Archive | 2015


10:18 pm
December 31, 2015
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U.S. Department of Energy Issues Nation’s First Pump Efficiency Standards

Screen Shot 2015-12-31 at 3.54.29 PMThe U.S. Department of Energy (USDOE) celebrated the run up to New Year’s Eve by issuing new efficiency standards for commercial and industrial pumps. Building on those established in the European Union, these first-ever U.S. pump efficiency standards reflect levels agreed to by manufacturers, efficiency advocates, pump users, and utilities as part of a negotiated rulemaking.

Although these standards won’t take effect until 2020, as issued Dec. 31, 2015, the final rule provides a mechanism for energy efficiency programs to incentivize high-efficiency pump packages.

Andrew deLaski, executive director of the Appliance Standards Awareness Project (ASAP), explained the new pump standards in a recent post on the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy website ( and elsewhere. Among other things:

  • They apply to clean water pumps between 1 and 200 hp used in a range of applications, including: irrigation, circulation of hot and cold water in commercial buildings for heating and cooling, and pressure boosting in high-rise apartment buildings.
  • They will require the least-efficient 25% of pumps in today’s market to be redesigned to improve efficiency and reduce energy losses.

Pumps meeting the new standards sold over 30 years would reduce electricity consumption by about 30 billion kilowatt-hours, which is equivalent to the annual electricity use of 2.8 million U.S. households, and save customers $0.4-1.1 billion.

To read deLaski’s complete post, CLICK HERE.

CLICK HERE to download a PDF copy of USDOE’s “Issuance 2015-12-31: Energy Conservation Program: Energy Conservation Standards for Pumps, Final Rule.”


Screen Shot 2015-12-31 at 3.36.07 PMEditor’s Note: Headquartered in Washington, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) acts as a catalyst to advance energy efficiency policies, programs, technologies, investments, and behaviors. For information about the organization and its programs, publications, and conferences, visit


7:47 pm
December 31, 2015
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OMEGA Introduces Wheatstone Bridge Universal In-Line Signal Conditioner

Screen Shot 2015-12-31 at 12.14.59 PMOMEGA (Stamford, CT) has introduced a Wheatstone Bridge universal in-line signal conditioner housed in a rugged stainless steel enclosure connected between the transducer and a readout instrument.

According to the company, this OMEGA IN-UVI  product provides easy accessibility for transducer field calibrations, especially when space is limited, and is well suited for applications where a transducer must be located in a hostile environment or some distance away from the display.

(Note: If the environment at the sensing site is subject to high temperatures, humidity, or corrosive conditions, it may be necessary to place the in-line amplifier away from the transducer.)

How It Works
Supplying a highly regulated bridge excitation voltage for the transducer or load cell, the OMEGA IN-UVI offers a range of features and capabilities, including:

  • improved signal to noise ratio
  • two selectable excitation voltages
  • wide zero adjustment range
  • isolated shunt calibration relay for quick field setup.

All output options and excitation voltages for these devices are field selectable


7:05 pm
December 28, 2015
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Milwaukee Tool Offers Tough M12 7.8KP Thermal Imager with DUAL SENSE Pixels

Screen Shot 2015-12-28 at 12.58.08 PMBrookfield, WI-based Milwaukee Tool (“Milwaukee”) has added the M12 7.8KP Thermal Imager to its M12 portfolio of tough, professional-grade power tools.

According Milwaukee, this product features the highest pixel density in its class, along with new DUAL SENSE pixel technology for what the company said is “superior definition of hot and cold details within the same image.”

How It Works

  • The manufacturer’s exclusive DUAL SENSE technology allows the 7.8KP to individually optimize pixels to eliminate the blurring of hot and cold details in complex scenes. Equipped with 83:1 distance-to-spot performance, dual lasers, and hot/cold spot locators, the unit lets users to quickly scan, target, and capture temperature readings from long range or small areas.
  • As a complete problem-solving solution, the M12 7.8KP is fully compatible with the company’s powerful Thermal Imager Report Software. Available online, this software simplifies and speeds image analysis and report generation. Users can quickly download images from the device with the included 8GB SD card or Micro-USB connection port. Every image capture creates a versatile .PNG file format image that can be shared with others.
  • For added protection in the field, Milwaukee has designed the entire the  M12 7.8KP unit to withstand a 6-ft drop. The imager also comes with a protective cover that wraps around the LCD screen and front sensor to help the device perform amid the toughest of jobsite conditions.
  • Powered by REDLITHIUM battery technology, the 7.8KP leverages the  M12 battery system’s runtime and straightforward field replacement to eliminate downtime. Use of the M12 battery makes this thermal imager compatible with Milwaukee’s entire M12 System of power tools.


7:02 pm
December 21, 2015
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AutomationDirect Offers Edison Modular Knifeblade Fuse Blocks and Power-Distribution Blocks for Class J & Class R Applications

Screen Shot 2015-12-21 at 11.36.49 AMAccording to AutomationDirect (Cumming, GA), Edison’s modular knifeblade fuse blocks for Class J and Class R applications simplify design and enhance safety.

Based on a snap-together design, the knifeblade fuse blocks are UL listed with creepage and clearance distances for feeder and branch circuits. 200A and larger models also meet requirements for service-entrance circuits. Optional high-clarity, see-through, IP20 finger-safe covers, with or without indication, have a built-in lockout/tagout feature that prevents unauthorized fuse insertion or removal.

The modular Class J power-distribution fuse blocks, an industry first, combine fuse-block functionality with power distribution capability, eliminating the need for a separate power distribution block. Optional finger-safe covers are also available.

For more information on AutomationDirect’s full lineup of fuse blocks and accessories, CLICK HERE.

EDITOR’S NOTE: AutomationDirect will close at 3 p.m. EST on Wednesday, December 23, 2015,  and remain closed Thursday December 24 and  and Friday, December 25. Orders placed by 3 p.m. on the 23rd will ship same day (for in-stock items paid by Credit Card or PO account in good standing). Orders placed after the cutoff will ship on Monday, December 28, 2015 (based on product availability and order status).


5:15 pm
December 21, 2015
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Sensorex Designs CS875 Conductivity Sensors for Hi-Temp, Hi-Pressure Boiler Conditions

Screen Shot 2015-12-21 at 11.02.21 AMSensorex (Garden Grove, CA) has designed its in-line high-temperature and high-pressure CS875 conductivity sensors specifically for use in industrial boilers. According to the manufacturer, these rugged devices provide accurate, repeatable conductivity measurements at saturated steam conditions up to 600 psig (41.4 bar) and temperatures up to 486 F (252 C) without cooling the process sample.

How It Works
The CS875 enables continuous automatic blowdown control, minimizing corrosion and scaling. By eliminating excessive blowdown in higher-pressure boilers, energy, and treatment chemical use can be reduced.

  • Suitable for for use with most makes and models of conductivity transmitters or controllers, these sensors have 3/4-in. male NPT mounting threads with a 1-in. insertion depth for easy installation. The body and measuring pin are both constructed of 316 stainless steel.
  • A special thermally resistant PEEK insert and high temperature perfluoroelastomer o-rings ensure reliability at extreme boiler temperatures.

Two models are available to suit application requirements: the CS875HT, and the CS875HTTC with ATC temperature element.

All Sensorex probes are supplied with 6″ PTFE coated leads as standard for integral mounting to a forged steel junction box/conduit assembly. Longer cable lengths are also available at additional cost.

To learn more CLICK HERE.


8:44 pm
December 17, 2015
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Uptime: Create and Grow Reliability Cultures

bobmugnewBy Bob Williamson, Contributing Editor

Improving reliability almost always means improving (or changing) the way people think and work toward common goals. Improving performance and reliability of an existing facility and equipment should be seriously considered when budgets are limited. In many cases this may be the fastest, lowest cost, most sustainable option.

Whether leveraging new equipment and technology or taking steps to improve existing systems, culture change, i.e., a change in the way personnel think and work, is not optional. In the Nov. 2015 installment of this column, we explored seven basic steps for improving the performance of an older plant while simultaneously creating a reliability-improvement culture:

  1. Prepare a compelling business case for change.
  2. Focus on a breakthrough opportunity.
  3. Gather data, evidence, and facts to define the breakthrough opportunity.
  4. Assemble the multi-functional breakthrough team(s).
  5. Schedule an improvement workshop for the breakthrough team(s).
  6. Learn and apply fundamental improvement methods in the selected area.
  7. Sustain and leverage the improvements.

Getting to Step 7 and establishing an “island of excellence” is a fundamental requirement for creating a reliability culture. This is where breakthroughs in thinking and working occur, focused improvements in equipment performance and reliability take place, and real plant-floor culture change emerges. In short, an island of excellence becomes the showplace, and breakthrough team members become the advocates.

While Steps 1 through 5 are essential—and in that order—it’s the activities in Step 6 that frequently stall or launch a true island of excellence. Step 6 (learning and applying fundamental improvement methods in the selected area) offers many different activity options. Here are some of the proven ones that will lead to equipment inspections for improving reliability. Let’s call them sub-steps of Step 6.

Step 6A: Communicate a compelling business case. Top management must clearly articulate a compelling business case for improving equipment reliability. In some cases, this might involve a basic lesson in the business of doing business. Discussion examples include:

  • changes in the customer base, such as new customers and different expectations
  • increased level of competition in the marketplace
  • customer feedback and complaints about on-time deliveries
  • dwindling competitive advantages, including lead time, production time, and cost/unit
  • business growth opportunities, such as more production and more employees
  • increases in raw material and packaging costs that must be absorbed
  • changes in regulatory requirements
  • the impact of the current equipment performance and reliability on the business.

Step 6B: Discuss why this part of the plant was selected for improvement. Review the impact of the selected area (equipment, process) on the business cases discussed in Step 6a. Use historical data in Pareto-chart formats to help illustrate these points. For example:

  • high amounts of unplanned downtime
  • sporadic unplanned downtime
  • operating at less than proven capability or efficiency rates
  • increasing or excessive amounts of waste, scrap, and/or rework
  • increasing or excessive maintenance trouble calls.

Point out gaps in these data and solicit feedback from the group on other issues that contribute to improvement opportunities.

Step 6C: Inspect equipment for problems. Break into small sub-teams to inspect the selected equipment and tag specific problems. Document the following for each:

  • who identified the problem
  • brief description of the problem
  • nature of the problem, e.g., electrical, mechanical, lubrication, utility, operation
  • specific location of the problem
  • possible impact of the problem, e.g., availability, efficiency, quality, yield, safety, environmental, cost.

Step 6D: Sort problems into three broad categories. The breakthrough team should discuss and clarify each of the identified problems and label them as follows:

  • quick-fix by team members
  • high-priority and doable this week
  • high-priority, requires actions of others, e.g., capital expense, unavailable parts, engineering.

Step 6E: Review case examples for making rapid and sustainable improvements. Showcase successes, improvement methods, and out-of-the-box thinking approaches from other businesses. Identify how they arrived at the root causes of problems and implemented corrective actions. Introduce basic root-cause-analysis tools.

Establishing islands of excellence is a requirement in the creation of reliability cultures. They’re where breakthroughs in thinking and working occur, focused improvements in equipment-performance and reliability take place, and real plant-floor culture change emerges. Photo: Gary L. Parr

Establishing islands of excellence is a requirement in the creation of reliability cultures. They’re where breakthroughs in thinking and working occur, focused improvements in equipment-performance and reliability take place, and real plant-floor culture change emerges. Photo: Gary L. Parr

Step 6F: Return to equipment-problem locations and determine causes and corrective action. Clean the areas around problems. (Note: Cleaning is the most basic form of inspection.) Take photos to show each problem and contributing cause(s). Gather evidence of the problem and/or contributing causes, e.g., debris, foreign objects, grease accumulation, loose fasteners, missing parts, adjustments, errors.

Step 6G: Look for hidden problems. Many problems can be concealed or out of sight. Open guards and panels to expose hidden areas. Repeat Steps 6c, 6d, and 6f—tagging, sorting, and determining causes and corrective action.

Step 6H: Eliminate causes of problems. In this step, the breakthrough team makes improvements to eliminate the causes (or sources) of problems using root-cause-analysis tools. This improvement action goes beyond the quick fix and addresses the root cause in such a way that the cause of the problem is eliminated.

Step 6I: Make inspection improvements. Ease inspection (and cleaning) activities by removing cosmetic panels and replacing guards with clear polycarbonate or expanded metal, painted flat black.

Step 6J: Develop or improve inspection procedures (work instructions). Review any existing cleaning, inspection, and preventive-maintenance procedures to determine how they address the problems discovered in the previous steps. Modify existing procedures and/or develop new ones to cover preventive tasks for those problems. Include detailed step-by-step instructions, photographs, or illustrations, as needed, along with brief checklists to serve as reminders of the procedural steps.

Step 6K: Make inspection procedures visual. Apply visual cues of important inspection points, settings, locations, part numbers, and lubrication specifications close to the point of use. Make sure these visuals are aligned with written procedures and checklists.

Step 6L: Train and qualify team members to perform the new/revised inspections. Use work instructions as a training document. Once confidence has been built, have individual team members demonstrate their ability to explain and perform the step-by-step procedure. Those who can demonstrate this ability are, therefore, qualified to perform the respective tasks unsupervised. Follow-up audits should verify that the new inspection tasks are working as intended and causes of the problems are successfully addressed.


Creating reliability cultures—in most cases—requires changing the way people think and work, including changing their behaviors and habits, to enable them to practice and support reliability improvement. The key is to engage the right people, on the right equipment, using the right tools. In the process, they’ll begin developing their own common-sense reliability culture. MT

Bob Williamson, CMRP, CPMM, and a 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


8:37 pm
December 17, 2015
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For On The Floor: Success in 2015?

Lessons learned in the implementation of a new technology, technique, process, or strategy are worth sharing with others working in the maintenance and reliability trenches. Photo: Gary L. Parr

Lessons learned in the implementation of a new technology, technique, process, or strategy are worth sharing with others working in the maintenance and reliability trenches. Photo: Gary L. Parr

By Jane Alexander, Managing Editor

As we’ve found over the years, readers enjoy learning about other readers’ experiences in the maintenance and reliability trenches. As we reach the end of 2015, we asked Maintenance Technology’s Reader Panelists to describe a new technology, technique, process, or strategy that they, their departments, companies, or a client implemented (or tried to implement) during the year, and why, i.e., what benefits were desired.

We also inquired about any success and/or payoff to date from these implementations, and lessons that might have been learned in the process. Panelists were invited to be as specific or general as they wished. Here, edited for clarity, brevity, and confidentiality, are several responses.

Midwest Industry Supplier…

Implementation: We patented a new additive technology to add to existing turbine fluids with high varnish levels and additive depletion. This undertaking has been ongoing since 2013. More than 70 turbines now use the process. The concept was to extend the life of the incumbent turbine fluid and regenerate the amines and phenols. It has worked very well so far and we continue to gain recognition for it.

Success and/or payoff to date: [This technology] has extended some condemned fluids by years and allowed generation plants to hold off on draining and refilling their turbines, thus extending budgets while resulting in the following benefits: drop in bearing temperatures, elimination of varnish, extended filter life, reduction in hydrogen-seal issues, and reduced manpower hours for servicing the equipment.

Lessons learned: As we continue down this path, new turbine types and OEMs come into play. This has opened the door to many new and exciting things, including [application of] this technology for other industries plagued by the same or
similar issues.

Midwest Maintenance Leader…

Implementation: As far as new technologies go, we continue to get a lot of new machinery into our plant. This will enable us to remove older machines and also allow us to produce more parts for our customers.

Success and/or payoff to date: We implemented new strategies that were put in place by an outside firm. These have improved our response times, downtime, repair times, and preventive maintenance percentages.

Lessons learned: The biggest lessons we learned from having the outside firm in were:

  • If you have a new program, listen to the people that will be the end users.
  • Let the team have a voice in the procedure.
  • Make sure the procedure is followed through, by both middle and upper management.

You will see results. We have, so far.

Midwest Reliability Specialist…

Implementation: We implemented a loss-elimination process. The goal is to find opportunities, using root-cause analysis, to address issues relating to safety, health, environment, production, and costs.

Success and/or payoff to date: The process is working in all areas with successful results.

Lessons learned: The biggest lesson we learned from accomplishing a successful rollout is [to provide] good training.

Southwest Planned Maintenance Supervisor…

Implementation: We started an oil-analysis program on several of our gearboxes and hydraulic units to help us get a better understanding of the condition of our lubricants and machinery.   

Success and/or payoff to date: This effort was not as successful as we had hoped. Mainly because we did not obtain the knowledge we should have to correctly collect our oil samples.   

Lessons learned: We took a few steps back and, at this time, are looking at some formal training in oil-sampling procedures to help us make this process beneficial.

Midwest Consultant …

Implementation: One strategy/culture that I have been trying to help my client implement is Operational Excellence (OpEx).

Success and/or payoff to date: I worked hard at a [North American manufacturer’s] dairy plant [outside the United States], combining OpEx with the basics of TPM (Total Productive Maintenance). I faced a total lack of commitment and, after two weeks of letting them (plant personnel) do the follow-up, I would return and find they had not done anything that had been proposed or that they had offered.

Now, [back home in my area of the U.S.], I find things are not much different. Most of the industries [that I visit] are still working in the dark ages of management and have no interest in evolving.

Lessons learned: The main obstacle to the kind of progress that America needs from every enterprise is conformity. Old-style managers feel terrified to learn that they need to let go of control and ancient authority schemes. The automobile industry has made some limited progress in this regard, especially now that the Koreans have become role models in that business.

One big help in solving this stagnation could probably come from colleges and universities. The main problem is that those institutions have their eyes and interests [focused] far away from the real needs. Being a consultant to industry in America these days is quite frustrating. MT

About the MT Reader Panel

The Maintenance Technology Reader Panel includes approximately 100 working industrial-maintenance practitioners and consultants who have volunteered to answer monthly questions prepared by our editorial staff. Panelist identities are not revealed and their responses are not necessarily projectable. Note that our panel welcomes new members. To be considered, email your name and contact information to with “Reader Panel” in the subject line. All panelists are automatically included in an annual cash-prize drawing after one year of active participation.


8:34 pm
December 17, 2015
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My Take: What’s Up with Management Support?

1014janemytakeBy Jane Alexander, Managing Editor

Much of my time each month is devoted to the creation and preparation of deadline-sensitive editorial material—most of which skews toward some type of “success.” We like nothing better than learning of and writing about maintenance and reliability successes. Our monthly plant profiles, including this month’s look at a successful synthetic-lubricant formulating operation (p. 20), are a case in point.

Sometimes, though, I learn of and share details related to not-so-successful efforts. That’s what happened this month. Answers we received to questions for the MT Reader Panel regarding implementation of new technologies, techniques, processes, and strategies in 2015 reminded me of something I hate to think about.

For the most part, these answers were positive in tone. But responses from two long-time members of the maintenance and reliability community stood out for their rather bleak views on conditions in many plants. The culprit they pointed to? Lack of management support or, in some organizations, sustainable management support, for improvement efforts and, by association, the teams that implement them.

One of these respondents, a consultant who had been working to help an international client implement Operational Excellence in its facility, was struck by the site’s total lack of commitment to the effort. Back in the U.S., he’s finding that things aren’t much different in the plants he visits. As published in December’s “For On The Floor”, he characterized these facilities as “still working in the dark ages of management,” with no interest in evolving. “Being a consultant to industry in America these days,” he wrote, “is quite frustrating.” Imagine that.

The second respondent offered what he referred to as a “funny” (true) story about an implementation of reliability over the course of many years. “Not ‘ha-ha’ funny,” he wrote,  “but ‘sad-to-see’ funny, and it keeps getting repeated over and over.” In other organizations as well.

Too long to publish in its entirety, his story basically boils down to a tale of revolving-management doors at an unidentified company, and the impact they had, not just on reliability efforts, but, ultimately, the health of the business. Here’s the digest version.

Back in the day, management at the company in question had great respect for reliability, given the fact that an experimental reliability team had boosted one site’s lackluster on-stream capability by a double-digit percentage in less than a year. Financial return was amazing, and reliability was driven across the business. Why not? These efforts were credited with extending the life of an antiquated plant with hundreds of jobs by almost a decade. While the program flourished and corporate profits grew, however, the company’s supportive, reliability-conscious management aged. A new superstar and his “skilled management team” eventually took over, putting an end to the reliability “frills.” One plant closed. Improvement efforts at another were decimated. In time, with profits lagging, the superstar didn’t look so super anymore. He retired several years after his arrival. Following his departure, new management came in and put reliability engineering and associated improvements back on the front burner for a while. Until, that is, another round of cost cutting eliminated or moved most reliability personnel to other assignments. Now, according to our respondent, things are again looking up for reliability at this company. The department has grown substantially over the past few years and the benefits are being preached. For how long is anyone’s guess.

Sadly, while I get whiplash just reading this type of story, I know there must be plenty more like it. Please don’t hesitate to share yours with me. I’m particularly interested in how management support (or lack of) is impacting your maintenance and reliability improvement efforts.

In the meantime, here’s wishing you a wonderful holiday season and prosperous 2016. MT