Archive | November, 2008


2:11 am
November 2, 2008
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Three Keys To Maximized Machine Shop Productivity

Proactive maintenance, streamlined inventory management and high-performance lubricants can help deliver a competitive edge.

In today’s increasingly competitive environment, maximizing productivity is a MUST, especially for small- and medium-sized machine shops. Typically, these businesses cannot match the overall production capabilities—in terms of volume—of their larger rivals. Furthermore, larger competitors often have more equipment, more people and more resources than small- or medium-sized businesses.

So how can small- and medium-sized businesses gain a competitive edge?

Implement a proactive maintenance strategy
One of the most valuable things any company can do is to incorporate a proactive maintenance approach as opposed to staying in a reactive mode. A proactive maintenance strategy is what many of the most successful companies in the industrial sector utilize—be they large or small.

A proactive stance considers equipment maintenance not as a cost, but as a strategic investment. Guided by this maintenance philosophy, companies recognize that when they invest in protecting their assets (equipment) they can yield significant payback in terms of exceptional equipment durability and efficiency, as well as maximized performance and productivity.

processFor smaller companies specializing in machine shop applications, this maintenance mindset is essential. After all, for many machine shops, a few pieces of specialized equipment often represent a significant portion of the company’s entire operations. Without that equipment running efficiently, an organization’s productivity and bottom line can be severely impacted.

The most essential and cost-effective component of a successful proactive maintenance strategy is the implementation of a comprehensive oil analysis program.

Oil analysis is a series of tests that help determine the condition of internal hardware and in-service lubricants. With this information, you can extend the useful lives of both, identify early warning signs such as contamination and wear and minimize unscheduled maintenance. For maintenance professionals and business owners that want to implement an effective oil analysis program—that also can save time and money—there is ExxonMobil’s proprietary online Signum Oil Analysis Program.

For example, this program offers customers immediate access and direct control of their lubricant sampling program. With a few keystrokes, users can manage all their oil analysis needs, including:

  • Update equipment registrations and select analysis options based on their equipment or maintenance needs;
  • Track the status of samples at the lab;
  • Direct actions based on analysis results, request sample kits; and,
  • Share critical results with colleagues in a secure, password protected environment.

Streamline inventory management
Another great way for small- and medium-sized machine shop businesses to maximize productivity within their operations is to have an efficient inventory management strategy.

When addressing inventory management, there are several factors you should consider. Perhaps the most important is recognizing that inventory costs will include the initial purchase price of materials plus costs associated with handling and storage. Other items to consider when developing an inventory management strategy include estimating the replenishment quantity and determining appropriate times to submit reorders.

A crucial component in determining proper reorder quantity and timing involves accurately gauging how much available space can be dedicated to storage. Typically, most machine shop owners/managers don’t want to devote valuable space to the storing of excess inventory. Thus, a best practice is for them to work closely with their suppliers to develop an effective cycle fulfillment process, through which deliveries are received just as previous order supplies are about to be drained. Another best practice is to periodically examine the products and supplies they use— especially lubricants.

One common way for machine shop owners to efficiently utilize inventory space is to review the list of lubricants the operation is using. Lubricants take up a significant amount of storage area. Fortunately, the number of products used frequently can be consolidated to a lower number of highperformance lubricants.

Capture the benefits of high-performance lubricants
Whether your company specializes in producing simple bolts, complex gear sets or high-precision valves, keeping your machinery running efficiently is the real key to your profitability. After all, in a machine tool, the active physical interrelationship taking place in the equipment requires that your lubricants work together effectively—i.e., your slideway oil must work seamlessly with your choice of cutting fluids.

In a machine tool, mixing oil with the coolant is unavoidable. Some way oils may not separate readily from the coolants and result in excessive “tramp oil.” Excessive tramp oil will compromise the effectiveness of the metalworking fluid by shortening its effective life and altering cutting performance. Excessive tramp oil also can lead to bacterial growth in water-soluble coolants, resulting in foul odor, short coolant life and potential employee health and safety concerns.

To avoid these issues and help ensure that your equipment runs smoothly over the long haul, choose a highperformance lubricant specifically designed to deliver excellent frictional properties and coolant compatibility across a range of way and slide applications. Lubricants from the Mobil Vactra Oil Numbered Series are an example of this type of product. Ideal for multiple applications, including both as slideway lubricants for steel on steel and steel on plastic ways and as fluids for moderate service machine tool hydraulic systems, these products offer a number of performance benefits.

When choosing a high-performance oil, you should look for:

  • Exceptional coolant separability… which enhances the performance and life of water-based metal working fluids
  • Excellent frictional properties… which enable increased machine accuracy and reduce chatter and stick-slip
  • Rust and corrosion protection… which helps reduce the deterioration of sliding services and associated maintenance.

For today’s machine shop operators, maximizing productivity is not an option—especially for those with small- and medium-sized businesses. Leveraging the strategies discussed in this article is an effective way to get a real productivity boost around your shop. MT

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2:08 am
November 2, 2008
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Viewpoint: Why Are You A Manager?


Randall Noon, P.E., Cooper Nuclear Station

There are perhaps a thousand and one ways to make money and earn a living. Why have you chosen your line of work, your particular management position and your specific company?

Are you working in your particular field because you think it is the one in which you can earn the most money? In MBA parlance, are you maximizing your total earning potential vis-à-vis your available talent resources by this decision option? Perhaps it is the job itself that you enjoy, the people with whom you work or the challenge to apply special skills you have developed.

On the other hand, perhaps you have simply drifted with the currents and tides of opportunity. Maybe you passively accepted whatever life choices were the simplest, easiest or the most lucrative, and simply have ended up where you are. Be that as it may, if you really wanted to do so, you could quit work today and look for a new job.

If you as a manager don’t know why you are doing your job, how do you expect to lead? Can you lead other people if you, yourself, do not have a clear idea of what it is you want to do? More personally, if you have no enthusiasm for your job, do you think that you can work with your cohorts, day in and day out, and not telegraph your feelings to them? When your co-workers and subordinates see the little things that give away your private thoughts, will they mistake this as contempt for them and what they do? Are they not a part of your job, too?

It is said that a fish rots from the head. This also applies to the workplace. Subordinates study their manager. They learn over time what makes a manager happy and how to avoid those things that displease him/her. They hone this activity to a science. Every move a manager makes is weighed and carefully measured by his employees and subordinates. Knowing the character of their manager is important because he controls their pay, their professional development, their working conditions and, to an important extent, how happy they will be when they get back home.

If a manager brings to the job a consistent sense of purpose, integrity and fairness, subordinates will follow that pattern. They will realize that to get ahead in your department, they also will need to demonstrate these qualities because you—as their manager—value them.

Work groups that are honest, fair, and purposeful are fulfilling places in which to work. Their managers have no problem finding employees who want to work there.

So, let’s start over again.

Why are you a manager, and why do you do this type of work? MT

The opinions expressed in this Viewpoint section are those of the author, and don’t necessarily reflect those of the staff and management of MAINTENANCE TECHNOLOGY magazine.

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2:02 am
November 2, 2008
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Uptime: Pit Crews, Race Teams & Preventive Maintenance


Bob Williamson, Contributing Editor

Stock car racing as popularized by NASCAR has given us many insights into the world of competitive motorsports and, in some respects, into our day-to-day industrial environments.

Some race fans enjoy the sport racing for what it is—drivers and machines pushed to their limits. Others wait for bumping and banging and a big wreck coming out of turn four heading to the finish line. Race fan or not, however, we can learn much about planned/preventive maintenance execution from the modern-day race teams and their pit crews.

Racing passion
Stock car racing has always fascinated me. The movies Thunder Road (1958) and Days of Thunder (1990) have a cherished place in my heart, as do historic stock car racing films from the ’50s through the ’80s. My love for the sport is not a new thing; it spans my childhood days at dirt-track fairground races to more recent times in my professional career, in the pits at the Brickyard 400 in Indianapolis, in modern race shops and at pit crew training and practice sessions.

In fact, over the past 16 years, I’ve studied numerous NASCAR Cup-level teams and spent hundreds of hours behind the scenes, learning their secrets that we could apply to industrial maintenance and reliability. In the process, I’ve been fortunate to meet and learn from several true racing legends—Smokey Yunick, Leonard Wood, Donny Allison, Rick Hendrick, Benny Parsons, Ray Evernham, Jeff Hammond and Jeff Gordon to name a few. One thing that has stood out after every meeting, every conversation and every shop visit with these racing giants has been their “passion for competitiveness/their passion for winning.” They know each race they are in and they strive to do their very best. While they all can’t be winners, they know they have to be “excellent” to even qualify for a race. Then, it’s the best of the best that usually win. (OK, sometimes it’s luck, being in the right place at the right time that wins the race. But even with luck, it takes a high degree of excellence to be there in the first place.)

In the pit
Pit stops always have been important in auto racing in that they always have been intended as routine planned/preventive maintenance events: changing tires, adding fuel, making adjustments, cleaning and giving the drivers something to drink. Beyond that there are always occasional pit stops for repairs and various routine work. Since the ’60s, though, pit stops have become a competitive advantage—that is IF you can have a faster pit stop and gain track position. Gaining positions in this way is much better than driving hard and putting cars and drivers at risk to pass others on the track.

What would happen if a modern-day auto racing put crew carried out its pit stops the same way that some plants perform their planned/preventive maintenance?

In the ’60s, the Wood Brothers were the first to “choreograph” a pit stop. Their “lightning fast” 20- and 25-second stops were legendary. Eventually, other teams figured out how to make their own pit stops faster and faster. In fact, pit stops of 12 seconds or less are quite common these days. Moreover, top-performing pit crews have become real “rock stars” in the field of racing, second only to the top drivers.

Still, it’s important to keep things in context. Routine pit stops in racing really are planned/ preventive maintenance downtime for the racecars—racecars that generate revenue for their business. Therefore, a pit stop is not about speed as much as it is about doing things right the first time. That’s right! In the overall scheme of things, pit-stop speed is not as important as the accuracy of every pit-stop task. Errors, rework and omissions can hurt a race team; that means lost positions, damages, accidents, injuries, financial losses and more. Consider what would happen if a modern-day auto racing pit crew carried out its pit stops the same way that some plants perform their planned/ preventive maintenance.

Imagine this
It’s the final pit stop of the race and the driver expertly brings the racecar down pit road and slides to a stop, much to everyone’s surprise, 10 laps sooner than planned. After he stops, he announces that the car is “handling like a bread truck.” He’s not sure what’s wrong, but it must be fixed fast and fixed now!

Hearing all the commotion on their radios, the pit crew members interrupt their break and hurry back to pit road. When they arrive at their pit area, they find only three tires and send the tire carrier back to get another one—or two. (They’re not sure how many tires they might need.) Now the tire changers begin looking for the two race guns (air impact wrenches). They find only one that works but figure they can make do with it. Over the wall they go!

The jack man is still looking for the jack—it’s not where he left it after the last pit stop. The gas man finds one full gas can and another leftover from the last pit stop that’s still half full. That’s all they’re able to put into the car since escalating fuel prices have caused the team owners to clamp down on the gas budget. The gas man soon notices that the fuel is going into the fuel cell much slower because the catch can probe is broken and the fuel cell vent is closed. After a quick search, the jack man finds the jack behind a stack of old tires and sprints to the racecar only to trip going over the pit wall. A bit dizzy (but not suffering any debilitating injuries), he jacks up the left side of the car and waits.

The tire changers on the right side of the car have successfully removed all of the lug nuts and are waiting for the jack man to do his thing. Realizing that something is wrong, the jack man tells the “stupid” tire changer to come back to the other side of the car and get these tires off. A brief argument ensues and the jack man decides it’s probably best to do the right side tires first. So, he begrudgingly drops the jack and ambles over to the other side of the car, slams the jack down and jacks up the car. Now that the right side tires are finally off, the tire carrier notices that the new right front tire is flat, tosses it over the wall and grabs another. The rear changer flawlessly indexes the new rear tire—and the changer tightens five lug nuts in a record 1.2 seconds! They high-five and pass the race gun to the front tire changer.

The front changer finally gets a good tire on the car and drives home the four lug nuts (he knows there should be five but the inspector doesn’t notice one is missing). By this time, the fuel is in the car. The windshield and grille have been cleaned, and the left side tire change is begun as the jack man laments, “I told you we should have done the left side first!” As luck would have it, though, the second race gun appears from the bottom of the toolbox and is in the capable hands of the rear tire changer. Five lug nuts come off each of the front and rear wheels without a hitch. The jack man, however, is struggling with the jack—it won’t go up! It’s stuck. He yells to someone to toss him the big hammer, whereupon he beats the tar out of the jack and it finally begins to work. Unfortunately, the racecar is too close to the wall and the jack handle hits the wall with each pump. After a heated exchange between the jack man and the driver who “put that stupid car too close to the wall,” the jack man gets the car raised up enough with 20 to 30 pumps—that’s a record 15 seconds!

Two left-side tires off, two new tires on, the jack drops the car and it stalls! The entire pit crew scowls at the driver who is feverishly trying to start the vehicle. At this instant, the driver, crew chief and engineers decide why the racecar is handling so poorly and announce the plan to make a chassis adjustment. Since the gas man is available, the engineer passes the wrench to him and the crew chief announces “two rounds of wedge down on the right side.” After swapping wrenches to get the right one, the gas man begins making the adjustment only to hear from the pit box “No! No! Turn it the other way, dummy.”

By now the pit crew is beat. They sit on the pit wall, waiting for instructions on what to do next. The crew chief looks up from his computer, sees what’s happening and yells at the crew to “drop your tools, get off your rears and push the car to get it started!” As the crew pushes the racecar down pit road, it finally starts and makes it back on the track—a 2-minute, 45-second pit stop successfully completed. (Successful? “The car’s back on the track isn’t it?”) The crew throws their tools, hoses and gloves in a pile and promptly goes on break.

One lap later, the driver brings the racecar down pit road again—this time with dangerously loose front wheels. After a faster than normal tire change (once the pit crew had returned from their break) the car gets back in the race. Alas, it runs out of gas 10 laps before the end of the race and posts a solid last-place finish. After the noise of the race dies down, someone notices that the air hose to the front tire changer’s race gun had been leaking. Apparently when the flat tire was tossed over the wall, the rim hit the hose causing, a deep gash.

Back to reality
Why don’t we see auto racing pit stops that look like this example? Because such a team CANNOT compete, no matter how good the racecar, no matter how experienced the driver, no matter how much money is thrown at the team!

In auto racing, much like a capital-intensive business, what makes a competitive team—a winning team—is when everything works together flawlessly. In other words, the equipment, tools, team members, work processes (methods and procedures) and leadership all are focused on common goals.As a business, a team will win or lose together. It simply can’t be competitive with high-performing machinery and less-than-stellar maintenance. It just doesn’t work that way—at the race track or in an industrial environment.

My sincerest apologies to my friends in NASCAR racing, drivers, crew chiefs, pit crew coaches and pit crew members. You and I know pit stops do not, cannot and will not happen like the hypothetical one described here. Aren’t you glad? Sadly, we see a lot of similarities between this imaginary pit stop and how planned/preventive maintenance is carried out in some of our plants and facilities in America—and we wonder why we are struggling to compete. MT Continue Reading →


1:54 am
November 2, 2008
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Solution Spotlight: Latest Addition To A Growing Shaft Seal Family

Strong customer demand for a long-lasting, reliable shaft seal that could be used in applications involving wet or dry particulates, powders and slurries is what led Inpro/Seal to roll out its first shaft seal product, the Air Mizer-PS, almost 10 years ago. Based on extensive R&D, the Air Mizer was a modification of the company’s highly successful bearing isolator, which was adapted to incorporate an air purge containment system. In this innovative design, a solid wall of air functions as a barrier for contamination to retain product in vessels without contact or wear. Over the years, this family of innovative products has continued to grow, first with the introduction in 2004 of the company’s Smooth Bore Articulating Air Mizer and in September 2008 with the launch of the Inpro/Seal Water Mizer. This latest addition to the product line incorporates the same features as the previously introduced Air Mizers, but with one big difference. Instead of an air purge containment system, it uses water to attain the seal.

  • A 1/2″ waterline connection attaches to a regulator to control the water pressure.
  • A drain is located on the back side.
  • The shaft ‘floats’ on a water barrier directly on the shaft.
  • Without any moving parts, there is zero contact, zero wear and zero frictional drag.

Inpro/Seal Shaft Seals are custom-engineered to suit individual applications and are easy to install. Split designs allow for installation directly on the shaft without the removal of couplings and end plates. According to the company, once these products are installed, problems associated with shaft deflection, radial run-out axial displacement and misalignment that have caused previous sealing methods to fail become a thing of the past.

Typical applications include: screw conveyors, mixers, blenders, rotary valves, feeders, gates, clinker grinders, bucket elevators, diverters, scales, bagging machines, dust collectors, discharges, classifiers, screens, extruders, separators, shredders, sifters, gate valves, metal detectors, pulverizers, crushers, coolers, aerators, mixers, agitators, transfer pumps, fillers and similar wet and dry powder and slurry processing equipment. MT

Inpro/Seal Company
Rock Island, IL

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1:44 am
November 2, 2008
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The Pitfalls of PdM

Learning to identify and avoid these recurring traps in your maintenance program will help you be more effective in the application of both preventative and predictive maintenance techniques.

There’s no need to extol the virtues of predictive maintenance (PdM) to any maintenance professional who hasn’t been marooned on a desert island for the past 20 years or so. Numerous organizations have cut their maintenance costs dramatically through effective PdM efforts—while at the same time improving quality, safety, reliability and productivity. Unfortunately, there are some veritable tiger traps into which unsuspecting organizations can fall as they seek to capture the countless benefits this approach offers. Understanding and recognizing these traps will enable you to steer clear of them and set up a truly effective PdM program.

cautionPitfall #1: Capital expenditures for equipment, but not for training
When maintenance budgets are submitted, and ultimately pared down, many companies fail to provide dollars for adequate training to support the new  equipment. Take, for example, the organization that hired this author for vibration and oil analysis. When they were questioned about infrared thermography, company personnel pointed to a camera they had previously purchased. A year and a half later, the camera was little more than an expensive dust collector. To this day, no one knows how to properly use it or interpret the results.

While training is essential, not just any training will suffice. Investment in the right kind of training is critical. Vendors may provide basic how-to-use training, but it may be inadequate to ensure the success of a PdM program. Vendor training is usually abbreviated—in some cases, only a few hours at most. My personal preference is brand-neutral or independent training for a particular technique. The independent training focuses on every aspect of the technology and less on “why our equipment is better than theirs.” Brand-neutral sessions are typically more in depth than vendor training, and may last up to a week. For example, in thermography training, maintenance personnel might spend an entire day on electrical inspections. Students receive practical, hands-on experience. In addition, independent trainers usually conduct a competency test, and may provide certification for those who pass. They also may teach the principles of reflection, emission and transmission.

In contrast, vendor training may instruct students to simply leave the emissivity at a certain figure, such as .95, but then fail to define what emissivity is and how it can—and often will—affect the reading. Information obtained from thermography without an adequate understanding of these concepts can lead to false or missed results. Although someone might be able to operate a thermographic camera and perform basic scans, without a grasp of the factors that can affect the image, he/she could fail to accurately interpret the information. This would, in turn, result in unnecessary work orders or machine breakdowns for the company.

Training dollars should be allocated for more than one employee. A company might choose to invest in just one individual as the “in-house expert” to use the equipment, interpret the results and relay the information to the planning and scheduling function. That can be disastrous for any number of reasons, including the fact that people often leave companies or—heaven forbid—ask for promotions or transfers.

Remember, people may come and go, but systems will sustain. Predictive maintenance needs to be a position—not a person—with minimum training requirements built into the job description. We often hear maintenance managers lament losing people they have trained to other companies. The sadder scenario—and bigger danger—involves making do with the ones that are not trained, not losing the ones that are.

Pitfall #2: Applying one predictive technique for all situations
If the only tool you have is a hammer, then every problem looks like a nail. For instance, if you only have a vibration analyzer, would you be able to identify loose connections in an electrical enclosure? Understanding the proper application of the different predictive tools is paramount to implementing and sustaining your system.

The most practical way of selecting which PdM technique to either purchase or contract is to identify the most expensive problems the plant has experienced. At that point, you can look for a predictive tool or technique that could have identified the problem early. Most predictive techniques work in concert to improve reliability, aid in root cause analysis and improve safety. They will provide the time necessary to properly plan, kit, schedule and execute corrective maintenance work orders.


For example, listening with an airborne ultrasonic device before opening a switchgear door to perform an infrared inspection is very prudent. The user may hear arcing and tracking before opening the door and exposing himself/herself to an arc blast. Likewise, looking at shaft couplings with an infrared camera to determine which one needs to be realigned can save downtime.

Experiment with different techniques when you find a problem. If something has been identified by infrared thermography, look at it with a different device, such as a vibration analyzer. You may find a better way to detect or verify that the problem condition exists.

Organizations have obtained good results using a combination of predictive techniques like contact ultrasound, vibration analysis, oil analysis and thermography on gearboxes. Doing so—and identifying a failing component instead of replacing the entire assembly—they have been able to cut repair costs significantly. This approach can be successful throughout your facility.

Pitfall #3: Failing to properly re-inspect after corrective work is complete
Regrettably, the following scenario occurs all too often, in far too many operations.

Charlie finds an anomaly with the infrared camera—it’s a hot connection at a circuit breaker in an electrical panel. A corrective from predictive work order is planned and scheduled. The supervisor gives it to Sparky, who tightens the connection, fills out the paperwork, wipes the sweat from his brow and heads back to the shop.

How does Sparky know his repair was effective without using the same technique that identified the problem initially? The job plan should include re-inspection, preferably immediately after the repair, to ensure the repair was successful. Ideally, this re-inspection should be done with the infrared camera. If an air leak were discovered with airborne ultrasound, that air leak should be inspected again with the same technique to ensure proper repair. This particular area is critical to ensure success.

Predictive maintenance identifies problems that usually are undetectable by human senses. If the problem could only be seen with the predictive equipment, then the same reasoning should be applied when re-inspecting it. There are many instances where a repair has left the equipment in worse condition than before. For example, corrosion develops inside an electrical connection and maintenance makes the situation worse by tightening the connection. Or, in disassembling piping to repair an air leak, mistakes are made when putting the piping back together.

Without proper re-inspection, we would have no idea of the havoc we have caused in our own system. When you are using predictive techniques to identify a problem, ensure that your system requires re-inspection to be done using that same technique. Don’t fall into the trap of relying on human senses.

Pitfall #4: Corrective work orders falling through the cracks
Organizations that haven’t made the transition from reactive or breakdown maintenance to preventive maintenance will not be very effective in adding predictive maintenance to their plan of attack. In a reactive environment, those who scream the loudest will get their work done. There is no formal prioritization of work orders. Thus, when it comes to corrective from predictive work orders—which deal with equipment that is functioning—no one is being a “squeaky wheel” until something breaks down. Maintenance supervisors, when distributing work, will tend to allocate craft time for more obvious problems.

One example of this that stands out in my mind occurred when I was conducting vibration analysis and found a problem with a gearbox. The maintenance manager wanted to remove the offending unit and have it rebuilt. A technician was given a corrective from a predictive work order to complete the job. He went out to the machine, looked at the gearbox that was to be changed and didn’t see a problem with it. Reasoning that it didn’t need to be changed out, he promptly closed the work order.

On my next visit to the site with my vibration analyzer, I was puzzled by the fact that the bad gearbox hadn’t been changed. Checking into it, the maintenance manager showed me the closed work order.

We investigated further and found the new gearbox had been placed back on the shelf in the storeroom. The maintenance technician apparently didn’t have a good ave a good understanding of why he was to have changed the gearbox; neither did he include any comments on the work order.

All personnel involved in the maintenance process—especially those that have been working in a “reactive” maintenance mode—need to understand that predictive work orders are a priority. The savings can be tremendous when parts are replaced before they fail. Personnel also need to understand that they will not see the usual carnage of broken parts when they go to do a repair. Predictive maintenance replaces parts before they fail—and this is a mindset that only comes with training and practice.

bananaPitfall #5: Lack of a supporting maintenance system
A preventive/predictive maintenance program can be likened to a one-legged chair—it may take some of the load off, but in and of itself, it’s not very stable. For the chair to be reliable, the other legs need to be attached.

Those other legs include a work order control system, good storeroom practices, planning and scheduling and training. The glue that holds them together consists of auditing, metrics, PM Optimization and continuous improvement. Results must be measured and adjustments made accordingly. These all contribute to an efficient maintenance system.

While many companies will spend enormous amounts of time and money on tools, equipment, parts and materials, they will not focus on developing the foundation of a good maintenance organization—the maintenance system. Using predictive techniques without an effective maintenance system in place only optimizes your reactive maintenance program. It will result in marginal savings and less-than-anticipated payback. Predictive maintenance is good, but you must have the other programs in place to support it.

Watch your step
In summary, recognizing and avoiding the five pitfalls of PdM can add substantial value to a maintenance organization. Getting where you want to go is not especially difficult. You’ll just want to put some real thought into the journey and tread carefully on your way to success. MT

Mark Pond is a Sr. Consultant with Marshall Institute Inc., an international maintenance and reliability consulting and training company based in Raleigh, NC. With more than 25 years of maintenance experience at a Fortune 500 company, Pond has, among other things, been responsible for facilitating and overseeing machine maintenance, energy conservation and implementation of a TPM program. Telephone: (919) 834-3722;

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1:36 am
November 2, 2008
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Improving Procedures In Supply and Purchase

Chemical companies spend enormous sums on the serving and maintenance of their assets, as well as on new investments. In daily business, however, staff often lacks the time and experience to optimize the procurement process. Achieving optimal practice here, which not only involves finding the best price but incorporates local and company-specific requirements too, can reduce costs. With some analytical application and more communication, it is possible to realize cost savings of up to 10% — if one just thinks beyond the conventional and, in general, historically developed price-oriented approaches.

“Price” is not enough
Usually, in order to make procedures in procurement and purchasing more efficient, administrative processes are tightened and streamlined. Although initial successes can frequently be realized in this way without regular readjustments, all participants tend to fall back into the old patterns and ways. This so-called “Philosophy of Procurement Power” is driven to such an extreme, for example by automotive suppliers, it can lead to problems in manufacturing and assembly, thus negating the short-term savings. For instance, when suppliers are continually changed, the quality wavers and promises of guarantee to the customers cannot be upheld.

In order to counteract this and to obligate suppliers to good practice, many large enterprises impose ambitious agendas. Time and again the bar is raised too high and the whole selection process proves overambitious. The enterprise dictates the manner of collaboration and ignores the interests and strengths of individual partners. The supplier must simply conform to each change in price and product strategy if it wants to remain involved. The problem is that many potential suppliers do not manage the leap into the pool of partners; for others the risk of adapting to the contractor is too great. The consequence for enterprises is that the number of suppliers from which they can choose diminishes, and in turn their own flexibility is weakened.

Our recommendations nurture an understanding for the real requirements at hand and pave the way for the best individually tailored procurement process.

Thinking further
The time is ripe for a new approach. Most chemical industry companies already have developed internal processes that span across departments. But with the new definition of procurement procedures, optimization is both possible and necessary, especially at the point of interface with partners. Even if many enterprises have already prescribed to the “think global, act local” strategy, putting it into practice is at times more complicated. Management may allow the central purchasing department to search worldwide for a suitable supplier but then decides on site that, for example, a suggested spare part from another continent does not fulfill the local needs. A lack of service or differing business mentalities could be further knockout criteria. The central purchasing department’s well-meant work is ultimately in vain, as it is based exclusively on economic criteria and doesn’t take into account the actual local requirements.

Enterprises that want to gain the competitive advantage must be aware of the local particularities of their products, services and customers. Furthermore, they should incorporate in their analyses the specific skills and motivations of their employees as well as those of their potential business partners within their respective business cultures. Only in this way is it possible to accurately judge the necessary scope and corresponding specifications for an optimal procurement process. New ideas and techniques are out there. They not only employ and expand on enterprises’ current technical and procedural know-how, they also put historically-conditioned practices and presumptions to the test.

Our recommendations to clients essentially encompass the following five approaches. They nurture an understanding for the real requirements at hand and pave the way for the best individually tailored procurement process.

#1. Improved internal interaction and understanding between departments, as well as between the enterprise and suppliers…
The bidding process should go beyond requests for quotations or a mere sales call. Instead, suppliers should be invited to view on-site conditions, utilization and safety requirements and offer innovative ways for the delivery, installation and operation of an asset. Payment should then be conducted on a performance-related basis. That cannot apply, of course, to all products and service, but with price-intensive and maintenance-intensive products this way of involving the supplier usually makes sense.

#2. More information and better mutual understanding on all sides…
Purchasing departments need to develop greater understanding of what information and support a supplier requires. Precisely because many businesses have begun to outsource, cut back on staff, reorganize and change owners, it is essential to newly define expectations and requirements of all participants. Both in-house procurement specialists and the service providers should know the requirements that they want to satisfy. Aside from good teamwork, this necessitates a virtual moratorium on technical changes (or at least as few as possible), realistic delivery deadlines, accurate planning of quantities and, not least, clearly defined roles and responsibilities within the management structures.

The key lies in the communication of real and current data, which facilitates ambitious and fruitful discussions between all participants.

#3. Clear definition and comprehensive understanding for the respective investment, asset strategies…
Owing to the spate of mergers and acquisitions in the chemical sector, changes in asset strategies are a daily occurrence. However, this development and the way an acquired product is used ultimately influences the procurement process and not only on the part of the enterprise. If suppliers know the expectations on performance, material composition, business indicators and such, then they can tailor their bids more specifically. Furthermore, the maintenance history, experience of production workers and knowledge of actual (as opposed to subjectively perceived) workloads all have a tremendous impact on the procurement process.

#4. Improved estimation of critical factors within the total life-cycle cost…
Under constantly changing market conditions, strategic decisions become ever more difficult and, in turn, flexibility and the ability to adapt become more significant. In order to secure the latter and to be able to realize short-term business opportunities, particular procurement criteria are required for those products and services that are decisive for ensuring the necessary availability of assets. For example, it can make sense to spend more money in order to secure indispensable resources for short-term, highly profitable products. With fewer critical investments, businesses can be more sensitive to price.

#5. Improved business risk assessment in the procurement process—from the selection of the manufacturer and the evaluation of suppliers, to the drawing up of contracts…
Instead of estimating non-payment risks with preset standard values, it is better to differentiate the various assets according to their importance for the business. For example, in a refinery the same kind of valves are installed by default in all factory units. In some units their malfunction would cause above-average expenses, while in other units simpler and thus cheaper valves would suffice. Or the origin of certain equipment is first specified by default as “West European.” These days, though, the statement of origin is often of little meaning as so much is either partly, or sometimes completely, produced in the Far East. Today, products from the Far East are able to offer the required quality, too. To compare the desired specification with the planned application is a task that doesn’t make great demands on time but can considerably reduce total costs.

Many enterprises have only half-heartedly pursued one or the other of these approaches. A more consistent approach alone would therefore pay dividends. The key lies in the communication of real and current data, which facilitates ambitious and fruitful discussions between all participants. Most participants will gladly contribute to change. The central task of senior management in this process is to create a constructive environment in which change is possible. MT

Dirk Frame is managing director and operations director UK, for T.A. Cook Consultants.

Larry Olson is operations director for T.A. Cook Consultants, based in Raleigh, NC. Telephone: (919) 510-8142; e-mail:

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1:31 am
November 2, 2008
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MT News

News of people and events important to the maintenance and reliability community


Lineage Power Corporation, a Gores Group company known for its energy-efficient AC/DC and DC/DC switching technologies, has named Craig A. Witsoe as its new CEO. Witsoe will be based at the company’s Dallas headquarters and report to the board of directors. He most recently had been serving as president and CEO of Tyden Group, a leading producer of product identification and cargo security technology. Prior to joining Tyden, Witsoe spent 16 years in various executive positions at General Electric. Word of Witsoe’s appointment comes shortly after Lineage’s recent announcement that it has entered into a definitive merger agreement with Cherokee International, a provider of custom power solutions for datacom, telecom, medical and process control applications. Under this agreement, Cherokee will become a division of Lineage.


DuPont has acquired Coastal Training Technologies Corporation, a leading global producer and marketer of cutting-edge training programs, headquartered in Virginia Beach, VA. The transaction is expected to fuel significant growth for DuPont Safety Resources, a consulting business within the DuPont Safety & Protection segment. Terms of the agreement, which includes transfer of all customer agreements, patents, copyrights, brands, equipment and personnel, were not disclosed. The acquisition will allow DuPont, an established global leader in industrial safety services programs, to provide a broader mix of delivery systems to a growing global audience. Coastal Training Technologies, with offices in the United States, Mexico, Europe, Brazil, India and the Philippines, will gain access to DuPont’s broad customer network for its extensive library of training products.

The Coastal deal is part of DuPont’s strategy to expand its presence in emerging markets and safety industries. It complements the corporation’s current safety training and consulting business, creating a single-source training leader with the greatest variety of safety programs for companies, governments and organizations seeking training and consultation.

Founded in 1984, Coastal Training Technologies Corporation has developed and markets an extensive offering of award-winning DVDs, e-learning products, print materials and instructor-led courses available in 29 languages. About one third of the company’s 600 employees reside in the United States.


Rick Carter has joined Applied Technology Publications (ATP) as executive editor. Bringing more than 25 years of magazine experience to his new position, he is expected to play a key role in shaping the organization’s electronic editorial products, as well as its growing seminar and Webinar offerings. He also will support the overall editorial missions of Maintenance Technology and Lubrication Management & Technology magazines. Over the course of his career, Carter has served as editor-in-chief of both Advanced Design and Manufacturing and Industrial Maintenance and Plant Operation magazines, and as editorial director of Reed Business Information’s Manufacturing and Processing publishing group.


Cooper Industries is helping to celebrate its 175th anniversary with the grand opening of the Cooper Technology Center in Houston. This first-of-its-kind, 35,000-square-foot facility features an auditorium, conference room and multiple training rooms designed to help facilitate industry-specific education and demonstrate the entire line of industrial solutions the company offers. Products of all eight Cooper divisions are represented in the Technology Center via dedicated displays and products used in the building design itself. A replica of an industrial operation helps complete the learning experience with more than 250 of Cooper’s industrial offerings installed as they would be in an actual refinery. Coupled with hands-on classrooms and curriculum reflecting the corporation’s vast expertise and global product offering, the model refinery has been designed to serve as a highly practical learning environment for end-users, distributors and engineering and procurement professionals.

According to Cooper CEO Kirk Hachigian, the corporation’s vision for the Technology Center came from industry’s thirst to keep current with the latest technology and products that facilitate increased productivity, enhanced energy efficiency and maximum safety for both workers and facilities. “Now,” he says, “professionals who design and build industrial facilities can see our entire industrial offering under one roof, from the newest lighting technologies and electrical fuses to transformers and energy automation solutions to mass notification systems.” In the past, Hachigian notes, a person would have to visit different Cooper facilities located across the country, including those in Syracuse, NY; Milwaukee, WI; Atlanta, GA; and Raleigh, NC, among others, to see the breadth of the company’s offering.


ITT Corporation has announced a strategic partnership with Mercy Corps as part of ITT Watermark, the industrial giant’s corporate philanthropy program. Mercy Corps, a global relief and development agency, collaborates with the United Nations to implement water and sanitation solutions during worldwide disasters. The new partnership includes a three-year, $1 million commitment to help provide safe water during emergencies created by natural catastrophes such as floods, droughts and earthquakes. Under the arrangement, ITT, a leader in the transport and treatment of water, will support Mercy Corps’ relief and recovery efforts, which include the provision of dewatering and water purification equipment. In addition, ITT will aid Mercy Corps’ on-the-ground staff with rebuilding and recovery of water and sanitation infrastructure long after disaster strikes. As part of the its Watermark initiative, ITT has established an Emergency Response Committee responsible for the coordinated deployment of the corporation’s resources directly to disaster sites during water-related emergencies. The committee will work with Mercy Corps during the balance of 2008 to develop a plan for reducing risks and implementing turnkey emergency response protocol. MT

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1:27 am
November 2, 2008
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Communications: Peer Partnerships II – Establishing A Connective Thread


Ken Bannister, Contributing Editor

Many maintenance and reliability professionals will remember the old song “the thigh bone’s connected to the knee bone, the knee bone’s connected to the…” It was all about being connected with one’s self. Within today’s streamlined maintenance department, being connected and communicating valuable information between departmental peers has never been more important for task accomplishment.

In reality, maintenance connects on many different levels, influencing the decisional outcomes of the entire department—and organization—on a daily basis through both action and non-action. On any given day, many thousands of decisions are made throughout the corporation. Leading up to any decision is a series of connective events, linked via pre-established business processes determining at which point a decision is required to make the next connection.

For example, in a simple PM event in which a piece of equipment must receive a basic oil and filter change, events and connections required to set up and execute the PM are broken down into three stages. They are as follows:

Stage 1 – Set-Up
Setting up an oil change event requires the maintenance planner to develop a work plan. To do so, he/she must first connect with the engineering department, connect with the machine manufacturer and connect with the lubricant supplier to determine the required lubricant, filter, recommended change-out procedure and initial change-out interval.

With the work plan established, all materials must be purchased and added to the storeroom. Depending on the business process, this will require the maintenance planner to now connect with the maintenance inventory control person, who in turn connects with the purchasing agent, who in turn connects with the material supplier. Of course, if this is a new supplier, the purchasing agent also must connect with accounting department personnel to set invoicing and payment schedules.

Once materials are shipped and received, the receiver connects with the inventory control person, who in turn reconnects with the maintenance planner to advise that the oil change materials are now in stock, allowing the department to move to Stage 2, in which the event can finally take place.

Stage 2 – The Event
At this point, the maintenance planner now connects with the maintenance scheduler, who in turn connects with the applicable trades foreman, who then connects with the trades person or lubrication specialist to pass on the work order to perform the oil and filter change.

The lubrication specialist proceeds to the inventory crib and connects with the inventory control person to pick up the oil and filter materials, along with any special tools that may require a connection with a tool crib person. The lubrication specialist then travels to the jobsite where he/she may or may not need to connect with the production foreman and/or equipment operator to receive control of the equipment and commence work.

Once the oil change is completed, the lubrication specialist reconnects once again with the production supervisor and/or operator to give back control of the equipment, after which he/she may reconnect with his/her direct supervisor to deliver the complete work order and to report for the next assignment.

Stage 3 – The Paperwork
With the event completed, recording of the event is required. The trades supervisor may choose to connect with the production foreman and/or equipment operator to perform a work quality check. Satisfied the work is completed, the trades supervisor connects with the CMMS administrator to have the work order closed and filed.

While performing the oil change, were the lubrication specialist to find a problem requiring further maintenance attention, he/she would need to connect with the trades supervisor to discuss the new findings or write down the requirements on the work order. The trades supervisor would then connect with the planner to hand over a work request, after which the planner would repeat the entire connection cycle by commencing with the new work requirement at Stage 1.

Mapping the thread
In this typical oil change scenario, a series of purposeful connective events have taken place involving both maintenance and non-maintenance departments. Setting up and executing a simple oil change can require up to 20 connective events in which information is passed from one individual to another.

The connection path will change according to availability of repair parts, tools, trained resources, equipment, communication tools, etc. How smoothly these connections occur will depend greatly on the systems and business processes in place—both at the department and the organizational level.

Mapping of the connective thread throughout your organization can be an especially effective way to help make things run smoothly, and is well worth the time required to do so.

Mapping the thread will show the efficiency—or inefficiency—of the current process, exposing actions that are taken, as well as where no action is taken. Don’t overlook the connective map. It is a valuable tool in building successful maintenance partnerships. MT

Ken Bannister is lead partner and principal consultant for Engtech Industries, Inc. Telephone: (519) 469-9173; e-mail:

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