Archive | June, 2013


8:22 pm
June 19, 2013
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My Take: Let’s Sell It!

newjaneresize2 thumb thumbBy Jane Alexander, Deputy Editor

Why do you do what you do, and what is it that brought you to wherever you are today?  I’m referring to your job—whatever it may be—in the maintenance-related food chain. Yeah, yeah, money and health insurance sure do talk. That’s a given. Still, I’m betting that a lot of you are like me: You’re out there riding for the brand.

In my case, the brand is Applied Technology Publications, for which I get to regularly do what I love (i.e., produce informative editorial on interesting topics for what seems like an appreciative audience). Regardless of your industry sector, company/organization or product, I would submit that the true brand most of you are riding for is “reliability,” and that you, too, are getting to do what you love (i.e., keep equipment systems and processes up and running).

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8:20 pm
June 19, 2013
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Automation Insider: Automation Technologies Are Real

garymintchellBy Gary Mintchell, Editorial Director

“Are all those technologies real?” he asked (“he” being a maintenance pro listening to me speak about digital technologies during a MARTS 2013 session. I didn’t mind the interruption—in fact, I enjoy that type of interaction. My presentation, though, was intended to be a straightforward discussion on the benefits of reading diagnostic information from existing HART devices. I was also broaching the idea of using information from an MES application to learn more about problems that technicians identified through their CMMS systems before leaving for the field. This guy’s question, however, stopped me in my tracks.

Time for a reality check
One person in the room that day seemed to be up-to-date on the benefits of Foundation Fieldbus or Profibus PA. Another attendee voiced some outdated information that continues to survive. (In his case, engineering—or someone at his site-—had told him that it was impossible to extract diagnostic data from all the HART devices they had in the field, and that they couldn’t feed an MES system with data so his maintenance crew could get anything more than alarm data before going out to check on a problem.)

This discussion could not have been timelier. There are few better places to gather information about technologies that work than an event focused on operations management. A week before MARTS, I attended the MESA International North American 2013 Conference in Greenville, SC. Several individuals who had implemented a manufacturing enterprise solution/manufacturing operations management (MES/MOM) solution spoke about lessons learned and benefits gained from the technology. I was able to attend two of these sessions.

In the first session, the speaker had used the Workflow application from Savigent ( as part of a continuous improvement program specifically targeted at improving Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) numbers. The second speaker implemented a solution from Rockwell Software (, also as part of a continuous improvement effort.

The first speaker noted that rather than saying “what gets measured can get managed,” we should say, “what gets managed gets improved.” He had been looking for a platform to automate data collection. Wishing to overcome the need for additional capital while reducing costs and improving OEE, the company wanted to track metrics and manage accountability. Ultimately, by gaining increased visibility into manufacturing processes, gap analysis could be employed to improve manufacturing metrics. Manual data entry gave false OEE reads. Better data gave insight that led to scrap reduction of 6%.

The second speaker, from a major automotive operation, used a holistic approach in pursuing previously hidden knowledge and value. Much of his project involved plant visualization. When the project began, the site had virtually no visualization system—or only a legacy one—which meant it lacked data for problem identification. The Rockwell Software program unlocked machine data which, in turn, provided the desired visualization. One of the most important things this plant learned is the value of having a unified data model.

Both of these cases involved IT projects run in cooperation with process engineering—showing that it is possible for these two groups to collaborate. They also prove that automation technologies are “real.”

My message to you is that maintenance and reliability professionals must become part of the solution. Demand (or ask nicely) to be provided with the information you need to do your jobs better. Failure to utilize all the tools that technology offers is a recipe for a failing plant. MT

Gary Mintchell, of, was  co-founder and long-time Editor-in-Chief of Automation World magazine. He writes at

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8:16 pm
June 19, 2013
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Uptime: Reliability Is More About People Than Machines

bob williamson thumb thumb By Bob Williamson, Contributing Editor

“OK. We’ve tried all the maintenance and reliability technologies out there, and we’re still struggling with too many breakdowns and emergency repairs. After studying all the benefits of predictive maintenance, RCM and maintenance-management software, I thought we’d made the right decisions. What did we miss?”

Many maintenance and reliability-improvement leaders and participants have learned that the reality of reliability involves more than deploying proven technologies and programs and watching things improve. Reliability improvement is not as much about technologies and programs as we once thought: New technologies can make maintenance and reliability easier, but actual reliability improvement has more to do with people than machines. Changing the behaviors of machines requires changing the behaviors of people. Setting new expectations and accountabilities while breaking old habits of ALL stakeholders in the organization is often overlooked or oversimplified.

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8:07 pm
June 19, 2013
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Overcoming Your Challenges: Stop Draining Away Your Profits


By Ron Marshall, for the Compressed Air Challenge (CAC)

Most compressed air systems incorporate one or more deliberately installed “engineered air leaks” to drain water and lubricant from the system. Unfortunately, these devices often waste significant volumes of expensive air and, ultimately, energy.

When air is compressed and cooled to atmospheric conditions (or dried, in the case of refrigerated air dryers), water vapor contained in it is squeezed and condensed. Similarly, air compressed by lubricated screw compressors contains a small amount of lubricant. The problem: If moisture and lubricants aren’t eliminated from compressed air, they will contaminate downstream air-powered devices—or worse, cause product-quality or other issues.

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7:35 pm
June 19, 2013
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For On The Floor: Take This Job… And Improve It

rick carterBy Rick Carter, Executive Editor

Although our Reader Panel is on hiatus this month, MT hasn’t lost interest in research related to our readers’ jobs. 

As referenced in Editor Jane Alexander’s April “My Take” column, a recent online overview of the “most and least satisfied professions” based on Gallup survey information piqued our curiosity. It ranked “Manufacturing and Production” 13th out of 14 job categories. This sobering perspective (find it at was based on the 2012 Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index, which explored various factors that support human health and happiness, including job satisfaction. Of respondents who work in manufacturing, just over 83% reported satisfaction with their jobs, compared with nearly 96% working in the top-ranked category (“Physician”). While the point spread here isn’t enormous, the fact remains that “Manufacturing” was surpassed by every major job group in the survey except “Transportation,” which included jobs like bus driver and flight attendant. 

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7:15 pm
June 19, 2013
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Reliable Gadgets

0613gadgetmapconMobile CMMS For Smartphones, Tablets and iPads

No longer is your CMMS tied to a computer. According to MAPCON, its feature-rich Enterprise and On-Demand CMMS Software packages have gone mobile, saving time and money for users in countless ways. Consider, for example, how the company’s Mobile 9-1-1 Maintenance Dispatch Capability can improve your equipment-health-emergency response: A technician discovers a machine leaking lubricant onto the plant floor. Using a standard Android or Apple Smartphone, tablet or iPad, all he/she has to do is open the MAPCON CMMS app, snap a picture of the leaking equipment, attach it to an Emergency Work Request and tap “Send.” In mere seconds, maintenance management could be dispatching a fully equipped team to the scene with a Work Order and the right parts to make the repair. The crew can use their smart devices to directly access repair manuals, schematics and parts inventories in real-time, or, if needed, find and contact an authorized vendor for support. Once the equipment is back online, personnel can document the job with pictures and close the Work Order via a smart device.

MAPCON Technologies, Inc.
Johnston, IA

0613gadgetinproBearing Protection Device Earns IP66 Rating From Underwriters Laboratories

Inpro/Seal has announced that the Inpro/Seal Bearing Isolator has received IP66 rating through third-party testing performed at Underwriters Laboratories (UL). IP (or Ingress Protection) ratings are used to define the level of sealing effectiveness for enclosed equipment against intrusion from foreign bodies, including dust, dirt, powder and moisture. A rating of IP66 states that the enclosed equipment is dust-tight and protected against heavy seas or water projected in powerful jets from entering the seal and passing into the enclosed equipment. Inpro/Seal’s Bearing Isolator earned the IP66 rating after stringent testing found that zero dust or water passed through the seal and entered the enclosed equipment. The rating indicates these bearing protection devices are premium sealing solutions for applications in severe duty and/or washdown environments, where outside contamination entering the bearing housing causes premature bearing failure.

A Waukesha Bearing Business
Rock Island, IL


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