Archive | May, 2008

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Technology Showcase: Food Grade Lubricants

With so much riding on a processor’s ability to help feed the world, the incorrect choice can be a killer in more ways than one.

0608_techshowcaseHungry for improved reliability and increased profitability in your food processing operations? Proper lubricant selection is crucial to both quality and safety—and your bottom line! With the potential for contact with product (not to mention water, dust, bacteria and other contaminants) strictly regulated lubricants approved for use in food-contact environments are mandatory. The leading suppliers in this showcase make things easier for processors, regardless of specific product, by manufacturing lubricants that are specially designed and approved in the food and pharmaceutical industries.

How sweet it is… New Advanced Synthetic For Tough-To-Reach, High-Temp Applications

Finding the right grease to protect critical components of food processing and industrial equipment that frequently operates in extremely high temperatures is a serious challenge for maintenance professionals around the world. To meet that challenge and improve the reliability of this type of equipment—much of it running in traditionally difficult-to-lubricate processes—ExxonMobil has introduced Mobil SHC Polyrex 462. Formulated with the company’s proprietary polyurea thickener and a high-performance additive technology, this new NLGI 2 synthetic grease is engineered to promote food-safe processing, deliver exceptional equipment performance, reduce maintenance costs and increase productivity. With its ability to provide long-lasting protection for equipment that operates in extreme conditions, including temperatures as high as 160 C (320 F), Mobil SHC Polyrex 462 is an especially attractive option for maintenance organizations that want to minimize the time spent in re-greasing equipment, reduce overall lubricant costs and improve staff efficiency. NSF H1 classified and Kosher/Parve approved for use in food safe processing environments, the product’s polymer-enhanced formulation resists the effects of water from wash-downs to prevent rust formation and unscheduled component replacement. It also exhibits exceptional load-carrying capabilities with an enhanced film thickness to protect metal surfaces from wear-related failures and increase equipment reliability.

According to ExxonMobil, during laboratory tests and extended field trials conducted at a European sugar beet facility, Mobil SHC Polyrex 462 consistently demonstrated excellent lubrication, helping to minimize wear on the critical components of steam dryers that operated under severe temperature and humidity conditions. Moreover, it maintained excellent pumpability for all the facility’s centralized grease systems.

Mobil Industrial Lubricants
Fairfax, VA 
www.mobilindustrial.com

Multi-Tasking Synthetic Saves Time & Money

Royal Purple’s Poly-Guard FDA is an anti-wear, longlife, synthetic lubricant that is USDA H-1 approved and meets the FDA CFR Title 21 Section 178.3620(b) purity requirement. According to the manufacturer, Poly- Guard FDA reduces maintenance, improves equipment efficiency and extends equipment life to save you time and money. Suitable for compressors, pumps, gearboxes, bearings, hydraulic systems, blowers and other equipment in food processing or pharmaceutical plants, this multitasking product is available in ISO viscosity grades 15 through 680.

Royal Purple
Porter, TX
www.royal-purple-industrial.com

A Complete Line Of Specialty Chemicals & Greases

CRC Industries manufactures a complete line of industrial specialty chemicals including several food grade lubricants. NSF H1 Registered for incidental food contact, Food Grade White Grease is a high-purity, highquality synthetic grease designed for high-load applications requiring a long grease life. The lubricant has a wide operating temperature range of 0 F to 450 F. Food Grade Chain Lube is CRC’s aerosol application option where incidental food contact may occur. It is a special blend of synthetic lubricants and mineral oil that inhibits corrosion, reduces load stress and greatly extends chain life and operates up to 325 F.

CRC Industries
Warminster, PA
www.crcindustries.com

Hydraulic Fluids For The Food Industry

Houghton’s latest development for the food processing industry is Cosmolubric FG-46. This vegetable-oilbased hydraulic fluid is biodegradable and doesn’t require treatment as hazardous waste. It maintains a low total acid number, high viscosity index, and high flash and fire points. Cosmolubric FG-46 is appropriate for hydraulic equipment used to manufacture snack goods, baked goods, meat and poultry, soft drinks and seafood. Houghton also offers Houghto-Safe® 620-TY, a water glycol fire-resistant hydraulic fluid for food plant operations where there may be fire hazards. Both hydraulic fluids are formulated for use in meat and poultry plants operating under the USDA inspection program.

Houghton International 
Valley Forge, PA
www.houghtonintl.com

Odorless, Tasteless & Non-Toxic

Full Synthetic Shell Cassida® Fluid GLE (available in ISO 150 and 220) is an odorless, tasteless and non-toxic full synthetic lubricant that is specially designed for various applications in the food and beverage canning industry. The formulation emulsifies water that is essential when used in gear reducers, where contamination from water and juice can cause wear and corrosion to machinery. NSF H-1 registered, the lubricant does not promote the growth of bacteria or fungal organisms and is Kosher and Halal certified. Shell offers a number of other lubricants suitable for the food and beverage industry.

Shell Lubricants 
Houston, TX
www.shell-lubricants.com

Environmentally Safe Metalworking Lubricant

Accu-Lube FG-2000 is a NSF certified natural/vegetable-based metalworking lubricant approved for use in food and medical applications that involve machining, drilling and tapping. This versatile lubricant also is suitable for sawing solids up to 6” in diameter and almost all sizes of tubing. Accu-Lube FG-2000 provides a high level of lubricity to the cutting edge of any tool. Since it is consumed in the cutting process, the need for cleanup and disposal are virtually eliminated. Safe for use on all metals, it is also NSF certified (NSF Reg. NO 137274 Category H1) as safe for incidental food contact. Because it is environmentally friendly, non-toxic and biodegradable, it provides a safer and cleaner work environment for employees.

ITW ROCOL North America 
Glenview, IL 
www.rocolnorthamerica.com

Safe With Virtually All Metals, Plastics & Seal Materials

DuPont™ Krytox® H-1 Food Grade oils and greases offer high lubrication performance for all types of equipment and machinery used to process and package food and pharmaceuticals. Fully compliant with USDA performance standards for incidental contact and certified Kosher, Krytox FG products are safe to use with virtually all metals, plastics and seal materials. According to the company, these lubricants extend lube intervals, reduce downtime and decrease failures from lubricant carbonization, evaporation or other deterioration commonly associated with high-temp conditions. Krytox FG oils and greases also maintain your packaging quality. All products are clear, non-staining and non-migrating.

DuPont 
Wilmington, DE
www.krytox.com

Lubricants For A High-Level Of Hygienic Production

Total Lubricants USA, formerly known as Keystone Lubricants, has been supplying Nevastane H1 Food Grade Lubricants to the food processing and bottling industries for more than 84 years. Its Nevastane lubricants provide protection and long service life to industrial equipment wherever a high level of hygienic production is required. These food grade lubricants use several technologies, including Synthetics PAO or PAG, semi-synthetics, food grade white oils or silicone. The line includes hydraulic oils, gear lubes, greases, cooker oils, seamer oils, chain lubes and non-aerosol sprays.

Total Lubricants USA, Inc. 
Linden, NJ 
www.nevastane.com

Exceeding Performance Specs For Conventional Products

According to Lubriplate, its H-1 Lubricants can help simplify your HACCP program by eliminating lubrication as a potential chemical hazard. Lubriplate NSF H-1 registered products are made in compliance with ISO 21469 guidelines and comply with FDA regulations 21 CFR 178.3570 and 21 CFR 172.882 for lubricants with possible incidental food contact. They also are certified OU Kosher Parve and HALAL registered. Formulated from high-quality base stocks combined with premium, anti-wear additives, these lubricants, the manufacturer notes, exceed many performance specifications of conventional H-2 products.

Lubriplate Lubricants Co. 
Newark, NJ 
www.lubriplate.com

Protection & Performance In Harsh Food Processes

Lubrication Engineers’ (LE) line of NSF registered H1 and H2 food grade Enhanced Lubricants™ help provide the protection and performance that is needed in harsh food processing conditions. Working with the Kosher Overseers Associates of America (KOAOA), LE has achieved Kosher certification for most of its H1 product line. The products have been certified Kosher-Parve for year-round use, and are allowed to be used in all Kosher food production including meat and dairy processing operations.

Lubrication Engineers, Inc. 
Fort Worth, TX
www.le-inc.com

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Problem Solvers

0608_probsolvers_airContaminant-Free Compressed Air For Pneumatics

The SKF® “SFD” dryer system is uniquely engineered for industrial applications to deliver compressed air free of oil, contaminants and water. In conjunction with large air compressors and systems, this compact unit dries compressed air for pneumatic applications directly from the tank, eliminating a need for after-coolers and additional external filters. The system also can be mounted on small air compressors or at point of use. Units can be supplied for 12VAC, 24VAC, and 120VAC, or fully pneumatic requiring no electrical connection. All can serve whether in high or low ambient temperature conditions. All units can be customized to satisfy specific application requirements.

SKF
Kulpsville, PA

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Special Food & Pharma Synthetic For Rolling Bearings

Klüber has introduced Millplex FMG-2 US, a special, synthetic grease for lubricating machine rolling bearings in food and pharmaceutical manufacturing plants (NSF H1 registration is pending). Composed of a synthetic base oil and a calcium sulphonate complex thickener, it is particularly well suited for use in the manufacturing of grain, meal and pellet animal feeds. Klüber recommends applying Millplex FMG-2 using standard, commercial grease equipment.

Klüber Lubrication
Londonderry, NH

Real-Time Access to Work Orders

MicroMain has announced general availability of MicroMain for BlackBerry, software that expands the company’s mobile options for its computerized maintenance management system (CMMS). This new product now enables managers and maintenance technicians to use handheld devices to receive maintenance tasks and information, indicate work accomplished and upload status, hours and additional information to the MicroMain database. All mobile functionality is managed by log-in, which lets administrators determine security, type of data and parameters for specific users.

MicroMain Corporation
Austin, TX

0608_probsolvers_bearingCalculate ROI From Effective Bearing Protection

Inpro/Seal’s Return On Investment Calculation Worksheet (ROI/WS) is an Excel spreadsheet worksheet that helps users of pumps and motors quantify the effectiveness of bearing isolators (like the model OM32 pictured here that is used in oil mist applications) when applied to rotating equipment. Once it’s downloaded and completed, it allows plants to calculate their own ROI relative to the use of bearing isolators, including benchmarks of current repair costs and the effect of doubling the reliability of their rotating equipment. End users merely plug in their numbers to benchmark the amount of repairs and maintenance dollars saved by installing bearing isolators. The worksheet then calculates the actual costs of the bearing isolators, taking MTBF and previous maintenance histories into consideration. This Return on Investment Calculation tool is available at no charge from Inpro/Seal.

Inpro/Seal Company 
Rock Island, IL

0608_probsolvers_softwareSoftware Tool For More Efficient PMs

PMOptimization from LAI Reliability Systems, is a combination of cutting-edge software and unique processes to develop, optimize and manage your PMs. Optimization is obtained through three dimensions—Primary, Dynamic Failure-Driven and Non-Value-Added—applying a streamlined approach toward generation of RCM results. According to the manufacturer, PM3 leads to the right task, performed by the right skill, at the right interval and at minimal cost, resulting in 40% improvement in labor, 35% in scheduled downtime and 60% in PM parts cost while doubling PM effectiveness. This software tool stands alone or works directly with your CMMS in five languages.

LAI Reliability Systems, Inc. 
Franklin, TN

0608_probsolvers_stockStock Electric Motors & Drives

Baldor’s new 580-page stock products catalog, known as the new 501, details more than 10,000 Baldor·Reliance offerings, including premium effi- ciency, explosion-proof, washdown, severe duty, inverter/vector, farm duty, brake and DC motors, in a range of horsepowers. It also contains a section explaining 100+ common modifications that can be made to customize your motors prior to shipping. Micro drives, controls, gearmotors and gear products, motor accessories, grinders and generators are among the other products featured in the new 501.

Baldor Electric Company
Fort Smith, AR

0608_probsolvers_pumpingPulse-Free Pumping

The Quizix precision pumping systems from AMETEK unit Chandler Engineering offer continuous pulsefree flow or pressure control at the high pressures and temperatures required to optimize critical fluid delivery and extraction applications. Designed to provide years of trouble-free operation, they are capable of delivering or receiving at a constant pressure or flow rate from sub-nano liter/minute to 400 ml/minute at pressures up to 20,000 psi.

Chandler Engineering 
Broken Arrow, OK

0608_probsolvers_torqueNew Rotary Torque Transducers

The Model T1 Torque Coupling Rotary Torque Transducer made by Interface integrates torque measurement with a robust double flex coupling. The coupling and sensor are entirely hollow, allowing the shortest possible distance between the coupled shaft ends. On-board digital electronics provide a ±5V output, low-noise signal. Powered by 12-28V DC, the strain gage-based product offers precision rotary torque measurement in a bearingless, contact-free design. Both smooth and keyed shaft style hubs are available.

Interface, Inc. 
Scottsdale, AZ

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Our Perspective: Taking Care Of Business… The Right Way!

ken_bannister

Ken Bannister, Contributing Editor

The key to performing a successful, professional job in any walk of life has long been attributed to three simple rules: preparation, quality work and clean-up. If you ever have had contractors perform work in your home, those most likely to receive your recommendation for future work typically would have followed these rules. But, if you were to rate the best of the best, the winner would probably be the one who showed the most favorable disposition—toward the job and the customer. As human beings, we simply tend to gravitate in the direction of people who are both competent and easy to get along with. Consider the following example.

Like most car owners, I have taken my vehicles to a variety of garages and dealerships for maintenance work over the years. Yet, none have ever surpassed a particular Chrysler dealership I frequented well before “customer satisfaction” became an abused mantra. There, I was fortunate to have my vehicle worked on by a mechanic named Ed, who proved to be highly competent at repairing all makes of vehicles. Ed never had a vehicle returned for poor workmanship.

What made Ed special above all else was his disposition—he cared and it showed.

For a simple oil change, Ed would clean the valve cover before filling with oil and always use a fender cover to ensure that the paint was kept clean during the process. To top the job off, he would fill up the windshield wash jar, dust the car’s dashboard, shake off dirt from the floor mats and empty the ashtrays—all on his own time and cost.

On his own volition, Ed also had negotiated a special rate with the local car wash. That helped him out with larger mechanical jobs—when he would run a car through the wash during his test drive at the end of the work.

Little wonder Ed was loved by his customers, becoming the most requested mechanic at the dealership. Sadly, I lost Ed as my mechanic when I was fortunate enough to lure him away from the dealership and hire him as a lubrication system installation specialist. With training, Ed excelled and went on to become an exceptional and wellrespected lubrication program manager.

Whether we choose to believe it or not, all maintainers are in the customer service business—and good service does get recognized.

Simple acts like planning the job beforehand, having the right parts to do the work, ensuring cleanliness and safety at the job site, performing work carefully, cleaning up the mess and the equipment—including tools—at the end of the job and taking the time to complete the paperwork correctly are all hallmarks of caring and excellence! Doing it with a smile just adds icing to the cake.

Adopting good work habits, with a good disposition is simply taking care of business the right way. This approach, in turn, is good for the equipment, good for the environment, good for department moral and good for you in the long run.

Are you taking care of business the right way? Good Luck!

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

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Part I. Using Oil Mist On Electric Motors

Despite being an accepted method of lubrication in countless reliability-focused process plants around the globe, questions about this technology continue to surface.

0608_oilmist_1

In early 2008, two widely read U.S. trade journals carried articles on grease lubrication of electric motors. Neither article mentioned oil mist lubrication, probably because the scope of the articles was, of course, grease lubrication. Failing to mention oil mist as a reasonable alternative for modern process plants, though, is somewhat like aiming an article about the repair of belted automobile tires at today’s drivers—as another publication recently did. Belted tires were great for a 1950 Chevrolet, but what savvy car owner is using them on his/her vehicle today?

Dry sump oil mist on electric motors is not new technology. In the mid-1960s, oil mist—a mixture of 200,000 volume parts of clean and dry plant or instrument air with one part of lubricating oil—gained acceptance as the ideal lubricant application method on rolling element electric motor bearings in several major United States oil refineries. Since then, this lubrication method has gained further acceptance at hundreds of reliability-focused process plants in this country and overseas. As of the late 1990s, many thousands of electric motors were being lubricated by dry sump oil mist (Fig. 1).

0608_oilmist_fig1

However, while taking at least some steps to become more profitable through increased equipment reliability, the majority of process plants have not yet abandoned their traditional costly repair-focus. Along these lines, questions and concerns relating to oil mist that had been answered decades ago are again surfacing today. The reasons are not always clear and may even be difficult to comprehend. Nevertheless, these questions are being asked and should be answered by open discussion.

This overview deals with considerations that have allowed oil mist lubrication to improve the reliability and energy efficiency of electric motors. It is not meant to dissuade plants from using grease lubrication, if that’s their choice and preference. But, it will discuss what’s out there if an operation is truly reliability-focused and wishes to understand proven best available technology.

In this series, particular emphasis will be placed on industry practices relating to oil mist lubrication of explosion- proof electric motors. The article is not intended to bypass compliance with regulatory edicts as they might relate to explosion-proof motors and might have to be adhered to regardless of merit. Be this as it may, these articles will be laying out the facts as they exist in 2008 and asking readers to draw the right conclusions for themselves.

Documented wide application range
For the past 44 years, empirical data have been employed to screen the applicability of oil mist. The influences of bearing size, speed and load have been recognized in an oil mist applicability formula, limiting the parameter “DNL” to values below 10E9, or 1,000,000,000. Here, D = bearing bore, mm; N = inner ring rpm; and L = load, lbs. An 80 mm electric motor bearing operating at 3600 rpm and a load of 600 lbs would thus have a DNL of 172,000,000—less than 18% of the allowable threshold value. The vast majority of electric motors equipped with rolling element bearings can thus be served by dry sump oil mist.

Although major grass-roots olefins plants commenced using oil mist on motors as small as 1 hp (0.75 kW) decades ago, the prevailing practice among smart reliability-focused users is to apply oil mist lube on horizontal motors, 10 kW and larger, and vertical motors of approximately 3 kW and larger, fitted with rolling element bearings. Note that oil mist serves not only to lubricate the bearings of operating machines, but also protects and preserves the bearings of non-operating (spare or standby) equipment. This is hugely important in humid and dust-laden (desert) environments.

In the 1960s, it was customary to apply oil mist near the center of the bearing housing, letting the excess mist vent to the atmosphere after passing through the bearings. More recently, and in accordance with the recommendations of API- 610 8th and later editions governing centrifugal pumps in the petrochemical and refining industries, the oil mist has been routed through the bearings. The oil mist enters at a convenient location between the bearing housing protector (bearing isolator or end seal) and bearing (see Fig. 2). The metering orifice (reclassifier) may or may not be incorporated in the end cap as shown here, although locating it close to the bearing is considered advantageous.

0608_oilmist_fig2_3

Originally intended for centrifugal pumps, the recommendations of API-610 have worked equally well for electric motors with rolling element bearings. The resulting diagonal through-flow route shown in Fig. 2 guarantees adequate lubrication, whereas oil mist per Fig. 3, entering at the top of the bearing housing and exiting directly below,might:

  • Cause some of the oil mist to leave at the drain port, without first wetting the rolling elements (Ref. 1).
  • Inadvertently be kept away from the rolling elements due to windage, or fan effects, generated by certain inclined bearing cage configurations.

It is acknowledged that a few “business-as-usual” oil mist users continue to be satisfied with routing the oil mist from the top of the bearing housing to the bottom of the same housing (Fig. 3). Nevertheless, it can be shown that highly-loaded bearings and bearings operating at high speeds must use the API-recommended routing of Fig. 2. A risk-averse user thus recognizes throughflow as one of the key ingredients of successful oil mist implementations. No less a company than Siemens A.G. has published technical bulletins showing oil mist as a superior technique for electric motors ranging in size from 18 to 3000 kW (Ref. 2).

It can be stated without reservation that through-flow oil mist addresses the above concerns and will accommodate all of the lubrication needs of electric motors furnished with rolling element bearings (see above).

Flow requirements explained 
The required volume of oil mist is often translated into bearing-inches, or “BI’s.” A bearing-inch is the volume of oil mist needed to satisfy the demands of a row of rolling elements in a one-inch (~25 mm) bore diameter bearing. One BI assumes a rate of mist containing 0.01 fl. oz., or 0.3 ml, of oil per hour. Certain other factors may have to be considered to determine the needed oil mist flow. These are known to experienced oil mist providers and bearing manufacturers. The various factors also are well-documented in numerous references and include:

  1. Type of bearing… the different internal geometries of different types of contact (point contact at ball bearings and linear contacts at roller bearings), amount of sliding contacts (between rolling elements and raceways, cages, flanges or guide rings), angle of contact between rolling elements and raceways, and prevailing load on rolling elements. The most common bearing types in electrical motors are deep groove ball bearings, cylindrical roller bearings and, occasionally, angular contact ball bearings.
  2. Number of rows of rolling elements… multiple row bearing or paired bearing arrangements require a simple multiplier to quantify the volume of mist flow.
  3. Size of the bearings… related to the shaft diameter— inherent in the expression “bearing-inches.”
  4. The rotating speed… the influence of the rotating speed should not be considered as a linear function. It can be linear for a certain intermediate speed range, but at lower and higher speeds the oil requirements in the contact regions may behave differently.
  5. Bearing load conditions… (preload, minimum or even less than minimum load, heavy axial loads, etc.)
  6. Cage design… Different cage designs might affect mist flow in different ways. It has been reasoned that stamped (pressed) metal cages, polyamide cages or machined metal cages might produce different degrees of turbulence.

Fortunately, industrial experience shows that no further investigations are needed for bearings in the operating speed and size ranges encountered by motors driving process pumps.

As of 2008, several thousands of oil mist lubricated electric motors continue to operate flawlessly in reliability-focused user plants. Moreover, a 2004 survey of these plants confirmed that their procurement specifications for new installations and replacement motors require oil mist lubrication in sizes 15 hp and larger. The largest motor with oil mist lubricated rolling element bearings had a nameplate rating of 1250 hp (933 kW). Questions as to whether different rates of turbulence cause different amounts of oil to “plate out” on the various bearing components are thus of academic interest only.

Sealing and drainage issues 
Although oil mist will not attack or degrade the winding insulation found on electric motors made since the mid- 1960s, mist entry and related sealing issues must be understood and merit discussion.

Regardless of motor type, i.e. TEFC, X-Proof or WP II, cable terminations should never be made with conventional electrician’s tape. The adhesive in this tape will last but a few days and become tacky to the point of unraveling. Instead of inferior products, competent motor manufacturers use a modified silicone system (“Radix”) that is highly resistant to oil mist. Radix has consistently outperformed the many other “almost equivalent” systems.

Similarly, and while it must always be pointed out that oil mist is neither a flammable nor explosive mixture, it would be prudent not to allow a visible plume of mist to escape from the junction box cover. The wire passage from the motor interior to the junction box should, therefore, be sealed with a product such as 3M Scotch-Cast Two-Part Epoxy potting compound to exclude oil mist from the junction box. As mentioned earlier, the volumetric ratio of oil to air is 0.000005. The weight ratio of oil to air is 0.00035. The lower volumetric explosive limits of heptane and hexane are approximately 0.01 (Ref. 3). Another source gives the lower explosive limit of oil in air at 0.035 by weight (Ref. 4).

TEFC vs. WP ll construction 
On TEFC (totally enclosed, fan-cooled) motors, there are documented events of liquid oil filling the motor housing to the point of contact with the spinning rotor. Conventional wisdom to the contrary, there were no detrimental effects, and the motor could have run indefinitely! TEFC motors are suitable for oil mist lubrication by simply routing the oil mist through the bearing, as has been explained in Ref. 1 and numerous other references, including the more recent editions of API-610. No special internal sealing provisions are needed.

On weather-protected (WP II) motors, merely adding oil mist has often been done in the field, and occasionally even with the motor in operation. These on-the-run modifications have generally worked surprisingly well. In this instance, however, it was found important to lead the oil mist vent tubing away from regions influenced by the motor fan. Still, WP II electric motors do receive additional attention from reliability-focused users and knowledgeable motor manufacturers.

Air is constantly being forced through the windings and an oil film deposited on the windings could invite dirt accumulation to become objectionable. To reduce the risk of dirt accumulation, suitable means of sealing should be provided between the motor bearings and the motor interior. Since V-rings and other elastomeric shaft-contacting seals may be subject to wear, low-friction face-contacting seals based on mechanical seal technology are considered desirable. The axial closing force on these seals could be provided either by springs or small permanent magnets.

As is so often the case, the user has to make choices. Low friction axial seals (face seals) are offered by several manufacturers. Some of these may require machining of the cap, but long motor life and the avoidance of maintenance costs will make up for the added expense. Nevertheless, double V-rings using Nitrile or Viton elastomeric material should not be ruled out since they are considerably less expensive than face seals. Certain rotating labyrinth seal designs with axially contacting O-rings were introduced in early 2005 and offer another possible option.

Sealing to avoid stray mist
Even when still accepted by prevailing environmental regulations (e.g. OSHA or EPA), the regulatory and “good neighbor climate” will sooner or later force industry to curtail stray oil mist emissions. Of equal importance and to set the record straight, it must again be noted that state-of-art oil mist systems are now fully closed, i.e. are configured so as not to allow any mist to escape. In the late 1980s, the author collaborated with a California-based engineering contractor in the implementation of two plant-wide systems in Kentucky. As of 2008, these systems have continued to operate flawlessly and have even been expanded. The owner company has added another fully closed system at its refinery in Minnesota and is planning to convert existing, open systems to closed systems.

It should be noted that combining effective seals and a closed oil mist lubrication system is a proven solution. Application per Fig. 2 eliminates virtually all stray mist and oil leakage, but makes possible the recovery, subsequent purifi- cation and re-use of perhaps 97% of the oil. These recovery rates make the use of more expensive, superior-quality synthetic lubricants economically attractive. Needless to say, closed systems and oil mist-lubricated electric motors give reliability-focused users several important advantages:

  • Compliance with actual and future environmental regulations
  • Convincing proof that closed oil mist lubrication systems exist that won’t put avoidable stress on the environment
  • The technical and economic justification to apply energysaving, long-lasting, high-performance synthetic oils

Optimized energy efficiency 
To capture energy efficiency credits, lubricants with suitably low viscosity must be used in combination with the correct volume of mist. Moreover, and as mentioned above, low-friction seals are desired on WP II motors.

PAO and diester lubricants embody most of the properties needed for extended bearing life and greatest operating efficiency. These oils excel in the areas of bearing temperature and friction energy reduction. It is not difficult to show relatively rapid returns on investment for these lubricants, providing, of course, the system is closed and the lubricant re-used after filtration.

Again, very significant increases in bearing life and overall electric motor reliability have been repeatedly documented over the past four or five decades.

Contributing Editor Heinz Bloch is the author of 17 comprehensive textbooks and more than 340 other publications on machinery reliability and lubrication. He can be contacted at: hpbloch@mchsi.com

References
1. Bloch, Heinz P., and Alan Budris, (2006), Pump User’s Handbook: Life Extension, Fairmont Press, Inc., Lilburn, GA, 30047; ISBN 0-88173-517-5, pp. 265-290.

2. Bloch, Heinz P., and Abdus Shamim, (1998), Oil Mist Lubrication: Practical Applications, Fairmont Press, Inc., Lilburn, GA, 30047; ISBN 0-88173-256-7, Fig. 9-7, p.109.

3. Shelton, Harold L., “Estimating the Lower Explosive Limits of Waste Vapors,” Environmental Engineering, May-June 1995, pp. 22-25.

4. Lilly, L.R.C., (1986), Diesel Engine Reference Book, Butterworth & Co, London, U.K., ISBN 0-408-00443-6, p. 21/3.

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Input/Output: What About Sealed Bearings For High-Temp Applications?

The article entitled “Lubrication of Electric Motor Bearings,” by EASA technical support specialist Chuck Yung (pgs. 36-40, MAINTENANCE TECHNOLOGY, March 2008) brought the following question from a reader with a special interest in the topic of sealed bearings…

Dear Maintenance Technology:
I work as a maintenance electrician and saw the article (about lubrication of motor bearings) at work. In the article, it never addresses putting in sealed bearings so they don’t need greasing. Is this a good idea or not? I am interested in an answer for an area where the temperature is 120 F+.

Thanks.
Craig Oviatt
Via e-mail

Chuck Yung responds…

Craig: The editor of Maintenance Technology magazine forwarded your excellent question to me. In certain instances, I am a fan of sealed bearings, but there are some trade-offs to consider before you use them.

The major benefit of sealed bearings is that they keep dirt and other contamination out. The most obvious downside is that it is not possible to re-lubricate them, so they have a finite life. Whereas a shielded or open bearing can be re-lubricated at regular intervals to extend the bearing life, sealed bearings cannot. I personally have seen bearings that ran for over 30 years without failing, thanks to regular preventive maintenance— while the practical life of a sealed bearing might be closer to five years.

Sealed bearings can be of either the contact-type (the seal contacts the inner race) or non-contact type. The contact-type sealed bearing is slightly better at excluding moisture, but at a cost; that contact creates friction and heat. So, the bearing temperature is higher and the motor efficiency is slightly lower. The non-contact type operates at about the same temperature as a shielded bearing, but does not exclude contamination quite as well as the contact type of sealed bearing.

The place where a sealed bearing is especially useful is when the motor is difficult to access, so it is just not going to be greased regularly. Other cases that benefit from sealed bearings include motors operating in remote locations (such as an unmanned station); a plant where regular maintenance is impractical; or an application where moisture, chemicals or fine dirt particles are present.

Another advantage of sealed bearings is that they prevent overgreasing. Most people in my industry will tell you that we see more motor failures from over-greasing than from under-lubrication. But, if you opt for sealed bearings, make sure the service center that repairs your motors removes the grease fittings to prevent some operator from trying to force grease into a sealed bearing. It also is a good idea to label the motors that have sealed bearings, just to keep some eager tech from installing a grease fitting and trying to grease the bearings anyway. One plant even paints motors with sealed bearings a specific color to make that less likely.

In your specific example (120 F+), be sure the bearings are purchased with a grease suitable for the higher temperature. And use the noncontact type of sealed bearings, to avoid raising the bearing temperature any higher.

Chuck Yung
Via e-mail www.easa.com

Editor’s Note: According to EASA, the association makes no warranties respecting the information contained in the above response, and shall not be liable for any loss or damage as a consequence of anyone’s use and reliance upon it. MT

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Battling A Killer: Corrosion Control Methods

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

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

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

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

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

  • Material selection
  • Coatings
  • Cathodic Protection
  • Chemical Inhibitors

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

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

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

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

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

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

Good…

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

Poor…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

Recommended references

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

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Communications: Partnering With Contracted Service Providers

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Ken Bannister, Contributing Editor

There probably is no maintenance department in the country that hasn’t engaged the services of a contractor, or specialty services provider, in the past 12 months. How was your experience?

Past experience with outside assistance usually dictates how you approach your next contractual relationship with an outside labor source. Most of us are likely to remember the negative experiences far and above the positive ones, prompting us to be extra cautious and somewhat jaded at the prospect of working with a new service provider.

Unfortunately, there seems to be an abundance of service providers who are too eager to “stretch” the truth about their capabilities and, in a priceconscious world, too willing to cut corners and offer a price-beating alternative. These companies are prone to deliver poor quality and readily sour the partnership experience, never to be invited to quote on a second job. Doubtless we are all aware of the sweetness of a good price—and the bitterness of the true cost when the service falls short of expectations.

Quality work is about setting and surpassing scope-of-work expectations. It is about NOT cutting corners, using quality materials and, above all, dealing with service providers that use personnel who communicate well, are personable, highly competent, trained and experienced. You and your co-workers certainly will recognize many or all of these attributes in your favorite service provider(s).

These days, many companies are actively restructuring their labor pool through redundancy or attrition, with many maintenance departments forced to utilize contract labor to supplement their present understaffing or loss of technical expertise. With utilization of contract labor and specialty service groups that include trainers, management consultants, OEM technicians, preventive and predictive service providers on the rise, following a few simple rules can assure a maintenance department of having a positive experience, every time.

Rule 1: Establish specialty service provider use guidelines
Working together to take stock and document the current ability and level of expertise of the internal skilled labor pool, both maintenance and human resources can assess and match this capability against present and future plant work requirements.

  • High-demand skilled work within the current capability of the internal staff should not be contracted out. This work would include general millwright and electrical work.
  • Low-demand work requiring a high level of expertise, such as overhead door, roof work, training, audit assessment, etc., is a good candidate for the use of specialty service groups.
  • Marginal work such as Heating, Ventilating and Air Conditioning (HVAC) can be negotiated depending on the internal expertise level. Total workload (backlog) also will play a role in determining what type of work can be taken on by internal or contract labor.

Establishing such a guideline document allows both management and workforce to agree on when specialty service providers are to be used.

Rule 2: Establish a value-added specialty service provider relationship
Quality service providers may not come in with the best price, but usually will work hard to sustain a long-term working relationship. In doing so, most are open to delivering additional value-added services for little or no extra cost.

For example, competent and knowledgeable service providers are employed for their expertise; this can be “tapped” into by asking and expecting the service provider to perform the task requirement, and at the same time perform on-the-job training by allowing a maintenance department employee to observe and assist. This type of strategy is especially effective with apprentice training or specialty training of predictive maintenance technologies.

Other value-added services that can be expected from contractors are such things as 24/7 “on call” availability and reduced billing rates for blanket purchase orders.

Rule 3: Establish a specialty service provider management policy
Managing specialty service providers should not differ greatly from managing internal resources in that work assignments must be controlled through the Work Order Management system. The service provider’s work assignment must be stated clearly, and the work estimated for materials and time requirements. The service provider’s performance is based on variance of estimate and completed work quality.

Once the work is complete, prior to closing the work order, this document is used to collect all relevant comments and references to any contractor check-sheets, to check and assure work quality and to compare work done against the invoice statement before payment is released.

A service provider’s daily charge rate may initially appear as significantly higher than internal resource rates (often used as an argument against using outside assistance). The decision to use outside service providers, however, must be assessed on their value and judged on timeliness of work completion, work quality, rarity of use (their expertise may only be required 2-3 times per year, or less) and cost of specialty tools used by a provider (an infrared thermographer might use an imaging system worth more than six figures; a consultant might use templates and intellectual property that cost hundreds of thousand of dollars to develop).

Win/win/win
Use of a specialty service provider must be a balanced decision. Allowing everyone affected by such a provider to help establish the rules surrounding the use of this type of outside assistance will facilitate a healthy relationship among the workforce, management and contracted party—making for a positive experience! MT


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

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Who’s Leading The Parade?

While it’s hard to describe, we certainly recognize leadership when we see it. The way we’re going, though, we may not get to see enough of it in the future.

0508_leading_11

As industry takes on new challenges in a ‘dot-com’ world, where information is not only king, but immediate, it also is retiring an invaluable babyboomer generation of corporate and company leaders—leaving us with a seemingly weak ‘bullpen’ to close the game. Since many of our 21st century “wunderkids” who have been educated in management may bring only a meager amount of leadership experience to their jobs, we can’t help but ask who is leading the parade?

Prudence would dictate that the leadership and management principles of corporations and businesses would alter to keep enterprises alive and viable. However, with the current dilemma presented by the juxtaposition of management skills and leadership qualities, today’s technical professionals might be ill-prepared for the duties of the day.

What is remarkable is the extensive level of coursework and corporate training available and dedicated to building the hard managerial skills with a comparative dearth of opportunities to find, build upon and eventually transform those engaged in a technical field into the leaders of tomorrow. Leadership and management instructions may be but five feet apart on the shelves of a bookstore, yet in the real world, they are miles apart from both practical and academic points of view.

Although MBA schools are graduating the next generation of corporate directors at a dizzying pace, with the rapid speed of technological changes throughout industry, engineers and technology-minded professionals might soon be called to the top of corporate ladders. Their understanding of the function and ‘workability’ of maintenance, logistics and engineering-based technologies could very well trump the bottom-line minded “suits” in business colleges.

Marching forward
The charge has never been greater. Maintenance managers, plant engineers and front-line supervisors have been handed the challenge of—and literally mandated—to bring about sweeping change in our organizations in regard to people, systems and equipment care. To do this, what weapon of capability and understanding do they arm themselves with? There is, after all, a fundamental difference in the talents of managing and leading.

Historically, companies have managed to the bottom line. Likewise, the evolution of many successful companies materialized through the charm and champion-like leadership style of charismatic entrepreneurs. Success on the heels of hard-charging and ‘devil may care’ effervescence of some leaders, compared to the quid pro quo drumbeat of managing to the bottom line, reveal a stark contrast to the differing talents as explained by Rear Admiral Grace Murray Hooper, in that “you manage things, you lead people.”

Clearly, we have become extremely good at training and educating ourselves to manage things. In the process, despite the fact that “a successful outcome is more dependent on effective leadership than efficient management,” we also have become quite good at managing people. On the other hand, how good are we at developing leaders today?

The hypothesis that most American companies and corporations are headed by management MBA-types might not be far off the mark. In most instances, there is a predominance of a leadership corps with little or no formal leadership development. Can we expect the new century of corporations headed by technocrats to have even more learned leadership at the helm? Do you need proof for this hypothesis? How else can we explain the meteoric rise of leadership books from Welch to Maxwell to Giuliani, written as if they personally invented leadership? Can we assume they didn’t learn these traits in college?

Inspiring action
Here’s a reality check: Is your boss or your boss’ boss a good leader or a good manager? Do you know the difference? Most people don’t.

Although it is not necessary to display actual “Pattonesque” qualities to be admired as a great leader, General George S. Patton certainly was revered for his leadership swagger more than his management style. In combat, it seems that you would want the officer in charge to be a great leader and the supply sergeant to be a good manager. Incontrovertibly, General MacArthur’s farewell address to the cadets of West Point, relaying his sentiment that “the long gray line has never failed us,” was reminiscent of a school whose tradition was one of great leadership—not great management.

But, are we in combat? Which industry in America is not battling $3-per-day labor from overseas? Which overseas company is not competing for resources that grow scarcer each day? The call to arms today requires the forging and bluing of real leaders to take us to the next horizon. We can’t expect to be managed into the future!

There can be little doubt that the overall successes of an organization, a venture or even a project require the coordinated efforts of both managers and leaders. What is troubling is that we’ve created a top-culture where managing to the bottom line is paramount to ingenuity and good old fashioned trial and error. Leaders entice action and exhibit patterns of inspiration and entrepreneurial spirit. Sir Edmund Hillary, upon his return from the summit of Mt. Everest, exclaimed, “Well, we knocked the bastard off!” That’s inspiration in action!

Lining up
It is apparent from abstract research that management principles are ‘hard’ skills and fairly understandable, in contrast to leadership qualities that are ‘soft’ and require a different aptitude for development. Acquiring these skills/ gaining these qualities actually starts in school and involves a regimen of both explicit and tacit learning.

Through academic maturation, our technical schools need to develop course curricula which include vehicles for students to study and develop their leadership potential; courses such as critical thinking and public speaking. In addition to the textbook learning, there is a developmental necessity to apply hands-on practical leadership fundamentals.

Dale Blann, CEO of Marshall Institute, contends that explicit knowledge is what we can all read about, but tacit knowledge is what ‘you’ bring to the table. “The difference,” he says, “between companies that do maintenance well, and those that do maintenance really, really well is leadership.”

How different is the education of our corporate professionals, especially those in technical fields? After graduation, many have a rudimentary grasp of technical concepts and practices, but little (if any) of the nuances of life outside the classroom. Cooperative programs come the closest to teaching and providing fertile ground to grow leadership buds, but seldom are co-op students in a position to do great things—or more importantly, great damage.

Several, if not most, traits exhibited by leaders and managers fall into a gray area, one that could be considered either-or. This gray area is open for interpretation when it comes to foundational development. Would communication skills be considered a management must, or a leadership gift? Could one consider timeliness and organization as the signs of a good manager or an efficient leader?

Recognizing leadership
It should come as no surprise to any professional that to truly ingrain an idea and a behavior into a person, the process of teaching must involve both learning and doing. Why would this function of growth differ when teaching someone to be a leader?

Aside from the nature vs. nurture argument that asks “are leaders born or, are leaders created of the moment,” the fundamental essence of what makes a leader is not necessarily exact. Describing what leadership is might seem difficult; not unlike Justice Potter Stewart concurring in Jacobellis v. Ohio, when he confessed that he couldn’t describe obscenity, but “I know it when I see it.” Leadership is hard to describe, but we know it when we see it.

There is a certain amalgamation between the expression of management and leadership functions. This mixture manifests itself in an academic and practical sense to favor management over leadership. The danger with this position—and it is one that can seep into organizations without notice—is that as personnel climb corporate ladders, they fulfill their newest positions in the organizational chart with superior management aptitude, but very little leadership prowess.

Management is in fact ‘managing’ something that already exists. A manager’s day is filled with aligning the business to corporate strategies, monitoring finances; essentially, managing the status quo. The very antithesis of accepting the status quo is leadership. Leadership is vision, excitement, creation, humility—and passion.

Relating to the central thesis of this topic, an individual’s role in society and business may take on a leadership and/or a management center. The historic basis of teaching and growth in an organization is geared more toward managing, maintaining a status-quo, with little fanfare of opportunity for leadership development. One day the pendulum will swing, and leadership will be the operating grace for technical-based and trained corporate heads.

Filling the gap
The gap between the current-state of leadership capabilities and the future-state requirements is even more evident in technical fields where students and young professionals are invested in learning the rapid degree of core information that comes at them, in an effort to keep pace with the changing times. Often, if successful in their primary roles, these same individuals are elevated to levels of higher responsibility, having never been given a single rudimentary exercise in leadership.

The maturation of leadership abilities might begin in a classroom, but they most certainly are recognized when given an opportunity to be exercised. Corporate core competencies should establish a vision to include skilled and effective leadership as weapons in their arsenal. As this leadership staff grows, in fact, during their formative years, their exposure to leadership doctrine needs to become part of the daily routine.

Leaders are humble and respectfully thankful for their positions in life. Leaders exhibit, in principle and in practice, the characteristics of integrity, compassion, courage, commitment, confidence and communication. Currently these characteristics are not mainstay curriculum at most major universities. Young technical professionals could ensure an invaluable spot on their resumes by gaining these traits in any initial job assignment. This is a challenge to accept the less glamorous jobs, those that test leadership abilities. These traits can only be honed through growth and opportunity from education and work ethic. What opportunities are available at your facility for you to grow these skills?

Marching orders
The challenge today is clear. Young engineers and those in technical fields should seek out and participate in courses, projects, and extra-curricular activities that strengthen their leadership potential. Corporate and plant leaders must recognize that their future depends on the leadership savvy of their young professionals.

The crux of the argument is the head-to-head comparison of management skills vs. leadership traits. A reasonable assertion could be made that the difference between the two is infinitesimal and different situations would bring into play the different principles. A counter to that argument is simple acceptance of the relevant fact that if management or leadership abilities are not taught and developed, they cannot be brought to bear. Each has its time, and there is an art to recognizing the need to evolve. There exists today a new paradigm, one that favors leadership over management. Leadership and management are complementary; they co-exist for the benefit of the organization.

We must, however, tip the balance of the scale. This truly is our call to action. Again, as we march forward, think about who really is leading this parade. Could it be you? Should it be you? MT


John Ross is a principal with Maintenance Innovators, Inc., based in Shawnee, KS. He has been a professional maintenance manager for 22 years and now serves as a senior consultant with Marshall Institute. A former captain, aircraft maintenance officer with the U.S.A.F., he is a distinguished graduate of the Aircraft Maintenance Officers Course. Ross holds an A.S. and B.S. in Electrical Engineering Technology; an M.S. in Aeronautical Science; and a Ph.D. in Engineering Management. Telephone: (913) 633-4009; e-mail: johnlross@ maintenanceinnovators.com

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