Archive | December, 2013


12:06 am
December 20, 2013
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My Take: Bringing Home A Bad Report Card

newjaneresize thumb thumbBy Jane Alexander, Deputy Editor

December rolled in with a big chill for many parents this year. I’m not referring to the weather, but to all-over-the-news reports of recently released standard test results showing (sigh) that American high-school students are continuing to lag behind their European and Asian counterparts in math, science and reading.

According to an Associated Press (AP) article published in the Washington Post on Dec. 3, roughly half a million students in 65 countries and educational systems took part in the 2012 Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) that’s coordinated by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Given every three years to 15-year-olds, the test is designed to assess problem-solving skills based on a 1000-point scale. Note these findings. Read ’em and weep:

Math: U.S. average score was 481. (Average scores ranged from 368 in Peru to 613 in Shanghai, with an international average of 494.)

Science: U.S. average score was 497. (Average scores ranged from 373 in Peru to 580 in Shanghai, with an international average of 501.)

Reading: U.S. average score was 498. (Average scores ranged from 384 in Peru to 570 in Shanghai, with an international average of 496.)

While the AP/Washington Post article went on to quote U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan calling our kids’ failing to score in the top 20 on math, reading or science “a picture of educational stagnation,” that’s just part of the story. The fact is U.S. PISA scores haven’t changed much since this testing began in 2000, even as students in countries like Ireland and Poland have shown improvement and moved ahead of ours.

As a keen observer—i.e., strong supporter—of North American educational and workforce-development efforts (and as a doting mom and grandmother), I do have a dog in this fight. These U.S. PISA results disturb me (and should disturb you, too). Not everybody seems to feel that way, however.

Another take appears in a recently re-posted Blog on the Website entitled “Why It’s Never Mattered That America’s Schools ‘Lag’ Behind Other Countries (2013 Edition).” Gregory Ferenstein posted the original version last year in light of other dismal U.S. test results. In it, he raised several compelling points. I don’t buy into all of them, but I do agree that U.S. high-school students aren’t always graduating with the requisite critical-thinking skills needed in college; and that colleges aren’t always equipping students to hit the ground running when they do find jobs. (Imagine that!) I urge you to check out this piece and the pro and con comments it received for yourself. It’s good reading.

In the meantime, for yet another contrarian view on critical-thinking skills, etc., click here. Respected industry veteran Heinz Bloch has some things to say. Happy Holidays! MT

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11:43 pm
December 19, 2013
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ISO 55000 Management Systems: Part II — The People Side

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By Bob Williamson, Contributing Editor

“In our company we often talk about the importance of leadership and teamwork in the functioning of maintenance organizations and even in the bigger picture, the success of the company. How will leadership and teamwork play out in ISO 55001 Asset Management – Management Systems – Requirements?”

Great question. ISO 55001 will call for levels of LEADERSHIP and TEAMWORK that far surpass what most businesses have ever experienced. The Standard’s requirements are a significant departure from many of the old habits that have developed over decades of design, procurement, construction/ installation, startup, commissioning, operations, maintenance and the decommissioning
of equipment and facilities. This degree of CULTURE CHANGE mandates that top-level management not only comprehend what asset-management systems are all about, but also what culture change is all about—and how to be effective leaders and managers of workplace change.

As our facilities and manufacturing technologies and systems become increasingly inter-related, the people who operate and maintain them must depend on each other in a collaborative manner. Reliable electro-mechanical processes depend on teamwork among various roles and departments in the company. And this level of teamwork requires leadership that goes well beyond traditional supervision and management roles.

Now, on top of fairly complex facilities and manufacturing processes, let’s put an “asset-management system” in place to establish an asset-management policy and objectives and all the processes (i.e., integrated plans, business processes and information systems) to assure proper and consistent management of assets. That’s the essence of ISO 55001. Leadership and teamwork across traditional organization boundaries and culture change WILL be required in most cases.

Three key interdependent elements of success

Leadership and teamwork are all about PEOPLE (i.e., human assets). People make things happen: good, bad, indifferent. When people are organized into a specific goal-oriented business, they can accomplish much more than they could individually. Many minds and hands focused on common goals can achieve significant business results: desirable products, services, profits, wages, benefits. 

When business results are based on equipment and facilities (PHYSICAL ASSETS), it takes much more than people to make a business succeed. The equipment and facilities must be reliable and perform as intended. These physical assets directly impact profit and loss, safety and environmental incidents, and on-time delivery of goods and/or services to paying customers.

There is also a third element here: WORK  PROCESSES. The procedures that people use to manage the physical assets must also be reliable. ISO 55001 specifies the requirements for an “asset-management system”—in essence, another layer of work processes that’s overlaid on the routine and day-to-day work processes. 

The new ISO 55000 Asset Management Standard focuses on PHYSICAL ASSETS (among other not-so-physical assets) and asset-management-system WORK PROCESSES. While there are requirements pertaining to the PEOPLE side of asset management, there is NO prescription for engaging people in the standard: It’s left up to the business’ top management to define and deploy. Thus, the  “people side” is liable to be the weakest link in conforming to ISO 55001 requirements (as it was with the ISO 9000 Quality Management Standards).

Leadership expectations for top management

The suite of ISO 55000 Asset Management Standards addresses the principles of asset management along with the many associated terms and definitions. The “meat” of the Standard is contained in ISO 55001. These are the specific “requirements“ for an asset-management system—the “shall” statements that leave little doubt as to the required conditions.

What is most interesting is that each section in ISO 55001 starts with one of two phrases:

  • “The organization shall” (52 times)
  • “Top management shall” (5 times)

The term “Top Management” in the Standard represents the LEADERSHIP element, which requires the addition of TEAMWORK to achieve anything. “Top Management,” as used in ISO 55001, means that the ultimate responsibility for making the asset-management system function rests squarely at the top of the organization. “Top Management” is defined as:

“(A) person or group of people who directs and controls an organization at the highest level” (ISO 55000, 3.1.24)

The overarching role of “Top Management,” as discussed in ISO 55000 (Overview, Principles & Terminology), is described this way:

“Top management should create the vision and values that guide policy, practice and actively promote these values inside and outside the organization.”  (Elements of an asset-management system: – Leadership)


“Top management and leaders at all levels are responsible for ensuring that appropriate resources are in place to support the asset-management system.” (

There are a number of sections that speak to “Top Management’s” role and responsibilities within the ISO 55001 Standard:

Section 5 of ISO 55001 (Requirements) speaks to “Leadership.” In this section, there are three separate “Leadership” requirements for “Top Management,” including:

5.1 Leadership and commitment
“Top management shall demonstrate leadership and commitment with respect to the asset-management system…”

— 5.2 Policy
“Top management shall establish an asset-management policy…”

— 5.3 Organizational roles, responsibilities and authorities 
“Top management shall ensure that the responsibilities and authorities for relevant roles are assigned and communicated within the organization.” 


Section 9 of ISO 55001 (Requirements) speaks to “Performance Evaluation” and includes another specific reference to “Top Management:”

— 9.3 Management review
“Top management shall review the organization’s asset-management system, at planned intervals, to ensure its continuing suitability, adequacy and effectiveness.”


Section 5 of ISO 55002 (Guidelines) contains three separate “Leadership” guidelines for “Top Management,” including:

5.1 Leadership and commitment
“…however, it is important that ownership and accountability for asset management remains at the top management level.”

— 5.2 Policy
“The asset-management policy should be authorized by top management and thereby demonstrate commitment to asset management.”

— 5.3 Organizational roles, responsibilities and authorities
“The responsibilities and authorities of key functions should be defined. This should include both internal and outsourced roles and responsibilities. The interfaces between organizational functions should be clearly established.”


Section 9 of ISO 55002 (Guidelines) also speaks to “Performance Evaluation,” with another specific reference to “Top Management:” 

9.3 Management review
9.3.1: “Top management should review the organization’s assets, asset-management system and asset-management activity, as well as the operation of its policy, objectives and plans, at planned intervals, to ensure their suitability, adequacy and effectiveness.”

Leadership, teamwork & culture change

ISO 55001 will demand a substantial culture change in most organizations. Old habits—“But that’s the way we’ve always done things”—will probably have to change. This is especially true for organizations that have numerous “silos” of responsibility, each with differing roles, responsibilities, accountabilities and financial implications, not to mention the personalities and egos linked to them. True “asset management” cuts through many of these traditional organizational silos because asset management, by design, spans the entire life cycle of physical assets: from concept, design, procurement, construction/installation and startup through commissioning, operations, maintenance and decommissioning.

In the life cycle of physical assets, there are many departments, work groups and individuals within an organization that make decisions and take actions regarding the asset. If contractors are used, they too play an integral role. When we insert all of these different players at appropriate points across the entire life cycle, you can imagine the gaps that show up: different ideas, interpretations, priorities, expectations, budgets, documentation and communications. (Imagine! Most of us have lived through the problems that these types of disconnects generate.)

The “people side of asset management” cannot be taken lightly. Furthermore, we can’t look to the ISO 55000 suite of standards as a tool to make people (Top Management and everybody else) get on board. It’s not there. Sure, there are references to “roles and responsibilities” and “communications,” but there’s nothing regarding how to gain “buy-in” or “ownership” or “participation” or “engagement” from individuals or entities that are defined as “Stakeholders” by the Standard.

Stakeholder: “person or organization that can affect, be affected by, or perceive themselves to be affected by a decision or activity. (55000: 3.1.23)


‘It takes a village to raise an asset’

Sorry: My choice of a subhead isn’t meant as a reference to Hillary’s 1996 book. Rather, it’s a nod to some rural (and not so rural) cultures that believe in “community” when it comes to raising a child. The same principle applies to assets—especially physical assets. 

In the real world, it takes an “organizational village” to care for assets throughout their entire life cycle. That, I believe, is the central premise driving the adoption of ISO 55001 Asset Management — Management System Requirements. In some companies and businesses, that priceless sense of community—a “we’re in this together” type of thinking and feeling—may need to be re-instilled by Top Management at the onset of the new asset-management journey. MT 

Robert Williamson, CMRP, CPMM and member of the Institute of Asset Management, is in his fourth decade of focusing on the “people side” of world-class maintenance and reliability in plants and facil-
ities across North America. Email:

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11:40 pm
December 19, 2013
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For On The Floor: Spare Advice

rick carter

By Rick Carter, Executive Editor

Things have come a long way from the days when spare-parts hoarding and stashing was not only common practice, but often the only guarantee that items would be on hand when needed. This still happens, of course, but with less frequency and is frowned upon. Advances in electronic parts tracking and ordering have taken spare-parts management out of the dusty corners into the light. Now, most technicians appreciate that a well-managed spare-parts management “system” (whether handled in-house or by vendors) can keep costs low and inventory available for virtually all situations.

How do your spare-parts management practices stack up? If you’re like most MT Reader Panelists, they’ve improved significantly in recent years, though tweaking may still be needed. Here’s our group’s perspective on this key sector of maintenance support:

Q: How does your operation manage its spare-parts inventory? How efficient is it?

“We have a central location where the parts are stored. In that location, we have the purchaser and an attendant. The attendant helps everyone who enters the parts area to find and check out all parts. This ensures that part counts are correct. The Maintenance Manager manages the system [aided by] a Parts Review Committee that will look at parts in the system and make decisions on each part as needed. It works quite well.”

 …Production Support Manager, Midwest  

“We use an integrator to manage our storeroom. It is relatively efficient. We have been using this integrator for nearly eight years.”

…Reliability Maintenance Engineer, South

“Our system is a computerized inventory-control system managed by two people. We’ve used it for about eight years with very good success. It is attached to the equipment we are using and can inform us on what parts we buy most. This then relates back to the maintenance group for equipment-reliability evaluations. Parts are handed out as needed and logged in by the user. About 90% of the time we know what part was removed and where it was used.”

…Senior Maintenance Engineer, West


Q: How critical is good spare-parts management to your operation’s success?

“Very critical, because we need to maintain high uptime. Parts people work very closely with the maintenance people so there is no downtime due to lack of a part.”

…Senior Maintenance Engineer, West 

“With some of the turnarounds we have, it is quite important to have the emergency parts when we need them.”

…Senior Maintenance Mechanic, South

“Because we have mostly foreign-made equipment, spare parts inventory is hugely important.”

…Reliability Maintenance Engineer, South


Q: What, if anything, could be done to improve how your operation manages spare parts?

“We need a more efficient way to return unused parts as well as an improved method for streamlining our inventory of must-have parts.”

…Maintenance Coordinator, Mid-Atlantic 

“At times there will not be 24/7 coverage. This can open up the possibility of having empty bins when you need a part. There are also times when people will not check out parts if there is no storeroom attendant. It’s unfortunate, but a fact of life.”

…Production Support Manager, Midwest

“We do a good job managing our spare parts. The maintenance engineers are responsible for deciding which spares should be stocked.”

… Reliability Maintenance Engineer, South

“Our process needs to be moved back in-house. We used to have in-plant cribs, which worked great. The system we have now is controlled by a commodity company that couldn’t manage its way out of a paper bag. It is so flawed that when we actually have a part at the warehouse we tear up paper like confetti and throw it in the air. It is very frustrating. We are constantly trying to buy parts online because a lot of the parts houses don’t keep inventory on hand, and we have long lead times that are unacceptable.”

…PM Leader, Midwest


Q: What lessons have you learned about effective spare-parts management?

“I’ve learned that the most critical spare part in your facility is the one you need, but don’t have.”

…Reliability Maintenance Engineer, South

“Control is the key: how much; how fast can I get it; how many do I need to keep in stock; who has access to these parts; and keeping good relationships with suppliers. Also, do not allow maintenance staff to keep parts in their toolboxes. This can be OK only if you can control it without too much pressure. And keep the lowest inventory on hand as possible; do not over-stock and do not always buy the cheapest.”

…Senior Maintenance Engineer, West

“Do not put repaired electronics boards back in the storeroom without first verifying that they work. Multiple times, we were burned by a repaired board that didn’t work when it was installed during a breakdown. So, we created a process to verify and track all repaired parts in our system. Also, centralize all of your parts. This will help you to reduce inventory and ensure you have the part when you need it.”

…Production Support Manager, Midwest  

“Limit physical access to spare parts. Unlimited access leads to loss of inventory control and stock-outs. Do not separate the spare-parts management function from the maintenance function. They should both be under the same manager to ensure common direction and goals. Also, make the effort to create and maintain bills of material for all critical equipment.”

…Maintenance Engineer, West

“The best spares system I’ve seen is at a soft-drink plant with a top-class CMMS program. They use bar codes to identify and track every major item on the plant floor and in their efficiently organized stores. Each mechanic uses a PDA to scan and upload/download data while performing service tasks. In-house stock is catalogued with cross-references to alternate options and all other items required, including exploded views of assemblies. This is all done on their PDAs. The worst systems are those with racks of many different parts lacking labels, no evidence of tracking and with too many items of unknown parentage.”

…Consultant, Tester and Trainer, Canada 


About the MT Reader Panel 

The Maintenance Technology Reader Panel is comprised of working maintenance practitioners who have volunteered to answer bimonthly questions prepared by our editorial staff. Panelist identities are purposely not revealed, and their responses are not necessarily projectable. The Panel welcomes new members: Have your comments and observations included in this column by joining the Reader Panel at Click here, and follow the instructions. If accepted, you will automatically be entered into a drawing for a cash prize after one year of active participation.

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11:35 pm
December 19, 2013
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Automation Insider: Achieving Operational Excellence

garymintchellBy Gary Mintchell, Executive Director

Since joining Applied Technology Publications and the Maintenance Technology team the first of September, I’ve been studying, talking with people and trying to anticipate where the industry is going so we can best serve all of our clients. You will see many improvements in the coming months as we work to update the style and content to make us even more relevant today.

The magazine itself will undergo a makeover, but the Website will, too. Website development takes some time, but in a few months, you’ll see a noticeable upgrade. First, we will be eliminating the URL in favor of We will also improve user experience and update content daily with even more information to help you do your jobs better.

MARTS is back, but with a totally new format and focus—“achieving operational excellence through asset performance.” MARTS has always attracted decision-makers. Over 80 percent of 2013 attendees were managers, professionals and engineers with decision-making authority. The 2014 edition will build on the tradition of attracting the brightest minds in predictive maintenance by adding specific tracks for operational excellence and technology.

One track is designed to appeal specifically to maintenance and reliability professionals with discussions of predictive maintenance tools and management topics. Another is designed for plant managers and engineers with a focus on operations-management tips and strategies. We’ll also emphasize more of the latest automation, control and information technologies that directly impact reliability and operational excellence.

Register today to be part of the conversation about achieving operational excellence in your organization. Team registrations are welcome. Some of the topics already committed include:

  • Total Productive Maintenance Made Easy and Affordable
  • Asset Management: Understanding ISO 55000
  • Gain Value from Planning
  • Driving Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) For Business Results
  • The Process Instrumentation Crisis
  • What Key Performance Indicator to Use and When
  • The Failure Effect
  • Forensics of Electric Machines
  • How We Won the North American Maintenance Excellence (NAME) Award
  • Do Corporate Reliability Awards Help?
  • Foreign Material Management
  • Driving Contractor Performance
  • Optimize Results Through a Culture of Excellence
  • Next-Generation Asset Reliability Solutions

Two days of in-depth workshops (Tuesday and Friday) are also available. Choose from one or two of six offered. These eight-hour intensive sessions taught by industry leaders include the following topics: 

  • Results-Oriented Reliability and Maintenance
  • Understanding ISO 55000 For Improved Asset Management
  • How to Develop a Culture of Excellence
  • How to Base-line Your Maintenance System for Improved Productivity

Presenters include professionals from companies such as Eli Lilly, Jacobs Engineering, Syngenta Crop Protection, Haynes International, Mississippi Lime, Pennsylvania Power and Light, and Emergent BioSolutions.

I love conversations. Send a note any time. You can also find me on LinkedIn and follow me on Twitter at @garymintchell. Check out the Maintenance Technology group on LinkedIn—ask questions and participate. As our Website undergoes improvements, there will be increased opportunities for you to voice your opinions.MT

Gary Mintchell,, is Executive Director of Applied Technology Publications. He also writes at

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11:19 pm
December 19, 2013
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Lubrication Checkup: Gearbox Overheating

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By Ken Bannister, Contributing Editor


“We’ve recently noticed that one of our critical gearboxes has started to run so hot that it can be barely touched by hand. It’s normally just warm to the touch. How detrimental is this situation, and what can we do about it?” 


Judging by your description of the gearbox to the touch of a hand, I estimate its temperature to be around 150 F (or 65 C)—the approximate temperature when the hand has to be lifted within three seconds of touch. That’s too hot, especially since the normal “warm to the touch” temperature would be approximately 104 F (or 40 C). 

An oil-temperature rise reacts according to the Arrhenius rule—a temperature- change-dependent failure-rate rule—that states for every 18 degrees F (10 degrees C) increase in temperature of the oil, the lubricant life cycle is halved. Your higher gearbox temperature means the unit is in danger of a premature failure.

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1. Check the current oil level and for evidence of leakage. Is the drain plug tight? Low oil levels in both splash and pressured systems can cause overheating.

2. When did you last change the oil? Old, oxidized oil can cause sludge build-up in the bottom of the reservoir and increased viscosity. If the oil was recently changed, was it replaced with incompatible gear oil or incorrect viscosity? Both scenarios can cause internal friction, leading to overheating.

3. If you have a pressurized system, check for a plugged suction.

4. Is the gearbox full of debris or dirt? Are the oil-fill cap and reservoir breather in place? Internal and external debris can create a thermal blanket that raises the temperature of the gearbox and oil.

5. Is a new external heat source causing the temperature to change? Did the operating parameters change and surpass the equipment’s design criteria? Use an infrared thermometer or camera to check for heat diffusion on the gearbox and local “hot spots.”

Often, one or more of the above situations can be responsible for a hot-running gearbox—pinpointing the culprit(s) is difficult without seeing the equipment. If my recommendations don’t resolve your issue, considering contacting a professional lubrication-management consultant for assistance. Good Luck! MT

Ken Bannister of Engtech Industries, Inc., is a Lubrication-Management Specialist and author of Lubrication for Industry (Industrial Press) and the 28th Edition Machinery’s Handbook Lubrication section (Industrial Press). For in-house ICML lubrication certification training, Ken can be reached at 519-469 9173 or by email at

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11:10 pm
December 19, 2013
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The Corporate Report 2013: American Trainco

For over 10 years, American Trainco has worked tirelessly to help companies all over the U.S. and Canada limit downtime at their facilities and create safe work environments for their employees. We provide live, instructor-led training seminars in public settings or privately at your facility for maintenance personnel in large buildings, plants and industrial facilities. Among our most popular training topics are “Basic Electricity for the Non-Electrician,” “Arc Flash Electrical Safety NFPA 70E®,” “Electrical Troubleshooting,” “Air Conditioning & Refrigeration,” “Boiler Operation, Maintenance & Safety,” “Programmable Logic Controllers,” “Variable Frequency Drives,” “Pumps and Pump Systems,” “National Electrical Code®,” “HVAC,” “Hydraulics,” “Emergency Power,” “High Voltage Electrical Safety” and many more. Plus, we can provide testing and certification for the EPA Section 608 exam.

At American Trainco, we instruct and guide our students in gaining hands-on knowledge they can immediately apply in the workplace. We make sure they can keep their plant or facility up and running—and we make sure they can do it safely. We encourage our students to discuss the issues and problems they face in their own jobs every day, ensuring that they will gain the practical information they need that is specific to their facility, enabling them to fix problems, create and maintain a safe workplace, and keep their equipment up and running now! 

Visit us at to see our entire 2014 training schedule and list of seminar topics or call 877-97-TRAIN for more information.

1213cramericantraincoAmerican Trainco, Inc.

9785 Maroon Circle, Suite 300

Englewood, CO 80112

Ph: 877.97.TRAIN
or 877.978.7246

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