Archive | August, 2005

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The Future Is Now

Global competition and skyrocketing energy costs are vastly changing the playing field for most industries. The future is now, and with it has come some harsh economic realities. For maintenance and reliability engineers, keeping up-to-date on reliability and asset management technologies is not an option. It’s mandatory.

Maintenance Technology has some mandatory responsibilities, too. Key among them is serving the information needs of our readers. We do this in several ways.

One way is through the magazine itself. Each month, we focus on the type of pertinent information that will benefit you in your day-to-day activities and improve your company’s uptime. Our goal is to help you and your associates identify and act “intelligently” on situations that impact your equipment reliability and your organization’s ability to compete. Take this 2005 Reference Directory, for example. It’s designed as a one-stop, year-round resource tool for helping you and your company achieve that competitive edge you’re seeking.

We also strive to serve you via our Website, www.mt-online.com. There you can read articles from the monthly print version of the magazine, as well as explore an enormous archive of past articles. Available 24/7, this site features a user-friendly search engine that allows easy access to countless products and services based on company name or state. (A site redesign soon will make those searches even easier.)

Speaking of online offerings, our recently launched e-Newsletter alerts subscribers to what will appear in a given month’s issue of the magazine and provides useful links to a range of information. In 2006, it will be delivering much more, including targeted messages on specific reliability topics. You can subscribe to this free service at www.mt-online.com.

MARTS, our annual Maintenance & Reliability Technology Summit is yet another way we keep you informed. MARTS 2005 attracted well over 500 attendees. They came to learn from and network with some of the most noted experts in the field of plant maintenance, equipment reliability, and asset management, including Terry Wireman, Charles Latino, John Mitchell, Mark Galley, Bob Williamson, Vee Narayan, Jack Nicholas, Ricky Smith, Ken Bannister, and Ray Thibault, among others. MARTS 2006 is slated for April 17-20, at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, in Rosemont, IL. Conference details and registration packets will be forthcoming.

Demands on you are growing by the hour. Now is the time to really put Maintenance Technology’s powerful resources to work. Let us keep you abreast of technologies and best practices that not only help you do your job better, but also help position your company as a leader in its industry.

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2005 Nondestructive Testing Guide

Equipment condition assessment is fundamental to equipment reliability and maintenance and to equipment asset management. The predictive maintenance technologies of vibration analysis, infrared thermography, oil analysis, motor circuit analysis, and ultrasound detection get most of the attention. However, there is a wider spectrum of nondestructive testing (NDT) techniques that can be used to keep tabs on equipment condition.

Some NDT techniques can be used in a time-based program to monitor equipment components; others are employed for examining suspected failures identified by other means or as a check of the condition of critical components when they are returned to service after a maintenance intervention.

Impediments to technology use
When suppliers of NDT products and services were asked about the major impediments companies face when considering use of nondestructive testing technologies, answers centered around people, equipment, and money.

“Personnel qualifications” was the reply from William Blum of NDT Consulting Group, and Kathie Green of Magaflux, a division of ITW, said “environmental issues and lack of training.”

Some noted the perceived difficulty of understanding and operating equipment, and suggested equipment with more user friendly interfaces. Also, it was suggested that more economical systems and products would lessen the impact of expensive systems.

To combat the cost issue, Betsy Blazar of the American Society for Nondestructive Testing urged technicians to stress “risk reduction, downtime reduction and expense exposure, product integrity, and safety” with management.

Norman Eisenberg of Thermotest Inc. advised staffers to “be persistent” if there are budgeting problems and people are too busy to give them time to demonstrate what can be done with these technologies.

Alan Bandes of UE Systems defined the impediments as “a need for training and understanding of the technologies as well as where, when, and how to use each type of technology and getting management committed to supporting a comprehensive condition monitoring program.” His suggested solutions were to “attend courses and conferences, consult with colleagues, and plan ahead. Then work on educating management to understand the impact the program will have on the company’s bottom line.”

Resources for reference
The accompanying guide is presented as a foundation for building an NDT reference file of appropriate contacts and resources for your organization.

The guide is arranged in five sections: NDT for mechanical equipment, NDT for electrical systems, ultrasonic inspection for both electrical and mechanical equipment, NDT training, and NDT services. The technology supplier guide lists companies and indicates their product or service offerings. The company directory lists specific information about these suppliers.

The American Society for Nondestructive Testing (ASNT) defines NDT as the examination of an object, material, or system with technology that does not affect the object’s future usefulness. It is also noted that NDT includes many methods that can detect internal or external imperfections; determine structure, composition, or material properties; and measure geometric characteristics.

NDT for mechanical equipment

  • Eddy current testing induces an electromagnetic field into nonferromagnetic tubes or parts and detects changes in signal that indicate discontinuities.
  • Magnetic flux leakage inspection of ferrous tubes induces a magnetic field and detects magnetic flux lines “leaking” from a discontinuity in the magnetized area.
  • Remote field or transmission eddy current uses a transmitter and receiver coil arrangement that can provide qualitative reports on nonferrous tube wall loss as a percent of nominal wall thickness.
  • Magnetic particle inspection uses magnetic particles spread on the surface of ferromagnetic parts to reveal surface cracks transverse to an applied magnetic field. Particles can be coated with a fluorescent to render them more visible under ultraviolet light.
  • Liquid penetrant inspection, for magnetic or nonmagnetic parts, reveals discontinuities open to the surface by indicator stains formed by capillary action of liquid dye drawn from cracks to a developer spread on the part’s surface.
  • Remote visual inspection techniques use optics, often in prehensile fiberoptic instruments, to give an inspector a close-up view of interior surfaces through access openings without disassembling the equipment.
  • Radiography provides views of parts similar to an x-ray photograph or real-time fluoroscopy. The thickness and type of material can be revealed with various techniques and exposure sources.

NDT for electrical systems

  • Motor current analysis techniques use a current transformer and datalogger to collect motor current spectra that can be analyzed for indication of defects associated with the rotating element.
  • Motor circuit analysis instruments measure resistance in conductor path, inductance, capacitance to ground, and resistance to ground off-line using closely controlled ac and dc signals to detect a variety of motor problems.
  • Conductor path resistance detection techniques detect “hot spots” or mismatched circuit conditions using milliohmmeter testing.
  • Insulation testing instruments or high-potential testing devices use off-line application of high voltage to evaluate the integrity of ground insulation systems.
  • Ground resistance testers measure the leakage current flowing to and through an insulation system to ground under the pressure of a known voltage. The results are returned in (meg) ohms.
  • Surge comparison testers insert controlled electrical pulses into an off-line motor and examine return pulses to derive information about the condition of motor windings.

Ultrasonic inspection

  • Airborne ultrasound detection instruments can be used to identify leaks, arcing, corona discharge, bearing noise, and other problems in mechanical and electrical equipment.
  • Pulse echo technology detects flaws or measures thickness by measuring the elapsed time between transmission of an ultrasonic pulse into the material to be tested and the receipt of reflected echo.

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2005 Infrared Thermography

Inspections can detect problems and avoid costly equipment failure.

Thermal imaging has evolved into a valuable diagnostic tool for predictive maintenance. By detecting anomalies often invisible to the naked eye, thermography allows corrective actions to be taken before electrical, mechanical, or process equipment fails. The use of palm computers and database software has improved and speeded up data collection.

An infrared inspection program can provide users with a quick return on investment. According to Scott Cawlfield, president of Logos Computer Solutions, Inc., Seattle, on average, for every $1 spent on an infrared electrical inspection there is a $4 return on investment for materials and labor to fix the problem equipment before it failed. Depending on other factors, he suggested, that ratio could be closer to 1:20.

What’s in a program?
The essential elements in an IR inspection program, Cawlfield said, are to:

  • Use or create an equipment inventory list to account for what equipment was tested and when.
  • Assign a criticality factor to each piece of equipment to prioritize inspection schedules and repairs.
  • Determine the pertinent information to be recorded in addition to temperature readings and reference points; other factors such as camera emissivity value, equipment load, wind speed, environment, and manufacturer influence temperature readings.
  • Provide consistent data collection procedures.
  • Analyze problem areas and generate appropriate reports.

Barriers to effective IR programs
But not all companies are enthusiastically adopting an infrared thermography program. The barriers often cited are in the financial arena—time, personnel, camera cost, training, or contractor expense. The most-mentioned aspect of the financial barrier is the lack of awareness of the benefits to the bottom line.

The main factor standing in the way of the effective use of infrared thermography technology centers on the cost of high-level education and training. It is not only training in thermography but also other associated topics such as materials science, physics, and thermodynamics, “plus knowledge of ‘how things work’, from engines and turbines to buildings’ thermal insulation or HVAC units,” noted one inspection service provider.

Advice from experts
Users of infrared thermography must realize that they should not build the program to meet all of their needs at first—allow it to be dynamic. Maintain good record keeping for trending purposes.

And be sure to communicate what the infrared program is contributing to the company. “Tout your program as often as you possibly can in a professional, reasonable way so that when money is tight people will understand your value,” was the advice from one provider.

A little outside-the-box thinking helps, too. “There are unique applications for nearly every industry, or even every facility. Sometimes it takes a little imagination, but the benefits can be staggering,” said another provider.

New applications
Suppliers for this directory were asked about new applications for infrared thermography, both in the plant and otherwise.

In plant applications, ITR Inc. cited monitoring of couplings and cranes, while Mikron Infrared added monitoring of boiler tubes and continuous monitoring of electrical control panels. Logos Computer Solutions mentioned PDA data collection running on Pocket SQL in conjunction with a Web browser/Web manager for infrared PdM program management.

Evaluation of motor and control circuits from the MCC was a new application suggested by Power Down. Snell Inspections and Infrared Solutions found companies doing more building diagnostics (e.g., building envelope, HVAC, and roof moisture surveys and inspections).

Expert Infrared Inspections has performed inspections on a 4 MW extreme duty dc motor in a steel mill and on television broadcasting equipment. And training has gone online, as Infraspection Institute offers distance learning courses in certification preparation and other areas.

Outside the plant, one of the more widely known new applications of infrared thermography was to measure the body temperature of individuals in airports during the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2003, noted Cantronic Systems Inc. Mikron Infrared cited an application in monitoring coal piles, while Infrared Research Inc. provided an environmental application in checking illicit discharges in streams and waterways.

Monitoring of leaf temperatures to improve irrigation was an application forwarded by IRISYS. Other new applications included using infrared to spot rodent and termite problems (Infrared Solutions), for metal shredding systems (FLIR Systems, Inc.), and security (ASC Systems).

Our two-part guide
This two-part guide to IR equipment and services is designed to give you a source for infrared thermography assistance.

The technology supplier section lists companies and indicates their product or service offerings; companies that supply only infrared thermometers are not included. The company directory lists specific information about these suppliers, including addresses and telephone numbers, as well as Web sites. Information was supplied by the companies listed.

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2005 Oil & Fluid Analysis Guide

Oil analysis is a vital tool in machine condition assessment because it offers a means to improved machine reliability and support for operations and maintenance decisions.

Today, oil analysis should be considered as one of a core group of technologies in a predictive maintenance program. It is complemented by vibration analysis, airborne ultrasound, infrared imaging, motor testing, and nondestructive testing. Together these technologies can pinpoint or confirm all types of problems with specific machine components.

“By using multiple technologies and trending results, maintenance managers can make better machinery health decisions much in the same way a doctor can make better human healthcare decisions after multiple tests,” commented Terrence O’Hanlon of ReliabilityWeb.com.

Elements of an analysis program
A complete analysis program should encompass three areas:

  • Fluid health analysis. The oil’s physical, chemical, and additive properties can be measured and trended to guide decisions about if and when oil should be changed or regenerated with an additive package.
  • Contamination monitoring. Abrasive particles and moisture lead to most of the wear in various applications, so monitoring their presence in oil and fluids enables organizations to make effective decisions to control this cause of machine degradation and failure.
  • Wear debris detection and analysis. Studying particles in oil assists in scheduling maintenance actions and in determining the root cause of any problems with the machinery.

Value of oil and fluid analysis
Suppliers for this guide were asked if they felt most companies realize the place oil analysis should have in their maintenance program, or if many of them were still clueless as to its value. Did they see ignorance or a lack of finances behind most failures to do oil analysis, or were other factors involved.

The majority commented that indeed many companies do not see the value in oil analysis:

  • “Over the years, I have seen more emphasis put on oil analysis but I still see it ‘governed’ by finance and lack of knowledge. We see a lot of run-to-failure type maintenance programs instead of predictive/preventive maintenance programs put in place,” noted Linda Perry of Herguth Laboratories, Inc.
  • “Our experience has been that many are uneducated regarding the cost and labor benefits provided by a lubrication management program, thus generating a lack of prioritization and interest in oil analysis. In addition, most maintenance departments deal with tight budgets, forcing them to choose where to focus their dollars.
  • “Maintenance departments then see the free sampling offered by many oil companies as the answer. However, oil companies sample to ensure the quality of their own product; they are not typically focused on machine condition. As a result, the maintenance department does not experience the benefits of a properly implemented oil analysis program and perpetuates the low priority placed on oil analysis,” stressed Ian Liddle, Design Maintenance Systems Inc.
  • “There is an ignorance about the benefits of oil analysis. It is not as flashy or trendy as vibration and infrared” was the comment from Curt Carlberg, Progressive Maintenance Technologies, Inc.
  • “Many companies do not realize the financial benefits oil analysis can bring to the table. It can be shown to save money in most situations so lack of finances is not really an excuse. Sound financial analysis mostly shows that companies can’t afford not to do oil analysis.

    “However, it takes more than simply oil analysis to realize the full potential. Companies must have the supporting framework of reliability methodologies that fully utilize the information from oil analysis. Without these, results can be disappointing and patchy. This, coupled with the fact that it requires some knowledge of oil analysis to draw sound conclusions from test results, means that many companies may have ‘dabbled’ in oil analysis, found it not to save much, and given up,” said Andrew Ling, Dingo Maintenance Systems.

  • “Most companies do not realize the benefits of an oil analysis program, mostly a lack of knowledge or indifference of the value. Most maintenance managers don’t have the authority to implement programs without upper management approval and they may not know how to sell such concepts or have the initiative to do so” was the comment from Ron Hemming, Maintenance Technologies International LLC.
  • “Unfortunately, many are still clueless on the value of any predictive maintenance program. Most still prefer to wait until something goes wrong rather than spend money up front to alert them there may be a problem,” suggested Christia Schutt of PREDICT.
  • “I feel it’s a second thought, and those who control the dollars do not see the value. Perhaps they do not have the budget, and hope the problems, if any, will go away. My guess is that those in the maintenance department have asked for the help until blue in the face, and in many cases given up—afraid to fight the battle for budget, only to perhaps lose the war, and possibly their job. Deciding finally to give up, shut up, and allow things to go on,” offered Brian Reno, Dow Corning Corp.

Take a different approach
Perhaps part of the problem lies in the way companies approach oil and fluid analysis.

“Most companies still miss the comprehensive philosophy behind oil analysis. These companies are still thinking in terms of oil analysis for ‘oil condition,’ when in reality their concerns are for the ‘equipment condition’,” noted M. Grimes of REAL Services.

“For all practical purposes, virtually all lubricants and fluids are stable and produced in accordance with established standards. It is the various contaminants, whether intrinsic to the operation of the equipment or external to the equipment, which cause fluid degradation or contribute to adverse wear modes. Through analytical techniques, identification of these contaminants can be used to address the root cause of the problems and take corrective action prior to failure.”

Value of education
Education is a vital element in the acceptance of oil analysis programs.

“One of the main problems is lack of trained personnel interpreting the results provided by oil analysis labs and using this data appropriately as part of the maintenance program,” noted David E. Banks, Lubri-Tech Consulting Inc.

“There’s a very small percentage of companies who could benefit from oil analysis actually doing oil analysis and about half of those are more than likely doing it wrong or not utilizing it to its fullest. The main reason for this is lack of education. They simply don’t know what it is and what it can do for them” was the comment from Jacque Powers of Polaris Laboratories.

Analysis technologies
Major analysis technologies include:

  • Spectrographic analysis: determines the concentration of elements represented in the fluid contaminant. It identifies particles smaller than 10 microns.
  • Particle analysis: examines the particles generated by a machine during operation. The size, shape, and makeup of these particles give information on the wear mode and wear rate of the machine.
  • Ferrography: quantifies and examines ferrous wear particles larger than 10 microns suspended in the lubricant or hydraulic fluid.
  • Chemical/physical property analysis: measures physical properties of a lubricant, such as viscosity, acid number for organic acids that degrade the oil, base number for activity level of the additive package, and presence of water.
  • Continuous on-line monitoring systems: provide on-demand, real-time analysis of lubricant condition and eliminate oil sampling.
  • Software packages: help users manage condition monitoring programs and facilitate trending of oil analysis data.

    Analysis resources
    Many oil analysis functions must be conducted by an organization dedicated to that service, so the accompanying two-part guide is presented as a foundation for a list of contacts and resources for reference when oil and fluid analysis may be needed.

    The technology supplier section lists companies and indicates their product or service offerings; suppliers of only single-point lubricators are not included. The company directory lists specific information about these suppliers, including addresses and telephone numbers, as well as Web sites when available. The information was supplied directly by the companies listed.

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    Maintenance Information Systems

    Directory of EAM/CMMS software for maintenance and reliability organizations

    Enterprise asset management (EAM) and computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS) are essential to most maintenance and reliability strategies irrespective of plant size. The software must manage and optimize reliability and performance of plant physical assets and maintenance operations, support a company’s business process, and be tied in to business drivers. It must support a company’s overall asset management strategy. The software is key to information flow and moving knowledge from the plant floor up the organization to help run the business.

    Buying decisions begin with an analysis of how a maintenance organization operates today and what its strategy is for the future. Total cost of ownership also needs to be considered. These systems can help organizations implement their strategy to decrease downtime, increase the use of their resources, reduce maintenance costs, and can be viewed as a communication tool to help make better decisions.

    Software can help companies improve their business but no program will do everything the way users want it to, so compromises will need to be made. A previous article, “Managing an EAM/CMMS Project—Phase one: An unbiased team approach to system selection” (MT 5/05, pg 35) discusses ways to balance the wants and needs of various plant departments that are all looking to select a package that best serves their needs.

    Using software to track all maintenance activities becomes critical as more companies establish best practices to drive continuous improvement and develop KPIs to measure their progress, Management support, strictly defined maintenance work processes, and ease of use have been identified as keys to success.

    Maintenance information systems run on multi-platforms using mainframe, client/server, thin client, or browser-based applications. Smaller, stand-alone systems run on PCs or local area networks. Because some powerful packages can run on a single PC or networked PCs without a midrange server, the dividing line between small and large systems has blurred. Therefore, we are including all software packages in one directory.

    Many companies offer programs specifically built to be accessed across the Internet. These Web-architected programs enable rapid deployment across a number of sites using a Web browser and established wide and local area networks. Multi-site organizations can benefit from a centralized data repository which allows for normalization and standardization across plants. Another variation of this method lets users access the program through the Internet but the data resides in their own plants.

    Using these approaches, maintenance personnel can access information and work orders in a number of ways—dedicated terminals and PCs, or mobile Palm-type personal digital assistants (PDAs) and handheld computers running Windows CE. Other wireless and radio frequency devices to access information are also at hand. Developments including e-commerce, supply chain integration, the Internet, and wireless technologies that first were implemented in larger plants also are benefiting smaller and midsize plants.

    Some companies offer an application service provider (ASP) option to their programs. Users pay a monthly fee to access the software through an Internet-enabled workstation. The ASP stores the program and the data on its server. Users always have access to the most current version of the program. This delivery method eliminates the need for on-site hardware infrastructure, system administration, and associated costs at the user’s end and lets companies concentrate on operating their plants rather than their computer systems.

    To meet the needs of the increasing number of companies that recognize the benefits of electronic transactions, some software suppliers provide Web-enabled systems that support e-procurement within their own program or allow users to integrate their EAM or CMMS system with other vendor software. Another growing area is connectivity with programs having the ability for data integration with other plant ERP business applications, production automation and control systems, and other software in the plant.

    The directory provides basic information on systems from 45 companies. The listing of maintenance information systems is followed by .addresses, telephone numbers, and URLs of maintenance information system suppliers. A software/company index to help users find entries when only the software name is known make up the final section.

    Information in the main listing is provided in five columns: Software and Company, General Information, Technical Information, Installed Base, and Relative Cost.

    • Software and company. Entries are arranged alphabetically by supplier company with a separate listing for each software package. Some companies have indicated that their offerings are a functional module of a larger enterprise resources planning (ERP) system or can be considered an ERP system in their own right, and they are so noted in this column.
    • General information. Basic system architecture is indicated by M for mainframe, CS for client/server, TC for thin client, B for browser, PC for standalone or small local area network, Mb for mobile, or A for application service provider . Some systems can be configured by more than one method. The staffing figures represent the number of people engaged in research and development activities and the number of people in all aspects of the EAM/CMMS business. Year of software introduction provides added insight to installed base figures in the next to last column.
    • Technical information. Five lines of information provide a basic description of application support requirements (server hardware, server operating system, database manager, client operating system, and PC operating system).
      —Server hardware. Some suppliers listed specific hardware requirements for their software. Other suppliers listed computer manufacturers.
      —Server operating system. Type of operating system provides more information about the system on which various applications are designed to run. Unix, a popular system for midrange computers, may be listed as Unix or as a proprietary version offered by hardware manufacturers specifically designed for their machines.
      —Database manager. The relational database manager used by a program is an important selection factor for organizations with other business or back office software. If the database managers are the same, it is likely that the EAM/CMMS can work with these other applications.
      The database manager is a significant contributor to the performance of an EAM/CMMS. It handles procedures that otherwise would have to be written into the application software, adding to its complexity. Many EAM/CMMS programs are written to run with a variety of databases. Other programs are written for a single database, which allows them to make better use of the features and development tools provided by the database. ODBC indicates compliance with Open Database Connectivity, an SQL-based interface from Microsoft designed for consistent access to a variety of databases.
      —Client operating system. This entry lists the operating system for the client portion of the software.
      —PC operating system. This entry lists the operating system for PC or PC-LAN based systems.
    • Installed base. Each company was asked to indicate the installed base for its software in four site categories: process industry (Pro); discrete manufacturing (Mfg); hospitals, schools, government installations, and other facilities (Fac); and utility plants (Util). The last number (Tot) represents the total installed base.
    • Relative cost. Supplier companies were asked to indicate the typical cost for installing their systems in various size maintenance departments. Cost codes and installation sizes are listed at the bottom of directory pages.

    Information for the directory was directly provided by suppliers who are actively promoting their products.

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    2005 Condition Monitoring Software Guide

    Plant asset management (PAM), the top-level view of reliability and maintenance, is comprised of many advanced maintenance technologies and systems. A PAM system is fed by several information streams, including those from the predictive maintenance technologies: vibration analysis, oil analysis, electrical and motor circuit analysis, ultrasound inspection, infrared thermography, and other nondestructive testing technologies.

    Although a fully integrated PAM system is elusive, effective predictive maintenance or condition monitoring software is readily available from a broad range of suppliers. The listing in this article provides some basic information for contacting the suppliers that may prove helpful to your plant’s asset management initiative. They are listed by technology.

    The condition monitoring challenge is two fold: collecting and analyzing data from plant assets and packaging the data as helpful information for decision makers and managers and plant information systems.

    Software capabilities
    We have provided several indicators in each software listing about its capabilities: A = analyzes equipment condition; T = trends asset condition data; O = only the supplier company’s instruments (or laboratories) can provide input; + = data input from multiple companies’ instruments; M = manual data input is possible. This information was furnished by the software suppliers.

    Obviously, reliability and maintenance organizations using multiple condition monitoring technologies will need systems to manage the data from each type. Some systems can manage information from virtually all predictive maintenance technologies. According to information from the suppliers, such systems are available from Bently Nevada, DLI Engineering, DMSI, Emerson Process Management, Ivara Corp., Logos Computer Solutions, and Rockwell Software.

    Reaching management
    Suppliers for this directory were asked whether it is getting easier or harder to “sell” management on purchasing equipment to establish or improve a predictive maintenance program and why. The majority of answers came down on the “easier” side, but with qualifications.

    “Most managers are beginning to recognize the need to become accountable for asset availability and to be able to understand the health of operating equipment,” noted Alan Bandes of UE Systems Inc. Added Courtney Goetz of Rockwell Software, “It is getting easier due to the desire from management to reduce operating costs. Because of the automated analysis features in software, the maintenance team can operate more efficiently by spending more time on complex issues, rather than focusing on issues that the system can handle.”

    But many qualified their “easier” replies:

    • “It is still difficult to get to the right people to present this message.” Lou Morando, SPM Instrument Inc.
    • “It becomes easier if you can effectively demonstrate the value of total program management tools that are easy to use and can directly affect the bottom line.” Jacque Powers, Polaris Laboratories, LLC
    • “Slowly improving but the cost of advanced software makes some companies hesitant to buy even though it saves them money in the long term.” Noelle Kuchler, Schenck Balancing & Diagnostic Systems
    • “The ability to sell is improving as the economy continues to improve. That said, PdM is really a recession-proof industry, in our view, as real value is gained and costs contained no matter the economic environment.” Bruce Anderson, Logos Computer Solutions

    Those who cited a harder atmosphere mentioned budget restraints, more competition, and the fact that most plants are already doing vibration analysis or PdM. “I know of only one company that is actively implementing a new PdM program,” said Buddy Lee, MAARS Inc.

    But perhaps the difficulty of implementing a new PdM program is related to a company’s industry. “Some industries are becoming aware of the huge potential savings that can be achieved by implementing a predictive maintenance program. Other industries are struggling just to stay alive and have down-sized tremendously, to the point that establishing a program with in-house personnel is no longer feasible,” noted Frank Seidenthal of Ludeca Inc.

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    Managing an EAM/CMMS Project

    The biggest payback opportunities in an EAM/CMMS implementation are often never realized. During product selection, goals were set for the application and specific business benefits were targeted, but the project scope was probably scaled back to “must haves” rather than the full scope of recommendations. During implementation, you kept a running list of additional features, functions, and data or process changes that were considered to be important to the success of the project but were deferred because the budget was an issue or the timing was too tight.

    Even though the EAM/CMMS is now live and rolled out throughout the operation, you are not seeing all the benefits you know are possible—if only you had the chance. Implementing the “wish list” appears to be a pipe dream because priorities have shifted and project resources have been reallocated.

    There never seems to be an opportune time to improve a business solution, which is why some refer to phase three as “phase never.” This article examines how to overcome this obstacle, and how incremental improvements can have a profound impact on return on investment (ROI).

    Opportunity management
    At each step in a project lifecycle, great ideas are postponed to an unnamed later date. As time passes, the details are often long forgotten. This obstacle to real improvement can be averted by committing to phase three at the outset of the project. That commitment, backed by organizational support and a methodology for continuous improvement, is an investment that will pay dividends for the life of the new system.

    Instilling a mindset of continuous improvement early in the project ensures the switch does not turn off at go-live. From the inception of product selection and throughout the implementation, the project manager must systematically capture and “own” each deferred opportunity. The implementation audit after roll-out, as well as ongoing use of the system, will reveal fresh opportunities for improvement.

    Pre-implementation deferrals
    The cost benefit analysis report outlined direct financial benefits associated with a wide range of proposed improvements. That document was pivotal in obtaining necessary funding for the new system. However, project funding tends to be selectively focused on immediate needs that will return the greatest operational benefit and ROI.

    An application module may not be considered mission critical, or a transition to handheld devices may be postponed. An electronic document management system (EDMS) could solve many problems, but now is not the time. Even if approved, certain planned improvements may be relegated to workarounds if the preferred vendorÕs solution does not completely accommodate the requirement.

    Business improvements commonly postponed to “phase never” include:

    • Reliability centered maintenance (RCM). Many times, the cost benefit for a new system is based on RCM improvements. Although most EAM/CMMS systems contain reliability-centered functionality, it is not the same as having an RCM program. Although its benefits are undisputed, RCM program development is a time-consuming endeavor that is seldom conducted in parallel with new system implementation.
    • Complete cost interfacing. Best-of-breed time management and materials management systems are sometimes not interfaced with an EAM/CMMS. Therefore, hourly rates, union contracts, per diems, call out premiums, shift premiums, and other factors that impact actual work order costs may not be factored in work management budgets and repair/replace decisions.
    • Contractor time management. Contract services are often managed within the contractorÕs own management system, and paper invoices, timesheets, and backup documents are manually entered in the EAM/CMMS. This error-prone procedure delays the ability to track contractor time and costs, when instead the contractors could be entering their data directly into the EAM/CMMS.
    • Document management. The paper chase performed by engineering, planning, and craft personnel can be alleviated by implementing document management functionality or integrating to a separate document management system. CAD drawings, piping isometrics, piping and instrumentation diagrams, and exploded parts diagrams from vendor technical manuals are examples of the types of information that would save time if readily accessible.
    • Project management. Project management capabilities within an EAM/CMMS system allow users to budget, approve, and manage project costs in real time. This gives time to react before a problem can escalate. The alternative is relying on financial system reports, which typically arrive 30-60 days after the fact, and learning too late that the project is in trouble.

    Leftover opportunities like these are usually shelved until the new system proves its worth and/or personnel and money become available. The project team leader needs to own each of these issues and log them as post-implementation optimization candidates.

    Implementation deferrals
    During implementation, scope boundaries are often challenged due to unexpected developments. Data quality issues or a hardware limitation may be discovered. Product or process enhancements might be required. A new report or KPI may be needed, or an interface to some obscure system might have been overlooked.

    When unplanned tasks disrupt the schedule, planned activities can get shortchanged. If the scope is strictly maintained, practical improvements may be indefinitely suspended. Throughout the implementation, any issue that is consciously diverted needs to be logged by the project manager as a candidate for future optimization.

    Post-implementation deferrals
    Before any optimization efforts begin, it is important to complete the implementation by ensuring the initial project objectives are being met. To accomplish this, project team members should be strategically placed with key end user groups for a short period following go-live. They answer any questions, provide further guidance on new business processes, and ensure a general level of comfort to the end users. If requested, the vendor or consultant will provide resources to supplement the help desk and provide detailed knowledge of the new software system and its interaction with the new business processes.

    Periodically following startup, the project team will gather performance data to verify that productivity gains are on schedule. It is easier to justify optimization efforts if the new system has delivered measurable benefits and ROI assumptions are validated. Additionally, users should be polled for system satisfaction. Which processes are still not clear? Where do gaps exist? What tasks are still being handled manually and why? Which processes take too long or have too many steps?

    In the days and weeks immediately following go-live, this process of ensuring all users are getting the most out of the system can bring to light further opportunities for enhancement. More may be discovered before the project team disbands during its evaluation of lessons learned. Whatever the source, each unveiled optimization opportunity must again be centralized with the project manager for consideration.

    Ownership transition
    When the implementation project team finally disbands, the list of accumulated improvement opportunities must change hands. Otherwise, it could vanish into the abyss of “phase never.” Now is the time to transition ownership of the list from the project manager to the user community, who will carry on the responsibility for continuous improvement within their day-to-day work processes.

    The key to continuous improvement is to establish a user group that can communicate and manage the system needs of the user community. The user group may include some project team members, but also should include new resources representing the variety of departments and sites using the system. The group will start with the list transitioned from the project manager, and assess new software problems identified by the help desk, potential enhancements identified by end users, data improvement requests, and new interface requirements. Additionally, the group should evaluate patch releases before they are implemented to ensure that the fixes are worth the effort.

    Driving new gains in familiar territory
    It is not necessary, nor advisable, to implement every recommendation. A cost benefit analysis should be performed for each proposed optimization activity. Even those previously quantified during product selection should be re-evaluated. The user group will weigh and prioritize the tasks according to business need, and benchmark them against best practices. The group will determine whether system, security, or database tuning can resolve the problem. Less-expensive workarounds should be considered if they can make a noticeable improvement. Only the most beneficial opportunities should be presented for management authorization and resource assignment.

    You should be experiencing dŽjˆ vu by now. Although a user group has replaced the original project team, optimization follows the same project lifecycle as a new system implementation. Activities must be justified, planned, developed, tested, trained, implemented, and supported after go-live. Continuous improvement, therefore, is truly a cyclical process and you have essentially returned to phase one.

    Previous articles were “Managing an EAM/CMMS Project—Phase one: An unbiased team approach to system selection” (MT 5/05, pg 35) and “Managing an EAM/CMMS Project—Phase two: Best practice methodologies for system implementation” (MT 6/05, pg 11).

    C. Scott MacMillan and Lance Morris are principals of Cohesive Information Solutions Inc., 8215 Madison Blvd., Ste. 150, Madison, AL 35758; telephone (877) 410-2570; e-mail mt@cohesivesolutions.com; Internet http://pubs.cohesivesolutions.com. For more information circle 101 or visit www.MT-freeinfo.com

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    6:00 am
    August 1, 2005
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    2005 Precision Alignment and Balancing Guide

    These two processes can have a significant impact on the operational life of bearings and rotating machinery.

    Excessive vibration is a major contributor to early machine failure. With shaft alignment and machinery balancing procedures in place, organizations are able to reduce that vibration and increase the life of their rotating machinery.

    Research by the University of Tennessee’s Maintenance and Reliability Center has shown that a 5-mil offset misalignment can reduce expected bearing life by as much as 50 percent in some cases.

    Proper alignment is critical to machine life, and coupling wear or failure, bearing failures, bent rotors or crankshafts, and bearing housing damage are all common results of poor alignment. It also is known that loads on mechanical partsÑsuch as bearings, seals, and couplingsÑdecrease with improved alignment.

    These reduced loads result in decreased noise and vibration, decreased operating temperatures, decreased wear on mechanical systems, and decreased downtime due to breakage.

    Be aware of potential errors
    Industry experts warn there are numerous potential errors that technicians can commit while performing alignment and balancing tasks.

    “The plethora of alignment problems we witness are primarily due to a lack of understanding of the overall scope of alignment and related issues, improper or misuse of tools, not enough time given to do a thorough alignment job, and lack of desire to do it properly,” noted John Piotrowski, Turvac Inc. “Expensive alignment systems are no substitute for an individual knowledgeable in the subject of alignment methodology.”

    As for balancing errors, Piotrowski said, “Balancing is usually the last thing we do to reduce vibration. We typically insure that other problems are eliminated before attempting to balance a rotor. There is nothing worse than trying to ‘balance out’ an alignment problem.”

    Other problems noted by Rich Idtensohn of Schenck Trebel Corp. are not checking for soft foot condition before performing alignment, not conducting gross alignment before fine alignment, applying the wrong tolerance for the application when balancing, and counting in the wrong direction of rotation when placing correction weights.

    Several companies have seen technicians who did not properly diagnose and correct soft foot, performed improper thermal growth calculations, or did not log results to create a history of balance corrections.

    Carl Eyman, Measurements, LLC, has seen technicians “assuming vibration is caused by balance just because it’s at 1x rpm, and quitting an alignment job when it’s ‘close enough’.”

    Ronald J. Hemming, Maintenance Technologies International, LLC, warned against the “failure to recognize 2-plane vs 1-plane balance requirements or just not taking the time to perform a 2-plane balance and correcting to a less-acceptable tolerance using a single plane method.”

    “Trying to use laser alignment equipment in situations for which the dial indicator approach is better suited” was a concern of Malcolm Murray of Murray & Garig Tool Works.

    A final concern was “not having balancing grade specifications when buying new rotating equipment or when sending for repair,” added Guy Nollet, Proaxion Technologies.” And no, new machines are not necessarily balanced to the optimum levels you would need in your plant.”

    Advice for avoiding errors
    The consensus among most industry experts on the top advice to avoid or correct the mistakes noted earlier was non-product-specific training at regular intervals, with “proper tools, timely follow-up, or supervision to make sure the job is being done correctly,” added Hemming.

    Nollet echoed that view, and added that precision alignment requires “proper guidelines, training, and a strong corporate commitment that nothing else is acceptable.”

    Technicians should be trained and equipped in both laser and indicator approaches, noted Murray, “including criteria for making an intelligent choice of one or the other for each alignment job they encounter.”

    Also important is to “implement procedures that will clearly define how technicians should approach each individual piece of equipment in the plant and give them the training they need to use the balancing equipment,” said Andrew J. Winzenz, Lord Corp. “Decide what information needs to be included in a balancing report and review it to ensure that proper procedures are followed and you are getting the results you need.”

    “Experience, experience, experience” was stressed by Larry Larson, L.P. Larson Corp. “Make sure technicians are adequately trained and supervised. The more time spent in the field, particularly in balancing situations, leads to the level of confidence that is required to make the proper decision when confronting a problem.”

    Programs save money
    Identifying and implementing ways to eliminate misalignment and unbalance is an effective way to reduce downtime and maintenance cost. According to Nollet, an oil refinery saw its mean time between failure increase in a 5-year period from 16 months to 60 months.

    The estimate from Ana Maria Delgado, Ludeca, Inc., is that a typical paper mill can expect to save “between $100,000 and $250,000 per year if starting from scratch by investing in one top laser alignment system, training at least six people to use it properly, and providing them with the necessary time and materials to do the job right. Additional savings can be expected from the implementation of proper target specifications derived from on-line monitoring of positional change.”

    Correction of balancing and alignment has resulted in a $500,000 savings for one customer in the food services industry, added Idtensohn. Another company reported that a sugar mill saved $2400 per hour downtime with a laser pulley alignment tool by reducing the time to align a 10-belt drive on a sugar pulp press from 6 hours to 40 minutes. With 16 presses in the mill, annual savings (excluding labor) are projected at $204,672.

    In a Texas chemical plant, the alignment of a multi-element machinery train was on the critical path of a plant turnaround repeated at 18-month intervals. Murray said by applying his “patented tooling and unpatented know-how,” he reduced the alignment time from 10 days to 31/2 days. “I was told that the value of the downtime reduction was as much as $250,000 per turnaround.”

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