Archive | January, 2004


3:02 am
January 2, 2004
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Evolution of a Maintenance Department

An organization moves from disrespect to world-class status.

Over the past eight years, Dunlee, a division of a subsidiary of Philips Medical Systems and a world leader in the design, manufacture, and distribution of CT and radiographic x-ray tubes, has made significant changes within its organization to become world-class. The company’s evolution was initiated by high-level changes that filtered down to the maintenance department. Through this experience, Dunlee learned that changes in the maintenance department can, in return, have a high-level impact on the organization as a whole.

No respect for maintenance
Prior to 1994, Dunlee’s maintenance department was organized only by craft zones (plumbing, electrical, mechanical). Personnel consisted of an electrician, an electrician’s assistant, a general mechanical worker, and a janitor. Since Dunlee did not have many computer-controlled devices, the required skill set was basic. If a job was not routine, quality would slip.

In many cases machines repaired by maintenance workers had to be revisited two or three times before being fixed properly. Many employees viewed the members of the maintenance department as glorified janitors and did not have confidence in them. As a result, it was not uncommon to hear heated debates about work prioritization, and much of maintenance was outsourced. Resources other than the maintenance department were used for challenging tasks, and manufacturing engineers and production supervisors performed most of the repairs on production equipment.

The maintenance department was not viewed as a critical business contributor, and other business functions took priority. Evidence of this viewpoint was the maintenance department’s location—a too-small space located in the back corner of the building that prevented easy access to tools and spare parts.

Although maintenance workers reported to the machine shop supervisor, no one was directly responsible for managing Dunlee’s maintenance needs. A public address system was used to page maintenance workers when help was needed, or operators would flag maintenance staffers down as they passed in the hall. The maintenance worker decided whether to interrupt his current job, not a supervisor. Work orders (including a significant number of which the maintenance department was unaware) were never recorded, and status seldom was known.

New plant poses changes
Because Dunlee is a technology company, it places its emphasis on product development. Newer, high-tech products require modern process equipment, and modern process equipment requires space. The current facility lacked square footage and the ability to expand. And because of its location, it was hard to attract good people with technical skills to the facility. During 1994, it was decided that the best way to address these issues would be to move to a new facility.

Dunlee’s parent company approved the project to build a new facility with some key improvements, such as a class 10,000 clean room, computer-controlled equipment and processes, facility-wide air conditioning, positive air pressure, higher ceiling heights allowing for better heat management of processes, and enough space to allow for later expansion.

With the decision to expand came the hiring of a new president to direct the effort. Once the new facility was up and running, it would require $2 million to $3 million every year thereafter for additional assets. A conscious decision was made to ensure that those assets would be well maintained. A new set of standards was created not just for maintenance, but also for the entire organization.

When maintenance was notified that the maintenance organization was about to change, attitudes were mixed. Some employees left Dunlee, while others embraced the change. A move team responsible for transitioning the organization from the old building to the new building and getting the new building up and running was assembled and was thought to be the nucleus for the new maintenance department.

Needs for the new maintenance organization began to emerge. Production was concerned with reducing unplanned downtime, partly through better work planning and inventory control, and wanted to standardize such processes as releasing a new piece of equipment. To support the new facility and its new process equipment, they knew a change was needed in the maintenance group.

Management recognized other important issues. They knew that allowing easy access to equipment facilitated maintenance and allowed production to continue without interruption. In addition, they wanted to place the maintenance department in the middle of the facility to minimize transportation costs. To improve reliability of the utility support system, they saw the need to design redundant recirculating cooling water pumps, air compressor supplies, and distribution means.

Maintenance manager hired
In 1995, key personnel changes occurred with the addition of two skilled maintenance technicians and a maintenance manager who would form the core of the new maintenance organization. It was this maintenance manager who was the driving force behind Dunlee’s current world-class status. A five-year maintenance excellence initiative plan was created and approved by the president.

The plan included developing a maintenance organizational structure, increasing the level of expertise within the maintenance department, and implementing a formalized maintenance system. One of the first work processes changed was the work orders with the implementation of a paper system. Although there was resistance within and outside the department to the changes, the president’s support pushed the effort.

Gradually, the production facility at Bellwood was moved to the new Aurora facility. Maintenance was divided between the two facilities, making it difficult to control quality and implement change, yet improvements were made. Personnel changes continued in order to increase the skill level, communication with other departments was poor but on the increase, and the department was becoming more structured. Although minute, these changes were making an impact on the company, and the value of the maintenance department to the overall organization began to grow.

Work load increases
In 1996, Dunlee’s move to the new production facility was complete. The maintenance department consisted of the maintenance manager, two group leaders, and five maintenance technicians. Numeric pagers replaced the PA system, improving response time; emphasis was placed on root cause analysis; and a preventive maintenance program was started.

With these changes, new problems arose. The biggest issue was the way work orders were handled. Work requests submitted by other departments would sometimes get “lost” or go unrecorded. This caused friction between maintenance and its customers. Notifying all affected parties of the status of work requests was difficult and time consuming, and sometimes not done. So the maintenance department created a work order database, allowing work orders to be sorted and checked.

As the department sought to improve its maintenance practices, its workload increased. Dunlee accepted this result because it knew that in the long run, workload would be optimized. Additional personnel were approved for the department, reconfirming the growing value of maintenance to the organization and continuing senior management support. The organization of available material and spare parts began, and the department began to track its first performance indicator: downtime. The desire to reduce the amount of reactive work and increase the amount of preventive work began to grow.

Although work order handling had improved, it was very time consuming to create, log, analyze, and update the database even though critical information such as labor, parts, and downtime was not being recorded on work orders. Because an approval process for work requests did not exist, the status of work requests was communicated verbally or by sending an e-mail to the person requesting the work. The maintenance department had changed dramatically but was far from achieving its goal of becoming a world-class organization.

This is the point where many organizations attempting to change either pause, stop, or go back to the old methods. The work load was increasing, not going down; internal customers were dissatisfied; improvements were not documented; and day-to-day activities were overwhelming, making it difficult to work on process improvements such as setting up PMs or doing any root cause analysis.

Getting an outside assessment
In 1997, upper management approved a request to bring in an outside consultant to review the operations of the maintenance organization. The consultant was to assess the current maintenance organization and how it interacted with the entire organization, identify gaps, recommend corrective actions, and develop cost justifications for any improvements. See accompanying section “Recommendations from Outside Consultant.

Most of the consultant’s recommendations already were part of the five-year maintenance excellence initiative plan, reinforcing that Dunlee was on the right track to achieving world-class maintenance status. With the backing of an expert, obtaining upper management support for further changes within maintenance was facilitated.

The changes recommended and planned required time and financial commitment. Because hiring a maintenance planner was thought to have the greatest impact, it was the first recommendation implemented. With this addition, the maintenance department consisted of a maintenance manager, two group leaders, seven maintenance technicians, and a maintenance planner.

Although significant changes had been made in the maintenance team over the past two years, there was no supporting data. Collecting and analyzing data manually was too time consuming for the number of personnel in the department. It became obvious that a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) was needed. Therefore, it was the next recommendation implemented.

Within 3 months of being hired, the maintenance planner had defined the requirements for a CMMS and researched various software packages. The CMMS capital request was submitted and quickly approved. The vendor installed the software, gave an overview of the system, and performed initial training for the maintenance department.

Rather than use consultants, Dunlee used internal resources for the input and setup of data. While this reduced initial implementation costs, the duration of the implementation stage was extended. Despite using internal resources, within 6 months of the maintenance planner being hired, a CMMS was set up and operational. Immediately, Dunlee recognized the labor hours saved in tracking work orders and began to track other maintenance data key to world-class status.

During this time, department objectives with specific targets were set. Every member of the department had individual goals, which directly supported the objectives of the department. To reach these interdependent goals, the department had to work together as a team to be successful. The department goals and results were posted each month, and workers had to respond to the objectives for which they were responsible. Objectives were reviewed regularly to determine which ones needed additional attention or further improvements.

Improvements seen
In 1998, the fourth year of the plan, improvement was seen in unscheduled production equipment downtime. Preventive maintenance activities had increased. Production personnel began to perform some of the PM activities, freeing up maintenance manpower. The CMMS was used to track objectives, freeing up even more manpower. The increased maintenance manpower was redirected to resolve root causes of problems and perform project work.

Since no work was to be done without a work order, 100 percent of work performed was being tracked and a clear picture of actual workload and cost was being painted. Most of the other objective results, however, were unsatisfactory.

Some training had begun; however, a formal training program still was not in place. Additional work was being scheduled but a significant amount of the work was still reactive. As the maintenance department value grew, so did the demands on its manpower. Priorities were being set and work scheduled. Some customers were dissatisfied because they did not get immediate action. Resistance to change still existed within the company, slowing progress.

Although an e-mail-based work order request system sent notification of work order status changes, no other information about the work order was available. Weekly work order reports showing status, scheduling information, comments, assignments, and constraints had to be created and distributed manually. This improved communication between the maintenance department and its customers but was very time consuming. Also, complaints about the weekly report existed because the report was quickly outdated and not always reliable with work order information changing so quickly.

In 1999, the fifth year of the plan, some of the most dramatic changes occurred. Downtime was moving toward world-class levels. The amount of work scheduled jumped from 50 percent to 80 percent. Meetings were held with the appropriate upper management to establish maintenance priorities. This reduced customer dissatisfaction with how maintenance manpower was allocated. Ninety percent of work orders were consistently completed on time, improving the credibility of the maintenance schedule.

Resistance to maintenance within the company was diminishing. The amount of training had increased. The implementation of a web-based work order request system began, allowing real-time viewing of work order information such as status, comments, and date scheduled and eliminated the last major barrier to change (outdated and unreliable work order reports). The value of the maintenance department to the organization continued to grow.

Goal reached by plan’s end
In 2000, when the plan was complete, the results neared world-class levels. Over 90 percent of work was scheduled, and over 90 percent of work was performed on time. Training became a major focus. Downtime consistently surpassed the world-class target. Communication with customers was performed electronically. The demand for maintenance manpower continued to be strong. Past due work orders were nearly eliminated. Requests for equipment reliability and history data started since the CMMS was instituted proved it to be a resource of valuable information. The maintenance department had accomplished its vision within its target date.

In 2001, six years after the changes began, improvements continued, but much of the effort was placed on maintaining world-class results. Production equipment downtime continued to drop. On-time completion was consistently over 95 percent. More than 90 percent of the work was scheduled. Training continued.

Improvements on the spare parts/inventory system continued with the hiring of a person responsible for inventory improvements and accuracy. Communication within the department improved as the numeric pagers were replaced with alpha-numeric pagers. Technicians now could receive information (equipment and problem descriptions) about new work orders without logging into the CMMS, saving time and money. The skill level of the department had increased, expanding the type and complexity of work requests and indicating that the value of the maintenance department to the overall organization remained high.

Commitment to world class
Today, Dunlee maintenance receives support from the whole organization, including production. The production mindset has changed from “there is no time available for PMs” to “time will be made available in the production schedule for PMs.” Various departments request reports from maintenance, including downtime reports, work order history, and other reports showing process control, times, and root cause analysis. Equipment improvement projects are scheduled when maintenance manpower is available.

Dunlee is committed to world-class maintenance and knows that it calls for continuous improvement. The company’s future goals are to fully utilize its CMMS, improve equipment spare parts lists and PMs, auto-generate requisitions to reorder stocked items, increase inventory accuracy, implement barcoding to automate work order data collection, increase predictive maintenance where appropriate, and continue the focus on root cause analysis.

Dunlee’s advice is to expect that the road to change is not always smooth. If you encounter resistance, don’t lose sight of your goals. MT

Ruth Olszewski is the president of CMMS data group. She can be reached at 25 E. Washington St., Suite 1465, Chicago, IL 60602; (312) 863-6501. Tom Carlson is a manager at Dunlee responsible for manufacturing equipment and facility maintenance. He can be reached at (630) 585-2617.


The consultant made several key recommendations to improve efficiency and reduce overall costs:

• Procure a CMMS package. This would allow Dunlee to move away from a manual maintenance management system to save time and reduce costs.
• Hire a maintenance planner. This would allow Dunlee to get a better grasp of its work load, increase the number of planned vs unplanned work orders, expand the PM program, and improve communication between maintenance and its internal customers, mainly production.
• Establish goals and benchmarks. This would assist Dunlee in verifying that progress was being made and targets were being hit within its maintenance organization.
• Hire an inventory clerk. This would allow Dunlee to track inventory and reduce inventory handling and procurement costs.
• Establish a technical skills training program. This would improve the skill level of maintenance workers, increasing efficiency.

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2:39 am
January 2, 2004
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The Powerful Synergy of Multi-Modal PdM Analysis


Fig. 1. Infrared scan of parts washer pump-motor coupler at Consolidated Diesel. The coupler between the motor and the pump is slightly hotter than either of the components it connects. (Thermograph by Richard Harrison)

If “one tool fit all,” mechanics’ toolboxes would contain only one wrench, one hammer, and so on. But mechanics must have a wide range of tools—for example, numerous wrench and driver configurations to span a growing range of fasteners.

In a similar way, the PdM professional’s inspection “toolbox” contains a host of options, including infrared (IR) thermography, electric motor circuit analysis, vibration, tribology (oil/lubricant analysis), ultrasound analysis, and the most ancient of all, unaided human visual, tactile, and acoustic inspection.

Field experience has demonstrated that by appropriately combining and relating the results of different inspection options, PdM professionals can create a synergistic solution—one that is far more thorough than if based on only one test or on several nonintegrated inspection testing methods. This article provides a selection of lessons learned in actual cases in which more than one PdM analytical method was used, which led to a robust understanding and optimal resolution of challenging maintenance problems.

Where there’s heat there’s probably vibration
“My infrared camera paid for itself the first time I used it,” said Richard Harrison, maintenance engineer at Consolidated Diesel Co.’s Whitakers, NC, plant. Moments after he turned on his brand-new ThermaCAM PM 290 infrared camera from FLIR Systems, N. Billerica, MA, in the plant for the first time, he detected a surface temperature of about 640 F on the electrical panel of a starter motor that was clearly on the verge of catching fire. The starter was immediately taken off-line and repairs made.

He calculates that if the starter motor had burned, the resulting repairs and the value of lost production would have totaled about $350,000—more than four times the cost of the camera, lenses, and training at FLIR’s Infrared Training Center.

Subsequently, Harrison was performing an infrared scan of an electrical panel located on a mezzanine catwalk high above a parts washer. He happened to scan below in the direction of the parts washer and noticed a tiny, but clearly anomalous, heat signature. “The high resolution of the camera and its sensitivity enabled me to see a small, subtle anomaly in the coupler between the parts washer motor and pump more than 30 ft away,” he said. At ground level he rescanned the anomaly up close (Fig. 1).


Fig. 2. Vibration spectra of failing parts in the washer pump indicates overall vibration of 0.134 in./sec (small circle) and harmonics indicating both mechanical looseness and misalignment.

The apparent temperature at the coupler was only 110 F, but high enough relative to the surface temperatures of the motor and the pump to make Harrison suspicious. He performed a slow motion study in which he used a strobe light, setting its frequency to the shaft’s rpm, essentially “freezing” the shaft for inspection. The two halves of the coupler, which are joined by a flexible “spider,” appeared to be slapping into one another. Something was definitely wrong.

Vibration analysis detected both mechanical looseness and misalignment (Fig. 2).

During scheduled downtime, the pump was shut down and the entire assembly was disassembled and inspected. Four of the spider’s eight legs were seriously damaged, allowing the coupler halves to make contact, producing vibration and excessive heat (Fig. 3). A new coupler and spider were installed, and the pump was put back in service.

Post-repair vibration testing showed an 80 percent reduction in vibration amplitude and the elimination of misalignment (Fig. 4). A post-repair infrared scan showed the coupler temperature had decreased by 22.2 F. The rule of thumb conclusion was validated: “Where there’s heat, there’s probably vibration.”

Thermography and MCA
A multiple-technology solution to the detection of rotating machinery problems can reduce uncertainty when trying to pinpoint a fault. Howard W. Penrose, PhD, of ALL-TEST PRO, a division of BJM Corp. Old Saybrook, CT, provides the following recent example of combining results of sophisticated motor circuit analysis (MCA), infrared thermography, and vibration analyses.

During a routine infrared predictive maintenance inspection at a major Midwestern automotive transmission manufacturing plant, a thermographer using a FLIR PM 695 infrared camera determined a motor was operating at an excessively high temperature. The 7.5 hp motor powered a coolant pump in a transmission case machining center that is responsible for critical machining on a key component in the assembly plant. Failure of the cooling pump would cause a shutdown of the entire plant.


Fig. 3. Flexible member (spider) in coupler subassembly shows obvious damage. The entire coupler and spider assembly was replaced. (Photograph by Richard Harrison)

The PdM program at the plant includes a broad spectrum of predictive/preventive technology options. A work order for additional analysis was generated to determine if the root cause of the fault was electrical or mechanical.

First, MCA confirmed that the motor and cabling tested electrically good. Follow-up vibration analysis identified a bearing fault in the motor. Close monitoring allowed the motor to be run until scheduled downtime, when it was replaced. A post-installation infrared scan showed the new motor was operating within normal parameters. Subsequent cost analysis of this one incident showed a 100 percent return on investment for all instruments used.

Ultrasound complements IR
Mark Goodman of UE Systems, Elmsford, NY, uses a combination of ultrasound, infrared, and vibration analysis to accurately determine the condition of operating equipment as well as to identify the location of a problem.

Applications include leak detection in pressure and vacuum systems, bearing inspection, steam trap inspection, detection of valve blow-by, detection of cavitation in pumps, detection of corona, tracking and arcing in electrical gear, the integrity of seals and gaskets in transformers, and even partial discharge in cable splices, terminations and transformers. He has found the directional nature of ultrasound allows him to detect warning signals—changes in the normal sonic signature of an assembly—long before actual failure.

Goodman uses infrared thermography and ultrasound analysis together to inspect steam valves. He touches the upstream and downstream sides of a valve with the contact probe of an ultrasonic sensor. Through the headphones, he can detect the steam passing through a leaking valve producing turbulence that is heard as a gurgling or rushing sound. Blockage will produce no sound. Since valve blow-by in steam systems will produce a higher temperature reading downstream, infrared thermography can be used to detect the thermal anomaly and confirm the analysis.

Heat can be a good indicator of a leaking hydraulic valve. The frictional forces of fluid moving through a leak can produce heat as a byproduct. This has been a useful phenomenon in aircraft inspection. However, not every leaking hydraulic valve will produce heat and the proximity of valves in certain configurations can lead to a potentially inaccurate diagnosis due to heat (and in some instances sound) transference.

This inspection process can be aided by incorporating ultrasound with infrared. A leaking valve will produce a louder sound downstream. By comparing infrared results with upstream and downstream ultrasonic readings, an operator can quickly make a positive diagnosis.


Fig. 4. Vibration spectra of pump motor after repair shows overall vibration level of only 0.027 in./sec.

Ultrasound and thermography enhance safety
Allan Rienstra and James M. Hall of SDT North America, Cobourg, ON, use airborne ultrasonic translators to detect corona, tracking, and arcing. They point out that ultrasound can detect faults through small openings or door seals on switchgear cabinetry, through the outer shell of oil-filled transformers, and in the switchyard emitting from bushings, buss bars, and insulators. Using highly sensitive airborne sensors, these ultrasonic detectors can isolate electric faults on high-tension transmission and distribution lines at distances of more than 150 ft.

They note that corona and tracking do not show up with an infrared scan in electrical systems having a potential below 240 kV, and that ultrasonic detection can find electric faults in systems well below this threshold. “This alone demonstrates the need for the inspection industry to marry temperature imaging and ultrasound scanning techniques,” they said.

Ultrasound scanning can provide safety benefits. Some utilities use ultrasonic detection as a screening device to monitor for severe partial discharge or arcing before entry into manholes and cable vaults. Rienstra and Hall report using ultrasound to detect corona, arcing, or tracking around door seals and air vents of enclosed switchgear in the following example.

Both an infrared camera and airborne ultrasound were used to inspect 15 13.8 kV rectifier panels during a routine inspection of a chemical plant in the southeast—with the panels closed. Thermography did not detect significant temperature anomalies through the closed panels. However, significant levels of airborne ultrasound were detected at the lower right corner of one of the panels.

Several qualified electrical technicians were able to safely listen to the signal, identify its signature as that of a breaker, and take definitive action. The vacuum breaker was removed and a dc current was applied to it, revealing a fault. The intervention averted the loss of electrical power, a shutdown of the plant’s compressed air system, and possible injury to personnel from fire or shock. Since then airborne ultrasound inspection of all switchgear has been added as part of the regular scheduled infrared preventive/predictive maintenance program.

Will the presses roll until scheduled downtime?
The advantage of using multiple technologies is that a problem can be cross-diagnosed and decisions to repair or to delay repairs can be made much more confidently. James Sullivan Jr., maintenance engineer with The New York Times, noted that the newspaper industry is unique not only in its demanding production schedules but also in its limited availability for planned maintenance. “For over 100 years,” he said, “the newspaper industry has been using run to failure as a maintenance strategy.”

Over the past decade, he reports that The New York Times has incorporated vibration analysis, thermography, tribology, and ultrasound in a robust, integrated PdM program. Two recent situations at the newspaper illustrate the value of this approach.

In one case, a thermographic scan on a press lineshaft identified a temperature of 168 F, 60 percent above normal, on one line clutch. Follow-up vibration data were collected for the clutch, requiring about 2 hours, compared with the 12 hours required to test the entire press lineshaft—a savings of 10 hours. The clutch was repaired during the next available maintenance window with no loss in production.

In a more dramatic case, the integrated PdM approach enabled maintenance engineers to confidently postpone replacing the tucking blade of a critical and failing folding machine until a scheduled downtime enabled the machine to be repaired with no loss of productivity. The folder is the last stage of a printing press and this one marries, cuts, and folds approximately 18 complete newspapers per second. “With such a demanding print schedule,” Sullivan said, “unscheduled folder downtime is forbidden.”

A rise in the vibration spectrum of the folder at 139 Hz and 153 Hz alerted Sullivan to the very beginning of an impending failure. The latest monthly oil samples contained an increase in iron and chromium particles, confirming the problem.

The subsequent month’s vibration and oil data indicated that the problem had dramatically accelerated. Downtime was not scheduled for several more days. The folder was put on “daily sampling” status. After an oil sample showed much higher levels of iron and chromium, the oil was flushed during the next production shift change, avoiding any loss of productivity.

A spare tucking blade assembly was readied for change-out. Could the folder be operated continuously until the scheduled downtime? Vibration monitoring and oil changes were increased to a “per-shift” basis. The scheduled downtime was still 3 days away. Vibration readings were stepped up to twice per shift.

Finally, the scheduled downtime period arrived. The old tucking blade assembly was pulled out of the folder and the new spare assembly was installed without even 1 minute of unscheduled production downtime.

Thanks to integrated PdM analysis, the failing unit was run with confidence until downtime, reaping huge financial benefits. Visual inspection of the pulled assembly determined that a bearing retainer had worn away and an entire shaft was floating in the unit.

Had a critical failure occurred, it would have caused an estimated $275,000 in damage to the printing press and a safety risk to personnel, plus incurring a minimum of 5 days lost production time—worth about $2.4 million. The cost of the change-out was only about $62,000. The damaged tucking blade assembly was repaired at a leisurely pace at a cost of $18,000. “The integration of oil analysis and vibration analysis not only alerted us to a problem,” Sullivan said, “but also gave us more confidence in running the unit for as long as we did.”

By applying and integrating the results of different inspection options, PdM professionals can cross-diagnose a problem and make decisions to repair or to delay repairs more confidently. Success will come to those organizations that have a versatile and experienced work force from diverse engineering backgrounds and with formal training and certification in the various PdM inspection modalities.

The return on investment is clearly positive and substantial, providing management and purchasing decision makers verifiable data to justify the funds for procurement of the multi-modal toolbox that defines the modern PdM professional. MT

Information supplied by Leonard A. Phillips, senior applications writer at the Infrared Training Center (ITC), 16 Esquire Rd., N. Billerica, MA 01862; telephone (978) 901-8109

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2:25 am
January 2, 2004
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Freeware: A Solution For Sites on a Limited Budget That Want CMMS

A few months ago, I wrote a column (“Want to Contribute to an Open Source CMMS?”) about an open source computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) project. The project team invited interested parties to download a version and hopefully join the volunteer developers who would continue to evolve the software to provide greater utility and ease of use.

We had many positive e-mails and hopefully some joined the development team. We will keep you updated in a future column.

Although the open source CMMS is available at no cost, it is not freeware. Freeware, as its name implies, is software that is available at no cost. The software is usually fully developed and offered “as is,” and usually does not include any support. We recently came across a freeware CMMS package that looked promising called CWorks by Clueword DotCom.

Experienced practitioners

Clueword DotCom was formed in 2001, and its main activities are the development, production, and support of CWorks CMMS.

CWorks was developed in Malaysia by a group of maintenance and information technology practitioners who bring with them more than 20 years accumulated experience in maintenance and IT gathered from both local and multinational organizations in many countries. Also they bring a huge base of implementation experience, having implemented CMMS at a variety of sites internationally that include LANs, WANs, and call center environments.

CWorks is a free CMMS. It may be a great solution for sites that want to start on a CMMS with a very limited budget. Users may start their CMMS initiatives at their own pace as they can start simple tracking of assets, locations, and employee registers. The program will track outstanding and completed work types, description, times, and costs. Users also may start on simple preventive maintenance scheduling.

Developed for Access

CWorks is developed for Microsoft Access and is shipped with full source code. Full customization control from access to source code brings better look and feel, easier report creation, and more adaptability to internal processes. With the source codes, users may use Access report builders and query builders without needing to buy third party report writing programs and other add-ons.

As part of the freeware license, source codes are for users’ internal use only and redistribution in any form is prohibited. Unlike the open source CMMS, Clueword DotCom is not seeking to build a developer community.

CWorks requires about 5 MB of hard disk space; MS Access must be pre-installed and operating on the installed PC before CWorks can be used. The CWorks application package consists of three main components: asset/equipment register, work order, and preventive maintenance.

Although this program is basic, it may provide a system for those who are without one or are unhappy with their current solution. CWorks users can upgrade to CWorks Pro for $399 for more features and support.

Another low-cost CMMS option is eMaint, a web-based CMMS that offers a free trial and then charges $40 per month per user. MT

Internet Tip: Get News for Your Site

Does your maintenance department have its own Intranet or Internet site? Are you finding it difficult to keep the site content fresh and updated? If so, you can easily add daily maintenance and reliability news headlines from

Just click on the “Add News Headlines to Your Site” link from the home page and follow the instructions. You will be provided with simple HTML code that you (or your webmaster) can cut and paste into your site and like magic—Maintenance-News headlines appear. updates content several times per week and publishes industry news. It also includes full reprints from many leading maintenance and industry newsletters like LubeTalk, Maintenance-Tips,,, CompressorWise, Plant Support News, Quantum Steam, Lean News, and more.

News items are updated automatically and readers do not have to leave your site.

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9:23 pm
January 1, 2004
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Electrical Troubleshooting in Seven Steps

A boiler feed pump being powered by two 3500 hp induction motors appears to be developing a problem. Failure of this pump will result in the loss of a generator currently producing half of the station’s power output. Operators are complaining that a large compressor on several occasions has failed to start. A controller does not sound the way it used to. A cooling fan has developed an audible “beat” sound during operation.

One of the most rewarding aspects of working as an electrician is taking such compelling evidence as “appears to be developing a problem,” determining what is actually going on, and making a sound decision on the correct course of action. Successfully troubleshooting a complex piece of equipment gives a technician a tremendous sense of satisfaction. Having an effective troubleshooting plan and following it can help obtain this feeling of satisfaction.

This article presents an overview of a simple, but effective, method of investigating an electrical problem. Use this seven-step process when presented with a complex problem:

• Gather the information
• Understand the malfunction
• Identify which parameters need to be evaluated
• Identify the source of the problem
• Correct/repair the component
• Verify the repair
• Perform root cause analysis

1. Gather information
Gathering information is a logical first step in any troubleshooting endeavor. Ask about or perform the following:
• What technical documentation about the equipment is available?
• How exactly is the equipment supposed to operate?
• Are there any previous lessons learned?
• Review any material history that exists for the equipment.
• Identify similar equipment to which you can compare the malfunctioning equipment. (This can be especially helpful if there is limited technical data available for the equipment that is malfunctioning.)

Let us apply step 1 to the boiler feed pump example.

For a high-cost repair like a boiler feed pump, the importance of answering or performing as many of the listed items before considering a repair activity is vital. Applying the first step resulted in a review of the equipment’s current signature analysis (CSA) and vibration analysis material history. During this review it was noted that the amplitude of the pole pass frequency in the CSA had increased for both of the motors powering the pump. However, vibration analysis did not indicate any possible problems, either mechanical or electrical.

Now that you have identified technical resources and equipment operation, you are in a position to understand the malfunction.

2. Understand the malfunction
Understanding the malfunction means that you understand how or what the process is and what portion of the process is operating incorrectly. Answer these questions:
• How is the process supposed to work?
• What is not functioning as it should?
• What would cause these results or malfunction?

Applying step 2, the boiler feed pump in question has not been reported by operations to have a problem but the field technicians, through the use of predictive tools, have trended a possible anomaly. Rotor defects, bearing misalignment, magnetic offset, or abnormal load fluctuations were determined to be possible causes of the pole pass frequency trending upward.

3. Identify which parameters need to be evaluated
Identifying which parameters need to be evaluated requires a clear understanding of the discrepancy and which signals affect the suspected component. Which input signals control the component? What is the expected output from the suspect circuit? Is there a timing delay, sequence, or set point that can be verified?

Identify the parameters that need to be recorded which could either confirm or refute your suspicions regarding the problem. Identify the following:
• What parameters can you measure?
• What are the expected values for any measurements that are to be taken?
• What test equipment is needed?
• Is there access for the required readings?
• Is there an alternative method to gather the required readings?
• Could other components have been affected by this fault?

For step 3, gaining access to the high voltage cables supplying the boiler feed pump motors would prove to be difficult. However, testing from the current and potential transformers (CTs and PTs) offers an easy alternative method to gather the required voltage and current signals to assist in troubleshooting.

Having performed the first three steps, it is time to perform the required measurements and observations to identify the faulty component. Ensure that all required safety procedures are adhered to while performing any test.

4. Identify the source of the problem
Identifying the source of the problem requires the technician to isolate components and evaluate circuit parameters, to isolate the circuit by group when dealing with a complicated circuit (half-step approach), and to identify the malfunctioning component using the recorded data.

One test recommended for confirming a possible anomaly and establishing a severity is a current profile comparison between two like machines. This is sometimes referred to as a process analysis test. Fig. 1 shows current samples from two identical machines. The MCEMAX in-rush/start-up test is a capture of a single channel of RMS enveloped current for up to 60 seconds. The test has a sampling rate of 3600 samples per second and produces a digital strip chart of RMS current.

In this example there is a considerable difference between the Unit 3 and Unit 4 motors. With this limited information, a technician would at least have strong evidence that further investigation and possible action on the Unit 4 motor is necessary.

The current modulations seen in Fig. 1 will create torque variations and possible degradation of electrical and mechanical components if left alone. Step 4 calls for more detailed analysis of the data available to isolate the source of the problem. To provide further analysis from the current spectrum, Advanced Spectral Analysis (ASA) uses current demodulation to identify and separate each of the specific frequencies that are modulating the current. By correlating these frequencies to the electrical and mechanical components of the motor pump assembly, the technician can determine which component is creating the largest impact.

The demodulation process removes the 60 Hz frequency component from the captured current signal. Removing that component allows repetitive torque variations developed by mechanical items such as belts and gears, which were previously lost in the signal-to-noise ratio of the spectrum, to be identified. These mechanical frequencies are transmitted to the current signature via the air gap flux of the motor during operation.

Applying step 4 to the boiler feed pump, Fig. 2 shows the demodulated current spectrums from one of the motors taken approximately 1 year apart. The pole pass frequency (FP) has been isolated for evaluation of the change in amplitude over time. The other motor had similar results. It was the increase in the FP amplitude that raised concern over the condition of the equipment.

Additional testing was performed with particular attention to evaluating the condition of the motor’s rotor. It was determined after gathering additional vibration, motor circuit analysis, and current signature data that the equipment needed to be removed from service for repairs. What made this decision especially difficult was that the vibration data was inconclusive. Of several surveys taken on the equipment at different times, only one showed any signs of increased vibration levels.

Armed with data, you now can determine what needs to be done with the suspect component. Many times after the first round of troubleshooting, the first three steps may need to be repeated; however, now you have additional data to work with.

5. Correct/repair the component
Correct or repair the component identified as damaged based on the recorded data. Perform the required repairs to the circuit. Completing step 5 can range from simple adjustments to a complete component replacement.

For the boiler feed pump, when inspecting the two motors, the technicians found that one motor had bent/damaged rotor bars. The damage to the rotor was no surprise due to the elevated pole pass frequency indications during the current signature analysis. But why only one of the rotors when both of the motors had elevated values? Technicians felt that since both motors were mounted to a common shaft, it would not be unusual for the elevated pole pass frequency of one motor to be transmitted through the shaft to the other.

In addition to the rotor bar degradation, technicians discovered severe damage to the load end bearings of each motor. During initial installation, the magnetic center was not properly set for one, or possibly both, of the motors, which led to axial thrusting of the drive shaft, causing the bearing damage. Technicians conducted inspections of similar boiler feed pump installations to ensure that both motors were properly aligned with regard to magnetic center.

6. Verify the repair
Verify the repair after completion. Ensure the equipment is operating as designed. Perform another round of testing to verify the equipment is in fact running correctly and that no other discrepancies exist.

Following the repair and installation of the boiler feed pump motors, or the installation of replacement motors, retest to ensure the installation will not result in the same failure mechanism in the future. Looking at another example, a high resistance joint in the connection box of a 460 V ac induction motor was identified (see “High Resistance Connection Test Results”). The motor lugs were replaced and retaped, resulting in a 3 percent reduction in resistive imbalance and a cleared alarm.

7. Perform root cause analysis
Performing root cause analysis, even though mentioned last, began in the first step of the troubleshooting process. You should use the knowledge gained throughout the troubleshooting process in determining what could have possibly caused the component to fail.

Did the component fail prematurely? Why are the motor windings failing after only four years of service? These are just a couple of the questions that may come to light when evaluating the whole repair process. Without identifying the possible cause that led to the failure, the repair will always be only temporary. While working through the troubleshooting process, ask yourself, “Is this the root cause or just a symptom of the problem?”

When attempting to determine the cause of increased motor running temperature, a technician recorded the RMS current to the motor. The process powered by the motor involves constantly changing speeds and loads, shown in Fig. 3. With the in-rush/start-up current capture providing a graph of current throughout the repetitive cycle, it was readily apparent why the motor temperature was running so high. The level horizontal line indicates nameplate full load current.

Using this data, the technicians determined that the motor was undersized for the varying load it was driving. Repairing the heat-damaged motor would not have been a permanent solution to the problem. Installing a motor only slightly larger than the original resulted in an installation where motor operating temperature is well within the temperature ratings of its insulation system.

By following a well thought-out systematic process when challenged with an electrical troubleshooting problem, you will greatly enhance your effectiveness. Invest a little time up front doing your research and determining your troubleshooting plan of action. A benefit of newer test equipment packages, which combine multiple testing technologies in one unit, is how much they increase the flexibility and capability of a technician’s troubleshooting toolbox.

Inventory your test equipment and determine what you have available when the opportunity to use the seven-step troubleshooting process presents itself. MT

Information supplied by PdMA Corp., 5909-C Hampton Oaks Pkwy., Tampa, FL 33610; (800) 476-6463; e-mail pdma@


Fig. 1. RMS current captures from two identical machines show a considerable difference between the units’ motors.

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Fig. 2. A demodulation process removes the 60 Hz frequency component from the captured current signal, allowing repetitive torque variations developed by mechanical items to be identified. These two demodulated current spectrums are from one of the motors on the boiler feed pump taken approximately 1 year apart. The pole pass frequency (FP) has been isolated for evaluation of the change in amplitude over time.

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Fig. 3. To determine a reason for increased motor running temperature, a technician recorded the RMS current to the motor. The process powered by the motor involves constantly changing speeds and loads. The red horizontal line indicates nameplate full load current. Using this data, the technician determined that the motor was undersized for the varying load it was driving.

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Test Date



Test ID:






Motor Temp



Measured Mohm



Corrected Mohm



pF Ph 1 to Gnd



ohm Ph 1 to 2



ohm Ph 1 to 3



ohm Ph 2 to 3



mH Ph 1 to 2



mH Ph 1 to 3



mH Ph 2 to 3



% Res. Imbalance



% Ind. Imbalance



$ Power Loss



Condition Code


In retesting after repairs, a high resistance joint in the connection box of a
460 V ac induction motor was identified. The motor lugs were replaced and
retaped, resulting in a 3 percent reduction in resistive imbalance and a cleared alarm.

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6:27 pm
January 1, 2004
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Risk Assessment for Maintenance Work

How often have you had to perform maintenance on equipment in an awkward position, without adequate light, with tools that are not well suited to the job? How often could these problems have been easily corrected if equipment designers better understood how maintenance tasks were performed?

Risk assessment is coming to maintenance work. It is no longer satisfactory to simply comply with OSHA regulations. Several industries have passed or are working on standards that require risk assessments. The new lockout/tagout standard ANSI Z244.1 also requires risk assessment.

Yet the biggest driver of risk assessments is not the threat of noncompliance but productivity improvements and cost efficiencies. Companies that are performing risk assessments are identifying more hazards and better risk reduction solutions that result in less downtime for repairs, lower costs, and higher productivity.

Maintenance work takes place in all industries usually by skilled trades with specialized training and experience in equipment and facility repair. These activities involve very special sets of circumstances. Unlike operators’ duties, maintenance tasks are rarely repetitive. Frequently, maintenance involves a great deal of troubleshooting and problem solving skills. These tasks often require observation and testing of equipment in operation in order to effectively diagnose problems.

Maintenance is both common to all industries yet unique unto itself. The complexity of maintenance tasks and hazards make risk reduction challenging. For any given equipment maintenance problem, the tasks could require specialized skills from a broad array of areas (electrical, mechanical, computer diagnostics, or testing).

The hazards maintenance personnel face are equally complex. Often the skill set needed and hazards potentially encountered cannot be fully appreciated until the tasks are underway, thus making risk assessment an ongoing process while working the maintenance problem.

Maintenance personnel also face time pressures to complete the repair and get the equipment back on line. These external pressures can influence a person’s willingness to accept known higher risks, or prevent identification or evaluation of less obvious hazards and risks. Consequently, time pressures are a practical limitation for maintenance risk assessment.

Yet maintenance workers are often seriously injured at far greater rates relative to other operations. This high incident rate is due partly to the high-risk nature of the work. Data on maintenance injuries are scarce and can only support analyses after personnel have been injured.

More proactive means to identify hazards and assess risks before injuries occur are needed. Yet without a better understanding of the needs, constraints, and opportunities for maintenance applications, proactive risk assessment will likely remain a theoretical rather than a practical process in maintenance work.

Maintenance risk assessment is significant enough that a study was conducted to examine in more detail the factors influencing risks and risk assessment in maintenance work. Everyone involved in maintenance safety has impressions, thoughts, and ideas concerning the root cause(s) of maintenance injuries and potential solutions to improve maintenance safety.

Often the differing and sometimes conflicting opinions point to differing sources (poor work practices vs poor equipment design) and very different remedies (being careful vs new equipment and designs). Without a better understanding of the underlying problems and data to support that understanding, significant advancement cannot be expected. The project results and findings are included in Risk Assessment for Maintenance Work, a book published by design safety engineering, inc.

One of the key results of the study is data that support the following conclusion: The primary needs for maintenance safety include better equipment and facility designs, and improved training. The results should be used to influence engineers and their designs, the emphasis that maintenance concerns receive during design development, and management’s decisions regarding resource allocations. An Executive Summary of the study results can be found at

Ready or not, risk assessment is coming to maintenance work. MT

Bruce W. Main, PE, CSP, is the president of design safety engineering, inc., Ann Arbor, MI, an engineering consulting firm specializing in risk assessment and safety through design. He is a member of several U.S. and international committees writing risk assessment procedures.

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6:22 pm
January 1, 2004
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It's 2004: Time to Plan for MARTS


Robert C. Baldwin, CMRP, Editor

“Managers Are Starting To Loosen Budgets As Optimism Grows.” That is the headline on Carol Hymowitz’s column “In the Lead” in a recent issue of the Wall Street Journal. “After a long stretch of gloom, executives at big and small companies are beginning the year with renewed optimism,” she says. “The renewed optimism of executives also is evident in their increased willingness to spend again…,” she continues.

If that is the case, put your bid in now for some of those funds to invest in sending additional people to the Maintenance & Reliability Technology Summit (MARTS) scheduled for May 24-27, 2004 at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, Rosemont (Chicago), IL. The conference, technical exhibits, and workshops will be a worthy investment with fast payback.

The event, being sponsored by Maintenance Technology and, will be unique. It has been designed from the ground up to provide a comprehensive training, educational, and professional development opportunity for maintenance and reliability technicians, engineers, supervisors, and managers in all industries and major facilities.

Learning opportunities are being presented in three focus areas: maintenance, reliability, and technology. Sessions, with several speakers each and running from 90 min to more than half a day, will cover a variety of topics, including work management, maintenance metrics, root cause analysis, spare parts management, benchmarking, and reliability centered maintenance and its variants and derivatives.

Leading experts have signed on to conduct day-long pre- and postconference workshops.

One of the highlights of the event is expected to be the Journey To Maintenance and Reliability Excellence bonus track. Three major companies— Bristol Meyer Squibb, Cargill, and the United States Postal Service—will be taking a half-day or more to share their experiences on the never-ending journey of improving maintenance and reliability practices in their plants around the nation and around the world. Each company will bring a number of practitioners to present their hands-on views of the process.

To learn more about the MARTS conference, workshops, and technical exhibits, visit the event web site We know you will see the value in this unique event. MT


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4:44 pm
January 1, 2004
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A Structured Approach to Measuring Maintenance

Linking the function of asset management to achieving competitive advantage.

For more than 25 years, there has been a steady increase in the acknowledgement of the strategic importance of maintenance. One of the driving factors has been the continued pressure on costs attributable to maintenance.

There has also been a growth in the awareness of the part played by maintenance in managing the risk exposure of a corporation. In some instances, this is driven by legislative changes in the areas of safety and the environment. In other instances, it is driven by the increasing understanding of the dramatic effect that maintenance management can have on end product quality.

While cost is the issue that generally receives the majority of attention at a corporate level, the issues associated with risk management are equally important and vital issues to the responsible management of physical assets.

Although there are overwhelming moral and legal arguments for comprehensive risk management processes, one of the features of catastrophic events is the lasting effect on corporate image. This realization is part of the continued progression of maintenance that incorporates a number of advanced business tools and changes in thinking.

As the understanding of the strategic importance of maintenance has risen, so too have the efforts to control and better manage this function. There are a vast number of methods, tools, and computerized systems that claim to be able to optimize maintenance, improve performance, or reduce costs associated with maintenance management.

One of the tools in the management arsenal is metrics. Yet despite changes to thinking and to management efforts, the way in which key performance indicators (KPIs) are used remains the same as it always has been.

KPI current practice
When a maintenance department begins to focus on KPIs, it generally does so in an uncontrolled and unfocused manner. This usually occurs in one of the following ways, regardless of whether the department has some indicators in place:

• A request for regular information from higher management.

• A new manager putting in place familiar management tools (legacy metrics).

• Suggestions from employees or others wanting to put in place familiar management tools (legacy metrics).

• Suggestions from employees based on an article or indicator they have heard about.

• Employees using database or spreadsheet skills to create indicators in an ad hoc manner.

In all cases, a list of indicators is delivered. However, they are based on a purely reactive focus and in a way that incorporates a number of inefficiencies into the process of measuring maintenance including inefficiency in measurement, indicators used in a reactive manner, and inefficiency in implementation.

Inefficiency in measurement. Deciding what to measure can create one of the primary reasons for failure of KPI regimes. Regardless of how well documented they are, a long list of indicators results in different people referring to different indicators and coming to different conclusions and the courses of action that the indicators dictate.

Long lists of indicators lead to poor use. Certain indicators may remain unused and unnoticed despite the fact that they may represent vital decision-making information.

Most importantly, indicators may not be linked to corporate goals and objectives—or at best they are loosely linked. One of the key points regarding metrics is that they drive behaviors, particularly if people know they are being reviewed regularly. In an uncontrolled application of KPIs, they may drive behaviors that are detrimental to organizational objectives. Or in a worst-case scenario, they may unintentionally cause dangerous situations.

As an example, at a mining company in Latin America there was a management initiative to increase production levels. Part of this initiative was to measure team performance and financially reward teams with higher outputs. Initially this provided surges in production levels until a point was reached where it leveled off. After this production began to fall, in some cases dramatically.

On further inspection it was found that sometimes the off-going shift was sabotaging the equipment to make it difficult for the oncoming shift to reach targets. It also was determined that the original surge in production was due in part to an unacceptably high level of risk taking among the workforce to achieve higher production levels.

This well-intentioned initiative was actually driving detrimental behavior. It reduced production and created an environment of high risk for the work force.

There were other side effects of this particular application of metrics. The company had a stated goal of high levels of safety and teamwork as two of its key objectives. Along with the dangerous and unproductive behaviors that the KPI encouraged, it also caused the company to drift significantly from two of its prime objectives.

Indicators used in a reactive manner. Using maintenance indicators has been seen as a purely reactive measure—measuring what has happened in order to make decisions.

This is a key point behind many management initiatives using metrics. Management at various levels decides they want to know what is going on, how their plant and teams are performing, and how the corporation’s investment is performing.

It is also one of the key reasons for inaction. Any organized measurement and monitoring initiative can highlight opportunities for improvement. However, this may not be done efficiently or in a manner that drives the correct behaviors and sends the correct messages regarding physical asset management.

Inefficiency in implementation. As with most reliability projects, there is often a difference between the theory and strategic planning and the eventual reality. There is a lack of understanding of whether the software and systems are in place to produce the metrics or what administrative processes are needed to capture the data.

This is particularly startling as most maintenance management organizations, large or small, have a CMMS. The majority also have some form of reporting system.

In advanced reporting systems, there are a number of tools available for representation and analysis of information. As with many other functional tools, maintainers either do not know they exist or are not able to access them.

There is little focus on the element of embedding KPIs. Few in the organization actually understand what they are measuring, why they are measuring it, or what the supporting processes are (including how to access them regularly).

In worst-case scenarios, KPIs begin to be generated by people who are able to manipulate databases, spreadsheets, or the company reporting systems. This is a particular area of danger as the integrity of the information and the resulting decisions are no longer guaranteed. The other point is that people are wasting their time creating reports instead of analyzing them.

Myths in measuring maintenance
Deciding what to measure is a key element of a structured approach to measuring maintenance. So is deciding how to measure it.

Many of the indicators that are used in maintenance are traditional indicators. But there are new indicators gaining prominence in maintenance management, some of which are accepted without question as a new way of driving continuous improvement.

There are dangerous and misleading forms of measuring performance in these myths. Any measurement regime can highlight opportunities for improvement. Companies that previously had few or no measurements in place may adopt fad measures and find that they assist with improvement initiatives. This disregards the fact that the measurements may be inefficient, inaccurate, or encourage behaviors not in line with corporate objectives.

A structured approach to KPIs
Financial analysts say that developing strategy is good, but it is the implementation of strategy that separates successful organizations from average and failing organizations.

The structured approach to developing KPI regimes provides companies responsible for physical asset management with a tool to implement and communicate corporate strategy throughout the company. The measures developed and the KPI structures themselves are a road map to achieving maintenance goals and objectives.

Corporate goals and objectives
When beginning a measurement regime, first understand what needs to be measured and why. Corporate goals and objectives need to be linked with the competitive advantages that an organization wishes to achieve. While other parts of managing physical assets are best suited to a bottom-up method, creating measurement regimes requires a top-down management approach.

Competitive advantages can exist in many areas. They can be based on productivity, knowledge retention, employee skills improvement, risk reduction, service improvement, and other areas where there is corporate activity.

Competitive advantages are typically described as the set of unique or hard-to-duplicate abilities, competencies, and capacities within an organization that allow it to better compete within its market.

Competitive advantages can be represented in a hierarchy of advantages and goals. This provides the first step in communicating corporate objectives. It also allows for the initial step in creating the strategy map that will be used to drive these goals and objectives through the organization.

Instead of taking the approach to measure everything and anything, the process first should identify what is needed to achieve the overall goals of the company.

For example, a company is a leading manufacturer of engine components for a popular SUV. It has determined that, as part of its corporate planning, it needs to achieve a competitive advantage by achieving a high level of continued overall quality of the parts it sells while remaining competitively priced.

During the strategy mapping process, key strategic advantages necessary to achieve the competitive advantage are determined (in a real-life example there would be many more):

• Best possible purchasing of quality raw materials at the best competitive prices (low failure rate from raw materials).

• Best possible continued performance from machine operators (low failure rate due to human errors).

• Low leakage rate of high talent levels in operating the equipment (low failure rate due to inexperience).

• Continuous high levels of performance from machines in use (low failure rate due to machine failures).

• Cost effective operation of machines (supporting the cost effective production goals).

Four of the five strategic advantages defined above can be affected by, and may require some effort from, maintenance management.

Strategic advantages can be described as the set of unique or hard-to-duplicate abilities, competencies, and capacities in an organization that support the company’s competitive advantages.

Achieving competitive advantage is determined by the strategic advantages that can be created. A company seeking to retain high-quality craftsmen may have as a strategic advantage a profit sharing plan or a career improvement plan. These two capacities separate it from other employers.

Define strategic assets
The last level of the hierarchy used in the structured approach is strategic assets. The principal goal of using the top-down structured approach is to develop strategic assets. Strategic assets are the abilities, competencies, or capacities that are required in order to achieve the strategic advantages.

In the engine parts plant example, one of the strategic advantages highlighted was continuous high levels of performance from machines (low failure rate due to machine failures). In order to determine what strategic assets are required, this needs to be analyzed and then broken down into the component capabilities, skills, and capacities required.

In this case the strategic assets may include high amounts of time (quantified) available at full capacity for production and low failure rate of machines (quantified) leading to quality failures.

Once the strategic assets that are required have been determined, measures and initiatives required to achieve them can be highlighted. These will vary depending on the equipment and situation in each case. However, some alternatives include applications of RCM, root cause analysis, or maintenance administration efforts.

Part of the benefits of this system is that by driving down requirements from the top of the organization, measures and actions for specific areas of the operation can be identified. It also promotes the reevaluation of measures and activities in place. If an activity does not contribute to the achievement of competitive advantages, there are generally few reasons for the company to continue doing it.

Development of strategic assets
The hierarchy of goals and objectives needs to be translated into measures to be useful to the company. Fig. 1 shows the representation of goals and objectives in terms of KPIs that will ensure the true measurement of performance.

The structure of KPIs is best represented by corporate level indicators, strategic level indicators, and functional level indicators. Each of these represents the goals that have been determined in the strategic planning stage of the process. This process gives many immediate benefits to an organization including:

• Communication of corporate goals and objectives in a manner that is clear and understandable by all in the organization.

• Easy and deliberate diagnosis of any deviations from stated goals.

An effect of applying the structured approach is that when determining measures there is more of an effort to develop requirement-specific measures instead of the generic widely used measures.

Implementing the structured KPI approach
The implementation of the structured approach needs to be flexible and inclusive. While it is best applied from an organizational standpoint, it also can be applied at either a departmental level or a project-specific level.

There are three steps to an implementation of the structured approach to measuring maintenance: development, creation, and embedding.

The development phase of the approach requires participants to understand how to create a focused KPI structure, recognize the common myths in measuring maintenance, and ensure the benefits. This leads directly to a facilitated strategy workshop.

The intention of the process is to be inclusive in the development of a structure. This involves the participation of various people throughout the organization. The only prerequisite for this step is a good understanding of the corporate objectives (preferably with documentation) or the competitive advantages sought. Ideally the development phase of the implementation process will include a short strategy workshop to set out the goals and objectives.

All members of the workshop need to understand their business and markets as well as the issues affecting their functional area of the company. A typical workshop may include maintenance managers, maintenance engineers, operations supervisors, craft level workers from maintenance and operations, inventory management representatives, and representation from the company IS or IT department.

Attempting to carry out this work in isolation can generate many difficulties for an organization. Also, although the use of reporting software is recommended, it is not an essential element.

Among the outcomes of the workshop should be the development of causal links between the competitive advantages desired and the actions that contribute to them, an understanding of the work to be done to achieve these indicators, and which indicators are to be used by which roles in the organization.

The creation phase of the project needs to be managed as any other improvement project.

During this phase much of the work defined in the development stage is carried out. This can include report creation and implementation of reporting software if necessary, staged implementation of administrative processes and reliability initiatives, and preparation of material for the embedding process.

Embedding is vital
The embedding phase of the project is the most vital part of the project and is designed to ensure its success as a permanent strategic initiative. This stage actually begins from the start of the entire process.

Embedding involves two basic actions. First, communicate the work to be done. It is recommended that the project team members use a combination of tools to do this; however, a prime tool would be a training course for all employees, “Understanding Our Indicators,” run by the measurement implementation team. This course would generally focus on the myths in measuring, the indicators chosen and the reasons why, as well as what the indicators mean to the various levels of the organization.

The second part of embedding requires a close monitoring of the results of the management initiatives and communicating these results, along with the achievements of those involved, to the remainder of the organization.

As the project progresses, it will involve more people throughout the organization which will help build the momentum needed for the embedding phase.

A structured approach
There are myriad benefits to be gained in using a structured approach to KPIs. However, the strongest and most obvious is the communication and execution of goals and objectives throughout the organization. This can be at the organization, department, or specific improvement project level.

The effect of a structured approach is principally one of inclusion and communication. Using the three-step approach, everyone in the organization knows what the indicators represent, understands the overall goals and objectives, and recognizes his part in achieving them.

A structured method changes the overall approach to maintenance and to managing strategy. Rather than measuring what has happened and making decisions based on this information, a structured approach uses indicators to drive future events. Instead of looking at what has happened, it focuses on what should happen. This occurs through the goal setting integral to the process.

There are many other advantages to a structured approach. Some are immediate; others take time.

• All corporate resources are focused on achieving corporate goals and objectives from inception through execution.

• Interdisciplinary and interdepartmental thinking and working take place.

• Processes and initiatives required to achieve a desired end state are understood.

• Deviations from stated goals can be easily diagnosed.

• A process for attacking specific problems or issues at a corporate, departmental, or improvement project level is developed.

• There is full use of corporate reporting tools where they exist.

Maintenance is strategic
Maintenance management is one of the strategically vital areas of corporate activity.

Although it is still largely misunderstood, corporate leaders are beginning to appreciate the benefits available in terms of cost effectiveness, risk management, productivity, and quality.

It is also an area where many methodologies, technologies, and systems claim to improve maintenance performance. Despite this, there are still many failures in the implementation of maintenance improvement initiatives.

This is partly due to the weakness of some of the solutions offered and partly to the lack of embedding of these solutions. In all cases, part of the cause of failure is attributed to a lack of managerial support.

As the discipline of maintenance management progresses it is vitally important to adequately link the function of asset management to the achievement of competitive advantages.

The structured approach couples these linkages with a comprehensive method for defining and implementing strategy and improvement throughout the organization. MT

Daryl Mather is a management consultant, author, and conference speaker specializing in the development of strategic advantages in maintenance and reliability.



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