Archive | May, 2007


6:00 am
May 1, 2007
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Utilities Manager: Maintenance Is Key To Green Roof Success


Much effort and attention has focused on educating people about the existence, significance and function of green roofs. What’s next in terms of maintenance is equally important to protect a green roof investment.

Do I really have to bring the lawn mower up to the roof?” asked the facility manager after his company had just installed a 4000 sq ft green roof.

The direct answer is “No.” But, regular maintenance is just as important to green roofs as to any other roofing system.

0507_um_greenroofs2With vegetated roofs having gained strong public interest in the United States over the last decade, there is widespread appreciation for the intricacies involved in building a green roof. Now, though, facility managers, engineers and others interested in and/ or involved with this emerging technology have new questions, including: “How do I maintain my green roof once it’s installed? “

Green roofs are living systems. Thus, regular and proper maintenance, on an ongoing basis, is vitally important in order for them to survive and succeed. This is especially crucial in the first two years after a green roof installation. In fact, green roofs must be attended to much more frequently in the first two years. Furthermore, because such a system is a roof environment, all safety precautions and OSHA regulations still need to be implemented.

The initial cost for installation of a green roof can be one-and-a-half to two times the cost of a traditional roof. With proper maintenance, however, a green roof can double the life expectancy of a roof. Add to that the cost savings for heating and cooling a green building and, amortized over the life of the roof, green ones—if properly maintained—come out on top economically.

Once installed, property management staff can be left a bit perplexed as to what to do, or who to hire to carry out the job of green roof maintenance safely and correctly. Green roof installers are often a good place to start. Some of them offer green roof maintenance as part of the recommended ongoing preventive maintenance that is imperative to the care of any roof system.

If your organization is considering a green roof for your facility—or if you’ve already installed one—here are some things you’ll want to keep in mind going forward.


Green roof maintenance 101

There are two basic types of green roofs—extensive and intensive.

Extensive green roofs are lightweight veneer systems with thin layers of drought-tolerant, self-seeding vegetated roof covers requiring little or no irrigation or fertilization after establishment. They are built when the primary desire is for an ecological roof cover with limited human access.

On extensive green roofs, vegetation should grow to cover the soil surface, usually within two years after it is installed. Extensive vegetated roofs generally have three to six inches of engineered growing media and are designed to be self-sustaining over time. Drought tolerant plants, usually succulents, are planted and grow quickly over the soil surface. Most of the succulents—Sedum—have adventitious roots, meaning they can form new roots at the stems and leaves. Cutting back healthy plant material, distributing across the bare areas of the roof and irrigating for a few weeks is an economical method of re-establishment.

Engineered growing media is comprised of lightweight aggregates and minimal amounts of organic matter. The growing media is designed to be lightweight, not decay over time, and needs little amending to provide adequate nutrients to plant material.

The vegetated system can be walked on from time to time, but should not be used in a highly recreational setting. Walkways made of pavers or gravel ballast may be installed to guide maintenance workers to mechanical equipment.

Many times, the primary reason extensive green roofs are integrated into the building is to capture storm water. Calculations are done on a project basis to satisfy local ordinances, or to apply for green building, such as LEED, incentives. In this instance, it is important for as much of the roof to be covered with vegetation as possible. Overall, green roofs can retain and detain 60-100% of rainfall.

Intensive green roofs are more elaborately designed roof landscapes, such as roof gardens and underground parking garage roofs that are intended for human interaction. The growing media starts from about 8-12″ and can range to 15′ or more, depending on the loading capacity of the roof and the architectural and plant features that the building owner desires. Maintenance will need to be more frequent, resembling the needs of a typical ground landscape.

Aesthetics and usage…
Visually, one should expect the green roof to behave similarly to the landscape of the surrounding area. For example, the plants will go dormant in the winter around the same time the tree canopy loses its leaves. Some plants will die back and others are evergreen, but colors change to dark reds and browns. In the spring, growth will resume with warm days and rain showers, and plants will bloom throughout the growing season.

One matter that should be resolved between the owner and the facility staff ahead of the planting of the green roof is the expectations of the vegetated roof, including usage (as in, who will be visiting the roof).

A roof system that is only visited by roofers and mechanical crews providing periodic maintenance will not need to be maintained as frequently for aesthetics as one that is viewed daily through office windows or entertains frequent visitors.

Extensive systems may be designed with a specific pattern, often achieved from a bird’s eye view. For example, representation of a theme for the building or client may be incorporated in the design. Many succulent plants are aggressive growers in this setting, and more frequent maintenance is imperative to achieve the desired aesthetic goals.

A newly installed green roof should be maintained monthly, as necessary. Temporary irrigation should be available for the first few months, and should saturate the system at least two or three times a week. Thereafter, irrigation should be weaned, with the intent that the vegetation will remain self-sustaining within the first year.

During hot and dry spells, the system should receive water. While irrigation seems counter-intuitive in a roof designed to capture and detain stormwater, irrigation is mandatory in order to have a healthy and functioning green roof system long-term.

Plant and media concerns…
Initially planted and allowed to fill in over time, there is an opportunity for unwanted plants to germinate, grow and seed themselves on the roof. For projects in temperate climates, weed pressure begins in early spring and continues throughout the year, including winter. In small green roofs, hand weeding may be the fastest and most effective method of removal. However, for larger projects, protocols should be agreed upon for use of alternative weed management techniques or approved chemicals.

Approved growing media is comprised of approximately 20% organic matter. Over time, German green roofs have shown the organic content is reduced to 7%. Within the first several years, additional fertilizer should be applied. The FLL German standards, as well as ASTM, recommend a very low rate of application, using slow release fertilizers. Commercially available organic fertilizers are an option.

Seasonal issues
The growing media should be evaluated to ensure proper drainage throughout the green roof system, and off the roof. Yearly pH testing will tell when the growing media should be amended with lime. One sign that the green roof is too acidic is the presence of moss. It is up to the owner whether to keep the moss. It is probably harmless, and can create a lush green color in the cool season, but it may not be desired by the roof owner.

Spring responsibilities include broadcasting with a slow-release fertilizer. Removing leaves and branches is recommended, but not necessary. Periodic weeding in the summer season will keep weed pressure low. In preparation for winter, irrigation water lines on green roofs need to be drained and cleaned before a freeze. During a mild winter, weeds should be pulled before they are allowed to flower and set seed.

In summary
Green roof maintenance is as critical to the success of a green roof as plant selection, climate and other installation criteria. Without regard for the care or maintenance of a green roof once it has been installed, building and facility managers may not be adequately prepared to protect their building’s asset long term. Moreover, they may not be able to reap the inherent benefits associated with green roofs and the role they play in sustainability. UM

Angie Durham is a green roof specialist with Magco, Inc. For more information on green roofs, contact her directly through Tecta America Corp. Telephone: (866) 832-8259; or visit or

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6:00 am
May 1, 2007
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Utilities Manager: Medical Center Cures Its Hot Water Pressure Woes

Its booster pump system simply could not keep pace with fluctuating demands for hot water. Turning to skid-mounted pumps with intelligent controls made the pain go away for this major healthcare facility.

Located in the heart of Phoenix, AZ, St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center is a 520-bed, not-forprofit hospital that provides a wide range of health, social and support services with special advocacy for the poor and underserved.

“St. Joe’s” is a nationally recognized center for quality tertiary care, medical education and research.

Founded in 1895 by the Sisters of Mercy, St. Joe’s was the first hospital in the Phoenix area. It has come a long way since it opened with 24 private rooms—each opening up onto a porch. With tens of thousands of annual admissions, emergency room visits and outpatient/inpatient surgeries—not to mention thousands of babies delivered each year—St. Joe’s water demands clearly are critical to its operations.

0507_um_whatshot1Specifically, this bustling institution requires an effi- cient way to maintain the availability of hot water pressure in its growing complex of buildings. Like all healthcare facilities, the system needs to be operational 24-hours-aday and downtime has to be kept to a minimum. That’s not always been easy.

As the hospital has expanded over the years, the water service for new facilities has simply been tied into the existing lines supplied by two outdated sets of pumps—one each for cold water and hot water service.

With its water service requirements increasing, the medical center began experiencing problems as a result of the hot water booster‘s inability to keep up with the cold water booster in terms of pressure. Depending on the varying needs during the day, the hot water system pressure fluctuated so much that it was causing damage on multiple showerheads and valves. In addition, maintenance on the existing pumps was becoming intolerable.

According to Michael Marquez, a technical sales representative for Quandna, Inc., a Phoenix-based fluidhandling solution provider and distributor for ITT, St. Joe’s was having to do quite a bit of maintenance on the old pumps. “The pumps have been rebuilt numerous times because they were constantly running overspeed and way off the curve,” he notes. “Additionally, the medical center maintenance people would sometimes have to be sent to the booster set to turn on another pump to maintain hot water pressure.”

Plug and play solution
It was clear that St. Joe’s really needed a booster pump system that could keep up the pressure for the hot water no matter what the facility requirements were. Quadna’s team of application specialists proposed a design—created specifically for the hospital—that would achieve these goals and serve as a drop-in replacement. The replacement system also needed to be functional quickly, as the medical center could not be without hot water for more than four hours.

To more effectively accommodate the hospital’s fast-paced growth, Quadna selected ITT’s Goulds Pumps brand SSV high-pressure, vertical multistage pumps combined with ITT’s PumpSmart® PS200 control system. Quadna manufactured a custom-designed booster pump skid to house the three pumps and their control systems. The pumps, which are combined to optimize their capabilities, offer the medical center optimal high pressure, in a mechanically friendly, space-saving design.

The new system also met St. Joe’s requirements to connect efficiently with the medical center’s existing piping system, as well as for elevator weight and the proper dimensions to pass through doorways. When the skid was installed in February 2007, the “plug and play” system became fully functional in just a couple of hours, minimizing the amount of time the hospital went without hot water. Other characteristics of this pump system include a design to handle variable pressure drops. The pressure set point can be modified for future system requirements and the intelligent pump controllers automatically adjust to changes in system conditions.

0507_um_whatshot2Low costs/high efficiency
Equipping each pump with the PumpSmart control system was done to meet the medical center’s concerns for a system with low total life-cycle costs. PumpSmart’s intelligent flow system works with any pump. The product utilizes a smart variable frequency drive (VFD) controller and proprietary control software to provide advanced process control, enhanced reliability through failure prevention, reduced life cycle costs and, according to the manufacturer, significantly lower energy costs—up to 65%.

“PumpSmart will provide the hospital with great energy savings,” says Marquez. “The medical center is on a strict budget. When you consider that it was running the old pumps at full speed, the savings provided by this type of intelligent control system will be significant.”

The PS200 model offers process control and pump protection in one easy-to-use package for virtually every industrial process. With preprogrammed applications such as pressure, flow and level control, setup is quick and easy. The PS200 is capable of coordinating efforts between other PS200 controllers as well as existing constant speed pumps.

“I am a big fan of these systems,” Marquez continues. “A skid, equipped with a PumpSmart system, allows the user to cut down on management and maintenance. Maintenance people don’t have to be sent out to the pumps to change the pressure—which is what has been done previously. This control system also has the ability to automatically rotate the pumps out as needed.”

One less headache
With its new reliable PumpSmartequipped pumps and their low life-cycle costs, St. Joe’s now can face future expansion plans and the varying demands of patient care with fewer things to worry about. There are enough headaches involved with operating a major medical center—trying to ensure adequate hot water service 24/7 should not be one of them.

ITT Goulds Pumps
Seneca Falls, NY



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6:00 am
May 1, 2007
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Utilities Manager: Recognizing Energy As A Business Risk


Chrisopher Russell, Principal, South River Facility Management

Organizations should be prepared to manage a wide and growing variety of energy-related business risks. These include energy market volatility as well as rapidly evolving technologies and regulation. Solutions involve more than pursuing a “project”—such as capital investment in a big chunk of machinery. Another alternative involves changing the way that daily, energy-related decisions are made throughout an organization. Energy risk management will require input from a variety of departments and people:

Procurement, budgeting and finance people will be the first-line in dealing with electric utility deregulation. Companies need to develop strategies for making the best use of the many procurement options that are available in deregulated power markets.

Finance people will lead the pursuit of tax deductions and credits that apply to certain energy improvements such as lighting, heating, air conditioning, and building structural systems. Finance people also set the criteria for evaluating energy-related investments.

Engineers will monitor emerging technologies and standards. Companies will ask: What are these technologies? Which ones will provide value for me? How shall I evaluate them? Engineers will also design, commission, and monitor new energy-using equipment and systems.

Operations managers will rethink the dozens of staff decisions made each day, across plant floors or office spaces. Machine operators and office workers are largely unaware of how their everyday choices impact the energy bill. Solutions begin with increased staff awareness of their energy use.

Human resource professionals need to inventory their staff training needs, then seek appropriate training opportunities. Maintenance workers and machine operators need to learn “best practice” techniques that save money and boost reliability.

Environmental, health and safety professionals need to monitor emerging regulations. Compliance with these regulations puts many dollars at stake in the form of potential fines and penalties. Note that an energy management agenda will closely overlap safety and emissions compliance strategies.

Marketing and corporate strategy people need to understand the opportunities posed by “sustainable” business practices. Energy efficiency is a component of sustainable business practices. Sustainability is also the key to developing new products and services and winning new customers. Look at Wal-Mart: they force their suppliers to squeeze as much waste as possible from their production costs. Companies that sell their products to Wal-Mart (and many other like-minded firms) are aware of this trend and have a strategy ready for it. Failure to adapt to this trend is to risk losing business.

Needless to say, an organization needs to coordinate these many players so that they are not working at cross-purposes. This is essentially the role of an energy manager.

Forward-thinking companies respond to energy risk by changing they way they use energy. They often begin by rethinking their work habits and procedures. They quickly discover that energy use is as much a human issue as it is mechanical. To ignore the human component of energy cost-control is to invite business risk. A lack of awareness begets a lack of accountability. And without accountability, companies have no effective response to energy risk.

Christopher Russell is recognized by the Association of Energy Engineers both as a Certified Energy Manager and a Certified Energy Procurement Specialist. As the director of industrial programs at the Alliance to Save Energy from 1999-2006, he documented and evaluated energy management practices at dozens of facilities and today continues to advise end users and others on the planning and promotion of industrial energy programs. Updated weekly, his energy management blog can be found at

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6:00 am
May 1, 2007
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Advances In Arc-Resistant Motor Control Equipment

Arc flash is responsible for about 80% of electricalrelated injuries. It occurs when an arc fault superheats the air around it, expanding and creating a pressure wave within the enclosure. The resulting arc plasma then vaporizes everything with which it comes in contact.

In industrial settings, many things could compromise the air space that acts as insulation to prevent electrical energy from igniting an electrical arc. The conductor could be as simple as a rodent, snake or water accidentally entering the electrical equipment, or human error—like leaving a tool in the equipment or forgetting to tighten a connection.

“The best prevention is an in-house safety program with compliance to NFPA 70E standards,” says Joe Sheehan, P.E, principal electrical engineer at The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). “Then my most important advice is ‘shut it off.’ Electrical equipment should never be worked on live, unless it’s for diagnostic testing for correct amperage. It’s the culture in industry that we’re trying to change to keep workers safe.”

Another important safety measure is appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE). While PPE can be effective, it also can be heavy and cumbersome.

While prevention is the best possible solution, sometimes an arc fl ash explosion occurs regardless of best intentions. That’s where technology can help protect employees. As part of their arc fl ash prevention programs, companies now can install arc-resistant motor control equipment and intelligent control systems that offer enhanced safety features and remote operation and monitoring capabilities.

The way of the future
Arc-resistant motor control centers (MCCs) are designed to contain the arc energy and direct it away from personnel— they cannot prevent an arc fl ash. “Arc-resistant” describes equipment designed to control arc fl ash exposure by extinguishing the arc, by controlling the spread of the arc or by channeling the arc pressure wave away from personnel.

John Kay, manager of Medium-Voltage MCC Engineering at Rockwell Automation Canada, has over 20 years experience working with MCCs. He compares advances in this technology to advances in automobile safety features.

“Fifty years ago, seatbelts didn’t exist,” Kay notes. “Eventually, they became standard in new vehicles, and are now legally mandatory. Newer safety features include anti-lock brakes and air bags, which will eventually become mandatory. The same can be said for arc-resistant MCCs. Arc-resistant designs represent enhanced safety technology and, therefore, an enhanced level of safety.”

According to Kay, Rockwell has a unique design in its Allen-Bradley ArcShield medium-voltage (up to 7,200 volts) arc-resistant MCC. The design redirects arc fl ash energy out relief vents at the top of the unit and away from personnel through an overhead plenum. These products have been successfully tested in accordance with ANSI C37.20.7: IEEE Guide for Testing Medium-Voltage Metal- Enclosed Switchgear for Internal Arcing Faults. During testing, cotton squares (similar to 4.5 oz/yard untreated T-shirt material) are mounted a meter from the ArcShield MCC. Acceptance criteria require that none of the cotton indicators ignite during or following a test.

“One of the key differentiators of the medium-voltage ArcShield MCC is that it maintains IEEE C37.20.7 Type 2 protection, even with the low-voltage door open for maintenance purposes,” says Kay. “The controllers are compartmentalized and the low-voltage panel is reinforced and sealed to prevent arc fl ash materials from entering it.” Specifi c testing is done to meet the requirements of each level of “arc-resistant accessibility” based on appropriate codes and standards. IEEE Type 2 accessibility means that all four sides offer protection, therefore anywhere within the perimeter of the equipment—not just in front of the door. The risk level is reduced for normal tasks to a Zone 0 category, which results in a reduced level of PPE.

To contain the pressure blast, the ArcShield controller’s cabinet is heavily reinforced with additional support members and plates, and uses 12-gauge steel for all doors, side, roof and back sheets. Extra strength, multipoint latches and robust door hinges add to the security of the unit’s main doors.

To redirect the arc exhaust gases, specialized silicone coated, aluminum pressure relief vents on the unit’s roof open to release the pressure. A plenum system above the enclosure channels the superheated gas and vaporized copper and steel to a safe and controlled location.

Kay also points out that Rockwell is the fi rst equipment manufacturer to apply arc containment features to NEMA® low-voltage motor control centers (up to 600 volts). These MCCs do not use a plenum system, instead, they release the arc gases and pressure out the front of the cabinet in a lateral direction, away from personnel.

ArcShield products also can incorporate intelligent motor control solutions, including remote monitoring and isolation features to help prevent accidental exposure to energized parts. For example, networking these MCCs with Rockwell’s IntelliCENTER software permits realtime monitoring, confi guring or troubleshooting of both medium- and low-voltage products. This information can be accessed from anywhere in the world via a secure Internet link.

Both medium- and low-voltage models can be specifi ed with built-in DeviceNet™ wiring for remote monitoring of the equipment’s operating parameters, which keeps personnel out of the MCC room.

Rockwell Automation 
Milwaukee, WI

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6:00 am
May 1, 2007
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Safe Work Practices For Workplace Disasters

Despite well-established policies, procedures and recordkeeping, unexpected obstacles or snags often cause setbacks during scheduled or routine maintenance. In most cases, we’ve allotted adequate time to overcome these problems, allowing for safe and thorough completion of the task within a timeframe that doesn’t hurt the up rate of the process. On the other hand, what about unplanned and unscheduled maintenance that cannot be predicted or prevented—and the safety concerns that these situations may raise?

A view from the trenches 
A malfunction or miss operation can result in a pretty messy breakdown. Some people refer to this type of incident as “the wrench thrown into the works.” It usually calls for the repair of equipment under a more stressful environment than usual—meaning truly unfavorable working conditions. More often than not, these breakdowns seem to occur at a particularly untimely, unsuitable, inconvenient hour of the day or night, typically when production management is demanding that the impossible be done yesterday.

Most of us working in the “trenches” of the industrial battlefield find ourselves in these situations from time to time. In dealing with unplanned maintenance, it is vitally important for Maintenance teams to adhere to all relevant safety guidelines and procedures supplied to them by their respective companies. The following reminders and strategies are offered simply as suggestions to help teams address future unplanned events.

Protect thyself. . . 
Don’t become a casualty! This is priority one. All too often, when unplanned maintenance pressures surround us, we tend to react before we assess. Not good. Instead, we need to more deeply assess an unplanned and/or catastrophic situation before we begin repair.

Protect yourself. Don your personal protective equipment (PPE). Don’t rush indon’t rush the job.

Control the scene. . . 
Power down the equipment and isolate all other energy sources (electrical, steam, water, hydraulics, etc.). Lock out/Tag out! Take a look around to ensure that no other troubles have occurred in the area as a result of the original failed equipment.

Once all is secure, begin assessing the trouble spot and the damage. Bring in as much of your Maintenance team as you can. The old saying that “too many cooks spoil the pot” doesn’t apply to the Maintenance field. The more experienced, watchful eyes looking at the problem area, the better our understanding of the failure will be. Moreover, this approach also means there are more eyes to survey for any unsafe conditions that might still remain.

Identify and fix safely and quickly. . . 
In most cases, after establishing a safe, secure and confident environment, a skilled Maintenance group can identify the failure quickly. And, because you have brought as many experienced Maintenance personnel on scene as you can, the fix can be evaluated and the repair time estimated at an accelerated rate.

Remember, the more minds the better. There is power in numbers. There is safety in numbers.

Now, disperse the team. Some should go get parts. Some should go get tools.

Most importantly, some should start cleaning. The area has to be clean before the work begins. This will eliminate risk of injury and remove any hindrances that could delay the repair.

When the work begins, the Maintenance team needs to keep talking to each other. Give a play-by-play analysis of what’s going on. This type of continuous communication informs everyone on the work that is being done—and the progression of that work. Ongoing communication also can help eliminate errors that might inadvertently (and silently) occur. In the end, the job is completed safely and in a timely manner.

Don’t overlook post-repair steps. . .

  • Once the repair work is finished, clean the area well and reinstall all guards.
  • Bring on power and energy sources slowly with everyone’s knowledge of the steps taking place.
  • Then, as standard practice would have it, all involved should begin to look, listen and feel.

The “Safe” team-oriented approach outlined here, coupled with continuous, quality communication, can help produce a timely and successful repair for your unplanned maintenance situations.

Final notes
Money is the bottom line for all businesses. A conscientious employer knows the value of a Maintenance professional. In the grand scheme of profit and losses, it is not cost-effective for a company to lose a highly qualified Maintenance team member because of an injury resulting from hasty reactions to a chaotic situation.

Take for example a Maintenance worker with 10 years experience. He/she gets hurt. What if the company loses that individual for a single day? Doesn’t this hurt productivity—especially when equipment is down? A losttime injury, though, could last for weeks. Consider what your company could lose in job knowledge and familiarity with the process and equipment while a Maintenance team member recovers from a lost-time injury. This calculation doesn’t even begin to take into account the time and money invested in training and educating that experienced technician over the past 10 years. It’s gone. Most employers understand the value of their Maintenance professionals. Some employees within a company may not. Don’t let one person’s ignorance coerce you into taking unnecessary risks.

Do not succumb to outside pressures when it involves your own safety or the safety of another employee. Protect yourself, your fellow workers and your company. Taking a “Safe,” calm approach can help prevent casualties.

Glenn Anderson is maintenance supervisor at Toray Plastics (America), Inc., an ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 certified company, in North Kingstown, RI. Anderson began his career with Toray 15 years ago. For the past 12 years he’s been responsible for the company’s preventive maintenance, repairs and up rate of equipment.

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6:00 am
May 1, 2007
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Lubricant Analysis Supports Predictive Maintenance


Today’s most successful lubrication programs—those that boast high percentages of equipment availability and enviable machine longevity—depend heavily on identifying contaminants in lube oils and other factors that can cause mechanical damage. Identification of the root causes of internal damage is definitely part of effective lubrication management. Information on the type and extent of contamination then can be utilized for predictive maintenance to avert breakdowns and extend equipment life.

Too often, however, a “lubrication program” is limited to selecting the correct lubricant for each type of machine and following recommended oil change schedules.

The most effective lubrication programs seek to identify the presence of contaminants and apply that information as a guide to future maintenance. Such programs seem to reflect the following commonalities:

  • A motivated manager who is passionate about protecting plant assets and takes the initiative in establishing contamination controls;
  • Periodic on-site analysis of oil samples taken from operating machinery; and
  • Corrective maintenance based on predicting trouble ahead.

Periodic monitoring for metal fragments, dirt and debris, water and other contamination in a lubricant leads to the early recognition that internal damage may be occurring. Maintenance or repairs in response to such knowledge make it possible for these machines to run longer than ever imagined—which can lead to substantial economic benefits for a facility.

An effective program
An effective lubrication and oil analysis program at the General Motors Truck and Bus Assembly Plant in New Jersey recorded an ROI of 738% on the expenditure of $100,810, after a critical gearbox failure caused a very costly 27-hour shutdown. On-site oil analysis yielded reliable information regarding the condition of lubricating oils, and timely oil replacement plus some necessary repairs allowed Maintenance personnel to quickly bring the problems under control. Simply eliminating damage to machinery resulted in documented savings of $1.6 million over the next 28 months, not including the savings achieved in avoiding unexpected downtime.

Predictive maintenance 
Predictive maintenance (PdM) has been shown to be less costly than either reactive maintenance (i.e. fixing something after it breaks) or preventive maintenance, which requires significant staffing to perform the numerous tasks recommended by machine manufacturers. PdM programs are built on field-generated information that is evaluated by managers and supervisors in determining just when to perform maintenance in order to maximize productivity without endangering a machine or chancing downtime. Information on the condition of each machine is matched against its importance in the overall production process. Machines that are critical to maintaining production—key turbines, compressors, pumps, etc.—are watched carefully so as to predict future performance. When lubricant samples reveal signs of degradation in such a machine, managers have to quickly determine whether immediate repairs are necessary to prevent a catastrophic failure or whether they can wait for a regularly scheduled shutdown to make repairs.

Oil analysis enabled a large pulp and paper mill in the southeastern U.S. to avert the failure of a wood chipper that could have cost the company as much as $100,000 in repairs and lost production time. Fragile babbitt bearings guiding the chipper shaft were fragmenting, possibly due to a slight misalignment or imbalance, and the wood yard supervisor was not aware of the condition. Fortunately, the source of the fragments was identified through analysis of oil samples from the chipper and repairs were performed in time to prevent an unplanned shutdown.

The chipper had been receiving what was considered adequate lubrication—a quarterly oil change along with filtration. However, calendar-based lubrication often is not satisfactory, especially in dirty, dusty areas where oil quickly can become contaminated.

In less critical cases, predicting the runtime of a machine based on its lubricant may result in slating that machine for repair during the next scheduled maintenance period. If the oil is in good condition when tested, it even may be possible to extend the time before an oil change. Lubrication is always most effective and cost-efficient when oil changes are based on the condition of the lubricant, not a predetermined schedule.

The analytical program 
The condition of operating machinery may be determined best through a well-structured program of lubricant sampling and oil analysis—but not all oil analysis programs are equal. Just because your plant engages in some form of oil analysis, you can’t assume that your machinery is well protected.

The purpose of oil analysis is to identify lubricant components that indicate wear caused by abrasion, adhesion and corrosion. Careful sampling, reliable testing and knowledgeable analysis of the test results are the basic elements of a solid program to determine whether lube oils are contaminated or changed in character. This information can be crucial in predicting when maintenance should be performed.

Samples should be collected and tested often enough to detect contamination and chemistry problems and to establish trends. It’s important to be sure sampling is frequent enough to give maintenance personnel time to respond. For example, if contamination due to a bad seal could lead to damage within three months, samples should be taken from that machine at least monthly to identify a problem early enough to replace any faulty seals. In other cases, experience may show that periodic sampling can be extended.

How many samples should be collected? Every plant is different, but most can realize excellent cost savings based on knowledge gained by collecting, testing and analyzing about 100 lube oil samples each month. Some intensive programs actually test more than 1000 samples per month.

Rule of Thumb: If there are 3000 vibration points in the oil lubricated pumps, motors, compressors, turbines, gearboxes, air handlers and other rotating machinery in your plant, at least 100 oil samples should be tested monthly to complement vibration monitoring.

Quality and reliability are the most important objectives of sample testing that can be performed offsite by a lube oil supplier or an independent laboratory. A well equipped in-house lab also is capable of doing all the essential tests, including quantitative and qualitative particle counting, particle size distribution and wear debris analysis.

Lubricant suppliers should remain just that—suppliers— and should not be involved in testing for a variety of reasons. Since they have a vested interest in retaining your business, suppliers may tend to overstate the condition of tested samples, which can result in unnecessary and costly oil replacement. Beware the supplier who offers free oil analysis as a value-added service. Such programs are generally worth about what you pay for them.

Many independent testing laboratories produce excellent results, but the going price for oil analysis by an independent lab today is about $35 per sample, or $3,500 per month for a 100-sample program. Well-equipped on-site labs operated by trained analysts can be equally effective at a lower per-sample cost.

On-site labs make good sense for plants with more than 100 oil systems in that the site can maintain better control over the samples, and testing can be done as often as necessary. Since results are available immediately, if any of them are questionable, retesting can be done very quickly.

The key to success with an on-site program is having a well-trained, in-house champion with a vision for improvement. Such was the case at the previously-referenced Southeastern paper mill, where testing equipment, similar to that shown in the accompanying photo, was installed for oil analysis. Enthusiasm for the mill’s program grew as it received credit for more and more savings.

One individual should be responsible for taking the lead in oil sampling and on-site testing. That person should be trained in testing and analysis—and should be excited about the possibility of saving money for his or her company. Formal training is essential. The Society for Tribologists and Lubrication Engineers (STLE) provides training and certifies individuals as Lubrication Specialists and Oil Monitoring Analysts. The standards for these courses are high and the exams are not easy. Training and certification also is available from many equipment vendors.

This is the real measure of effectiveness. A successful PdM program prevents costly problems and has documentation to prove it. A saving of $250,000 in the first year of an inhouse analytical program is not an unreasonable expectation in a large plant. Dedicated oil analysis will identify potentially costly problems that can be averted and oil consumption will be reduced.

Savings often are achieved by adopting a plan of “as needed” replacement rather than changing oil periodically. If analysis shows a lubricant to be free of contamination, there’s no need to replace it based on the OEM-recommended schedule. Therefore, lubricants frequently last longer than expected, especially in clean environments. Mike Lawson at the Bowater Paper Mill in Calhoun, TN, says he can do a lot of testing at $15 per sample rather than replace the 35 gallons in a gearbox at a total cost of about $480. That includes $140 for the oil, $240 for two mechanics working six hours, $50 to dispose of the used oil and another $50 to restock. As Lawson noted in another article published in this magazine, “When test results show that there is nothing wrong with the oil in a gearbox or other machinery, we don’t change it. Most times it is not degraded and is actually quite clean.” [Ref. 1]

Other elements 
Remember: Oil analysis is just one part of a comprehensive PdM program that also includes vibration monitoring and analysis, ultrasonics and thermography. Oil analysis supplements vibration monitoring and analysis by revealing two key root causes of machinery failure—changes in oil chemistry and oil contamination.

Predict, then act
Any good sized plant that is collecting and testing fewer than 50 lube oil samples per month is probably missing problems that are costing far more in labor (and other expenses) than the price of a more expansive program. It takes a person familiar with the layout about one week a month to collect and test 100 samples from critically important equipment. The payoff in both labor and cost savings is far greater than the time spent doing this work. As a certified technician at the first mill mentioned in this article said, “Our new on-site oil analysis system definitely paid for itself very quickly. We now do condition-based monitoring, oil analysis and predictive maintenance, and we’re light years ahead of where we used to be.”


  1. Garvey, Ray, and Martin, Ray, “The Bill Is Coming Due” (Lubrication & Fluid Power, November-December 2005)

Ray Garvey is the Tribology Solutions manager at Emerson’s Machinery Health Management Division in Knoxville, TN. Telephone: (865) 675-2400 ext. 3435; or

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6:00 am
May 1, 2007
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Education and Training

Training has changed radically over the past decade. Nowhere are these changes more evident than in the maturation of training that is based on or utilizes electronic media, including numerous additions to the training lexicon.

Here are just a few of the most important terms maintenance professionals need to know as they make their way through the new education mazes.

Asynchronous training/learning…
Any training program that does not require the student and instructor to participate at the same time. Common examples are self-paced, online tutorials.

Blended learning…
A training curriculum that combines multiple types of media. Blended learning usually refers to a combination of classroom-based training with self-paced e-learning.

Classroom training…
Any training that takes place with the students and facilitator interacting in a real, physical classroom. A form of “instructor-led training (ILT)” which, although there is an instructor, could still take place over an Internet connection.

Collaborative learning…
Learning through the exchange and sharing of information and opinions among a group. Computers and the Internet have enabled collaborative learning for geographically dispersed groups.

Computer-based training/learning/education (CBT, CBL or CBE)…
Any computer program used by a learner to acquire knowledge or skills.

Software used to support educational activities.

Distance learning… 
Education and training activities in which the instructor and students are separated by time, location, or both. Distance learning may be synchronous or asynchronous.

Broad defi nition of the fi eld of using electronic technology to deliver learning and training programs. e-Learning applications and processes include Web-based learning, computer-based learning, virtual classrooms, and digital collaboration. Content is delivered via the Internet, intranet/extranet, audio or video tape, satellite TV, and CD/DVD.

Kirkpatrick Evaluation Model… 
The four-step training evaluation methodology developed by Donald Kirkpatrick in 1975. Level 1 refers to the students’ reaction to the training. Level 2 refers to the measurement of actual learning (i.e., knowledge transfer). Level 3 measures behavior change. Level 4 measures business results.

Learning management system… 
A program that manages the administration of training. Typically includes functionality for course catalogs, launching courses, registering students, tracking student progress, and assessments.

Stands for “mobile learning” and refers to the usage of training programs on wireless devices like cell phones, PDAs, or other such devices.

Synchronous training/learning… 
Any training program in which the student and instructor participate at the same time. Traditional classroom training and an instructor-led chat session are forms of synchronous training.

Technology-based training (TBT)…
Term encompassing all uses of a computer in support of learning, including but not limited to tutorials, simulations, collaborative learning environments, and performance support tools. Synonyms include CBL (computer-based learning), TBL (technology-based learning), CBE (computer-based education), CBT (computer-based training), e-learning, and many other variations.




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6:00 am
May 1, 2007
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Connecting With Centralized Lubrication Technology

Every moving part on a machine benefits from timely and effective lubrication to help reduce wear, minimize lubricant consumption and maximize efficiency. These benefits can be more fully realized by introducing centralized lubrication technology to deliver the right lubricant at the right time in the right quantity to the right point of use.

All types of standard and specialized machines can run with centralized lubrication systems. Applications encompass equipment used in a wide range of industries, including automotive, machine tool, metals, printing, paper, food and beverage, mining, chemical, plastics, hydrocarbon processing, refinery and wind energy, among many others. (Commercial vehicles, off-road equipment and rail systems represent viable candidates, too.)

0507_lubesystems_img1In all cases, centralized lubrication feeds lubricant from a central source to the points on a machine or machining system where friction occurs. The goal is to reduce friction and dissipate some of the heat generated by friction. With centralized lubrication, every bearing receives the proper lubricant in an exact amount to minimize wear and promote longer service life. The problems associated with excessive lubrication can vanish, lubricant consumption can fall over time (in some applications by as much as 50% compared with inexact manual methods) and maintenance time, energy and costs can diminish. The only requirements: Refill the lubrication reservoir and occasionally inspect the connected lubrication points.

The potentially staggering number of on-site (and sometimes hard-to-access) lubrication points makes perhaps the most compelling case for implementing centralized (vs. manual) lubrication technology. A customer census, for example, has identified 7500 individual lubrication points for a paper mill; 5500 for an automotive assembly plant; 4000 for a steel mill; 3500 for a refinery; 2000 for a cement mill; 1500 for a plastics plant; and 1000 for a frozen foods facility. Regardless of the number, centralized lubrication systems foster opportunities to improve productivity and profitability by increasing machinery uptime and keeping maintenance issues in check.

System profiles
0507_lubesystems_img2Centralized lubrication technology generally falls under two broad “umbrella” categories: total-loss and circulating-oil systems.

In total-loss systems friction points are always supplied with fresh lubricant (oil, fluid grease or grease) at specific intervals (time or machine-cycle dependent) during the lubricating cycle (such as pump run time). The lubricant is furnished in the proper quantity at friction points to allow for buildup of an adequate film of lubricant during the subsequent idle period. Over time, the forces of aging, evaporation, bleeding and leaks will contribute to partial depletion of the lubricant at the friction point.

Circulating-oil lubrication systems provide for the lubricant to flow back into the lubricant reservoir for reuse after passing through the friction points. In this way, the lubricant carries even more benefits as it transfers forces and damps vibrations; removes abrasion particles from friction points; stabilizes the temperature (cooling or heating) of friction points; prevents corrosion; and removes condensate and process water.

Within the total-loss and circulating-oil categories, primary types of installations include single-line, dual-line, progressive feeder and minimal-quantity lubrication systems. Their profiles are as follows:


0507_lubesystems_img3Single-line. . .
These total-loss lubrication systems supply machinery lubrication points with relatively small amounts of lubricant (oil or fluid grease up to NLGI grade 2) to cover precisely the amount consumed. As such, they operate intermittently as required. Lubricant can be delivered by manually, mechanically, hydraulically or pneumatically operated piston pumps or by electrically driven gear pumps. In single-line systems, lubricant is metered out by piston distributors installed in the tubing system. Exchangeable metering nipples on the distributors make it possible to supply every lube point with the requisite amount of lubricant per stroke or pump work cycle. Metered quantities can range from .01 to 1.5 ccm per lubrication pulse and lube point. The amount of lubricant to be fed to the lube points can also be influenced by the number of lubrication pulses.

The standard layout of a single-line total-loss lubrication system incorporates a pump and spring-loaded piston distributor; main line (connecting to pump and distributor) and secondary line (connecting to distributor and lube point). Performing as a total-loss lubrication system, an oil return line from the lube point to the oil reservoir is unnecessary.

Dual-line. . . 
These systems can deliver oil or grease (up to NLGI grade 2) to as many as 1000 lube points (and distribution points can be easily added or removed). They can be configured to run either as total-loss or circulating-oil versions.

Dual-line layouts consist of two main lines with their respective secondary lines and fittings; an electrically driven pump with reservoir; dual-line feeders; reversing valve and control unit.

All the distributors of a dual-line system are pressurized at the same time— resulting in low pressure losses—and the “reset” of the delivery piston is simultaneously the second delivery stroke, which takes place at full pump pressure. This is what makes dual-line versions especially suitable for extended systems and more viscous types of grease. Assemblies with or without compressive seals can be specified to accommodate light and heavy-duty operating conditions.

Progressive feeder… 
0507_lubesystems_img5Whether functioning as a total-loss or circulating-oil system, progressive feeder systems are intended for intermittent delivery of lubricant (grease up to NLGI grade 2) and are capable of handling up to several hundred lube points. They also offer the ability to provide central monitoring of all feeder outlets, if desired, at relatively low cost.

Progressive feeder installations use pneumatically or manually operated or electrically driven piston pumps. Metered quantities of lubricant are fed progressively in predetermined ratios from master feeders to the lube points, either directly or via a secondary downstream feeder. The lubricant does not leave the respective feeder until the preceding one has discharged its volume. If a lube point does not accept any lubricant, regardless of the reason, or if a secondary feeder is blocked, the entire lubrication cycle is interrupted, which can be used to emit a signal to alert operators to the problem.

These specialized types of total-loss metering systems have been variously engineered for the lubrication of tools and chains, oiling of joined parts and converting from “wet” to “dry” machining operations, where only a minimal amount of lubricant (10ml to 50ml per hour) is required to prevent premature tool wear and/or a poor work piece surface finish.

Minimal-quantity lubrication (MQL) replaces traditional “flood” coolant lubrication by enabling lubricant to be fed to the exact friction point between the tools and work piece externally or from the inside through the tool. Combined systems have been developed to accomplish both.

In an external volumetric MQL system, both lubricant and air are supplied to a spray nozzle or mixing point via coaxial feed lines. The lubricant is then atomized using compressed air and applied to the work piece or tool. In an external, continually dispensing system, oil mist is generated in the supply unit and a feed line supplies the aerosol to the tool or work piece. Using internal MQL, the tool applies the aerosol directly to the lubrication point.

By converting from conventional “flood” lubrication to minimal-quantity lubrication for some equipment, shorter production times can be achieved. Cost savings from this method can result from, among other things, cooling lubricants becoming redundant and elimination of entire machine tool components (such as lubricant filters and conditioning installations) and the expense associated with the disposal of chippings and cooling lubricants.

Installation notes 
Decision-making for the most appropriate system will depend, in general, on the application and, in particular, on a range of other parameters, such as the operating conditions (variations in the operating temperature and lubricant viscosity); accuracy requirements for lubricant quantities system geometry (size, dimensions, and symmetry); and monitoring demands, among others. When planning and subsequently installing a centralized lubrication system the following guidelines can help advance the process:

  • Determine the number of lube points.
  • Factor in the amounts of oil required per lube point and the total amount of oil required per stroke (with piston pumps) or work cycle (with gear pumps).
  • Select the distributors in accordance with the metering range and available space. A distinction must be made between oil-only distributors and those that are also suitable for fluid grease.
  • Choose pumps consistent with the type of actuation and capacity of the system.
  • Determine the type of control for the automatic system (timeor load-dependent) and any monitoring system that may be required.
  • When installing a system, lay out all the main lines and distributors to enable air in the system to escape on its own via the lube points.
  • Check the resistance in the main line, particularly regarding the relief process, when especially large and widely branched systems are involved and when high-viscosity oils are used.

When centralized lubrication systems are properly designed and implemented, advantages will flow. Users can expect reliable lubricant coverage (especially important for machines with dozens or more lubrication points); optimal lubrication intervals and dynamic lubrication; enhanced oversight (supported by available integrated control units and fill-level monitoring); and lubricant consumption-specific setup and adjustment of maintenance intervals via different sizes of pumps and lubricant reservoirs.

It is important to take care during the installation, startup and maintenance of any centralized lubrication system. The designated system should receive the same attention as all other sophisticated equipment on a machine. Partnering early in the process with an experienced, knowledgeable expert can help fulfill the promise these systems can deliver.

Jerry McLain is business development manager, Lubrication, for SKF USA Inc. His experience includes assisting in the development and implementation of customized machinery and equipment lubrication programs for industry. Telephone: (513) 248-4335; e-mail:

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