measurement between the point when the equipment is installed and the point where the conditional probability of failure begins to sharply increase is the “useful life” of the equipment. It is different than MTBF. The MTBF is defined as the average life of all the population of that item in that service.

If we want to prevent a failure from occurring, using traditional preventive maintenance, we would intervene just prior to the end of the equipment’s “useful life,” not just prior to MTBF. Incorrectly using MTBF to determine the preventive maintenance interval will result in approximately 50 percent of all failures occurring before the maintenance intervention. In addition, approximately 50 percent of the remaining components that have additional life will receive unnecessary maintenance attention—in both cases, not a very effective maintenance program. Therefore we need to use “useful life” and not MTBF when looking at age related failures and determining the frequency of preventive maintenance tasks.

Random failures make up the vast majority of failures on complex equipment as research has shown. For example, consider the failure of a component. Assume that each time the component failed we tracked the length of time it was in service. The first time the component is put into service it fails after 4 years, the second time after 6 years, and the third time after only 2 years (4 + 6 + 2 = 12/3 = 4). We know that the average lifespan of the component is 4 years (its MTBF is 4 years).

However, we do not know when the next component will fail. Therefore we cannot successfully manage this failure by traditional time-based maintenance (scheduled overhaul or replacement). It is important to know the condition of the component and the life remaining before failure; in other words, how fast can the component go from being OK to NOT OK. This is sometimes referred to as the failure development period or potential failure to functional failure (P-F) interval.

If the time from when the component initially develops signs of failure to the time when it fails is 4 months, then maintenance inspections must be performed at intervals of less than 4 months in order to catch the degradation of the component condition. The inspection also must be performed often enough to provide sufficient lead time to fix the equipment before it functionally fails. In this case, we might want to schedule the inspection every 2 months. This would ensure we catch the failure in the process of occurring and give us approximately 2 months to schedule and plan the repair.

Failure prevention requires the use of some form of condition-based maintenance at appropriate inspection intervals (failure finding, visual inspections, and predictive technology inspections).

My experience has been that for every $1 million in asset value as many as 150 condition inspection points must be monitored. Gathering and analyzing condition monitoring data to identify impending failure for assets worth billions of dollars is practically impossible without the use of reliability software.

The reliability software you choose should be able to:
• collect equipment condition data from controls, sensors, data historians, predictive maintenance technologies, and visual inspections
•use single or multiple data points to analyze the data, applying defined rules and calculations to get a true picture of equipment health
•perform the calculations and conduct the analysis automatically
• present results visually through flashing alarms and trending graphs, identifying potential failures and recommending corrective actions—before the equipment fails. MT
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6:37 pm
October 1, 2003
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When More Produces Less (Costs)


Robert C. Baldwin, CMRP, Editor

Almost every production and maintenance operation I know is under pressure from management to reduce costs.

My impression of the pervasiveness of cost cutting was reinforced at the recent Maintenance Excellent Roundtable. Each member shared with the group one significant business challenge (with reliability implications) facing his plant or company over the next 3 years and explained its planned responses to that challenge. Cost cutting was the most named challenge.

The Maintenance Excellence Roundtable is a group of companies that meet annually to share best practices in maintenance and reliability. This year’s conference in late September was hosted by DuPont at its Titanium Technologies plant in DeLisle, MS.

Other members of the Roundtable are Alcoa, Baxter Healthcare, Dofasco, Honeywell, Kodak, Maintenance Technology Magazine, Syngenta Crop Protection, and the United States Postal Service. Aera Energy and Celanese participated as guests. Roundtable representatives are maintenance and engineering personnel from major plants or corporate headquarters.

When it came to cost cutting, Roundtable members knew they would also have to maintain or improve levels of safety, environmental compliance, and manufacturing performance. It was also noted by several members that they were dealing with very old equipment, and there was essentially no capital available for new equipment in the near future.

What may surprise some less sophisticated maintenance and reliability organizations is that none of the Roundtable members focused directly on cutting costs. Instead, they focused on doing more effective maintenance, knowing that costs would drop out in the process.

A key response to cost pressure was more thorough planning and scheduling of maintenance work so that tasks could be completed in less time and with fewer labor hours and materials.

Another response to cost pressure was more rigorous analysis of maintenance operations to optimize preventive and predictive maintenance tasks.

It was not surprising that elements of lean manufacturing or maintenance—TPM, 5S, blitzes, SMED, visuals—were being employed by several companies.

Instead of cutting costs by cutting maintenance, Roundtable companies were focusing on reliability and investing in best practices.

They evidently heard the words of the maintenance sage: Good maintenance costs money, but poor maintenance costs more. MT


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4:54 pm
October 1, 2003
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Translating Maintenance Initiatives Into Financial Benefits

Gaining and sustaining management support for MRO strategies

As economic conditions continue to redefine manufacturing business strategy, companies are searching for innovative and practical solutions that allow them to reduce costs and boost the bottom line. Increasingly, one of the common targets for these cost savings initiatives is the maintenance department.

Today maintenance and asset management are more directly tied to business performance than ever before.

Opportunity is there
The emphasis on effective capital asset management provides maintenance managers with a golden opportunity to communicate the strategic benefits of maintenance and reliability programs. But this is often easier said than done. In a 2002 survey of MAINTENANCE TECHNOLOGY readers, 29 percent of respondents cited “lack of management understanding of maintenance strategies” as a major or insurmountable barrier to implementing a more comprehensive asset management program.

The challenge is broader than making a business case for a single project or an initiative. Selling the value of maintenance to management requires a significant investment in time and energy to educate management on the tactics and on the concept of maintenance as a business strategy.

It involves a shift in management’s attitude from one that sees maintenance as a necessary expense to one that views it as an opportunity to increase profits. The language must be clear and concise and the message must be presented in a way that translates technical features and objectives into meaningful financial benefits.

Speaking the right language
Maintenance departments have historically operated outside the scope of plant-wide decisions. Now, with asset management a key managerial concern, maintenance- and business-level goals and priorities are becoming more tightly integrated within the organization. Each group pursues business objectives from different perspectives, but in many cases, distinct differences in language and methods of communication lead to misinterpretations and a general lack of understanding between the top floor and the shop floor.

The situation worsens when maintenance managers focus on the technical aspects of a project. For example, when management asks for rationale supporting the need for a new software package, maintenance managers may elaborate on the features of the software, such as its trending and communication capabilities. Instead, the discussion should focus on the fact that the software will help identify equipment degradation, prevent unplanned downtime, and reduce maintenance costs by $50,000 per year, for example.

Define the metrics
Every organization measures success by specific metrics. Unfortunately, the metrics used in the front office are not always easily transferred to the plant floor, nor are they easily translated across industries, other internal departments, or multi-national organizations. If management does not fully understand the impact that maintenance activities can have on the organization, it is less likely it will support new initiatives or additional expenses.

Mutual understanding is a two-way street. Just as corporate managers often do not see eye to eye with maintenance managers, the reverse is also true. It is up to the maintenance manager to overcome this communication gap.

A good first step is to educate management on the value of maintenance, which involves helping them understand maintenance metrics. Then, as maintenance functions become more tightly coupled to company profits and corporate metrics, management will more likely see maintenance as an important contributor to success rather than simply providing a support role.

Position maintenance initiatives
To achieve maximum success within any organization, all departments must be united on the business objectives. Effectively articulate¾in management terms¾what will be accomplished with the maintenance initiatives and how they relate to the underlying business goals.

For example, how does the need to improve machinery diagnostics relate to the overall organizational goal? When making the case, it is vital to stay objective and understand the business trends that drive the need for the request.

Continue to relate the anticipated results to the business drivers as they pertain to management goals and customer demands. For example, how does the condition-based monitoring program help improve equipment uptime and reduce expenses related to lost production and scrap? More specifically, how does this impact an underlying management goal?

Example: Atlantic Copper
In some cases, maintenance strategies are born out of necessity.

Consider Atlantic Copper, a high-volume copper producer in Huelva, Spain. Atlantic Copper’s decision to implement a comprehensive preventive maintenance program was tied directly to its business strategy.

Copper production is typically a high-volume business with single-digit margins in an industry that inherently sees consistent price fluctuations. With a quarter of its $80 million annual operating budget tied to maintenance costs, even a small gain in maintenance efficiency would provide a positive impact on Atlantic Copper’s bottom line.

“ To achieve overall productivity in the top 90 percent, we had to realign our maintenance strategy,” explained Charles Rich, manager of technical knowledge management at Atlantic Copper. “In 1997, 10 percent of our maintenance was preventive and 90 percent was corrective. Basically, everyone was running around putting out fires rather than performing planned interventions. Now the percentages are switching as we focus more on preventing equipment problems. As a result, we’ve dramatically lowered our maintenance expenses and increased margins.”

At the heart of Atlantic Copper’s maintenance strategy is an integrated condition-based monitoring program. Using advanced vibration analysis tools, workers can monitor machine performance and track maintenance histories. This allows them to see if certain breakdowns or failures recur over time, when a machine was last repaired or inspected, or even if a pending work order already exists for a particular machine. This coordination of effort can help the company avoid needless maintenance expenses.

With an extensive condition monitoring program that covered 226 machines, Atlantic Copper was able to identify and correct a variety of maintenance problems, saving approximately $400,000 during the initial test phase. The company estimated that it achieved a 56 percent return on its investment in less than a year and a half during what the company considered the program’s test phase.

Accurately assessing maintenance needs
In order to build a solid case for a maintenance strategy, it is important to first have a clear picture of what the maintenance needs really are.

Many manufacturers rely on intuition and experience and assume their processes are designed well enough to meet production goals. To avoid this pitfall, a good first step is to conduct a broad-based assessment of the maintenance and engineering processes, as well as any activities that support the manufacturing process. The goal is to identify any factors that inhibit equipment or operator performance. Often, the root cause of a performance issue is hidden by how problems manifest themselves in the process.

The assessment process identifies performance issues, establishes baseline metrics, and outlines recommended corrective actions that can be implemented through maintenance initiatives (such as increased machine availability, reliability, and safety). Moreover, this methodology provides the critical documentation needed to illustrate the value of maintenance to management.

Examination of the environmental conditions and the maintenance history of each piece of equipment helps predict how long each component should last, given its performance history and current working conditions. By conducting reliability measurements, organizations can recognize common machine failures and empower managers to determine if a specific failure was related to equipment design, human error, or faulty components.

Together, these components are designed to uncover opportunities to help increase both operator and machine efficiency, as well as to assist companies with the adoption of proactive, predictive maintenance activities. Individually, the assessments can be used to target specific areas of concern.

Gap between current and ideal activities
In many cases, there is a significant gap between the current level and sophistication of maintenance activities and what maintenance managers see as ideal. For example, according to the survey of MAINTENANCE TECHNOLOGY readers noted earlier, respondents indicated they spend 40 percent of their efforts on reactive tasks, but see 12 percent as the ideal amount. At the same time, respondents indicated they spend 15 percent of their time on predictive activities, but see 35 percent as the ideal amount.

Much of this discrepancy is the result of the changing role of maintenance along with increased capabilities to perform the functions.

For example, 20 years ago, the primary goal of maintenance was loss prevention and the fundamental requirement was to provide the basic need at minimum cost. Today, companies are researching all possible means to extend the productive life of these assets¾and ensuring they remain productive at the right times. Advances in technology and an array of new tools are helping to dramatically improve maintenance functions and optimize performance.

Example: Carter Holt Harvey
Carter Holt Harvey Ltd.’s Whakatane Mill, located in New Zealand’s Bay of Plenty region, was forced to reassess its maintenance strategy due to ongoing equipment reliability problems. The mill manufactures a range of clay-coated boards, boxboards, and industrial grade plaster linerboard, producing more than 85,000 tons each year.

To gain better control over mechanical failures that had cost the mill about $100,000 in lost time and materials, the mill upgraded its condition-based monitoring system to meet its production and efficiency goals.

According to Colin Gracie, reliability engineer, “We needed to get a better handle on the condition of our critical equipment components so that we could resolve the mechanical failures that, if not corrected, lead to major unplanned shutdowns. The previous system was limited in both the number and frequency of test points and was restricted to hard copy historical data¾a situation that made trending and long-range analysis difficult, if not impossible. Today, trending of condition-based information to identify problems and root cause is critically important in order to improve the efficiency of the maintenance process.”

The redefined condition-based maintenance system includes computerized data collection, storage, and reporting capabilities across a much broader range of critical production equipment. This package allows the mill to cover more equipment, more frequently, with fewer workers.

Since installation of the system in April 1996, the maintenance department has recorded a 60 percent reduction in unplanned downtime, resulting in a savings of $230,000 each year. The predictive maintenance program has allowed the mill to increase the number of machine test points by 150 percent¾resulting in a more reliable manufacturing process. The increased confidence in the system has allowed Carter Holt Harvey to reduce its MRO inventory by $55,000.

Defining the value of maintenance
According to a recent ARC Advisory report, poor understanding of the issues at stake and a lack of the right metrics are two fundamental reasons management often perceives its maintenance operations as overhead. In many companies, there is no transparency to the losses incurred from unnecessary downtime or late deliveries, and no tangible returns attached to the role of maintenance in avoiding downtime or making on-time deliveries. Consequently, many companies grossly underestimate the overall effect maintenance operations have on the company’s bottom line.

The value of maintenance can often be tied to the organization’s key business objectives and can differ widely from company to company.

For example, some companies operate their business and hinge their success on a simple principle: deliver high-quality products at affordable prices. To meet this goal, every facet and supporting element of a company’s manufacturing process needs to be as lean as possible. With a maintenance strategy that focuses on reducing expenses, improving uptime, and optimizing production processes, the company can parlay this philosophy into higher profits, while gaining a distinct competitive advantage.

In other organizations, the value brought by a maintenance department may be measured by how it impacts production throughput. The equation is simple: if machines are not available, the company cannot produce products and profit opportunities are missed.

In this scenario, the entire manufacturing organization takes equal responsibility for uptime, quality, and profitability. The goal is to make a certain number of units per day, based on market demand, and do whatever it takes to get it done. The maintenance department’s priority is not on preventive activities, but rather on directly supporting production output goals.

Developing a strategic plan
Once a company’s maintenance value has been aligned with the organization’s business goals, the next step is to develop a strategic plan that identifies exactly how the proposed initiatives will support the business.

The plan should outline what needs to be achieved and what results will be determined. Developing a set of methodologies for measuring and communicating the ROI is the final step in any well-built maintenance proposal and can provide the closing rationale management needs to support the plan.

A future article will provide information on developing a solid maintenance strategy tied to measurable results. MT

Mike Laszkiewicz is vice president, asset management, at Rockwell Automation, 1201 S. Second St., Milwaukee, WI 53204; (414) 382-3736

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