Archive | February, 2009

212

11:35 pm
February 1, 2009
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Capacity Assurance Marketplace

solution_spotlights_skfVibration Monitoring Technology Customized For Your Applications

SKF’s Microlog Analyzer AX, with simultaneous triaxial or 4-channel vibration measurement capability, speeds up data collection and saves time in monitoring rounds. Its 806 MHz Xscale processor means faster real-time rate and display updates, all viewed on the vivid 6.4″ VGA color display. Users can select from a range of application modules, to suit their individual requirements, and add modules as needs develop. Pre-configured models (AX-M, AX-S and AX-F) also are available with a selection of loaded modules to fit various needs. The Microlog Analyzer AX is compatible with SKF @ptitude Analyst 4.1 or later software.

SKF Reliability Systems
San Diego, CA

For more info, enter 37 at www.MT-freeinfo.com
solution_spotlights_electronic_development_labsEnsure Accuracy Of Your Insulation Resistance Testing

According to Electronic Development Labs (EDL), its Megaohm Validator takes the doubt out of your insulation resistance testing by providing a simple method to ensure insulation resistance testers are operating properly. Measurements with insulation testers in high resistance ranges are often difficult to interpret when problems exist in the unit undergoing testing. Erratic readings caused by polarization, moisture and poor insulation result in faulty analysis and cause doubt in the measurement. This is why verifying the tester and lead performance is vital to understanding the measurement. Lightweight and portable, the Megaohm Validator can be used in the laboratory or field.

Electronic Development Labs, Inc.
Danville, VA

For more info, enter 38 at www.MT-freeinfo.com
solution_spotlights_iotechDynamic Signal Analyzer With Temperature And Voltage Inputs

IOtech has released the USB-based 655u, the latest in the 600 Series of Dynamic Signal Analyzers (DSAs). Offering both temperature and voltage input channels, the 655u is the first DSA in the 600 Series to offer the type of direct temperature measurements that can be a critical part of many vibration analysis and monitoring applications. It also is compatible with IOtech’s eZ-Series software: eZ-TOMAS and eZ-TOMAS Remote for rotating machine analysis, eZ-Analyst for real-time vibration and acoustic analysis, and eZ-Balance for machine balancing (DSA channel support only with eZ Analyst and eZ-Balance).

IOtech
Cleveland, OH

For more info, enter 39 at www.MT-freeinfo.com
solution_spotlights_pumps_2000Efficient, Low-Maintenance AODD Pump Redesign

Pumps 2000 now offers the Dual Diaphragm Pump, the first redesign of the AODD. These low-maintenance units were developed for use in tough Australian mining conditions, where performance and reliability are paramount. They feature patented diaphragms and valves, and air motors that are stall-free and capable of running with low air consumption and no lubrication requirements. Their plastic design is not only lighter than that of earlier units, it helps these pumps resist deterioration even in low-pH locations.

Pumps 2000America/Megator
Pittsburgh, PA

For more info, enter 40 at www.MT-freeinfo.com
solution_spotlights_wahlNew High-Accuracy RTD Thermometers

Wahl has begun offering the DST500 Temperature Indicator and the DSX500 Transmitter Thermometers that are suited to many applications where accurate and reliable temperature monitoring and transmitting are critical. They both feature a 1″ high LCD display that is readable from 30 feet away and are available in a variety of standard and custom-built probe configurations, including MIG standard tapered bulb for drop-in direct MIG replacement and tight-fit installations. According to the manufacturer, a unique Quick Disconnect option allows the user to remove the probe and meter for calibration without removing the permanently installed cable.

Wahl Insruments, Inc.
Asheville, NC

For more info, enter 41 at www.MT-freeinfo.com
The Power Of A DCS For Smaller Plants

Honeywell’s Experion® LS control system provides the power and reliability of a distributed control system (DCS) in a small and flexible solution. It manages all continuous process control applications and optimizes batch and sequence-oriented applications. Scalable from a single PC and controller to multiple stations, it is suited for smaller plants. According to the company, because it requires less engineering effort to configure and is easier to maintain than a PLC or large DCS, Experion LS can help plants save up to $20,000 per year in support per system. Simplified configuration also enables faster and more-reliable changeovers, allowing operators to more easily modify batch recipes and increase production.

Honeywell Process Solutions
Phoenix, AZ

For more info, enter 42 at www.MT-freeinfo.com

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428

6:00 am
February 1, 2009
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Solution Spotlight

solution_spotlight_eatonSolid-State Motor Protection, Control & Advanced Monitoring in a Single Product

Eaton is expanding its motor and load protection solutions with Motor Insight™, the first offering from its Intelligent Power Control Solutions family. According to the manufacturer, Motor Insight delivers improved reliability, uptime, energy savings and safety features with advanced monitoring capabilities and motor protection in a single user-friendly device. Incorporating highly configurable line, load and motor protection, the product provides an enhanced level of system protection, allowing users to configure the type and level of protection required for varied applications. It is designed to meet the demanding conditions of the petrochemical, mining, water and wastewater industries.

Delivering all the bells and whistles
An overload and monitoring relay, Motor Insight features solid-state line, load and motor protection with ground fault detection, power voltage and current monitoring and flexible communications. In addition to allowing adjustments to be made to overload settings without disconnecting power, it also has an enhanced capacity to withstand surges. The device has an IP20 rated terminal block—that minimzes shock hazards—a user interface with a bright Light Emitting Diode (LED) display and easy-to-understand settings. With add-ons, including a remote display and multiple communications adapters, customers are able to choose among a spectrum of protocols, including DeviceNet, Modbus, Probus, and EtherNet/IP, as well as input/output options.

With its robust design, Motor Insight is well suited for operations with high line conditions and poor power quality, and meets the rigorous conditions found in the petrochemical, water, wastewater and mining industries, among others. The product can be used in a wide range of applications, including coal-bed methane well pumps, low-speed mixers, can motor pumps, mag-drive pumps, centrifugal pumps, submersible pumps and belt-driven loads.

Eaton offers Motor Insight in three operating voltage options (including 240, 480, and 600 volts), with a selectable trip class (5-30) and a broad full load amperes (FLA) range of 1-540 amperes. It has two output relays: one form C single pole double throw (SPDT) (fault relay) and one form a single pole single throw (SPST) (ground fault relay). The overload relay includes one external remote reset terminal as well as a trip status indicator.

Motor Insight is Underwriters Laboratories® (UL) listed, Canadian Standards Association® (CSA) certified and meets the National Electrical Manufacturer Association (NEMA) and Conformité Européenne (CE) standards. The device also is Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) compliant. MT

Eaton Corporation
Pittsburgh, PA

For more info, enter 35 at www.MT-freeinfo.com

 

 

Vibration Monitoring Technology Customized For Your Applications
solution_spotlights_skfSKF’s Microlog Analyzer AX, with simultaneous triaxial or 4-channel vibration measurement capability, speeds up data collection and saves time in monitoring rounds. Its 806 MHz Xscale processor means faster real-time rate and display updates, all viewed on the vivid 6.4″ VGA color display. Users can select from a range of application modules, to suit their individual requirements, and add modules as needs develop. Pre-configured models (AX-M, AX-S and AX-F) also are available with a selection of loaded modules to fit various needs. The Microlog Analyzer AX is compatible with SKF @ptitude Analyst 4.1 or later software.

SKF Reliability Systems, San Diego, CA
For more info, enter 37 at www.MT-freeinfo.com

 

Ensure Accuracy Of Your Insulation Resistance Testing
solution_spotlights_electronic_development_labsAccording to Electronic Development Labs (EDL), its Megaohm Validator takes the doubt out of your insulation resistance testing by providing a simple method to ensure insulation resistance testers are operating properly. Measurements with insulation testers in high resistance ranges are often difficult to interpret when problems exist in the unit undergoing testing. Erratic readings caused by polarization, moisture and poor insulation result in faulty analysis and cause doubt in the measurement. This is why verifying the tester and lead performance is vital to understanding the measurement. Lightweight and portable, the Megaohm Validator can be used in the laboratory or field.

Electronic Development Labs, Inc., Danville, VA
For more info, enter 38 at www.MT-freeinfo.com

 

Dynamic Signal Analyzer With Temperature And Voltage Inputs
solution_spotlights_iotechIOtech has released the USB-based 655u, the latest in the 600 Series of Dynamic Signal Analyzers (DSAs). Offering both temperature and voltage input channels, the 655u is the first DSA in the 600 Series to offer the type of direct temperature measurements that can be a critical part of many vibration analysis and monitoring applications. It also is compatible with IOtech’s eZ-Series software: eZ-TOMAS and eZ-TOMAS Remote for rotating machine analysis, eZ-Analyst for real-time vibration and acoustic analysis, and eZ-Balance for machine balancing (DSA channel support only with eZ Analyst and eZ-Balance).

IOtech, Cleveland, OH
For more info, enter 39 at www.MT-freeinfo.com

 

Efficient, Low-Maintenance AODD Pump Redesign
solution_spotlights_pumps_2000Pumps 2000 now offers the Dual Diaphragm Pump, the first redesign of the AODD. These low-maintenance units were developed for use in tough Australian mining conditions, where performance and reliability are paramount. They feature patented diaphragms and valves, and air motors that are stall-free and capable of running with low air consumption and no lubrication requirements. Their plastic design is not only lighter than that of earlier units, it helps these pumps resist deterioration even in low-pH locations.

Pumps 2000America/Megator, Pittsburgh, PA
For more info, enter 40 at www.MT-freeinfo.com

 

New High-Accuracy RTD Thermometers
solution_spotlights_wahlWahl has begun offering the DST500 Temperature Indicator and the DSX500 Transmitter Thermometers that are suited to many applications where accurate and reliable temperature monitoring and transmitting are critical. They both feature a 1″ high LCD display that is readable from 30 feet away and are available in a variety of standard and custom-built probe configurations, including MIG standard tapered bulb for drop-in direct MIG replacement and tight-fit installations. According to the manufacturer, a unique Quick Disconnect option allows the user to remove the probe and meter for calibration without removing the permanently installed cable.

 

Wahl Insruments, Inc., Asheville, NC
For more info, enter 41 at www.MT-freeinfo.com

 

The Power Of A DCS For Smaller Plants
Honeywell’s Experion® LS control system provides the power and reliability of a distributed control system (DCS) in a small and flexible solution. It manages all continuous process control applications and optimizes batch and sequence-oriented applications. Scalable from a single PC and controller to multiple stations, it is suited for smaller plants. According to the company, because it requires less engineering effort to configure and is easier to maintain than a PLC or large DCS, Experion LS can help plants save up to $20,000 per year in support per system. Simplified configuration also enables faster and more-reliable changeovers, allowing operators to more easily modify batch recipes and increase production.

Honeywell Process Solutions, Phoenix, AZ
For more info, enter 42 at www.MT-freeinfo.com

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189

6:00 am
February 1, 2009
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Putting Hurricane-Ravaged Operations Back In Business

hurricane-ravaged-operations

As storms go, last year’s Hurricane Ike was a particularly nasty one. On September 5th, 2008, Ike was a Category 4, packing winds of up to 145 miles per hour and carrying the potential to cause the highest storm surge in history. Thankfully, by the time he made his ? nal landfall at Baytown, TX, in the early morning hours of September 13, he had dropped to a Category 2. Still, over the course of his long, deadly rampage—which is said to have resulted in 112 confirmed deaths and 34 missing in the United States—Ike left almost 30-billion dollars of destruction in his wake. Today, this hurricane ranks as the third costliest ever to have hit the U.S. Recovering from it has not been easy for anybody or any company with the misfortune to have been in this monster’s path. That includes some of the Texas Gulf Coast’s prized process industries, where, true to form, Ike showed very little mercy.

Around the Texas “Golden Triangle” region of Beaumont, Port Arthur and Orange, Ike’s storm surge caused at least six petrochemical plants and two refineries to completely shut down. Before they could start up again, significant repairs had to be made and most machinery rebuilt— practically every piece of rotating equipment in these facilities was ruined.

A massive challenge
The maintenance teams at these eight sites faced a particularly daunting challenge in getting their operations back up and running as quickly as possible: They had to deal with thousands of pumps, motors, drives, gearboxes and steam turbines that had been submerged in salt water for a period of 12-24 hours. With that amount of saltwater exposure, not much was salvageable.

Lost production due to their unscheduled shutdowns would clearly cost these plants vast amounts of money and—in the case of the refinery operations—help lead to stiff price increases for consumers. That couldn’t be tolerated for very long. Thus, managers of these eight shut-down facilities, working closely with maintenance teams brought in from operations across North America, decided that the best way to get their equipment up and running was to completely rebuild everything with new parts—which would give the equipment the same specifications as new. If something could not be rebuilt, it would be replaced with a totally new item.

With its ability to repair, rebuild and/or replace as a single-source supplier, Flowserve Solutions Division (FSD) was retained to help return these sites to operation. FSD immediately began sending in personnel and shipping out damaged machinery to repair facilities across North America for cleaning, sandblasting, painting and replacing all internal parts with brand new as detailed— whatever it took.

Interestingly, at this point, the damaged facilities decided that as long as the equipment had to be taken apart, it would be a good time to install bearing isolators in units that didn’t already have them. So, when it came to repairing, rebuilding or replacing their pumps, motors and steam turbines, no matter what sealing method was previously used (lip, contact, face, dual face), it was specified that they be replaced with bearing isolators. If bearing isolators had previously been installed on the equipment, they were to be replaced with new ones. If any of this equipment was to be replaced in full, bearing isolators were to be included.

Even under normal circumstances, responding to the demand for thousands of in-stock bearing isolators in such a short period of time would not be easy for a supplier. However, the urgency and scope of these particular Gulf Coast projects would make fulfillment far more difficult. That’s because off-the-shelf products could not be used. Each device was to be produced as a custom order for a specific piece of machinery. When the plants and refineries checked into it, they found that Inpro/Seal was the only company in the world that would be able to manufacture and deliver the necessary quantity of these special-order bearing isolators in the specified timeframe. And it did—overnight, by providing same-day shipping in almost all instances.

The value of overnight delivery
To understand the situation in Texas, some background information on bearing isolators is in order. Thirty years ago, in his quest to find a positive, permanent means to protect bearings while enhancing and extending the service life of rotating equipment, David Orlowski developed the world’s first bearing isolator—a unique, compound labrynth seal comprised of a unitized rotor and stator that do not contact each other. He patented the device in 1977, the same year he founded Inpro/Seal, coining the term “bearing isolator” in the process.

Prior to the advent of the bearing isolator, bearing protection was limited to contacting seals such as lip and face seals that carried (and still do) short, unpredictable service lives—often as few as 1000 hours. With their 100% failure rate, two things end users truly could count on were catastrophic equipment failure and downtime.

From day one, Inpro/Seal realized the importance of fast delivery. As he had operated a successful pump repair business before inventing the bearing isolator, Orlowski knew that when it came to vital parts, very few plants could wait until “tomorrow.” That’s especially true if you’re a shut-down process plant—and your downtime costs run as high as $87,000 per hour.

Evidently, Inpro/Seal’s commitment to quality products and fast delivery has helped make a difference down in the Texas Golden Triangle. As of January 1, the eight hurricane-ravaged petrochemical and refinery operations described in this article were back online. MT


Rock LaBove, a regional manager for the Inpro/Seal, is based in Nederland, TX where he supervises the company’s operations on the Texas Gulf Coast. A 20-year employee with Inpro/Seal, LaBove, like all of the company’s regional managers, is specially trained in tribology, rotating equipment, bearing protection and process know-how. Telephone: (409) 626-4537; e-mail; rick@inpro-seal.com

For more info, enter 4 at www.MT-freeinfo.com

inproseal_flowserve_alliance

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224

6:00 am
February 1, 2009
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The Fundamentals: Fundamental Solutions

kadent_johnson1Improved Rotary Joint for Steam and Hot Oil

Kadant Johnson Inc. has redesigned its self-supported EL (Extended Life) series rotary joint line to offer easier handling, fewer components and optimized seal geometry for thermal oil applications.

According to the manufacturer, these enhancements make this product one of the most technologically advanced rotary joints for demanding applications in the plastics, chemical and converting industries. The EL rotary joint is available in sizes from 2″ to 12″ and is rated up to 650 F, 425 psig and 200 RPM. The union can be used with steam and thermal oil applications. It is available with a rotating or stationary syphon pipe and in single- or dual-flow configurations.

Kadant Johnson
Three Rivers, MI

For more info, enter 261 at www.MT-freeinfo.com
quality_bearings_componentsLocking Collar & Set Screw Pillow Blocks

Quality Bearings Components (QBC) announces new pillow blocks featuring both locking collar and set screw types. Identified as the BBXBLKHCP…and BBXBLK-UCP… Series, they are made of cast iron housings, solid base dual seal type pillow blocks and are designed to fit shafts ranging from 1/2″ to 3-1/2″ in diameter.

The height from the bottom of the unit to the shaft centerline ranges from 1-3/16″ to 4″. These standard duty units incorporate one lubrication fitting and their use is said to make machinery efficient, more functional and safer. In addition to a variety of other bearings, shafting and linear motion products, QBC also offers on-site relubing of bearings in a certified class 1000 clean room.

Quality Bearings Components
Garden City Park, NY

For more info, enter 262 at www.MT-freeinfo.com

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250

6:00 am
February 1, 2009
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Saving Time & Money By Automating Maintenance Documentation

The vast amount of diagnostic data produced by today’s smart field devices can be a very important source for accurate documentation of maintenance activities. But the sheer volume and complexity of such information can be daunting and difficult for maintenance personnel to manage. What’s needed is an effective means of compiling and organizing the data for day-to-day utilization by your staff, while preserving and recording significant events for future reference. That’s the successful approach two Iowa chemical operations are taking these days.

saving-time-and-money

For example, at the big Monsanto herbicide plant in Muscatine, Joel Holmes, site tactical reliability engineer, not only copes with large amounts of field-generated data, he turns that information to his advantage in a number of ways. For example, he has begun to utilize the Alert Messenger™ application with Emerson’s AMS® Suite: Intelligent Device Manager predictive maintenance software, to filter field device “alerts”and auto-generate e-mail messages to responsible individuals in the plant maintenance group. In this way, the most important issues are identified and handled quickly without individual technicians spending a lot of time each week reviewing accumulated alerts within the alert monitor list.

“My ultimate goal,” Holmes says, “is to fully integrate these alerts with our SAP computerized maintenance management system to generate work orders as needed. That will give us true automation from the time a field device begins to show signs of reduced performance until a work order is printed out in the maintenance department and a technician is dispatched to the scene. We’re working toward that solution right now!”

A big bang for the buck
Holmes cites a predictive maintenance program aimed at critical control valves as another area where field-generated data is providing a “big bang for the buck.” This program is fully installed in a loop-intensive, continuous process where it is very important to maintain optimum performance on some 30 critical control valves.

“We take a hard look at valve travel deviation and drive signal alerts by examining the diagnostics produced by digital valve controllers (DVCs) attached to these valves,” Holmes explains. “If a valve travel deviation exceeds five percent for five seconds, an AMS alert is activated, and we initiate an SAP maintenance work order to execute our control valve PM procedure. A field evaluation of the control valve is conducted followed by a series of scans and tests, citing “as found/as left” findings. These results can then be compared to benchmark valve performance results from when the valve assembly was last serviced or newly installed. In this way, we can confirm whether the valve has significant issues with packing leaks, increased travel friction, worn seat or trim, etc. Or, maybe the DVC simply needs to be calibrated due to normal valve wear.”

According to Holmes, potential problems are often identified and corrective action can be taken before operators are aware that anything is amiss. In addition to the assurance that these critical valves are delivering top performance, benefits of this program include increased plant availability and lower maintenance costs because most faults are caught before they can evolve into problems requiring major repairs and/or costly process interruptions and downtime.

Maintenance histories
When field data are properly acquired and managed, the documents needed to verify the accuracy and periodic calibration of field instruments can be produced very easily. Such documentation is essential in highly critical processes like pharmaceutical production, to verify the accuracy of device measurements, show that plant effluents meet environmental standards, or support ISO applications.

Equipment history cards have long been used to keep maintenance personnel informed about field devices—but maintaining these histories manually is difficult and time-consuming. There’s always pressure to do something else; handwritten entries can be impossible for another person to read; and errors are common.

Still, maintaining accurate records is a high priority in most maintenance departments, and technology can help. With the development of open communication protocols, the information accumulated by smart field devices can be captured by asset management software. It’s no longer necessary for technicians to carry handheld communicators or laptops into the plant to evaluate the condition of instruments, some of which are quite inaccessible or in hazardous areas, to be followed by manually documenting test results and current device status.

An application like the AMS Device Manager compiles a database of every smart instrument used for process control, including its design parameters, original configuration, maintenance history and current operating condition. With this online tool, technicians can obtain up-to-date information on any device without ever leaving the instrument shop—and they never have to make manual entries back into a system. Every event is recognized and recorded, whether initiated by a technician or caused by an external force such as an equipment breakdown or power failure.

Audit trails
To generate documents based on the total history of a device or group of devices in the system, end-users can call upon an application like the AMS Device Manager Audit Trail. This capability works in the background to automatically create a history of past device performance and changes that have occurred. Since all records are date- and time-stamped, users can easily determine when and by whom a particular device was changed or tested, including “as found/as left” notations. With this information in a database that cannot be edited, it should never be necessary for technicians to spend time searching for historical information on a device. Since events can also be recorded manually, users can document unusual occurrences affecting the entire plant, such as a lightning strike or power outage, or individual events like device inspections.

Users can refer to recorded alerts to identify any devices that have been problematic over time and what corrective steps may have been taken previously. Automated documentation provides a seamless record of events in a given production area, including communication failures, device malfunctions and process variables that are out of range. Armed with this information, maintenance personnel are better equipped to understand and resolve nagging repetitive issues to improve the process.

One Audit Trail user, Jody Minor, E&I reliability specialist at LyondellBasell’s Clinton, IA, plant says: “If there is an issue, or if we are experiencing a rash of issues, we can go back into the records and get a sense of what’s been going on over time. You can search by a specific device or by location. For example, if I have a transmitter that failed and needs to be replaced, I can see the whole history for that device, or I can look at the history of the location. Checking the location lets me look for a trend indicating a problem beyond a failed device. The instrument may need to be reconfigured or re-ranged. In this way, Audit Trail can actually contribute to improving the process.”

Keeping track of device configuration changes is a key function. The tabular format enables users to review all configuration changes or focus on specific events. When it is necessary to reconfigure a device, everything done to that device in the past can be viewed, enabling the technician to install new parameters if necessary. The configuration records can also be used to help meet process safety requirements. A report showing the calibration history of any given device or group of devices can be printed at the same time.

Device comparisons are also possible with the Audit Trail capability. Users can compare the current configuration and operating status of any two devices in the database. Or, they can go back and review the past parameters in effect at a previous time. Such comparisons can be useful in determining devices that may not be performing at a desired level and finding out why. As always, easy access to device status information saves time.

“I frequently use Audit Trail when questions are brought to me about the reliability of a device or how a control is working,” Minor says. “If an operator has a question about the operation of a given device, I can check it out very quickly from my office. Even if an alert has not been raised, I can learn if the device’s performance is lagging and often determine what’s wrong. This is very helpful and saves a lot of walking and climbing in a big plant.”

Other resources
Two other features broaden the utility of the Audit Trail application. The Drawing and Notes feature launches a blank MS Word or Excel file where users can embed links to Webpages, photos and other documentation. It also allows them to type in their own notes so others can use them during troubleshooting. The Generic Application Launcher feature also can be used to link/launch into an existing database of historical data, such as calibration data that was recorded at an earlier time.

Use of an automated document generator like Audit Trail allows maintenance supervisors to customize their own accurate, up-to-date documents. Depending on the size of your plant, this can save hundreds of man hours that can be put to effective use elsewhere. In many cases, documentation time is cut in half, explaining why there are more than 3000 Audit Trail users worldwide. Still, the flexibility of this application gives maintenance managers the ability to customize documents to reflect exactly what they need to report. MT


Eric Snyder is a business development manager for Emerson Process Management, focusing on Plant Asset Management products and services for North America.

For more info, enter 3 at www.MT-freeinfo.com

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182

6:00 am
February 1, 2009
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Lubrication Checkup: What Hurts?

lubrication-checkupThere are a number of undisputable truths every capacity assurance professional must learn if they are, in fact, to assure an acceptable level of equipment reliability, uptime and availability. One of those truths states:

Approximately 70% of mechanical failures are directly or indirectly attributable to poor or ineffective lubrication practices.

Simply put, “we kill bearings,” albeit with the best of intentions! The problem with lubrication is that it is almost always thought of and practiced in the simplest of all terms. Old adages like “oil is oil, so any oil will do,” or “a little lube is good, so a lot is better” may have run true when we were predominantly an agrarian society in the late 1800s to early 1900s—but that’s certainly not the case in today’s world.

The supposedly simple act of greasing a bearing seems so intuitive, yet hardly anyone I question is able to tell me what pressure his/her grease gun is able to deliver, or how much lubricant it dispenses per stroke. Most grease gun operators are actually unaware that virtually every grease gun is manufactured to a different specification! That’s a real problem given the fact that so many PM task instructions merely state, “lubricate as necessary.” Since we can calculate the amount of lubricant necessary for differing conditions of bearing use, there should be no excuse for killing machinery through over- or under-lubrication.

With so much of our plant equipment reliability based on effective lubrication practices, it behooves us to closely examine our lubrication strategies. The best part of effective lubrication is that we not only put in place an instant reliability and energy management program—we can do it for virtually no capital outlay!

Going forward, I invite you to participate in this unique, interactive “Lubrication Checkup” forum. Please e-mail doctorlube@atpnetwork.com with your lubrication management questions, tips and concerns. I look forward to discussing them in future installments of this column. MT


Dr. Lube, aka Ken Bannister, specializes in helping companies throughout industry implement practical and successful lubrication management programs. The noted author of the best-selling book Lubrication for Industry and of the 28th edition Machinery’s Handbook section on Lubrication, he also is, among other things, a contributing editor to both Maintenance Technology and Lubrication Management & Technology magazines

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276

6:00 am
February 1, 2009
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Toward Better Shutdowns: Approaches For Improved Turnarounds

better-shutdowns

Switching off a process plant and equipment to inspect and service it in accordance with safety requirements, then starting everything back up again is no simple matter. The good news is that with running times in today’s process plants having been considerably extended, shutdowns and turnarounds (TARs) are being performed less often than in the past. The bad news is that when a scheduled shutdown/turnaround does take place, more tasks must be carried out during the event than might have been required previously. Effective planning, clearly, is crucial.

Management usually is preoccupied with planning and preparing the downtime long before it is scheduled to occur. In fact, this stage of the undertaking, required by law, takes up considerably more time than the actual event. There is so much to consider, however—which poses so many opportunities for things to be underestimated or missed.

On top of the standard inspection, maintenance and repairs that are to be conducted during the shutdown and TAR, other value-enhancing projects may have to be carried out, including, for example, capacity expansion or the replacement of complete machine components. The scope and complexity have increased, too, because a TAR project usually combines multiple asset groups. The number of employees involved rises with the size of the plant and the number of separate projects that have to be completed in the shortest timeframe possible. Whereas a maximum of 600 might have been normal just a few years ago, nowadays, up to 1000 personnel may work on a TAR, including plant staff, contract firms and subcontractors.

With this comes a process that must incorporate a careful gate-keeping element. The rigor around gate-keeping is driven by a predetermined business process map that meets the requirements to deliver a world-class shutdown at the most optimal cost. The business map and timeline, along with gate-keeping of all the elements that need to be managed throughout the course of the TAR is critical to success.

High costs, but great savings potential
The costs incurred by a shutdown and turnaround are substantial. First of all, the plant owner or operator loses sizable sums through the plant downtime. The large number of personnel needed also swallows up significant sums. Each unscheduled hour of the shutdown increases the costs exponentially.

The challenge for management is to plan between 10 and 150,000 individual tasks with the optimum usage of all necessary resources such as personnel and equipment in a way that the duration of the shutdown can be kept to a minimum and resources can be used effectively to meet the requirements of the whole project. In individual cases, this can mean that particular resources are only used to 50% capacity. In the attempt to find a balance between resource costs and the entire task duration, planners frequently make the serious mistake of roughly basing the shutdown duration or costs on values from past shutdowns. In the case of smaller, easily manageable downtimes, this approach poses few problems. However, with more complex TAR projects, it usually results in targets not being reached. About half of all shutdown projects are delayed by more than 20%, about 80% of such endeavors go over budget by more than 10%. In some cases, the work scope increases unexpectedly by up to 50%.

Professional risk management vs. positive thinking
That the goals set by project management are frequently not fulfilled is not only the fault of the complexity of the project. It is due also to the fact that turnaround projects are characteristically subject to constantly changing conditions. The success of a TAR project is often dependent on unpredictable factors. Either employees find the equipment to be in a state that deviates from the original assumptions, or it becomes evident that the time and resource requirements for individual work processes were estimated inaccurately at the planning stage. These are just a few of the many risk factors which can cause well-intentioned plans to fail.

In order to overcome this particular challenge, planning and risk management must be as realistic as possible. Risk management can be understood as a formalized process to deal with risks that serve to identify and evaluate critical areas. Contrary to the attitude often popular to management following the motto “we’ll manage it somehow,” this new planning approach takes into account that the length of time needed to complete particular jobs cannot be precisely predicted in advance. That means expected risks are built in to the project plan with flexible dimensions (minimum and maximum resource usage/ requirements) and are calculated in terms of their impact.

The human factor
A further approach to an innovative planning management of TAR projects is the so-called critical chain. Expanding on well-known critical path methods for computing schedules, the concept of the critical chain focuses more closely on the human factor. In other words, this approach is based on the assumption that estimates and plans and their execution are carried out by people and not computers. Therefore, it is to be expected that when staff, for example, estimate the duration of jobs, they will always include a time buffer as a precaution. Generally, this type of buffer is used to the limit during implementation—even when no actual problems occur (Parkinson’s Law). Consequently, the possibility of ending a task earlier than scheduled is excluded from the outset in many projects. The common aim is to finish projects punctually and on time—not to finish them as early as possible or before the scheduled time.

Another pattern that is revealed in conventional planning is that of multi-tasking. For example, according to a plan, one work crew will be allocated to three different pieces of equipment over three consecutive days. Yet, because all three equipment groups already are experiencing difficulties in meeting the schedule, each of the three coordinators urgently demands their crews to do more than originally planned. The result is inefficient multi-tasking, with time being wasted as the teams readjust to each new activity. Furthermore, the possibility that at least one of the jobs could be finished earlier is also ruled out.

Many planners fail to adequately consider these demands because they operate merely in a static rather than a dynamic time and resource optimization mode. This is not only true for the advance planning of a TAR; in the execution phase, project leaders frequently neglect to dynamically recalculate the schedules that were created—with a lot of effort—through use of a project planning tool. Instead, rescheduling often takes place by hand on a drawing board.

The time-cost-tradeoff approach
A project plan with optimum costs and evenly allocated resources can be realized in two steps.

  • First, the relation between time and costs must be optimized. In this initial step, the respective durations are set for each of the jobs and tasks and for the whole shutdown with the goal of keeping costs as low as possible.
  • Second, a time-cost curve is applied to calculate and illustrate the combinations that, on the one hand, could lead to a reduction in the overall project duration, while on the other hand keep additional costs to a minimum. Building on this, the second step deals with resource allocation: the main aim is to link all required jobs in such a way that all resources involved are optimally utilized throughout the shutdown. This can be achieved by moving non-critical jobs to the end, i.e. jobs that do not have a designated start time and do not influence the completion of other tasks and thus the overall completion date.

The result is a critical path focusing on resources that takes the philosophy of the critical chain into account.

To ensure the project is completed on time and to reduce the risk of delays in specific processes, the precautionary time buffers normally built into each scheduled task duration are removed and bundled at the end of the chain. What does that actually mean time-wise? How long are the buffers that have been incorporated into each step of the project—and can they be removed?

The comparison of project plans and current data on completed turnarounds and shutdowns shows that a large part of the estimated duration can be seen as safety buffers. Such a buffer now serves the whole project and creates the needed flexibility, so jobs that are finished early or those that are delayed end up balancing each other out. In addition, this method ensures that built-in reserves are not wasted but rather are of benefit to the whole project cycle. An example of the TAR optimization process is shown in the accompanying sidebar. MT


Larry Olson is operations director for T.A. Cook Consultants Inc., headquartered in Raleigh, NC. Telephone: (919) 510-8142; e-mail: l.olson@tacook.com

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6:00 am
February 1, 2009
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For On The Floor: The Downturn And You

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Rick Carter, Executive Editor

You’ve seen the numbers: the U.S. jobless rate at 7.6% (as of January) and 2.6 million jobs lost in 2008, nearly 800,000 of them in manufacturing. Many of those jobs disappeared from states long associated with manufacturing and where state-wide unemployment levels are running higher than the national average: Michigan, California, Illinois and Ohio, for example. States in the Southeast have been hit hard, too, especially South Carolina, which not only has higher-than-average unemployment, but also recorded the biggest jump in unemployment (with Indiana) from November to December (1.1% each).

If you’re reading this, you’re probably not one of these sobering statistics. But in this avalanche of a downturn, few businesses are untouched, and yours has probably been affected in some way.

At least that’s the word from some individuals on Maintenance Technology’s new Reader Panel. We created this Panel to provide us with timely, regular feedback on the critical issues that impact today’s capacity assurance professionals. The column you’re reading—For On the Floor— is our way of sharing what we’ve learned with all of our readers. Look for it to deliver some of the most insightful of the responses we receive in alternating issues of this publication.

The first question we posed to our Panelists was: “In what ways has the economic downturn affected your job, your company and you personally?” Here are some of their observations.

Shifting job duties
“The economic downturn/recession has caused a major shift in my job duties,” says a recently hired maintenance planner in the Midwest. As workers at his plant have had to do more with less, the duties of trainer, data processor and researcher have been added to his own, newly created position. He speaks highly of his employer and fellow workers, noting the company’s numerous programs designed to not only improve productivity, but improve worker retention. With his ability to plan ahead reduced, however, he believes a critical shift in importance is taking place. “The importance in this company now,” he says, “is on cost and cutting overhead.”

In the Southeast, a maintenance supervisor says the downturn has affected his company “dramatically,” and in a number of ways. Not only do “new technology businesses face a shortage of venture-capital funding,” he says, but “the economic downturn in our area exacerbates the already difficult task of training and retaining technically competent staff.” He explains that because his company’s manufacturing process depends on a new, sophisticated technology, the pool of qualified applicants that meet even a minimal requirement is small. Adding to this difficulty, he continues, is the fact that “job opportunities in our geographic area are primarily to replace retiring technical maintenance staff from employers that usually pay well and have good benefits.”

This Panel member says his company is also “finding it hard to forge relationships with business partners due to the uncertain retail environment they face.” And, without capital for large-scale production equipment purchases, his operations are constantly having to come up with economical alternatives such as retrofits and modifications to existing equipment. Consequently, he’s spending more time on equipment fabrication or modification, technical training and reactive maintenance instead of preventive maintenance and other longer-term activities.

Ongoing skills crisis
The ongoing challenge of finding qualified workers, worsened by the downturn, was on the mind of a West Coast-based industry consultant.”My clients have suffered because of the downturn and they’re cutting back on manpower,” he says. This decision, he thinks, will be exaggerated for them when they want to go out and hire somebody. “Where are they going to find experienced people?” he asks.

The consultant calls this skills crisis a “progressive problem” because of a rapidly aging workforce that he estimates accounts for as much as 70% of the employment pool in some areas. “When they retire and disappear, they’ll walk out the door with corporate memory and expertise,” he says. “So there’s a double-edged sword here. One edge is having to deal with the financial climate itself, while the other is that in the race to become lean and mean, long-term manpower shortages are being created” that will only make the financial crisis worse.

Another consultant with expertise in steelmaking and the nuclear industry says that the slowdown of business among his steel clients—including the shuttering of a large steel plant—has made it more difficult for him to grow his own business. Unable to hire and develop new people, the consultant “won’t be laying anyone off,” he says, “but the downturn has made us essentially a one-industry company, probably to mid-year.”

Not all gloom and doom
There still are some bright spots among our Panelists. A maintenance technician in the Northeast, for example, says he has experienced no impact from the downturn in his job. And from South America, a senior mechanical engineer tells us that despite scattered layoffs at his company, he has not been personally affected by the downturn. Still, he notes that his company has intensified its cost-cutting efforts by reviewing supplier contracts, especially those involving energy and oil. “In the future, I don’t know,” he says. “If the economy continues the same way, I think all will be affected.” MT


What’s on your mind? Have questions or comments on what you’ve just read in this column? We want to hear from you. E-mail: rcarter@atpnetwork.com

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