Archive | August, 2008


9:26 am
August 12, 2008
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Example Pages and Menu Links

This page is an example of content that is Uncategorized; that is, it does not belong to any Section or Category. You will see there is a new Menu in the left column. It shows links to the same content presented in 4 different page layouts.

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Follow the links in the Example Pages Menu to see some of the options available to you to present all the different types of content included within the default installation of Joomla!.

This includes Components and individual Articles. These links or Menu Item Types (to give them their proper name) are all controlled from within the Menu Manager->[menuname]->Menu Items Manager.

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6:00 am
August 1, 2008
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Utilities Manager: Mobile Real-Time Inspection Of Combustion Processes

0808_whatshot_img1Lenox Instrument’s portable FireSight® Diagnostic System provides efficient, real-time, color inspection of combustion and process control in boilers, furnaces, kilns and incinerators. This entirely self-contained unit allows diagnostics, testing, monitoring and recording of several individual boiler or furnace functions operating at any level via any available 1?” (41.3 mm) opening. It consists of an air filtration and power system and 8″ CCD color monitor in a durable case with telescoping handle and wheels. The air-cooled furnace lens assembly is offered with either a 24″ or 36″ lens, in either direct or right-angle view configurations. An optional mini-digital video recorder with an LCD screen also is available. Capable of operating in temperatures up to 3000 F (1649 C), this system is well-suited for use in power plants, steel mills, paper mills, glass plants, cement kilns and incinerators. Its high-color image clarity is particularly valuable in helping speed light off, evaluate flame intensity and patterns, determine the status of igniters, view flame impingement, NOx emissions, CO and O2 imbalance, high unburned carbon (LOI), eyebrows, slag, clinker and ash build-up. Among its many features, the Light Volume Control, a Lenox exclusive, lets operators easily adjust the amount of light transmitted to the camera, eliminating the bloom common with other systems and ensuring a high-quality color image from initial light-off to maximum load.

Lenox Instrument Company
Trevose, PA

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6:00 am
August 1, 2008
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Utilities Manager: Utilities Manager


In the quest for more energy-efficient operations, every little bit helps.

As companies demand more energy efficiency from their systems, valve heating could be a real consideration. One area where energy losses can occur is on long pipe runs and their intersections such as T-fittings and valves. On an individual basis, energy losses around valves might seem minuscule. But, when an application has multiple valves in a system, such losses can quickly add up. Since it is a given that some losses will occur in heating systems, it makes sense to use heaters with insulation to maintain temperature.

Problem overview
Valve heating is critical to many processes. Markets and applications such as petrochemical, freeze protection, metal casting, pulp and paper processes and transportation are just a sampling of the many areas that have valve heating needs. Moreover, these markets seem to be without boundaries. For example, hundreds of feet below the earth’s surface, an arctic mining operation might utilize flow valves that must withstand up to 5000 pounds of pressure per square inch while operating at a constant temperature. On the other hand, an instrumentation valve, which is a key component in an aerospace application, must be able to handle extreme swings in temperature. These applications require quality heating devices to maintain temperature, thus reducing the chance of failure. The heat produced from the heaters may be necessary to reduce viscosity of the medium as it flows through the valve. If the heater fails, it can cause serious damage, halt the process or compromise safety. Additionally, agency requirements such as, UL®, CSA, CE, or RoHS might be necessary.

As varied as the industrial marketplace needing valves is, so too are the many valve geometries being utilized. While valve shapes and sizes—along with application requirements and pricing—are unique, the basic functions of valves are quite similar. In general a valve is a pass-through device regulating flow. It can be made of lightweight aluminum and incorporate a measurement device with an actuator for an oil pump line or be as simple as a polymer ball valve for an irrigation system.

Understanding process needs
It is best to take an application’s heating needs into account in the early stages of the system design phase. Too often, though, system heat is an afterthought and the design engineer or field technician has to scramble for a solution. Fortunately, there are many heater types to choose from when it comes to valve heating.

Heaters can be applied by wrapping them around the valve. They also can be integrated as part of the assembly at the time of the initial design. Choosing the appropriate heater for the valve is as important as choosing the appropriate valve for the application. Such a task means understanding the marketplace with respect to heater offering. There are several heating options that warrant a more in-depth review before selection.

Picking the correct solution
If placing heat close to the medium is important, a cast-in heater is an excellent option. Depending on the size of the valve, heaters such as FIREROD® cartridge, cable or WATROD tubular heating elements can be utilized by placing them in direct contact with the valve body or used in open air near the valve. In smaller geometries, when space is critical, cable or cartridge heaters are excellent options. If casting the heater as part of the valve is not an option, drilling holes and utilizing a cartridge insertion heater is another good option.

Opportunities exist in the aftermarket for heating valves. Creating a heated enclosure or “hotbox” around the valve and utilizing a tubular heating element, silicone rubber heater or small, finned strip heater are excellent supplemental heater options. The heater enclosure helps contain the heat while protecting the electrical connections from the elements of weather—and the use of insulation in the enclosure is a great energy saver. These heaters also are good choices when heating manifold valve assemblies.

In particular, some applications utilizing manifold valves might require easy-to-install, blanket-type heaters in direct contact with the part. Blanket heaters can be designed with holes and notches to accommodate the obstructions. These heaters offer the operator easy access to handles or instrumentation without significant disassembly. As a bonus— including energy-saving benefits—these heaters can be shipped from the factory with an insulation backing. This reduces field service time by not having to add additional insulation.

Some valve heating applications require good controllability as a result of temperature limitations of the medium. In addition, temperature sensitive parts such as O-rings must not exceed melting temperatures. Incorporating a sensor (such as a thermocouple or RTD) as part of the heater solution can save headaches down the road. These sensors work in concert with the control system and keep the heater from over-temping, and therefore prevent the system from overheating.

0808_heat_img3If the heater is designed on a new OEM application or becomes an aftermarket requirement, pre-formed silicone rubber heaters with ¼-inch insulation that act as portable ovens around valves can be used. This type of heater works well when used on snow making equipment. The machine continuously produces snow as long as the water lines and valves are protected from freezing. At a recommended maximum watt density of five watts per square inch, these heaters can safely reach 300 F (149 C). In some cases this heater can contain integral bimetal thermostats to maintain temperature. These heaters also have an optional removable blanket with snaps for quick assembly. The blanket holds in heat while holding the heater in place.

When higher watt densities are needed for higher temperatures or faster heat-up requirements, the cable heater is an excellent choice. Some cable heaters can handle 30 watts per square inch and easily reach 300-500 F (149- 260 C) in just minutes.

The real cost
Safety clearly is a top concern when heat is needed in any system. The following is an account of an actual situation wherein a refinery system failed because of the slow action of an emergency cut-off valve that compromised human safety and cost the company significantly.

An emergency shutdown procedure took place as a result of abnormally high system pressure. Consequently, the delayed operation of the pressure relief valve due to a viscosity rise of the liquid was the contributing cause of the failure. Due to the high pressure that took place, a leak occurred and ignited a fire.

The slow action of an automatic switching valve was the result of low temperatures and high humidity. The instrumentation required heat in and around the valve to function properly, and the dehumidification typically prevents problems with the condensed water. A viable solution for this type of problem would have been to utilize a molded silicone rubber heater with an integral sensor. In other words, the accident at this refinery could have been prevented if heat was applied to the cut-off valve, which would have kept the moisture from freezing around the valve assembly.

Bottom line
Multiple valve designs and heating solutions lead to versatility in the marketplace. The heat required in an application can get overlooked at times. It is up to the system designer to identify early on when the heat generated by the process is simply not enough and then determine the best heater solution for the particular application.

John Pape has worked for Watlow for 19 years. His current duties include account management, and pre- and post-sales support

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6:00 am
August 1, 2008
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Utilities Manager: Color Your Lube Program Green

0808_color_img1Adopting “green practices” as a catalyst for change around your operations doesn’t have to be painful or expensive, but it does require open minds.

Things are changing around our plants and facilities these days. The exponential rise in energy rates coupled with a global shift toward protecting the planet and its resources has forced company after company to seek “greener” alternatives to their operating practices across the board. Growing out of the increased awareness and understanding of the challenges we face has been a real open-mindedness—even an eagerness—in implementing programs that benefit BOTH environmental and business goals.

If your company is going “green,” there is no better place to begin or enhance your efforts than by updating—or “greening”—your lubrication management program. It’s a simple rationale. Equipment wear is caused by friction. Choosing the wrong lubricant, applying a lubricant incorrectly and/or at the wrong time and allowing a lubricant to become contaminated are things that lead to excessive friction. That, in turn, manifests into higher energy requirements to overcome the increase in friction and abrasion that causes seal damage, which can result in environmentally-unfriendly leaks and spills.

Taking a “greener” approach in your lubrication efforts will result in signifi- cant energy-cost reduction, reduced lubricant inventories, reduced lubricant consumption, reduced lubricant spills, cleaner equipment, reclamation and reuse of existing lubricants, responsible disposal of old lubricants and substantial increases in equipment reliability, availability and throughput—for little or no capital outlay.

Check out the following seven tactics. Employing one, more, or preferably all of them will go a long way in coloring your lubrication program “green.”

0808_color_img2Tactic #1: Lubricant Consolidation
Many companies will carry an inventory of 20 or more lubricants throughout their plant, often stored in half-open containers exposed to atmospheric contamination and in danger of being spilled. Remember, TODAY’s lubricants often are capable of out-performing many of YESTERDAY’s lubricants—products you have continued to purchase, stock and use over the past decades. Consolidation programs easily can reduce lubricant inventories by up to 75% or more, depending on the industry, lowering and purchase carry costs and simplifying lubricant application. Most importantly, consolidation forces you to inventory ALL of your lubricants in the plant, and list every storage location.

Consult with your lubricant suppliers about performing a lubricant consolidation exercise. Such a program typically is offered at little or no cost, in exchange for a blanket order that also can work in your favor by fixing lubricant costs for a set period.

0808_color_img2Tactic #2: Contamination Control
Contamination is an enemy of both wear surfaces and lubricants. Fortunately, it can be controlled with a little effort and awareness. Contamination issues are largely caused by poor storage, handling and application practices. Fine-tolerance bearing surfaces and radial lip seals do not take kindly to lubricants carrying abrasive bodies to the wear surface. Why then, do some technicians/organizations continually grease nipples without first cleaning the grease gun and nipple, leave off reservoir lids and breather caps in hydraulic systems, leave off lubricant container lids, store barrels of lubricants outside and exposed to extremes in weather where they rust and collect water, and use non-dedicated and dirty lubricant transfer devices?

Review how you perform in keeping contaminants from entering your lubrication systems. Then, consider investing in better housekeeping practices and some of the many new dedicated transfer systems offered by your local industrial supplier.

0808_color_img2Tactic #3: Filtration
Poor machine filter management can manifest as reduced lubricant flow, and cause the bypass of deadly wear contaminants to your bearing surfaces. Ensure that filter replacement is a high priority in your preventive maintenance program.

In an effort to conserve and reuse lubricants, an external pump/filtration cart can be used to clean your large reservoir lubricants and ready them for reuse. This will save on lubricant, change-out and disposal costs. Contact your local lubrication hardware or filter supplier for details on this type of easy-to-use system.

0808_color_img2Tactic #4: Spill Containment
Oil spills are never easy to deal with. Prevention can result in a lot less effort should one occur. When storing lubricants ensure that all full or partially full containers are kept in an area protected by an impermeable berm that contains a spill in a localized area. The containment system can be a steel box tray, concrete berm system or one of the many plastic containment systems sold by your local industrial supplier. Don’t forget to keep a spill management kit on hand—just in case!

0808_color_img2Tactic #5: Engineered Lubricant Delivery
Both under- and over-lubrication will cause a significant spike in energy requirements—one to overcome the metal-to-metal collision and the other to overcome fluid friction. Tuning your lubricant delivery can result in energy savings as high as 20%. Invest in a Lubrication Operation Effectiveness Review (LOER). Conducted by an accredited lubrication consultant, an LOER will provide recommendations on how to improve your current approach to delivering the right lubricant, in the right amount, in the right place, at the right time, whether from a grease gun or fully-automated system.

0808_color_img2Tactic #6: Lubricant Disposal Program
In countless communities, local legislation is forcing companies to own their waste and put in place waste disposal plans or programs. Many companies operating under a consolidated program have been able to set up recycling programs wherein all their old reservoir lubricants are taken back, cleaned, reconstituted with additives and resold back to them as recycled oil—at savings of up to 25% of virgin oil. These programs save disposal costs and the environment, as well as reduce the costs to purchase new oil. Collecting oil by type makes it easier for the disposal company and reduces the disposal costs charged to you. Learn what program(s) your disposal company offers, then start capturing your own savings.

0808_color_img2Tactic #7: Lubrication Training
A little basic lubrication training can ratchet up your team’s understanding and enhance your program significantly. While lubrication may appear to be very intuitive in nature, it is perhaps the least understood area of maintenance—and still responsible for up to 70% of all mechanical failures. Investing in a basic lubrication training course will facilitate your program immensely.

Now that you have these seven tactics down, get out your paintbrush. You’ll soon be on your way to successfully coloring your lubrication program GREEN.

Contributing Editor Ken Bannister is the author of the bestselling book, Lubrication for Industry (Industrial Press), and the author of the new lubrication section of the 28th edition of Machinery’s Handbook (Industrial Press). He conducts lubrication effectiveness reviews and training programs throughout industry. E-mail: kbannnister@

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6:00 am
August 1, 2008
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Utilities Manager: Spray Optimization Strategies

Using less compressed air, electricity and water in your drying and spraying operations can lead to significant savings. The right approach and the right device for the application are critical.

Systems that dry, clean, cool, coat and lubricate are easy to overlook as long as they seem to be providing the expected performance. That’s because the components in these systems are perceived to be quite simple. After all, if air is coming out holes in pipes and nozzles are spraying, everything is working properly, right? Wrong! Optimizing these operations can save tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars annually by dramatically reducing compressed air, electricity and water consumption.

Let’s take a look at two strategies that are relatively easy to implement, eliminate unnecessary profit leaks and improve product and process quality.

Strategy 1: Slash or eliminate compressed air consumption
Most plants use compressed air to dry, cool or move parts. Typically, open pipes or pipes with drilled holes or slits are used. While this approach accomplishes the desired task, compressed air consumption is excessive when compared with alternate approaches. In fact, using air nozzles, air amplifiers or air knives instead of open pipes can reduce air consumption by as much as 92%. In some operations, the use of compressed air can be eliminated completely by using an air knife package powered by a regenerative blower. (An overview of the options and estimated reductions in air consumption is shown in Table I. Refer to Table II for specific cost savings.)

Air nozzles and air knife packages offer benefits in addition to reducing or eliminating the use of compressed air, including:

  • Perceived noise reductions from 28 to 60% with air nozzles; additional reductions achieved with air knife packages;
  • Improved worker safety;
  • More precise, repeatable drying and blow-off.

0808_um_spray_img11Air nozzles: versatile, efficient and suitable for many operations…
Air nozzles convert a low-pressure volume of compressed air into a targeted, high-velocity, concentrated air stream, flat fan or curtain of high-impact air. They come in a variety of types, capacities, sizes and materials. In addition, air nozzles can be used with CO2, nitrogen, steam or other compatible gases for special heating and cooling applications.

Air amplifiers: increased intensity and efficiency…
A variable air amplifier is another option when using compressed air. Air amplifiers produce a constant, highvelocity air stream for spot drying, blow-off, exhaust and robotic applications. Efficiency is maximized because additional free air is pulled through the unit along with the compressed air. Air amplifiers deliver higher volumes of air and operate at higher pressures than air nozzles for fast drying and blow-off.

Low-flow air knives: maximum efficiency in small areas…
Low-flow air knives deliver a high velocity, uniform air flow across the entire length of the knife. Drying and blow-off are fast and efficient and minimal air is used.

Designed for small areas, low-flow air knives are typically mounted close to the target. Maximum knife length (or combined length of all knives) is limited to less than 2′ (61 cm). Applications that only require one or two air knives can experience significant operating cost reductions by using low-flow models.

Some drying and blow-off operations are well suited to using regenerative blowers and air knives. Using blower air to power an air knife eliminates the need for compressed air and can result in substantial savings—including a reduction in operating costs by 95% or more. Air knife/ regenerative blower packages are rugged/reliable and require infrequent, minimal maintenance. They are ideal for applications that require:

  • High air velocity;
  • Oil-free operation;
  • Large application areas—more than 2′ (61 cm);
  • Heated air.

How much can you save?
Any plant with a drying, cooling or blow-off operation can likely experience savings. Table II provides estimated savings for a single operation.

If you currently are using open pipes, reductions in compressed air consumption are possible—and will quickly offset the cost of any new equipment. If you’re already using air nozzles, evaluating alternatives such as variable air amplifiers, low-flow air knives or air knife/blower packages is a good idea to see if further savings can be realized.

Strategy 2: Eliminate water waste by optimizing spray operations
Spray nozzles are precision-engineered components designed to deliver very specific performance. And, like all technology, newer, more efficient versions are introduced on a regular basis. Routinely monitoring the nozzles you use and exploring changes in the way you spray can lead to significant reductions in water consumption.

Nozzle wear = wasted water…
Using worn spray nozzles can be extremely wasteful—often going undetected, especially in the early stages, where the signs of wear aren’t readily visible. Monitoring nozzles closely and taking the appropriate action can save thousands of gallons (liters) of water per day.

As nozzles wear, their orifices become larger and, at any given pressure, the flow rate will increase. Nozzles that spray over capacity are not only wasting water. Electricity costs will rise due to excess pump operation, chemical consumption will increase and wastewater disposal costs will escalate as well. As shown in Table III, even slight nozzle wear can be extremely wasteful.

Some signs of nozzle wear may be visible. As drop size increases, spray patterns may change or become distorted. If the wear is due to erosion or corrosion, a quick look at the nozzles will reveal the problem.

What to do about nozzle wear…

  • Replace nozzles on a regular schedule. Many processors elect to changeout spray nozzles annually. Depending on the number and type of spray operations, the cost of replacement nozzles can be far less than the cost of wasted water even if the nozzles are only 15 to 20% worn.
  • Evaluate nozzle material. Changing nozzle material may minimize wear and waste. Nozzles made from harder materials generally provide longer wear life. In addition to standard materials such as brass, steel, cast iron, various stainless steels, hardened stainless steels, many plastics and various carbides, spray nozzles can also be supplied in other materials upon special request. Materials that offer better corrosion resistance also are available. The rate of chemical corrosion on specific nozzle materials, however, is dependent on the corrosive properties of the liquid being sprayed, its percent concentration and temperature, as well as the corrosion resistance of the nozzle material to the specific chemical.
  • Explore reducing spray pressure. Although it is not always possible, decreasing pressure, which will slow the liquid velocity through the orifice, may help reduce the orifice wear/corrosion rate.
  • Add line strainers or change to nozzles with built-in strainers. In many applications, orifice deterioration and clogging is caused by solid dirt particles in the sprayed liquid. This is particularly common in systems using continuous spray water recirculation. Strainers, or nozzles with built-in strainers, can trap larger particles and prevent debris from entering the nozzle orifice or vane to significantly reduce wear.

Consult the accompanying “Spray Nozzle Checklist” sidebar at the end of this article for more pointers.


Consider changing the way you spray…
You may be able to conserve vast amounts of water by making some simple changes to your spray operations. As a starting point, you may want to consider taking these steps.

  • Use nozzles that precisely spray the target. Overspray is not only wasteful, it can cause excess maintenance and impede production.
  • Add handheld spray guns to open hoses to ensure water is “on” only when needed.
  • As spray nozzles wear out, replace with water-saving models.
  • Equip all hoses with spring-loaded shutoff nozzles and make sure they aren’t removed.
  • Instruct workers to use hoses—equipped with spray guns—sparingly, and only when necessary.
  • Change shower heads to smaller nozzles.
  • Install high-pressure, low-volume nozzles on spray washers.
  • Use fogging nozzles to cool products.

Consult the experts to maximize benefits
An on-site evaluation of your drying, cleaning, cooling, coating and lubrication operations from your spray nozzle manufacturer is the most expedient and thorough way to identify possible improvements and quantify the resulting savings. Leading manufacturers don’t charge for this service and will conduct a comprehensive audit of all your operations in a single visit and provide a written summary report that includes recommended changes. It’s a risk-free way to learn more about how to lower energy and water consumption and a valuable service for every processor with spray operations.

Spray Nozzle Checklist

Flow Rate – Each Nozzle
Centrifugal Pumps: Monitor fl ow meter readings to detect increases. Or collect and measure the spray from the nozzle for a given period of time at a specifi c pressure. Then compare these readings to the fl ow rates listed in the manufacturer’s catalog or compare them to fl ow rate readings from new, unused nozzles.

Positive Displacement Pumps: Monitor the liquid line pressure for decreases; the fl ow rate will remain constant.

Spray Pressure – In Nozzle Manifold
Centrifugal Pumps: Monitor for increases in liquid volume sprayed. (Spraying pressure likely to remain the same.)

Positive Displacement Pumps: Monitor pressure gauge for decreases in pressure and reduction in impact on sprayed surfaces. (Liquid volume sprayed likely to remain the same.) Also, monitor for increases in pressure due to clogged nozzles. Visually inspect for changes in spray coverage.

Drop Size
Examine application results for changes. Drop size increases cannot be visually detected in most applications. An increase in fl ow rate or a decrease in spraying pressure will impact drop size.

Spray Pattern
Visually inspect each nozzle for changes in the uniformity of the pattern. Check spray angle with protractor. Measure width of spray pattern on sprayed surface.

Jon Barber is a director at Spraying Systems Co., based in Wheaton, IL. The company, which is celebrating its 70th anniversary, offers nozzles in thousands of sizes, hundreds of configurations and dozens of materials. Designed to improve efficiency, these products range from quick-change units that require no tools for installation to anti-bearding nozzles that increase throughput. For more information, contact Barber directly. Telephone: (630) 665-5000; e-mail:

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6:00 am
August 1, 2008
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Utilities Manager: Big Money Talks-Life-Cycle Costing & Energy Costs


William C. Livoti, Baldor Electric Company

Life-cycle costing (LCC) is an often-used term in the pump industry, but one that rarely is implemented at the end-user level. Industry continues to use the same design criteria and specifications that have been in place for years—specifically, over-sizing of pumps, motors and valves. Energy costs won’t allow us to continue down this expensive path. LCC will become the rule rather than the exception around companies that want to remain profitable—or in business.

Interestingly, LCC is one of the most effective tools you can use to justify—and convince management to pursue—energy savings projects. Sometimes called Total Cost of Ownership (TCO), this methodology takes into account the following items when evaluating equipment and/or projects:



  • Purchase costs
  • Installation & commissioning costs
  • Energy costs
  • Other operating costs
  • Maintenance costs
  • Downtime costs
  • Decommissioning costs
  • Environmental costs

(More information on conducting LCC analyses is available online through any number of Websites. For example, to calculate the LCC of a pump, visit

On the other hand, you can’t get your arms around LCC without fully understanding your utility costs— and you can’t measure them unless you know how to calculate your true cost of energy.

A typical U.S. industrial electric bill will include the following information required to calculate an operation’s true cost of energy:

  • Electric Usage History—Allows you to compare your electric usage over the past 13 months.
  • Power Factor Adjustment—A “billing adjustment’ that applies if the power factor for the metered service falls below 85% (or predetermined percentage) during the billing period. There is typically a large penalty for power factor deviation.
  • Usage Information—Includes the meter number for the point of delivery (POD), meter readings, days in billing period and total kWh usage.
  • Demand Information—Includes actual peak kW demand, on-peak and off peak demand and peak reactive power (kVAR).
  • Additional Facilities Charges—Indicates charges for additional facilities or non–metered services for specific account.


The following equation can be used to calculate most any U.S. industrial electric bill:

Incorporate this equation in your LCC analysis. Don’t forget to take into account non-energy benefits:

  • Increased productivity
  • Reduced costs of environmental compliance
  • Reduced production costs
  • Reduced waste disposal costs
  • Improved product quality
  • Improved capacity utilization
  • Improved reliability
  • Improved worker safety

Capturing the benefits
You can learn a lot through an LCC analysis (and the analysis of your true cost of energy). Use it for the good of your operations. Learn and speak the language of management. Appeal to management’s profit motive. Relate savings to the plant’s bottom line. Whatever you do, remember that big money really talks!

Bill Livoti, our new Utilities Manager columnist, is senior principal engineer for Power Generation and Fluid Handling with Baldor Electric Company. He also is vice chair of the Pump Systems Matter initiative. E-mail:

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6:00 am
August 1, 2008
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Industry Outlook: Driving Down Rising Reactive Maintenance


Ed Stanek, Jr., President, LAI Reliability Systems, Inc.

With the increased focus on cost reduction, companies are rethinking their game plans. Most organizations at a site level have turned to efficiency improvement initiatives—such as LEAN and its tools—to drive waste and cost from their processes, and rightfully so. While this course of action seems logical to the overall business, the impact on the Maintenance Organization, if not considered as an integral part of the plan, can undo years of progress reverting Maintenance teams back to a largely reactive state. In some extreme cases, companies’ interpretations of these initiatives have resulted in the dismantling of the Maintenance teams, decentralizing the Maintenance Organization with the crafts reporting directly to the production teams.

Reactivity is more than reactive calls. It is the overall “reactiveness” of the Maintenance Organization in response to being out of step with the site’s overall improvement plan. Likewise, sustainability is more than just surviving changing demands. It’s about optimizing your process to the plan that is part of the overall strategy of the organization. In most cases Maintenance is an afterthought.

The focus on quality has Maintenance subscribing to the philosophy of “treat the site as a customer.” While this is commendable, Maintenance subordinates itself to the site, therefore perpetuating reactivity. In addition, we don’t see that the site is actually the “supplier” since it contributes to the backlog.

With cost-cutting at the foreground, Maintenance (a cost) is left with fewer “perceived” resources, while the workload (market demand) has remained steady and in some cases, increased based on the demand for higher levels of reliability. While most Maintenance teams focus on “failureavoidance” activities such as RCM and FMEA, they should not lose sight of the constraint in their process. If your market demand exceeds capacity (evidence in a backlog), you have an internal constraint limiting the ability of the system.

This problem can be solved by applying the very disciplines you find in production models to a Maintenance system. Gaining control begins with defining Maintenance throughput as “applied labor hours,” since total hours paid represents your raw materials. Of 40 hours paid, how many are converted into throughput? Studies across the industry show the average to be between 25% and 30%—which indicates a tremendous hidden pool of resources. The key to taking control is accomplished in two steps:

  1. Open flow (find hidden capacity)
    • Forecasted backlog
    • Existing backlog
  2. With new-found capacity, perform the “right” work
    • Drive down the “unknown backlog”

The required resources to optimize Maintenance can be found buried in the work we perform. Recent studies show by optimizing the PM program (forecasted backlog) and removing controllable, foreseeable delays (existing backlog) that flow is opened, yielding twice the volume of work through each available labor hour without working any faster. This new-found capacity can fuel process improvements—and, accordingly, drive an increased effectiveness shown in reliability with the optimum use of our resources. Attaining the organization’s goals is dependent on this outcome.

Proactively including Maintenance in the site’s business plan requires an understanding of the Maintenance process. This is difficult to accomplish as the focus on minimizing interruptions begins to mutate Maintenance into an “event” rather than the process it is. MT

This article is part of Maintenance Technology’s 2008 Industry Outlook, the annual executive roundtable. Columns from each of the 14 thought leaders who participated can be found at the following link:

Maintenance Technology is sent free to qualified subscribers each month. Visit to fill out an online application for your free one-year subscription today. By doing so, you will join more than 50,000 technical and business professionals who already receive Maintenance Technology magazine, your source for capacity assurance solutions.

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6:00 am
August 1, 2008
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Industry Outlook: Look To Infrared As An Enabling Technology


Thomas J. Scanlon, Vice President Americas, Thermography, FLIR Systems, Inc.

Regardless of the fluctuating price for a barrel of crude oil, the issues pertaining to energy in terms of availability, resource options, environmental impact and costs are here to stay. There doesn’t appear to be one or two comprehensive solutions on the horizon that can address all issues. We’re dependent on foreign oil and proposed local drilling has environmentalists up in arms. Alternative energy sources are being explored, but it doesn’t appear we can move quickly enough on them. It’s becoming apparent we’ll need as many energy options as possible. And while we work to figure it all out, energy costs are eroding company margins and families are feeling the pinch in everyday purchases.

As a country with once seemingly endless resources, perhaps one of the greatest lessons we can learn from this is how to better manage what we already have—as in the old saying, “waste not, want not.” When it’s not possible to manage certain external costs, it makes sense to focus on managing in-house costs and waste is one of them. Waste in terms of energy consumption due to poorly maintained facilities and manufacturing equipment is one example. But, you typically can’t fix and manage what you can’t see. That’s where infrared comes in.

Over the past few years, we’ve seen infrared cameras play a greater role in maintenance programs. We see our customers continually finding new applications for their cameras. From energy audits to surveys of mechanical and electrical equipment to automating manufacturing lines, infrared is helping find problems that— if not addressed—lead to waste and margins lost.

Heating and cooling large buildings and production facilities can be challenging and costly. Many companies now see energy management as an important aspect of managing their bottom line. Energy audits have become big business for professional thermographers and a top priority for maintenance departments. Infrared is being used to find missing insulation, problems with HVAC systems and water damage to roofs and building envelopes. Retail chains are using infrared to control parking lot lights during off-peak times to reduce energy costs. The list of applications is long, and fixing these types of problems can generate significant annual savings. Whether it’s identifying missing insulation or faulty electrical equipment, infrared truly has become an enabling technology in uncovering energy-related problems that impact the bottom line.

For those in the energy-producing industry— oil, gas and petrochemical—waste or byproduct can mean lost revenue. It also can mean problems with equipment and a potential shutdown. Leak detection is an enormous issue for these companies. In a plant with potentially thousands of connections to be checked on a regular basis, finding leaks can be time-consuming, inefficient, potentially dangerous and costly. Costs also are of concern as these companies invest more heavily in predictive and preventative maintenance to meet regulatory requirements. Infrared cameras have made it easier and more efficient to help this industry improve leak detection as part of their maintenance programs, and detect volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and fugitive emissions deemed harmful to the environment.

With energy as our most precious of commodities— and its impact on all that we buy and do—it makes sense not to waste it. Infrared is an enabling technology helping us see both what we’ve been wasting and the opportunities we have to reduce consumption. MT

This article is part of Maintenance Technology’s 2008 Industry Outlook, the annual executive roundtable. Columns from each of the 14 thought leaders who participated can be found at the following link:

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