Archive | August, 2014


2:22 pm
August 29, 2014
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EAM: On to the Next Level


Providers of Enterprise Asset Management systems explain how their solutions for today’s challenges set the stage for a more mobile, data-rich future.

By Rick Carter, Executive Editor

The day is coming when the still-too-common view of industrial maintenance as an isolated plant function of uncertain value is overtaken by the larger concept of its key role within the scope of enterprise asset management (EAM) systems. If you’re in one of the industries where the use of EAM software has been a key part of business strategy for some time—typically utilities, oil & gas, mining—you probably already see it that way. As the aging workforce slowly migrates out of service, and asset-focused standards like ISO 55000 gain worldwide acceptance, EAM will not only become more common across industry, its mobile-friendly capabilities are certain to evolve with increasing pace.

The challenges

To get there, EAM system providers are addressing a host of issues—some involve pulling experienced users forward, while others involve push new technologies into the EAM arena that will help users meet tomorrow’s demands more efficiently. Not surprisingly, a current pressing issue is the need to effectively address the industrial knowledge drain.

“A main challenge from our perspective is the loss of knowledge going out of the maintenance world,” says Victor Lough, Product Manager for Schneider Electric’s Avantis brand. “At the same time, there’s the trend toward predictive maintenance, which everyone has been talking about for some time. How can we bridge that gap? is the question we ask ourselves. And the next question is, how do you sustain the systems when they’re commissioned? This is what we’re focused on.”

EAM provider Ventyx agrees that “replacement of the aging workforce is difficult for many of [our customers] in the U.S.,” says David Humphrey, Director of Product Management for the ABB company. “Finding ways to make the system palatable to new users without disrupting the work of the experienced users is one of the key drivers we’re looking at.”

One of Ventyx’s solutions, according to Humphrey, is to “allow the customer to assimilate the change in process at the correct speed. We have a number of customers who have been using our systems for 20 years, and they’re used to it. At the same time, they have new people  coming in and performing work and finding the old system difficult to use.” To address these “conflicting imperatives,” he says, “we’re using mobile technologies and profile-based workflows so the system addresses the needs of the individual as opposed to it being simply a data-entry stream.”

The distinction, according to Humphrey’s colleague, Steve Deskevich, VP Energy Industry Solutions, is that the company is “not just creating software. We have industry solutions focused from the industry perspective. And we’re moving to technology architectures that allow us to grow and get the technology to where it can expand into newer areas without it being cobbled by the past.” This is why mobility is so important, he says. “Mobility is probably the biggest area of interest to our customers. And we plan to expand its functionality from an EAM perspective.”

As in many other areas of maintenance and operations, mobility plays a key and rapidly expanding role in the product offerings of EAM providers. “It is almost central to what we do,” says Lough at Schneider Electric. In addition to its ability to drastically simplify the completion of tasks, a key mobile benefit is that “it removes the latency in decision-making and reporting, which is really the Achilles heel of maintenance,” says Lough. “Field workers love the idea that once they push that button and head back to the office, they don’t have more paperwork to file.”

Lough has noted some resistance to mobile, but more often because of “management-of-change processes within organizations,” he says. The outdated perception that the use of mobile devices means “Big Brother is watching over you” has been surpassed, he adds, by the great value of reduced paperwork. “Once the organization fully grasps this benefit, it’s a win for everyone,” he says. “Sure there are some old grizzly bears out there who may resist mobile, but younger workers are surprised when they come aboard and there’s anything that’s not mobile. Pencil and paper is a turnoff for them,” he says. “Using the latest technology is a way to attract younger workers.”

Variations on simplicity

Another way to attract them is to keep things simple. To some, this means eliminating several EAM systems in favor of one. “One of the biggest issues we see is companies that run disparate EAM and CMMS systems,” says Patrick Zirnhelt, Vice President, Enterprise Service and Asset Management at IFS. “We talk to many companies who may have one system in the head office running their financials, supply-chain and other enterprise corporate activities, but their field plants run something different. This is a big problem because it means you don’t have one version of the truth or one repository with all the data in one place. And if our customers don’t have the right root data,” says Zirnhelt, “they can’t make the right decisions. And it’s not just maintenance management, but things on the peripheral like not having integrated project-management systems or integrated document-management systems, health-and-safety information, non-conformance reporting audit systems, and other types of related applications. Having that data all over the place creates a lot of inefficiencies.”

According to Zirnhelt, IFS guides clients toward a single solution so they interact with only “one version of the truth, one database and one user interface for many different functions, whether it’s maintenance, supply-chain, financials, project management or HR. It’s all in one repository, one system. This way, you don’t have to be trained on multiple systems and the company doesn’t have to worry about the interfaces for these disparate systems.”

IFS recognizes that not all clients can easily conform to this approach. “In cases where the company has made a heavy investment in a big system and the appetite to move away from it isn’t there, we will work with it and have an interface,” says Zirnhelt. In this situation, the legacy system might be kept running core financials, for example, while the IFS program assumes responsibility for all other aspect of operations.

Like its competitors, IFS seeks to bring more information into systems and match it with a high degree of analysis. “We’re spending a lot of time [improving the ability to] capture big data and collect and use as much of it as possible to look for trends,” says Zirnhelt. While IFS does not offer predictive maintenance tools, he adds that “any predictive tools out there depend upon having a collection of good maintenance data. So our ability to collect the data is very important.” IFS is also moving toward in-context analytics, he says, “which means being able to look at transactional data in real time—maintenance, supply chain or anything else—and on the same screen have analytical data or reports to help improve immediate decision making.”

Zirnhelt says cost pressures alone are enough support this approach to EAM, but adds that growing regulatory-compliance requirements make it even more important. “A fully automated system that can produce compliance reports quickly as needed is extremely valuable,” he says. It eliminates the need to “fish for a lot of information,” he adds, “which can save weeks of time for just one request.”

While EAM providers agree on the need for their systems to efficiently gather and analyze large amounts of data, not all agree on the best way to do that. Ventyx, for example, does not take “a one-size-fits-all approach,” says Deskevich, which he acknowledges sets Ventyx apart from its competitors. “We’re not mobilizing 100% of our existing solutions because we feel that’s a waste of time,” says Humphrey. “There is a lot of functionality in our system that is deep and rich and required, but is impractical at best and useless at worst on a mobile device.”

Instead, Ventyx is “picking key business processes that make sense to have done at the point of work for the worker, and mobilizing that,” according to Humphrey. The result: “Mobile solutions that are precise for the work they do and are able to be useful in the field. And since the solution is specific to the work task, we’re able to address things that are not easy to address with a desktop system, such as volume of data entry, data-entry method, and the ability to leverage device functions such as GPS, weather, voice-to-text and Google Glass,” says Humphrey. “This is what we bring to specific business functions, as opposed to broadcasting over the breadth and depth of the solution.”

This approach suggests that the solution must be customizable, a benefit Humphrey prefers to call “tailorable.” “For me,” he says, “customizable means someone can go in and do something to the solution that will make it difficult for them to take the next release of our software. Tailoring, on the other hand, allows them to personalize it based on the workflows they need, but is in line with and leverages the strength of the system so they can easily take the next upgrade. And a key thing we’re looking at regarding tailorability is making the system easier to tailor,” he adds, “by making the tailoring a customer is able to do more extensive so they can better address their needs.”

Ventyx is also migrating its technology to the cloud, says Humphrey, a process that requires a careful balance of assimilation among customers. “Our older workforce generally knows how to use our system very efficiently,” he says. “So we’re balancing their rate of change in this regard. We’re learning how much our experienced users can accept and how quickly they can accept it without resulting in even a temporary loss in efficiency. We’re trying to increase efficiency, not disrupt the organization. And our partners have been extremely valuable helping us find that balance.”

The look ahead

EAM providers foresee fundamental changes ahead, both in how their products are used, and why. Lough at Schneider Electric sees the release of ISO 55000 as a key driver for greater integration of EAM programs across many platforms. “It will help define [the EAM] industry,” he says, noting that, at the very least, ISO 55000 underscores the value of having a tested, standardized approach to asset management. “Many clients don’t know how to get started” with an asset-management system, he says, and don’t realize asset management is more than just maintenance. “It encompasses processes, people and, importantly, analyses of how well everything works over time,” says Lough. “ISO 55000 will be a good benchmark to enable them to see how well they’re doing in their maturity cycle. It should drive the process forward because it’s also a standard that senior executives can’t ignore. It’s only a matter of time before it becomes commonplace.”

Mobile EAM devices remove latency in decision-making and reporting, and relieve field workers of tedious paperwork.

Mobile EAM devices remove latency in decision-making and reporting, and relieve field workers of tedious paperwork.

As far as the types of technology EAM users can expect, Deskevich offers Ventyx’s new Asset Health Center (AHC) product as an example. A convergence of “operational and information technology, AHC hits at the heart of the need reliability managers have to manage this aging infrastructure that we’re in,” he says. It pulls information from condition-monitoring systems, control systems, maintenance systems, historical programs and equipment-reliability programs. “Then, using an analytic engine, it can help the engineer draw conclusions and patterns that you wouldn’t necessary see unless you were very experienced,” says Deskevich. “This means reliability engineers would have the ability to see from either a fleet view or very specific view, for example, how their assets are performing.”

He also points to Ventyx’s efforts to integrate 3D with EAM. “This is becoming more prevalent,” he says, noting that in a recent prototyping project, the company created a scenario-driven training exercise where a worker could walk through as an avatar and undertake a work assignment in the 3D model, based on a work order in the EAM system. “The idea is to bring these two worlds together to facilitate training,” he says. “Then the next step is to use the 3D model to better plan maintenance. If the work-order package says the job should be done in a certain order, for example, feed it to the 3D model and have the model walk you through it to determine if there’s anything different in the plant from the last time this job was done. This optimizes the maintenance strategy.”

Deskevich adds that there are “plenty of other technologies” for EAM to grow into. “As we move toward Google Glass and 3D rendering, for example, we’ll want to leverage mobile technology in a way that these elements will give you access to all types of information that could not be stored on a device. We want to bring the richness of the mobile world we see in the consumer market to bear on the business side. Yes, there are cybersecurity issues to deal with,” he says, “but we definitely see EAM moving into that world.” MT


9:01 pm
August 28, 2014
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Uptime: TPM — A Foundation for Asset-Management Systems, Part I

0914bobwilliamsonmugBy Bob Williamson, Contributing Editor

If you cannot make Total Productive Maintenance work in your plant, you will surely struggle with the ISO 55000 Asset Management Standard.

Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) is an organization-wide process for improving equipment effectiveness that was taken from the heart of what we now know as the “Toyota Production System” (TPS). TPM came to North America from the Japan Institute for Plant Maintenance (JIPM) in the mid-1980s. The TPM process gained momentum because of the way it shared equipment-maintenance responsibilities with others in organizations through fundamental “pillars.” The Pillars of TPM outlined the basic principles of the process and how they were to be deployed interdependently (they supported each other).

TPM’s basic pillars

From the onset of TPM in North America and through its first 10 years, we knew it could become the predominant equipment-maintenance strategy for the 21st century. Why? TPM offered a fresh insight to equipment maintenance and reliability that went well beyond the confines of maintenance departments’ roles and responsibilities.

TPM is not just another maintenance program. Others in the organization had to become involved because TPM focused on the entire “life cycle” of equipment–from design to operations and maintenance, and then restoration or decommissioning. The breakthrough in our thinking came when we began to truly understand the “Pillars of TPM” and how they worked together and focused on results, not merely on activities “in the hopes of improving performance.” Here are the five basic Pillars of TPM:

  1. Improving equipment effectiveness by targeting the major losses
  2. Involving operators in the maintenance of their equipment
  3. Improving maintenance efficiency and effectiveness
  4. Training to improve skills and knowledge
  5. Early equipment management and maintenance prevention design

ISO 55000 and asset-management systems

The five Pillars of TPM also formed the basis for an easy-to-understand “asset-management system” that pre-dated PAS 55 Asset Management Specification by more than 20 years, and ISO 5000 by more than 30 years. Understanding and deploying TPM as originally intended can establish a solid foundation for ISO 55000 on the plant floor and help establish an “asset management mindset” at the top management levels of the organization. Let’s explore.

The ISO 55000 (55001) Asset Management Standard released in February outlines the requirements for an “asset-management system”  (a system for managing an asset-management system). The new Standard, however, does not prescribe how to establish such a “system,” nor does it prescribe how to manage assets. At the heart of the ISO 55001 Asset Management Standard are requirements for the appropriate stakeholders to address the “at risk” assets throughout the entire asset life cycle while providing a “line of sight” from the asset-management actions to the goals and objectives of the business. Sounds pretty academic.

Here’s where TPM comes into play: It not only defines what an asset-management system is, it outlines HOW TO establish an asset-management system based upon the five TPM Pillars.

I am convinced, especially after teaching about and consulting in TPM since the early 1990s and conducting PAS 55 gap analyses since 2012, that starting true TPM can set the stage for launching an ISO 55000 mindset in an organization. I also believe that the converse is true: If you cannot successfully deploy TPM in an organization, the road to ISO 55000 certification will result in dead ends.

TPM’s most important pillar

Our step-by-step exploration of TPM as a systematic approach to asset management begins with an examination of its first and most important Pillar: “Improving equipment effectiveness by targeting the major losses.” Keep in mind that all five Pillars were designed to work together rather than stand alone–to be “interdependent” rather than independent. (The remaining TPM Pillars will be covered in future “Uptime” columns.]

Improving equipment effectiveness by targeting the major losses: The first Pillar of TPM serves two essential purposes: 1) What to focus on; and 2) how to measure progress. While the purpose of this Pillar is to “improve equipment effectiveness,” three key words in it are what make that happen: “targeting” and “major losses.”

Identifying and addressing the “major losses” provides a basis for the compelling business case for improving equipment effectiveness–the foundation for work-culture change. Major losses are just that: The equipment-related losses that have a large impact on equipment effectiveness and on the business.

Major equipment-related losses in a production process can be associated with the actual production-line equipment, other equipment in the product/process flow, utilities (i.e., electric, compressed air, water, steam, gas, etc.), and material-handling equipment. To narrow down the specific equipment focus, it’s important to first analyze the overall process flow. Start by looking for interruptions in the planned production flow rate (per hour, per shift) and the impacts on the business.

For example, let’s consider the major losses relating to a material-handling forklift compared to the single-point-of-failure machines in a production process. The forklift can stop production because materials cannot be moved to and from the production process. Chances are several other forklifts could be called into service within a short amount of time to remedy the production losses (a low-cost work-around).

But when a single-point-of-failure machine fails, there is no work-around—and production comes to a halt until the machine is repaired. The costs of parts, labor, production losses and safety incidents are significant unplanned business expenses that add to the cost-per-unit produced.

In reality, a TPM case can be made for addressing both the forklift and the single-point-of-failure machine based on the frequency and duration of the failures. The business goals, however, are more at risk when the single-point-of-failure machine in a production process fails than when a dedicated forklift fails. Accordingly, an asset-management strategy for the single-point-of-failure machine should be more robust than that of the forklift.

The plant-floor perspective of TPM

Now let’s view TPM deployment from a pragmatic, plant-floor perspective continuing with the same TPM Pillar, “Improving equipment effectiveness by targeting the major losses.”

There are three plant-floor concepts at work here: Reliability, Root Cause Analysis and Constraints (or bottlenecks).

Reliability & Root Cause: A TPM strategy uses the concepts of Reliability and Root Cause Analysis for targeting the major losses related to the single-point-of-failure machine in a production process (let’s call this Machine Z) to the point of identifying and eliminating the causes. Before we wander too far from Machine Z’s losses, we must remember what a “failure” is. If the machine does what it is intended to do in defined operating conditions for a stated period of time, it is considered reliable. If the machine ceases to do what it is intended to do, it has “failed.” All failures are not catastrophic breakdowns. A “slow-down” can be a failure too.

Constraints: Any production process flow has a constraint–an integral part of the process that sets the pace for the entire process. For example, if Machine Z, being a single point of failure in a production process, is operating at 90% of its intended cycle time, it has failed because it slows the entire production process down to its speed. Even at 90% cycle time, it has a negative business impact (i.e., interruptions to downstream flow, late product deliveries and higher cost-per-unit produced to name a few).

In this example, Machine Z becomes our TPM focus. Having determined this focus, the next step in “improving equipment effectiveness” is to group Machine Z’s “major losses” in three primary data categories. The three primary equipment-effectiveness loss categories in TPM include:

  • Availability Losses: Planned downtime and unplanned downtime
  • Performance Rate Losses: Speed and cycle time
  • Quality (Yield) Losses: Defects, rework, scrap

“Overall Equipment Effectiveness” (OEE) is often treated as a metric that factors the three loss categories (above) expressed as percentages: Availability, Performance Rate and Quality/Yield. This is where the calculated confusion comes in. Contrary to popular belief, OEE percentages are not meaningful data, and 85% OEE is not “world class.” OEE percentages do not provide the quantity, duration or nature (reasons) for the losses.

Categorizing data in ways that recordsthe quantity, duration and nature (reasons) for specific types of losses is essential to achieving rapid and sustainable bottom-line business results from TPM. Frequently, the lack of good data is the weakest link in process-reliability improvement (i.e., not having the data to turn into meaningful information and then into prioritized action items).

Focused improvement in TPM depends on having accurate and reliable data to identify the “major losses” and then to prioritize focused improvement actions. Having this accurate and reliable data as an equipment base line also serves as a way to measure progress (i.e.,  “Are our TPM actions making improvements in availability, performance rate or quality and yield?”).

TPM as an asset-management system

The ISO 55000 Asset Management Standard requires that a system be established to assure consistent, accurate, and reliable practices that address the at-risk assets (equipment in this case). The principles of TPM prescribe the same.

In applying the ISO 55000 requirement to the first TPM Pillar (“Improving equipment effectiveness by targeting the major losses”) there needs to be a documented, systematic and audited way to collect, analyze, trend and report all of the data used to prevent (or eliminate) the major losses of the most at-risk equipment. In the absence of this type of data-management system, neither TPM nor ISO 55000 Asset Management will be successful.

Future installments of this column will expand asset-management concepts to the remaining Pillars of TPM, and, possibly, OEE.  MT

Bob 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 facilities across North America. Contact him at


8:41 pm
August 28, 2014
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Don’t Procrastinate, Innovate: What Maintenance Controls and What It Manages

1409kenbannistermugBy Ken Bannister, Contributing Editor

Traditionally, maintenance departments have been marked as scapegoats within their respective organizations. As a consequence, they may have found themselves on the receiving end of unsolicited blame for production slowdowns and losses, excess spending of corporate profits, and unfairly referred to as a “necessary evil.”

Although there could sometimes be elements of truth in such allegations, the majority of blame is unfounded. What I find remarkable is the frequent inability of the maintenance department to combat these idle remarks with irrefutable evidence that exposes the true causal factors leading to asset failure and resource waste within plants and facilities.

Recognizing “who” and “what” failure-cause factors requires an intimate understanding of the difference between what maintenance controls versus what it must manage on a daily basis. Even with a well-implemented work-management system, many maintenance departments are still unable to define or report on this fundamental difference.

Understand what you control vs. manage

In her groundbreaking 2006 book Leadership and the New Science: Discovering Order in a Chaotic World, management guru Margaret Wheatley states, “In organizations, real power and energy is generated through relationships. The pattern of relationships and the capacities to form them are more important than tasks, functions, roles and positions.”

Based on Wheatley’s premise, if a maintenance department is to be truly successful in its mission to provide adequate levels of equipment reliability and availability according to pre-defined service-level agreements, goals and expectations, it must strive to establish healthy working relationships on two levels:

  1. Inter-departmental relationships between clerical staff, trades, planners, schedulers, supervisors and managers; and
  2. Intra-departmental relationships between the maintenance group and its client base that can include production, purchasing, accounting, human resources, finance, IT and outside relationships with suppliers, contract specialist, consultants, etc.

Building and understanding these vital relationships calls for innovative thinking that borrows from the production-management handbook to build a modified value stream (also known as a material and information flow model). Modified for our purposes, this model diagrammatically maps out the upstream inputs that flow into the maintenance department against the downstream output deliverables it provides as part of its mandate to clients. These value streams are built on two levels:

1. Department Level.
This is a high-level map designed to identify the internal corporate groups and external groups that provide inputs to the maintenance department, balanced against the internal and external groups maintenance must provide output deliverables to. Often, the input side is identical to the output side with maybe a few exceptions; these are the relationships the maintenance department must manage on a daily basis.

2. Relationship Level.
This defines in detail each individual internal inter/intra-departmental, and external relationship through the identification of the material and information flow required to perform each specific function performed by the maintenance department on a daily basis. this includes asset life-cycle management, work-order management, inventory management, document and record management, contractual management, invoice reconciliation with similar tasks. Input requirements and output deliverables are analyzed and expressed in terms of requests, specific documents, access, agreements, legislative requirements, services (labor, skills), products (parts/tools), funding, etc.

The value stream Input/Output maps allow the maintenance department and its partners or clients to clearly see who maintenance relies on (upstream inputs) to perform its business. They will also show who relies on the maintenance department (downstream deliverables) for the well-being of their operations.

Not only does this exercise identify where efforts overlap between different departments and job positions, it highlights duplication and pinpoints critical relationships that can “bottleneck” the maintenance department’s ability to deliver on service agreements. (These types of relationships often are not within the control of maintenance but must still be managed.) For example, a maintenance manager is responsible for managing all equipment repairs, but is not always able to control access to the equipment (production), access to parts (purchasing), or access to funds (management, accounting), and must rely on a mutual working relationship with others to deliver on the maintenance mandate. Value mapping truly highlights the tangible value of the maintenance department and each position within it.

Track what you control vs. manage

Tracking what you control requires the maintenance department to keep two sets of books. When all labor and parts are accounted for in the CMMS, the CMMS automatically tracks the total cost of maintenance—or the sum of what the maintenance department controls and manages.

Maintenance is mandated to do work, regardless of how it comes about. When maintenance performs work caused by elements not under its control (such as vandalism or graffiti; operator abuse; production’s use of poor-quality or out-of-spec raw materials; or lack of access to perform basic preventive maintenance) and the equipment fails prematurely, the failures should be classified as non-maintenance-related. Identifying these types of incidents for what they are is as simple as coding the work order as a “non-maintenance related failure” upon completion of the job.

When maintenance could have prevented a failure (such as over- or under-lubricating a bearing; not using inferior parts; not repairing something it knew would fail before the failure occurred) should be classified as “maintenance-related failures.” Denoting them as such helps maintenance be more in tune with failure and better identify root causes. Maintenance teams can also leverage this information to either build enhanced preventive strategies or develop reports for client discussion on how to improve and better manage an asset by working together as a team.

This approach is also applicable in managing contract maintenance providers, especially in cases when a contractor arrives late and stalls a production process longer than expected. Capturing all wait time (from proposed start time to actual start time) against a standing work order for a specific contractor can pinpoint the total number of hours that production was delayed due to the service provider’s tardiness. This type of report can be used in service-level discussions with the contractor and the production department—both of which are reflective of non-maintenance-controlled issues.

Filtering out all of the non-maintenance failures and issues gives maintenance a second set of figures for identifying areas that are directly under its control. That ability, in turn, can help the department better depict the efficiency and effectiveness of its efforts.

Armed with new, more relevant information, a maintenance department can manage itself in a more positive manner, with full open disclosure. On one hand, it will be better equipped to recognize and pursue opportunities that increase its own effectiveness. Conversely, the department will be able to develop more reasonable service level agreements with its clients based on realistic relationship deliverables. That’s because the input side of the equation can finally be calculated in tangible terms, thus leading to a higher level of cooperation in areas that maintenance really does not control. Good luck! MT

Contributing Editor Ken Bannister is an asset-management consultant for Engtech industries, Inc. He has specialized in asset-data-register development and CMMS implementation for over 26 years. Contact him at


5:38 pm
August 28, 2014
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Are You A Psychologist, A Condition-Monitoring Analyst, Or Both?


The roles and responsibilities of today’s equipment-health-focused professionals go beyond collecting and analyzing data.
MT asked a condition-monitoring expert to tell us what the job descriptions don’t. 

By Jane Alexander, Managing Editor

Many colleges and universities require their students to take a basic psychology course. Most students wonder why. But according to Trent Phillips of LUDECA, Inc., a condition-monitoring (CM) analyst would be very likely to know why.

As the study of mental processes and behavior, psychology teaches the use of behavior and scientific methods to investigate questions and arrive at appropriate conclusions. Such tactics, says Phillips, are critical to anyone who aspires to be a successful analyst—including those in the field of equipment condition-monitoring.

Observe and listen 

A CM analyst must observe and listen to equipment, fellow employees and management, says Phillips. Information from these groups, considered with their actions, will often provide the answers the analyst seeks. Additionally, the CM analyst must review the facts (data) and weigh them against other information. “The wise CM analyst learns to distinguish between anecdotal evidence and facts,” notes Phillips. “And this process will determine the course of action the analyst must take.”

In Phillips’ opinion, convincing others of the unseen, unheard and dire consequences that are likely to occur if appropriate actions are not taken is arguably the greatest difficulty an analyst faces. “Failure to plan almost always results in a failure to succeed,” he explains. “This is absolutely true when it comes to conveying critical condition-monitoring information to maintenance, operations, production and management within a facility.”

But therein lies a problem: Each group will process information differently, demonstrate different behavior, have different priorities and different objectives. To address this problem, Phillips says, a CM analyst, must learn to communicate the required information differently to each group based upon their exhibited behavior, objectives and understanding. This requires careful planning and implementation to succeed.

How to influence

Although CM analysts are usually not empowered to implement the changes required to improve equipment health, Phillips says their role and responsibilities typically involve more than simply collecting data to detect, diagnose and confirm equipment-health conditions. “Proper data collection and analysis is only part of the battle a CM analyst will routinely face,” says Phillips. “Understanding how to influence those responsible for funding, implementing change, directing repairs and engineering resources to improve equipment health are also qualities of the most successful CM analysts.”

In addition to collecting data, Phillips says CM analysts must be able to:

  • Identify individuals and groups responsible for implementing changes that are required to maintain and improve equipment health and become their partner in reliability.
  • Understand the goals, motives and objectives of these individuals and groups.
  • Understand how to motivate these individuals and groups to provide the support required to improve equipment health and reliability.
  • Understand the knowledge level of each individual and group.
  • Present the information in a way that is meaningful, understandable and motivates others to take necessary action.

Work with others 

According to Phillips, the right attitude is often a major factor in the success of a CM analyst. He notes that “works well with others” and “has a high tolerance for rejection” are characteristics necessary for success in the role. “The CM analyst by definition must interact with others, because his or her efforts can only be brought to fruition by others,” he says. “Information is the deliverable supplied by the analyst. The way in which it is conveyed will determine the success of the individual, facility, corporation and reliability efforts.”

Phillips notes that as challenging as technology and interpretation of results can be, they are among the easiest hurdles a CM analyst faces. The most difficult part may be getting others to follow the recommendations needed to improve maintenance and reliability.

“The successful condition-monitoring analyst must have the unique ability to determine what is important, what motivates and what creates a reaction from those responsible for equipment maintenance and reliability,” says Phillips. “They must be prepared for constant rejection and be willing to keep advocating until the needed action is taken.” MT

Trent Phillips is the Condition Monitoring Manager of LUDECA, Inc., a leading provider of shaft alignment, vibration analysis and balancing equipment. He has worked for many years in creating and managing reliability programs and developing condition-monitoring technologies, and holds several certifications in the field. Contact him at

Work Environments and the Success of CM Analysts

How important is the management of expectations?

LUDECA’s Trent Phillips says work environment can have a major impact on the success of CM analysts. In a facility or business with a well–planned production and reliability process, employees know what is expected of them and the role they play in the organization’s success. “This type of atmosphere makes it much easier to be a successful CM analyst,” he explains. “But it’s the exception. Few analysts today work in such environments.”

Phillips has found that expectations placed on many of today’s analysts and channels of communication are not always clearly defined. Furthermore, since many facilities still operate in a reactive state, their actions are focused on getting through current production cycles, not on improving long-term reliability and plant capacity. These situations keep CM analysts on the hunt for ways to effectively advocate for the equipment they monitor; convince responsible plant personnel to take appropriate action(s) before unwanted consequences occur; and, ultimately, improve equipment reliability. It doesn’t have to be that way, he says.

A wise—and successful—CM analyst will reach out to others with an offering of service, suggests Phillips. “The analyst who makes it his or her job to help others be more successful will soon become an integral part of the organization,” he says. “Support is easier to obtain when others see the CM analyst as one who is committed to helping them succeed, improve maintenance and increase reliability.”


3:38 pm
August 26, 2014
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AutomationDirect Adds More Photoelectric Sensors

md-qm-photo-sensors_5x7AutomationDirect’s new QM series photoelectric sensors are IP67-rated sensors available in three-wire NPN or PNP styles and with visible red and infrared versions. The mini-rectangular photo eye sensors are constructed with plastic housings and have either an attached two-meter output cable or an M8 quick-disconnect connector. The series includes diffuse, diffuse with background suppression, retroreflective, retroreflective for transparent objects, and through-beam styles. All retroreflective models include one rectangular reflector; through-beam models are sold as an emitter and receiver pair. All models have a selectable light-on/dark-on output setting; select models are fitted with an easy-to-use potentiometer for setting switchpoint distance. The QM series sensors start at $35, have complete overload protection, and are available in sensing ranges up to 30m. Backed by a one-year warranty, QM series photoelectric sensors are cULus, CE and RoHS approved.</>


3:00 pm
August 26, 2014
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GP:50 Corp. Introduces Low Range, High Line Differential Pressure Transducers

GP50_Model_216-316-FINALGP:50 Corporation LTD has announced the introduction of its Model 216/316 Series, a family of compact, long range, high line differential pressure transducers.

The GP:50 Model 216/316 Series is available in pressure ranges from 2.5” WCD thru 200 PSID (14 BAR), with line pressure options up to 5000 PSI (345 BAR). The Model 216 is offered with choice of either 0-5 VDC or 0-10 VDC output, while the Model 316 is a loop-powered (4-20 mA) unit. They are available with choice of unidirectional or bidirectional output, as well as with an improved accuracy specification of up to ±0.05% FSO.

The wet-to-wet design of the GP:50 Model 216/316 Series incorporates the company’s own proprietary digital correction circuitry, along with all-welded, corrosion-resistant 316L stainless steel wetted parts and housings. These features result in the creation of a high-accuracy differential pressure transducer with very fast response time (<50 ms for 90% FSO) and extended service life across a variety of applications. Customer selectable options include custom calibrations, Hastelloy wetted materials, IP67 rating, and improved thermal compensation.


2:31 pm
August 26, 2014
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Armstrong Unveils Expanded Range of Three-speed Circulators

Astro290CI-039_final_v1Armstrong Fluid Technologyhas expanded its Astro wet-rotor circulator line with the introduction of the Astro 2 Series. Featuring four new sizes, the Astro 2 Series now offers flange-to-flange and bolt-to-bolt compatibility with 100% of competing models in terms of performance.

Designed for fast and convenient installation and years of trouble-free operation, the new models also address a broader range of applications. Key features include: three field-selectable operating speeds, double the head and triple the flow, a plug-in terminal strip to save time on installation, e-coating on the inside of the cast iron volutes to provide enhanced corrosion protection, pre-installed high-flow check valve and availability in cast iron, stainless steel and lead-free bronze.

In addition, Armstrong has announced an industry-leading five-year warranty on both the Astro and Compass Circulators.


5:55 pm
August 25, 2014
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Emerson Power Transmission Solutions Launches Torque-Amplification-Analysis Program

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Emerson Power Transmission Solutions, a business of Emerson Industrial Automation, has announced the launch of a new torque-amplification-analysis program. Focused on precisely measuring the true torque loads and vibration frequencies experienced by rolling mill drives, it’s part of Emerson’s efforts to help mills process tougher alloys, increase output with thicker slabs or higher speeds, protect against cold-end slabsand mitigate torsional vibration.

Developed by Emerson Kop-Flex, the new analysis program combines computer modeling of complex drives with true torque measurements to determine the actual torque-amplification factor (TAF) on the drive rather than inferring it from motor-current readings. Kop-Flex then engineers solutions that reduce TAF and torsional vibration using alterations of coupling stiffness, improved overload protection, resilient couplings and other strategies.

“TAF can be defined as the peak torque divided by the rolling torque,” explained Dan Phillips, Kop-Flex Global Manager, Metals Industry Service. “It’s a unit-less factor that shows the severity of a torque spike. It is affected by system dynamics or how the inertias and stiffnesses are distributed across a complex drivetrain. Entry conditions, such as slab temperature, speed, angular clearances and backlash in gear components all play a role.”

According to Phillips, the old rule of thumb for mill drives was to keep the TAF under 2.5, but with motor sizes and slab thickness increasing and new alloys being processed, the old rules don’t apply. “As rolling torque increases,” he says, “so will peak torque, degrading overload protection devices, bearings, couplings, work rolls, etc. Often the first sign of a torsional problem is equipment failure.”

TAF analysis applies measured torque readings to 3D mode shape analysis to visualize how a drive train twists at various locations to determine where to alter stiffness or increase damping. “We use torque-monitoring hardware developed for high-speed turbomachinery drives, so it is already mill-hardened, accurate and capable of high-rate data sampling,” notes Phillips. “High-rate sampling using strain gages allows the system to capture torque spikes that would normally be unseen on motor-current readings because of the high-inertia in these drives. At lower sampling rates, peak torque measurements are often truncated because the system cannot capture them. High-rate sampling is a must to capture these events in a complex, high-inertia drive.” He points out Kop-Flex has used the technology to engineer TAF reductions as high as 50%.

TAF data capture and analysis can be a temporary service or integrated with a mill’s CSI 6500 condition-monitoring system as an ongoing service. The CSI6500 Machinery Health Monitor from Emerson Process Management is widely used in the steel industry to track bearing vibration, temperature and other data. Additional data on torque loads allows the mill to correlate the measured torque with slab temperature, force on the work rolls, speed, gap, etc., so engineers can better understand the root cause and make needed changes on scheduled downtime, before cumulative damage leads to an unscheduled outage.