Archive | May, 2006


5:41 am
May 2, 2006
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It's Continuous Around Here: Improvement and Growth


Tom Madding, Group Publisher

Last fall, I used this space to write about continuous improvement and how a publishing house is similar to a manufacturing plant. The ability to “turn on a dime” is what keeps a publication up and running–and clearly what separates it from the rest of the pack.

That being said, Applied Technology Publications, Inc. has accepted the resignation of Terry Wireman, Editorial Director of MAINTENANCE TECHNOLOGY and LUBRICATION & FLUID POWER magazines, effective April 19, 2006. Terry has chosen to pursue other interests, and we wish him all the best in his new endeavors.

While we will miss Terry,we’re pleased to report that Jane Alexander, former Managing Editor, has been named Editor. Although it’s a new title, Jane will continue to do what she does best: that is managing what goes in our magazines, where it comes from and how it looks when it is published. The real news here is the all-star team of top industry experts with which Jane regularly will be working in order to get the job done.

We are delighted to announce that Rick Dunn has joined our team as Editorial Consultant. Rick has been involved in the maintenance and reliability field for many years and will be providing his expertise to us beginning with the next issues of our magazines. His knowledge of industry issues and his background in the editorial arena will ensure that MAINTENANCE TECHNOLOGY and LUBRICATION & FLUID POWER continue to be the premier publications in the areas of asset management and equipment reliability.

We also are pleased to announce the addition of three Contributing Editors to our masthead.

Starting next month,well-known industry icon Bob Williamson will be writing MAINTENANCE TECHNOLOGY’S “Uptime” column. Bob is an internationally recognized consultant, author and educator in the area of modern manufacturing. He has over 30 years of experience with production operations and maintenance improvement–and a true passion for what he does. You can count on Bob’s compelling monthly commentary to keep you up-to-date on industry issues and trends.

Two other regular columnists will be joining MAINTENANCE TECHNOLOGY on an alternating monthly basis.

Steve Thomas will begin a column on change management issues in June, and continue to write on those issues every other month thereafter. Steve’s column will be rotating with one by Ken Bannister. Already well respected for his regular features in LUBRICATION & FLUID POWER, Ken will contribute to MAINTENANCE TECHNOLOGY on the important (but often overlooked) topic of communication in industrial settings.

We hope you are as excited as we are about our expanded editorial team. As we move forward, keep in mind that our publications will continue to focus on best practices and how you can meet those goals in your operations. We also will be covering more organizations that have achieved that coveted “Best Practice” status. This will allow you to learn from your successful peers–those who have been able to initiate and, very importantly, sustain changes in their organizations.

Let us hear from you, end users and advertisers alike.We’re eager to share your messages with others as we all continue to improve and grow. MT


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5:34 am
May 2, 2006
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Reactive Training: The Cancer Within

0506_professionaldevelopment_img1It’s a rare plant indeed that hasn’t fallen victim to this “disease” at some time in the past This month’s training “doctor” discusses the symptoms, the cure and getting well quick!

Over the years, training consultants have seen numerous organizations trying to move the culture of their operations and maintenance departments toward that ever-elusive goal of “world class” (total quality, best of something, excellence something, etc.). This typically involves changing a reactive culture to one that embodies a proactive approach, where elements such as planning and scheduling, procedures, inventory control, preventive maintenance, root cause failure analysis, workforce development, et al prevail as key considerations. There are of course many other elements and subsets to those cited, but let’s focus on workforce development and training–specifically reactive training.

Many of you may be scratching your heads because this term is unfamiliar to you. Rest assured, though, that you have been a victim, quite unaware, and likely are either perpetuating or participating in this type of training. As the title suggests, reactive training can be categorized as a cancer. Sounds harsh, doesn’t it? But, then, think of how a cancer impacts a healthy individual–intrusive, quietly spreading, destroying vital organs, affecting the quality of life, destroying relationships and lives and placing tremendous strains on the financial wherewithal of those affected to deal with it.

Simply stated, reactive training is a general lack of training or an intervention that tries to increase the skill and/or knowledge level of an individual/department only AFTER a negative event has occurred.Notice the inclusion of words and phrases such as “lack, “tries” and “after a negative event.” Now, having defined reactive training, let’s apply the cancer metaphor. As you read this passage, keep in mind that each statement involves a significant training element.

  • 0506_professionaldevelopment_img2The plant is running smoothly and the workforce appears to be reasonably competent. Training gets the budget axe and the cancer starts (could be anytime and you could be at any point).
  • Turnover becomes an issue and you don’t have the resources for adequately training new hires. Conditions begin to deteriorate.
  • Your supervisors, already strapped, are unable to provide sufficient direction and oversight for both new hires and job incumbents. The cancer is growing.
  • Process upsets and equipment issues are routine – you come to realize that maybe people don’t know as much as they’re supposed to since they never have received any formal training. The disease is advancing and becoming widespread.
  • Supervisors are frustrated with workers who appear to be making things worse rather than better, and workers are frustrated with supervisors for a lack of direction and technical support. The disease is having a debilitating effect, much like the advanced stages of an illness.

With this scenario, one can easily see how the cancer can start, propagate and grow. One also can see that recovery will not be easy and likely will be very painful.

Let’s lighten up
No matter in what part of the country we live, who among us has not heard about comedian Jeff Foxworthy’s particular brand of humor? Most have probably heard some of his “You might be a redneck if. . .” jokes. Giving due credit to Mr. Foxworthy (and to paraphrase him), the same approach could be taken to the topic of reactive training. See below:

0506_professionaldevelopment_img3Your training might be reactive if. . .

  • the front tines on your forklift look like sleigh skids.
  • you invested in all new automated equipment and cut the training budget in half to justify the cost.
  • you’ve been fined by EPA because of a spill and waited for them to mandate employee training.
  • your associates still don’t know why you can’t use the computer CD drive as a cup holder.
  • the only formal training your people ever received is from the school of hard knocks.
  • you average one OSHA recordable accident a month–and that’s an improvement.
  • you leave money in your training budget at the end of every fiscal year and think that’s a major accomplishment.
  • your favorite line is ‘git er done’.

Seriously, though
The reactive training approach is far too prevalent. We’ve heard the difference between reactive and proactive maintenance–it’s much the same for training. In fact, this kind of training, or a general lack of training, can be far worse than reactive maintenance.

Although reactive maintenance is far from being a desirable approach to equipment maintenance, it can keep a plant operating, albeit not very effectively or efficiently. On the other hand, how well or how long do you think an asset, even under heroic or reactively maintained circumstances, is going to run under the direction of someone who is improperly or inadequately trained? Not very! Still, it happens far more frequently than most people think or want to admit.

There is a predisposition on the part of management and engineering departments to think/suggest that the latest computer-based whiz-bang or electronic gizmotron will be the next “be-all and end-all” to whatever ails your plant, including work performance and training problems. Do we have news for them! Such items are only part of the answer–maybe even the wrong answer–and often end up adding to the problem. Not only has your workforce not been trained well in the past, now it’s having to deal with additional technical training demands that likely require an even higher degree of sophistication, knowledge and skills.How well do think that’s going to go?

Consider the following: Golf is an absolute passion for many. So, what’s more important, the skill of the player or the equipment the player uses? Some will argue for the equipment. “It’s all in the equipment.” Others will argue that a good golfer will make lousy equipment look great. Golf actually serves as a good metaphor to discuss some of these issues. With each scenario listed in Table I on the previous page, ask yourself if a difference can be made by adjusting equipment or doing something about the competency of an individual. Notice the inclusion of a comparable business equivalent.

If you look at these scenarios objectively, it wouldn’t be hard to imagine a player with a handicap approaching 30 (not good for those unfamiliar with the game). No amount of expensive, cutting-edge equipment technology is going to rescue this individual under any circumstances. In the game of golf, handicaps provide mediocre and poor players with a means of competing with individuals who are much more competent.Unfortunately, business can’t “level” work or performance expectations in invoking a handicap to make up for a deficiency. Neither will automation or a significant capital project that replaces some antiquated equipment. So, getting back to our original premise, you be the judge.

People want to do the right thing and do a proper job. Certainly, there’s a sense of pride in achieving this and an added sense of job security if one knows that (s)he is accomplishing assigned tasks as expected, or is keeping his/her skills updated to match the requirements of the equipment that they are running or maintaining. How can one reasonably expect this to be so if the time is NOT invested in properly train ingyour employees?

Basic human nature and psychology suggests that there’s nothing more frustrating for an individual than to try to accomplish a task when you:

  • are not sure how to do something, but feel you’ll be considered inept is you ask;
  • haven’t received even so much as a briefing on what is expected to be done, but your performance is supposed to be top-notch;
  • don’t know if what you’re doing is meaningful;
  • don’t have the right type of tools, skills or knowledge. Failure to provide even the most basic training can be a morale buster. As numerous studies have shown, low morale leads to poor work quality and results in a loss of productivity.

Here’s the message you give the troops with proactive training:We care about you and we want to help you do your job better by providing you with training that enables you to problem solve. . . order the right parts. . . predict issues. . . increase service/product quality. . .do the job right the FIRST time. . . do the job safely! Nothing you do at your plant will send a stronger message and have a more profound impact than to recognize the need for effective, timely, appropriate training. The results are easily recognized. They include, among other things:

  • employee buy-in, feedback and money-saving ideas;
  • more uptime;
  • fewer replacements and repairs;
  • increased efficiency;
  • better morale;
  • increased productivity;
  • fewer safety incidents or infractions.

Experts suggest that reactive maintenance costs three to five times what proactive maintenance could have prevented. What, then, does reactive training cost? The numbers vary greatly and are influenced by a diverse factors, including type of industry, plant age, product type, regulatory oversight and area demographics, to name a few. I suggest that the variable are comparable when comparing a proactive and reactive training approach. Of course, if you don’t have a significant annual training budget, the ratio might be significantly different. There are a few areas that tend to be fairly common across a broad range of industries regardless of products. So, let’s restate the question: How much does training really cost you? For clues, see Table II. Be honest when you look at Table II. There’s a tendency to think that these simply are “the cost of doing business.”

Granted, there definitely is a cost of doing business, but not for any one of the listed items. As mentioned previously, type of industry, public risk and the severity of the parameter have significant bearing on cost (operations and maintenance budgets, among other). Each of these parameters can easily be addressed and rectified with an appropriate and targeted training intervention. When you think about the costs associated with any of these parameters, it should become clear that an appropriate budget expenditure would be easily justifiable-and would likely be significantly less than what your reactive world is currently looking like.

Improvements in efficiency, quality, reliability and safety can certainly justify investment in a proactive training approach, something that will exorcise any reactive cancer once and for all. MT

Manfred R. Smith, a senior consultant with Smith and Associates, Inc. of North Augusta, SC, specializes in developing training programs and changing workforce cultures for industrial clients. E-mail:

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5:33 am
May 2, 2006
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Improving Power Quality In Arc Welding Applicaitons

Problems with the quality of power for electric arc welders should really spark your interest.They can reduce productivity, lower product quality, increase worker fatigue. How do those things impact your bottom-line?

Electric arc welders, such as those found in heavy manufacturing facilities or used in normal plant repairs, are certainly not a friend to power quality. They have several unique operating characteristics that, if not addressed properly, can decrease productivity and product quality and increase worker fatigue–all of which can detract from your bottom line.

Electrical contractors and facility managers working in these environments should be aware of these potential problems and how to identify them in the manufacturing process. Doing so early on can save considerable time and money in the long run.

Among the primary issues associated with the arc welding process is a sudden inrush current demand. Arc welders draw high levels of inrush current during their operating cycle, which is often only several seconds in duration. These high cycle-to-cycle currents cause the flux (magnetizing current) of the upstream transformer to saturate. Flux saturation causes the transformer output voltage to drop precipitously and results in failure or poor performance of the load. Put another way: productivity is lost.

Additionally, when the transformer output voltage drops, the source sees that drop and attempts to provide the needed current to maintain the faulting transformer voltage, thus creating an additional component to the current surge within the electrical system. This current surge accentuates the voltage drop of the source on an intermittent basis. If the voltage cycling is repetitive, it might appear as lighting flicker. Lighting flicker has been proven to increase worker fatigue.

Second, there’s the intermittent operation for short intervals of time.When the weld is first struck, the welder requires essentially infinite current for a few cycles. During this period, the electrical system providing the power cannot provide all of the current demanded. The result is a voltage sag at the welder and a poor quality weld. In an automated manufacturing plant there are several welders on an electrical system fed from one power system. Simultaneous operation of multiple welders compounds the voltage sag problem and the incidence of poor product welds is greatly increased.

Finally, there’s variability of the arc cycle-to-cycle. The first strike of the welder is especially unpredictable. This results in a difficult-to-define harmonic spectra. As the weld begins to flow, the harmonic spectra is more predictable with less amplitude of the peak current. However, the harmonic current still cannot be predicted. This unpredictabity, in addition to the very high cycle-tocycle peak currents at first strike, make selection of a harmonic mitigation method extremely difficult. If the harmonics are not mitigated, they can cause excess heat in the network, which can lead to a host of problems resulting in downtime and further productivity loss.

Solutions to these problems
Luckily, there are solutions that can be implemented through the electrical distribution system to address these power quality problems. Let’s compare a couple:

Static VAR compensation. . .
One method of mitigation employed is the static VAR compensator. This device employs fixed banks of power factor capacitors, controlled with thyristors, which can switch them on and off rapidly. In many instances, there are also thyristorswitched inductors to prevent system resonance. Static VAR compensators maintain voltage levels, reduce voltage flicker, improve power factor, correct phase imbalance and improve system stability.

On the other hand, static VAR compensators are usually applied upstream of the system transformer, thus failing to correct the problem at the load and, consequently, failing to improve product quality. In addition, they are relatively slow compared to the welding phenomenon and, thus, not very effective.

Dynamic VAR compensation. . .
An alternative to the static VAR compensator is the dynamic VAR compensator, which is designed to inject current to support the current requirements of the load to reduce demands upon the upstream electrical system. The system transformer does not see the massive demand for inrush current and does not experience flux saturation. Therefore, the voltage remains stable at the load and in the upstream electrical system. All of the primary problems, like flicker, are eliminated.

In some advanced dynamic VAR compensators an analog current control algorithm is employed for ultra rapid response. This permits an instant-on feature to inject current during rapid load transitions, such as a first strike of an arc welder. It does not matter whether this is a large harmonic or reactive load change. The device sees it through the current transducers monitoring the load and instantly responds by injecting as many cycles of peak injection current as required to support the load. As a result of this instant-on system, facilities with arc welding demands can maintain voltage levels, reduce voltage flicker, improve power factor and improve product quality and employee performance, thereby improving overall plant efficiency.

For manufacturing plants that use electric arc welding, having a solid understanding of the unique challenges and the most appropriate solutions associated with this process is a critical step in protecting the employees, the products and the bottomline. MT

Jim Johnson is the Accusine® PSC product line manager for the Square D Power Quality Corrections Group, a part of Schneider Electric’s North American Operating Division. Continue Reading →


5:26 am
May 2, 2006
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Doing It The Right Way: NFPA 70E

0506_electricalsafety_img1Sad stories abound. Money can be wasted. Ensuring electrical safety in the workplace is not an option-it’s one of the most important things you’ll ever do. This noted expert offers several suggestions for effective compliance.

Companies across the U.S. and Canada are pursuing compliance with NFPA 70E–the standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace. Sadly, some of them also are making any number of costly mistakes in the process.Here are some tips to help your organization avoid being one of them.

Don’t wait for an accident or for NFPA 70E to become a legal requirement before implementing its requirements.

NFPA 70E addresses electrical hazards, including shock and arc-flash. If you implement its requirement, you will avoid one of those electrically related accidents that causes grief, suffering, financial settlements, investigations and citations.

NFPA 70E is the most comprehensive electrical safety standard available today. There are other excellent electrical safety standards including the National Electrical Code, but NFPA 70E is the only one that addresses electrically safe work practices, electrical maintenance safety, special electrical equipment safety and electrical installation safety in one document. Serious consideration should be given to NFPA 70E not because it virtually assures compliance with OSHA’s electrical requirements, which it does, but because it addresses protection from electrical hazards for your employees and others who work in your facility

Don’t purchase flame-resistant (FR) clothing needlessly.
Yes, FR clothing is probably needed for several tasks in your facility, but there are several ratings of FR clothing varying from light-weight to very heavy switching suits–none of them inexpensive. So, how do you know which of these ratings you need? You don’t want to buy clothing that is too light-weight, thus exposing your employees to a hazardous injury.Neither do you want to burden them with wearing too much clothing that may cause heat stress or, perhaps, compromise their safety by hindering visibility and movement.

Furthermore, arc-flash hazards can often be reduced or in some cases even eliminated by making changes in fuses or circuit breakers, possibly avoiding the need for heavier personal protective equipment (PPE). If you have employees that need to be protected against potential arc-flash hazards, it is always better to complete an arc-flash hazard analysis and reduce or eliminate as many hazards as possible, then decide on a reasonable PPE policy to address the remaining hazards.

A few years ago, a survey determined that 75% of the equipment-qualified personnel work on or near equipment/parts with an NFPA 70E Hazard/Risk of Category 1 or less. The most important point here is to know which equipment is not in the 75%, and, therefore, requires the additional FR clothing and PPE. Keep in mind that you do not need separate FR clothing for each Hazard/Risk Category. NFPA 70E suggests a clothing system in Annex H of the standard that may significantly simplify FR clothing requirements.

Don’t purchase insulated tools that are too bulky for the tasks your employees perform.
NFPA 70E requires employees to use insulated tools when working inside the Limited Approach Boundary of exposed, energized parts where tools might make accidental contact with the energized parts.

Insulated tools are easy to find, but many tool sets are designed for big equipment that linemen work on; they’re not well suited for industrial control panels and drives.Make sure the tools you select are not too big and bulky to be used on the equipment in your plant. If you are buying multiple sets, suppliers/manufacturers may allow you to customize your tool sets by picking and choosing items that are practical for your facility. In some cases, they may even allow mixing of brands to come up with just the right set of tools for your facility.

When you buy insulated tools, invest in a separate tool pouch for the insulated tools so they don’t bang around against your non-insulated tools, causing damage to the insulation. A worker’s life may depend on the condition of that insulated tool–take good care of these tools.

Don’t implement an Energized Electrical Work Permit without some serious thought.
An Energized Electrical Work Permit, as required by NFPA 70E, is an excellent means of discouraging energized work/maintenance/ repair unless absolutely necessary. If it is necessary, complying with the permit ensures that every possible measure has been taken to keep the worker safe while he/she is performing the task.

However, before implementing an Energized Electrical Work Permit Policy, seriously consider how permits will be handled in the middle of the night, on weekends and during holidays. Will the appropriate personnel be available to sign the permits when needed? Will work be delayed until the appropriate signatures are collected? Is it acceptable to fill out and sign a permit after the fact? And, what about those tasks that everyone already knows must be completed without de-energizing the equipment. . . are you going to delay the task each time until the permit is filled out and appropriate signatures are obtained?

The Energized Electrical Work Permit can be an effective tool, but you must anticipate the scenarios of how it will be applied before implementing the policy. Don’t implement an Energized Electrical Work Permit Policy just because NFPA 70E requires it–do it to reduce exposure of employees to electrical hazards and to make sure. when they are exposed, that they are protected and prepared to perform the work safely.

Don’t implement policies that you are not willing to enforce.
It is a waste of time,money, and effort to develop policies that are not going to be enforced.Regulatory agencies will not be impressed by wellwritten policies; they are looking for results–a safe workplace with no accidents.

Facilities that have great policies, but also have workers who only respond,”Most of the time,” when asked if they always comply, are not achieving the level of safety needed. Facilities with the best safety results are those that have good safety policies with zero tolerance for non-compliance.

When developing a safety policy, make sure it is written such that you are willing to enforce the policy.Decide what your disciplinary policy will be for non-compliance, document the safety policy and the disciplinary policy, and communicate these policies to employees, contractors, vendors and suppliers.When disciplinary action is taken,make sure you document the action every time. This documentation is not only important to prove consistency and credibility with the workforce, but it may be extremely important in proving your regulatory compliance with the regulators following an accident.

Don’t forget about shock hazards.
Today, arc-flash hazards and FR clothing are attracting significant attention. This is because knowledge of flash hazards is relatively new (most of the research has been completed since the mid 1980s); OSHA has become more outspoken in support of NFPA 70E and its arcflash requirements; and because manufacturers and suppliers have been increasingly aggressive in their advertising of products and services to protect against arc-flash hazards.

Fatality statistics, however, still show that more workers die from electrocutions than from arc-flash. It may be that more people go to the hospital with arc-flash injuries than with shock injuries, but shock is still the greater threat.

So,when purchasing PPE for electrical hazards, writing your electrical safety policies and training your workers, don’t forget about shock hazards. NFPA 70E does an excellent job of addressing shock hazards.

Do develop a training schedule.
Proof of attendance at a one-day training session on NFPA 70E is not adequate to qualify your employees to perform electrical work. Although NFPA 70E training is definitely recommended, if not required, it should only be a single component of a much broader-based training program.

Start by preparing a list of the tasks that a qualified person(s) or electrician( s) are to perform on or near exposed, energized parts. This can be accomplished more formally in a job/task analysis (JTA).

Next, complete a hazard analysis for each task, formally known as a job hazard analysis (JHA), and prepare a description of the skills and knowledge required to perform the job safely. This should include OSHA and NFPA 70E training requirements.

Now compare these requirements to the knowledge, skills and training of the person expected to perform the task(s). This comparison should identify the areas of weakness and be a guide to develop a training schedule to qualify your employee(s).

Training budgets are limited, so concentrate on the major safety deficiencies first. Try to develop a threeyear plan that will coincide with updates to the regulations and standards. Schedule a minimum of two to five days of training annually for each qualified employee.

Do complete an arc-flash hazard analysis.
Facilities with employees, contractors or service personnel that perform tasks exposing them to energized components are generally better off completing an arc-flash hazard analysis as opposed to just using NFPA 70E’s fourfoot arc-flash boundary for equipment less than 600V and the PPE prescribed by the NFPA 70E tables. The NFPA 70E tables serve a vital need, providing arc-flash boundaries and PPE requirements for equipment on which a hazard analysis has not been completed. But, if the table footnotes are not properly observed, the required PPE may be inadequate to protect the worker, or, in the more likely case, the PPE requirements will exceed what is actually necessary, possibly causing heat stress, hindered visibility and restricted movement.

Based on personal experience, it would appear that a substantial percentage of the equipment operating at 480 volts and less will have an arc-flash boundary of less than twelve inches, negating the requirement for FR clothing to protect the face and torso.However, experience also has shown that it is not uncommon for industrial and large commercial facilities to have a small percentage of equipment where even the four-foot default boundary is not adequate to avoid permanent injury in the event of an arc-flash. Consequently, NFPA 70E and IEEE Standard 1584 provide formulas that are to be used under engineering supervision to determine where FR clothing is needed and where it is not.

Do ask the engineers completing the arc-flash hazard analysis for recommendations on how to reduce or eliminate the hazard. An arc-flash analysis by a qualified engineer should provide more than just the results of the analysis.

The engineer should review each location having a Hazard/Risk Category 1 or greater to determine if any changes can be made to reduce or eliminate the severity of potential flash hazards. He/she also should evaluate what affect changing fuse types or breaker settings will have on the Hazard/Risk Category of the equipment. In most cases the engineer can make recommendations that, if accepted,will reduce flash hazards, resulting in a safer workplace and lower PPE cost–that’s truly a win-win.

Do keep a copy of the arc-flash analysis data files.
If you use an engineering/consulting company to conduct an arc-flash hazard analysis, require that it provide an electronic copy of all the data files used in the analysis.

Within weeks or months, if not days, following the completion of the analysis, changes will be made to the facility’s electrical system,which, in turn,may require recalculating part or all of the analysis. If you have the data files, your options for updating the analysis are much greater than if your consultant owns the files.

Having the data files will generally result in a lower cost to update the flash hazard analysis. If you have the necessary resources, you may even consider purchasing the analysis software and updating the analysis yourself.

Do decide on how appropriate PPE will be made available to employees before labeling equipment with PPE requirements and before training employees on those requirements.

Please, do not misunderstand–this is not to suggest that you delay informing your employees of potential electrical hazards to which they may be exposed. Rather, it is a recommendation that you not put the cart before the horse, potentially creating a situation you cannot tolerate.

The natural progression in completing hazard analyses and providing appropriate PPE should go something like this: complete the analyses; eliminate or reduce as many hazards as possible; identify where the remaining hazards are; determine the level of PPE needed; procure the PPE; label the equipment; then train your employees. The training should include:

  • How to recognize and avoid hazards;
  • PPE policy;
  • Energized Electrical Work Permit policy;
  • Lockout/tagout procedures;
  • Requirements for an Electrical Safe Work Condition.

Some facilities do the right things, in the wrong order, resulting in frustration, resistance and even bitterness toward management– assuming management is only doing this to meet legal requirements, not out of a genuine concern for the safety of the employee. It is very difficult to explain why an employee should work in a cabinet that has an arc-flash warning label on the door, without having been provided the appropriate PPE required by the label. Excuses such as “the PPE is back-ordered,””the PPE has not been decided on, yet” or “the new PPE requirement has not received funding approvals, yet” do little to build an atmosphere of trust and commitment to safety.

Consider procuring a minimum amount of PPE immediately, enough to use until your analyses are complete and the appropriate levels and quantities of PPE can be procured–then proceed with labeling and training.

Do label equipment with enough detail to inform the worker of the potential hazard and PPE requirements.

Labeling of equipment is an extremely important component of the Flash Hazard Analysis. Determining the arc-flash boundary and the appropriate PPE is pointless if that information is not communicated to the individuals working on or near the equipment with the hazard.

The label should be placed in a conspicuous location that will be easily seen BEFORE the equipment is opened. The label should provide the worker(s) with enough information to know at what distance PPE is called for and what level/category of PPE is required when crossing the approach/ flash boundaries.

Since 2002, the National Electrical Code® (NEC) has required labeling of panelboards and similar electrical equipment to warn of potential flash hazards. Although the current NEC language does not specify what information must be provided on the warning label, it is likely that future editions will add some requirements.At a minimum, the following information should be included on the label:

  • Maximum voltage in the equipment;
  • Arc-flash boundary;
  • Required PPE (Hazard/Risk Category or cal/cm2).
  • Do give consideration to contractors, vendors and service personnel that enter your facility and are exposed to electrical hazards.

For their safety and your company’s protection, contractors, vendors and service personnel should be required to comply with NFPA 70E when working in your facility.

Many companies send letters to all of their contractors, vendors and service providers, requiring NFPA 70E compliance when working in its facilities. The facility must make sure their equipment has been properly labeled with enough information for these non-employees to understand the potential hazards and to select appropriate PPE.

Do make sure your equipment has been properly identified.

Label each disconnect (i.e. circuit breakers and switches) as to its purpose–that’s a requirement of the National Electrical Code, Section 110.22 Furthermore, remember that proper identification is required to complete lockout/tagout procedures. (But, can lockout/tagout procedures be completed if the appropriate disconnecting devices cannot be found?)

Identification is also a prerequisite of any arc-flash hazard analysis study.Whether you are conducting your own arc-flash hazard analysis or hiring it done, the required electrical data cannot be accurately collected without knowing the purpose of each disconnecting device.

Unfortunately, many facilities do not have all of their disconnects labeled, and in some plants (surprisingly), no one knows what some disconnects are used for. Leaving it to the analysis data collectors to trace out a circuit generally requires additional time, money and potential disruption of equipment operation. It is much more effective to label your disconnects BEFORE the analysis–at times that are convenient to the facility.

If you really want to enhance safety and maintenance, also consider labeling the utilization equipment (the load) with information as to the location of the respective disconnect. Proper labeling generally encourages lockout/ tagout procedures and may save valuable time in the event of an emergency.

As an example, following an electrocution of an electrician, his co-worker was interviewed to determine why the two of them had been replacing lighting ballasts while the circuit was energized. The co-worker replied that the circuit breakers were not labeled and it took too long to determine the proper breaker to de-energize. That’s why they always performed the work “hot.” Label your disconnects- it’s the law! MT

John Klingler, P.E., is a former master electrician, DOL certified electrical instructor and certified electrician in low, medium and high voltage. He’s spent 25 years in management, engineering, supervision and as an electrician, and six years as an electrical trainer. For details on his new company, e-mail:

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5:18 am
May 2, 2006
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Preventing Failures And Prolonging The Life Of Electrical Systems

Infrared scanning, cleaning, torquing and re-scanning form the backbone of an effective preventive maintenance program for these critical systems.

Most electricians would agree that the essential nervous system of every facility is the electrical system. The electrical system consists of the main switch gear, branch circuit panels, transformers, motor control centers and any other critical electrical equipment.

over-torqued_terminationProper maintenance of its electrical system is essential for the survival of any facility, as well as for preventing unexpected electrical interruptions.

This article focuses on a comprehensive program that has been developed within Aschinger Electric, a St. Louis-based service provider, to help prevent electrical failures and prolong the life of electrical systems. Performed annually on all electrical equipment, it includes: infrared scanning, cleaning and torquing and, finally, an infrared re-scan.

Infrared scanning to identify problems
The infrared camera is an excellent tool for identifying potential electrical problems. All electrical equipment should be scanned as the first step of the maintenance program. The infrared camera is key to spotting connections that have been improperly torqued or are being overloaded. Fig. 1 illustrates an overtorqued electrical termination. The problematic point has a temperature of 32 C (90 F). The image at the right shows the same termination after being properly torqued; the temperature was reduced to 26 C (78 F).

overloaded_circuitsThe infrared camera also can identify overloaded circuits. Fig. 2 is an image of a wire drawing 22.4A. The circuit is rated for 20A. The wire was originally yellow, but due to the extreme exposure to temperature, it turned brown and brittle. The wire was able to be replaced and the circuit’s load was redistributed during a scheduled shutdown rather than during an unexpected failure of the wire.

All bus links, wire terminations and coils of transformers need to be scanned while under load.Due to the hazards of scanning energized equipment, it is a good practice to perform scans with pairs of qualified electricians that are suited up in personal protective equipment (i.e. – blast suits).

All deficiencies-overtorquing, undertorquing and overloading-should be documented At this time, an action plan should be developed for correcting the deficiencies during the un-energized torquing and cleaning step of the equipment.

torque_valuesCleaning and torquing
After identifying all deficiencies using the infrared camera, the equipment needs to be cleaned, followed by torquing of all terminations to manufacturer’s specifications.

The initial step in cleaning any electrical equipment is to properly de-energize the equipment, then to lock out and tag the disconnecting means. A proper lockout/tagout program is a must in every facility.

To clean a piece of equipment, an industrial- strength hepa vacuum is needed. Vacuum all pieces of the electrical equipment. Next, using a soft paint brush with fine bristles, brush out all dust and dirt, working from top to bottom and left to right, while continually vacuuming.

After all electrical equipment has been thoroughly cleaned, all terminations should be loosened, cleaned and lubricated with a manufacturer’s specified lubricant for the materials being connected (i.e., no-ox for copper to aluminum, Fisk paste for bus links).

The final step before re-energizing is to torque all connections to manufacture’s specifications. If possible, the manufacturer should be consulted for torque settings of all equipment bolts and links. If torque values are not available, Table I is a very good reference. At this time, special care should be taken to correctly torque the deficiencies found during the initial infrared scanning.

Dry-type transformers should be cleaned in the same fashion with one addition. After the outer coils of the transformer have been removed of dirt using a paint brush, the inner windings of the coil need to be cleaned using compressed gas. Nitrogen is used because it will not bind with the atmospheric air and thus will not form water within the windings. Proper pressure of the nitrogen to blow out the windings is 25 lbs/in2 or less.

At this time, resistance testing on the transformer should be performed. Table II provides reference values if manufacturer specifications are not available. ANSI publication C57.94 is a further reference for maintenance and testing of transformers.

When all dust and debris have been removed, all metal surfaces (i.e., bus links) should be wiped down using absolute alcohol and a lint-fee rag. Alcohol cleans well and does not leave a residue when dried. It is advisable to use the alcohol on cool equipment and to let it dry before re-energizing. (IMPORTANT: Alcohol is to be used only on metal parts. Do not use alcohol on insulation or transformer coils.)

minimum_insulation_resistanceOnce all terminations are torqued, all equipment should be inspected for loose tools and properly closed. The electrical system can now be re-energized. (IMPORTANT: Follow all safety precautions and make sure all workers are aware of re-energizing of equipment.)

Infrared re-scan
The final step for the program is to re-scan the equipment for deficiencies. Re-scanning is a way to ensure that all terminations have been torqued properly and that initial problems have been corrected. If problems still exist, the culprits usually are overloaded circuits, incorrect torquing or faulty equipment.

An annual maintenance program of the electrical system is vital for the system’s longevity. If a preventive electrical maintenance program is diligently performed, a facility should be able to recoup the cost of the program through diminished uninterrupted shutdowns, thus saving time and/or product. The electrical maintenance program is essential in identifying and correcting problems on a planned schedule, as opposed to an unplanned shutdown due to system failure. Finally, an electrical maintenance program is a preventative means to reduce the risks of electrical fires in a facility. The life/safety issue is a cost that is usually compensated by lower insurance premiums for a company. MT

Matt Mantese has been a supervisor with Aschinger Electric for 10 years. He has a B.S. from St. Louis University. E-mail:

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9:52 pm
May 1, 2006
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Purposefully Designed Lubricant Transfer Containers Save Bearings

Here’s one area where your payback can be especially quick and dramatic. . . very, very!

0506_lubetransfercontainers_img1Many bearings fail because unclean containers contaminate the lube oil as it is being transferred from storage drums to equipment bearing housings. With lube oil contamination clearly being one of the major causes of bearing failures, it is incumbent upon machinery reliability professionals to seek out and implement cost-effective steps to avoid such contamination.

That said, reliability-focused equipment maintenance and operating technicians will use only properly designed plastic containers (such as the ones shown in Fig. 1) for their lube replenishing and oil transfer tasks. They will no longer permit rusty cans, zinc-plated (galvanized) buckets and discarded or unclean plastic bottles to be used in any area where lube oil contamination risks costly failures. It should be noted that each of the various approved and carefully manufactured containers in Fig. 1 will cost a mere fraction of the expense of a single bearing failure. If shown in a brief overview calculation, this is one product for which the payback is often measured in days.

Special attention might be directed at Ref. 1, where General Motors’ Linden, New Jersey plant employed highly rigorous accounting steps. This plant reached the conclusion that investing in lube program upgrades by using properly designed, color-coded plastic transfer containers of suitable size and configuration made real economic sense. No wonder. The facility had achieved a two-month payback and remarkable 738% return on the money and effort invested.

In a similar case history, a paper mill estimated that an expenditure of $6,000 for 100 transfer containers had resulted in $240,000 worth of downtime avoidance within three years of program initiation. This mill’s three-year payback had reached 40:1.

0506_lubetransfercontainers_img2Many reliability enhancement opportunities exist for pumps and compressors in process plants
There are many other reliability improvements that are cost-justified (Ref. 2). As an example, and dealing only with compressors and pumps, advances in high performance polymer materials and synthetic lubricant technology can lead to significant extensions in equipment run times, or mean-times-between-repairs (MTBR), where improved lubricant application is available and urgently needed (Ref. 3), and so on.

If a reliability professional is wrestling with a population of centrifugal pumps, he/she might want to consider several of the enhancements described below (as well as elsewhere in this and other issues of this publication). For instance, it would be appropriate to look into:

• Hermetically sealing bearing housings with modern non-contacting and, in many instances, dual-faced magnetic bearing housing seals 
• Using a high-film-strength synthesized hydrocarbon lubricant of appropriate viscosity, i.e. ISO Grade 32 for pumps
• Applying diester-base synthesized hydrocarbon lubes on reciprocating compressor cylinders 
• Applying certain mechanical seals with highly efficient bi-directional internal pumping devices 
• Upgrading ASME 73/ANSI/ISO pumps to double-row angular contact bearings with dual inner rings
• Installing pre-grouted (pre-filled with epoxy) pump baseplates
• Using only balanced constant level lubricators
• Replacing vulnerable oil rings with flexible flinger discs
• Selective upgrading of certain medium size pump lube application methods to an inductive pump jet-oil application 
• Removal of cooling water from bearing housings equipped with rolling element bearings 
• Using proprietary PTA, high-temperature capability, ultra-low thermal expansion performance polymers as a wear ring and throat bushing material

There surely are other “things” that can be done to decrease pump and compressor failures, but the aforementioned are among the simplest and most cost-effective. Needless to say, reliability-focused plants and users will follow up with the speedy implementation of these and other cost-justified enhancement measures (Ref. 4).We plan to assist you in “filling in the gaps” by dealing with many of these opportunities in this publication.

Meanwhile, consider encouraging your reliability technical work force to read. In fact, they might benefit from having access to a “Machinery Reliability Library.” Reading one book per year could add real value to everyone’s knowledge and competence. The only thing that will cost a plant more than having such books available, is to not have them available. LMT

Contributing editor Heinz Bloch is the author of 14 comprehensive textbooks and more than 300 other publications on machinery reliability and lubrication. He can be contacted at


  1. Bohn, Edward; “GM Invests in Lube Program Upgrades,” Machinery Lubrication, October, 2004
  2. Bloch, Heinz P., “Twelve Equipment Reliability Enhancements with 10:1 Payback,” Presentation/Paper No. RCM-05-82, NPRA Reliability & Maintenance Conference, New Orleans, LA , May 2005
  3. Bloch, Heinz P., “Extending Pump Life,” Lubrication & Fluid Power, April 2005
  4. Bloch, Heinz P. and Alan Budris; “Pump User’s Handbook: Life Extension,” Second Edition (2006), Fairmont Press, Lilburn, GA, ISBN 0-88173-517-5

Book Suggestions For A Machinery Reliability Library (in addition to Ref. 4 listed above)

  1. “SKF Interactive Engineering Catalogue,” CD-ROM, Version 1.2, 1998
  2. Bloch, Heinz P.; “Practical Lubrication for Industrial Facilities,” The Fairmont Press, Lilburn, GA (©2000 / ISBN 0-88173-296-6)
  3. “Industrial Product Guide,” 2002, Royal Purple, Ltd., Porter, Texas 77356
  4. Eschmann, Hasbargen “Ball and Roller Bearings,” 1985, John Wiley & Sons, New York, NY and Weigand; ISBN 0-471-26283-8)
  5. Bloch, Heinz P. and “Pump User’s Handbook: Life Extension,” 2004, The Fairmont Press, Inc., Lilburn, GA, 30047, Allan Budris ISBN 0-88173-452-7
  6. Bloch, Heinz P., and “Oil Mist Lubrication: Practical Applications,” 1998, The Fairmont Press, Inc., Lilburn, GA, 30047 Abdus Shamim, Ph.D. ISBN 0-88173-256-7 ,
  7. Bloch, Heinz P., “Practical Lubrication for Industrial Facilities,” 2000, The Fairmont Press, Lilburn, GA 30047 ISBN 0-88173-296-6
  8. Bloch, Heinz P.: “Improving Machinery Reliability,” 3rd Edition, 1998, Gulf Publishing Company, Houston, TX, ISBN 0- 88415-661-3
  9. Bloch, H.P. and “Machinery Failure Analysis and Troubleshooting,” 3rd Edition, 1997, Gulf Publishing Company, Houston, TX Fred Geitner: ISBN 0-88415-662-1
  10. Bloch, H.P. and “Machinery Component Maintenance and Repair,” 3rd Edition, 2004, Gulf Publishing Company, Houston, TX Fred Geitner: ISBN 0-87201-781-8
  11. Bloch, H.P. and “Major Process Equipment Maintenance and Repair,” 2nd Edition, 1997, Gulf Publishing Company, Houston, TX Fred Geitner: ISBN 0-88415-663-X
  12. Bloch, H.P. and “Introduction to Machinery Reliability Assessment,” 2nd Edition, 1994 Fred Geitner: ISBN 0-88415-172-7,
  13. Bloch, H.P. and “Process Plant Machinery,” 2nd Edition, 1998, Claire Soares: ISBN 0-7506-7081-9 [BH, AMA]
  14. Bloch, H.P. and “Reciprocating Compressors: Operation and Maintenance,” 1996, Gulf Publishing Company, Houston, TX J.J. Hoefner: ISBN 0-88415-525-0 [BH, AMA]
  15. Bloch, H.P.: “Practical Guide to Compressor Technology,” 1995, ISBN 0-07-005937-3 (Available also in a Spanish Edition) *English Edition presently out-of-print. A revised, greatly expanded Third Edition is scheduled for mid-2006 (by Wiley & Sons Publishing Company)
  16. Bloch, H.P.: “Practical Guide to Steam Turbine Technology,” 1995, ISBN 0-07-005924-1 [McG, AMA] (Available also in Spanish Edition)
  17. Bloch, H.P. and “Turboexpanders and Process Applications,” 2001, Gulf Publishing Company, Houston, TX Claire Soares: ISBN 0-88415-509-9
  18. Bloch, H.P.: “Compressors and Modern Process Applications,” Wiley & Sons, (will become available in late-2006)
  19. M.P. Boyce: “Gas Turbine Engineering Handbook,” 1982, Gulf Publishing Company, Houston, TX ISBN 0-87201-878-4
  20. R.N. Brown: “Compressors, Selection and Sizing,” 2nd Edition, 1997, Gulf Publishing Company, Houston, TX, ISBN 0-88415-164-6
  21. T.L. Henshaw: “Reciprocating Pumps,” 1987 ISBN 0-442-23251-9 [AMA],
  22. J.W. Dufour and “Centrifugal Pump Sourcebook,” 1993, McGraw-Hill, Tel. 800-262-4729, J.E. Nelson: or and; ISBN 0-07-018033-4
  23. V.S. Lobanoff and “Centrifugal Pumps: Design and Application,” 2nd Edition, 1992, Gulf Publishing Company, Houston, TX R.R. Ross: ISBN 0-87201-200-X
  24. I.J. Karassik et al: “Pump Handbook,” 2nd Edition, 1986, McGraw-Hill, Tel. 800-262-4729, or; ISBN 0-07-033302-5,
  25. R.C. Eisenmann Sr. and “Machinery Malfunction Diagnosis and Correction,” 1997, Prentice Hall PTR, R.C. Eisenmann, Jr. ISBN 0-13-240946-1
  26. R. Neumaier “Hermetic Pumps,” 2nd Edition, 2000, D-65843 Sulzbach, Verlag und Bildarchiv 2000 W.H. Faragallah ISBN 3-929682-26-5

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6:00 am
May 1, 2006
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Problem Solvers

0506_problemsolversAutomated, Space-Saving Tool Cribs

Vending machines have long been used in tool management. Now there is a system designed specifically for MRO parts and maintenance cribs.According to ShelfPlus, its CompuCRIB Automated Crib Management System is like a vending machine on steroids It can help reduce inventory, save floor space and save crib labor costs, while ensuring that costs are being charged for jobs where the tools actually are being used. By requiring employees to log in every time they need items, an MRO can accurately track which parts are being used for which machines/orders at all times. Detailed reports show where products are being used and who is under and over budget, and give detailed information about each item’s history.

ShelfPlus Automated Storage
Concepts Lexington, KY

0506_problemsolvers_img2Continous Oil Monitoring For Gas & Diesel Engines

Koehler Instruments has introduced the Oil Insyte Continuous Oil Monitoring System. It comes with in-line capability to measure additive package performance and accelerate development of new oil formulations in gasoline and diesel engines. An oxidation system measures the leading indicators of oil wear in real-time, under GF-4 or PC-10-like conditions, assuring compliance with tougher emission standards and fuel economy requirements. A soot system determines the amount of free soot present in oil. Operation does not require calibration and is independent of an oil’s viscosity at temperatures up to 150 C. Designed to fit in test facility engines, it consists of a disposable sensing element. A simple-to-read LCD displays the condition of the oil. A common scale for oil quality enables easy side-by-side comparison of results taken months apart. By examining the interdependence between oxidation and depletion by the oxidation system, maximum lubricant performance in gasoline engines is ensured.

Koehler Instrument Co. Inc 
Bohemia, NY

0506_um_problemsolvers_img3Clear Grease Guns Minimize Incompatibility Risk

FLO Components offers a new line of Clear Grease Guns that allow for 100% positive grease-type identification, thus eliminating the risk of mixing incompatible or unspecified grease. They provide visual confirmation of the quantity of grease remaining in the tube, air pockets and grease separation or contamination. Capable of both cartridge and bulk fill use, high-strength, clear tubes with aircraft aluminum end caps offer especially durable solutions. Visual recognition of the grease brand on the cartridge can be used to promote the quality of the shop.

FLO Components Ltd.
Missassauga, Ontario

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6:00 am
May 1, 2006
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It's Continuous Around Here: Improvement And Growth


Tom Madding, Group Publisher

Last fall, I used this space to write about continuous improvement and how a publishing house is similar to a manufacturing plant. The ability to “turn on a dime” is what keeps a publication up and running–and clearly what separates it from the rest of the pack. That being said,Applied Technology Publications, Inc. has accepted the resignation of Terry Wireman, Editorial Director of MAINTENANCE TECHNOLOGY and LUBRICATION & FLUID POWER magazines, effective April 19, 2006. Terry has chosen to pursue other interests, and we wish him all the best in his new endeavors.

While we will miss Terry, we’re pleased to report that Jane Alexander, former Managing Editor, has been named Editor. Although it’s a new title, Jane will continue to do what she does best: that is managing what goes in our magazines, where it comes from and how it looks when it is published. The real news here is the all-star team of top industry experts with which Jane regularly will be working in order to get the job done.

We are delighted to announce that Rick Dunn has joined our team as Editorial Consultant. Rick, who has been involved in the maintenance and reliability field for many years, now will be providing his valuable expertise to us. His knowledge of industry issues and his background in the editorial arena will ensure that MAINTENANCE TECHNOLOGY and LUBRICATION & FLUID POWER continue to be the premier publications in the areas of asset management and equipment reliability.

We also are delighted to let you know that starting this month, our good friend Ken Bannister, so well respected for his regular feature articles in LUBRICATION & FLUID POWER over the past couple of years, will be writing the “Editor’s Column” in this publication. Ken’s outstanding technical background, his practical approach to industry problems and his powerful communication skills make him a natural to take on this his new “gig” with us. (Ken also has been named as a Contributing Editor for MAINTENANCE TECHNOLOGY magazine, writing a semi-monthly column on the importance of communication in plant environments.)

We hope you are as excited as we are about our expanded editorial team. As we move forward, keep in mind that our publications will continue to focus on best practices and how you can meet those goals in your operations.We also will be covering more organizations that have achieved that coveted “Best Practice” status. This will allow you to learn from your successful peers–those who have been able to initiate and, very importantly, sustain changes in their organizations. Let us hear from you, end users and advertisers alike. We’re eager to share your messages with others as we all continue to improve and grow. LMTtmadding_signature

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