Archive | March, 2009


6:00 am
March 1, 2009
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On the Road to Excellence: Profile Of A Winner: Baldor/Dodge – Marion, North Carolina

In just over 10 years, this facility has established itself as one of the top manufacturing operations in the world, especially when it comes to maintenance.


Drivers traveling Interstate 40 through west-central North Carolina can’t see the award-winning Baldor/Dodge manufacturing facility just off exit 85 near Marion. Tucked into a bluff above the highway, Baldor Electric Company’s low-slung 174,000-sq.-ft. plant is at the end of a short access road that first passes two smaller, and noticeably less busy, industrial operations. Ringed by a security fence, parking and green space, the Baldor operation is a quiet dynamo. Its 105 employees can turn out more than 4700 individual types of Dodge-brand mounted tapered and spherical roller bearings for OEM and end-user customers worldwide.

Built in late 1996, the Marion facility became part of Baldor with the company’s 2006 purchase of Rockwell Automation’s Reliance Electric business, which included the Dodge line of power transmission products.

The plant was an instant feather in Baldor’s cap. It already had been recognized as a top industrial facility by a well-known business magazine and was poised to win the prestigious NAME (North American Maintenance Excellence) Award for the efforts of its world-class, nine-person maintenance team. The sculpted-glass symbol of the 2007 NAME Award shares Marion lobby space with framed evidence of the operation’s many internal citations for excellence—all of which serve to inform visitors that they have entered one of the best manufacturing facilities on the planet.

But as anyone involved in competing for the NAME Award knows, such recognition doesn’t come easily in the manufacturing environment. Reaching the point where the Marion operations could win the NAME award for its maintenance program, for example, required as much learning pain as any other plant—new or old—needing to define its maintenance practices from the ground up.


If it ain’t broke…
“I start out talking about maintenance by explaining our mission statement,” notes Harley Freshour, Marion’s maintenance supervisor. “For three years we didn’t have one. We just fought fires. And if it wasn’t broke we didn’t fix it.”

Despite the abundance of new (largely CNC) equipment at the plant, Freshour recalls: “As time passed, we were putting band-aids on to keep it running. It got to be pretty aggravating.”

The aggravation was two-fold: first because of the machine failures that began to accumulate after months of three-shift operation with minimal maintenance, and second, because blame for the failures was automatically assigned to maintenance. “It was easy to pinpoint us,” Freshour says.

He had not come to the plant with maintenance experience. The Marion native was hired as a material handler at age 18, when the plant opened, and six months later was recruited into maintenance as a PM technician. But he had quickly recognized the need for a structure that didn’t exist.

Freshour remembers it well. “As a technician, you knew when you came back the next day or the next shift that you would have the same problem you already had. We felt like they wouldn’t let us really take care of the problems. And we didn’t know how to make that possible.”

But, in the grand scheme of things, he says, “Somebody had a plan and knew what they were doing.”

Spotlight on maintenance
By the Marion plant’s third year of operation, growing company-wide emphasis on lean manufacturing had led to changes in both production and maintenance. Management wanted to make maintenance a “spotlight” area, according to Freshour, signifying an understanding that a maintenance department in a reactive mode could not sustain the advanced uptime levels the company required. A Maintenance Mission Statement was written to clarify and formalize the department’s responsibilities with regard to new requirements for one-piece-flow manufacturing processes.

road-to-excellence3“Their mission statement helped the maintenance department realize that it has a customer,” explains Tony Sparks, Baldor’s senior lean engineer, responsible for ensuring lean success at the company’s 28 plants worldwide. “That customer is production and they (maintenance) have the responsibility of delivering the highest value to their customer in a very lean sense.”

The process began in earnest at Marion with performance tracking and a TPM program that focused on refurbishing the plant’s 53 pieces of CNC equipment—its most critical equipment asset. “We had run this equipment for three shifts for three years and we were really behind,” Freshour says.”Our CNCs were not performing as they had been. When TPM was introduced, we wondered what we were doing,” he adds, “but we grabbed the bull by the horns and started.”

The Marion operations had enough experienced maintenance veterans that, when combined with capable newcomers like Freshour, could tackle equipment rehabs and establish the department as an effective participant in the company’s new strategy. Maintenance began by breaking down overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), which indicated the units that needed to be addressed first. Crews would then spend up to two weeks tearing down equipment and making it like new.

“This was a learning curve because the technicians were now getting to replace some of the major-wear items that we had noted needed to be replaced when we didn’t know how to do it,” Freshour continues.

Alignment processes had to be learned, new tools acquired and spare-parts inventories expanded so crews could schedule and complete rebuilds with minimal disruption, all of which bumped up costs. “We found that it does cost to get back to a baseline level,” Sparks says. But, company commitment to achieve the improvements was firm, and payback was not far off.

“After the first department, we had spent a substantial amount of time and money to achieve higher uptime, and we thought we’d never get to do it again,” Freshour says. “Then productivity for that department went up five points, and we knew our work had something to do with it.

So now this operator is loving it because his productivity is above goal and the supervisor’s not bothering him.”

As a result, news of the productivity gains from rehabbed machines soon “spread like a virus” through the plant. After two years, according to Sparks, each value stream and the critical assets on those value streams were returned to a like-new or better condition.

Aligning costs, building experience
Progressing from reactive maintenance through TPM boosted capacity and uptime at Marion. It also created new unknowns, such as the amount and frequency of maintenance needed for refurbished machinery. In the search for the proper level, Sparks reminded the crew to avoid the trap of over-maintaining assets after years of not having maintained them enough. One way to do that was to switch from annual to time-based PMs that reflected actual machine hours run. To accomplish this for the plant’s many CNC units—which run for varying periods in all departments— the team installed large, visible, digital countdown clocks on the tops of key CNC machinery. The clocks are set to begin tracking at 5000 hours, the period the crew believed was prudent between major PMs, and run down from there.

“When the clocks hit 1500 hours,” Freshour says, “we go in with our predictive tools and take an ‘MRI’ of that machine. We call this the mini-PM.” These mini-PMs provide stopgap checks on the way to the major PMs to ensure that major work is not required before the 5000-hour mark. The clocks make plant personnel aware of an impending shutdown/teardown on a piece of equipment by visually showing the hour countdown, and by changing color (green to yellow to red) as numbers decrease.

According to Freshour, after two years, the crew fine-tuned assessments to the point that it is doing the right amount of maintenance, when needed, at the right time. “We’ve also driven costs back to a minimum, which is a lean element for us because we don’t have waste. We don’t make repairs now just because we did it last time.”
The crew’s efforts are tracked on a baseline that began in 2000. Among other gains, this baseline shows:

• equipment uptime now at 98%;
• a 50% reduction in maintenance costs since 2000; and
• a 90% reduction in the use of outside maintenance contractors, thanks to a strong internal training program.

Similarly, each machine has its own trending chart. “Each time you test a specific machine, you update the trending chart for, say, circularity [a CNC machine’s deviation from norm], and you’ll see the trend,” Freshour explains.

“Once you’ve made an adjustment or changed a part, you can see where you stand from original, then it will start trending down again. The trending chart helps you predict what’s going to happen, even before the tool shows it.”

To ensure that all current and future technicians understand equipment needs from the same perspective, the maintenance team also began to record unique information about plant machinery. “We developed machine-specific training manuals that use our own words, not just the machine maker’s,” Freshour says.

The manuals combine basic information from standard troubleshooting manuals with notes taken by each maintenance technician to address the specific ways in which the CNC machinery is used in the Marion plant. They include in-house photos taken to illustrate various procedures, such as setting up test equipment and how to make alignments. “This may sound simple,” Freshour says, “but it ensures consistency so are all doing it the same way.”


Tools and techniques
Of the many items in Marion’s maintenance toolbox, several have proven critical to the plant’s world-class efforts. One is the ballbar test, a main component of the mini-PMs. The ballbar test is used on CNC equipment to measure variations in a circle radius as the machine runs a programmed test circle. By comparing actual measurements to the programmed value, accompanying software can calculate a machine’s circularity as well as serve as an indicator for positioning accuracy.

As Freshour describes it, the ballbar led to “the biggest success for us.” That’s because, in about 10 minutes, this methodology can determine the status of most moving parts of the machine—which, without the ballbar, could only be revealed through a teardown.

“We try to use it (the ballbar test) as much as possible,” Sparks says, “because it really does talk to the repeatability in three axes of what that piece of equipment is doing. It gives you a thumbprint of its accuracy, and by the traces you get, you know that different parts are beginning to fail or need adjustment. From a maintenance standpoint, you can now plan better. You know what you’re going to have to do before you go in, so you can pre-stage parts you’re going to replace, if you need to do that. This has helped us get some machines running better than brand new.”

Other key maintenance tools at Marion include infrared, ultrasonics and, critically, oil analysis, which Freshour ranks nearly as high as the ballbar in importance. Hydraulic-oil samples are routinely drawn and sent to an outside lab for analysis. But rather than discard oil that is determined to be dirty, the Marion maintenance team filters it on-site, thus shielding its budget from rising oil costs. To enable the filtering process, the crew installed oil valves on machinery, then built a portable filtration cart. The “toolbox platform on wheels” includes a filter and pump, Freshour says, and can filter 50 gallons of hydraulic oil in about 20 minutes. The cart not only gives the team quick access to equipment, it filters oil cleaner than brand new.

Another key maintenance tool is the laptop computer. The company provided one for each technician, who positions it on his personal tool cart. The portable laptops greatly expand the technicians’ efficiency by allowing them to fill out work orders on the spot, instantly review spare-parts inventory, and quickly gather other information without having to walk or call elsewhere. Freshour says getting them “was a big win for us.”

Recognition and validation
It wasn’t long before Tony Sparks saw the Marion plant’s potential to achieve recognition beyond the company. When the facility became the first among all Baldor/Dodge plants to receive Power Maintenance certification—the most rigorous of internal assessments—Sparks began a search for a new way to both challenge the plant and validate the Power Maintenance program. After considering various manufacturing award programs, he settled on NAME because most of Baldor’s plants are located in North America. “And this plant stepped forward,” he says. “They (Marion) did all of the paperwork. We submitted it and received the audit.” The audit, he notes, indicated that the plant “was spot-on in terms of our emphasis” and also pointed toward new possibilities.

Freshour says the NAME Award process helped him understand the importance of treating his department as a plant. “I started to see where I am responsible for everything that happens in my department,” he says. “For example, if my spare parts come in, and they’re rejected, I’m responsible. Manufacturing had someone checking its parts, but I didn’t. It (the NAME experience) opened my eyes to the entire scope of the maintenance processes.” Freshour has since established his own incoming and receiving inspection, his own budgetary goals and his own shipping procedure, “just like it’s my own plant.”

His superiors confirm that Freshour’s initiative has created a department that not only plays a key role in the plant’s achievements, but that functions nearly without oversight. “I just make sure they’re staying the course,” says Randy Rampey, manufacturing services manager. “Early in the year we do a machine assessment for the whole shop and come out with a strategy plan for achieving our objectives. But day to day, I let these guys do what they need to do.”

Plant manager Mark Earley has a similar take. “Our maintenance practices parallel very closely with our manufacturing processes, meaning that the more decisions we can allow to take place at the value-add level, the leaner we are with delivering quality service to our customers,” he says. “These guys run the business.” Earley adds that the maintenance team has helped make the Marion plant “what all the Baldor plants strive to be.”

In Tony Sparks’ view, making that strong connection between production and maintenance is an often-missed fundamental.”Without maintenance, you can’t really be lean,” he stresses.”It’s the foundation that allows you to move to one-piece flow, and to drive your organization into a well-constructed operation that delivers profit, but also service and value to customers.” Noting that he hasn’t found other companies that combine these elements in the same way, Sparks adds, “I like to think it’s unique to us.”



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March 1, 2009
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Process Improvements: Energy Producer Maintains 24/7 Operation

Losses can really pile up when asset-intensive equipment goes down at a biomass facility. Keeping everything up and running calls for a maintenance software system that won’t quit.

DTE Biomass Energy, a wholly owned subsidiary of DTE Energy, has been providing communities with safe, environmentally sound energy since 1988. The company helps limit greenhouse gas emissions by operating landfill gas recovery systems that capture the gas and put it to productive use. Such recovery systems eliminate harmful air emissions by preventing methane from migrating off-site and becoming a safety or odor problem. Landfill gas recovery systems also provide a renewable source of energy that can generate steam, electricity, fuel for industrial processes or pipeline quality gas.

The process of landfill gas recovery involves asset-intensive equipment that must be properly maintained. DTE relies on the availability of this equipment in its 24/7 operations. Failure of a major piece of equipment valued in excess of $1.5 million and the downtime associated with it means operational efficiencies are compromised and production suffers.

Daily maintenance management
To ensure its primary equipment assets and associated components are maintained on a routine basis, DTE schedules and manages all maintenance activity in a maintenance software system called Benchmate. Four DTE locations use this system every day including:

• Fresh Kills Purification Plant, Staten Island, NY
• Westside Gas Producers, Three Rivers, MI
• Pinnacle Gas Producers, Dayton, OH
• DTE Methane Resources, Thompsonville, IL

Each facility site manager schedules preventive maintenance (PM) based on a frequency according to equipment manufacturer specifications. Work order assignments for PMs are tagged as routine or scheduled and take into account the time interval frequency on a weekly, monthly, quarterly or annual basis. Weekly work normally includes basic maintenance for lubrication, oil and grease needs. Monthly preventive maintenance work involves rotating equipment and blowers while quarterly includes alignment checks. Annual PMs involve instrumentation calibration work.

The site facility managers are able to review their PM schedules in Benchmate and make assignments to operators and mechanics for work to be performed. Maintenance work routinely involves refrigeration equipment, pumps, vessels, exchangers, control valves, centrifugal blowers, piston rings, bearings and similar components critical to the performance of the high dollar compressor and gas engine assets. In fact, more than 500 pieces of equipment are maintained on a regular basis.

Mechanics at each site location are responsible for entering job data for their work assignment and for attaching any related documentation. These documents, which provide maintenance procedures, wear pattern readings or visual aids relative to a piece of equipment, are attached in the software system for quick reference.

Because the system captures all work that is scheduled and performed, it lets the facility site manager easily review completed or outstanding work orders for both large and small tasks. When work orders are closed out, Benchmate maintains a complete history of that work related to the specific equipment, component part or location where the maintenance work was performed.

“Prior to using Benchmate, our maintenance tracking and management was handled manually,” says James Pena, director of pipeline and quality products for DTE. “Having this software system helps us focus on jobs that must be done. Because they’re scheduled in the system, we cannot ignore them, and that provides accountability that we need to be better organized and more efficient.”

The benefits of a single system
Benchmate tracks work performed by maintenance personnel, as well as routine maintenance procedures that operators perform, such as greasing and oiling. Any work conducted by outside contractors also is captured in the system. For DTE, contractors are typically brought in during shutdowns for compressor overhaul maintenance work. Everything—including overhaul work, calibration reports and routine maintenance—is entered in Benchmate to provide a complete history on any equipment.

Because all maintenance work is planned and scheduled through it, the software system serves as a central reference point that indicates when work is to be done regardless of the timing. This is a tremendous help to DTE, where safety valve maintenance is performed every two years. When maintenance work on the valves is completed within the 24-month cycle, certification documentation is attached in Benchmate for reference purposes, thus providing an important audit trail for the required maintenance of the safety valves.

When it comes to spare parts tracking, Benchmate assists with cost control and purchasing decisions. Min/max and reorder points for spare parts are indicated within the system to streamline and manage the purchasing process. Having this type of data available at any time removes the guesswork and estimating process related to spare parts inventory management.

Monthly reports provide facility managers and other management personnel with key data related to all maintenance work. Completed work order reports indicate materials used for jobs, who performed the work and when it was done. And, these reports are supplied to the New York Department of Sanitation for its review since DTE operates this location for that agency.

But Benchmate goes well beyond maintenance in providing additional value to DTE Biomass Energy. As the company’s quality program continues to be developed, this system will be included to account for issues related to safety and compliance. For DTE, the future of providing naturally occurring energy looks bright. The company will continue to be counted on as a key energy resource that improves the environment.


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March 1, 2009
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Mechanical Quality Assurance: The Next Progression of Reliability

The quality of its equipment and processes is crucial in a company’s ability to drive reliability. Assuring that type of quality requires the right questions to be asked and the right answers to be supplied. Again and again and again…


Reliability is not rocket science. It should be easy to achieve. Do things right the first time, from design, procurement, construction, installation, maintenance and operation, all the way through to decommissioning. Isn’t this the goal of engineers? Still, in many cases we —industry in general—seem to struggle in achieving high reliability. One reason may be widespread inattention to Mechanical Quality Assurance (MQA).

From QA to MQA
While Quality Assurance (QA) is a standard practice in many industries, most often it focuses on the quality of the end product of the operation, be it production of pharmaceuticals, electronics or consumables. With the many similarities between QA and reliability, it is ironic that there are few companies utilizing QA as a means to drive continual improvement in the maintenance and reliability sectors. Rarely does one see an emphasis on MQA.

Wikipedia describes Quality Assurance as “planned and systematic production processes that provide confidence in a product’s suitability for its intended purpose. It is a set of activities intended to ensure that products (goods and/ or services) satisfy customer requirements in a systematic, reliable fashion.” There are two key points to note in this commonly accepted definition. The first is “production process” and the second is “goods and/or services.”

“Production process” and “goods and/or services” lead one to accept that QA is only for production and end-product requirements. However, cannot procurement, construction, installation, maintenance, operation and decommissioning in their own right be considered as production processes resulting in goods and/or services? When one begins to analyze these functions with respect to Quality Assurance one will arrive at Mechanical Quality Assurance.

In a very high overview of Quality Assurance one will find that:

• ISO 9001-Quality management systems-requirements is based on eight quality management principles:

1. Customer focus
2. Leadership
3. Involvement of people
4. Process based approach
5. System approach to management
6. Continual improvement
7. Decisions based on facts
8. Mutually beneficial supplier relationship

• Certified QA programs require six procedures in their programs:

1. Control of documents
2. Control of records
3. Internal audit
4. Control of nonconforming product
5. Corrective actions
6. Preventive actions

Note that the intent of this article is not to review QA, but rather to show how a working MQA program can improve your reliability program—as well as all of the func-tions listed above (procurement, construction, etc.). MQA takes the components of ISO 9001 and applies them to the “non-production” groups of your facility.

There are certain points that are assumed to be—and need to be—in place for these activities to show positive results. They include upper management support, trained and dedicated MQA workers and an atmosphere of profes-sionalism in the MQA group that maintains the integrity of the program. Confidentiality of information is critical, especially when dealing with outside vendors. Although certification is not required, the goal of an MQA program should be to achieve certification to promote the professionalism of the program.

The audit
An established standard auditing protocol should be followed when conducting MQA audits. This protocol covers the roles and responsibility of audit team members, conducting audits, reports, professionalism, etc.
As in any quality program, changes are driven from audits results.Audits are conducted following an audit checklist. The audit checklist contains sections with specific questions.Each section of the audit checklist calls for answers to questions that tell the Lead Auditor that requirements are being met— or NOT. The audit checklist also contains areas to indicate if the vendor met its requirements, and an area for notes.

Your audit checklist needs to address the requirements of your specific industry, the scope of your MQA program, while keeping in mind requirements for both ISO 9001- and QA-certified programs. A typical industrial MQA program scope would include suppliers and contractors of engineered products and services (“vendor,” hereafter). Thus, you do not audit vendors whose functions are outside of this scope (i.e. your vendor for office supplies). For consis-tency reasons, having one audit checklist that would cover all of the audit requirements of your MQA scope is a good practice. When setting up your MQA program, it is also wise to conduct some in-house Beta audits. Reviewing these Beta audits will allow you to fine-tune the audit checklist so you can meet your own audit requirements before you begin auditing your vendors.

When you are ready to begin auditing your vendors, a pre-audit via electronic data exchange normally is performed first. This would cover limited specific items that would eliminate a vendor from working on your site, i.e. show stoppers. Once the pre-audit results deem an audit at the vendor’s facility, one is scheduled.

The vendor would then be given a copy of the audit checklist so it can be prepared for the audit—this is because documented proof is required for many of the ques-tions. (This can also be done for the pre-audit.) The goal of the MQA audit is to have a well-planned vendor audit that can be completed in one or two days. The vendor audit also includes a plant tour and other inspections as deemed necessary.

The in-house audit of your own company departments follows the same protocol, but is typically less formal. This does not mean it is less professional during the actual audit.

A typical industrial audit checklist may include requirements similar to the following:

1. Certification requirements
2. Quality Program requirements
3. Document requirements
4. Inspection and Test Plan (ITP) requirements
5. Engineering Control requirements
6. Inventory Control requirements
7. Repair and Installation requirements
8. Work Order requirements

Be aware that, depending on your industry, these audit requirements may look quite different from the ones your company would require.

A very brief overview of what the foregoing eight sections might look for during an audit and the audit process is detailed below. Note that these requirements are applicable to both in-house and vendor-supplied activities.

Certification requirements…
If a vendor failed this section of the audit, it should imme-diately be eliminated from conducting work with your company. Vendors doing work must have their company’s and workers’ certifications, licenses and training require-ments current if the type of work requires such. These include welder’s certifications, non-destructive examina-tion requirements, welding procedures, code-required stamps and other federal, state, local and industry-related certification requirements.

Quality Program requirements…
This section verifies that the six required procedures for a certified quality program are in place, are current and are followed in the vendor’s quality program. Non-confor-mance resolution is an important point that is reviewed. ISO 9001 requirements also are examined.

Document requirements…
This audit section assures that vendor standards, procedures, P&IDs, prints and other critical documents utilized by the vendor are controlled, current and accurate. There should also be a current procedure on how to update these documents.

Inspection and Test Plan (ITP) requirements…
ITPs refer to stops in the process where tests and verifi cations are conducted to assure the product is meeting requirements. How these tests are conducted, along with the accuracy and calibration of test equipment, also are assessed.

Engineering Control requirements…
The process implemented by the vendor to ensure proper engineering practices, management of change and other controls applied to the product from specifi cation through delivery are reviewed in this section.

Inventory Control requirements…
How inventory is received, inspected, tagged, segregated, stored, delivered to the production area, quarantined when found to be out of specification and resolution of out-of-specification items are audited in this section.

Repair and Installation requirements…
This section audits the processes utilized to verify that proper checks and measurements are being done for the repair and installation of equipment. These may include “as found,” teardown, repair and “as left” reports.

Work Order requirements…
Work order contents that ensure the requirements of the work order were documented and signed off properly are verified in this audit section. Note that this is not Quality Control verifying that the actual work itself was completed per the work order instructions or procedures.

When they have completed their audit, the audit team members return to the office to grade the findings. This is documented on the Audit Report. Every company will establish a grading system that suits its own needs. Consistency across the board is important here. Establishing a grading procedure to ensure that all audits are graded in the same manner is a good practice. One such grading system that works well incorporates “straight” weighting and “stoplight” weighting on each audit section. This allows the final grade for each section to be given a number and either a green, yellow or red color. Each color has a grade range assigned to it.

• Green indicates the vendor passed a section of the audit and can be utilized.

• Yellow indicates improvements are needed, but that the vendor may be utilized with possible restrictions (the vendor will be re-audited).

• Red indicates that the vendor cannot be used until corrections are completed and re-audited.

Re-audits are conducted on a determined time frame established by the Lead Auditor—usually in 30 to 90 days, depending on the severity of the findings. The audit report also contains an audit summary, conclusion and recommendations.

The audit report is retained and is considered confidential. Approved vendors are added to the approved vendor list with a (typical) three-year span before the next audit. Receiving non-conforming items from an approved vendor, however, could dictate another audit and/or removing that vendor from the approved list.

Driving your reliability
Now you may be asking “How does this MQA stuff improve my equipment and
process reliability?” Normally, people think of vibration monitoring, alignment, oil analysis, infrared inspections, etc. technologies/methodologies that help ensure reliability. There are, however, several ways that MQA fits into the puzzle—and helps improve reliability within your operations.

• The most important factor is that a working MQA program drives continual improvement in all areas of the company where it is utilized.

• When you audit your vendors, they realize you are serious about mechanical quality and they are accountable for the product or service they are supplying to you. This helps eliminate reliability issues before they originate, as the vendors will be more conscientious about their work and you will receive products that are more apt to function as planned.

• MQA Audits can discover areas for improvement that may have been
overlooked by the vendor and/or the company. This will cause changes in the
process that improve the end product, can make the process more efficient
and reduce risk to both parties.

• Companies that cannot “make the grade” as vendors are eliminated from
your system, thus ensuring that only qualified vendors are supplying services to your company.

•Auditing your in-house activities can discover deficiencies that can be resolved.

All of these actions drive continuous improvements that benefit your company.

Mechanical Quality Assurance takes reliability to the next level, as it can give direction to improve any group or activity it audits. MQA audits can add additional structure to these groups and processes to improve
them. In addition, MQA can address the previously listed supporting functions that affect reliability directly or indirectly—and which result in additional costs to the company when done inefficiently.

It is important to understand the true nature of an MQA audit. These activities should not be conducted with a “Got-You” attitude, but with the desire to develop a mutually beneficial supplier relationship. Many vendors will appreciate an MQA audit in that it will help them implement processes that make them a better supplier.

In-house audits can identify roadblocks that cause inefficiencies and reliability issues. A properly administered MQA program will drive your facility’s reliability to new heights.


Joseph F. “Joe” Dolniak has been assisting companies to improve their rotating asset management for more than 28 years. A Certified Maintenance and Reliability Professional (CMRP), he has written numerous articles and lectured widely on the topic of rotating equipment reliability over the course of his career. Dolniak currently serves as co-chairperson of the ANSI B73 committee. For more information, e-mail:

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March 1, 2009
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Solution Spotlight

Capturing Savings Through Bearing Reconditioning
NSK rolls out the type of program that helps end users cut costs without sacrificing quality and performance.

solution_spotlight_nskNo 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.

NSK Corporation Ann Arbor, MI
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Wireless Monitoring Solutions For Difficult Environments

solution_spotlight_cooper_crouseKnown for its explosion-proof protection offerings, Cooper Crouse-Hinds has added wireless monitoring solutions to its product lineup. Designed specifically for monitoring and controlling processes in challenging or difficult industrial and hazardous applications, these new products provide an alternative to traditional hard-wired systems. Through a comprehensive system of transmitters, receivers, transceivers and interface gateways, they offer both one- and two-way wireless monitoring capabilities for a host of applications, including tank level monitoring, pump performance metrics, conveyor belt alignments, heat trace monitoring and more.

Cooper Crouse-Hinds, Syracuse, NY
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Manage Tools & Equipment With Bar Code Technology
solution_spotlight_dynamic_systemsDynamic Systems has announced the release of a low-cost tool and equipment manager program based on bar code technology. Basic Tool Manager is targeted at manufacturers who want to reduce the loss of tools and the time it takes to search for them, as well as track equipment maintenance and inventory. According to the company, its customers see a typical payback for the product within three to four months.

Dynamic Systems Inc., Redmond, WA
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Temperature Measurement Added To Sensor Line
AutomationDirect’s ProSense line of process sensors now includes temperature switches, temperature transmitters and RTD temperature probes. The TSD25 series switches offer dual output setpoints over an operating temperature range of -13 to 284 F. With 4-20mA analog outputs, the TTD25 series provides a compact temperature monitoring system over temperature ranges from 0 to 100 C or 0 to 300 F. The four-wire, 100 ohm platinum RTD probes are made of durable 316 stainless steel and measure from -40 to 302 F. The 10 mm diameter probes are available in lengths from 160 mm to 560 mm. Thermowells and fittings are also available.

AutomationDirect, Cumming, GA
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Fire Pump Revamped For Industrial Applications
solution_spotlight_waterousAccording to Waterous, it is the only manufacturer in the world with pumps available for use in industrial pigging applications. The company also notes that the revamp of its CMU pump for cleaning of furnace tubing and coiling used in refineries around the world has resulted in a product that outperforms other de-coking and de-scaling methods at a more efficient, cleaner and cost-effective rate. With performance ratings up to 2250 GPM (8550 L/min), the CMU pigging pump propels the oblong metallic cleaning device, or “pig,” with high-pressure waterpower through the coil furnace tubing at rates of 3500 – 4500 RPM. The process encompasses initial hard cleaning, secondary cleaning and final cleaning and polishing. On average, the entire process takes about 18 hours.

Waterous South, St. Paul, MN
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Butterfly Valve Boasts Increased Throttling Range
solution_spotlight_emersonAccording to Emerson, the wide control range of its new Fisher® Control-Disk(T) valve is twice that of traditional butterfly valves. This improved capability allows control closer to the target set point, regardless of process disturbances, which results in a reduction in process variability. Valve selection and sizing are simple procedures. As a direct replacement valve, existing piping can be used. The new Control-Disk valve meets API, ASME and EN standards, making it suitable for use in all world areas.

Emerson Process Management, Marshalltown, IA
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6:00 am
March 1, 2009
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Boosting Your Bottom Line: BOOSTING YOUR BOTTOM LINE

Turn Motor Failure Into Opportunity!

motor_decisions_matterIn this economy, it certainly seems that equipment failure is the last thing you need, especially for equipment as critical as industrial motors. Then again, when one door shuts, another often opens. Dealing with a failed motor can provide the impetus to investigate how motor management can help boost your bottom line.

In 2003, Columbia Lighting (Columbia), a manufacturer of commercial and industrial fluorescent lighting products in Spokane, WA, had just this experience. Shortly after initiating a motor inventory at its facility, a motor failed. Rather than just rush to replace the unit, plant personnel used the failure as an opportunity to identify options for improving energy efficiency throughout the facility.

For this company, the first step was to survey and monitor the compressed air system where the motor failure occurred—which included 200 hp and 150 hp motors. After a short period of time, several energy savings opportunities were identified, ranging from simple repairs to modifications to the control scheme. These changes reduced the demand on the motors, which led Columbia to reevaluate the size of motors that were actually needed to get the job done. Ultimately, the evaluation and resulting changes led to an annual bottom-line savings of $35,510. Further review revealed that additional energy and cost savings opportunities might also be possible through introduction of additional controls.

While every facility and motor system has unique operating and equipment requirements, the Columbia Lighting example highlights themes that are common across industrial facilities: the opportunity to identify savings through simple steps, including making sure that you know your system and equipment—and determining how both can perform optimally. These straightforward steps are, in essence, motor management. Motor management can be as easy or complex as your staff and facility need it to be. Free tools and resources are available from the Motor Deci sions MatterSM (MDM) Campaign to help get you started (

The MDM Campaign is sponsored by utility efficiency programs, motor manufacturers and motor sales and service centers. All of these organizations have a demonstrated expertise in the products and services involved in motor management—such things as electricity use, high-efficiency motors (NEMA Premium®) and best practice motor repair. They share a common goal to improve the way in which industrial motor repair/replace decisions are made. It’s also important to note that your local utility may offer equipment rebates to help defray the costs of new purchases, or to upgrade older, less efficient equipment.

When motor failure occurs, use the downtime as an opportunity to evaluate how your motors impact your bottom line. As Columbia Lighting experienced, motor failure can also be the perfect time to identify opportunities to optimize your motor system. To read Columbia’s story, as well as other examples of how motor management can achieve bottom-line savings, check out the case studies on the MDM Website (

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The Motor Decisions Matter campaign is managed by the Consortium for Energy Efficiency, a North American nonprofit organization that promotes energy-saving products, equipment and technologies. For further information about MDM, contact Kellem Emanuele at or (617) 589-3949, x225.

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6:00 am
March 1, 2009
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Communications: Partnering With Human Resources (HR)



Ken Bannister, Contributing Editor

The human resource represented by a company’s workforce is arguably the most valuable asset a company possesses. Ironically, to an investor, corporate wealth and value is counted in terms of the current bank balance, order book, inventory and current physical asset value.


In reality, rarely is a price or value tag associated with the workforce and its experienced knowledge of the corporate business—and its intimate working relationship with the processes, procedures and equipment used to deliver an end product. On the other hand, one of the things that successful and sustainable businesses understand is that without a quality human resource working to manage its assets, a company will quickly flounder, or worse yet, cease to exist. That’s especially true with regard to the human resource element of a maintenance department.

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6:00 am
March 1, 2009
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Uptime: Too Much Information?



Bob Williamson, Contributing Editor

“TMI.” Here we go again with those “TLAs” (three-letter acronyms) discussed in last month’s column. TMI used to refer to the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant “meltdown” in 1979. Now, it means “Too Much Information.”


It seems as if we truly live in an age of way TOO MUCH information. (That, of course, would be “WTMI”.) Information Overload and Information Fatigue Syndrome could become new physiological maladies—possible reasons that your head hurts or rationales for staying home from work. Small businesses and highly reactive maintenance organizations can easily fall into the trap of NOT KNOWING what action to take due to a lack of information. Or the opposite: the trap of taking swift action with UNRELIABLE INFORMATION.

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6:00 am
March 1, 2009
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My Take: Seeing The Connections



Jane Alexander, Editor-In-Chief

A lot has been said about the recently passed “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009” (ARRA), not all of it kind. We know it’s not perfect. How much in life is? What’s especially troubling to me, though, is the fact that much of the negative hype has been passed along in a never-ending news cycle by “talking heads” who don’t seem to have a clue as to how things work out here in the real world. Makes me hanker for someone like the science historian James Burke to show up and discuss the ARRA in terms of “connections” from the beginnings of the global recession to the brighter, more sustainable future that the stimulus package will spark.
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