Archive | March, 2009


6:00 am
March 1, 2009
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The Green Edge

ASSE Standard Project to Protect Green Workers


The American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) recently announced a new A10 Accredited Standards Committee (ASC) standard project to protect the safety and health of workers involved in construction and demolition operations for wind generation/turbine facilities, known as the “American National Standard for the Safe Construction and Demolition of Wind Generation/Turbine Facilities” (A10.21-20xx).

“The committee decided to develop this standard because of the national emphasis on green energy, recognizing that thousands of these ‘green’ structures are going to be built and as such present challenging safety and health issues,” A10 Committee Chair Richard King said.

Ryan J. Jacobson, P.E., manager of wind energy services for Black & Veatch, will serve as the subgroup chair and Walter A. Jones, M.S., associate director, occupational safety and health for Laborers’ Health & Safety Fund of North America, will serve as the A10.21 liaison.

Safety and health issues the A10.21 subgroup will address include working at heights, mechanical assembly of large components, medium voltage electrical safety and working in exposed environments. The subgroup will cite and recognize other existing voluntary national consensus standards in the development process. Major construction on a wind project as well as major activities also will be considered.

ASSE serves as the secretariat for the A10 Accredited Standards Committee on construction and demolition operations. The A10 standards serve as guides to contractors, labor and equipment manufacturers in the construction and demolition industry.

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100%-Recycled Industrial Absorbent

0309-green-edge2Kadant GranTek has enhanced its environmentally friendly granular product offerings with its latest fiber-based absorbent. Gran-sorb industrial absorbent is made from 100% recycled post-consumer paper waste and used for spill cleanup, liquid stabilization, bioremediation and site remediation, among other industrial absorbent uses. This environmentally responsible product absorbs oils, solvents, lubricants, coolants, water and most non-aggressive liquids on contact. While traditional clay-based absorbents are dusty, dirty, have relatively low absorption rates and respiratory drawbacks, Gran-sorb is dust- and silica-free, leaves no stains, cleans up quickly, has low ash content and is safe for disposal by incineration. Additionally, because Gran-sorb is created using fibrous sludge waste from select paper mills, it is safe for both the environment and employee use. It has a weight-to-weight absorbency of one-to-one, meaning 30 lbs. of Gran-sorb will absorb 30 lbs. (or four gallons) of oil. Gran-sorb is available in 30 lb. poly bags, 65 bags per pallet and 1430 bags per palletized truckload.

Kadant GranTek Inc.,
a subsidiary of Kadant Inc.
Green Bay, WI

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ExxonMobil Increases Global Cogeneration Capacity

ExxonMobil recently inaugurated its newest high efficiency cogeneration plant at its Antwerp refinery in Belgium. According to the company, this facility is more efficient than many traditional cogeneration plants because of its heat recovery system. In addition to generating steam, the cogeneration facility utilizes heat created in the gas-turbine exhaust to heat crude oil, the initial step in the process of converting crude oil into refined products. It will generate 125 megawatts and reduce Belgium’s carbon dioxide emissions by approximately 200,000 tonnes per year, the equivalent of removing about 90,000 cars from Europe’s roads.

“This new cogeneration plant allows for the efficient generation of electricity to run pumps, compressors and other equipment in our facilities, while at the same time, producing additional steam that is needed in processes that transform crude oil into refined products,” said Gilbert Asselman, manager of the Antwerp refinery. “With the latest technology, cogeneration is significantly more efficient than traditional methods of producing steam and power separately. This results in lower operating costs and significantly less greenhouse gas emissions.”

With the launch of the Antwerp facility, ExxonMobil now has interests in about 4600 megawatts of cogeneration capacity in about 100 individual installations at more than 30 sites worldwide. Additional new facilities under construction in Singapore and China will increase ExxonMobil’s cogeneration capacity to more than 5000 megawatts in the next three years.

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6:00 am
March 1, 2009
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Solution Spotlight: Capturing Savings Through Bearing Reconditiong

NSK rolls out the type of program that helps end users cut costs without sacrificing quality and performance.


No industry is immune to the current economic climate. Businesses across all sectors are evaluating every dollar they spend these days. Because bearings are so critical in industrial applications, they are an ideal place to explore cost-reduction opportunities. Reconditioning of bearings to eliminate the need for costly replacement and reduce downtime is such an opportunity. Utilizing a reconditioning program also means that customers don’t have to worry about long lead times that can sometimes be associated with the purchase of new bearings.

“Bearing reconditioning is a precise science that provides superior results in extending the life of existing bearings and eliminating the need to discard or replace valuable parts,” says NSK Segment Manager Donald Robertson. “Bearings reconditioned by NSK are just as reliable and perform just as well as their new counterparts, which makes them a cost-effective option for our customers seeking to reduce replacement costs.”

Real-world results
According to NSK, its recently rolled-out reconditioning program is generating significant savings for customers. For instance, after being contacted by a global paper company to help with the cost-saving efforts at a Michigan mill, the NSK program helped save the company more than $75,000. NSK was also able to help the customer track and monitor the bearings during the reconditioning process—things that helped generate even more efficiencies for the mill.

How the NSK program works
Bearing damage can result from many factors—including incorrect lubrication, improper installation, misalignment, excessive heat and vibration—all of which are daily challenges in industrial operations. Under a typical reconditioning program arrangement, NSK will inspect customer bearings and provide a detailed inspection report along with the reconditioning quote. Working with NSK, customers are then able to proactively identify and correct issues that may be causing the bearing damage and thereby reduce future unexpected downtime.

For multiple sites within a company, NSK can assist in establishing a shared program for reconditioning. Shared programs can help relieve excess inventories, cut costs and provide shorter lead times for all sites. LMT

NSK Corporation
Ann Arbor, MI

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6:00 am
March 1, 2009
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From Our Perspective: In These Trying Times, YOU Really Are The Boss


Ken Bannister, Contributing Editor

One of the most common emotions I encounter out in the workplace these days is fear—mostly fear of the unknown One of the most common emotions I encounter out in the workplace these days is fear—mostly fear of the unknown in an uncertain economic climate. When speaking with maintenance and reliability professionals, especially those not eligible for (or unable to afford) retirement, they often ask me what can be done to better prepare for the potential reality of job loss/job search occurrence.

I maintain that we are ALL self-employed to some degree. This means that you are in control of where you work, when you come to work and how hard you work. You have set up a mutually binding contract with an organization that has agreed to pay you a defined amount of compensation in return for carrying out a defined scope of work on a daily basis. Your employer is your #1 customer. As long as that customer feels he/ she/it is receiving value, and you, the supplier, feel you are receiving adequate compensation, the relationship will remain in balance. As soon as that balance changes on either side, however, YOU become vulnerable.

Ironically, there are many jobs available in downturn economies—and employers complain mightily about finding the right people to fill them. Because prospective employers are likely to be very selective in their hiring during times like these, you must start to think entrepreneurially and “reframe” yourself differently from other potential applicants. Once you have come to terms with the idea of possible job loss, open your mind, assess your current position and prepare for a life-changing event by following these five easy steps:

  1. Take on the mindset that you are now self-employed and execute work as if you were being paid by a customer based on your performance. Develop a sense of customer relations and make an effort to understand your customers’ needs and how they like to be served. If the people around you like and respect you, they will forgive small errors and be willing to furnish a reference if and when needed.
  2. Establish a difference between you and other employees in your workplace by developing a unique and innovative approach to work. Potential employers are more interested in “how YOU personally made a difference,” rather than “what you did” in your last position. Document any of your past suggestions that benefited the company. Meanwhile, keep a diary of work performed and record any innovative approach or suggestion for improvement that you make.
  3. Enhance your professional development by subscribing to industry publications and learning about new technologies, philosophies and tools. Try to attend events like our upcoming information-packed Maintenance & Reliability Technology Summit (MARTS). Build a case for your participation by noting how this type of educational experience could facilitate improvements within your plant. Sometimes, you may want to self-invest by offering to donate some vacation time for the event or to cover some of your expenses—not unlike a self-employed person.
  4. Build up your credentials through respected certifications, such as that of a CMRP (Certified Maintenance and Reliability Professional) or CLS (Certified Lubrication Specialist).
  5. Keep an updated resume handy. It should focus on what makes you different and more hirable than others looking for that elusive new job.

With your newfound confidence and approach to work, you may choose to use this downturn to find a new, more satisfying job. After all, YOU really are the boss. Good luck! LMT

Ken Bannister is lead partner & principal consultant for Engtech Industries, Inc. Phone: (519) 469-9273; e-mail:

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6:00 am
March 1, 2009
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Maintenance Log: Troubleshooting A Nuke Power Station’s Valve Problems with Acoustic Emission

Failure is not an option for most plants, but even more so if you’re talking about the emergency cooling system of a nuclear power-gen operation.

Wolf Creek Nuclear Generating Station in Burlington, KS, operates a single pressurized water reactor to produce a rated electrical output of about 1150 megawatts. If normal reactor coolant system circulation is lost, the plant’s safety injection pumps draw borated water from pressurized accumulators and pump it into the reactor. The boron stops the nuclear reaction and the water cools the reactor.

maintenace-logThe accumulators are kept pressurized to 650 psi by a nitrogen blanket, so the borated water becomes saturated with nitrogen. Any decrease in pressure causes the gas to come out of solution. Voids of gas in the suction piping for the safety injection pumps can cause those pumps to malfunction.

Technical Specification Surveillance Requirement requires that Emergency Core Cooling System (ECCS) piping be verified full of water once every 31 days. A combination of ultrasonic testing (UT) and/or venting is used to ensure that the piping in the ECCS pump casings and accessible discharge piping high points are full of water.

The problem
During the January 2, 2008, performance of this surveillance test procedure, the guidance for maximum vent times was not met. The operators vented 110 seconds of air from a vent valve between Safety Injection Pump A and the Reactor Cooling System—110 seconds is significantly greater than the guidance of two seconds outlined in the procedure. A condition report was written for Engineering to evaluate the potential impacts on system operability. Testing of the void gas indicated 99.4% nitrogen


To see if there were other voids of gas in the piping, 105 locations on the discharge and suction sides of ECCS pumps were inspected using UT. On January 10, voids exceeding the industry-accepted value of 5% were discovered in the piping between the safety injection pump suctions and residual heat removal (RHR) discharge for both trains. The suction-side void gas was determined to be air, with minor amounts of hydrogen. Both trains of ECCS were declared inoperable. The operators shut down the unit on January 11, 2008.

Wolf Creek’s plant manager and Plant Safety Review Committee commissioned an Incident Investigation Team to examine the causes behind this event. The event included the intrusion of nitrogen in the safety injection pump discharge piping and the accumulation of entrapped air in safety injection pump/centrifugal charging pump (CCP) recirculation phase suction piping. The scope of the investigation included:

• Root cause determination of the initiating event, any related pre-events and extent of condition findings;
• Investigation of organizational performance regarding Leak Detection Services’ (LDS) capacity to have recognized the vulnerabilities of ECCS voiding;
• Review the design of systems for venting effectiveness;
• Review of precursor signs (i.e. Safety Injection Accumulator inventory); and
• Sensitivity of the organization to gas intrusion.

The fix
During the troubleshooting phase, LDS® was used to determine where the gas voiding was originating. About 30 air-operated valves and several check valves were identified as possible sources of the gas intrusion. Dismantling and internally inspecting all of those valves would have taken time and resulted in an unnecessary dose of radiation for the maintenance personnel. To pinpoint the actual problem, all valves were tested with LDS’ acoustic emission ValveAlyzer® System.

Transducers on the outside of valves and piping detect ultrasonic acoustic emissions that are characteristic of internal leakage. The ValveAlyzer® System amplifies and processes the signals from the transducers to separate the leakage signals from the background noise. Analysis of the recorded signatures of amplitude vs. frequency also enables an estimate of the damage severity as follows:

• (LRG)—Large. Indicates that the soft metal is being attacked. Body damage is likely. Seats and plugs may be cut deeply.
• (MED)—Medium. Indicates damage to the hard metal only. Lapping is the most likely repair required.
• (SML)—Small. The leak leaves no visible damage in valves.

The damage estimates are used to predict the extent of repairs required. The test data showed there were only nine valves leaking—and also correctly predicted the extent of internal damage to each valve.

The nine valves were disassembled and damage—as indicated by pits and signs of seat leakage—was found on both the seats and the plugs. The valves were repaired and returned to service. When the ECCS system was returned to service, extensive testing confirmed the absence of gas voids in the piping.

The result
Luckily, the plant was back in operation in less than a week. The cost of lost output alone for a facility the size of Wolf Creek is over a million dollars a day. Using LDS to find which valves actually leaked saved the operation several days of downtime. Today, Wolf Creek calls on LDS whenever valve seat leakage is suspected. This technology has proven successful in identifying even small amounts of leakage.

Joseph G. Dimmick is president of Leak Detection Services, Inc., based in Chester, MD. E-mail:

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