Archive | April, 2006


6:15 am
April 2, 2006
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Viewpoint: Give Your Equipment A Jolt Of Productivity


John Kravontka, President, Fuss & O’Neill TPM Services

Often, unknowingly, companies may be producing at only half of their potential because of ineffective equipment performance.

The problem starts slowly. Companies may begin working around failed equipment and quality problems, believing it is the only way they can maintain production levels. Although they may start to fall behind in their output goals, some rationalize that shutting down for maintenance will make matters worse. If, however, failed equipment, minor stoppages and quality issues are the cause of reduced output, then maintenance– even with some downtime–is what’s really required.

Improving equipment performance calls for Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) as part of a Lean Manufacturing strategy. Properly implemented, TPM can dramatically increase equipment productivity immediately,while, at the same time, it is reducing maintenance costs.

When TPM first began, it focused on transferring tasks from maintenance workers to machine operators. The thought was that giving operators minor maintenance tasks (i.e. filter changes, lubrication, etc.) would free up maintenance workers to do other things. This required significant training so operators could safely perform the tasks; that, in turn, led to increased cost and time for their companies, but greater responsibility for the operators. At the same time, maintenance workers’ productivity decreased, from skills shortages, cutbacks, etc.

The original TPM concept didn’t work well because it focused on tasks instead of on equipment productivity. In a typical maintenance department, 95 out of every 100 jobs are to repair equipment after it breaks down. In this reactive mode, maintenance personnel get pulled from one job to another, reducing their productivity even more. In a further effort to reduce costs, inventories of spare parts would be cut back, again decreasing maintenance and equipment productivity. Over time, without seeing major results, concepts like TPM tended to be phased out or dropped altogether.

During the past five years, though, the TPM philosophy has significantly evolved and companies using the new model find they are achieving tremendous results through improved equipment productivity. These companies work with TPM experts to focus on the Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) of a critical piece of equipment. Together, they carefully analyze data to detect trends in production stoppages. They clean and inspect the equipment, targeting areas identified by the data. They modify the equipment to control contamination and make it more accessible for maintenance. They develop lubrication standards, cleaning standards, daily operator PM standards, etc. By taking these basic steps, OEE can jump immediately from the typical average of 50% to 60-80%–sometimes in the first week.

Today’s approach to TPM encourages valuable input from operators–the people closest to the machinery. As part of such a team, operators develop and modify the daily PM plan, giving them ownership of the solution and moving equipment performance to a higher level.

TPM data, however, comes from many sources other than operators: maintenance failure history, OEE observations, (observing equipment in operation, noting why it stops), safety data, quality data, 5’S evaluations, predictive tools, etc. So, even in just a few hours, a TPM team can learn a great amount about equipment condition. Their evaluations force these teams to quickly focus on equipment details (pressure gauges, grease fittings, air filters etc.) to rate performance and find opportunities for improvement.

Going forward, manufacturers would be well advised to view TPM as a powerful ongoing business practice–one so powerful that it can reduce overall maintenance costs by 10-15% while at the same time improving equipment productivity. MT

John Kravontka can be reached in Manchester, CT, at (800) 286-2469 x 5699, or through his company’s Website,

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6:13 am
April 2, 2006
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Racing For Reliability


Terry Wireman, C.P.M.M. Editorial Director

This year,we made a conscious decision to use “Racing for Reliability” as the theme for MARTS, an annual event held in Rosemont, IL. It’s been a great choice given the fact that so many readers–and attendees–are NASCAR racing fans. On the other hand, is it realistic to link racing with the pursuit of reliability? Let’s see.

Jeff Hammond of Fox Sports is the Keynote Speaker at MARTS this year. His address has a specific focus on the communication between a race car driver and pit crew, and what this type of teamwork means to reliability—be it in the pits, on the track or back at the shop.Hammond also is discussing what it means to be competitive, always striving for improvement—what it takes to be consistent, a winner and a champion.

As we readied this issue ofMAINTENANCE TECHNOLOGY for press,we took the opportunity to preview Hammond’s presentation. From it,we could see that being competitive in NASCAR racing bears many similarities to making equipment reliability improvements in industrial operations. Success in both of these areas depends on highperforming and reliable equipment.

For example, are you and your company striving for continuous improvement? Are you constantly looking for ways to be the preferred supplier in your marketplace? Are you aggressively reducing wasteful practices to lower costs and increase throughput? Are you trying to accomplish this before your competitor makes the improvements and takes a leading share in your market? Answering “yes” to any of these questions would qualify you to sit in the front row at MARTS 2006.

Scott Lampe, CFO of Hendrick Motorsports, is another featured presenter at MARTS this year. His talk explains how the Hendrick fleet of race cars, spare parts inventory and components are properly maintained and provides examples of how the organization has significantly improved its inventory and maintenance management practices to win on the NASCAR circuit. Lampe also notes how teamwork, a winning attitude and computerized recordkeeping has helped make Hendrick teams top competitors in the racing world.

Learning how representatives of NASCAR think can help you improve maintenance and reliability practices around your own plant or facility. Instead of being locked into your current paradigm of maintenance and reliability as “necessary evils” or a necessary expense, look at the situation in NASCAR terms. By doing so, you can begin changing the attitude at your plant or facility to one where improved maintenance and reliability functions are keys to competitiveness.

Don’t be misled. The fact is that Reliability IS very much a “race.”

Improved reliability is a major—if not the most important—component in the race for business and industry survival. Improved reliability can help your company lower expenses related to maintenance labor and materials, boost production throughput and increase Return On Assets (ROA). That’s serious stuff.

Thus, instead of getting into a silly debate about reliability being a race, your organization should be asking itself if it can improve its asset maintenance and reliability practices before your competition does. Are you up for it? MT

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6:09 am
April 2, 2006
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Preventive Maintenance Programs Are Valuable

0406_maintenance_img8Whether it’s performed on you in a doctor’s office, or on the assets in your plant or facility, the appropriate type of preventive maintenance can offer tremendous payback, not to mention real peace of mind.

Preventive maintenance is the single most efficient and cost-reducing method available to a maintenance organization within any company. Period. But, not just any “preventive maintenance” will do. It must be logical, appropriate and inclusive of all the proper components.

What does that mean?
As a starting point, the proper elements to include in any preventive maintenance (PM) program, would be any asset or component that is critical to the mission of the company or organization. To determine what those are, you must first answer several questions:

What is the mission of your company or organization?
What value do you bring to your customer?
Do you deliver a product or service?
If you deliver a product, what assets and/or components are absolutely necessary to
deliver it?

If you provide a service, what assets and/or components are absolutely necessary to
deliver it?

Whatever assets and/or components are necessary for the delivery of your product or service make up the foundation of your PM program. This must be stated unequivocally. The purpose of maintenance is to preserve an asset or component from failure or decline. As an asset or component is used, it has a need for inspection and cleaning to verify its state of condition. There may be additional requirements to ensure that the asset or component is in its optimal state of condition. If preventive maintenance is not being applied to the assets and components necessary to deliver the product or service of an organization, that organization will experience failure. Such failure may equate to lost production and/or lost opportunity to provide product or service in a timely fashion. In turn, that means the stated mission of the organization is not adequately being met.

Asset priority
It should be understood that not all assets are equal. One of the first steps you should take is to invest the time and effort to clearly identify which assets are more important and have the highest priority in your operations, and what other priorities to assign to the remaining, lesser important assets. Make no mistake, any assets that are a part of any process, whether directly contributing to the delivery of the product or service your company provides, or supporting other related processes in that delivery, have some importance to your company. Otherwise, you would not invest in them. Correct? But, by agreeing that not all assets are equal then you would agree that not all maintenance is equal. And the maintenance required on some assets is non-existent– like those assets that you’ve identified are acceptable to run to failure.

The assignment of a priority to the assets or components found within your company is a valuable exercise. Prioritization allows you to identify which assets require maintenance and the level of maintenance you should apply. It also enables the maintenance department to identify which work may have a more significant impact on the organization’s mission, whether the work is assigned by a supervisor or the technician picks the work order upon which to focus their attention.

Asset classification (catalog)
What about the naming conventions that are used to identify the assets or components within your operation? Seldom do we find these naming conventions to be consistent. Using common and consistent names to identify assets leads to easier identification of the asset upon which inspection or maintenance is to be performed.

Additionally, consistent naming conventions enable comparison between like assets, whether they are within the same area or located elsewhere within the organization. It is important toidentify what maintenance differences may exist between like assets, which assets are performing more reliably than others,what maintenance expense is being incurred and, potentially, what could be done differently to reduce the maintenance expenses on like assets.

0406_maintenance_img9Failure analysis
Having a class of failure associated with the assets or components provides an often overlooked Reliability Centered Maintenance capability of Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA). This is an easy-to-use and powerful proactive maintenance technique that helps you identify and counter frail or fragile points in products and/or processes. The structured approach of FMEA allows for the use of associated Assembly/Cause/Remedy and proves to be a valuable tool by defining the root cause of any failure that an asset or component may incur. Without using FMEA, any analysis becomes inconsistent and subjective. FMEA allows for an objective analysis of the maintenance performed on an asset–and helps the analyzer eliminate potential reasons for the related failure, which drives toward the identification of the true reason for failure and, as a subset, what maintenance tasks may be necessary to reduce or eliminate the failure.

Appropriate preventive maintenance
Performing PM tasks in a timely manner that reduces or eliminates failure could be the proper level of–or appropriate–maintenance required. Achieving the proper harmony or balance of maintenance, however, may be difficult to accomplish. The primary factor to consider is the risk associated with the failure of the asset being maintained.

Companies have a tendency to over-invest in an asset’s maintenance when the impact on the mission is significantly affected by the failure of the asset. The decision regarding the appropriate level of preventive maintenance to perform on any asset should, therefore, be a subject for discussion between the operations and maintenance organizations within each company. Having an accurate and dependable history of the asset’s performance, however, and the level of maintenance that has been applied to it will certainly facilitate the decision-making process.

The maintenance history should include the PM performed, any follow-on work orders that may have been generated from execution of the PM tasks, the inspections made and their frequency, any corrective maintenance that may have resulted from those inspections, and the level of effort that has been expended in all activities, including the spare parts and/or consumable material required. Numerous decisions can be made using this subset of the asset life-cycle cost information.

One short side note is in order, here.A large number of companies are using standing work orders for recording brief durations of maintenance applied to assets.While recording activities in this manner allows a technician to account for all of his or her time, it skews the true maintenance cost that may be associated with an individual asset. That is because the standing work orders are assigned at too high a level to actually post the time spent to the specific asset requiring the maintenance. Thus, this is not the best method for capturing true asset life-cycle cost.

It also should be noted that, when performing maintenance inspection, if you’ve inspected 12 times and have not generated a corrective maintenance work order, you’ve inspected at least 11 times too many. The purpose of an inspection is to identify potential required maintenance in advance of any failure. If you are not finding any potential maintenance, you could be wasting maintenance dollars (in time and effort) performing unnecessary inspection tasks.

This is not to encourage delaying any inspection. Rather you should consider the results of past inspections and adjust the intervals of future ones so that the time and effort heretofore devoted to unnecessary inspection can be reapplied to more productive maintenance tasks.

Logical preventive maintenance
Having already identified the elements that should be included in your PM program and relating the appropriate level of maintenance to apply, what, then, is logical preventive maintenance?

Logical maintenance depends upon the age and the status of the asset. To illustrate: a newer asset may be under a manufacturer’s warranty with the expectation that a certain level of maintenance will be applied to validate the warranty. Typically, a manufacturer’s recommended maintenance may specify tasks that go above and beyond necessary maintenance.

Again, assets that are older may require additional maintenance to preserve them in their optimal operating condition. The challenge here is to identify what the additional maintenance may be and to apply those added tasks at the proper time to any like assets as they age.

Logically applying maintenance routines to complex assets requires breaking them down into their basic function. Machinery is comprised of mechanical, electrical, hydraulic or pneumatic elements. Identify which element requires what maintenance task, then assemble those tasks into the maintenance routine required to achieve the desired result.

Once you develop the maintenance routine for each asset, whether the asset is simple or complex, you have the foundation for your PM program. You should then monitor this program, to ensure that it is helping meet the mission of your company, and expand it to include other assets that you identify as requiring repetitive maintenance tasks.

Again for emphasis. . . preventive maintenance is the single most efficient and cost-reducing method available to a maintenance organization within any company.You can liken it to your own health. A visit to the doctor for a routine check-up or procedure (preventive maintenance) can uncover and lead to the elimination of a potentially catastrophic failure.

The expectation is the same regarding PM–be it performed on you in a doctor’s office or on assets and/or components within your operations. It’s all about reducing or eliminating failure. MT

Tim Trout has held a number of positions within MRO Software, and currently serves as program manager, Center of Excellence. He has considerable experience in maintenance management, including involvement with all aspects of material handling, from managing storerooms to managing procurement departments. E-mail:; Telephone: (208) 232-3929

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5:20 am
April 2, 2006
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Creating Culture Change – A Pathway To Improved Reliability

improving_maintenance_and_reliability_through_cullture_changePart II focused on what makes up an organization’s culture. This month, the author covers the crucial “Eight Elements of Change” and provides a survey to help readers build their own “Webs of Change.”

Editors Note: This article is based on excerpts from Improving Maintenance and Reliability Through Cultural Change, a book by Stephen J. Thomas. It is used with permission from Industrial Press, Inc.

In order for change initiatives to be successful, it is critical that all aspects of the process be integral parts of the design. This typically doesn’t happen in the majority of change efforts that take place. Instead, what usually happens is that an organization develops and works on its change initiatives at what is referred to as the “hard skill” level. This includes areas such as planning, scheduling and work execution. Unfortunately, the result of working only at this level is most often failure of the change initiative.

change_hierarchyThis is a two-fold problem. First, the effort into which the organization has poured so much time and effort fails to achieve the goals and benefits that were established at the outset. Secondly, and even worse, the failure leaves a sense of skepticism within the organization making future change efforts even more difficult. It is for these reasons that organization culture change must be an integral part of any change initiative. But,we can’t stop here. There is another level between the hard skills and the level of cultural change that must be addressed. This foundational level is referred to as “soft skills,” as shown in Fig. 1.

The soft skill level is made up of a set of eight key elements called the “Eight Elements of Change.”These include leadership, work process, structure, group learning, technology, communication, interrelationships and rewards. You will find a description of each of these in the book, Improving Maintenance & Reliability Through Culture Change. Each of these eight elements has its own full chapter dedicated to providing the reader with more detailed information.

The value of each element When you really think about the Eight Elements of Change, you will quickly recognize the value that correctly addressing each one can have on your overall change effort.

Leadership is the keystone of the soft skills and the Eight Elements of Change. Our leaders, whoever they may be, set the tone for all initiatives that are undertaken. If the leadership visibly supports an initiative, it is highly likely that money, resources and the other factors required for success will be provided. Conversely, if the leadership is not invested in making the change, the likelihood of success is diminished. Leaders provide the direction, guidance and support that enables an organization to undertake and deliver change.

Work Process is how our reliability and maintenance work gets executed. There is a drastic difference between reactive and reliability- focused work processes. Therefore, making a change of this significance is extremely difficult for an organization to undertake. Changing a work process not only means working differently, it also has a major impact on all of the other elements.

In addition, a change in work process also affects the culture. Think for a moment about the change in organizational values that altering the work process can create. There is also a major impact on the role models who have been rewarded (existing rites) and often promoted because they flawlessly executed the reactive work process (existing rituals).

Structure is how the organizational hierarchy is represented (and shows the linkages that depict how it interacts). Just like work processes, there are structures that clearly support reactive maintenance and others that support reliability-focused organizations. They are vastly different. Changing the structure of a reactive organization in which everyone understood their roles and responsibilities to one that is proactive will be a difficult task. It must, however, be addressed as part of the change initiative if the process is to be successful.

Group Learning is the ability of an organization to learn from its efforts and then to adjust. This is harder than it appears because we are not asking the organization to simply adjust its activities to be in line with its goals. We are asking it to re-examine its basic goals and adjust these as well. This can be very challenging when the re-examination requires the organization to alter its basic organizational values and approach to the work.

Technology includes the software applications that are utilized to support the reliability focus of the organization. Change often requires various levels of effort in the area of technology. First, we need to make sure that the applications we are using support the organization’s focus after the change, and, secondly, we must make certain that the functionality within these applications is optimally used by the organization to accomplish its goals.

Communication is also a critical element of the change process.We may design an excellent process that has the potential to deliver immense value, but if our intent is not clearly communicated to the organization, the initiatives will break down and the cultural infrastructure will have a field-day spreading gossip, rumors and other mis-communication that can undermine or even destroy the effort.

Interrelationships, or how people interact and work together, make up an equally important element of the change process. It is a fact that the majority of the work we do in the arena of reliability and maintenance is not done in isolation. For this reason, we need solid interrelationships among the various work groups and the people in these groups. Without solid interrelationships, even the best change initiative will fail.

Rewards are used to reinforce worker or work group activities.While money is often thought to be the ultimate reward, research has proven that this is not always the case. Job enrichment, group acceptance and praise for a “job well done” are other powerful reinforcers. Thus, it is important to recognize that rewards are needed to support the change effort, and to make certain that the correct rewards are selected.

Although it is easy to recognize how each of the Eight Elements of Change plays a critical role in the change process, it also is important to recognize that while each of the elements is important independently, they are far more important when viewed together as a dependent set. This is readily apparent when you consider the effect that a change in one of the elements can have on all of the others. For example, a change in leadership can, and often does, impact the organizational structure, the work process, how the organization learns and applies the learning, technology and how it is used, communications, interrelationships between individuals and departments and ultimately how people are rewarded. In other words, a change in leadership affects all of the other elements of change. This dependency equally applies to a change in any of the elements and the impact on the others.

the_web_of_changeWebs of change The Eight Elements of Change also have direct impact on the “Four Elements of Culture” discussed in Parts I and II of this article–organizational values, role models, rites and rituals and the cultural infrastructure.What this means is that you can’t have a successful change if you only address the hard skills. You must address the soft skills and the organizational culture as both independent elements and as a set of closely coupled dependent elements. The question is how can this be easily accomplished and delivered in a way that can be employed to drive towards a successful change initiative?

The answer can be found by using the “Web of Change” and “Change – Root Cause Failure Analysis (C-RCFA).”

The Web of Change is a radar diagram with eight radial spokes, each representing one of the Eight Elements of Change. Each of these spokes receives a score based on a set of change management questions that relate to that element. As a result of answering the questions for each element, a diagram as shown in Fig. 2 can be constructed.A high score indicates that the element is in reasonably good condition; a low score indicates just the opposite.

It is important to recognize that the scores and the resultant web diagram are not statistically accurate. After all, the score is obtained by answering only a few questions related to each element. It is equally important, though, to remember that that while statistical accuracy is not part of the result, trend information certainly is provided. You can be sure that low scores indicate an area where change-related problems exist and should be addressed.

You can build your own Web of Change by participating in the survey provided by MAINTENANCE TECHNOLOGY MAGAZINE. To take part, log on to:

survey_componentsThe survey includes a set of 24 questions divided as shown in Table I. Each question is a statement related to its specific element with which you can: strongly disagree (1 point); disagree (2 points); are neutral (3 points); agree (4 points); or, strongly agree (5 points). By adding up the scores for each question within each element and recording it on the proper axis of the web diagram, you can create your own web. For this survey, 15 would be the maximum score for any element, and 3 would be the lowest score.

There will be two results from the survey. First, you will be able to create your own Web of Change. Secondly, we will compile the results from all of the surveys submitted and provide an analysis in Part 4 of this article, which will be published in the July issue of this magazine. Note that the survey will be set up so that any company information provided will be kept confidential.We only will be analyzing and reporting on the total set of results.

The next things you may be asking yourself concern the value of this survey to your organization: What can you do with results? How can the survey contribute to a more successful outcome in your change initiative(s)?

The answer to these two questions is that you need to conduct a “Change – Root Cause Failure Analysis (C-RCFA).” This process is the same analysis that reliability engineers conduct when they wish to uncover the root cause of equipment failure. By identifying and correcting the root cause, the real problem can be addressed and corrected.

The process is relatively simple, but it yields very valuable results. Take the element with the lowest score and ask yourself “why did the #____ element receive the lowest score?” By asking this question, you will identify several possible answers. Write them down. For each of these answers again ask “why.” This will lead you to a second level with multiple answers for each item you identified previously. Continue asking “why” until you reach a level where it appears that you have identified the real underlying reasons.Next, eliminate those answers at the lowest level that do not make sense or are not realistic reasons for the low score. Through this process, you will find an answer (or maybe more than one) to the original question that, if resolved, will enable the element with the lowest score to improve.While this is a simplistic description of a time-consuming and rigorous process, it can and does help you to identify the root cause of the problem. MT

As noted previously, Part 4 of this series will provide feedback and analysis of the Web of Change survey.

Steve Thomas has more than 35 years of experience in the petrochemical industry, working in the areas of maintenance and reliability. He holds a B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering from Drexel University and M.S. degrees in Systems Engineering and Organizational Dynamics from The University of Pennsylvania. His two books, Successfully Managing Change in Organizations: A Users Guide, and Improving Maintenance and Reliability Through Cultural Change, published by Industrial Press, Inc., reflect his vast knowledge of successful, realworld cultural change and change management techniques. E-mail:

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5:07 am
April 2, 2006
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Maintaining A Super Collider

Regular preventive maintenance at this jewel in the crown of America’s scientific research community demands super-sensitive, reliable and accurate instruments.

Even the most complex equipment is still the sum of its parts, and those parts need regular preventive maintenance.

That’s the philosophy followed by a guy named Mitch Adamus, senior technician at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab). Located outside of Chicago, Fermilab houses the Tevatron, the world’s highest-energy underground particle accelerator, located inside a tunnel measuring four miles in circumference.

The Tevatron accelerates protons and antiprotons, and the particles collide at tremendous speeds–close to the speed of light. The resulting data helps some of the brightest minds in the world answer such questions as “How was the universe created? How does it work?”

As might be expected, plenty of exotic components go into this complex equipment, along with regular wiring, connectors and protective devices–all exposed to extremely high energy and subject to degradation. It’s Adamus’ job to ensure this complicated backend operates correctly on demand. That means scheduling component testing during lab downtimes, tracking performance and predicting when to replace parts to prevent untimely failures.

The job is not easy–and, for the most part, calls for highly sensitive instrumentation. A case in point is insulation resistance testing and other kinds of high-resistance tests that Adamus oversees.

Standard measurements

Cable tests
To ensure the integrity of large coaxial and high-voltage cables in various systems, the technicians hi-pot them at 5 kV. “The high-voltage cable is the typical point of failure,”Adamus says.”When these fail, they break down at low voltages.” The fault is usually apparent—these items don’t degrade so much as fail outright because of the severity of the environment.

“If they pass at 5 kV,we can assume they are good,”Adamus says.”If they don’t pass at 5 kV,we know they’re bad.”

To hi-pot cables, Fermilab technicians use a Fluke 1550B MegOhmMeter set to 5 kV. Then, they apply this voltage between one conductor and the cable shield. Because these cables fail catastrophically rather than deteriorate, the technicians are looking for pass or fail conditions. If the meter shows a high resistance, the technicians then test between another conductor and shield and repeat this process until they observe a failure (low resistance) or have tested all of the conductors.

Matching MOVs
The Fermilab technicians also use the 1550B to match Metal Oxide Varistors (MOVs) that form parallel groupings in various tube socket assemblies. These MOVs are for transient voltage surge suppression. They’re grouped because a single MOV simply can’t handle the energy of that environment. By grouping them, Fermilab effectively gets one large MOV.

But, there’s a catch. Due to Kirchoff ’s Law, electricity will divide in reverse proportion to the resistances presented to it. This means that if the MOVs are not closely matched, one MOV will take the brunt of the surge and then fail—and that lowers the effectiveness of the group of MOVs.

To test an MOV, Fermilab technicians put the 1550B in ramp mode and select the appropriate kV level. Then, they ramp up and note the breakover point (the voltage at which the MOV will conduct) for each MOV. This allows them to place MOVs in matched sets.

The MOV is a variable resistor. It has one lead on the pot, and one on ground. It acts like an open fuse (high resistance) until the voltage across its terminals reaches a certain value. Then, it changes its resistance—it “breaks over” and conducts (but only partially). MOVs behave much like spark gap arrestors, in that they are voltage limiting devices. MOVs work only because of Kirchoff ’s Law (electricity divides proportionate to the resistive paths presented to it).We use MOVs to conduct overvoltages to ground (or neutral, depending on the designer’s intent in electronic devices—but always ground for electrical systems).

So, a 500 V MOV will allow a 480 V circuit to avoid seeing, say, a 2 kV spike. That portion above 500 V will be conducted to ground. But, not all 500 V MOVs breakover at 500 V. Some will break over at 497 V, some at 514 V, some at 503 V, and so on. By testing each MOV, you can get matched sets for each power supply so the breakover is very close for all 3 phases.

Unique Fermilab measurements

• Measuring spark gap surge arrestors
Fermilab uses spark gap surge arrestors as part of a repertoire of devices to protect equipment from high voltage transients. These spark gap devices are simple, rugged, and reliable but Fermilab is using them in a unique way. As Adamus explains, “Commercial spark gaps are set, but ours are adjustable. So, we need to ensure they stay adjusted right.”

The spark gap devices are so important that Fermilab uses two of them to protect the 150 KW radio frequency (RF) power amplifier. Adamus says,”These two are connected in parallel to the screen grid of the power tube to prevent voltage excursions greater than the specification. The ramp mode of the 1550B MegOhmMeter will verify the settings of these gaps at 3kV.”

Fermilab had been looking for a way to set the spark gaps based on actual performance, not on the physical distance between the terminals. They had the idea of trying the 1550B to see if it could hold up to this kind of use— and it did.

To conduct the tests, a technician connects across spark gap terminals. Then, the technician puts the 1550B in ramp mode and sets it for the 5 kV range. The next step is to ramp it up from zero to see that the spark gap “fires” (a spark jumps across the terminals) at 3 kV. If it doesn’t jump the gap, he adjusts the gap until it does. If it does jump the gap, he adjusts the gap until it doesn’t and then re-adjusts the gap until 3kV jumps it (setting 3kV as the trigger point, rather than having a gap that could be jumped by a lower value).

Capacitor tests
Fermilab technicians use the 1550B to conduct standard tests on high voltage capacitors and cables. They want to ensure that the capacitor will withstand a given voltage. For example, Adamus says, “We connect to the 1550B the leads of a capacitor, briefly. If the cap is leaking or faulted, the 1550B will let us know.We can read the resistance on the scale or watch the discharge indicator on the meter.”

To conduct a voltage withstand test (not a capacitance test) on a capacitor, the technicians set the 1550B to somewhere near the rated voltage of the capacitor.They briefly apply this voltage across the capacitor and observe the 1550B display. A good capacitor will rapidly ramp up to a high resistance as it charges. Any behavior other than this indicates a defective capacitor. For example, a leaking capacitor won’t charge properly and this is reflected in the resistance reading. After charging, the technicians use the 1550B to discharge the capacitor. But if the 1550B does not show a discharge occurring, this means the capacitor did not charge at all, or it failed to store its charge due to leakage.

Measuring power amps
The 1550B is also critical for ensuring uptime of the power amps in each acceleration tunnel. As the power amps age, they develop problems. Adamus says, “They can develop internal shorts, and water leaks can short the screen circuit. We need to catch those problems before they interrupt important research.” Because Fermilab uses particle acceleration, there is also some particle damage to associated cables and connectors. It’s a bit like having cables running inside a sandblasting machine—eventually, the particles take their toll.

Adamus notes,”We’ll start getting faults and failures in the system.We break the connection midway, at the modulator, in the classic divideand- conquer troubleshooting problem isolation method. Then, we hi-pot the amplifier cable back into the acceleration tunnel with 5 kV. If we measure in one direction from the mid-point and don’t see high megohms, we know the problem lies in that direction.”

If they determine the fault is in the tunnel, they need to ask for downtime. They then need to keep applying the “divide and conquer” technique until they isolate and identify the problem. The technicians must enter the tunnel with test equipment during short windows of time between experiments. They need to carry a portable high-potential tester to isolate the various components to quickly find and fix the problem. “We can’t drag a 4-ft tall, 250 lb corded hi-potter into the tunnel,”Adamus says.

tevatron_in_a-sectorThe battery power of the 1550B makes it particularly desirable in cramped work areas, where time is also a pressing factor. Before the 1550B, Fermilab technicians had to do the troubleshooting by visual inspection. Usually, the damage is visible, but finding it that way is time-consuming.With the 1550B, they shorten troubleshooting significantly.

Testing buswork
Buswork consisting of 1/4 inch thick copper beams carries 2500A into the tunnel. The Booster accelerator alone has eighteen 2500A power supplies.Adamus and the other technicians use the MegOhmMeter to “look for the resistance between these bars and anything grounded. These power supplies must be maintained off of ground potential.”

The 1550B measures resistance to ground at 1 KV, which provides a more than adequate voltage envelope for the power supplies. To conduct the test, the technicians set the 1550B to 1 kV. They measure between adjacent bars and between bars and nearby grounded objects (such as support brackets). The meter should show infinite resistance.

Other Fermilab machines that require components to be maintained off of ground potential include the Tevatron, the Linac (Linear Accelerator), the Main Injector and a variety of supporting rings that produce and store anti-protons. MT

Bob Greenberg is resident insulation resistant expert for Fluke Corporation, in Everett,WA.Once a service technician, electrician and large sound system designer, he became a product planner for the corporation 26 years ago because he wanted to “build test tools, not just make them.”

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4:58 am
April 2, 2006
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Predictive Maintenance: Infrared Update

Thermographic inspections are an important part of any predictive maintenance program. This updated listing of suppliers is your guide to some of the top technologies and services in this “hot” market.

thermographic_inspectionThermal imaging has evolved into a valuable diagnostic tool for predictive maintenance. By detecting problems as they develop, thermography allows corrective actions to be taken before electrical, mechanical or process equipment fails. Thus, an infrared inspection (IR) program can provide a quick return on investment (ROI).

Not all companies are rapidly implementing infrared thermography programs, however. The barriers often cited tend to be in the financial arena—time, personnel, camera cost, training or contractor expense.

The most-mentioned aspect of the financial barriers is the lack of awareness of the benefits to the bottom line. In other words, companies do not understand cost avoidance accounting principles and are unwilling to invest in proper tools or to spend enough on contract inspections.

The main factor standing in the way of the effective use of infrared thermography technology appears to center on the cost of high-level education and training. It’s not only training in thermography, but the 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,” as one inspection service provider put it. This indicates that training beyond just the use of predictive tools is necessary for thermography to provide a return on investment.

Advice from experts
IR experts surveyed for this article told us that users of infrared thermography should not try to immediately build a program that meets all of their needs. Rather, you should allow your program to be dynamic. Also, remember the importance of good record-keeping for trending purposes.

Be sure to communicate what your infrared program is contributing to the organization as well. “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,” one supplier told us.

Are you trying to justify an IR program? Comments like those from our surveyed suppliers should tell you that it is crucial to prepare a report on what additional repair costs and downtime losses are avoided when the infrared program finds and prevents an equipment or structure (roof) failure.

The main factor standing in the way of effective use of infrared thermography technology appears to center on the cost of high-level education and training.

New applications
Suppliers in this update also were asked about new applications for infrared thermography– in the plant and otherwise.

In plant applications, ITR cited monitoring of couplings and cranes, while Mikron Infrared noted monitoring of boiler tubes and continuous monitoring of electrical control panels.

Snell Inspections and Infrared Solutions found companies doing more building inspections, such as building envelope,HVAC and roof moisture surveys and inspections.

Expert Infrared Inspections has performed inspections on a 4 MW extremeduty DC motor in a steel mill and on television-broadcasting equipment. Outside the plant, Cantronic Systems pointed to a particularly well-publicized new use of infrared thermography–the measuring of people’s body temperatures in airports during the frightening 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak.

Mikron Infrared cited an application in monitoring coal piles, while Infrared Research Inc. provided an environmental application that checked for illegal discharges in streams and waterways.

Monitoring of leaf temperatures to improve irrigation was an outside-the-plant application forwarded by IRISYS.

Other new applications included using infrared to spot rodent and termite problems (Infrared Solutions), for metal shredding systems (FLIR Systems) and security (ASC Systems).

Going forward
As thermographic technologies continue to mature, one thing’s for certain–more and more applications will become common.

The question that each company needs to ask itself today is: “are we applying the technology now, to avoid unnecessary downtime and prevent damage to our equipment?”

The following list of suppliers can help with the answer.

Detecting Problems Sooner
Newer tools and technologies have improved the accuracy of thermographic inspections. These days, an infrared inspection program can provide a company with a quick return on its investment. MT

Infrared thermography suppliers

Academy of Infrared Training Bellingham,WA (888) 673-4743
ACTT/ Anderson Consulting,Training & Testing Houston, TX (800) 836-7333
Advanced Electric La Crosse WI (866) 243-4863
Advanced Infrared Resources Yorba Linda CA (250) 579-2141
AAIT/Allen Applied InfraredTechnology South River NJ (732) 238-8874
BPC International Inc. Tulsa OK (888) 962-4327
C&I Inspections LLC South Jordan UT (801) 718-4914
Cantronic Systems Inc. Coquitlam BC (866) 391-6970
Colbert Infrared Services, Inc. Seattle WA (800) 800-8178
Electrophysics Corp. Fairfield NJ (800) 759-9577
Emerson Process Management Knoxville TN (800) 675-8033
EMP Engineering Services Dresher PA (215) 793-9783
Expert Infrared Inspections Lombard IL (630) 935-7226
FLIR Systems, Inc. North Billerica A (800) 464-6372
Hot Spots Pocatello ID (208) 232-2695
HSB Thermography Services Alexandria VA (800) 231-0907
Infrared Consulting Services Minneapolis MN (888) 925-4404
Infrared Predictive Surveys Frederick MD (800) 869-3720
Infrared Research Inc. Rossville GA (800) 866-7480
Infrared Solutions, Inc. Plymouth MN (800) 760-4523
Infraspection Institute Div. of T/IR Systems Burlington NJ (866) 228-4788
IRISYS/ InfraRed Integrated Systems Northants UK 44-1327-357824
ISG Thermal Systems USA, Inc. Lawrenceville GA (877) 733-3473
ITR, Inc. Bethlehem PA (800) 360-3594
Jersey Infrared Consultants Burlington NJ (800) 772-6017
Maintenance Technologies Intl Milford CT (800) 510-0181
Measurements/Emspec New Orleans LA (800) 520-1586
Midwest Infrared Services Inc. Somerset Center MI (866) 309-6596
Mikron Infrared, Inc. Hancock MI (888) 506-3900
Monroe Infrared Technology, Inc. Kennebunk ME (800) 221-0163
NPM Services Inc. Bowling Green KY (866) 315-2667
PMCI Elk Grove Village IL (800) 222-7624
Palmer Wahl Instrumentation Group Asheville NC (800) 421-2853
Predict Monitoring Systems Inc. Welland ON (800) 234-2345
Predictive Maintenance Inspection Madison AL (256) 721-0100
Predictive Service Corp. Cleveland OH (866) 772-6770
Predictive Technologies Inc. Pittsford NY (800) 842-8401
Raytek, a Fluke company Santa Cruz CA (800) 866-5478
Snell Infrared Montpelier VT (800) 636-9820
Snell Inspections Montpelier VT (800) 636-9820
Thermal Trend Seattle WA (800) 800-8178
Thermoscan, Inc. Burr Ridge IL (800) 833-1740
Thermotest, Inc. San Rafael CA (800) 640-3133
Universal Utility Services, LLC Amarillo TX (806) 378-4185

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4:47 am
April 2, 2006
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Asset Management And Intelligent Maintenance

plantNew approaches to maintenance challenges are helping companies get the job done and letting them be more proactive to boot!

Outsourcing continues to be a contentious issue for the public. Even government officials are feeling the pressure as they try to cut bottom-line costs by outsourcing jobs overseas.

Plant managers have been feeling similar pressures. Caught at the mercy of a tight market for skilled field technicians and stuck in the crosshairs of management directives to boost the bottom line, many of them are turning to alternative approaches to manage operations, maintenance and asset management needs.

These new and alternative approaches go well beyond the use of sophisticated asset/equipment management systems. They also include the formation of nontraditional vendor partnerships to outsource non-core processes and build costcutting applications.With the goal of lowering costs and improving efficiencies and reducing downtimes, maintenance and production managers across the operational spectrum find themselves integrating these new approaches as a vital part of their plant management arsenal.

Maintenance outsourcing grows A big part of the outsourcing equation, particularly for managers facing hiring freezes, cuts in training budgets, aging maintenance workforces and hard-to-find skilled labor pools, is maintenance outsourcing. Today, maintenance outsourcing provided by outside vendors is taking on ever-increasing numbers of maintenance tasks once handled by in-house staff.

Maintenance support for specialized valves and actuators has long been outsourced.But these days, routine maintenance for other control and automation processes also is being handled by outside service providers.

Advantages Outsourcing enables budget flexibility. It lets organizations pay for only the services they need and when they need them. It also reduces the need to hire and train specialized staff, brings in engineering expertise from the outside and reduces capital expense, yielding better control of operating costs.When maintenance needs change, so can the outsourcing arrangement.

Doug Schuler is the instrument reliability coordinator with BP Amoco Texas City–and an outsourcing contractor. He also is a controlvalve specialist.

“There’s a clear trend to using more and more contractors all the time,” Schuler says. “Using a contractor to focus 100% on a particular area lets you better manage existing assets. Because I focus 100% on control valves, I not only better manage that area, but I provide a resource for other engineers.”

Advances in technology are making such expertise not just desirable, but increasingly essential. In Schuler’s experience, it’s the OEM who has the know-how to provide that type of value-added expertise.

“Control valves are highly engineered products. You cannot expect a third party to appreciate or fully understand engineering designs perfected over a period of years. The OEM has intimate knowledge of how such things as changes in trim or operating conditions affect their products,” he notes.

Vendor-customer partnerships Just because plants are getting help from the outside doesn’t mean that managers are removed from the process. To the contrary, close partnerships are developing between manufacturers and end users. The free exchange of information and resources helps all parties concerned in their pursuit of common goals: cutting costs, increasing efficiency, and extending product life.

Larry Linzer, senior maintenance engineer with Celanese Chemical, got his group together with a vendor to redesign a control valve based on observed failure points.

“We actually spent time in one of Flowserve’s engineering offices, re-engineering an indexing seat design in a ball valve we use,” says Linzer.

“It was a very positive experience.We don’t have new mean time between failure data yet, because our new design has yet to fail. Reliability is our number one concern, so it was a win-win from our perspective.”

It’s more cost-effective to fix faults before they occur and to manage an intelligent predictive and preventive maintenance program instead of a reactive program.

David Durham, business development manager, aftermarket, Flowserve Flow Control, believes such partnerships play a key role in reducing maintenance costs.

“Flexibility is paramount,” Durham says. “Metrics may be needed for anything from a single loop to multiple plants.”

Apparently it’s paying off for the end user. According to Durham, his use of software and consulting to assist his customers in reducing MRO costs is helping them do a number of things, including identifying critical valves and bad actors, optimizing inventory, prioritizing turnarounds and shutdowns and increasing their all-important mean time between repairs.

Reducing MRO costs & improving ROA Craig Resnick, research director of the ARC Advisory Group, a leader in providing strategic planning and technology assessment services to manufacturing companies, says his organization’s clients are specifically looking to the prediction and prevention of failures as the key to reducing MRO costs, and to increasing their return on assets.

“It’s not just the equipment cost and number of valves and controls, but the financial impact of failure on production,” Resnick explains. “that’s why improving maintenance practices deserves so much attention.”

Given the type of business climate and operating mindset Resnick describes here, is it any wonder that growing numbers of “lean” companies look on the outsourcing of maintenance and adoption of asset management applications as an attractive way to get the job done?

Asset management
Today’s asset management applications are a far cry from the paper files and rudimentary databases of yesterday. Closely related to computer maintenance management software and enterprise resource planning applications, the next generation of systems provides the ability to synchronize operational and maintenance activities.

The best asset management programs give insight into the future—they give maintenance managers the tools and the knowledge to set priorities and tackle potential problems that would have the most effect on business. They provide a window on the overall status of equipment, warning of weak links, tracking and archiving equipment performance measurements, highlighting failure points and helping schedule predictive, planned maintenance.

The potential cost reduction and increased reliability are the most attractive benefits of asset management, says Durham.

“Our response has been to combine a software tool,, with an active partnering process to help plant personnel formalize a cost-reduction program,” Durham says.

Many customers are still reacting to equipment problems, he points out, and they seem to have little in the way of any documented repair-event history.

Asset management programs like the one Durham uses with his customers, seek to change that. They take advantage of existing open-standard communications protocols— such as HART and FOUNDATION Fieldbus— to collect diagnostics from equipment and give operators a superior way to monitor their facilities. Open standards eliminate the need for multiple, proprietary maintenance terminals. Ultimately, advanced diagnostics, partnered with smart transmitters and open digital protocols, consolidate data into one asset management application, giving operators the information they need to predict—and prevent— failures. That paves the way for better decision-making and, ultimately, leads to reduced MRO costs.

The process begins with information a plant already has.

“We start by importing data from historical files and loop file folders,” Durham says. “We also perform an actual physical assessment and recording of valve and control condition and operation.”

Once that information has been absorbed, the system gives operators the tools to be proactive instead of reactive. The result is a substantial increase in reliability, as operators move from fighting fires to performing highly planned PM and PdM. The benefits increase over time—as the software gathers more data, efficiency grows.

Asset management applications also can cut inventory costs for the supplier. As inventory control responsibility moves from the end user to the manufacturer, an asset management program can help the manufacturer make intelligent inventory decisions.

“You can predict what parts and equipment needs what stock levels, based on repair and failure history,” says Resnick.

Dean Teglia, industrial equipment managing partner at Accenture NA, points to a slow evolution in the industrial sector toward more sophisticated maintenance practices.

“We see clear benefits from both an end user and the OEM side,” says Teglia. “For the end user, it’s more cost-effective to fix faults before they occur and to manage an intelligent predictive and preventive maintenance program instead of a reactive program. For the OEM, smarter equipment and automated management provides data points that can decrease life cycle costs and help to refine a product based on real-world activity.”

Leveraging these new approaches
With more and more plants using asset management systems and outsourcing vendors to help with maintenance needs, efficiency increases and diminished downtime are being realized in a variety of industries.

Operators and managers are getting a fresh view of the workings of their equipment and systems as better data (and better access to it) becomes more available. This leads to better analysis, prioritization and scheduling of maintenance– before systems actually fail.With the aid of OEM engineering expertise, they can turn that intelligence into cost savings.

“As our customers gain knowledge and baseline metrics, we see a slow migration to condition performance monitoring, for even higher maintenance accuracy,” says Durham.

ARC’s Resnick sums up the benefits of proactive maintenance simply: “You can have a valve or part on its way,with a service person if needed, before the part has failed.” MT

Delivering Lower Total Costs Of OwnershipFlowserve, headquartered in Dallas, TX, is an industry leader in equipment management programs for the process industries. According to company literature, it has more than 250 agreements worldwide based on its Life Cycle Advantage methodology.

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