Archive | May, 2008


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May 1, 2008
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Battling A Killer: Corrosion Control Methods

Corrosion is always on the prowl, ready to take down your equipment, fixed and otherwise. Don’t let this predator catch you off guard.

Metallic corrosion is a naturally occurring process that takes place at varying rates—depending on the specific combination of alloy and application conditions— unless there is intentional intervention to modify the situation. Corrosion is an inherent force like gravity. The laws of thermodynamics dictate that corrosion will occur in many situations. Principles of electrochemical kinetics define the rates at which those possible processes occur.

Among the many possible failure modes for physical assets in manufacturing operations, corrosion is one that has major economic impact. While this is primarily true for fixed equipment, corrosive attack also can cause or contribute to failures in rotating equipment.

0508_corrosion_tab11Although corrosion analysis and control closely depends on knowledge of metallurgy, that is just one starting point. Frequently, the effective choice and use of the alternative corrosion-control methods also draws on knowledge from the fields of chemistry and mechanical and electrical engineering. Complicating things is the fact that corrosion comes in several distinct forms (see Table I).

Rational decision-making regarding corrosion control is best done when the total life-cycle cost of each alternative is clearly defined. Often, the values of future costs and their timing depend on best-available estimates. Then, the financial techniques of discounted cash flow analysis should be applied. Hopefully, it is now well known that considering initial cost as the only criterion for choosing among corrosion-control measures for long-term use makes no practical sense. This is especially true when the cost of lost production during an unplanned shutdown as a result of corrosion failure is massive relative to the initial costs of each alternative. The details of this aspect of corrosion- control decisions are not considered here, but such analyses are essential. The four primary areas of corrosion control are:

  • Material selection
  • Coatings
  • Cathodic Protection
  • Chemical Inhibitors

In addition, there are several specific actions that can be applied in particular circumstances to help with corrosion problems. (Some of these are listed with brief comments at the end of this article.)

The recommended way to start this decision process is to first evaluate what the most probable form(s) of failure are likely to be—either due to corrosion or something else. The better we initially can estimate what failure mode is most probable, the better we can make provisions to stop or minimize its effects in service. For example, if the given equipment is known to require a high resistance to wear to prevent loss of function in the application, but there also is a possibility of corrosion, addressing the more pressing wear issue will take priority. In another case, one form of corrosion may be much more likely than the others. Thus, attention to that form of attack is emphasized first—but without ignoring the other possibilities.

Clearly, there are many ways to address the problem of in-service equipment failures. When it comes to corrosion- control methods, there are numerous options to review. Awareness of the major alternatives is an important first step.

Material selection
The control method here is based on the inherent levels of corrosion resistance of the candidate alloys in the given environmental conditions.

To make the materials choice, the decision maker must attempt to know—to the greatest extent possible—the general chemical make-up and/or the concentration of the corrosive medium, as well as other variables important to corrosion. The latter may include the presence and concentrations of trace elements in the general medium, e.g., chloride ions or oxygen or other oxidizing components such as cupric or ferric ions, the maximum operating temperature, the flow velocities, the level of both applied and unavoidable residual stresses and whether the applied stresses are static or cyclic. The possibilities of “worse case” variations in operating conditions due to process upsets and start-up and shutdown periods must also be considered. Other factors include how long the selected material must provide useful service and whether periodic preventative maintenance monitoring can or will be done over time.

Examples of good versus poor material selections are reflected in the following:


  • Mild steel for an above-ground storage tank (AST) for very concentrated sulfuric acid at ambient temperature
  • Titanium alloys for superior resistance to seawater
  • Commercially pure nickel (Nickel 200) and nickel-molybdenum alloys for good resistance to sodium hydroxide (NaOH) and hydrochloric acid (HCl), respectively


  • Copper alloys in ammonia or amines (SCC is likely)
  • Mild steel in dilute sulfuric acid (rapid, general corrosion will occur)
  • Type 316L stainless steel instead of Type 304L for a welded nitric acid tank (the molybdenum in the 316L degrades its resistance in strongly oxidizing acids such as nitric)

Most coatings—but not all—function primarily by providing a barrier between the corrosive medium and the substrate metal below. This category of corrosion control is the most widely used.

There are several different types of coatings, e.g., organic and inorganic paints and primers, galvanized coatings on steel and anodization on aluminum alloys. The many varieties of paints and primers get the most widespread use. Among these three examples, only galvanized steel provides corrosion control primarily by the process of sacrifi- cial anode, cathodic protection (CP). CP is described below.

Many coating specialists advocate a systems approach for the use of paints and primers. This means the finished protective coating is considered as a synergistic whole where each part has an important but separate role in achieving success. Generally, a good system will consist of clear specifications, excellent preparation of the substrate surface, application of a primer, application of a top coat and competent field inspection at all stages of the process. It is widely agreed that surface preparation is—by far—the most important factor in achieving success.

It is always wise to spend more and achieve an excellent job of surface preparation, even if the top coat selected may be compromised. A well-prepared substrate is most important because it provides a base for good adhesion of either the primer (if one is used) or the top coat. Adhesion of the coating is critical.

Cathodic protection
Aqueous metallic corrosion always involves a flow of electrical current through the corrosive medium (known as the electrolyte) between the anodic portions of the exposed metal surface and the cathodic portions of that surface. The rate of corrosion is directly proportional to the rate of this current flow. The CP method functions by supplying a counteracting external current to greatly lessen the rate of corrosion that would otherwise occur. This external current changes the exposed surface being protected so that it becomes essentially all cathodic where little or no corrosion occurs. The anodic reaction then occurs on nearby installed anodes that supply the counteracting current.

There are two types of CP. One is sacrificial anode (or galvanic) CP, in which the currentsupplying anodes are consumed over a period of years, but in the process the metallic asset is protected. The second type is impressed current cathodic protection (ICCP). Here the anodes are not consumed but they act to transfer DC current to protect the asset. Current is supplied to the anodes from an AC to- DC current rectifier that must be connected to an AC electric power source. Each method has advantages and disadvantages depending on the specific application.

CP is very frequently used in conjunction with a coating. This greatly decreases the amount of current required for protection. Therefore, sacrificial anodes last much longer or the amount of power consumption required in an ICCP system is much less. Federal law commonly requires the use and regular monitoring of coated CP systems for underground metallic pipelines and storage tanks used to handle hazardous fluids.

CP is used most often to protect underground metallic structures from soil corrosion. However, it is also applied to protect external tank bottoms in ASTs, for the water boxes of surface condensers used on large steam turbines and for the steel hulls of marine vessels.

Chemical inhibitors
Corrosion inhibitors are organic or inorganic chemicals that are added in small quantities to a corrosive medium so that the rate of corrosion of exposed metal is signifi- cantly reduced. There are many types and they function by several mechanisms. While inhibitors are commonly used in cooling water systems and in boiler feed water to steam boilers, they also are used with acid solutions. Vapor phase inhibitors often are included inside shipping containers for equipment to prevent atmospheric rust during prolonged shipment and storage periods.

Many inhibitors function in liquid systems by precipitating out of solution and forming an insoluble, microscale barrier film on the metal surfaces being protected. Thus, they act by retarding the anodic, the cathodic or (most effectively) both of these corrosion reactions on the metal. Examples of this type are certain alcohols, amines, sulfur compounds and phosphates.

Another class of inhibitors is known as oxidizers or passivators. They function by affecting the cathodic reaction and changing the electrochemical corrosion potential of the exposed metal so that it is in a low corrosion- current region. Traditional examples of this type are chromates and nitrites, but these have environmental problems. An alternative is to use molybdates.

Inhibitors known as oxygen scavengers react with residual oxygen in boiler feed water (after mechanical oxygen separation has been applied) to negate oxygen pitting of steel boiler components. Examples of this type inhibitor are sodium sulfite and hydrazine.

Certain cautions apply in the use of inhibitors. Typically, they are economically feasible (for liquid applications) only in recirculating systems and not for once-through systems. Because there is such a wide range of inhibitors, selection can be complex. The means of injecting the chosen inhibitor and monitoring its concentration throughout the system often is critical. The classic example of the importance of this relates particularly to oxidizing (or passivating) inhibitors. If concentrations of this type are too low within a given system then accelerated corrosion rates above expected rates with zero inhibitor present can occur. It should be clear that expert advice is needed to use inhibitors correctly.

Other corrosion-control actions
In certain situations one or more of the following approaches can have merit:

  • Pay attention to design and fabrication details early in the specification process. These may include provisions for complete drainage; avoiding lap joints in plates and not using “skip” or tack welded joints so as to minimize crevice corrosion sites; making sure electrical insulators are in place between all unavoidable dissimilar metal contacts and if dissimilar metals must be in electrical contact, getting a favorable area ratio by making the more noble (cathodic) metal smaller in area versus the area of the active (anodic) metal.
  • Evaluate flow velocities carefully. Too-high velocities can cause erosion-corrosion, and “dead legs” in piping encourage MIC, pitting or crevice attack.
  • In rotating equipment, pay special attention to factors related to failure by fatigue, e.g., sharp radii, poor surface finish and castings defects. Depending on the given material and conditions, most realworld fatigue has at least some corrosion involved. “Pure” mechanical fatigue only occurs in a nearvacuum environment. Actual plant conditions, e.g., humid air or worse conditions, encourage corrosion fatigue and contribute to shortened equipment life.
  • Always consider the need for post-weld stress relief heat treatment. Residual weld stresses can promote as much or more SCC than applied stresses in equipment.
  • Consider the use of polymeric materials where required mechanical properties and maximum service temperatures permit.
  • For metal plate applications, use a thin sheet of higher alloyed material (for corrosion resistance) metallurgically bonded to a mild steel substrate (for strength).
  • Add a corrosion allowance during the design of pressure vessels, i.e., extra plate or head thicknesses in ASME code-built pressure vessels, beyond the thickness needed for strength if only general corrosion is expected. Localized forms of corrosion like pitting and SCC penetrate metal in erratic steps, which likely will preclude the value of this approach.

Corrosion—in its several forms—is the cause of much lost revenue due to failures of equipment in many industrial applications. There are many facets to corrosion control and knowledge in several areas is required to effectively fi ght this predator. It is always advisable to obtain objective, competent advice when seeking the optimal choice among available corrosion-control alternatives. The references cited at the end of this article are good sources for additional information. MT

Gerald O. “Jerry” Davis, P.E., is a principal in Davis Materials & Mechanical Engineering, Inc. (DMME), a consulting engineering firm based in Richmond, VA. He holds graduate degrees in both engineering and business and spent a total of 31 years working in mechanical, metallurgical and corrosion engineering functions for several organizations, including the U.S. Air Force, Honeywell and Battelle Memorial Institute. Website:; telephone: (804) 967-9129; e-mail:

Recommended references

  1. ASM Handbook, Volume 13B. – Corrosion: Materials, published by ASM International, 2005.
  2. C.P. Dillon, Corrosion Control in the Chemical Process Industries, Second Edition, MTI Publication No. 45, Materials Technology Institute of the Chemical Process Industries, Inc., published by MTI and NACE International, 1994.
  3. M.G. Fontana & N.D. Greene, Corrosion Engineering, Third Edition, McGraw-Hill Book Co., 1986.
  4. R.J. Landrum, “Fundamentals of Designing for Corrosion Control,” NACE International, 1989.

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May 1, 2008
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Utilities Manager: What's Hot: New Positive Displacement Pump Control

0508_um_whatshot_pump1Kadant AES, a division of Kadant Inc., now offers the UNiGY® pump-control system, an exclusive and patented technology for high-pressure positive displacement (PD) process pumps. Equipped with UNiGY PhD™ (Pump-modeling hydraulic Drive), the technology employs mathematical models to dramatically improve energy efficiency, process control and system availability of PD pumps in processes where flows and pressures vary. Its intelligent pumpcontrol software helps produce the precise flow rates and pressures demanded by the application and no more. The UNiGY PhD continually senses demand and manages pump speed and applied torque as required to satisfy variations in process demand. This, according to the manufacturer, can significantly decrease noise and reduce energy use by over 60%. For processes where hydraulic demand is intermittent, the UNiGY system can reduce maintenance costs and extend pump life. It accomplishes this by slowing pump speed when flow is not required while using torque management technology to maintain desired system pressure at all flow rates. The product can be easily retrofitted into existing process systems and incorporated into new installations. Moreover, it can simplify system complexity by eliminating the need for flow and pressure sensors and control valves.

Kadant AES
A Division of Kadant Inc.
Queensbury, NY

Energy-$aving High-Voltage Suppression System

0508_um_whatshot_voltage1When electricity is transmitted from a power generating plant through transmission lines and sub-transformer stations into businesses and homes, it degrades and accumulates electrical pollution along the way. This type of pollution is more expensive than manufacturers may realize, eventually costing countless dollars in equipment deterioration and repairs, production losses, wasted man-hours, corrupted computer data and downtime. The Power Gleaner™ utilizes state-of-the-art technology to stop and eliminate dangerous voltage increases in the electrical supply chain before they can reach and damage delicate and costly electronic equipment. It is a passive electronic module that connects directly to circuit panels. When the Power Gleaner’s non-degrading units sense a voltage surge greater than 10% over the rated voltage for that circuit, it instantly turns “on,” suppressing the surge by safely diverting it to earth ground when it surpasses the crest of the sine wave. It quickly turns “off” when the high voltage, or pollution, is gone. The manufacturer offers a 10-year replacement warranty on this product.

Power Gleaner
Lapeer, MI

Optimized Synchronous Machines

0508_um_whatshot_optimize1GE Motors’ Series 9000 large synchronous machines are designed with advanced internal components to fit the needs of demanding applications, such as compressors, grinding mills, metal rolling, mine hoists, refiners, propulsion, fans, pumps and power turbines. Through customization, commissioning time is minimized, maintenance costs reduced, reliability increased and performance optimized. The bearing system, low overall vibration and proper lubrication help extend the life of the machine’s motor and allow for easy maintenance.

GE Motors
Fort Wayne, IN

Ultrasonic Tool Detects Energy

0508_um_whatshot_tool1Waste Systems’ Ultraprobe 3000 ultrasonic detection system was designed to promote quick, easy surveys with accurate results. Labeled as a “green” instrument, the 3000 detects energy waste, such as compressed air, steam trap leaks and faulty steam traps. It comes equipped with a wide, dynamic sensitivity range and “spin and click” sensitivity dial. Other features of the digital instrument include a 16- segment bar graphic display panel, 400 memory locations and scanning and stethoscope contact modules, among others.

UE Systems
Souderton, PA


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May 1, 2008
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Utilities Manager: Three Basic Steps To Life-Cycle Asset Energy Efficiency

When it comes to energy efficiency around your operations, pay attention to these steps and begin counting your energy savings.

As a wartime resistance fighter, Ted Monkiewicz used his incredible ingenuity to assist the Allied forces in thwarting the Germans at every turn. Post war, he moved from his native Poland to England and used his considerable engineering talent to amass countless patents and awards for ingenious designs. While working in my early career as a junior mechanical design engineer, I was fortunate to have Monkiewicz as a mentor to teach me the hallmarks of good design practice. He advocated that to be considered a good design, there are four elements the designer must strive to incorporate:

  • Design for maintainability… to allow a maintainer or operator rapid and easy access to calibrate, repair or replace parts with minimum impact to production operations.
  • Design for ergonomics… allowing the operator to successfully operate the equipment with minimum fatigue and supervision.
  • Design proportionally… what looks right to the eye is always trusted
  • Design for simplicity… simplicity translates into reliability.

Adhering to these four principal design elements has allowed me to produce my own award-winning designs, and over the years I have added a fifth element: Design for Conservation. This addresses the reduction of an asset’s environmental and energy impact over its life cycle.

Most of today’s maintenance or facility management departments are caretakers of older equipment that was not designed with energy conservation in mind. Fortunately, design element #5 can be applied to any equipment—in any state—through the application of good asset management practices. The following three steps are mandatory:

  • Step One is about acquiring rights to view the plant energy bill, and gaining understanding how the costs are tabulated. Establishing a working relationship with your plant utility manager—if you have one—or your local utilities representative(s) can provide knowledge of your own energy pattern use, as well as any rebate/assistance programs you could take advantage of.
  • Step Two is about taking responsibility and ensuring that any energy losses relating to asset ineffectiveness and energy waste are under the direct control of the maintenance department, and that heating, cooling and generated power systems (including compressed air and steam generation) are operating at an efficiency level no less than the original minimum design level. Understanding the direct relationship between asset management practices and energy use will deliver more control over the operating costs—for the life of the asset—thereby increasing profits and competitiveness.
  • Step Three is about adopting an asset management approach toward your equipment. Previously, the business of maintenance was dedicated to the preservation of an asset through the application of assessment, evaluation, adjustment, calibration, prevention, prediction, repair and overhaul techniques, designed explicitly to assure that an asset was capable of delivering on its original design specification. The business of asset management differs in that it elevates maintenance to a more proactive and creative process that reviews not only the asset’s current health, but also the consequences of its state of health and—more importantly—the consequences of its current usage pattern and design inefficiencies. To achieve this, maintenance must partner closely with production, recognizing the integral impact each has on the other and the resulting asset efficiency.

Asset efficiency translates to higher levels of reliability, uptime and throughput, while reducing energy spikes caused by induced friction and peak and cyclical loading that surpass the asset’s design load limit. Introducing a value-added maintenance approach, alongside an optimized equipment usage program, will make your assets as energy-efficient as their current design will allow. 

Value-added maintenance
Implementing a simple operator cleaning program not only provides the ability to troubleshoot equipment problems faster, but also eliminates the energy absorbing thermal blanket caused by machine dirt that converts energy to heat and not work. Implementing an engineered lubrication management program ensures delivery of the right lubricant, in the right place, in the right amount, at the right time, reducing bearing wear and friction to tolerable levels. Introduction of correct torquing and laser alignment eliminates energy-robbing vibration caused by mechanical looseness and misalignment.

Optimized equipment use
This type of optimization is best achieved through the collaboration of both maintenance and production planners who work to address idle time reduction through improved planning, or use of automated control systems.

In a Lean Manufacturing environment, the equipment throughout can be slowed down to produce at a slower, but more consistent rate, eliminating energy surges caused when an asset is consistently being asked to perform above its design specification in an erratic manner. This strategy also serves to eliminate idle time—something that’s very important to an operation.

In studies by the Research Institute for Energy Economics, it was concluded that during a single eight-hour shift, machine tools consumed a disproportionate 30% of total energy consumption when they were left idling during operation, breaks and non-productive time periods. If capacity is abundant and idle time still exists, then Maintenance may wish to explore turning idle time into a maintenance opportunity, utilizing the time to perform planned maintenance tasks.

Ken Bannister is managing partner and principal consultant for Engtech Industries Inc, based in Innerkip, ON. Engtech provides a wide range of production & maintenance management consulting and training services for national and international clients. He has written several books, including Energy Reduction through Improved Maintenance Practices and the upcoming Industrial Energy Efficiency Handbook. Internet:; telephone: (519) 469-9173; e-mail:

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May 1, 2008
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Utilities Manager: Our Future Is At Stake…The Complex World Of Power Generation

While you’ve been out chasing energy efficiency within your own operations, you probably haven’t been keeping up with the state of the power gen industry and how its growing problems are bound to impact your company. Get ready for a big shock.

0508_um_powergen1The power industry is at a crossroads, faced with environmental requirements from the federal government, unprecedented power demands from the consumer, an aging fleet of power plants and the all important antiquated transmission system.

The way in which the power industry responds to this “crisis” will impact every person in the United States. The profitability of industry will be dependent on how industrial sector management responds to the inevitable rising energy cost necessary to support massive power plant and transmission construction.

It’s interesting that a majority of attention regarding the energy crisis is focused on oil and gas when electricity is what impacts almost every part of our lives. Could it be that people treat electrical service as a right, and that electricity is only noticed by its absence? This is a far cry from the early days of power generation, when electric lighting was only for the well-to-do. To paraphrase Tom Bodett’s Motel Six mantra, “We’ll keep the light on for you,” it may not be very easy for any of us to keep our lights on in the not too distant future.

Electricity demand is expected to increase by approximately 30% by the year 2030. At the same time our reserve is declining, due to economic expansion, growth of electrical technology, population growth and our aging power plants. Over 60% of the power plants in North America are at least 40 years old. The last base-loaded coal-fired power plant was commissioned in the 1970s. Nothing lasts forever—especially power plants. Eventually a plant is too costly to maintain and requires replacement or major rebuild. Alas, that is the situation with a majority of the power gen plants in North America. Add to the equation our antiquated power grid, and you have an even more complex issue. How did we get into such a mess? To answer that question, we need to go back into history.

Historical perspective
Since the beginning of modern electric power generation in the 1880s, the power industry has seen relatively steady growth:

  • Rapid growth spurts occurred in the 1890s, as people began to install lighting in their homes.
  • From 1901 to 1932, growth escalated as a result of more efficient steam-powered turbines replacing the old reciprocating steam engines and new inventions using electricity.
  • From 1933 to 1950, the Federal Government began regulating private utilities and central air conditioning was developed.
  • During WW II, in order to feed America’s war machine, demand for electricity increased by 27%, perhaps the largest growth rate in history.
  • From 1950 to 1970, growth continued at a steady 8.5% per year. During this period, commercial nuclear power was introduced.
  • The 1970s to mid 1980s saw increasing unit costs and slower growth. This slowdown was a result of general inflation, fossil fuel prices, environmental concerns and problems in the nuclear power industry.
  • In 1984, electricity posted its largest single-year increase since 1976 (4.5%).

The late 1980s saw increased generation by non-utilities. In fact, by 1991 a significant shift had occurred. Non-utilities now owned about 6% of the electric power generating capacity and produced about 9% of the total electricity generated in the U.S.

Major issues in the power industry surfaced in the 1990s due to structure changes that impacted reliability of the electric power supply and bulk power trading. The Clean Air Act of 1990 also took effect during this time, raising even more issues within the industry.

In 2000, for the first time in the history of the power industry, retail customers were given a choice of electricity suppliers. To date, 24 states and the District of Columbia have passed laws or regulatory orders to implement retail competition. The introduction of wholesale and retail competition to the electric power industry has produced and will continue to produce significant changes in the industry.

Transmission concerns
The power industry evolved based on demand within a local utilities service territory—this included the transmission lines. Over the years, a utility and/or investors would build a power plant, then add transmission lines to service customers. Therefore, the transmission lines are owned and maintained by the utility.

Transmission between service territories typically has been built to accommodate utilities that co-owned plants and to share reserve power between utilities and regions. To that end, today’s transmission system can be defined as a group of networks covering the service territories of the major utilities separated by weak connectors limiting interconnectivity.

Transmission constraints are a major concern. The antiquated grid prevents utilities from routing electricity long distances, thereby feeding areas that require additional power. In the early days of the power industry, the typical power plant would push power approximately 50 to 75 miles. Fast forward to our deregulated industry today; it is not unusual to transmit power 1000 miles. This longdistance transmission comes at a price—line losses that are absorbed by the utility generating the power.

Over the past eight to 10 years, transmission construction has declined. (I suspect this is due to deregulation and the increase in investor-owned utilities otherwise known as “merchant” plants.) Whatever the reason, this lack of investment has impacted our life styles by way of blackouts.

It is well known that we have issues with our transmission system and that they must be addressed as we add further generation. Unfortunately, no one seems to have an answer. How do we get every generator to contribute dollars to upgrade the North American power grid? (Investment in transmission, however, will increase over the next 15 or so years, primarily due to new plant construction.)

Generation concerns
Figure 1 shows how power generation in North America is broken down. Given the abundance of coal in the United States, it is only natural that coal is the largest source of our power (48.9%).


The first modern (1890s) power plants were coal-fired. Coal plants from that era on into the 1940s required approximately three pounds of coal to generate 1 kW of electricity. Advanced-technology coal plants of today require less than one pound of coal to generate 1 kW of electricity—yet, the average power plant uses 100 rail cars of coal per day. Even with the state-of-the-art upgrades and engineering, today’s coal plants are still based on 50- to 100-year-old technology.

Unfortunately, coal has its drawbacks: pollution, thermal efficiency and waste disposal, to name a few. Contrary to popular belief, coal-fired generation is no longer the lowcost option—and hasn’t been for several years. Natural gas combined cycles still are the lowest-cost source of new generation (i.e. total costs for a new plant, not operating costs for a fully depreciated plant), and wind is now the next-to-lowest cost source. With capital costs running over $2000/kW and coal at $3/mmBtu, coal plants simply are not competitive now.

Once the fuel of choice, coal is becoming a point of contention. Add its rising cost to the scrubber system required to meet federal regulations and it is clear why coal is no longer the least expensive fuel source for power generation.

Further complicating the matter, however, is the fact that many North American coal plants in operation today have reached the end of their useful lives. By the year 2025—just 17 years from now—62 gigawatts of power will be removed from service. This does not include the nuclear fleet of power gen plants that is up for relicensing, either; many of these facilities are almost 50 years old. How long will they last—perhaps another 10 to 15 years? That’s simply not enough time to build the additional generating capacity necessary to meet future/ current demand and replace retired capacity.

Good news/bad news
Despite all these power gen industry problems, electricity remains a good value. Unlike other consumer goods, electricity has not kept pace with inflation. From 1985 to 2000, electricity prices rose on the average of 1.1% per year. Even with recent price increases due to fuel cost and price cap corrections, the price for one kilowatt-hour of electricity has increased by just 27% since 1985.

Now the downside: we need more power plants to meet additional consumer demands. We need to build plants to replace the retired units. We must add and update transmission lines, industry infrastructure and meet new environmental regulations.

From 2002 to 2005, the electric utility industry as a whole spent at least $21 billion on compliance with federal environmental laws. State and local rules drove that total even higher. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, complying with two new federal regulations—the Clean Air Interstate Rule and the Clean Air Mercury Rule, aimed at further reducing power plant emissions of NOx, SO2, and mercury—will cost the electric utility industry $47.8 billion between the years 2007 and 2025. Consider:

  • The average coal-fired power plant costs roughly $3B.
  • Estimates for nuclear plants range from $8B to $15B.
  • Transmission lines cost about $1.3M per mile.
  • From 2000 to 2005, the power industry invested more than $28B in our nation’s transmission system.
  • From 2006-2009, industry is planning to invest $31.5B in the transmission system, nearly a 60% increase.

The overall picture is that the electric power industry faces a situation in which significant investments are needed, and rate increases will be necessary to finance them.

First line of defense
Why write about the power industry and energy costs in a magazine focused on maintenance and reliability? Readers like you are the first line of defense when it comes to energy use. You are the people working to keep the plant on line, performing day-to-day maintenance and replacing failed equipment.

Motor driven equipment typically fails or experiences frequent maintenance for several reasons:

  • Incorrectly sized for the application
  • Operator-related issues
  • Poor installation

All three of these failure modes have an impact on energy use and could be corrected by maintenance.

So what can we do to minimize the “pain” while the power industry makes the necessary adjustment? The only way we can control the impact on our economy and way of life is to conserve energy.

Did you know the U.S. comprises 5% of the world’s population, yet consumes 25% of the world’s energy? We are energy hogs!! We must change the way we live and do business! We can begin by realizing that energy conservation is our #1 fuel source!

  • Make sure your equipment is operating efficiently; frequent maintenance on a piece of equipment is a clear indication the equipment is operating inefficiently.
  • Purchase premium efficient motors.
  • Think in terms of life-cycle cost (LCC) and total cost of ownership (TCO), rather than first cost when specifying and purchasing equipment. Buy right, not cheap (see Fig. 2).
  • Conduct Root Cause Failure Analyses to determine why equipment fails, then implement corrective actions.
  • Properly size motors and pumps and avoid added margin.
  • Consider VFDs for friction-dominated systems.
  • Consult your local utility regarding incentive programs for energy efficiency.

If your equipment is operating efficiently it will be reliable. Remember that reliability and efficiency are complimentary.

Shocking conclusions
The North American power grid is faced with a serious problem and every person on the continent will be affected by it—sooner than later. Electric bills will continue to rise in order to subsidize construction. This increase will affect our paychecks and our employers’ bottom lines.


Keep in mind that it will take at least 30 years to stabilize the North American power grid. Stabilization will succeed only if the industry has the cooperation of both federal and state governments and—most importantly—the consumer.

New plants and transmission lines must be approved and built at a rapid pace. The industry should move to nonpolluting, efficient power generation, including wind, solar and nuclear. The power industry and our country can no longer afford inefficient power plants. The days of the 35%- efficient coal plant and 65%-efficient gas plant are over.

Rising energy costs will continue to impact industry’s profitability; this will not change. We can, however, minimize future economic pain and business interruptions by reducing energy consumption now. Despite the problems in the power generation industry, you and your company really can make a difference. You can start by looking to and leveraging energy conservation as our #1 fuel source.

Bill Livoti is a fluid power and power industry engineer with the Baldor/Dodge/Reliance divisions of Baldor Electric Company, based in Greenville, SC. His professional background includes many years working in the power gen industry. Today, among other things, he is strongly involved with the Pump Systems Matter initiative focusing on the optimization of pumping systems throughout industry. Telephone: (864) 281-2118; e-mail:

For more information on pumping system optimization and life cycle costing, visit the Hydraulic Institute (HI) at and/or Pump Systems Matter (PSM) at


U.S. Department of Energy
Electric Power Research Institute
Edison Electric Institute
Hydraulic Institute (HI)
Pump Systems Matter (PSM)
Baldor Electric

Editor’s Note… Working To Ensure Our Future

It’s clear new fuel sources and means of generating and transmitting electricity must be found sooner than later. Industry can take a giant step in this direction by looking seriously to energy conservation as a form of fuel—our #1 fuel source! To assist your company along this path, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Industrial Technologies Program (DOE/ITP) has initiated the concept of Superior Energy Performance (SEP) to encourage improved industrial energy efficiency and environmental performance.

The DOE/ITP mission is intended to provide a mechanism to help corporations assign greater value to energy efficiency improvements, independently verify resulting energy savings, receive public recognition for achievements and “raise the bar” for industrial energy efficiency overall. Thus, a standardized framework for conducting energy improvement assessments for industrial steam, compressed air, process heating and pumping systems is expected to be developed. Stay tuned!

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May 1, 2008
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Part I…How Clean Is The New Oil In Your Equipment? (Who Is Responsible?)

It’s a nagging, industry-wide question, and one that keeps many a supplier and end user up at night.


0608_newoil_1In the multi-step process of moving lubricants from THEIR tanks to YOUR equipment, where does contamination start? At what point do dirt and/or moisture enter the supply chain? Is it a problem with storage, handling, dispensing or a combination? This three-part series aims to answer these questions once and for all. Based on studies of actual field data of the cleanliness of new oil put into equipment, it will provide recommendations on how to more effectively guarantee cleanliness in the future. A continuing theme in this series will be the fact that it takes a strong, cooperative effort among lubricant supplier, distributor/marketer and end user for any oil cleanliness program to be successful (see Fig. 1).

Most lubricants purchased today come from a distributor and are delivered in the following ways:

  • Bulk shipments from the lube blending plant delivered directly to the customer
  • Bulk shipments from stored lubricants at the distributor
  • Drums and pails filled at the blend plant and delivered by distributor
  • Drums and pails filled at distributor from oil in tankage

0608_newoil_fig1How the lubricant is delivered by the distributor will have a major impact on oil cleanliness.

The lubricant blender also plays a key role in oil cleanliness. Typically, turbine and hydraulic oils are sent out of the blend plant at a cleanliness of 19/17/14. Once it is put in trucks or drums, the delivered oil will not be as clean. (One major manufacturer that is filtering hydraulic oil and putting it in new sealed steel drums, however, is achieving a cleanliness rating of 14/11/9. There is a cost for this procedure, but customers know they will receive very clean hydraulic oil as a result of it.)

Some companies may require special handling of their oils. A case in point is General Electric, which has a minimum cleanliness rating for turbine oils of 16/13. This is achieved by delivering filtered turbine oil to GE in a dedicated bulk truck. Lubricant suppliers are providing this service either directly from the blend plant or through filtration at the distributor.

The end user also has a responsibility to maintain oil cleanliness. Oil can become dirty very quickly if it is not handled or dispensed properly. The customer needs to cooperate closely with the lube blender and distributor to develop a program achieving targeted oil cleanliness levels economically. Scope of this study In our study, new lubricants are being evaluated for two major contaminants: particles and water. All laboratory test work is being conducted by MRT Laboratories, an ISO 17025-2005 certified laboratory in Houston, TX. The following tests are being performed:

  • Viscosity @ 40 C
  • Karl Fischer Water Determination
  • ISO 4406 Particle Count
  • Emission Spectroscopy

0608_newoil_fig2The following samples were purchased from four major lubricant manufacturers for evaluation:

  • ISO 32 turbine oil
  • ISO 46 AW hydraulic oil
  • ISO 220 EP gear oil
  • ISO 100 R&O oil

As shown in Fig. 2, the lubricant flow through a distributor operation is being examined for both water and particle contamination. The major focus will be on turbine and hydraulic oils. Fluid cleanliness will be examined at each stage to determine the effect of storage and handling on contamination.

The final phase of the study will be focusing on end user handling of lubricants. Very clean fluid can be delivered to the plant, but without proper handling all efforts for clean oil are wasted.

Lubricants at several end-use facilities will be examined to determine the introduction of contaminants at the various stages of lubricant dispensing (as indicated by Fig. 3). The use of filters and filter carts in the achieving of fluid cleanliness targets also will be examined.


After all study data is collected, recommendations will be made on the optimum way to achieve fluid cleanliness in the most economical way. Subsequent installments in this series will address best practices for lubricant blenders, distributors and end users.

ISO 4406: 1999 Cleanliness Code
Cleanliness will be measured by the use of an optical laser counter that measures the number and size of various particles. Although this procedure was discussed thoroughly in a previous article on oil cleanliness (see pgs. 34-35, Lubrication Management & Technology, September/October 2007), it will be reviewed here.

The data in Table I are used to assign a cleanliness code number for a fluid:


The particle sizes measured are= 4 micron, = 6 micron and = 14 micron. The number of particles are measured with a particle counter and recorded by size per milliliter of fluid. Take, for example, a fluid with the following particle count:

= 4 micron = 8500/ml 
= 6 micron = 1650/ml
= 14 micron = 300/ml

The shorthand notation according to ISO 4406:1999 would be 20/18/15 for this fluid. A lower number represents a cleaner fluid. Note, too, that a one-number increase in the cleanliness code represents a doubling in the number of particles. The other articles in this three-part series will utilize this code to represent fluid cleanliness.

Oil cleanliness is a very timely topic. Many end users today are demanding cleaner oil without understanding the costs involved. The next articles will address the issue of the cleanliness of oil currently supplied and best practices to assure that the oil will be clean when put into the equipment. The relationship between the lubricant supplier, distributor and end user needs to be cooperative and not adversarial. They all need to work with one another to assure clean oil at an economical cost.

Realistic cleanliness goals need to be established by equipment type before any program is implemented. A total program needs to be established, including the use of proper filtration when the fluid is in the equipment. This filtration also has been discussed in a previous article (pgs. 8-12, Lubrication Management & Technology, November/December 2007). Like everything else, effective filtration requires a strong cooperative effort between the end user and the filter manufacturer.

The second installment in this series will appear in the July/August issue of Lubrication Management & Technology.

Contributing editor Ray Thibault is based in Cypress (Houston), TX. An STLE-Certified Lubrication Specialist and Oil Monitoring Analyst, he conducts extensive training in a number of industries. Telephone: (281) 257-1526; e-mail

Mark Graham is technical services manager for O’Rourke Petroleum in Houston, TX. Telephone: (713) 672-4500; e-mail:

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6:00 am
May 1, 2008
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Human Memory Vs. Computerization

Lubrication reliability is an extremely important and complex issue that may not be getting enough attention in many plants. This type of “forgetfulness” can be very costly.

These days, successful manufacturing and process organizations would not dream of running their accounts receivable, accounts payable, inventory control, CRM and a host of other critical functions without the aid of software designed for those specific purposes. Yet, many of these same organizations seem to overlook the fact that running an effective industrial lubrication program is just as complex as these other activities—and one that can significantly benefit through the use of specialized software.

Depending on its product(s) and/or process(es), an industrial operation might run hundreds to thousands of pieces of equipment. Each of these machines and/or systems typically would include multiple component parts—a motor, drive-shaft and couplings, for example—that require lubrication. Multiple lube points per equipment result in thousands upon thousands of individual points to be serviced. But, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Do the math 
Each individual lubrication point within a plant or facility often calls for multiple and differing activities to be performed, each at its own frequency. For instance, proper care of just one lubrication point will require topping off a reservoir each week, drawing a lab sample every quarter and draining and refilling with fresh fluid once a year.

Several thousand lube points in an operation, each with multiple tasks at varying frequencies, could translate into hundreds of thousands of annual activities that need to be performed. Accordingly, to ensure ongoing performance and reliability, it wouldn’t be unusual to find many sites performing over 250,000 lubrication activities each year. In fact, one proactive and successful East Coast paper plant reports performing over 700,000 lubrication activities annually.

Now, though, consider the problem of so many lubrication points spread across a site—that could mean vast expanses of land, numerous buildings, multiple stories, etc. Further complicating such situations is the fact that these various points probably require the application of a wide array of lubricants using the correct and very detailed procedures. How is this daunting task best handled? Too often it’s left, in full or part, to human memory.

Historical approaches
#1. Relying on people…
In many plants, lubrication maintenance personnel who have been tending equipment for decades have developed a thorough understanding of the equipment’s needs. With any luck, these experienced individuals are never sick or on leave. (How realistic, though, is that type of thinking?) Worse yet, what are the consequences when a highly experienced lubrication professional resigns or retires? A missioncritical information asset walks out the door. In turn, a long, tough, costly program devoted to reassembling details and lost knowledge kicks off. Meanwhile, lacking decades of experience, how does the new person on the block possibly lubricate without significant omission?

#2. Relying on spreadsheets…
Another widely used lubrication program management method involves a computer spreadsheet. Typically this comprises a list of equipment along with numerous columns for lubrication-specific data fields such as lube points and type, required lubricant, lubricant capacity and the frequencies at which to perform tasks. While able to convey the basics of what needs to be done and how often, such spreadsheets fail in knowing or communicating what needs to be done and when.

With the simple spreadsheet approach, what’s most often lacking is the tracking of dates last completed—accurately entering this information for each of thousands of rows is an arduous, almost impossible task. Yet, while updating spreadsheets proves difficult, accidental changes and deletions come all too easily.

Knowledge of last-done is the key prerequisite to determining when individual tasks are next-due—without which several all-important questions remain unanswered.

  • What tasks/activities are to be done this week?
  • What tasks/activities were missed last week?
  • What about the hundreds of tasks/activities of longer duration, such as those performed every quarter, every six months or just one time per year?

It’s simply not possible to correctly remember when each task/activity was last completed. Once again the burden for proper lubrication is consigned to human memory.

#3. Relying on standard CMMS/EAM products… 
A third common approach is attempting to properly execute lubrication using the PM system of a CMMS or EAM product. Focused on CM & PM work-order management, these systems perform the role well, and most maintenance professionals are comfortable with their use.

Alas, comfort in a systems’ intended function is far from the best reason to apply it to other uses. Outside the CMMS are hundreds of products supporting additional reliability disciplines such as vibration, IR and others. Why? The work-order-centric design of a CMMS is incapable of supporting the unique data and activity requirements of these disciplines. Understanding that lubrication reliability is a unique discipline is the first step toward gaining its considerable benefits.


As shown in Fig. 1, although CM and PM work orders at a site might total a few thousand annually, the same site typically will require far more lubrication activities per year—ranging to 700,000+ at the East Coast paper plant referenced earlier. The typical CMMS may be able to catalog equipment details at the nameplate level, but these systems lack any clear approach for cataloging the related multiple lubrication points, let alone the multiple activities for each of these points. Also missing are the many data elements regularly found in the previously explained spreadsheets. The fact that these discipline-specific details are missing from the typical CMMS is the main reason such spreadsheets find common use.

This lack of requisite details forces many into a minimalist, work-order level approach to lubrication. Simple monthly PMs are created for each equipment section or area, producing work orders with generic instructions such as “Lubricate stations 1 thru 8,” or “Check Levels in Bldg 12.” (Striving for more detail, one plant of an integrated forest products company was required by management to use a corporate-specified plant-wide asset management system as part of its lubrication program. The plant’s reliability engineer invested months of effort on repetitive keyboard entry of lubrication details into long-text fields. Shortly thereafter, and much to his dismay, it was decided to switch more than 200 reservoirs to synthetic lubricants—which required him to edit each individually. Furthermore, with his hands tied by data locked into non-actionable text-fields, he was forced to answer with a definitive “NO,” when the plant manager asked him if his time and effort had resulted in an accurate and consistent lubrication program.)

Many CMMS products allow for inclusion of a list or block of items with a PM, which can be used to list the lubrication points for an equipment area. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, the actual complexities of lubrication cannot be overlooked.

Lubrication points within any equipment area are not identical. For example, their frequency rate will vary, with some being weekly, others quarterly or annually. A single PM can’t really address this fact—resulting in the need for multiple PMs to be created for each equipment area, one per frequency. Equally important to this situation are the lubricant required, number of lubrication points, activity type (top-off, change-out, sample, etc.) and other activityrelated procedures. With the CMMS offering no native support for this information, how is it conveyed using a PM? How many PMs are needed to convey a bare minimum of compulsory details? Remember, give a CMMS more PMs and it will return the favor with increased work orders and paperwork. More importantly, within these numerous work orders and pieces of paper, there is no opportunity to bring optimization and efficiency to lubrication.

Yes, having a multitude of detail deficient lubrication PMs might look and feel good on the surface, but it veils reality with a false sense of security. Once again, details required for success are left to the imagination and memory of lubrication personnel.

What’s done is done. Or is it? Mark a work order as completed and the entire block of lubrication points share the same status. A PM system unable to function below the work-order level can’t remember the relevant—all outstanding lubrication points must somehow be remembered over subsequent weeks until completed. It’s not hard to see this problem will compound week after week. With such reliance upon human memory to ensure proper lubrication, it’s no surprise a recent search across popular CMMS/EAM Websites for the term “lubrication” returned zero pertinent results.

#4. Customizing CMMS/EAM products… 
The fourth and by far the most costly approach is customization of the CMMS/EAM product for lubrication. Gaining rudimentary lubrication capability through this type of customization can consume hundreds of man hours—as was the case with an organization that reportedly spent nearly $1,000,000 USD to modify a management-specified, corporate-wide enterprise management system PM for lubrication- point level of functionality. Even if successful, such customizations can be difficult and expensive to update, with personnel doing original work that often is otherwise assigned or no longer part of the organization. With corporations working to eliminate maintenance of in-house legacy systems, why should lubrication be any different?

Taking a better approach 
In reliability-focused facilities, the old “oil is oil” mentality should no longer suffice. Whatever the case, however, in too many plants lubrication points are still being incorrectly maintained—or worse—missed entirely.

When asked, lubrication managers often say things are going well. With the aforementioned approaches 1-4, though, lube points are being missed no matter how well things are going. Regrettably, you don’t get immediate feedback when a lube point is missed. Often times, it may take months or even years to learn the results of such an oversight—which may come in the form of costly, if not catastrophic, equipment failure and unplanned downtime. If this weren’t so, over 50% of all equipment failures wouldn’t be traced back to poor lubrication practices.

So, this begs the question: Why are the previously described four approaches to lubrication so often employed? Organizations use them for one of three reasons:

  1. The complexities of a well-run lubrication reliability program are misunderstood.
  2. Management fails to calculate the cost of poor lubrication practices.
  3. There is a lack of awareness of preferred alternatives.

What is the net result of primarily relying on human memory? It all boils down to significant cost and loss. This includes unplanned downtime, capital equipment replacement, poor use of human resources and environmental risk—all of which are in addition to poor production quality and excessive energy consumption.

What are the features and benefits of a well-designed lubrication reliability software solution? Headaches and complexities are resolved. All lubrication-specific details are clearly presented to lubrication personnel, ensuring lubrication is done right. That means:

  • The right lubricant is applied in the right place, at the right time, using the right procedure.
  • Abnormal machine conditions are noted, recorded and tracked until such conditions improve.
  • Other important capabilities include consumption tracking and trending, shutdown/outage planning and equipment lockout/tagout.

A good system will incorporate an automatic lube-point/ lube-task-based work release, with individual tasks released as needed, not as blocks of work. It also will automatically push lubrication work assignments to those responsible. This frees maintenance planners from the detail of lubrication so they can focus on PMs and corrective work. In addition, this type of a lubrication reliability system will provide automatic backlog management. Individual lube-tasks, if not complete, are automatically marked past-due and brought forward each week until they are done—with no user intervention required.

0608_lubrication_fig2The best systems also provide for routes on rugged Windows Mobile™ handheld computers (similar to the one shown in Fig. 2). This brings a great deal of efficiency to the system, with information literally at the fingertips of the lubrication specialist. There are no clipboards and no paperwork. Fingertip data collection includes work accomplished, consumption volume and equipment problems and issues, all with no keyboard data entry. Mobile routes also include provisions for positive verification via Bar-Codes or RFID, as desired.

Equally important is a detailed history for each lubepoint and lubrication-specific reporting. Detailed history is required for KPI oversight, as well as for process improvement and failure analysis. This builds accountability with regard to international standards and audit accountability. Lubrication-specific reporting brings forth information at both detailed and management overview levels. Reports are both tabular and graphical, providing instant understanding of program status.

Capturing the benefits
The benefits of using an effective lubrication management software tool are many. One of the most important to a company—especially in an era of dwindling resources and skyrocketing energy costs—can be seen in the area of energy management. Experts note that proper lubrication of equipment can be a major component in reducing energy demands within industrial facilities—by as much as 20%. That’s because using the right lubricant in the right amount consistently reduces friction, thereby lowering the amount of energy required to run the equipment.

Furthermore, by thoroughly addressing improper lubrication— the number one cause of equipment failure—reactive maintenance work decreases and overall plant reliability increases. Plants gain a focused and efficient lubrication reliability program, including footstep reducing lubrication routes. Each route directs the lubrication specialist pointto- point, showing needed information, including detailed procedures. This eliminates the need for numerous PMs and an ongoing, often overwhelming array of printed work orders—resulting in increased reliability and productivity.

In short, a lubrication reliability software solution can:

  • Help cut soaring energy costs
  • Help reduce unplanned downtime
  • Help schedule and direct personnel efficiently
  • Help retain the corporate knowledge asset when trained and experienced employees leave (and they always will)

Best of all, any one of these can quickly save more than the costs of the lubrication reliability solution. With these types of benefits and rapid ROI, it is hard to understand why corporations continue to ignore this profound opportunity for increased competitiveness and profit that an effective lubrication program can provide.

Eric Rasmusson is the president of Generation Systems, Inc., based in Issaquah, WA. E-mail:

About Generation Systems, Inc.

From a scrappy start-up in a Seattle-area garage to a real player on today’s stage…

Founded in 1984, Generation Systems’ primary—and relentless—focus continues to be on enhancing the profit and operational excellence of its customers through the reduction of inadequate lubrication practices. According to the company, its flagship product, LUBE IT, is among the most widely used lubrication reliability software tools available today.

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6:00 am
May 1, 2008
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LMT News

News of people and events important to the Lubrication Management community


Mark Samolczyk, senior vice president of corporate planning and development for The Timken Company, has assumed the chairmanship of ABMA, the American Bearing Manufacturers Association ( The fourth Timken executive to take on this role, his term will end in March 2009.

Timken has been involved with ABMA since its inception in 1917. Throughout its 91 years of operation, the association has served as the collective voice of the American bearing industry, working with government officials on public policy and international trade matters that affect the ability of bearing makers to compete fairly in a global economic environment. The organization also works to define international standards for bearing products.

During his term, Samolczyk sees the promotion of the bearing industry as one of the organization’s primary opportunities. As chairman, he will also be involved in the continued development of the World Bearing Association (WBA), a group formed in 2006 by ABMA, the Japanese Bearing Industrial Association and the Federation of European Bearing Manufacturers Association. This industry group addresses matters such as the environment, counterfeiting and trade issues within the bearing industry.

The Water Environment Federation (WEF) has announced the 2008 state winners of the U.S. Stockholm Junior Water Prize (SJWP)—the most prestigious youth award for a waterrelated science project. WEF Member Associations selected and will sponsor state winners and their science teachers to attend the national competition, hosted by the Florida Water Environment Association, June 19-21, 2008 in Orlando, fl. (Go for a complete list of state winners.) The purpose of the SJWP program is to increase students’ interest in water-related issues and research and to raise awareness about global water challenges. The competition is open to projects aimed at enhancing the quality of life through improvement of water quality, water resources management, water protection and water and wastewater treatment.

The U.S. winner will receive $3000 (USD) and an allexpense- paid trip to Stockholm, Sweden for the international competition, as well as the opportunity to present his/her research to water quality experts at WEFTEC® 08, the Federation’s 81st annual technical exhibition and conference slated for Chicago, IL this October. In addition, the U.S. winner’s school will receive $1000 toward enhancing science education. Up to three finalists also will receive $1000 each.

In the United States, WEF and its Member Associations organize the national, state and regional SJWP competitions with support from ITT Corporation (also the international sponsor), the Coca-Cola Company and Delta Air Lines.

The international competition takes place in Stockholm during World Water Week, August 17-23. The winner of that competition will receive $5000 (USD) presented during a royal ceremony by the prize’s Patron HRH Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden.

CAGI, the Compressed Air & Gas Institute (, has announced the winners of its first annual student competition, the 2007-2008 National Innovation Awards contest. The invitation-only awards program challenges students to create pioneering designs that use compressed air as the power source for machine tool applications, motion control devices, consumer products or other unique applications. Teams from Virginia Tech, Purdue, the Milwaukee School of Engineering and the University of Minnesota submitted projects that were judged on innovation, marketability and presentation. Team CIRCA (Climbing Inspection Robot with Compressed Air), made up of engineering students from Virginia Tech, won first place. Their project used compressed air to power a serpentine robot designed for inspecting unsafe or hard-to-reach areas such as bridge structures, tall utility poles, or even scaffolding or girders in construction sites. Second place was awarded to Team Turbocharger of Virginia Tech for its Turbocharger Test Stand for use in bearing testing and turbocharger shaft vibration measurement. Honorable mention went to Team Stressed and Compressed of the Milwaukee School of Engineering. Their entry, the Saucer Tosser, accelerates a clay disc through the air with the use of a compressed piston. The Saucer Tosser would be used in clay pigeon shooting.

In its ongoing efforts to provide assistance to students entering the growing international field of occupational safety, health and the environment (SH&E), the American Society of Safety Engineers’ (ASSE) Foundation recently announced the names of the 39 recipients of the 2008 annual SH&E scholarships funded by the continued support of corporations, ASSE Regions and Chapters, members and individuals.

The ASSE Foundation is awarding $102,280 in scholarships this year for undergraduate and graduate college students. Scholarship recipients not only will be honored during ASSE’s annual Professional Development Conference (PDC) and Exposition this June in Las Vegas, NV, but some also will have their travel expenses paid for by Foundation supporters, enabling them to participate in this annual professional development conference with safety professionals from more than 35 countries and with more than 200 educational sessions.

For more information, including the list of scholarship winners and supporters, go

The American Consortium for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) has announced the opening of nominations for its 2008 Champion of Energy Efficiency Awards that recognize leadership and accomplishment in the energy efficiency field. Winners will be selected based on demonstrated excellence in the following categories:

  • Research and Development (R&D)—Excellence in research and development including baseline or background research, as well as R&D of products and practices.
  • Energy Policy—Excellence in energy policy, including writing, educating, promoting or supporting energy effi- ciency in energy policy, at the federal, state or local level.
  • Implementation and Deployment—Effective design and implementation, including achievement of significant impacts on energy use.
  • Leadership—Exceptional personal leadership demonstrated in the development, implementation or growth of important energy efficiency initiatives.

The 2008 Champions awards will be presented at the 2008 ACEEE Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings in Pacific Grove, CA, scheduled for August 17-22, 2008 at the Asilomar Conference Center. The “Buildings” Summer Study is the premier energy efficiency conference in its field, and draws leading academics, energy efficiency professionals, government representatives, researchers and policymakers. For more details, including information on nominations, nominating forms and how to register for the summer study program, visit (Nominations are due by June 20, 2008.)


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6:00 am
May 1, 2008
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Time to fire up your safety program…5 Keys To A Successful Safety Audit

Where do dangers lurk on your plant floor? Uncovering hazards and deficiencies before they become a problem is the first step in reducing risk to people and property.

0608_firesafety_1Awell-executed safety audit program can make a substantial difference in helping companies prevent accidents and injuries. Your company must understand and incorporate key characteristics of a successful audit program. Properly addressing these core areas will help the program deliver maximum impact with minimal risk, while adding value over time.

Key #1: Plan and prepare
To give your audit focus and purpose, identify your goals early by asking these questions:

  • What departments or operations will be covered in the inspection?
  • What items or activities will be checked?
  • How often will inspections be carried out?
  • How will the inspections be conducted?
  • What follow-up activity will there be so corrections are made?

As with any well-functioning management system, an audit program must have written guidelines and procedures to describe how the audit should be conducted and what corrective action should be taken. These procedures should define all audit activities, including planning the audit, onsite activities and follow-up.

Key #2: Define the scope 
Determine whether to conduct a general inspection or targeted inspection. General inspections are comprehensive reviews of all safety and industrial health exposures in a given area or complete factory. Targeted (or special) inspections deal with specific exposures or hazards in a given unit, section or plant. Good audit programs can include both types of inspections.

Key #3: Involve the right people
The success of an audit relies heavily on involving the right people. Variables in the size and type of business, number and expertise of employees, and special hazards and characteristics of each business will dictate which staff members are assigned to the audit program. In many cases, a team approach is used, mixing facility and line managers, supervisors, engineers, operators and staff from other departments. Safety program managers should critically review the audit team makeup for a balance between objectivity and familiarity.

Key #4: Follow through for corrective action 
Identified deficiencies must be assigned to a responsible person and corrected in a reasonable timeframe. In some cases, the deficiency represents a more endemic problem, requiring a more extensive corrective action plan. Followup audits must confirm that the corrective action was satisfactorily completed.

Key #5: Train and educate
Reducing potential risk requires appropriate instruction and training on safety procedures. All employees who may be exposed to the hazards of a machine or process should participate in these training programs, and these programs should be audited. The training agenda and programs must be customized to meet the specific needs of the facility.

Make a lasting impact 
Effective safety audits can be an important component of a successful safety program. To realize the full benefits of an audit program, it’s critical for a company to have the right focus, involve the right people, allocate adequate resources and follow through on corrective actions. If your company has a well-planned and well-executed audit strategy, you will forge a sustainable competitive advantage.

Steve Dukich is a senior application engineer and Mike Duta is manager of Machine Safety Services for Rockwell Automation. For information on Rockwell’s Integrated Safety Systems, visit; for information on the company’s Risk Assessment Services, visit

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