Archive | December, 2006


2:30 am
December 2, 2006
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Utilizing Real-Time Information In Enterprise Asset Management Systems

1206_realtimebenefits_img1Today, industries are looking for a change in the way maintenance is performed. In order to survive, organizations are searching for meaningful ways to offset the costs associated with performing maintenance activities while complying with evermore stringent regulatory compliance requirements at all levels of their operations.

There are also other less tangible factors to consider. It is no secret that companies must find some way to offset the effects of an aging workforce, where many highly skilled and experienced people are moving toward retirement. How will organizations cope? With fewer and fewer trades people entering the market, who will step up to take the place of those stepping down?

Costs are sometimes obvious-labor costs, for example, and costs associated with procurement of parts or items-but some are less apparent. Hidden costs can be associated with changing parts that are still functioning within specifications or the cost of carrying inventory over a period of time. Of course, there are many more situations where cost issues surface. Here is an especially important one to consider: critical asset failure.

The costly aftermath of critical failure
An organization has just undergone a failure of an asset critical to the production process.Understandably, this failure has received considerable attention from management.

During a follow-up management meeting to discuss the issue, several potential strategies are identified to ensure that another such incident does not occur. It is decided that in order to prevent such a failure in the future, more conservative maintenance schedules need to be instituted for all critical assets. The justification for this is that if the maintenance strategy assumes worst-case failure rates and then compensates for this by applying a conservative scheduling buffer, failures will be eliminated. This is entirely correct.

However, there is a very high maintenance cost associated with this strategy. Labor costs increase as the frequency of maintenance increases. There is also an increase in parts procurement costs as more parts are replaced more often. Another hidden cost associated with this strategy is the cost of utilization. Replacement of parts that have not been utilized to the full extent of their remaining useful life can have a substantial cost impact.

Above all else, lost production matters most. This strategy for eliminating subsequent failures does not consider the impact to the production schedule; production may suffer worse damage over time than if a failure had occurred. The increased frequency of maintenance requires greater attention to planning and scheduling of not only the maintenance itself, but also of the production process. Companies are running so lean these days that any interruptions to their production have a significant impact on their financial statement.

Condition-based maintenance
As can be observed from this scenario, there are many opportunities for improvement to maintenance procedures. Thus, it’s easy to make a business case for investing in technologies that maximize production while offsetting both hidden and direct maintenance costs.

One of the keys to improving maintenance is the proper and intelligent use of asset information that lies locked away within the minds of a retiring workforce and within the various control systems and data warehouses common in industry. Today, data is collected and stored for everything from critical process equipment, to mobile units, to facilities assets. This data typically resides at the Operations level of many organizations. To realize its full value, a bridge between Operations and Maintenance needs to be built. Only when this is achieved can maintenance activities be optimized and taken to the next level.

Organizations need to optimize current maintenance practices, decrease costs and try to begin mitigating the difficulties that might arise in our plants when, 10 short years from now,we’re no longer able to call on our current highly skilled, experienced workforce. Industry-leading companies have recognized that one of the most effective ways to address these issues is to turn to proactive asset management methods. Their objective is to adopt a maintenance strategy that involves doing maintenance only when it is required, while sustaining or even improving overall reliability.

Doing maintenance based on objective evidence of need, or, in other words, based on the condition of an asset and not on historical worst-case failure rates, is the cornerstone of Condition-Based Maintenance (CBM).

The CBM philosophy has been around for decades, and has recently enjoyed renewed interest as companies look for ways to improve equipment effectiveness and capitalize on the full life cycle potential of the assets that are so important to their operations.

So why has the CBM approach to maintenance not been more widely adopted? Moreover, why do so many organizations continue to focus primarily on preventive maintenance?

The answer to these questions is based primarily on the fact that, until recently, the volume and resolution of data required to effectively support CBM at or near realtime has been largely unmanageable at the human level. Furthermore, gaining access to this information in a timely manner also has proven to be a challenge.

Advances in technology, however, now are making real-time CBM a reality. Integrating real-time asset data at the operations level with an Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) system at the business layer of an organization to support Condition Based Maintenance efforts offers measurable improvements in maintenance effectiveness and efficiency.

Making the most of real-time data
Process-based organizations are very familiar with real-time data. It is the lifeblood of any control system. Operations have been taking advantage of realtime information for years to support production and processing functions. Process data is collected, stored, analyzed, and presented in order to improve on and support decision-making at the operations level.

Within the context of maintenance, there is a similarly large amount of untapped information waiting to be utilized. Getting this information to the right people at the right time allows organizations to make fact-based decisions about how and when to do maintenance and to improve overall asset management strategies.

1206_realtimebenefits_img2Making it happen
Most, if not all, critical assets are connected to an operation’s control system architecture. These assets already talk to the control systems via a complex web of sensors and instrumentation. The trick is to listen in on those conversations to determine what the assets are telling us, in real-time. This can be achieved using the real-time asset approach shown in Fig. 1.

The first step is to identify those assets which can provide information. This information can then be categorized and a determination made about how it can be used to generate a failure signature for the asset being monitored (i.e., what tells us that the asset’s health is deteriorating and could potentially fail, if health is not restored?).

Once the rules for determining failure signatures are detailed, the data is collected using data collection software standard to the process control industry. Commercially available off-the-shelf CBM applications can then combine the failure signatures and data to provide a system that integrates the operations asset data with the EAM system.

The result is an integrated solution that can determine the health of an asset in real-time and take action to correct the issue before a fault occurs.

This is what CBM is all about: taking advantage of real-time information to determine the condition of assets and perform maintenance at the optimal time. It is a philosophy of only doing maintenance when an impending fault or failure condition exists, or when there is objective evidence of need.

Preventive maintenance, the mainstay of many maintenance organizations, may be effective, but it’s also overly conservative. Based on worst-case historical failure rates, this approach may mask incidental costs associated with changing parts that still have remaining useful life, and result in more maintenance being done than is actually necessary..

Consider your objective: a reduction in overall maintenance expenditures.Ways in which this can be achieved include eliminating reactive maintenance, streamlining and optimizing the use of preventive maintenance and focusing on a more strategic, predictive, and cost-effective maintenance strategy that takes advantage of real-time asset information.

The benefits are real
Automation of maintenance processes. . .
By freeing maintenance engineers from the mundane tasks of generating work orders and entering meter information manually, they are freed to focus on real value-added activities that improve and optimize maintenance.

Reduced maintenance costs. . .
Less time spent repairing healthy assets means more time spent managing assets and developing more proactive approaches to how maintenance is achieved.CBM has been shown to reduce maintenance costs by as much as 50%.

Fully utilized equipment lifecycles. . .
Doing maintenance where there is an objective, fact-based need rather than at scheduled intervals will not only ensure that critical failures are minimized or eliminated, but will also ensure equipment and parts are utilized through their full lifecycle. The result is a new level of availability and operational effectiveness that is hard to achieve using a maintenance strategy focused on corrective or preventive maintenance.

Improved production capacity. . .
By detecting potential failures before they become real failures, maintenance can be planned and scheduled in line with production requirements. The outcome is less unplanned downtime and fewer production disruptions as a result of asset failures.

Case in point
One case that highlights the benefits of real-time information in a maintenance context involves a global pulp and paper company. For most companies in this industry, sheet breaks during the rolling process are a potentially significant source of increased operational costs due to unplanned downtimes and maintenance activities. For this particular company, sheet breaks occurred on average twice a day and were contributing to an Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) of 69% and daily downtimes of at least one hour.

By taking advantage of Equipment Condition Monitoring software, this pulp and paper company was able to reduce sheet breaks by 40% and improve production rates by 12% within 12 months.

As shown by this pulp & paper operation, a properly implemented integration of real-time asset information from operations with an EAM system at the business level allows assets to be maintained in a highly cost-effective manner. This results in reduced downtime, lower maintenance and inventory costs, and greater overall asset health and availability. MT

Jason Barath is a senior member of the Business Solutions group at Matrikon. His background includes six years of successful project management and implementations in various industries including Oil & Gas, Pharmaceuticals, Refining, Utilities and Facilities Maintenance. For more details on Matrikon’s equipment monitoring solutions, contact Barath directly at: (780) 448-1010 ext. 4605; e-mail:; or visit:

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2:28 am
December 2, 2006
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Uptime: What Gets Measured…


Bob Williamson, Contributing Editor

Data, metric, measures, assessments, evaluations, scorecards, progress reports… Many of us have been faced with a whole host of measurement opportunities. Seems like some of the performance measurements are moving targets that we seldom hit.

Some measurement processes come and go, much like fog. I recall hearing this maxim years ago: “What gets measured gets done” (attributed to Peter Drucker, Tom Peters, Edwards Deming and Lord Kelvin among others).Why, though, is it that we so often get hung up on metrics and measuring things to the point that we sometimes actually lose track of measuring what really matters?

Many discussions about improving maintenance and reliability tend to center around what to measure, how to measure it, and how to calculate the metric.We discuss MTBF (mean time between failures) and MTTR (mean time to repair).We analyze OEE (overall equipment effectiveness) and Availability. We monitor Wrench Time and Schedule Compliance. It turns out that there is an ever-increasing number of “maintenance and reliability metrics” fueling the discussion as to what gets measured gets done. But, we should be very careful about that which we measure.

Albert Einstein is said to have had a sign on his office wall that stated: “Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.” Remember those words, since, when it’s all said and done, we must make improvements—actual, tangible improvements—in our equipment and facility reliability and life cycle operating costs. Measurements and metrics alone will not do it.

So, where should we start our use of metrics and measures? The first step is to determine the important business priorities. As one plant manager succinctly explained: “On-time, lead time and cost are our top priorities.” Everyone at his plant, from the executives down to the plant floor, knew what those improvement priorities were. Their organization’s task was to make rapid and sustainable gains in: 1) on-time delivery; 2) lead time from receipt of order to shipment; 3) lower total cost to produce (i.e. what gets measured gets done).

They communicated their priorities like a mantra. They identified contributing factors. They set meaningful goals to achieve. They steadily improved their performance one machine, one cell, one area at a time until they reached the performance standards they set. They adopted new work standards. They measured their progress and posted the results for all to see. They learned from their failures… and from their successes. They designed and implemented focused improvement projects. They avoided “analysis paralysis” by monitoring performance, progress and the effects of their improvement efforts on their top business priorities. Sustainable gains and continuous improvement processes were the results of their efforts.

“Without a standard, there is no logical basis for making a decision or taking action.” Joseph Juran was on to something when he said that. As we consider what to measure, we must have a standard or a goal to attain.We must measure current performance as compared to that standard and take intelligent, consistent actions (standardized work) to eliminate problems. What we measure, though, must be important to both the business and those who directly and indirectly influence what is being measured. Remember, when something is measured, if it isn’t important, it probably won’t get done. This speaks to sustainability. With so many business and maintenance and reliability-related metrics out there, it is easy to measure things that are not really that important to the organization’s success.

Measure the wrong things and you will likely get the wrong behaviors. Improving performance, in most cases, means changing the behaviors of those who operate and maintain, those who budget and control, those who design and install our equipment and facilities.When we look at changing behaviors, we must always consider the people who must do things differently: Do they have the skills and ability to change? Do the rewards and recognition processes encourage and reinforce the desired behavior changes?

Noted leadership trainer John E. Jones said: “What gets measured gets done.What gets measured and fed back gets done well. What gets rewarded gets repeated.” Again, that speaks to sustainable gains in performance improvement through behavior change.We should remember that “measuring things” is not about the numbers, but rather about guiding and monitoring improvement toward a measurable, observable goal. It’s about understanding causes and effects of problematic performance, as well as successes, and then leading human performance improvement in our organizations. Keep this known fact in mind: Our equipment and facilities will deteriorate over time without proper, timely, and intelligent human intervention.

Lastly, most businesses have been under a cost cutting, cost reduction, cost control mission as a path to improving competitiveness. Some costs, however, are not in our direct control. According to the Herman Trend Alert (, “non-wage manufacturing costs as a percentage of total costs are continuing to rise in the U.S.” These non-wage costs include corporate taxes, higher energy, pollution abatement and insurance benefits.Moreover, don’t forget the impact of the “skills shortage” and the significant investment required for training, or up-skilling, the workforce to handle advanced manufacturing practices (which include improvements in maintenance and reliability). The Herman Group warns that these costs “will continue to rise across the developed world.” What gets measured gets done. In this case, “cost cutting” is “what” will get done. That’s something that could defeat the entire purpose of whatever you were measuring. MT


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2:26 am
December 2, 2006
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Viewpoint: Trust In The Workplace

In the Aflac commercial, Yogi says, “It’s what you need if you don’t got it…and it’s as good as cash.”

The Speed of Trust is a new business book, by Stephen Covey’s son (also named Stephen Covey). Just as the elder Covey’s remarkable best-seller The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People changed our working landscape for the better, The Speed of Trust will again tell us what we already know: distrust is destructive where we work.

The nature of trust
What makes trust? Yes, it’s a character issue.AND, it’s also an issue of competence.

There are some very competent people with whom I will never do business. They don’t understand the winwin principle. They’re always working their angle-and looking to take away yours.

At the same time, I know many people with whom I would trust my both wife and my money. They will always do the right thing. However, I wouldn’t hire them, because they aren’t competent at what we do.

So, trust is demonstrated. Its basis is simple:

  1. doing all that we have said we will do; and
  2. respecting other people and their property.

The dividend
Covey talks about the “tax” and “dividend” of trust, giving many examples. I have worked with companies where there was no trust, both because of character and competence. Things moved slowly, if at all. Bad decisions were made because people wouldn’t listen to each other. These companies faded, lost money, were purchased and laid off people.

The dividend comes when everyone is good at their job and knows his/her role-and gets it done without interference. Here, mistakes are not punished, but rather serve as lessons to get better. Consider the following example.

More than five years ago, our organization hired a guy who was very strong in maintenance consulting.We put him in charge of assessments. This individual also was very proud of his beard. When we won work at a refinery, everyone wanted me to tell him he had to cut off that beard. I suggested that he do so, but he chose not to. Okay, I thought, let the consequences teach him.

You guessed it. The refinery manager wouldn’t let our bearded associate on site.He learned the hard way, but he learned the lesson well.We’ve never had a problem again.

Working on trust
Over time, we at SAMI have worked on trust. Setting an example each day of integrity as our number one value.What’s the right thing to do? Next, we develop our people.We hire competence-but status quo is never good enough. Everyone has a REAL development plan every year, and his bonus plan depends on the achievement of this plan.

The result for us has been a place where people want to work and where they are more successful than they’ve ever been before. They are confident, rewarded and valued by their peers. As Covey says, trust can be developed. It can lead you to a more satisfying life and career. Covey’s book is a good one. You may want to read it. MT

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6:00 am
December 1, 2006
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Utilities Manager: Extend MTBR while decreasing costs and increasing performance. . .Custom Hydraulic Solutions: “Reliability Engineering PLUS"

Everyone wants to cut their energy costs, even utility companies. Some of the biggest energy hogs in these operations can be found among the many pumps required to run these plants. Yet, in many cases, the big pumps (especially the older ones) can be updated to achieve some or all of the following advantages: increased performance, lower utility requirements, reduced Net Positive Suction Head Required (NPSHR), reductions in cavitation and upgrades in metallurgy.

1206_um_efficientsolutions_img1One example of a Standard Alloys Custom Hydraulic Solution (CHS) involved a large circulating water system pump (one of six) for a utility company in the Northeast.While impeller damage due to cavitation dictated the overhaul of at least one of these pumps each year, during warm summer months the power station would periodically become load limited based on condenser backpressure. Thus, while eliminating cavitation was the primary objective of the CHS study, additional capacity also was requested. Fortunately, because Standard Alloys had reverse-engineered the impeller on this pump years earlier, the current impeller design was known. A redesign effort was initiated that resulted in a change in the number of vanes and a change in the vane shape. This redesign was double-checked by an outside consultant and verified.

Next, a new pattern and core boxes were made for the foundry. The new impeller was cast and machined, then verified against the design prior to shipment. Once installed, the performance was checked and the improvements were verified against pre-CHS tests utilizing ultrasonic flowmeters and other plant instrumentation.

The payback
The redesigned 46” impeller, custom-designed and built for this particular application, increased the capacity of the Worthington pump from 88,000 gpm at 100 ft Total Developed Head (TDH) to 94,000 gpm. It also decreased the NPSHR from 22 ft at the rated 88,000 gpm, to 17 ft at the new 94,000 gpm rating.A byproduct of the pump operating without cavitation was a significant reduction in the noise levels measured around the pump with the new impeller. Furthermore, the energy requirement for the 2500 hp motor was reduced from 329 amps to 319 amps. (Remember, too, that with the 329 amps of the old design, the unit was only pumping 88,000 gpm. The upgraded design, requiring only 319 amps, is pumping 94,000 gpm.) Finally, just for good measure, Standard Alloys also upgraded the material to CD- 4MCu, which means it will be years before a replacement is needed.

Subsequent to the first impeller being installed, the remaining pumps underwent upgrades. Today, all six units are continuing to operate well.

Elimination of the cavitation will increase the life of the impeller, bearings and seal, thus extending the Mean Time Between Repairs (MTBR).Adding the value of the increased pump output to the energy reduction savings and the savings due to the longer life of the part and pump system makes this type of project easy to cost justify.

Standard Alloys, Inc.
Port Arthur, TX




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6:00 am
December 1, 2006
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Utilities Manager: Reducing Energy Costs In Municipal Pumping Systems

1206_um_systemoptimization1It’s everybody’s job to save energy. Simple solutions to help optimize your pumping systems, like those outlined in this article, often can pay off more than you might think.

The facts speak for themselves and they’re not very encouraging for consumers across the country. The cost of energy is skyrocketing, and with it, the cost of electricity. As a result, countless organizations are putting special emphasis on efforts to optimize their equipment and processes—which, in turn, will reduce energy costs and increase reliability and uptime. If not, they need to be doing so. And the sooner the better.

For most operations, pumping systems can be one of the best places to begin looking for energy savings. In fact, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has estimated these possible savings could exceed $6 billion annually for industrial applications, which includes municipal operations.

Big opportunities
Municipal water and wastewater, one of the larger applications for pumps, is responsible for about 2% of the nation’s electrical energy use. The good news is that an estimated 20% reduction of the energy use in the municipal sector seems quite feasible. Municipal pumping stations are generally designed following guidelines that take into account how many people live in the area, what the peak flow rates will be over a specified time period, etc. These peak flow rates depend on both the anticipated number of customers that eventually will be hooked up to the system and on weather-related additional flow rates.

Normally, a pump station is designed with multiple pumps so that it can handle peak flow rates even if one pump is down. It also is common that pumps run on/off—which means that peak flow-rates are produced as soon as the pumps are turned on. Unfortunately, this type of operation generates high energy losses through friction.


It is a given that a pump station will have to be able to cope with peak flow rates and have redundancy if a pump fails. This practice, however, leads to higher-thannecessary energy use. It has been demonstrated that substantial savings can be achieved by using smaller or speed-regulated pumps for average flow conditions. Fig. 1 shows a typical duration curve for a wastewater lift station. Each point on the curve shows how many hours per year the flow exceeds a certain value. For example, the inflow is larger than 1,000 gpm for about 1,000 hours per year. The rest of the time, it is lower. A typical pump configuration for a pump station with this inflow characteristic would be two installed pumps that can each handle close to 3,000 gpm. It is evident that such pumps are much larger than needed most of the time.

Improving the situation
One popular solution to the problem is to install variable speed drives (VSDs) so that the pump capacity can be matched to the inflow. Many times, a VSD can be an excellent solution, assuring that the pumped volume is never larger than needed.On the other hand, in many cases involving lift stations, this “solution” can actually lead to increased energy usage. The main reason for this is that pump efficiency can deteriorate rapidly in systems exhibiting high static head when the speed is lowered. (For more information on this topic, refer to Variable Speed Pumping: A Guide to Successful Applications, by Europump and the Hydraulic Institute.1)

When static head is low (a fixed percentage is hard to give, but it’s usually lower than 30-50% of total head),VSDs typically can be used with good result. If the static head is higher, a thorough study should be conducted before VSDs are installed. In some cases, a simple impeller trimming might be a better way to adjust supply to demand.

Another possible solution could be to use pumps of different sizes. There are several ways this can be done. One method, described in a DOE report2, suggests using a “Pony pump” in parallel with larger full-size pumps. Fig. 2 shows


how the larger pump is run for a couple of hundred hours a year, while the smaller pump is operating over 5,000 hours. The areas under the respective curves represent volumes pumped. The sum of the areas in the rectangles is the same as the area under the duration curve. As can be seen most of the flow is pumped by the smaller pump. The savings come from operating at lower flow rates and heads (see Fig. 3). The energy usage per unit volume is proportional to the head. In this case the pumps are chosen so that the operating points are close to the best efficiency point (BEP) for each flow rate. In the project referenced in the previously mentioned DOE report, energy savings of close to 40% were achieved using this method.

It is important to know that pumps which operate close to BEP not only use less energy, they also have substantially lower maintenance costs than pumps that are not operated this way. Fig. 4 shows such data from DuPont.

It is of the utmost importance that pumps operate close to their BEP, both from an energy and maintenance point of view. One can say that if the energy usage is optimized, the maintenance savings come for free. Interestingly, in many cases, the maintenance savings can actually be greater than the energy savings.

Other possible improvements could be to split the peak flow rate on two pumps and have a third pump as standby.Most of the time, only one pump would run and the station would exhibit lower operating costs.

To determine the best solution for the problem, a life-cycle cost calculation can be done. A simple calculation of the difference in energy cost for a hypothetical situation is shown in the sidebar above.

Calculating the Difference in Energy Costs
Assume a lift station with a static head of 35′. The station is equipped with two pumps that alternate. At the duty point (6,000 gpm and 55′ head) they are 74% efficient and require 112.6 horsepower. A 94.5% efficient motor draws 89 kW. The pumps operate 3,000 hours/year, pumping 18 million gallons while consuming 267,000 kWh. If a smaller pump operating at 2,500 gpm is added to the station, the big pumps only have to be run at peak flow conditions—let’s say 250 hours/year. They would pump 1.5 million gallons during this time. The small pump would have to run an additional 6,600 hours/year to pump the same total amount as the two larger pumps (18 MG). Assume that the smaller pump operates at 66% combined motor/pump efficiency. The total energy used would then be 205,000 kWh per year, a reduction of 23%–or close to $5,000/ year at 8 cents/kWh. It is, of course, necessary to put in real values if you contemplate such a solution, but the example shows how to calculate the savings. DOE’s PSAT (Pump System Assessment Tool) program is useful for this kind of calculation. You might also realize savings from lower demand charges and lower maintenance costs that should be included in your calculations. In the DOE project mentioned in this article, those savings were actually larger than the energy savings in dollars.

A call to action
There are many reasons for our current energy situation being what it is. Historically, energy costs have been low and organizations have put more emphasis on lower initial purchase costs for equipment than on lower overall life-cycle (cradle to grave) costs of that equipment. No matter the cause, higher energy costs are, in all likelihood, here to stay. Therefore, it behooves both end users and design engineers—across all industry sectors—to rethink how they design all of their equipment systems. In some cases, guidelines and regulations will have to be reevaluated in order to pave the road for more efficient engineered systems. In the meantime, we must all do our best to use energy more efficiently than in the past. It is vitally important now, and will be even more so in the future, to identify and implement successful energy-saving strategies and solutions throughout industry— both at home and around the globe.


  1. Variable Speed Pumping, A Guide to Successful Applications, Europump and Hydraulic Institute, 2004.
  2. Szady, Andrew J., P.E., “Independent Performance Validation, Reservoir Ave. Pump Station, Town of Trumbull, Connecticut,” report by Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Department of Energy Motor Challenge Program Showcase Demonstration, August 1997.

Gunnar Hovstadius is a world renowned expert in pumps and energy systems. After a long and illustrious career as the director of technology for the largest pump company in the world, he now consults for companies, governments and NGOs around the globe. E-mail:; telephone: (203) 434-4840.

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6:00 am
December 1, 2006
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Utilities Manager: Cutting Costs With Energy Auditing

An experienced power quality engineer reveals how he goes about finding energy savings in a facility. It all begins with an energy audit.

“Using energy efficiently is cool again,” says Paul Twite, referring to the current high cost of energy.Twite is a power quality engineer, a Level II certified thermographer and a co-owner of 24-7 Power, an electrical consulting and engineering service company in the business of helping other companies discover and fix their energy inefficiencies. 24-7 Power is also a full service manufacturers’ representative for many of the instruments Twite uses in energy audits. Twite uses a three-step approach to help a company lower its energy bills.With the right tools and knowledge, your company can follow the same process using your own personnel.Here’s how it works.

Step 1: Energy Accounting
This step consists of at least three parts: 1) reviewing utility bills; 2) scanning the electrical, mechanical, process and HVAC (heating, ventilation and air-conditioning) systems as well as the building envelope using thermography; and 3) monitoring for power consumption, power quality, power factor and other relevant aspects of energy use.

1206_um_usingtherighttools1Reviewing utility bills reveals what your utility is charging for the electricity they say you used, but it will also reveal any utility demand charges and/or power factor penalties assessed. Any and all of these charges require follow-up monitoring to confirm that the utility’s metering is accurate and that you are getting what you’re paying for and not paying excessive penalties. “Utility meters have been known to drift out of calibration or malfunction over time, so we feel it’s good to double check the utility once in awhile,” Twite reports.

Scanning systems and building envelope using thermography can reveal overloaded or imbalanced circuits, loose connections, overheating motors on process or HVAC equipment, malfunctioning steam traps, problems in HVAC systems, and a host of other conditions that might signal an inefficient use of energy.

Twite compares using a thermal imager (infrared camera) in energy auditing to your doctor’s use of a stethoscope during an annual checkup: “If you go in for a physical exam, the first tool the health care provider will pull out is a stethoscope.While this tool is not sufficient for the health care provider to say, ‘I’m sorry, you have a serious problem,’ it is sufficient for a determination such as, ‘Hmm, that sounds odd.Maybe we should order some more tests.’ In my opinion, thermography is like that stethoscope. It is an extremely powerful tool, but it is most potent when it is used in combination with several other tools.”

So, Twite has a host of diagnostic equipment at his disposal when he does a commercial energy audit. “Typically, I travel with a fourwheeled utility cart loaded with tools and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE),” he explains. “It carries my thermal imager, three-phase power logger, vibration analysis equipment, ultrasonic listening equipment, and a digital auto-ranging multimeter.When I find what appears to be a problem with my thermal imager, I have several resources to fall back on.”

Monitoring for power consumption, power quality and power factor can be used to follow up on issues or unusual anomalies identified by thermography. The appropriate meter can also identify harmonics and other internally caused power interruptions that may affect machine performance as well as measure peak demand and power factor, which are the focus of what follows.

Utilities set demand charges. Often they are higher in the summer and at certain times of day. A utility also typically sets demand intervals; 15 minutes is common. Based on these, your utility will monitor the amount of power your facility consumes several times an hour based on the average demand for each interval. Peak demand is the highest average demand during all of the intervals in a billing cycle. If, for example, your facility’s normal demand is about 500kW, but three large process pumps start at once and your demand hits 600kW at 4:00 p.m. on a weekday in July, the episode could be costly. If the utility’s demand charge is $100, then peak demand penalties for July would be (600kW – 500kW) x $100 = $10,000. A three phase power logger like the Fluke 1735, or a three-phase power quality analyzer like the Fluke 434, can measure demand over time, pinpointing large loads operating concurrently and verifying readings for individual loads.

Some utilities also penalize for a low power factor (PF), which indicates the customer is not efficiently using the power supplied to it. Twite says that by using a thermal imager, in conjunction with other power analyzing instruments, you can quickly identify power consumption and inefficiency issues if any of the feeders or neutral conductors appears warmer than ambient temperature conditions. This thermal imbalance also may be due to a high harmonic content on the circuit or could be indicative of broken rotor bars, windings or failing bearings on a motor circuit. “That’s why it’s important to blend thermal imaging and power analysis to gain a clear perspective on what is happening with the electrical distribution,” says Twite.

Twite explains power factor this way: “Suppose you are a machine shop and you have a lot of arc welding and machine tools—end mills, CNC machines and the like—that cycle on and off. A high current load cycling on and off on a regular basis, could lead to a significant PF problem. The difference between how energy is delivered to you and how you use it is the power factor. It’s just a ratio between the apparent power and the applied power (Power/VA=PF).”

A purely resistive linear load can have a perfect PF of 1.00, but your utility may charge a healthy penalty for a PF that dips below a certain level, say 0.90. For example, the utility might add one percent of demand charge for each hundredth (0.01) your facility averages below a PF of 0.90. So, if your operations have an average PF of 0.88 each month and your demand charge is $6,000, then you will pay $5,400 in PF penalties annually.With a good power quality meter, you can measure and validate your average PF over time.

Twite emphasizes that all he does during the first step in an energy audit is collect data from utility bills, thermal imagers and meters; then blend the data from those three sources and do a “roll call” of the power-consuming equipment and devices inside the plant. “The goal of Step 1,” he says, “is to come up with an energy accounting spread sheet which addresses the question of where all the energy is going.”

The power quality engineer says that inhouse personnel usually can perform the accounting phase of an energy audit as long as they have a little electrical savvy along with training in using the monitoring equipment safely. It is, of course, critical always to keep in mind arc flash hazards and awareness of high energy potentials.

“There is no certification or college degree required, and it’s usually not necessary to be a licensed electrician, ” Twite notes. “You should, however, consult with your company’s safety manager if you plan on self-performing this work,” he says.

1206_um_usingtherighttools2Step 2: Analysis and Identifying Problems
In the second step of an energy audit, Twite analyzes the data collected in Step 1, asking questions such as: Do I have an overloaded circuit? Do I have a loose connection? Do I have phase imbalance? Why is the circuit overloaded? Is that motor running hot because of an alignment problem, a lubrication problem or a bad bearing? Often the auditor must look at the bigger picture: What process does this circuit feed? What about the process is causing power factor problems or peak demand problems?

Also in this step, the auditor assesses the age and efficiency of lighting systems, HVAC systems, motors and drives and other plant equipment and systems. “By reviewing the nameplate data on equipment, or metering the point load or checking for unusual hot spots with a thermal imager – or better yet, a combination of the three – you can make a pretty solid determination of the useful life of the equipment. Sometimes the quickest route to the biggest energy savings is simply replacing old, inefficient equipment with new,more efficient versions,”Twite adds.

Step 3: Proposing and Prioritizing Solutions
The third step is not really auditing. It consists of engineering solutions to problems uncovered in Steps 1 and 2.

“In Step 3, I’m trying to figure out different strategies to lower the energy bills,” Twite says. “To be effective in this step you (or your auditor) have to have an engineering background or at least have been in the energy business for a while. You need to understand how everything affects your energy costs.”

Step 3, then, is proposing and prioritizing ways to lower your energy bills. There are at least three kinds of things that might be done to achieve that goal: 1) adjust processes; 2) repair faulty equipment; and 3) replace inefficient systems and equipment. Once the action items for improvement are identified, then traditional return on investment (ROI) calculations can be used to help prioritize them. In what follows, some typical payback periods are included. Most come from Paul Twite’s years of experience helping companies cut their energy bills.

Adjusting processes is often the most expedient way to eliminate demand charges and power factor penalties.Maybe process controls can be set to disallow those three large process pumps mentioned earlier from all kicking on at the same time. Or maybe there are electric water heaters that tend to run during peak demand periods, but you have enough waterheating capacity to allow you to push the water heating until after 10:00 p.m., when electric rates are lower. The calculations you did using energy bills and the confirmation of their correctness using a power quality analyzer will provide the data required for calculating the ROI for such strategies.

In another kind of process adjustment, you can immediately improve PF by the installation of power-factor capacitors either at the entrance of your service or at the point load. Twite uses the following analogy: As your big machines are cycling on and off, the capacitors act much like sponges that soak up water, except capacitors “soak up” electricity. Then, just as water comes out when you squeeze the sponge, a capacitor “squeezes out” electricity when your voltage starts to dip. It fills in the low spots and trims off the high spots of your electricity profile.

Twite says that in many cases with very steep power factor penalties, capacitors can pay for themselves within 30 to 60 days. “In fact, we have seen manufacturing customers with low power factor getting charged over $1,000 a month on their energy bills. For those manufacturers, 24-7 Power has installed correctlysized capacitor banks and verified an immediate improvement in the overall power factor and resulting drop in kW demand. In some cases, the entire installation was paid for in 60 days by energy savings.”

Repairing faulty equipment should follow from listing the problems that thermography uncovered in the electrical distribution system. Such problems might include loose or corroded connections, phase imbalance or worn insulation. Similarly, misaligned sheaves might be revealed by overheating. Laser alignment equipment can help fix that problem. In some cases, a motor bearing that is starved for lubrication can cause the motor to run hotter and use more energy. In that case, simple lubrication can significantly cut temperatures and full load current.

Of course, the repairs that should take priority are those that threaten a production stoppage followed by those with low cost of repair and/or quick payback. Twite points out, for example, that building-envelope problems (except for some roof problems) have relatively long payback periods. Typically, these will get a much lower priority in Step 3 than, say, installing power-factor capacitors.

Replacing inefficient systems and equipment goes far beyond peak shaving. Often, following an audit, Twite recommends replacing an old HID or other inefficient lighting system with a new, high-efficiency compact or linear fluorescent system.He points out that the U.S. Department of Energy lists the two biggest energy consumers in most plants as the HVAC and lighting systems.”Upgrading to an energy-efficient lighting system can offer the easiest and quickest payback,” he says. “In many cases, it’s usually less than a year, especially if your utility company participates in the form of rebates.”

According to Twite, other recommendations he often makes to his clients include adding new premium efficient motors that have 94% NEMA ratings as opposed to 80% ratings.”Many motors from the 1930s and 1940s are built like tanks, and are still running today.However, new motors with the same horsepower rating use a lot less energy,” he says.

Looking for rebates paid by utilities for the installation of energy efficient equipment and systems is something every company should do. Twite notes that to build a new coal-fired generating plant can take 12 to 14 years. One of the simplest ways that large, power-generating utilities can continue to run profitably is to lower demand by encouraging companies to cut energy consumption through the use of equipment that is more efficient.

Finally, Twite notes that not all rebate programs are the same and suggest that you check with your utility to see what is available.

Paul Twite is tactical engineering director of 24-7 Power, Inc., a full service electrical consulting, contracting and manufacturer’s rep firm. 24-7 Power specializes in critical power delivery, power quality investigation and mitigation and on-site training with highly specialized tools of the trade. For more information on the types of products referenced in this article, log on to



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6:00 am
December 1, 2006
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Utilities Manager: Should You pay For An Energy Assessment?


Christopher Russell, Principal, Energy Pathfinder Management Consulting, LLC

A particularly destructive hurricane season in 2005 wreaked havoc on oil and gas production infrastructure in the Gulf Coast region. This damage, in addition to what were already tight global fuel markets, drove U.S. energy prices to unprecedented heights. In the aftermath of price spikes, even “stable” prices remain high enough to threaten the profitability of U.S. based manufacturing facilities. The industrial sector, which is widely dependent on natural gas, pressed the Bush Administration for relief. U.S. Department of Energy Secretary Sam Bodman responded by introducing the Save Energy Now initiative on October 3, 2005:

“America’s businesses, factories, and manufacturing facilities use massive amounts of energy. To help them during this period of tightening supply and rising costs, our Department is sending teams of qualified efficiency experts to 200 of the nation’s most energy-intensive factories. Our Energy Saving Teams will work with on-site managers on ways to conserve energy and use it more efficiently.”

On a broader level, DOE is attempting to distribute a portfolio of “Best Practices” information to 50,000 facilities.DOE’s BestPractices pertain to plant systems commonly found in industry, such as steam, process heating, motor drives, compressed air and insulation.

The DOE very quickly identified 200 forwardthinking participants for energy assessments (and actually had to turn away eager applicants). As of August 16, 2006, the results were in for the first 105 Save Energy Now assessments. In all, the 200 plants selected for energy assessments represent a variety of industries and are located in at least 39 different states. Experts at DOE have projected the anticipated savings for all 200 plants based on the results from the first 105.According to these projections:

  • The average plant presents $2.6 million in annual energy savings.
  • The total energy-cost-saving opportunities recorded for the first 105 plants total $273.8 million.
  • The 200 plants are projected to attain more than $522 million in annual potential energy savings in aggregate.
  • The total potential natural gas savings for first 105 plants assessed are estimated at 30.3 trillion Btu annually– enough to serve 421,000 typical houses per year.
  • Not every improvement recommendation will be implemented. DOE expects a 40% implementation.
  • 47% of the identified savings can be achieved with a payback of nine months or less. Improvement measures include insulation upgrades, steam trap programs and the cleaning of heat transfer surfaces.
  • 13 plants reported more than $1.9 million in immediate savings implemented in the first 30 days following the assessment.
  • 46% of the potential savings in the assessed plants can be achieved with a payback between nine months and two years. These opportunities include heat recovery and combustion optimization.

There’s one final statistic worth mentioning. If one were to pay market value for one of these assessments, it would range anywhere from $5,000 to $12,000, depending on the size and complexity of the facility. Recall that the average value of identified savings potential per plant is $2.6 million. Assume that only 40% of the recommendations will be implemented. That’s an average of about $1,000,000 in savings per facility.What’s the return on investment (ROI) for an energy assessment if someone actually paid for it? Let’s be conservative and use the higher cost assessment value ($12,000). The ROI would be about 83:1.

Industrial facilities that secure an energy assessment will learn about their energy savings potential. So,why aren’t more facilities doing this? Companies and sites that refuse energy assessments may end up paying much,much more through energy waste and lost productivity.

You can get more information about this program, including summaries of individual plant assessments, at

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6:00 am
December 1, 2006
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Utilities Manager: Is It Time For A Standby Generator In Your Facility?

Selection, sizing, installation and maintenance of these units can impact your energy efforts.

1206_um_standbypower1In many facilities, the process of selecting a standby generator can either go relatively quickly or painfully slow.How you approach the specification, purchase, installation and maintenance issues will ultimately influence the speed and agony factors of your new genset.

Why would you need a generator for backup power?
What happens in your facility when the power goes off? Do the employees simply go home to wait out the event? What do you have to do to start the facility or get the process back up? Are there machines that need to run off the excess material in order to start anew? Does some equipment need to be cleaned out in order to be restarted? How much material did you consume in waste or scrap because the process wasn’t completed in time? How long does it take to get started again–and do you know what the resulting costs are? Is it possible that lives could be at risk when power goes away and people are stuck in elevators or automatic access areas?


If you have answers to these questions– or if you are asking even more probing questions–then you probably need a backup power source for your facility.

Backup power could bring elevators full of people to safety, keep your cash registers ringing, the phones in your call center up and available and your worldwide computer network operating.Or, it could simply help ensure that a site is getting the most out of its operators and machinery, even when a storm hits or the power company blips. These are just a few of the things that backup power can do for you.

How many generator choices do you have?
The short answer is a lot! But, like most systems you deal with every day, when you break your selection process into pieces, your decision-making task becomes easier. Before you specify a standby generator system, or genset, for your operations, you’ll need to make sure you know want you’re going to be doing with it. You have quite a number of questions to answer.

When are you expecting to run your genset?
In an emergency…during a storm…when the power company lets you down or doesn’t want to supply all your usage during high-demand periods? Are you trying to save energy costs by running when utility costs are high, or do you have free fuel to use up from another part of your operations? Do you want to power your entire facility or just the part of it that is costly to live without when the power goes away? Are you expecting the genset to supply power for future facility expansion(s)?

What does it cost to operate a generator?
How much maintenance will you need to supply on an ongoing basis? Are there any permits required before placeing the genset in service? Are there any environmental impacts of locating a genset on site?

Which fuel is right for you?
The answers to some basic questions will lead you to some reasonable cost analyses of using engine-driven gensets and the associated fuel consumption and delivery charges. Whoa! “Hold on there,” you say, “while I’m expecting to burn some fuel, what’s that ‘delivery charge’ stuff all about?”

There are three major types of fuel used for standby generators: diesel, liquid propane (LP) and natural gas. (Fig. 2 reflects estimated installation and operating costs of a typical standby rated dieselpowered unit. )

Diesel and LP are certainly the most popular choices if you’re trying to operate independently of the fuel supplier in times of disaster or emergency. In both cases, you already have the fuel in a holding tank, ready to run. Diesel is probably the most preferred option, since, unlike LP, you can store it unpressurized. In some locations, such as hospitals or nursing homes, pressurized storage may not be acceptable or preferable.

If you select natural gas as your fuel, you’ll typically be dependent on your local gas company in time of disaster. And, there’s usually no holding tank to supply the fuel if the gas company can’t pump it to you. If, however, during a disaster you aren’t expected to power your facility, natural gas is probably the most convenient fuel to use with a backup power system, especially if the pipe from the gas company comes close to your location. Once the natural gas fuel connection is made, there’s no reason to call the diesel or LP truck to come fill up the tank!

By the way, what size tank did you specify for your diesel or LP genset? Can you imagine what would happen if a big storm were to blow in and the fuel truck couldn’t get to your facility to refill the tank for a couple of days?

Should you have contracted with your fuel supplier to be one of its high-priority customers in times of disaster? Or, were you just planning to call the supplier when you needed fuel? Oops…

How big a generator do you need?
There’s a short answer to this question: that depends…on what electrical loads you want to power and how you sequence the load applications. Are you planning to power only lights, industrial machinery that uses electric motors, heating or air conditioning, water pumps or emergency equipment?

Lighting, for example, is a somewhat linear load. You need little more power to turn on the lights than to operate them continuously. Be aware, though, that some lights may have increased starting characteristics. Check with your lighting supplier just to make sure–before you get too far along in your genset selection process.

Machinery that uses electrical motors with inductive style loads typically will have an increased starting power requirement as compared to the continuous power required for normal running. (Note, the word “typically” is used here because if the motors utilize motor controls (drives) or soft starts, starting power requirements will be somewhat reduced as compared to flipping a switch for acrossthe- power-line starting.)

A typical motor starting across the line can draw as much as five or six times the normal running power in kVA. If the typical genset will supply about three times its rating for a short amount of time, it’s easy to see that it will start a motor across the line that’s about one-third the size of the generator rating. You might want to consider using a modern motor controller that may cause the motor to only draw 1.5 times the normal running kVA or less during starting. You might also want to consider staggering the start sequences of motor loads as seen by the generator, to give the generator a chance to recover from a motor start before another motor is connected. Otherwise a genset as big as the normal power grid supplied to your facility would need to be considered. Whew. . . that would be a darn big generator!

Don’t let all this sizing stuff worry you too much. Most genset manufacturers have a sizing program available to help you understand electrical loads and select what size generator you need for your facility. Before you start the sizing program, you might want to survey your facility and write down the nameplate data for all the loads you expect the generator to run. Also, think how you might sequence the loads if necessary to get the genset to be a little smaller or to provide additional overhead for future expansion.

Speaking of overhead, when you drive your car, do you floor it all the time going down the interstate? Probably not! So, when you size your generator, you probably don’t want to size it to be floored all the time, either.

Sizing for 80% of the capability of the genset usually provides a reasonable margin and additional overhead, unless you’re thinking of expanding your facility.

Besides, the additional overhead may be needed when the filters clog a little, or the fuel is a little stale, or the oil is a little dirty, or Murphy shows up one hot, dry day. Electric motors usually power heating, air conditioning and pumps somewhere in a system.Make sure you take all of these components into consideration when sizing a genset. If any comfort or safety systems are considered to be “emergency,” in nature, special operating considerations may apply when powered from a genset. It’s best to check with the local authority having jurisdiction over these types of systems to make sure you meet any emergency requirements for your location.

Are all my worries over, once it’s installed?
Yes, absolutely! But…if…as long as…you may want to…Few things are ever really that simple, are they?

Your power worries may be over. And the resulting difficulties from a power outage in your facility also may be over! But, can you be sure your standby generator is going to run when you need it?

How about when you need it really, really bad? Naw, come on, they always work. . . my car never, ever really left me stranded. Even when the oil was low and really dirty–even when that neighbor kid put sugar in the tank! On the other hand, there was that one time that I forgot to fill up the tank…

Maintenance? You’ll need some! Poor maintenance—or, even worse, no maintenance— could turn all your hard work (to properly select, size and install a genset) into a wasted effort if the unit doesn’t power up when you need it.Most stationary generators are used with automatic transfer switches that monitor the utility power and automatically start the genset if the utility power goes away. The transfer switch also contains the high power contacts to disconnect the utility from the building and connect the genset to the building when needed. Slightly more sophisticated transfer switches also can be set up with a built-in timer to automatically start up the genset on a regular time schedule in order to verify that the unit is operational. If it doesn’t start up and run, an alarm usually goes off to warn you of the failure. If the genset were not going to run properly, when would you rather find out about it…during the scheduled equipment exercise period, or during a power outage?

So, plan on some exercising of your genset.Yes, you’re going to burn some fuel, and, yes, you’re going to use up some life of the engine consumables (i.e., oil, coolant, filters, etc.). But, it will be worth it to have confidence the genset will run when requested.

You probably need to make sure that you plan for scheduled exercising and maintenance of your genset in your maintenance budget.How much? It depends… The bigger the genset, the bigger the engine and expense for operation and consumables.

Most genset manufacturers recommend exercising these units for about half an hour of run time, once a week. The schedule is up to you and any local codes that may affect operation and yearly run time of the equipment.What you’re shooting for is to ensure that your standby generator starts and runs long enough to heat up all of its components.

So, what’s the most important question?
It was estimated that in the aftermath of the 2005 hurricanes along the U.S. Gulf Coast that as many as one-third of the backup generators in the region didn’t start and operate when needed. Most of those units reportedly had undergone little or no maintenance since being installed. Perhaps their owners had considered the cost of regular maintenance to be too high.

Rather than ask how much a genset “costs,” a better question is what the cost would be to your operations if you didn’t have such a unit when you needed it–and if you did have one, what would happen if it didn’t work when you expected it to…

Roddy Yates is generator products marketing manager for Baldor. Telephone: (479) 646- 4711; e-mail:

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