Archive | June, 2006


5:52 am
June 2, 2006
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Viewpoint: It’s All About Power – Strategies And Goals


Dieter Brunner, Managing Director, Industrial Systems American Power Conversion Corporation

The business challenges in manufacturing these days are very different from the past. Today, facilities are competing with countless others around the globe. Competition, though, also opens up a number of growth opportunities. But, to fully participate in those opportunities, companies will need to increase productivity, reduce costs and speed up cycle time-while maintaining high levels of quality.

This need to improve efficiencies and maximize availability also requires the ensuring of increased safety and security levels.Moreover, at the same time the market is seeking the flexibility to act on new and changing demands, it often is having to deal with new governmental rules and regulations.

When it comes to coping with these many challenges, the specific strategies you choose to follow are crucial to your success. Some of these specific strategies (and the tactics to implement them) involve the individuals in charge of maintenance at a facility. One of the most important decisions maintenance faces today concerns production shutdowns.

The days of shutting down production lines to perform regular maintenance are over. For whatever reasons, be they downsizing, cost concerns or others, in many facilities the typical approach has become one of repairing equipment after it breaks down. Such an approach, however, does not allow a facility to maximize its capacity.

Maintenance departments must truly get their arms around effective predictive maintenance. This requires continuously collecting and analyzing historical data, quality data, safety data, etc. and the introduction of state-of-the-art predictive maintenance tools.With better information and tools, it is far easier to find opportunities for improvement and reduce Mean Time To Repair. Another important strategy involves more automation in the production process, and the getting away from disparate networks. Seamless corporate networks pave the way to increased efficiency– and enable maintenance to implement the best predictive maintenance strategies.

But, let’s imagine what would happen if, after choosing and implementing these and other strategies to enhance your uptime and productivity, that your facility suddenly found itself without power. . .

As more and more plants move to automated control of their processes, they are introducing more digital equipment in their facilities. This has dramatically increased the need for a stable, secure and high-quality power supply that ensures production and business continuity. Thus, the strategies a company adopts in regard to power availability are more critical than ever before. As a global leader in power availability solutions, our company clearly recognizes that downtime is not an option. Therefore, we are always challenging “the status quo” and striving for new ways to meet your needs.

To do this,we constantly are looking at the challenges facing the market (both existing and emerging challenges).We also are listening carefully to our customers’ comments and concerns, including how they view their future business challenges. The answer (and, with it, the future) clearly calls for facilities to be able to obtain uninterruptible power system solutions, 24/7.

In a world that demands zero downtime, we view our primary goal as one of providing you with these types of cost-effective system solutions—and real peace of mind. That, in turn,will allow you and your facility to fully concentrate on the type of business strategies that lead to your goals: continued growth and success. MT

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5:50 am
June 2, 2006
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Lean Manufacturing For High Performance

To win this race, it is crucial for every part of a company, including maintenance, to keep itself fit and totally committed to a lean lifestyle.

Lean manufacturing initiatives,much like diets, are designed to trim fat and make you fitter, faster and more competitive-in short, a high performer. The overall goal is the lasting improvement in company profitability that underpins high performance. This is achieved by fighting flab of all sorts, from excess inventory to overextended equipment set-up times. The benefits can be dramatic.

Building flexibility into manufacturing processes and facilities and integrating and coordinating your overall supply chain network will simplify and speed up product flow and facilitate just-in-time delivery. A slimmer supply chain, in turn, will optimize the alignment of product capabilities with what customers actually want.

Studies indicate that more than half of all U.S. manufacturers have embarked on some kind of lean manufacturing initiative. Far fewer actually have achieved lasting profit improvement.

Much like fad dieters, most companies simply don’t stay the course. They fail to recognize that long-term success hinges crucially on a full commitment to a totally new and fitter lifestyle.

0606_running_lean_img2Successful lean manufacturers:

  • Undertake lean manufacturing as a way of life. They commit to it 100% and involve everyone in the company, from top management to the shop floor, in changing corporate culture along lean lines
  • Recognize that long-term success involves farreaching change-and embrace it boldly.
  • Get on the scale and stay on it-measuring the right things with appropriate technologies and sharing the results.
  • Avoid the big let-down, by staying the course through fully integrated and consistently communicated change programs

Experience with companies that have achieved high performance through lean manufacturing reveals that their approach to the challenge is what differentiates them. Like successful dieters, they don’t allow the “diet of the month”-the rules, tools and schools that claim to guarantee success-to distract them. Instead, they focus on the following four core concepts.

#1 Lean is a way of life
Like any successful diet, a successful lean manufacturing program is a long-term strategy, not an isolated project.What’s more, it has to be an integrated, operational strategy that encompasses the entire company and its culture.

For most companies, this means challenging current thinking and requires driving lean principles and a lean mindset into the manufacturing environment and beyond. Companies must instill the enterprise with the underlying philosophies of lean-elimination of waste, a “lot size of one” mentality, visual management, just-in-time delivery. They also must foster a spirit of continuous improvement that leverages these philosophies.

What needs to happen for the plant to be able to build lot sizes of one? How, for example, can visual management techniques be used in accounting? Is there waste within the product development cycle that is increasing time-to-market for new products? The original lean manufacturing initiative was the Toyota Production System that revolutionized productivity at the Japanese car company. The kaizen philosophy of continuous improvement that underpins Toyota’s system has become a blueprint for others-notably Danaher Corporation, which has turned it into the Danaher Business System (DBS).

The DBS operates on two levels.At the level of daily management, kaizen events employ a diverse range of operational efficiency tools-including Six Sigma and value-mapping techniques-to eliminate such sources of waste as excess inventory, waiting time, overproduction and quality defects. The events run continuously, minutely examining business processes to identify all sources of waste and develop a standardized, repeatable working system that will avoid them in the future.

Hoshin kanri, or policy deployment, the second level, is what really distinguishes the DBS from other such systems. This sets aggressive breakthrough targets right across the company. Although limited to one or two a year, and typically related to a product line or geographic expansion, these targets are set at senior management level and cascaded down the corporate hierarchy so that every employee understands exactly what to do to achieve the breakthrough.

Coupled with the rigorous DBS training that all employees undergo-a process that lasts two years for executives-the system helps explain why Danaher is such a high-performance business.

#2 Understanding that long-term success means far-reaching change
Going on a diet will affect many other aspects of lifestyle-permanently, if the diet is successful- thus becoming your routine approach to eating. Dieters won’t lose weight and keep it off if they don’t take into account other fitness factors, such as getting sufficient exercise. It’s the same with lean manufacturing initiatives, which almost inevitably will have important consequences for many other areas of your business, both operational and strategic.

As a company begins the journey to becoming a lean enterprise, it is very important to take a holistic view-one that looks both within and beyond the four walls of the plant and considers the implications that the various elements of the overall supply chain network have on each other.

Existing customer and/or supplier agreements may prove prohibitive to lean operations. Planning policies and operational practices between internal manufacturing facilities may be misaligned. Capital investments may be required within facilities to overcome the limitations of aging, inflexible equipment.

Without taking a total, end-to-end view, companies typically are not effective in migrating to a lean enterprise. They usually fall into the trap of incremental improvement, thus missing the opportunity to extract the significant value that can come from a lean enterprise.

The starting point for any successful lean manufacturer is defining multi-year objectives across the enterprise and devising a well-thought-out plan to get there.Without a vision of where you want to be in the next three to five years, it is very difficult to make fundamental progress toward the type of capabilities and benefits demonstrated by the likes of Toyota or Danaher.

Unfortunately, many companies delegate the enterprise responsibility and ask each major department to come up with its own, individual “multi-year plan.” This greatly complicates the task of defining what the lean enterprise should be. Cross-enterprise synergies can be lost and competing priorities between supply chain components can complicate operations.

Making plants more flexible and responsive through lean is a fundamental priority, but it is also critically important, especially for global companies, to apply lean thinking to the broader, global supply chain.When there is a significant flow of products between large numbers of plants and distribution centers, the implication is that the migration to lean is more complex-and not just in terms of cost.

It can be hard to stick to a diet when friends and family are working against you-just as it is with companies striving to be lean. To be successful, you need every plant and subsidiary committed to the inevitability of change and prepared to approach it pro-actively.

Studies have demonstrated that the benefits of lean manufacturing make it well worth the effort,with most companies that have initiated lean manufacturing programs seeing a positive cash flow within 120 days of the program’s start. Furthermore, over a longer timeframe, the benefits in terms of more specific measures, including inventory and order-todelivery cycle time, can be striking.

One metal products manufacturer, for example, cut its order-to-delivery cycle time from six weeks to just four days in four months. This company also reduced its inventories by 40% and boosted gross margin by 12% in the same period.

Another company, a large electronics manufacturer, led the implementation of a focused factory environment for its magnetic ballast operations as part of an overall “fulfill demand” capabilities initiative.

Two focused factories within the facility were linked with a kanban signalling system to indicate when items needed replenishing. As a result, the company realized an 80% reduction in cycle times and a 50% reduction in work in process (WIP). It also achieved an almost 70% reduction in quality defects because defects became much more visible in the focused factory environment.

#3 Getting on (and staying on) the scale
That’s the dieter’s mantra. By the same token, companies should learn to measure the right things-and keep measuring them-if they hope to be successful lean manufacturers. Sharing the results with everyone involved in the program’s success will help maintain morale and ensure accountability.

Take manufacturing asset utilization, for example. Though one of the most common measures in your industry, it may not, in fact, be the most appropriate one in this context. It tends to go along with a “we sell what we make” mentality- rather than the “we’ll make what we sell” attitude that characterizes customer focus and, thus, high performance.

One lighting products company got the emphasis right. It switched from a view of efficiency that hinged on keeping all its plants running at full capacity, regardless of how much was sold, to the type of balanced-scorecard approach that aligned measures with goals and adopted them right across the organization.

The company’s new scorecard included such metrics as performance to schedule (stopping production once the schedule was made), days of supply on hand (which were to be driven as low as possible), changeover time (more product changeovers = more products made) and lot size (small is better). It also aligned these measures in support of three common goals: (1) lowest landed cost; (2) customer service; and (3) flexibility.

The upshot of all this? The company reduced its inventories by 40% and steadily improved its line item fill rates.

Any set of measures must reflect an overall view of your lean objectives. To be more specific, the metrics must mirror and provide support for an environment that will inevitably need to strike balances between varying objectives.

Classically, and probably most simply, companies must be able to manage trade-offs between cost, service and inventory.Measures must be in place to manage these factors.

Just as dieting goals are affected by the balance between different food groups consumed- fats, carbohydrates, proteins-measures must be transparent across the various functions of a manufacturing operation or supply chain in order to meet business goals.

Transparency of results will create and facilitate an integrated business mindset and encourage an environment of common business objectives that reduces the inefficiencies arising from misaligned functional priorities.

#4 Avoid the big letdown
Every dieter is familiar with the experience of stepping on the scale and seeing a weight gain rather than a loss. It’s enough to make one give up-and many do. Similarly, many companies that undertake lean manufacturing programs are thrown off course by the unexpected- slumps and spikes in demand, for instance.

That’s what happened to a global manufacturer for whom the costs of long-term change ultimately proved prohibitive. The company’s European operations had implemented a pull-based replenishment system for finished goods. Inventory targets based on demand, variability and desired service levels were established. And a re-order point drove production requirements.

Inventories remained under control for a couple of years and service levels improved-until demand suddenly spiked. Instead of sticking to the principles of the system and either adjusting service levels or controlling order acceptance, the company abandoned it.

Contrast this with the experience of another company, an exhaust system manufacturer that implemented a new operating model for its inventory management and production scheduling processes. The company developed a process and system that supported the successful reduction of its finished goods inventories – by 45%, while maintaining service fill at 95%. Cross-functional replenishment teams brought together people from manufacturing, planning, purchasing and scheduling to support the two business units, and a kanban-based pull scheduling process decreased WIP by 70%.

Successful lean manufacturers, indeed, manage to stay the course-usually because they’ve ensured that all aspects of the business, old and new, are integrated in the lean program.

Witness Danaher’s approach to postmerger integration. Even before its 2002 acquisition of Gilbarco was complete, the company was introducing Gilbarco executives to the DBS.Within 60 days of the deal’s close, the continuous improvement events that form the system’s core were well underway right across the acquisition.

Total commitment
A lean lifestyle has to be a total commitment. Successful practitioners use it to change the entire culture of their companies. They recognize that to stay lean in the long term, they will have to institute strategic and operational changes that go beyond mere manufacturing. They know, too, that success involves accurately and consistently measuring the right things and aligning these metrics with common corporate goals.

Only then can they avoid the pitfalls and stay the course, ensuring that lean manufacturing realizes its promise as a foundation of sustained, long-term profitability and high performance. MT

Paul Loftus is a partner with Accenture and currently leads the Industrial Equipment Practice within North America.Telephone: (703) 947-2112; e-mail:

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5:47 am
June 2, 2006
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Now… More Than Ever



Bob Williamson, Contributing Editor

The U.S. is not the only nation worrying about outsourcing and manufacturing job losses. Japan, Brazil, China and India are, too. In the cases of China and India outsourcing from other parts of the world has put pressure on them to depart from low-volume, marginal quality to high-volume, high-quality output. In most cases the manufacturing job loss here and elswhere was caused by higher and higher levels of automation and productivity-increasing techniques (which began in the U.S. in the late ’50s). Industrial automation puts the pressures for continuing competitiveness squarely on the shoulders of our industrial maintainers, be they mechanics, electricians or technicians. Herein is the BIG problem.


Formal maintenance skills and knowledge training will be the weakest link in industrial competitiveness for the next two decades, or more-far worse than shortages of production workers.Consequently, we must move NOW at local, state and national levels, as well as at the individual company level, to accelerate formal equipment- and jobspecific maintenance skills training processes.

Maintenance training grew out of apprenticeship training programs from the early 1900s though much of the 1970s and trade schools that sprang up in the early- to mid- 1900s.World War II gave birth to methods known as “Training Within Industry “(TWI), which were followed by several decades of vocational-technical programs in high schools and community colleges/tech schools and Industrial Arts programs that put significant emphasis on hands-on work.

These days, apprenticeship programs have almost disappeared and there are very few vo-tech programs targeting trade and industrial jobs. Because of this-and because so many companies cut back on their training departments and capabilities over the past-too many maintenance workers today have not been formally trained to do the work we ask them to do day in and day out. (In small- to mid-sized companies, we estimate this number to exceed 85%.)

Exacerbating this already sorry state of affairs is the other maintenance skills bullet zooming toward many industrialized nations as the “Baby Boom” generation begins reaching retirement age. The U.S Department of Labor has been predicting shortages in the maintenance and repair occupation arena due to aging “Boomers” for years.

State and Federal initiatives for re-training outof- work adults and youth (especially with 4.6% national unemployment) will NOT meet the needs of our capital-intensive infrastructure, nor our advanced manufacturing competitiveness. So far in 2006, the status of America’s formal maintenance and reliability training looks abysmal. Lack of formal training plus the looming skills shortage will put many of our top 11 equipment-intensive business and industrial sectors (well beyond manufacturing) representing over 38% of our GNP (over $8 trillion in 2004) at risk. Economies of 14 states with the highest “gross state product”from manufacturing also are at risk.

We need to pull out all the stops and aggressively pursue formal maintenance skills and knowledge development in our plants, facilities and schools.NOW. Government leaders must be made aware how jobs in their districts are at risk because of the maintenance skills shortages and a gross lack of a skills training infrastructure. NOW.

NOW (more than ever) is the time to lobby Congress for “skilled trades training tax credits” and “competitive skills development tax credits” for performance-improving training and development in our equipment-intensive businesses. MT

(Look for more information on our continuing “Status of Maintenance & Reliability Training in America Survey” in future issues of MAINTENANCE TECHNOLOGY)

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6:01 pm
June 1, 2006
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The Risk Is In The Management

Risk management is not just a matter for your safety department or insurance carrier. Maintenance can use this powerful tool to help ensure the health and reliability of critical assets.

Do you use a risk management program to conserve asset resources? Does your employer foster a site environment where risk management is a routine part of job planning, preparation and execution?

Risk management was once thought to be the sole product of the site safety department. Maintenance and operations professionals, however, now understand the importance of a risk management process to aid in protecting, conserving and extending the reliability of critical assets. Failure to effectively manage the risks of asset failure can add costs to an operating unit at any plant, site or installation.

Managing risks related to asset maintenance and operation requires good judgment and some professional expertise. It is an art, or vocation-and a science-with its own well-developed technological hierarchy. The objective of managing risk is not to remove all risk, but to eliminate unnecessary or avoidable risk. Thus, the process must allow individuals to make informed decisions about what risks to accept at each operational level.Managers should compare standard risk management principles with historical asset data and their own personal experience. Then, they need to consider how, when and why it applies to specific situations within their area of functional responsibility.

0606_riskmanagement_img1Both managers and craft/techs manage risk on a daily basis. Craft/techs continuously search for hazards within their areas of expertise, during daily job performance, and they routinely recommend the proper controls to reduce risks. Potential hazards and resulting risks vary as operating circumstances and parameters change.Management knowledge, gained from these experienced craft/techs, coupled with additional subject matter training, can influence the extent and success of risk reduction measures.

Have you ever heard of SFMEA? RCFA? Maintenance Optimization? RCM? These are all tools that can be employed to help a site preserve asset resources. Programs such as these can provide the means to identify, assess and implement controls of risks and potential hazards to critical assets. Specific parts of these tools also help compile information necessary for making decisions to help balance PM/PdM program costs with increased operating benefits.What does each have in common with the others? They all ask the same questions as the basic risk management model. You can see the similarities of each process step, or decision level, in Fig. 1.

Most of the previously referenced processes also have a big “M”in their acronym.Its meaning varies for different individuals. The commonality of these programs points to the real definition of that big “M.”All call for management. The acute risk to critical assets at a plant, site or installation is failing to use a process to manage them.

The Risk Management Process is composed of these five basic tasks or process steps: (1) Identify failure hazards; (2) Assess failure hazards; (3) Develop controls & make risk decisions; (4) Implement controls; and (5) Supervise & evaluate (performance of the control measures).

Tasks 1 and 2 comprise the risk assessment. In Task 1, managers and craft/techs identify the failure modes and hazards that may be encountered during operation of the critical assets. Task 2 is a determination of impact of each failure incident and resulting loss of operational function.

Tasks 3 – 5 are activities to help the manager effectively reduce the occurrence, mitigate the consequences and manage risk incidents. In these steps, managers balance asset failure risks against the costs of performing RIB (risk based inspections), increased-frequency PM procedures and expanded PdM programs. They also implement the appropriate actions required to eliminate unnecessary failure risks during asset operation. The planning, preparation and performance of repair, replacement and preventive maintenance activities are carefully evaluated during these steps along the risk management path. Lastly, control activities are monitored and evaluated for their effectiveness and valuable lessons learned are collected for use by others.

Applying the basic risk management model

1. Identify the failure hazards. . .
A hazard is a condition or potential condition where the failure results in loss of an operating function, damage to, or loss of an asset and related components found in an operational environment.

2. Assess the failure hazards. . .

Asset risk is defined as the combination of probability of failure and the consequences (severity) of that occurrence.We can define probability as the likelihood of a failure occurring, and severity as a measure of the impact of the failure to the plant, site or installation operating functions. Asset risk calculations increase as a result of higher probability rates and greater impact to an operation

0606_riskmanagement_img2A risk assessment requires each potential failure incident, hazard or mode to be evaluated in relation to the probability of an incident occurring and the severity (or impact upon the plant, site or installation) of that incident or failure.

This activity is heavily dependent upon the use of asset history, lessons learned in the field, intuitive analysis, the manager’s and craft/tech’s experience and sound judgment. Incomplete, inaccurate, undependable or contradictory information creates doubt and uncertainty when determining the probability and severity of a failure incident. Assessment of risk requires good judgment.

As shown above, Fig. 2 and Fig. 3 are tools that can be used to perform an asset risk assessment. Risk Assessment Tool 1A is a simplified matrix that can be used by the manager or craft/tech to enter the estimated degree of severity and probability for each failure incident or hazard. Numerical values have been assigned to each of the standardized descriptors. Multiplying the severity number by the probability number yields a product between 1 and 25. Comparing that number to the attached key indicates the estimated risk of failure. The larger the number, the higher the risk.

0606_riskmanagement_img3Risk Assessment Tool 1B is a similarly designed table that can be used by the manager or craft/tech in much the same way. First, estimate the level of severity and probability of occurrence, then read right and up. The point where the failure severity row and probability of occurrence column intersect will define the level of failure risk for a particular asset.

Defining the levels of probability of failure occurrence:
Frequent – Failures happen often. Likely – A failure will occur several times during the functional life of the asset. Occasionally – Sporadic incidents of failure. Seldom – Remote chance of an isolated failure. Unlikely – An asset failure is not impossible but highly improbable. The degrees of failure severity are: Catastrophic – Total loss of asset functionality. Implied threat to related assets, systems and property.

Critical – Significant reduction in asset, system, or plant operational capability. Significant collateral damage to adjacent assets, components, property, or environmental systems.

Marginal – Possibility of minor impact upon plant, site, or installation operational activities and requirements.

Negligible – Little or no impact on asset, system, or plant operation or capability. Little or no collateral asset, property, or environmental damage.

None – No impact.

The risk assessment tool examines potential failure occurrences in terms of probability and severity to determine the level of risk.

3. Develop controls & make risk decisions. . .
After identifying and assessing each failure hazard, managers and craft/techs must develop one or more risk controls that will aid in avoiding, preventing or reducing the risk (probability and/or severity) of a failure incident. While developing controls, managers must consider the reason for the failure, not just the incident or its impact on asset functions and operation.

Failure controls generally fall into three categories: risk avoidance, reliability-based technology and educational.

Risk avoidance may include engineering and/or redesign of asset installation and operational profile to remove any risk threat from operation and use of the equipment. Reliability- based activities can include optimized PM procedures, PdM technologies, RCFA (root cause failure analysis), and SFMEA (simplified failure mode effects analysis). RBI (risk-based inspection) is an application of basic risk principles to manage inspection programs for critical assets. Educational and training type controls provide knowledge and skill-based programs to ensure implemented procedures and tasks are performed to specific standards.

To make a meaningful risk decision, a risk assessment should be conducted soon after development and implementation of the above referenced program controls. These results are then used to aid the decision-making process with regard to the amount of risk the manager is willing to accept for the operation of a critical asset or system.
A key activity of this task is to specify by whom, what, where, when and how each control is to be used.

4. Implement risk controls. . .
The number of higher-failure-risk assets is generally a small percentage of total plant assets. Implement the new or additional PM and PdM tasks when and where needed and focus efforts on the most critical items. Institute a formalized proactive planning and scheduling function to ensure all resources required to perform the newly implemented activities will be available. The site CMMS should be configured to record and report KPIs (key performance indicators) required for implementation and continuance of a risk reduction or avoidance program. Do not discount or neglect interaction with MRO. Improve the skills of the workforce through asset, maintenance and reliability training.

5. Supervise & evaluate. . .
The manager is responsible for evaluating the effectiveness of the implemented controls and programs in reducing or removing the failure potential.

Managers and first-line supervision must ensure that subordinates understand how to execute risk controls. Craft/techs continuously assess risks during the workday and should maintain communication with managers. Both groups should guard against complacency to ensure that risk control and mitigation standards are not relaxed, circumvented or violated.

Managers must continuously supervise and monitor asset PM/PdM and other inspection activities to ensure they are effective and can keep risks at an acceptable level. Use the asset history from the site CMMS as a source of information to indicate which controls failed and why. Often, a completely different procedure may prove more effective and require implementation.

The level of failure risk for each asset remaining after implementation of best practice controls is called residual risk. As new controls for failure hazards are identified and selected, a risk assessment is again performed and levels of asset risk revised. MT

Charles Bowers, CPMM, with 29 + years of industry experience, is a consultant with Life Cycle Engineering (LCE), based in Charleston, SC. This company assists clients around the globe in building maintenance excellence in their operations..Telephone: (843) 744-7110 x 7613; e-mail:

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5:52 pm
June 1, 2006
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Maintenance Log: Forever Is A Long Time

0606_maintenancelog_img1Three decades and counting, these Midwest operations continue to save maintenance $$$ through state-of-the-art bearing protection.

Grain Processing Corporation (GPC), headquartered in Muscatine, IA, was founded in 1943. Still privately owned, today it is a leading manufacturer and worldwide marketer of corn-based products. Its state-of-the-art plant sites in Muscatine and Washington, IN turn out a number of things, including: ethyl alcohol and various ingredients for food, personal care, pharmaceutical, industrial and animal feed products, as well as superabsorbent polymers and petrelated needs. These products touch the lives of millions-but it takes lots of reliable process equipment to meet the demand. Ensuring reliability hasn’t always been as easy as it is today.

0606_maintenancelog_img2A historical perspective
Back in the 1970s, GPC began experiencing a high pump failure rate. The cause? Bearing failure from water contamination due to frequent hosedowns. For help, the company turned to Inpro/Seal, of Rock Island, IL.

Inpro had been working to develop labyrinth seals based on API specifications, but had found such a design, as it existed, ineffective in preventing contamination from water spray. Months had passed in the development process, during which 12 or so modifications of various designs were tried. Each failed to prevent water contamination and all were rejected. The Inpro engineers didn’t give up, though. They kept at it and finally brought out a design incorporating an extensive interface between rotor and stator. Test results were encouraging, so the design was honed and modified many times over into what was to become known as the Inpro/Seal Bearing Isolator.

That original bearing isolator design consisted of two main parts: a stator and rotor, press-fitted into a bearing housing of rotating equipment. Through a combination of centrifugal force and gravity drain, lubrication was kept in and contaminants kept out of the bearings. Since the rotor and stator didn’t touch, there would be no friction and no wear.

GPC personnel were intrigued by the potential this new device held for their operations. The company ultimately agreed to a six-month pilot program in which one bearing isolator was installed on a single pump.What a trial period this was! Direct parts savings from this one pump alone exceeded $27,000.

Fast-forward to now
Inpro’s bearing isolators were by no means a flash in the pan. These products are still found throughout GPC’s plants–on some 3,000 installed pumps, including the one shown in Fig. 2. More important is the fact that maintenance on this sizable pump population has been reduced to only a few units per week.

0606_maintenancelog_img3Today, at GPC, if a pump or power frame needs to be updated or repaired, it’s sent to the repair shop. In any case, the unit also is expected to be retrofitted with the most upto- date Inpro/Seal bearing isolator technology available (see Sidebar). In addition, the company specifies that all new pumps, regardless of brand, are to be equipped with the latest Inpro design installed by the OEM. That’s because, over the past few decades, GPC has continued to realize the benefits of this technology through reduced maintenance costs and maximized uptime. There are other savings, too. Use of bearing isolators, with their absolute lube retention capabilities and elimination of contamination concerns relative to the bearing housing, also has allowed GPC to utilize more economical synthetic lubricants on its equipment.

0606_maintenancelog_img4As an example of the benefits GPC has seen over the years, take the case of several pumps that came into the repair shop. The bearing isolators on these units had been in service 24 hours a day, seven days a week since being installed more than 20 years prior. The pumps had been removed from their power frames to allow upgrading to Inpro’s latest VBXX-D design. Interestingly, the old bearing isolators (as shown in Fig. 3) were still found to be operating flawlessly—in fact, the pumps they protected are what had worn out!

Just put ‘em on
As “marriages” go, the GPC/Inpro model appears to be an especially strong one. Looking back at his company’s 34-year relationship with GPC, Dave Orlowski, president and founder of Inpro/Seal, maintains that both parties are just as important to each other today as they were in 1972, when it all began.

“I’ll never forget what someone at Grain Processing said to me back when we first started working with them,” Orlowski smiles. “It was something along the lines of, ‘I don’t know what you call these things or how they work, but we want two of ‘em on every pump!'”

But pumps were just the first step.Over time, GPC also has been standardizing on high-efficiency IEEE – 841 electric motors that incorporate Inpro bearing protection.

According to Dave Crosley, GPC maintenance supervisor, “Our use of bearing isolators has been so successful that about four years ago, when we started investing in IEEE-841 motors, we made sure that the each and every premium efficiency motor we purchased was protected by Inpro/Seal. The end result for us is improved motor reliability, efficiency and performance and the elimination of the major cause of motor failure– bearing contamination.”On occasion, GPC also has ordered bearing isolators on its NEMA Premium motors. (Such protection is not yet standard with these motors.) Crosley further notes that GPC has begun to install Inpro’s Air Mizer™-PS, a shaft sealing system on the cooler feeders used in its feed house. MT

Next-Generation Bearing Isolators


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5:40 pm
June 1, 2006
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Diagnostic Tools For Successful Field Balancing

0606_conditionmonitoring_img1Today’s portable instrumentation has come a long way from that of yesteryear. This article highlights features to look for when you’re trying to determine the equipment best suited for your needs.

0606_conditionmonitoring_img2As anyone having experience with machinery diagnostics knows, vibration can be caused by a broad range of problems. These can include worn bearings, misalignment of components, mechanical looseness, improper or damaged foundations, hydraulic and aerodynamic forces, resonances, etc. The most common problem, though, seems to be unbalance.

Unbalance (i.e. an uneven distribution of mass around an axis of rotation) can result when individual components have not been properly balanced prior to assembly, from errors due to the assembly of these components, or both.

The high centrifugal forces generated by unbalanced rotors during operation can lead to premature bearing failure, fatigue fractures, foundation deterioration and shaft deformation, to name just a few. Unbalanced rotors also can present a safety hazard to personnel. For these reasons, well-balanced machinery is a necessity for any maintenance program.

Unlike balancing a rotor in the controlled, predictable environment of a balancing machine, field balancing presents a number of unique challenges. Not the least of these is the need to first determine if the vibration is actually the result of an unbalance. Making the decision to balance without first verifying that an unbalance condition exists may result in wasted time and money.

To ensure successful field balancing, today’s vibration analyst needs the type of tools that will quickly and efficiently allow him/her to verify that an unbalance actually exists, and at what operating conditions balancing is best attempted. When evaluating these tools for your specific needs, you’ll want to look for the following capabilities.

Measurement of overall vibration
The simplest vibration measurement is the “overall” vibration, which represents the sum of the energy content of all vibrations at all frequencies. Anyone who has worked with machinery of any kind has consciously or unconsciously measured its overall vibration.

If you’ve ever put your hand on a machine and thought about whether its vibration is high or low, you’ve made a judgment of overall vibration. Using an instrument to assign a value to that which you feel with your hand allows you to compare your machine with similar machines.

Often, the decision to conduct a vibration analysis begins with someone questioning the severity of a machine’s overall vibration.

Measuring the overall vibration at various points on the machine allows for comparison with local and international standards (ISO, API, DIN, etc.). If this comparison concludes that the levels are excessive and further analysis shows that field balancing is required, the first step is to document overall vibration. In fact, regardless of the methods employed to resolve a vibration issue, documentation of the overall vibration is always the initial step.

0606_conditionmonitoring_img4Frequency analysis (the FFT function)
Arguably the most valuable tool in the vibration analyst’s arsenal is the ability to separate a measured overall vibration into its individual components. This is most commonly done using an instrument’s “FFT” (Fast Fourier Transform) function. Employing the FFT function results in a spectrum showing the individual vibration amplitudes and their associated frequencies. The beauty of an “FFT spectrum” (as shown in Fig. 1) is that it allows the vibration analyst to see the frequencies that represent the most severe vibration. Correlating these frequencies with a machine’s components, or the interaction between components, makes it possible to pinpoint the problem.

While high overall vibration can result from a multitude of problems, each having its own signature on a spectrum, high vibration due to unbalance occurs at the rotational frequency of the component that actually is out of balance. It goes without saying that balancing without there being an unbalance problem is a waste of time and effort.Therefore, an FFT spectrum is essential in determining whether balancing is the proper course of action as opposed to drive alignment, bearing replacement, foundation repair, etc.

Tracking function
Using a reference sensor, such as a photocell, the tracking function’s bandpass filter locks onto that vibration frequency corresponding to the running speed of a rotating machine, following it as it changes. Tracking this vibration component (i.e. amplitude and phase) during run-up or coast-down helps one see how the rotor responds at various speeds (Fig. 2). In addition to being a necessity for Bode and polar plots, the tracking function makes it possible to determine where, for example, a system resonance might be, thereby helping the analyst avoid this speed when balancing.

Time waveform function
(Oscilloscope Function)

The FFT capabilities of today’s analyzers often cause the value of the oscilloscope function (Fig. 3) to be overlooked. The oscilloscope has an advantage in that, unlike the FFT function, it provides an almost un-damped, instantaneous response to the vibration signal. This makes it useful in the identification of transient, short-duration events such as shocks and impacts.

0606_conditionmonitoring_img3Influence from unstable, irregular vibrations caused by such things as mechanical looseness, transient impacts, etc., can negatively affect the outcome of a field balancing job. Identification and resolution of these problems, therefore, is very important prior to balancing. The oscilloscope function also is useful for identifying sensor problems.

The “art” of balancing has come a long way from the days when vectors were plotted by hand on polar graph paper.Whether static (single plane) or dynamic (dual plane) balancing is needed, today’s instrumentation provides the analyst with an array of powerful user-friendly tools, all designed to get the job done as quickly and efficiently as possible. Some of the best software tools:

  • Let the analyst obtain up to four measurement points. A variety of combinations are possible, such as simultaneous horizontal and vertical measurements, or two horizontal and two vertical measurements. This unique “optimization” feature allows unbalance vibrations to be recorded at up to four locations, and reduced to a minimum by balancing in one or two planes. This feature is ideal when an operator needs to simultaneously measure the effect of field balancing efforts at other locations on the system.
  • Display data in both polar and component form.
  • Provide the freedom to define a rotor’s available correction locations, whether equally or unequally spaced.
  • Afford the ability to store a rotor’s influence coefficients in the instrumentation’s memory, thereby negating the need to re-calibrate when future balancing is required.
  • Allow the storing of the machine description, sensor positions, date and time and the uploading of all data to a PC.

PC upload capability
Whether it’s for your own records or those of your customer, the ability to upload all recorded data to a PC is vital. The PC environment affords the user further data analysis and management capacity. Using PCbased software, the analyst can, for example, create expert balancing reports. These reports might incorporate such tools as Bode and Nyquist plots, cascade/waterfall spectra, etc. Compatibility with Windows Office Suite programs such as Word and Excel are important features as well. MT

George Allen is manager of Balancing and Vibration Analysis Services for Schenck Trebel Corporation. Roland Kewitsch is product manager for the company’s portable vibration analysis and condition monitoring equipment.

100 Years Behind Every Rotor

Schenck offers a complete range of products and services for the production, maintenance and repair of any rotating component, from a fraction of a gram to over 600,000 lbs!

The Balancing and Diagnostic Systems Group in the U.S. is comprised of two organizations, Schenck Trebel Corporation, Deer Park, NY, and Schenck RoTec Corporation, Orion, MI. Both organizations are subsidiaries of Schenck RoTec GmbH, of Darmstadt, Germany, the world’s largest manufacturer of dynamic balancing equipment.

For more information on the products and services referenced in this article, e-mail co-author George Allen directly at

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5:35 pm
June 1, 2006
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Realizing The Benefits Of Design, Operate, Maintain


Open, seamless collaboration among all parties in a project is already a reality in many organizations-and it’s providing real value.

Design, Operate, Maintain (DOM), the term coined by industry analysts ARC Advisory Group, gives us a vocabulary to talk about some of the key concepts in asset management and in industrial maintenance, repair and operation.

Indeed, industrial facility designers and those who operate and maintain those facilities need to work together closely if plant efficiency and profitability are to improve over time. Communication between these various entities, however, has been lacking. Modern enterprise resource planning tools (ERP), computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS) and CAD design packages are moving towards a point of integration that could facilitate greater communication between these disciplines.

Interestingly, many industries were in a better position to implement DOM concepts years ago than they are today.As early as the 1980s, growth in the number of process control and systems engineering firms indicated that more and more industries were outsourcing their plant engineering.While in-house plant engineering departments gave an organization greater control over design and information standards, corporate “right-sizing” and a growing movement toward open standards and interoperable components made it possible to involve numerous outside vendors, ranging from industrial engineering firms to manufacturer representatives and system integrators, in plant design. The in-house data created by a captive engineering department may not have been leveraged fully, but lack of communication between designers and the industries they serve seems only to have grown as outsourcing became the trend. The independent control systems integration market had grown, according to the Control System Integrators Association, to $12 billion by the turn of the millennium, from a fraction of that 20 years before.Now,more and more technical data, drawings and specifications that traditionally had been developed and maintained in-house are coming from outside of an industrial organization.

Pre-existing gaps in communication between design engineers and operation/maintenance also have widened as consulting engineers have become free to simply design to meet a particular capacity increase outcome. Design data is developed separately, often on different platforms from those used by manufacturing operations and maintenance personnel who will live with the industrial design into the future. Currently, an ISO data standard for this information is being developed, and that standardization should (at least) allow in-house staff and outside design consultants to more seamlessly communicate and share data that leads to greater industrial efficiency.Yet, before this ISO 15926 standard is finalized, there is plenty that maintenance and plant operations professionals can do to make DOM a reality today.

maintenance_historical_work_ordersThe challenge
The switch has just been thrown on a renovated production line at your process manufacturing facility.As pressures and temperatures start to come up to spec and product begins flowing, a head pressure problem develops in a critical compressor unit. Maintenance is dispatched to the site, but quickly finds that they lack the information to diagnose the problem.

The necessary data, it turns out, is buried in a stack of CDs and binders left by the consulting design engineers. This lack of communication leads to unplanned downtime as the necessary information is located and the problem is diagnosed.

Or, what about the maintenance engineer who finds that a new production line suffers from unplanned stoppages caused by the same design features as the line it replaced? While data contained in years of maintenance records could reveal the design changes that are necessary, the system engineers don’t have the ability to milk that data for meaningful information.

Not every problem, though, is the fault of the industrial engineer. Imagine logging hundreds of hours on a design for a new mix and fill line, only to find out later that maintenance engineers had upsized several pumps on the line you are replacing-a change not included in the as-built information on the preexisting line. Although you have spent tens of thousands of dollars to engineer a suboptimal system, you are now faced with the prospect of asking your client to split the cost over-run caused by this miscommunication.

Technology can only offer a partial solution to the problems caused by inadequate communication between design engineers, plant operators and maintenance managers. Integrated Asset Lifecycle Management (ALM) tools that encompass all three disciplines will only do so much good if there is inadequate communication with an outside engineer who does not use the ALM tool. Even in-house departments can fail to work together effectively and mesh completely to optimize the DOM process. Thus, regardless of what technology is available to members of the team, a proactive approach is probably the most important factor in implementing DOM processes in your organization. Technology can only facilitate and standardize your proactive, cooperative approach, and in some cases can automate parts of the DOM process. Here are three steps that can help you realize the benefits of DOM today:

#1 Maintain a flexible, open IT system. . .
Whether they are used by you or your consulting engineering firm, proprietary data standards are barriers to communication.

If you keep your operation and maintenance information in an open, easily-accessed format, you can import and export information in a controlled way and use public application program interfaces (APIs) to handle that export and import.

asset_informationIf the asset information management solution you are using supports flexible and configurable import and export from standardized file formats such as Excel, XML, etc., you are in an even better position.

In order to operate in a DOM modality, it also will be important to have an asset management system with a layered architecture. This will let you view information on projects as they are in the design phase and track them through construction and design. At each step of the process, different departments can view layers of a project that are relevant to them and provide feedback. This will give you the ability to start collecting information during a project and make sure you are getting the design that meets your needs. Early access to information also will let you work ahead in planning a preventive maintenance program and otherwise give you a head-start for the day when the new production facility goes into operation.

#2 Take control of your information. . .
Information about your plants and assets is worth a great deal. You need that cumulative operation and maintenance history data to optimize your processes on an ongoing basis. If you are undertaking projects to improve your production capacity, you need to be able to share such information with the design engineers. To do this, you must agree on a format that you and your designer can both use-and that you are capable of exporting from your own systems.

Conversely, before work starts, agree with your design engineer on data formats and frequency of communication on the new design. Generate a list of features, components and/or pieces of equipment you will need to manage on an ongoing basis. Determine what information you need about each item on the list, at what points in the project you need it and how data must be structured to tie into your existing asset management system.Whether it is a series of Excel spreadsheets, an Access database or XML-documents, you will want this data structured in a way that allows it to be tied to information about your current operations and maintenance activities.

Agreeing in advance on how and when information will be exchanged can be a workaround to the fact that you and your designer are likely on different information platforms. The spreadsheet contents and/or tables your engineer provides will have to be mapped to fields in your existing system, but at least information will be flowing from design into your asset management systems.

#3 Establish ongoing dialog
Just as information needs to flow from design into your asset management systems, data needs to flow from your maintenance and operational history into the design process. Actively solicit suggestions from your designers on exactly what data-and which data format- will provide them with the necessary insight to optimize project results.

In time, format will not matter as much, since the ISO standard will allow ALM and engineering platforms to standardize on a data structure that can cross platforms transparently. But, even when that technological barrier no longer exists, work habits will have to reflect DOM thinking.

The ideal DOM work flow involves a collaborative process where maintenance and operational histories are freely available to design, and plans and specifications are freely available to operators and maintenance personnel- even as a project is being planned. Imagine that a portion of your plant is being rebuilt and that the plans are integrated into your asset management system. If you see that new pumps and compressors are being planned to replace existing mechanicals, it may make sense to forego rebuilds or other maintenance on the equipment that is about to be decommissioned. Moreover, because you know the new specifications, you can begin ordering spare parts and other supplies for the equipment being installed-before it is even in place. In turn, the day your new or rebuilt production facility goes live, you can have an excellent understanding of its inner workings.

Based on experience with some major infrastructure projects, this writer has seen how a project owner can establish a Web portal open to the design and contracting teams, with that portal becoming the medium through which a collaborative process takes place. Just imagine the benefits that can provide.

Whether your collaboration takes place internally with in-house departments or with outside designers, whether through an integrated ALM tool or through a patchwork of applications mapped together with lots of human intervention, a real-time collaborative environment is where DOM will ultimately take those who employ these concepts. MT

Christian Klingspor is senior advisor,ALM/Maintenance & Engineering with IFS.He has 20 years of experience in developing and implementing solutions for Asset Lifecycle Management covering plant design, document management, maintenance management and process automation.He came to IFS through its 1997 acquisition of IDOK. E-mail:

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