Archive | February, 2014


10:39 pm
February 21, 2014
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Lubrication Checkup: Grease-Gun Tips

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By Ken Bannister, Contributing Editor


We must have at least a dozen different grease guns in our maintenance department. Some deliver more lubricant than others, yet our PMs call for a fixed amount of shots. Is this a problem? 


There are no “standard” grease guns. While they may look similar, displacement and hydraulic pressure ratings vary from gun to gun. For example, a manufacturer may offer two lever-arm-actuated models: a low-pressure unit rated to deliver one fluid ounce of grease in seven strokes (shots) at a pressure of 1700 psi; and a similar-looking sister product rated to deliver one fluid ounce in 24 strokes at a staggering 15,000 psi! Note: Not all manufacturers state delivery or pressure on their guns or literature. You may need to ask for it.

If a PM calls for four shots of grease, the amount delivered will vary depending on the gun and setup. Over-lubrication, a huge problem in manual greasing, is magnified when a PM task states “grease as necessary,” which gives no clear direction on what’s required. In addition to being overfilled, the bearings could lose their seals under the resulting internal hydraulic pressure and allow contamination into the bearing cavity.


Ideally, a bearing cavity only needs filling to approximately 40% volume. If a single-point manual grease gun is your chosen delivery method, the following steps can help standardize your approach and reduce problems:

1. Implement a lubricating-grease consolidation program.

2. Collect and purge all grease guns in the plant and replace with a single design, preferably with a see-through barrel.

3. Perform a grease-gun displacement check by pumping 10 strokes or shots of grease into a large calibrated syringe, then read off the number of cubic centimeters or inches in volume and divide by 10 to get the actual volume displacement per shot or stroke.

4. Calculate bearing requirements and mark on a schematic attached to the machine or printed with the PM work order.

5. Optional: Color-tag individual grease points to denote grease type and mark the number of shots required per PM schedule.

6. Train grease-gun operators.

Good Luck! MT&AP

Dr. Lube, aka Contributing Editor Ken Bannister, is, among other things, a Lubrication Management Specialist and author of Lubrication for Industry and the Lubrication Section of the 28th Edition Machinery’s Handbook (both from Industrial Press). Email your lubrication checkup and training questions to:; or telephone: (519) 469-9173.

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7:52 pm
February 21, 2014
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Motor Decisions Matter: Motor Management Pays Off

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By Ted Jones, Principal Program Mgr., Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE)

To meet corporate sustainability goals and boost the bottom line, many managers are being asked to reduce operating costs through improved energy efficiency. Because they represent roughly 66% of the electricity used in a typical factory, electric motors and motor-driven equipment are a good place to start. Whether your operations are large or small, in a single location or over multiple sites, paying attention to motor efficiency and putting sound motor-management policies in place can pay off. Consider the following examples from two vastly different enterprises.

Chemical giant BASF Corporation uses significant numbers of electric motors in its plants. Its global commitment to sustainability and continued success in energy management led to the establishment of policies for managing the purchase and repair of motors throughout more than 100 BASF production facilities in North America—and a goal to reduce motor operating costs by 3% to 5%. The company’s Motor Management Guideline supports management of its NEMA-frame motor population. BASF also developed a technical reference manual for use by its engineering staff, as well as a brochure communicating the company’s motor-management message to all plant personnel.

BASF’s Energy Optimization Manager Tom Theising, who spearheaded this effort in 1998, said it required cooperation from several sites and corporate engineering, purchasing and energy-management departments. Originally designed for the company’s North American plants, the Motor Management Guideline has since been included in BASF’s Global Handbook: Best Practices in Energy Efficiency. For maximum effectiveness in this type of multi-site program, Theising stressed, all production sites must agree with and implement it. (See his presentation to the MDM campaign here.)

Consolidated Container Co. LLC (Consolidated), a privately held business based in Minneapolis, MN, distributes, recycles and reconditions metal containers. Brothers Phillip and William Dworsky purchased the company in 2004 vowing to make “green” investments. Consolidated had 50 employees that year. It now has more than 100, with a division in Houston and a distribution office in Kansas City. The company was spending approximately $21,000 per month on electricity. To target the most attractive energy-efficiency projects, it enlisted support from its local utility, Xcel Energy, and a local consultant. After upgrading the plant’s lighting, the Dworskys replaced two motors: a 20 hp unit used to run a vacuum pump and a 40 hp unit for a machine used to clean steel drums (both more than 10 years old). Upgrading to NEMA Premium motors at cost of approximately $7500 (not including incentives from Xcel) resulted in total energy savings of 7840 kWh. Consolidated continues to monitor its older motors for opportunities to make them more energy efficient.

According to the Dworsky brothers, the rebates from Xcel are a bonus. The real savings come with their monthly energy statements, which remind them of how the little things can add up. Consolidated also believes in continuous energy improvement. There’s a perpetual need, the Dworskys explained, “to consistently review what energy savings opportunities are available as we make investments in newer technologies.” (Find this MDM case study here.)

If managing motors can pay off for BASF and Consolidated, isn’t it worth exploring in your organization? The Motor Decisions Matter program ( has a toolbox of tools and resources to help you get started, including a Motor Efficiency Guidebook, a Motor Planning Kit and a wealth of information on the success of others. Why wait? MT&AP

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7:49 pm
February 21, 2014
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My Take: Energy-Efficiency Programs — One Size Doesn’t Fit All

newjaneresizeBy Jane Alexander, Deputy Editor

If you work in a small or medium-sized manufacturing (SMM) operation in the United States, you have plenty of company: According to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), about 90% of manufacturing establishments fall into that category. While these types of enterprises only account for roughly 50% of today’s industrial energy use, many of them could be missing out on a range of important energy-saving—make that “cost-saving”—opportunities. Do I have your attention?

Most plant managers have heard, many times over, that manufacturing is responsible for approximately a third of the primary energy consumed in the U.S.—and they are no doubt well aware that their facilities are being constantly pushed by states and utilities to meet efficiency targets. Energy-efficiency-program providers, however, seem to have traditionally focused on helping large manufacturing enterprises (the 10% responsible for close to 50% of industrial energy consumption). All well and good, but that’s not the whole story.

Despite using less energy than their larger counterparts, small and medium-sized operations are also good candidates for energy-efficiency programs. As ACEEE explains, significant improvements can be harvested across the SMM landscape. “Not only do they pay higher prices for their energy and are less likely to have dedicated onsite energy managers, but smaller energy-savings projects tend to save a higher percentage of total consumption.”

So what’s preventing the SMM segment from fully picking what could be a vast amount of remaining low-hanging fruit? ACEEE sums up the barriers that many small and medium-sized enterprises often face as “a lack of staff resources, capital constraints and a dearth of expert information on energy efficiency opportunities.” Sound familiar?

A recent ACEE report* entitled “One Small Step for Energy Efficiency: Targeting Small and Medium-Sized Manufacturers” discusses those barriers and the various ways energy-efficiency programs have typically attempted to serve the manufacturing sector, including energy audits, prescriptive and custom rebates/incentives and training and support to build in-house plant expertise, among others. But as noted by the report’s author, Daniel Trombley, Senior Industrial Analyst at ACEEE, even successful models can be improved upon. He acknowledges the fact that some program providers have changed their interactions with SMMs and developed new offerings or redesigned existing ones to overcome the barriers inherent to smaller operations.

For example, with regard to boosting SMM enthusiasm for and participation in energy-efficiency-program efforts, the report points to the need to streamline processes and reduce transactions costs. To address those needs, several successful programs have taken what they’ve learned from working with large energy users and translated it for SMMs. One strategy involves a “cohort approach” that treats individual recruited SMM clients as a group, thus reducing the costs of training/educational events for all of them. Allowing program staff to address several SMMs at the same time can lead to peer networks for sharing best practices and benchmarking. Another attractive strategy for SMM clients involves sharing energy managers. Trombley cites the example of a manufacturer that was able to provide the equivalent of one full-time staffer to manage the energy use of six of its sites by hiring a consulting firm.

There’s more to this ACEEE study than I can cover here. Whether yours is an SMM operation or a larger energy-using enterprise, I encourage you to go to the following link and read it for yourself. A one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work with shoes: We shouldn’t expect it to work with energy-efficiency programs. MT&AP

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7:45 pm
February 21, 2014
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The Manufacturing Connection: Technology Matters For Asset Performance

garymintchellBy Gary Mintchell, Executive Director

I am passionate about technology. Have been most of my life. But I have enough practical experience to know the limits of applying technology in manufacturing. During a busy week from the end of January through the first of February, I had the opportunity to witness the opening of a technology center and then interview several people for podcasts.

Safety is one of the pillars of good manufacturing, as well as good maintenance and reliability practice. When I interviewed Steve Ludwig, Rockwell Automation Safety Programs Manager, for a podcast just before writing this column, he mentioned that most safety incidents now seem to occur when the machine is down for maintenance.

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4:35 pm
February 21, 2014
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The IFS Experience, presented by Maintenance Technology & Asset Performance




To receive a TEC certification, the software vendor must submit a comprehensive request for information (RFI), which is thoroughly analyzed by a team of TEC analysts. The analysts evaluate the RFI using a variety of criteria, including the RFI’s consistency with information from outside sources, experience the analysts have had with the vendor or product, and information the vendor provides during a software demonstration. TEC also conducts a benchmarking analysis of the company and its products along with a briefing in which the vendor is required to substantiate the validity of the information provided in the RFI.

Read the TEC reports here.

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