Archive | August, 2008


6:00 am
August 1, 2008
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Industry Outlook: Knowledge Is Power: Paving The Way To Savings


George Dettloff, President and CEO, SKF USA Inc.

For virtually any industrial organization, regardless of product, these are undeniably difficult times. Challenges associated with escalating energy costs, equipment reliability issues and an ongoing demand for improved productivity and profitability abound. But, for those organizations guided by a clear strategic vision and a can-do attitude, every challenge presents opportunity for new thinking and fresh solutions.

Within our company, our defined vision is “to equip the world with SKF knowledge” by listening to customers, evaluating their challenges, applying our multi-industry experience and applications expertise and introducing technologies and services that will offer measurable and positive impact. Our dialogue with customers has underscored the fact that energy consumption ranks high among their concerns. As a knowledge engineering company, one of our missions is to respond with resources and solutions that will ease the burden. We have.

In fact, based on our extensive knowledge about bearings, seals, lubrication, mechatronics and reliability solutions, a new client needs analysis tool has been developed to help customers identify and implement energy- and cost-saving measures plant-wide. Targeting high-energy areas at an operation, it is designed to pave the way for energy savings. The assessment expands to examine chemical treatments, lubricant use and lubrication systems, as well as other operating processes that potentially can be improved— which, in turn, can reduce environmental impact at a facility and accrue even more savings. Once applied, the client needs analysis can make a big difference, as illustrated by the following success stories that came about as a result of three of these analyses.

In the first success story, a spot-welding application at an automotive plant, the traditional pneumatic-steered actuation equipment (which consumed considerable energy) was replaced with a compact electromechanical actuator. This technology shift resulted in energy savings of more than 90% (using 13.5 million kWh less energy annually).

In the second success story, the onsite generation capacity at an oil refinery was running in a reduced state due to operational problems that prevented the achieving of full capacity. The customer was forced to purchase 12 MW of power from an outside supplier to cover the shortfall. By employing a combination of advanced vibration analysis and machine diagnostics, SKF specialists were able to increase the generation capacity by those missing megawatts, without changing the refinery’s existing equipment.

In the third success story, a large paper mill had experienced more than 100 hours of unplanned downtime in one year. Not surprisingly, this level of downtime hampered production and raised uncertainty about the reliability of mill deliveries. A team of SKF reliability engineers, lubrication specialists and maintenance technicians conducted a detailed mill-wide assessment and identified opportunities to optimize asset efficiency, reduce the unplanned downtime and maintenance costs and increase overall productivity. An integrated maintenance program was introduced encompassing the supply and inventory management of bearings, seals and lubricants and the supply and installation of multiple condition monitoring systems. Unscheduled downtime virtually disappeared.

The overriding lesson here is that in today’s industrial environment customers anticipate— and deserve—suppliers who can successfully add value by transferring knowledge from one application or industry to another. They seek true partners who are able to bring more to the table based on experience from many perspectives. They expect that implemented solutions will translate to measurable benefits. Ultimately, they recognize that in knowledge, there is power. MT

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

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

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6:00 am
August 1, 2008
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Industry Outlook: Factoring Lubricants Into The Overall Equation


Lee Culbertson, President, Royal Purple, Ltd.

For more than 20 years, Royal Purple has been a proponent of applying lubrication technology as a way to quickly and inexpensively attain significant improvements in plant rotating equipment reliability. Our corporate mission fits perfectly with the editor’s request to share with readers how we are addressing industries’ accelerating trend toward “greening,” dealing with soaring energy costs within the scope of this magazine’s core emphasis on capacity assurance solutions.

Over these two decades, our message often has fallen on the deaf ears of companies that have felt no need to replace less-expensive lubricants that met the equipment manufacturer’s requirements. To these companies, premium lubricants were an added cost—one that could only be justified as a possible solution for problem equipment.

Today, industry no longer can afford to take such a short-sighted view. World economics are forcing companies to become leaner, more efficient and more productive with their assets. What once might have been “adequate” must now be replaced by what is “optimum” in attaining these objectives. Maximizing productivity requires that the assets remain productively on line, and for many companies this means their rotating equipment.

Another factor that no longer can be ignored is that “cost of energy” is by far the single greatest cost of owning and operating equipment. The prices for all forms of energy have skyrocketed. Now, it is becoming obvious to increasing numbers of companies that the quality of lubricant they select can significantly influence how reliably—and how efficiently—their equipment will operate.

Royal Purple is especially well-positioned to provide solutions to these issues. It has been a pioneer in developing lubricant solutions to maximize the reliability and efficiency of large populations of equipment. We refer to this as offering a “Lowest Total Cost of Ownership” approach to lubricant procurement. One big upside to this approach is that it is a very “green” move as well.

Upgrading to premium lubricants produces savings through a mix of increased equipment reliability (more production and less maintenance cost), energy savings and longer oil drains (reduced purchase and disposal cost). Some companies, though, have reported that their most significant savings are coming from greatly increased production speeds attained with the same equipment.

Energy savings are the easiest of the savings to document because they are a day-to-day operating cost. Our data shows that a 3% reduction in energy use is readily attainable. One of the most recent and best documented examples of this is from a large steel mill that converted five large compressors totaling 28,500 hp. It is important to note that all temperatures were recorded along with both digital and analog air flow readings to accurately determine comparative power factors. Their calculated savings were 6,074,385 kw/yr valued at $547,000/yr. In fact, the total cost of the lubricant was recovered within 100 days.

Maintenance savings will vary greatly from plant to plant—and must be tracked over time. But, a 30% reduction in the need for maintenance from upgrading lubricant quality is not uncommon. Reducing maintenance also reduces accidents. Extending oil drains can also reduce oil usage to as little as one-fifth of previous volumes. Lubricant upgrades aren’t just effective, they truly are low-hanging fruit. It is not often that so many benefits can be attained by a simple change in purchasing practices. MT

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

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

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6:00 am
August 1, 2008
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Industry Outlook: Transforming To Serve Changing Industrial Markets


Michael J. Connors, President, Process Industries, The Timken Company

The Timken Company has been in the business of helping customers cut cost for more than 109 years. The simple fact is that the knowledge we bring to the table and put into the development of our products results in improved operating efficiency for our customers’ equipment and plants—and this means lower costs.

In the past few years, we have transformed and reshaped our company strategy to ensure that our processes, products and opportunities are in line with market demands, while remaining true to our historic focus on customer performance.

The strong demand in global industrial markets has fueled many of Timken’s recent investments in new products and services, such as bearing repair and predictive maintenance technology—both designed to ensure customers are increasing efficiency and reducing operational costs. Specifically, as the development of new industrial nations has continued to place greater demands on heavy equipment manufacturers and energy producers, we have increased our investment in bearing repair services to help relieve these customers of the extra costs caused by global capacity constraints.

In the past, when a bearing was damaged, it often was removed from service and replaced before it reached its full, useful and economical life. Timken’s advancements in bearing design, materials, bearing maintenance and repair methods have greatly improved the potential for and popularity of bearing repair as an effective way to extend the life of the bearing. A repaired bearing, depending on the required level of service, often can be returned to like-new specifications in about one-third of the time and at a savings of up to 60% off the cost of a new bearing. The growing popularity of repair programs in heavy industries shows an increased industry understanding of the significant value of this approach—both in time and cost—compared to replacing bearings.

Taking a proactive approach to cost savings is essential across every industry. Bearings are at the heart of almost every piece of industrial equipment. Thus, Timken understands the benefits that customers stand to gain when they take a proactive approach to bearing maintenance. When they are properly maintained, bearings can extend equipment operating life and boost equipment performance. Without proper maintenance, customers can expect breakdowns and loss of production. To help customers reduce costs associated with equipment downtime and failure, Timken has developed advanced predictive maintenance technology. Our predictive maintenance service programs help save money by increasing machine availability and productivity, reducing downtime, and reducing scrap caused by failing equipment and systems. Timken’s goal with such programs is to increase customer awareness of the importance of friction management in equipment maintenance and the value it brings to the bottom line.

As industrial demand continues to grow, The Timken Company will evolve and transform to suit the needs of the markets, industries and customers it serves. Our company has excelled at remaining profitable while helping customers reduce cost with programs such as bearing repair and predictive maintenance services. We believe we still can bring even more value to our customers—and we remain focused on achieving that goal. MT

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

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

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6:00 am
August 1, 2008
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Industry Outlook: Harnessing Innovation In Continuous Improvement


John Berra, President, Emerson Process Management

Today’s process manufacturing managers need continuous improvement for sustainable business success. They consistently identify safety of employees, protection of the environment and operations excellence as top priorities. Delivering on these priorities is challenging as facilities face supply-chain pressure, labor shortages and rising costs. Fortunately, innovation and collaboration provide technology and services to deliver continuous improvement. Both have made great strides in 2008—we’ll see more of the same in 2009.

Innovation will continue to integrate the enterprise. Integration makes business and process applications easier to use and more robust, giving workers more power and increasing their oversight of operations and the environment. Plant automation architectures will continue to unify, seamlessly joining wired and wireless applications to increase improvement potential. Valuable information will stream from field networks based on the open interoperable WirelessHART standard and from plant networks using industrial Wi-fistandards.

Enterprise software architecture will improve as new Web-based service-oriented architecture (SOA) development makes enterprise-to-factory floor communications easier. For example, performance monitoring in plant field networks feeds plant and corporate optimization software; level monitoring in tank farms feeds inventory applications to enable communications with customers; or diagnostics from critical field devices is delivered to computerized maintenance systems.

Integration is an important boost to productivity in view of today’s shortage of skilled workers. Application of new integration technology and wireless tools will dramatically improve productivity by providing instant access to better information.

Wireless sensing in field networks will increase exponentially. Since 2006, wireless technology has been expanding the reach of wired digital systems. Early adaptors of wireless solutions have been impressed by plug-and-play ease of use, cost and time savings and reliable, secure operations— even amid canyons of steel in plants. Some early applications were sparked as cost-effective solutions to new regulatory requirements, and others by engineers creating applications that could not be justified with a wired approach, but now can be. Benefits include improved safety, via centralizing monitoring to eliminate the need for operator rounds, and improved environment, via monitoring that was previously physically impossible or cost prohibitive.

Adding to availability of wireless products, the new WirelessHART standard was approved in September 2007, enabling all global suppliers to offer open, interoperable sensors so users can select from a broad range of monitoring and control applications.

Many factors are aligning to drive the growth of wireless sensor usage in 2009: increasing regulatory requirements; approved WirelessHART standard; expanded range of wireless functions; tighter integration with plant applications; and increased end-user confidence. The compelling benefits of wireless have us predicting that 20% of new points will be wireless in five years.

Collaboration across enterprises and with suppliers will shape the wireless age. The emergence from a wired world to a wired-and-wireless world will continue to capture the attention of management which sees the enormous potential for transitioning to an infrastructure dramatically more unified for continuous improvement. There is increasing collaboration in the new era. Corporate technology groups, as well as IT and process automation personnel, are forming into cross-functional teams to investigate and speed new technology for operations, always working to improve safety, the environment and production. Experienced, knowledgeable suppliers are key partners, bringing new technology and services. These user and supplier teams are important to help shape the technology and optimize business practices of the future. MT

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

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

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6:00 am
August 1, 2008
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Industry Outlook


Dear Maintenance & Reliability Professional:

This issue marks publication of our third annual “Industry Outlook” section, our largest ever. As in years past, we asked a select group of industry thought leaders to give us some insight into what’s on their minds and on the radar screens of the organizations they head. Sixteen company executives were invited to participate this year; 14 took us up on it—a 50% increase over last year.

Participants were free to discuss any topic they deemed important. Given this magazine’s emphasis on capacity assurance solutions, however, and the fact that businesses everywhere are struggling to cope—even survive— amidst a worldwide energy crisis, we had hoped the respondents would focus their attention on matters of sustainability and successful approaches to cost-saving effi ciencies. They did.

As heads of major manufacturing and/or supplier operations serving your industry, the contributors presented here are quite in tune with you as an end-user. Their organizations are just as sensitive to rapidly increasing operational costs—primarily due to soaring energy costs—as your company is. Thus, when it comes to energy effi ciency and cost-saving strategies and tactics, they’re not just talking the talk, they’re really walking the walk.

We thank all participating executives for putting their time and energies into our “Industry Outlook 2008”section. It’s not easy to carve out space in a busy schedule for this type of project. To a magazine editor, the perspective refl ected in these pages is invaluable—just as it should be for you, the reader. The time you take to digest and consider this “big picture” thinking and associated suggestions for dealing with your own capacity concerns will be time well spent.

Jane Alexander, Editor


John Berra
Emerson Process Management
Marc Marini
Michael J. Connors
The Timken Company
Gretchen McClain
ITT Corporation
Lee Culbertson
Royal Purple, Ltd.
John A. McFarland
Baldor Electric Company
George Dettloff
David C. Orlowski
Inpro/Seal Company
Luis Guimarães
Shell Lubricants
Tim Owens
PdMA Corporation
Patrick Holcomb
Intergraph Corporation
Thomas J. Scanlon
FLIR Systems, Inc.
Barbara Hulit
Fluke Corporation

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6:00 am
August 1, 2008
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Uptime: The Perfect Storm Intensifies


Bob Williamson, Contributing Editor

In last month’s column, I pointed out that the United States is the most competitive nation in the world, as well as the most productive one, with the highest innovative potential in the world. However, I also pointed out that we are a nation at risk: other nations are gaining while the U.S. is slipping.

Some of the characteristics that made us a strongly competitive and productive nation are in serious need of repair. Moreover, what is going largely unnoticed is that the maintenance skills shortage— which, very recently, was just a forecast of a perfect storm—has come down on us with a vengeance. Are you ready?

Numerous conference speeches, articles, columns in the past several years have outlined the nature of the maintenance skills shortages, including this author’s remarks. The national media, governmental agencies, politicians and educational systems have largely ignored what is happening—and, in many business and industrial sectors, it’s getting worse by the month. We must take action now and well into the future. Let’s begin by defining a perfect storm:

October 30, 1991: An enormous extra-tropical low created havoc along the entire Eastern Atlantic Seaboard at 0700 EST. Labeled the “perfect storm” by the National Weather Service, it sank the swordfishing boat Andrea Gail, whose story became the basis for a best-selling novel by Sebastian Junger, The Perfect Storm, (later made into a major motion picture). A little-known and bizarre ending came to this monster when the storm became sub-tropical 30 hours later, just before the inner core developed into a tropical storm and later an unnamed hurricane—that came to be known as the Halloween Storm. [1]

In other words, a perfect storm is a storm…within a storm…within a storm…within a storm!

Today, we have conditions in place—and intensifying—that are beginning to damage capital intensive businesses, our infrastructure (power, utilities, pipelines) and construction projects. Some elements of this “perfect storm” are:

  • An ever-growing maintenance skills shortage in all industrial sectors;
  • A serious lack of vocational-technical and career education programs in schools;
  • An over-emphasis by educators and parents on a “college degree;”
  • High school dropout rates averaging 30%;
  • Schools struggling to find and keep well-qualified teachers;
  • Misinterpretation of productivity improvement as manufacturing job loss by major media and politicians;
  • Manufacturing operations moving back to the U.S. from China and Mexico.

But, why should these “stormy” shortcomings hurt us? We are the most competitive nation in the world! We have the largest economy in the world in terms of gross domestic product (GDP) at over 13.2 trillion dollars—that’s more than Japan, China, Germany and the U.K. combined! What could the future of our economy possibly have in common with the fate of the Andrea Gail? Here are some of the things that have begun appearing on our radar screens:

State incentives for new jobs!
Many states and local governments spend hundreds of millions of dollars recruiting new businesses with incentives such as free land, training, highways, railways, utilities, tax abatements, etc. Google and Dell recently landed in North Carolina. Kia Motors settled in Georgia. Not too long ago, Toyota found two plant sites in Texas and Mississippi and Hyundai was wooed into Alabama. This is just a smattering; the list goes on, and on and on. What impresses me is the size of the incentive packages it is taking to create jobs.

Kia received a $258.25 million incentive package from Georgia to build its plant there. That amounts to between $89,000 and $99,000 per job created. But, that’s mere chicken feed. Volkswagen just announced a deal to build a 2000-employee assembly plant in Tennessee—a state that put together an incentive package worth over $500 million. This deal may reflect the most government assistance and largest tax breaks ever offered for an American automobile plant, amounting to $250,000 per job created.

When looking into the recent incentive recruited manufacturers, I also discovered that the financial incentives are only a small part of why companies choose to settle in any particular area. Most have cited that “the availability of a skilled workforce and the availability of workforce training” as the top factor. Think about that for a moment. Regardless of free large tracts of land, tax reductions and proximity to railroads and highways, what good is a great plant location without the availability of a trained workforce?

  1. Alabama*
  2. Georgia*
  3. Texas*
  4. North Carolina*
  5. South Carolina*
  6. Colorado
  7. Tennessee*
  8. Kentucky*
  9. Arizona
  10. Florida

Of these top 10 states, eight (*) have received significant news coverage in recent years for having offered enormous incentive packages to major companies that locate new plants within their boundaries. Workforce training seems to be a significant part of these incentives. As an example, within the hefty package Georgia crafted for Kia, the state will spend nearly $34.7 million on workforce training for 2800 employees. That equates to $12,393 per employee for training. Just last month, Tennessee’s whopping VW incentive package included nearly $40 million for training 2000 workers. Do the math—that’s $20,000 worth of training per employee! Very impressive, to say the least!

Public education report card!
The Institute for a Competitive Workforce, a non-profit affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, published its “Education Report Card” in February 2007. This research addressed nine educational categories. The two that I found most interesting were 1- Academic Achievement (overall), and 6 – Post-Secondary and Workforce Readiness. When we look at the Report Cards of the states with the “Best Workforce Training Programs” (as shown in the ending Sidebar on the following page), we note some puzzling results.

How can it be that these states with pretty marginal-to-abysmal grades for “post secondary and workforce readiness” (except for North Carolina!) are the most attractive to large relocating businesses? Are you ready for this conclusion?

States attracting big headline-generating employers compensate for their respective public education systems through workforce training programs teaching the very skills students should have learned in school (that used to be taught in school). Furthermore, they provide this at no cost to the new employers! Yup! It’s our tax dollars at work—producing results only AFTER our initial education-focused tax dollars have missed the mark.

This picture is wrong!
Ok. Let’s recap. We have a shortage of skilled workers in the industrial maintenance field and our schools no longer teach these skills—the types of skills that are essential for advanced manufacturing. Companies are beginning to move operations back from China and Mexico because of, among other things, quality problems, increasing wages, energy costs, trouble getting raw materials and transportation delays and costs—not to mention international skilled trades shortages.

The U.S. manufacturing sector is the most competitive in the world, yet we are losing manufacturing jobs. But, EVERY manufacturing nation has lost manufacturing jobs because of productivity gains over the recent years. States spend huge sums of money (tax dollars) luring new businesses offering new jobs while at the same time doing nothing to keep existing employers and THEIR employees competitive and productive—no incentives, no tax breaks, no tax credits and no workforce training. Are you ready for more?

Those “top 10 states with the best workforce training programs” generated nearly 30% of our Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2007! The total GDP from these “top ten” totaled $3.8 trillion in 2007—that’s more than Germany’s ($2.9 trillion) and a bit less than Japan’s ($4.9 trillion). Very, VERY impressive!

Storm alert!
Wake up, America! A perfect storm hasn’t just been brewing—it’s been intensifying at a dizzying pace. The skills shortages reported in the industrialized regions of the U.S. are real and dire. The Houston (TX) Business Roundtable projects a 20,000-worker shortage for next year’s maintenance turnarounds along the heavily industrialized Ship Channel. Economically, this should not be a problem: Texas has the second largest GDP in America, comparable to all of Canada—the 10th largest in the world. We also have some of the largest untapped petroleum reserves right here in the northeast, upper Midwest and offshore. Doesn’t matter, though.

Despite financial boom times in our oil and gas industry, even this jewel in our industrial crown is having a difficult time finding skilled machinists, mechanics, rig hands and engineers. Qualified workers in this shrinking pool are going for the highest bid in the U.S. and Canada. What’s next?

Workforce training works!
There is no doubt that workforce training works! It attracts new employers. It generates high-quality jobs. It supports our communities. Consider this: for every job created in the new automotive industry plants cited here, a minimum of four well-paying supplier jobs are being created in the community and the region. Not too shabby.

So, why don’t our educators, politicians and governmental agencies realize how competitive and how productive our states and communities could be if they began “workforce training” in our schools? Why don’t they have “vocational, technical and career education” curricula that address the needs of business and industry? Why do they assume that a child is being “left behind” if he/she is not on a collegebound track? Why do they miss the point that a one- and two-year post secondary tech school is also “college?” Why do they fail to recognize the fact that half of us learn by doing things as part of our education, rather than by academic studies? Why spend tax dollars twice for the same results: educating our population for life, for jobs, for a career?

Just as importantly, why spend money recruiting new businesses and little or no money making our current businesses competitive with “training for continuous improvement” incentives?

In 1983 the U.S. Department of Education published a letter pointing out that “we are a nation at risk” because of the shortcomings of our educational system. We also heard about the “forgotten half ” of high school students who were not being offered the kind of vocational-technical career education learning experiences from which they truly could benefit. The “Global Competitiveness Report” referenced in the July installment of this column points to the weaknesses in our educational and governmental systems.

Let’s take this message to our business leaders, politicians, bureaucrats and educators. Let’s get our education and training programs aligned with the needs of the United States, our businesses and our industries. It all begins with you, our readers, in your plants and in your communities. MT


  1. National Climatic Data Center


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