Archive | July, 2007

238

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July 1, 2007
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Non-OEM Pump Rebuild Shops: Facts And Considerations

In light of so many consolidations across the pump industry, is it any wonder that legacy brand experience often is lost? These days, some OEMs may not be able to offer the same engineering competence they once had in the area of pump rebuilding.

Trying to rebuild a vintage process pump to original OEM specifications makes no sense, given current pump rebuilding capabilities and changes to system performance that occur over time. Thus, a qualified independent rebuild shop deploying highly experienced personnel and a full range of state-of-the-art technologies (including balancing and alignment, vibration analysis, ultrasonics, infrared thermography, oil analysis and non-destructive testing techniques, among others) can verifiably offer high-quality upgrades that improve both uptime and efficiency consistent with current system performance requirements.

0707_pumprebuild1How, though, do you go about identifying such an operation? More importantly, how can you be sure that the shop to which you entrust your pumps will rebuild them to deliver the efficiency and reliability you desire? It’s not easy—you have many factors to take into consideration. This month, we discuss some general guidelines regarding the selection of a competent non-OEM pump repair operation.

Warranty issues
A competent repair facility will fully warrantee its work. There is no quibbling as to who supplied what associated parts and services, and which sub-vendors are responsible for delivering questionable or inadequate components. Truly competent facilities will not shift responsibility in this regard. Their competence is their bond and they will have taken steps to assure quality at all levels. That being the case, an informed user will not claim that only the OEM stands behind his work. A competent repair facility will do no less and the case is closed.

Consider a large refinery with well over 3000 centrifugal pumps installed on its premises. The refinery owns pumps that rarely fail and others that fail rather often. Some are large and others are small. Some are critically important and others less so. Some are reliable but inefficient, or efficient, but less reliable overall. A well-informed pump user will have access to much pertinent information and, especially, will have failure frequency data relating to his pump population. These data and an understanding of what caused a given pump failure will enable the user or competent pump rebuild shop to point out and explain, specify or recommend a number of appropriate options. Once cost-effective options are selected, the competent pump rebuild shop, henceforth abbreviated to “CPRS,” should be asked to implement measures that include upgrading of sensitive components, avoidance of vulnerable lubricant application methods and others.

At the same time, there should be an understanding between the pump owner and CPRS as to whether hydraulic upgrade options exist. In other words, before embarking on the repair of a pump that presently operates at 65% of best efficiency point (BEP) flow and draws a current of, say, 100 amps, it would be nice to know if a different impeller would be available that might cause operation to shift to 95% of BEP and draw only 90 amps. A simple calculation might reveal the payback and straightforward overall cost justification for such an upgrade.

0707_pumprebuild_quote1Also, based on an understanding of what failed and why, a reliability-focused user will surely want to implement routine shop upgrades, which are defined as those done on “bad actor” pumps. Bad actors are those that require repairs more often than the rest of the pump population, and routine upgrades are done on those pumps so as to reduce future failure risk.

Uptime-extending upgrades
The following list is a summary of routine shop upgrading done on pumps that fail frequently. This summary is presented early in this article because it seems these upgrade measures are rarely pursued by OEM shops, whereas an independent CPRS is more likely to explain and advocate them.

  1. Double-row, single inner ring angular contact bearings in ANSI pumps can be replaced with modern double-row, double inner ring angular contact bearings.
  2. The unbalanced constant level lubricator is discarded and a balanced model incorporating a sight glass is installed. The balance line is routed to the top of the bearing housing (former location of the housing vent—now discarded).
  3. The new balanced constant level lubricator is mounted on the “up-arrow” side shown in the vendor’s or manufacturer’s literature.
  4. Oil rings are being replaced by suitable flinger discs. Flinger discs have a metal hub and are set-screwed or suitably fastened to the shaft. The actual disc is made of a suitable elastomer or flexible metal, and its lowermost 3/8” portion immersed in the lube oil. To be considered suitable, the manufacturer-endorsed peripheral speed limitation must be observed.
  5. On larger bearings and in installations where circulating lube oil is often preferred, plant shops are encouraged to obtain input from their respective Plant Technical Services Group. With the concurrence of these reliability professionals, convert to direct oil spray lubrication with a device that pressurizes oil drawn from the bearing housing sump.
  6. Pumps with dry sump oil mist previously applied at the center of the bearing housing should be modified to apply oil mist per API-610 8th Edition, e.g. the mist enters between the bearing protector seal and the bearing.
  7. Unless shaft surface speeds exceed 10 m/s (~2000 ft/ min), all “bad actor” pumps and small steam turbines are being fitted with dual-face magnetic bearing housing seals. The bearing housing is now quasi hermetically sealed—nothing goes in or out. The bearing housing end cap is painted with white spray paint so that any (highly unlikely) oil leakage will show up easily.
  8. Unless oil rings are used (in which case, a thinner oil may be needed), use ISO Grade 68 diester or PAO synthetic lubricant on all bad actor pumps (“bad actors” are those that fail more frequently than most others in a given plant). An aluminum or stainless steel label stating oil type is affixed to the top of the pump.
  9. Cooling water is removed from all centrifugal pumps with rolling element bearings.
  10. The shaft interference fit for back-to-back angular contact bearings is carefully measured and verified not to exceed 0.0003” on shafts up to and including 80 mm diameter.

Of course, pump repair and rebuilding efforts often go beyond just the routines that were described above. Repair scopes differ from pump to pump and must be defined if the goals of uptime extension and failure risk reduction are to be achieved.

Defining the repair scope
The CPRS has both the tools and the experience needed to define a work scope beyond the foregoing summary of routine upgrading. The CPRS takes a lead role in defining the repair scope and all parties realize that reasonably accurate definitions will be possible only after first making a thorough “Incoming Inspection.” On a written form or document, on both paper and in the computer memory, the owner-customer, manufacturer, pump type, model designation, plant location, service, direction of rotation and other data of interest are logged in, together with operating and performance data. The main effort goes into describing the general condition of a pump, and this effort might be followed by a more detailed description of the work. Either way: it constitutes the condition review.

Condition reviews include photos of the as-received equipment and close-up photos of parts and components of special interest. End floats, lifts and other detailed measurements are taken and recorded on a dimensional record both before and after total dismantling. Components are marked or labeled, and hardware is counted and cataloged. Bearings, bushings and impellers are removed. Bead blasting, steam or other cleaning methods are listed and a completion date for these preliminary steps is agreed upon. It should be noted that only now would a competent shop consider it time to arrive at the next phase in its repair scope definition.

Non-destructive testing (NDT) is the next step and must be used where applicable. A good pump rebuild shop will issue a form that identifies the chosen inspection method, perhaps liquid dye penetrant or magnetic particle methods. While a detailed discussion of NDT inspection is beyond the scope of this presentation, its importance must be stressed and the CPRS will recognize this need.

0707_pumprebuild2There also may be a need for electrical runout readings at eddy current probe locations, rotor (shaft) total indicator readings (TIR), individual impeller balance, rotor balance and residual unbalance. Such a form would also list the authority for performing these inspections, acceptance criteria, condemnation limits and other items of interest. Some of the ultimate inspection results would be documented on this form as well; other inspection results would go on separate forms.

Recall that the term “form” refers to both paper and computerized formats. It also should be evident that there is a transitioning of documents that define initial work scope, to documents that deal with material certification, documentation of as-achieved (or as-built) dimensions, adequacy or fitness-forservice of auxiliary components or repair quality.

Repair procedures/restoration guidelines
Pump manufacturers usually supply pump maintenance manuals with detailed assembly and disassembly instructions that are either generic or specific to a particular pump style and model. A number of important checks should be performed by the CPRS for users whose serious goal it is to systematically eradicate failure risk. Both the CPRS and the user have responsibilities in ascertaining that all quality checks are performed with due diligence.

0707_pumprebuild_quote2Concentricity and perpendicularity
Experience shows that after years of repairs, many pumps are due for a series of comprehensive dimensional and assembly-related checks. As a minimum, every pump that is labeled a “bad actor” and considered part of the reliability-focused user’s initial pump failure reduction program should be given the checks described in Figs. 1-4. The verification setup is conveyed in Fig. 1; it originates in decades-old vendor literature. These directives are still quite relevant today. After the various dial indicator checks of Fig. 1 are complete, the dimensional “before vs. after” findings listed in Figs. 2, 3 and 4 should be recorded in either the (preferred) electronic, or, as a minimum, paper format. Users and shops that do not take time to record these pump repair data will find it very difficult to reach their desired failure reduction objectives. (Note that certain seal-related dimensions may not apply to cartridge seals.)

Coming in September
In Part II of this series, we explain issues and guidelines regarding selection of competent non-OEM pump rebuilders in further detail, illustrating the discussion with actual case study accounts.

Frequent contributor Heinz Bloch is well-known to Maintenance Technology readers. The author of 17 comprehensive textbooks and over 340 other publications on machinery reliability and lubrication, he can be contacted directly at: hpbloch@mchsi.com

Jim Steiger is senior aftermarket engineer with HydroAire, Inc., in Chicago, IL. Telephone: (312) 804-3694.

Robert Bluse is president of Pump Services Consulting, in Golden, CO. Telephone: (303) 916-5032.

For more information: This article has been excerpted and condensed from NPRA Presentation RMC-07-95, “OEM vs. Independent Re-Build Shops: Why Having All the Facts and Keeping an Open Mind Is Essential,” delivered at the NPRA Reliability & Maintenance Conference, May 22-25, 2007, Houston, TX. To obtain the full presentation, contact NPRA directly (www.NPRA.org).

References

1. Bloch, Heinz P. and Alan Budris; Pump User’s Handbook: Life Extension, (2006) Fairmont Publishing Company, Lilburn, GA, 2nd, Revised Edition, ISBN 0-88173-517-5

2. Bloch, Heinz P. and Claire Soares; Process Plant Machinery for Chemical Engineers, (1998) Butterworth-Heinemann, Woburn, MA. 2nd, Revised Edition, ISBN 0-7506-7081-9

3. Bloch, Heinz P.; “Twelve Equipment Reliability Enhancements with 10:1 Payback”, Presentation/Paper No. RCM- 05-82, NPRA Reliability & Maintenance Conference, New Orleans, LA, May 2005

4. Bloch, Heinz P.; “High Performance Polymers as Wear Components in Fluid Machinery,” World Pumps, November, 2005

5. Bloch, Heinz P. and Fred Geitner; Major Process Equipment Maintenance and Repair, (2006) Gulf Publishing Company, Houston, TX, 2nd Edition, ISBN 0-88415- 663-X

6. Bloch, Heinz P.; “How to Select a Centrifugal Pump Vendor,” Hydrocarbon Processing, June 1978

7. Bloch, Heinz P.; “How to Buy a Better Pump,” Hydrocarbon Processing, January 1982

8. Bloch, Heinz P.; “Implementing And Practicing Reliability Engineering,” ASME Energy Conference, Houston, TX, January 1996

9. Bloch, Heinz P., Machinery Reliability Improvement, Gulf Publishing Company, (1998) Houston, TX, 3rd Edition ISBN 0-88415-661-3

10. Bloch, Heinz P. and Fred Geitner; Machinery Failure Analysis and Troubleshooting, (1997) Gulf Publishing Company, Houston, TX, 3rd Edition, ISBN 0-88415- 663-1

11. Dufour, John W., and William E. Nelson; Centrifugal Pump Sourcebook, (1993) McGraw-Hill, New York, NY, ISBN 0-07-018033-4

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171

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July 1, 2007
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Technology To Manage Predictive Maintenance

jane_alexander

Jane Alexander, Editor-In-Chief

This online software and its database capabilities can make PdM easier.

0707_solspot_img1When Matrix Risk Consultants wanted to offer clients infrared inspections several years ago, the company had a couple of options. It could either purchase equipment and develop its own program management and analytic tools for clients or find a partner with the best technology to complement its loss prevention services.

Matrix wanted to do more than just offer infrared. It wanted to change the way results were delivered. The idea was to develop advanced software with database capabilities to make it possible to capture, manage and analyze data from hundreds or thousands of inspections across facilities, regions and countries.

0707_solspot_quote1According to Larry Jones, president of Matrix, predictive maintenance (PdM) providers have typically distributed inspection reports the same way for the past 25 years, by sending send a hard-copy or CD-Rom report. Some might even post these reports online. “The reports show problem areas, but most are static. There are no interactive capabilities to drill down into more detailed data, and see what was done across multiple locations or track the status of each issue.”

0707_solspot_quote2Matrix found its solution with Predictive Service (PSC), a global provider of PdM programs and Web-based software for interactive online analysis and reporting. Matrix was especially interested the company’s ViewPoint® offering, a patented reporting software.

Jones notes that ViewPoint’s database capabilities are what really set it apart. “We wanted to implement advanced technology,” he says. “PSC was so far along, though, that it didn’t make sense to try to catch up. So we formed a strategic alliance.” The software captures field data, displaying the results online for easy access from any location. Search, sort and aggregating features allow easy monitoring of PdM programs. Users can also realize and customize their ROI data to their specific parameters and locations.

0707_solspot_img2Additional features provide for baseline documentation of all surveyed equipment, problem acknowledgement and verification, tracking of open, scheduled and completed issues, recording of actual repair actions, and email alerts. While companies managing PdM programs for one site or thousands have greatly benefited from the software, PSC is rolling out a new version in August with new features and functionality to make it an even more valuable PdM resource.

The new ViewPoint software integrates all programs and technologies on one platform (infrared, vibration and oil analysis and ultrasound). Users access one website for a comprehensive view of all PdM activities and results across all locations and operating units, with the ability to drill down all the way to individual pieces of equipment.

Predictive Service (PSC)
Cleveland, OH

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140

6:00 am
July 1, 2007
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Vibration Monitoring Software

Keep the following information in mind as you seek out the best product for your specific needs

“Craftsmanship” results when highly trained, skilled and knowledgeable workers use tools and machinery to perform their work or trade, turning out the highest levels of quality and appeal. It’s nothing new. “Craftsmen” actually are descendants of ancient Artisans, the predominant producers of goods prior to the Industrial Revolution. Both Artisans and Craftsmen were revered for their knowledge and abilities to build, create or construct products with high degrees of excellence. In centuries past, Craftsmen were truly admired and highly sought after.

Today, “Maintenance” is not a trade or craft in the traditional sense of the word. But, it should be—if we expect high-performing, reliable, cost-competitive equipment and facilities. Our Nation, business, industry and infrastructure will continue to be at risk if we do nothing to change the perceptions, development and the retention of the highly skilled employees who are responsible for ensuring that our equipment and facilities operate reliably and cost-effectively. Let’s look at the historical development of a “Craftsman” as a lesson for our future.

0707_uptime_ludeca1Craftsmen & Tradesmen
A skilled manual worker in a specific trade or craft was called Craftsman or Tradesman. (Today’s politically correct terms are Craftworker and Tradesperson.) The status of such a worker typically would lie somewhere between that of a laborer and a highly trained and educated “professional.” Most had high degrees of both practical and theoretical knowledge of their trade.

Since the 14th Century, a Journeyman wishing to become “Master Craftsman” would produce a “masterpiece” that would be judged by members of a craft guild (professional association). Successful candidates would be elected as “Masters” in their craft—and generally became obligated to take on young Apprentices in order to pass on their skills and knowledge.

In the past, shortages of skilled Craftsmen grew rapidly in societies where educated professionals were highly prized. This, in turn, would lead to lucrative niche markets in the trades. (Sound familiar? Seems that history really does repeat itself.)

Journeymen
A Craftsman or Tradesman typically began as an Apprentice, working for and learning from a Master Craftsman. After four to seven years, this person would be released from his Master’s service as a Journeyman. (The term comes from the French word “journée,” meaning the period of one day. It referred to the Journeyman’s right to charge a fee for each work day.)

In England, Journeymen typically would work as employees for daily pay. In Germany, they often would “journey” from workshop to workshop, learning from many different Masters while being paid for daily work. The term “jack” is sometimes used as an informal name for Journeyman. A “Jack of all trades…and a Master of none” is a common term for someone who possesses a degree of skill in more than one trade, but has not made a continuous career of any one to become a Master Tradesman or Master Craftsman.

Apprentices
The formal system of training new generations of skilled craft or trade practitioners (that is still popular in some countries) is called “apprenticeship.” As they have for generations, Apprentices build their careers through structured, formal apprenticeship training. Most of this training is done on the job and balanced with classroom studies, while working for an employer who helps the Apprentice learn his/her trade.

The apprenticeship system, which began in the late Middle Ages, came to be supervised by craft guilds and town governments. A Master Craftsman was entitled to employ young people in his workshop as an inexpensive form of labor in exchange for providing formal training in the craft.

Apprentices, who were usually 14 to 21 years of age and unmarried, would live with the Master’s family. Most aspired to becoming Master Craftsmen themselves on completion of their contract (usually a term of seven years). At that time, they would work as a Journeyman. Interestingly, a significant number of these individuals failed to achieve the status of Master Craftsman or acquire their own workshops.

During the 20th Century, the apprenticeship process experienced many changes. While a Craftworker or Tradesperson still begins as an Apprentice, the apprenticeship is carried out partly through working with a qualified Journeyman and partly through attending an accredited trade school for a definite period of time (usually around four years). At that point, the Apprentice becomes a fully qualified Journeyman. Today, very few trades still make a distinction between a qualified Craftworker/ Tradesperson, Journeyman or a Master.

Where do we stand? Are our maintenance and reliability “technicians,” mechanics and electricians true “Journeymen” or—better yet—“Masters?” Have we perpetuated the centuries-old apprenticeship processes of passing on skills and knowledge to our younger generations? Unfortunately, no.

Most small and mid-sized businesses and industries have NOT trained and developed the skills and knowledge of their maintenance workforce. Many have assumed that the “craft” of maintenance can be picked up along life’s way. It’s only when they find themselves in a bind (i.e., really up against the wall), that managers in these operations resort to training—for a short time.

Most maintenance people in small to mid-sized plants today have not been formally trained and qualified to do the tasks we ask them to do each day at work. They are good—in fact, excellent—at figuring things out, however. And why not? We love puzzles. We love challenges.

Still…what about our business competitiveness— now and in the years to come? In short, how do we secure the future of our highly mechanized, automated, techno-logic wired industries?

We need “Craftsmanship” now more than ever before!

21st century apprenticeships
We need to establish company-based apprenticeship- style programs—but, NOT “old-style” programs. We can learn from the mentoring process by which early Apprentices learned to master new skills and knowledge. We can recognize that not every Journeyman is a Master Craftsman. Only the best achieve that status when recognized by their peers. We can accept the fact that quality workmanship (right the first time, safe, cost effective and timely) is a result of formal, structured learning processes. Briefly, here is what 21st Century Apprenticeships could encompass:

  • Formal assessment and selection processes to identify the best and the brightest with high prospects of success.
  • Organized training-learning processes from the prerequisite basics (reading, math, writing, safety, tools…) to core skills and knowledge (pumps, motors, gearboxes, drives…) to equipment and task specifics (Press #44, Allen- Bradley PLC, Line 8…). Don’t stop with core skills and knowledge assuming they can “figure out” specific equipment applications.
  • Training focused on results, not training for training’s sake (high cost–low return). Focus on constraint, high-maintenance-cost, problematic, most penalizing and critical at-risk equipment or areas (low cost–high return).
  • Detailed step-by-step procedures or “best practices” used as guides for equipmentspecific instruction, and eventually jobperformance requirements (standardized work instructions).
  • Apprentice learners assigned to work with topqualified employees as their mentors for specific skill sets. Trained mentors held accountable for effective on-the-job coaching skills.
  • Apprentice learners formally “qualified” through progressively more and more challenging task demonstration of on-job skills and knowledge.
  • Pay advancement for Apprentice learners linked to progressively higher demonstrated qualifications—“pay for applied skills.” Employees periodically re-qualified on job-critical tasks.

21st century reliability technicians
Many, but not all, of our future maintainers must be profi- cient in “reliability methods.” Higher-level reliability skills and knowledge is the natural progression for those who are highly successful products of the 21st Century Apprenticeships. The more our Reliability Technicians know about equipment and the fundamentals of good maintenance, the more efficient and effective they will be. Reliability “tools” alone will not make a “reliability technician.” Reliability methods help us look into the future, into equipment conditions, using tools and processes to identify and correct emerging problems before they negatively impact the business. Our 21st Century Reliability Technicians must be proficient in using many and varied appropriate reliability methods. Consider these as starters:

  • Condition monitoring technologies and predictive maintenance (PdM) such as oil analysis, vibration analysis, infrared/thermography
  • Preventive maintenance (PM) including ultrasound inspection
  • Precise machinery lubrication (not oiling and greasing)
  • Precision maintenance
  • Root cause failure analysis (RCFA) and problem prevention
  • Root cause success analysis (RCSA) to promulgate what works
  • Reliability-centered maintenance (RCM)
  • Data collection and analysis from multiple sources to improve performance
  • Partnering with Operations to improve overall performance (Total Productive Maintenance)
  • Cross-functional teamwork to improve performance, develop new methods and design new equipment and facilities

The future
Imagine what our future could be if we had formal “mentorbased” development and progression processes from high school co-op students, to work study students, to employed Helpers, to Apprentices, to Journeymen, to Masters or Reliability Technicians. Imagine where we would be in the globally competitive marketplace if we had a highly trained workforce thinking and acting “reliability”(and maximizing today’s proven tools and methods) versus thinking and acting with a “repairs” mindset. Imagine what we could do as a Nation if we were to revive the essence of old-world apprenticeships combined with proven skills-development methods from World War II and the most advanced equipment and technologies in the world. Then, imagine our world WITHOUT “Craftsmen.” Imagine…

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417

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July 1, 2007
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A World Without Craftsmen

bob_williamson

Bob Williamson, Contributing Editor

“Craftsmanship” results when highly trained, skilled and knowledgeable workers use tools and machinery to perform their work or trade, turning out the highest levels of quality and appeal. It’s nothing new. “Craftsmen” actually are descendants of ancient Artisans, the predominant producers of goods prior to the Industrial Revolution. Both Artisans and Craftsmen were revered for their knowledge and abilities to build, create or construct products with high degrees of excellence. In centuries past, Craftsmen were truly admired and highly sought after.

Today, “Maintenance” is not a trade or craft in the traditional sense of the word. But, it should be—if we expect high-performing, reliable, cost-competitive equipment and facilities. Our Nation, business, industry and infrastructure will continue to be at risk if we do nothing to change the perceptions, development and the retention of the highly skilled employees who are responsible for ensuring that our equipment and facilities operate reliably and cost-effectively. Let’s look at the historical development of a “Craftsman” as a lesson for our future.

0707_uptime1Craftsmen & Tradesmen
A skilled manual worker in a specific trade or craft was called Craftsman or Tradesman. (Today’s politically correct terms are Craftworker and Tradesperson.) The status of such a worker typically would lie somewhere between that of a laborer and a highly trained and educated “professional.” Most had high degrees of both practical and theoretical knowledge of their trade.

Since the 14th Century, a Journeyman wishing to become “Master Craftsman” would produce a “masterpiece” that would be judged by members of a craft guild (professional association). Successful candidates would be elected as “Masters” in their craft—and generally became obligated to take on young Apprentices in order to pass on their skills and knowledge.

In the past, shortages of skilled Craftsmen grew rapidly in societies where educated professionals were highly prized. This, in turn, would lead to lucrative niche markets in the trades. (Sound familiar? Seems that history really does repeat itself.)

Journeymen
A Craftsman or Tradesman typically began as an Apprentice, working for and learning from a Master Craftsman. After four to seven years, this person would be released from his Master’s service as a Journeyman. (The term comes from the French word “journée,” meaning the period of one day. It referred to the Journeyman’s right to charge a fee for each work day.)

In England, Journeymen typically would work as employees for daily pay. In Germany, they often would “journey” from workshop to workshop, learning from many different Masters while being paid for daily work. The term “jack” is sometimes used as an informal name for Journeyman. A “Jack of all trades…and a Master of none” is a common term for someone who possesses a degree of skill in more than one trade, but has not made a continuous career of any one to become a Master Tradesman or Master Craftsman.

Apprentices
The formal system of training new generations of skilled craft or trade practitioners (that is still popular in some countries) is called “apprenticeship.” As they have for generations, Apprentices build their careers through structured, formal apprenticeship training. Most of this training is done on the job and balanced with classroom studies, while working for an employer who helps the Apprentice learn his/her trade.

The apprenticeship system, which began in the late Middle Ages, came to be supervised by craft guilds and town governments. A Master Craftsman was entitled to employ young people in his workshop as an inexpensive form of labor in exchange for providing formal training in the craft.

Apprentices, who were usually 14 to 21 years of age and unmarried, would live with the Master’s family. Most aspired to becoming Master Craftsmen themselves on completion of their contract (usually a term of seven years). At that time, they would work as a Journeyman. Interestingly, a significant number of these individuals failed to achieve the status of Master Craftsman or acquire their own workshops.

During the 20th Century, the apprenticeship process experienced many changes. While a Craftworker or Tradesperson still begins as an Apprentice, the apprenticeship is carried out partly through working with a qualified Journeyman and partly through attending an accredited trade school for a definite period of time (usually around four years). At that point, the Apprentice becomes a fully qualified Journeyman. Today, very few trades still make a distinction between a qualified Craftworker/ Tradesperson, Journeyman or a Master.

Where do we stand? Are our maintenance and reliability “technicians,” mechanics and electricians true “Journeymen” or—better yet—“Masters?” Have we perpetuated the centuries-old apprenticeship processes of passing on skills and knowledge to our younger generations? Unfortunately, no.

Most small and mid-sized businesses and industries have NOT trained and developed the skills and knowledge of their maintenance workforce. Many have assumed that the “craft” of maintenance can be picked up along life’s way. It’s only when they find themselves in a bind (i.e., really up against the wall), that managers in these operations resort to training—for a short time.

Most maintenance people in small to mid-sized plants today have not been formally trained and qualified to do the tasks we ask them to do each day at work. They are good—in fact, excellent—at figuring things out, however. And why not? We love puzzles. We love challenges.

Still…what about our business competitiveness— now and in the years to come? In short, how do we secure the future of our highly mechanized, automated, techno-logic wired industries?

We need “Craftsmanship” now more than ever before!

21st century apprenticeships
We need to establish company-based apprenticeship- style programs—but, NOT “old-style” programs. We can learn from the mentoring process by which early Apprentices learned to master new skills and knowledge. We can recognize that not every Journeyman is a Master Craftsman. Only the best achieve that status when recognized by their peers. We can accept the fact that quality workmanship (right the first time, safe, cost effective and timely) is a result of formal, structured learning processes. Briefly, here is what 21st Century Apprenticeships could encompass:

  • Formal assessment and selection processes to identify the best and the brightest with high prospects of success.
  • Organized training-learning processes from the prerequisite basics (reading, math, writing, safety, tools…) to core skills and knowledge (pumps, motors, gearboxes, drives…) to equipment and task specifics (Press #44, Allen- Bradley PLC, Line 8…). Don’t stop with core skills and knowledge assuming they can “figure out” specific equipment applications.
  • Training focused on results, not training for training’s sake (high cost–low return). Focus on constraint, high-maintenance-cost, problematic, most penalizing and critical at-risk equipment or areas (low cost–high return).
  • Detailed step-by-step procedures or “best practices” used as guides for equipmentspecific instruction, and eventually jobperformance requirements (standardized work instructions).
  • Apprentice learners assigned to work with topqualified employees as their mentors for specific skill sets. Trained mentors held accountable for effective on-the-job coaching skills.
  • Apprentice learners formally “qualified” through progressively more and more challenging task demonstration of on-job skills and knowledge.
  • Pay advancement for Apprentice learners linked to progressively higher demonstrated qualifications—“pay for applied skills.” Employees periodically re-qualified on job-critical tasks.

21st century reliability technicians
Many, but not all, of our future maintainers must be profi- cient in “reliability methods.” Higher-level reliability skills and knowledge is the natural progression for those who are highly successful products of the 21st Century Apprenticeships. The more our Reliability Technicians know about equipment and the fundamentals of good maintenance, the more efficient and effective they will be. Reliability “tools” alone will not make a “reliability technician.” Reliability methods help us look into the future, into equipment conditions, using tools and processes to identify and correct emerging problems before they negatively impact the business. Our 21st Century Reliability Technicians must be proficient in using many and varied appropriate reliability methods. Consider these as starters:

  • Condition monitoring technologies and predictive maintenance (PdM) such as oil analysis, vibration analysis, infrared/thermography
  • Preventive maintenance (PM) including ultrasound inspection
  • Precise machinery lubrication (not oiling and greasing)
  • Precision maintenance
  • Root cause failure analysis (RCFA) and problem prevention
  • Root cause success analysis (RCSA) to promulgate what works
  • Reliability-centered maintenance (RCM)
  • Data collection and analysis from multiple sources to improve performance
  • Partnering with Operations to improve overall performance (Total Productive Maintenance)
  • Cross-functional teamwork to improve performance, develop new methods and design new equipment and facilities

The future
Imagine what our future could be if we had formal “mentorbased” development and progression processes from high school co-op students, to work study students, to employed Helpers, to Apprentices, to Journeymen, to Masters or Reliability Technicians. Imagine where we would be in the globally competitive marketplace if we had a highly trained workforce thinking and acting “reliability”(and maximizing today’s proven tools and methods) versus thinking and acting with a “repairs” mindset. Imagine what we could do as a Nation if we were to revive the essence of old-world apprenticeships combined with proven skills-development methods from World War II and the most advanced equipment and technologies in the world. Then, imagine our world WITHOUT “Craftsmen.” Imagine…

Continue Reading →

174

6:00 am
July 1, 2007
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Viewpoint: Inviting Culture Change Success

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Dr. Brian A. Becker

It is not unusual to hear sincere executives and managers lament that their major stumbling blocks to better performance are not technical in nature, but rather cultural—whatever that means. “How do we ‘get’ our team to the next performance level?” they ask. They then go on to recount the variety of change methods they have tried, including quality circles, teambuilding, values clarification, leadership training, 360° performance appraisal and elaborate visions. You name it; there is a stew of approaches. Just like Theory Z, surveys are conducted, curricula built and implemented and a ton of money spent.

Unfortunately, the “dark side” of continuous learning is that it can morph into something else, lose momentum and be replaced by the next holy grail of performance. At the end of the day, the best approaches may have driven some temporary value, but nothing seems to stick. What accounts for this?

Over the years I have conducted a Learning Exercise with supervisors, managers and executives to illustrate how people experience learning and performance. As the exercise unfolds, participants gain insight into how learning and mistakes, trial and error are the yin and yang of performance. They also discover that while many organizations espouse the theory that mistakes are “OK,” in the final analysis they really categorize mistakes as critical incidents on a performance appraisal or simply view them as a sign of a person’s ineffectiveness. When performance appraisals are tied to pay, rewards and promotion, participants indicate that they would have to be foolish if they didn’t put the best spin on their performance. “I have a mortgage to pay,” is how one respondent put it.

In the final phase of the Learning Exercise, participants come to recognize they have a strong desire to learn. However, fears of retribution, fears of letting others down or fears of failure, whether in substance or perception, contribute to a sense of losing control.

The need for control translates into a hidden performance bottleneck. Participants acknowledge that they subtly side-step difficult issues and focus on the more routine and controllable issues, thereby reducing emotional pain, conflict and the potential for higher performance. The end result is that sincere attempts to improve the status quo slowly are undermined and inadequate budgets, unrealistic timeframes, etc. are not challenged because, privately, people believe these issues are sources of conflict that should be avoided. Ultimately, the effort becomes the fad of the day and everyone sees the “other guy” as the problem.

It is not long, as the exercise winds down, that someone asks, “So how do we get out of this status quo loop?” The short answer is that rather than “get” anyone anywhere, change has to be based on a performance “invitation.” At its heart, an invitation gives the “invitee” the right to decline and balance control while minimizing the risks associated with learning. Employees operating in a culture of invitation openly choose to learn and detect and correct mistakes with ever-increasing rates of speed and precision.

“Invitation” is only one tool in a compact set of actionable ones, going beyond traditional applications and providing a performance platform that is definable, transferable, measurable, repeatable, sustainable and ethical.

Dr. Brian A. Becker is Manager of Organization Development and Human Resources, Siemens Energy Management and Automation

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