Archive | December, 2016


3:25 pm
December 28, 2016
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Maintenance Excellence on the Cutting Edge

Greenheck uses “pit stop” Kaizen events and other key tools to encourage and implement continuous-improvement projects.

Greenheck's Trumpf punches are a major part of its manufacturing process.

Greenheck’s Trumpf punches are a major part of its manufacturing process.

It’s not difficult to spot the shiny, steel, domed rooftop units that keep the air moving in industrial, commercial, and residential buildings. These are a core product of Greenheck Fan Corp. Becoming a market-share leader for air-movement components hasn’t happened by accident for the Schofield, WI-based corporation. Through strategic and progressive capital investments in equipment, technology, and people, the company has thrived by living on the cutting edge.

“We actually live on the bleeding edge of technology,” said Greenheck’s maintenance-technology supervisor Paul Smith. “We are so fresh and progressive, we sometimes get technology that isn’t necessarily proven yet. We get the opportunity to make this happen, and it gives us an incredible advantage.”

A high-tech fiber laser cuts sheet metal for various product parts.

A high-tech fiber laser cuts sheet metal for various product parts.

Ask any of its 3,400 employees—from co-founder Bob Greenheck to upper management, to maintenance journeymen and operators. This fearless approach to ingenuity and new ideas has led to a robust continuous-improvement program that helps the company process 20 million pounds of steel annually to build air-movement-and-control equipment that includes fans, dampers, louvers, kitchen-ventilation hoods, energy-recovery systems, and make-up air units from just one of its 17 Schofield facilities. Greenheck also has manufacturing facilities in California, Minneapolis, Tennessee, Kentucky, North Carolina, Mexico, China, and India.

Greenheck was founded almost 70 years ago when brothers Bernard and Bob Greenheck began manufacturing lawn mowers and milk-delivery cooling troughs in their horse barn in Schofield. Bernard was a sales and marketing expert, while Bob was an engineer and manufacturing guru. This combination of skills helped to build the innovative company, which is still privately owned and operated. “Innovation is just part of this company’s DNA,” said manufacturing-operations manager Mark Haase. “Bob Greenheck has always been an innovator. He is super intelligent and still very involved in the business. He is able to look at a process and question why are we doing it that way. His approach is to go find a machine that will do what we need it to do. If we can’t find it, let’s make one that will make the manufacturing process easier and better for our customers.”

Greenheck engineers work closely with operations, maintenance, and key vendors to leverage ideas that improve processes, reliability, production, and end-user satisfaction. Greenheck executives are not afraid to make capital investments that support continuous improvements.

“We have a whole operation dedicated to building equipment for ourselves,” Haase said. “A lot of our equipment is custom. We are able to take some labor out of the process and do things more efficiently. The company is willing to make the investment. Bob Greenheck then likes to see the return on that investment. It is common to see him in the plant, especially when we get a new piece of equipment. He wants to know if it is running yet.”

It’s not just equipment and technology that get attention from the top. In 2003, a substantial investment was made to achieve maintenance excellence. The investment began with hiring Jim King as the company’s maintenance project manager.

The drive for excellence

Tom Schmidt, a 30-yr. journeyman tool-and-die maker looks over a stamping die.

Tom Schmidt, a 30-yr. journeyman tool-and-die maker looks over a stamping die.

Six of the 17 facilities in Schofield have manufacturing operations. Within each manufacturing site, there is a maintenance and tooling body shop. Facility 2 is the largest, with 325,000 sq. ft., employing 550 people over three shifts. This facility produces more than 2,000 production orders every day and manages more than 40,000 individual parts.

The company is structured into six primary business units with more than 1.5 million sq. ft. of space on the Schofield campus. King, now maintenance manager, oversees maintenance of all the facilities, and his Maintenance Excellence team supports the entire global operation.

“The past 13 years has been a continuous process,” King said. “There is constant change on the manufacturing floor, so we are just adapting to what’s happening around us.”

The Maintenance Excellence team consists of 59 maintenance professionals in Schofield, including 43 journeyman mechanics and technicians. In addition, there is a team of seven automation-and-control technicians, focused on reliability maintenance.

There are 93 maintenance professionals throughout Greenheck’s U.S. facilities. In 2015, they processed more than 135,000 work orders. On a normal week, the team averages 100 to 150 work orders each day.

When King arrived in 2003, the company had just started its GPS Program (Greenheck Performance System), modeled after the Toyota Production System (TPS). In doing so it partnered with Rockwell Automation. The Rockwell Automation team performed a three-month audit that left Greenheck with much room for improvement and the ability to identify some low-hanging fruit.

“On a scale of 1 to 1,000, we scored 382,” King said. “This was a tough pill to swallow, but it triggered the creation of our Maintenance Excellence program.”

Prior to this audit, Greenheck operated on a batch-and-queue system where excessive numbers of spare parts were always sitting on shelves waiting to be used. The shift was made to a single-piece-flow model that was cost effective from a production standpoint. Since spare parts were less available, it forced the maintenance department to develop a more robust preventive-maintenance program.

Continuous-improvement tools

Some high-volume parts are still made in batches. This press can produce thousands of damper parts within a shift.

Some high-volume parts are still made in batches. This press can produce thousands of damper parts within a shift.

King could easily pinpoint some of the improvements and big wins credited to the GPS Maintenance Excellence initiative that began 13 years ago.

Sweep of spare parts inventory. In 2003, Greenheck had about $990,000 in spare-parts inventory. The company increased its critical spare-parts inventory by more than five times. It is a bigger investment on the front end, but saves much more in downtime and efficiency.

“We cannot call a service company and wait for someone to get here,” he said. “More than 95% of our maintenance happens in house. The only times we go to an outside vendor is with machines that carry a warranty.”

The company tracks more than 7,000 assets. The entire corporation shares the same CMMS system. “All the plants across the U.S. can see the same database we see,” King explained. “Many of our plants work in triplicate so, for example, we have damper plants here in Wisconsin, in Kentucky, and in California. If you walked into one of them blindfolded, you would not know which plant you are in. They are identical. From a maintenance and critical spare parts aspect, we don’t have to stock three of everything.”

Utilizing a CMMS system. One of King’s first improvement efforts involved entering work-orders in the CMMS system. This was difficult to accomplish, at first. “We had many senior mechanics and technicians who didn’t like the idea of entering their own data into a computer,” King said. “But it didn’t take long for them to understand and appreciate the value. Now we have a work-order history and a machine history. Once we got their buy-in on this initiative, they began to believe in what we were trying to do.”

Greenheck developed a very elaborate and robust PM program, King said. “In our CMMS system for preventive maintenance we now have more than 300,000 individual tasks and procedures written for PMs.”

Even with the CMMS system, they didn’t have a formal machine documentation-and-control system in place. “We created a file-folder system for each individual plant,” King said. “Everything is listed numerically by asset number. You find your folder and check it out. Prior to that, it was anybody’s guess where stuff was. There was no rhyme or reason. So the cost savings in time alone has been huge.”

Coil stock is staged in the Greenheck stamping department.

Coil stock is staged in the Greenheck stamping department.

Pit stops. The company sponsors three-to-five day Kaizen events called “pit stops.” One of the first pit stops focused on a new IBS (integrated blankin system) the company purchased. “It was new to everyone, so it was a painful process for them and for us,” King said. “We brought in this incredible technology and wanted to be able to produce parts right away. We used the pit-stop training to break it down into individual sectors and the skills trade people began to see the benefits of taking the time for this kind of training. We learned how the machine worked and ways to prevent it from breaking down.”

The company sometimes offers as many as five to 10 pit stops every week with two to 12 participants in each. “These include the aspect of 5S and are modeled after TPS,” King said. “This is all part of the original creation of our GPS system. This is a program that’s almost 14 years old and is still going very strong.”

Greenheck moves fast with new technology, Smith said, and getting the team up to speed as quickly as possible is crucial. The pit stops are effective in accomplishing this goal.

“Whether it’s equipment addition, equipment removal, or an equipment move, we sometimes get one of these per day,” Smith said. “We recently moved several of our large CNC turret punches from several different facilities globally to even their workload and extend their life. That would be a year-long planned event for some companies. For us, it’s a Thursday.”

Customized PM system. When King arrived at Greenheck, there was no formal planning and scheduling system in place. “We tried to incorporate this, but honestly, it didn’t fit with our model,” King said. “So we moved to a formula where all our maintenance supervisors do the planning and scheduling for their dedicated segments.”

Smith said the GPS system, within the controls-and-automation group, empowers the mechanics and technicians to coordinate their own projects, which includes ordering their own parts and working with production and the supervisors. “The supervisors are here as a means to empower them to get done what needs to get done,” Smith said. “We all have continuous-improvement tools, like the TPM processes, to continue to support the floor-level guys. Greenheck is so fluid and we move so fast that by the time you put a plan together, it’s already changed. So the original structure of planning and scheduling doesn’t really fit our needs here. Giving autonomy, training, responsibility, and ownership to mechanics and technicians works much better for us.”

Growth in automation and controls. As technology became more robust, the level of technical skills required to be able to maintain these highly advanced pieces of equipment also increased. Greenheck now uses technology, such as thermal imaging and ultrasound, to provide greater reliability.

Maintenance and operations evolution

High-density shelving helps the maintenance team organize $5 million of parts inventory.

High-density shelving helps the maintenance team organize $5 million of parts inventory.

Manufacturing operations manager Mark Haase has experience with Greenheck in many roles since 1991 and has seen the evolution of continuous improvement.

“Maintenance is integral to what we do, especially with regard to our component resource center (CRC) which has the largest concentration of capital equipment for the company,” he said. “About 80% of what we do feeds into this building (Facility 2). We serve our own business needs, but we are also a service center to the entire company.”

Greenheck is a configure-to-order operation, Haase explained. “Orders come in and we build them from scratch. We don’t go to a shelf and pull parts, and we don’t have inventory buffers. A long run for us is maybe 10 units that are alike. So continuous flow is very important to us.” Haase remembers when efficiency and maintenance excellence were not core competencies.

“In the mid-to-late 1990s, when a key machine would go down, we would have to search for the part, order the part, wait for the part to be delivered, and, hopefully, when it arrived, it was right,” Haase remembered. “So we saw downtime as a really significant factor in our business. We had inventory, which would help us for a while, but we weren’t happy about tying up capital in inventory when we could be using it for machinery and technology. The one-piece-flow system has helped to minimize the downtime. We PM’ed our machines in those days, but more at a 30,000-foot level. Now we are down to 10-foot level with much more detailed PM of the machines.”

Greenheck takes advantage of its multiple resources. “The maintenance and operations teams work together. Several can be pulled from other business units to help with urgent work. We have the resources somewhere on campus to service critical needs. When I think back to 90s, I spent lot of my time chasing the maintenance issues,” Haase said. “I don’t worry about those things today because there is a very competent group with many programs in place. The amount of spare parts we keep on hand is a huge investment, so if something goes down we can make the change quickly and effectively and get the machine up and running.”

Since supervisor Paul Smith works with advanced technology, this confidence in maintenance becomes even more critical.

“We have some CO2 lasers, which are incredibly maintenance intensive,” Smith said. “The fact that uptime is high is impressive. Mark [Haase] and upper management really do understand the value of the maintenance program and how it reflects on uptime. A good example is in June when we did laser PMs, and we monitored and tracked lots of data. We noticed a trend that annually, for the past seven years, we’ve had a power drop on one of the lasers. We would replace all the mirrors and get our power up. It cost $7,000 to replace the mirrors, so it was worth it. But last year we replaced the mirrors and the power did not come back up as much as we wanted. The laser was still functioning perfectly and within the appropriate power band, but we could see it was starting on that curve of failure. Mark and upper management understand you must invest in the maintenance program for it to work. Mark made the call to replace the resonator, and that’s $130,000. That’s not something you do for no reason. But this company made it happen. We replaced the resonator, the power is back up, and we don’t have maintenance issues we had before.”

Apprentice Mike Zywicki (l) and CRC Lead Journeyman Mechanic David Sondelski (r) complete a scheduled PM.

Apprentice Mike Zywicki (l) and CRC Lead Journeyman Mechanic David Sondelski (r) complete a scheduled PM.

Smith said this is a good example of how the system works. “We were doing our PMs, graphing it, tracking it, looked back, saw a trend, monitored the trend, when we began to experience the failure curve we reported it to upper management. Upper management said, ‘We trust you, we believe you when you say this will be a problem in the future,’ and they made our suggested solution happen.”

The support from upper management goes back to the DNA of the company, Haase added. “Bob Greenheck has always been active enough in the business that if he saw a dirty machine or if he saw a machine that wasn’t being maintained, or if he saw someone mistreating a machine, there was limited tolerance for that,” he explained.

“This is our lifeblood. We made this investment in the equipment so we need to take care of it. We weren’t always in a position to go out and buy the latest technology. Before my time, people can tell you the story of when a building had burned down but there was an old punch left after the fire. Bob bought it, hired a guy to rewire it and that was our first CNC programmable punch. So for Bob, to buy a new machine, you better take care of it.”

“We are not a profit center. We are a cost,” Smith stated. “But the investment is still made. There was probably a time when the company really felt the pain. In order to grow in lean manufacturing, the maintenance department had to grow with it.

According to Jim King, Greenheck is fearless in its pursuit of excellence. “We are very fluid. With regard to change, it’s not just in maintenance. We shuffle manpower, and we shuffle equipment. When we get new people, we get a new set of eyes and a new set of ideas. A lot of companies look at some of these big ideas and just say ‘that’s a huge project.’ We look at it and say ‘this is a weekend.’ We’ll come in and knock it out.”

Haase agrees. “We found a recipe to be successful in a business that is low volume, high variability, and high configurability,” he said. “That’s where we excel. MT

Michelle Segrest has been a professional journalist for 27 years. She specializes in the industrial processing industries and has toured manufacturing facilities in 36 cities in six countries on three continents.

Boards facilitate daily meetings. Anyone can submit a suggestion or question that is then tracked for improvement.

Boards facilitate daily meetings. Anyone can submit a suggestion or question that is then tracked for improvement.

Greenheck Reinvents TPM

Dr. Klaus M. Blache, director of the Reliability & Maintainability Center at the Univ. of Tennessee, Knoxville, and a College of Engineering research professor, recently spent time working with and analyzing Greenheck’s GPS program. This is his assessment.

As I’ve stated in many presentations, “If you have a robust, small-team, continuous-improvement process (CIP), almost any effort can be made to be successful.”

This is at the core of why the Greenheck GPS/CIP works. They have engaged people who want to make a positive difference. Their initiatives are further supported by a management style that fosters new ideas and implementations, a desire to consistently produce a quality product, and mutual respect for employees and their contributions at all levels.

This is the elusive stuff that companies look for and many never find. While observing a continuous-improvement event and touring the facility and the display/Innovation Center, I was reminded of an early book, Built To Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies (Collins and Porras, 1994). We used this book as a reference when developing strategy for the Society of Maintenance and Reliability Professionals. The key theme was around “preserving core values while stimulating progress.” It prompted us to try many new things and keep what works.

For Greenheck, preserving the core means being the leading supplier of air-movement and control equipment that includes fans, dampers, louvers, kitchen ventilation hoods, and energy-recovery and make-up air units. Their BHAG (Big Harry Audacious Goal) for TPM (Total Productive Maintenance) to stimulate progress is “80% of all equipment-related problems can be detected by operators with proper training.” This philosophy is used on in-plant postings.

Greenheck has executed thousands of Kaizen events throughout the past 14 years. The Greenheck Performance System (GPS) was modeled after the Toyota Production System, with TPM integrated into it. In this ongoing journey, the focus is on throughput and flow versus OEE (overall equipment effectiveness).

For those who understand its beginning, OEE was intended to be a tool to reduce availability, performance, and quality losses on one machine at a time rather than measuring how it is used today. They work on floor processes (with value stream mapping) and office processes (with swim lane mapping).

Once best practices are found, Greenheck understands the value of clarifying workflow and standardizing their processes. They perform PM-completed audits and lean audits. The team members understand that CIP needs to start immediately and continue during the life cycle of the machinery and equipment. This is evidenced by Kaizen events on new equipment and existing operations.

Greenheck does many other things in the areas of visual controls, lubrication, and customized maintenance manuals. Operator involvement in the multi-disciplined Kaizen events is key. The pride of working for Greenheck Fan was evident in all of my discussions with operators, trades/technicians, engineers, and leadership.

In summary, Greenheck Fan nurtures the culture needed to sustain a highly functional CIP. This enables it to put maximum focus on issue resolution.

The complete original definition of TPM (Seiichi Nakajima, Introduction to TPM, Productivity Press, 1988) includes these five elements:

— TPM aims to maximize equipment effectiveness (overall effectiveness).

— TPM establishes a thorough system of PM for the equipment’s entire life span.

— TPM is implemented by various departments (engineering, operations, maintenance).

— TPM involves every single employee, from top management to workers on the floor.

— TPM is based on the promotion of PM through motivation management and autonomous small group activities.

Greenheck Fan has instilled these concepts, resulting in an effective TPM process.

—Dr. Klaus M. Blache


6:21 pm
December 26, 2016
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Juniper Systems’ Mesa 2 Rugged Tablet Does It All, in Any Environment

screen-shot-2016-12-26-at-11-41-29-amAccording to Juniper Systems (Logan, UT), its recently introduced Mesa 2 Rugged Tablet means the days of juggling multiple devices to collect and analyze data, even in the toughest environments out there, are gone.

Containing everything a technician needs in one sleek package, the Mesa 2 offers what Juniper says is highest-rated protection against water and dust of any tablet on the market, and can go into the harshest environments imaginable. Running Windows 10, this lightweight, ergonomically designed tablet features what the manufacturer refers to as a “racing-fast processor,” a large, 7-in., extra-bright display for easily viewing maps or images, and all-day battery power lasting up to 15 hours.

screen-shot-2016-12-26-at-11-42-44-amGiven the product’s full Windows operating system and wide range of data-collection software and apps from which to choose, users can conduct an entire data- collection process from start to finish with this device. That includes taking photos, recording field notes, and capturing a GNSS location, then analyzing any data that’s been collected. Data can also be transferred to another computer or network by way of Ethernet, Wi-Fi, or Bluetooth.

Built to be ultra-tough, the Mesa 2 offers these durability ratings/capabilities:

  • IP68 waterproof and dustproof
  • Operating temperature: -4 F to 122 F (-20 C to 50 C)
  • Storage temperature: -22 F to 158 F (-30 C to 70 C)
  • Shockproof: multiple drops from 4′ (1.2–1.5 m) onto concrete
  • Designed for MIL-STD-810G test procedures: Method 500.5 Low Pressure (Altitude); Method 501.5 High Temperature; Method 502.5 Low Temperature; Method 503.5 Temperature Shock; Method 506.5 Rain; Method 507.5 Humidity; Method 510.5 Sand and Dust; Method 512.5 Immersion; Method 514.6 Vibration; Method 516.6

View a short “Mesa 2 Torture Test” video here.

The Mesa 2’s battery lasts a full 8 to 10 hours on one charge. The company notes that users who need more power can opt for an additional built-in battery that provides an extra 4 to 5 hours of runtime, plus hot-swap capability for easily changing batteries during extra-long days that result in overtime work.

For more information on Juniper Systems’ complete line of products, CLICK HERE.



6:22 pm
December 22, 2016
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Link Outsiders to Documents, Folders

randmBy Kristina Gordon, DuPont

Managing documents and history is a critical part of maintaining equipment reliability.  SAP offers several methods for tracking documents, drawings, and other important information. Here are answers to two common questions that will help you better manage information.

Q: Can you insert documents in a maintenance plan and/or maintenance task list and have them available once the order is issued directly in the maintenance order? Our maintenance contractor doesn’t have access to certain SAP transactions or maintenance task lists but needs to use maintenance procedures, manuals, and detail drawings.

A : The Document Management System (DMS) allows you to provide links outside of SAP to internal information such as equipment functional locations, materials, maintenance plans, and maintenance items. This is a robust and organized approach that ensures all documents are attached directly to the object in SAP.

Q: Can you attach an SAP object directly to a file or a folder?

A: Attaching a file allows you to connect a specific document to your work order, material, or purchase order. Attaching a folder allows you to view the entire content of the folder from a link within your object, giving you multiple selections to view and print within that folder. MT

Use these four steps to create a link that will make a folder available to an outside source.


— Use transaction CV01N to create a document.

— Use document type “DDW,” document part “000,” and document version “00.”

— Click the enter button.


Enter the description. This could begin with the equipment number or inventory number, but needs to easily identify the object to which the folder will be attached. Click the Create File button.


— Use application type “HTM” (the application type will also have to be configured in SAP per your company). The description will be the same as the Document Data Description. In the first box of “Original,” add the desired data carrier. This will be the name of the “Data Carrier” your SAP team will set up. In the second box of “Original,” use the address, or folder structure, of the desired folder. Make sure to exclude the folder that the drop down would automatically take you to in the address.

— Click the green check.


— Click the Object links tab. Click the Equipment master tab. Note: There are multiple different objects to which you can attach. We are using equipment masters as an example for this demo. Enter the desired equipment ID in the equipment field. More than one equipment ID can be added if necessary. The process is completed after clicking the save button.

— You will now be able to view the folder within the equipment master that was attached as the link.


— To create a link to a file, the setup is very similar to that for folders. However, note the following differences:

— The application type will be the type of document that is being linked (Word, Excel, etc.)

— Description will have the desired description of the document.

— The first box of “Original” will contain the data carrier.

— In the second box of “Original,” first select the drop-down box. This will open a browser. Go to file location and click “open.” Your link will be uploaded. Follow the steps in the previous screen shots to completion.

Kristina Gordon is SAP Program Consultant at the DuPont, Sabine River Works plant in West Orange, TX. If you have SAP questions, send them to and we’ll forward them to Kristina.


6:02 pm
December 22, 2016
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Understand How Temperatures Affect Gearboxes

Environmental factors can significantly affect gear-drive service life and maintenance costs. Temperature and temperature variations are at the top of the list.

Environmental factors can significantly affect gear-drive service life and maintenance costs. Temperature and temperature variations are at the top of the list.

Understanding the impact that the environment can have on the long-term well being of gearboxes is key to keeping them healthy. According to experts at Philadelphia Gear (, King of Prussia, PA), environmental factors can significantly influence gear-drive service life and associated maintenance costs. A white paper from the company offers tips on how to deal with several of those factors, including temperature and temperature variations.

When choosing lubricating and cooling oil for a particular gear-drive application, consider viscosity under normal and “cold iron” conditions. The viscosity must be capable of providing adequate oil film to support gear-tooth and bearing loads under all operating conditions. When a gear drive is in the “cold iron” state, viscosity must be low enough so that during the unit’s operation, the splash-lubrication or force-feed lubrication system is capable of distributing the proper amount of oil to where it’s needed. If oil is too thick (due to the cold), there may be no splash, or the pump in a force-feed-lubrication system might stall, thus failing to supply oil to critical surfaces.

Several oil characteristics must be taken into account when selecting products for specific applications and temperature differentials. Some formulations have a flatter temperature index than others, meaning that, as oil temperature increases, viscosity will decrease at a lesser rate than comparable fluids. For example, synthetics have a flatter temperature index than mineral-based oils and, at a low temperature, will be less viscous than similar-viscosity mineral-based products.

Many locales, of course, experience severe temperature swings from summer to winter that can dramatically affect oil viscosity. Sites in such regions should change to different-viscosity products as seasons change. Oils that aren’t changed out seasonally could thin to a kerosene-like consistency in severe summer heat, and thicken to a molasses-like substance in frigid winter cold. Either scenario puts gear drives at risk. (NOTE: To help overcome environmental extremes, oil heaters are often employed to maintain a minimum oil temperature of 40 F to 50 F during colder months, and air-to-oil or water/glycol-to-oil coolers are used to control oil operating temperatures during extreme heat.) MT

randmMore Points to Ponder

When gear operation generates higher-than-normal operating temperatures, mineral-based oil can break down and lose some of its lubricating capability. Over time, this deterioration can cause the fluid to separate into its constituent organic parts, i.e., carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen in various chemical combinations. In such cases, the carbon manifests as fine grit that can be introduced into the oil. If this condition persists and the sludge approaches the thickness of the oil film between gear and bearing components, a loss of film can be expected. This situation, in turn, could result in metal-to-metal contact between gears and bearing components, eventually leading to gearbox failure.

Extreme Pressure (EP) mineral oils, in particular, contain additives such as phosphorous and sulfur, that enhance the products’ ability to support load, but, when broken down, introduce additional, potentially corrosive and abrasive, materials into the mix. Thus, when using EP oils, it is extremely important to monitor the oil through periodic sampling.

While the additives in EP products increase load-carrying capacity, they can be depleted over time. In that event, such oils no longer exhibit their original load-carrying capabilities. How can you tell if this is happening/has happened? Extended gearbox operation with EP oil that has lost its load-carrying capabilities can result in gear-tooth overload symptoms such as pitting.

— Jane Alexander, Managing Editor

For more information from Philadelphia Gear’s experts, and/or to request a copy of  “The Impact of Environmental Conditions on Gearbox Lifecycle,” (the white paper on which this article is based), visit


5:55 pm
December 22, 2016
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Gaps in Your Motor Reliability Program?

Quality control, trending, and troubleshooting are three keys to a successful motor-reliability program.

Quality control, trending, and troubleshooting are three keys to a successful motor-reliability program.

Businesses invest millions of dollars in what they believe will be a fail-safe maintenance program for their electric motors, according to Noah Bethel, vice president, Product Development for PdMA Corp., Tampa, FL. Regular tests are scheduled for each motor; engineers dutifully record the data, when required, and then move on to the next motor.

Collected data is meaningless unless it is analyzed. But, frequently, analysis is nonexistent. When your motor reliability is in question, there could be many reasons including safety issues, quality control, and storage. Motor experts Bethel and Wayne Pilliner, CMRP, The Mosaic Co., Plymouth, MN, say there are three keys to motor reliability:

Quality control. Spend time in the motor-repair shop monitoring the activity.

Trending. Collect data, take advantage of new technology, and remember that trending is your friend.

Troubleshooting. There is an end of life for everything. Get ahead of that. Have a casualty procedure and follow it. Alleviate time delays.

randmDuring the 24th Annual SMRP Conference, held Nov. 2016 in Jacksonville, FL, Bethel and Pilliner presented more tips on avoiding gaps in your motor-reliability program. The first question to ask, they advised, is “Where is your motor-maintenance program?”

Bethel emphasized that it is also important to develop a good business case. This is critical to get buy-in from management for equipment-improvement initiatives, he said.

More questions to answer

• What is the problem?

• What is the gap?

• What is the financial impact?

• What are the goals and objectives?

• What are the roles and responsibilities of the motor-maintenance team? Ensure that these are clearly defined.

• What is the return on investment? Make calculations and predictions for an expanded time period.

The strategy is also something that should be clearly defined. Consider these proven motor-maintenance-strategy process steps:

• Maintain an accurate list of the motors you have in stock and the ones you need to order.

• Identify the criticality of every motor.

• Determine motor-failure modes based on past history.

• Assign corrective actions to prevent established failure modes.

• Develop a sustainable program to ensure compliance.

• Set testing standards and tailor them for your site.

Bethel and Pilliner described several case studies in which this approach helped companies determine the gaps in their motor-reliability program. Look at the gaps as opportunities to learn and improve, they said. Once gaps are identified and a strategic plan is in place, motor reliability at your facility will improve.

Key tips

• Success is dependent on buy-in from stakeholders.

• Motor-testing compliance is greatly improved with M-tap installation, compliant with the 70E standard.

• Put a fundamental maintenance program in place to complement the motor-testing protocol.

• Ensure motor-testing technicians are trained in the technology.

• Knowing the condition of your motors enhances your workflow process. This can result in significant savings from an efficiency and cost-of-failure point of view.

“Productive and long-lasting operation of motors in today’s business environment is the reason for the development of advanced technology and site procedures to increase reliability and assure a quick return to productivity in the event of troubleshooting and repairs,” Bethel said. “The transition of data to usable information becomes more efficient when the analyst has help to make the right decisions.” MT


5:49 pm
December 22, 2016
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Beware Dirty Power

randmWhether personnel refer to it as a surge, a sag, a spike, a transient, a fluctuation, an interruption, or noise, “dirty power” reflects an abnormality in the electricity that runs a facility.

According to insight from Vertiv, formerly Emerson Network Power (, Columbus, OH), dirty power originates outside of and within a facility. Sources include lightning, utility switching, capacitor switching, and faults on the utility’s distribution system, all of which can affect the quality of power before it even reaches the plant’s internal system.

Vertiv’s experts note that daily fluctuations from internal electrical equipment, such as devices that run in cycles or get turned on and off frequently, can cause cumulative and equally damaging power hazards. Even a small appliance can lead to problems with sensitive equipment that shares the same line. What’s worse, the more electrical equipment a site uses, the more transients accumulate. MT

— Jane Alexander, Managing Editor


Click to enlarge.

Vertiv is the new name of the business formerly known as Emerson Network Power. For more information, visit


5:38 pm
December 22, 2016
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Maintenance Considerations For Servicing Remote Locations

Simplicity of design and availability of parts can increase the reliability and performance of chemical-processing and water-treatment pump equipment.

By Jeffrey Scott, Milton Roy


Water-treatment plants in rural areas strive to avoid unscheduled downtime at all costs. All images courtesy of LMI/Milton Roy.

Servicing and maintaining pumps in remote locations requires critical planning and automation.

Since 1979, Furrow Pump, has provided water-treatment equipment throughout the Pacific Northwest, in Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, and Alaska. Specifically, the company provides metering pumps for potable and industrial applications, while offering design and implementation services for a range of chemical feed applications. They also provide service, repair, and maintenance services for customers located in some of the most remote corners of the United States.

When it comes to delivering chemical feed applications, Furrow offers a unique approach to each customer. In some cases, the company augments existing water treatment systems by adding specific pumps. In other cases, it designs and delivers complete solutions on skids that are assembled in its Wilsonville, OR, plant. Water-treatment applications and chemical-equipment solutions that are common across Furrow’s customer base include pH control, coagulation and flocculation, chemical neutralization and stabilization, and various measures for color and odor control.

Many of Furrow’s customers are running continuous (or near continuous) operations and many of them are in extremely remote locations. Furrow Pump president J.B. Leahy said his team is mindful of these considerations when planning predictive and preventative maintenance activities. They have identified a number of pre-sale/pre-install items that impact the pump’s efficiency, and that influence the amount of maintenance it will require throughout its lifetime.

Furrow’s customers include a mix of large industrial companies and small municipal water-treatment plants. Their constituents know a lot about their own businesses. However, they are not pump experts, so they rely on the expertise of a support network to keep their machinery running at peak efficiency.         

The industrial water-treatment side of Furrow’s business features high-tech silicon manufacturers, food processors, timber and logging companies, foundries, and oil and gas customers. All of these customers need metering pumps to manage problem areas such as scaling, corrosion, and the accumulation of microbiological activity that could diminish the quality of the products they manufacture. Once their process is complete, they also use metering pumps for pH control, and to clean wastewater prior to disposal. Many of these companies are large organizations, and some of them have their own maintenance teams.    

On the municipal water-treatment side, Furrow has carved out a niche servicing small towns in remote locations where the municipal water-treatment systems serve less than 10,000 connections. 

According to Leahy, servicing this type of market requires a high touch when it comes to maintenance. Some of these customers wear a number of different hats. “In some remote and rural areas, the city manager is also the one operating the water-treatment plant,” stated Leahy.  “But that’s fine, because our business is based on bringing expertise and reliable technology to customers who need it.”

Sizing and proper pump selection

EXCEL XR metering pumps are designed for the specific chemical pumping requirements of municipal and industrial water treatment.

EXCEL XR metering pumps are designed for the specific chemical pumping requirements of municipal and industrial water treatment.

For more than 40 years, Furrow Pump’s team has been amassing application knowledge that helps them design systems that last without excessive maintenance. Much effort is spent on analyzing application requirements, and customers are educated on the need to understand application limits, while always operating pumps at their best efficiency point (BEP).

An improper setup can substantially accelerate wear on the pump. As a simple example, chemical feed tanks should never be set below the pump. If they are, the pump will not function as though the tank were level with (or above) the pump with threaded suction. “Recognizing simple things like this can have a big impact on the longevity of systems,” said Leahy.

Because of Furrow’s expertise with many of their product lines—particularly LMI pumps—they know intimately which pumps are best suited for which jobs. It is not enough to look at a spec sheet and pick any diaphragm pump that fits the applications parameters. If the pump is sized properly, it can minimize the amount of required maintenance, which is critical for customers in remote locations.

Simplicity of design and availability of parts

Customers with limited access to repair shops should choose pumps with parts that are readily available. They should also select metering pumps that feature a simple design, where the liquid end can be easily swapped out and the diaphragm, seals, and check valves can be repaired quickly. When Furrow’s staff is alerted to a problem, they visit the customer site with parts on-hand. Their expertise with the LMI product line helps them quickly identify repair costs and estimate repair time (which in most cases is approximately an hour of bench time).

Furrow also maintains a large inventory of pumps that enables them to bring new replacement units on maintenance calls. This gives customers the option to repair existing units, or completely replace them. The ability to stock large inventories of complete pumps and replacement parts is critical for Furrow’s business.

“We’re not able to do that with every brand we carry,” added Leahy. “If it takes up to 24 hours to get a replacement part, that can cause problems for customers that run continuous operations. But that’s not an issue with the LMI product lines.”            

Dealing with off-gassing

One of the biggest issues that water-treatment applications must address is vapor locking. Chemicals like sodium hypochlorite can turn to gas when they heat up or become agitated. When a fluid gasifies, the pump can lock, causing it to stop pumping. This issue, more than any other, prompts service calls. Therefore, planning for and addressing this issue is a critical part of any effective preventive-maintenance program.

Customers should choose metering pumps with degassing valves that let gas escape in one direction and allow the process chemicals to flow as intended. Additional features such as auto-prime liquid ends, and front-scavenging technology assure high fluid velocity through the pump head and evacuate the entire liquid end with each stroke. This also helps to prevent air bubbles from accumulating and causing vapor lock.

“When it comes to dealing with vapor locking, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” Leahy said. “In this case, it’s also worth several hours of maintenance.”         

Some of Furrow Pump’s customers are experts in making food, paper, silicon wafers, or potable water, but they are not necessarily pump experts, Leahy said. The metering pump is just a part of their machinery. Having access to a responsive network of repair technicians that can keep them up and running is the key to their success in the rural corners of the Pacific Northwest. The ability to quickly and efficiently meet these customer requirements can be a critical key to maintenance and reliability success. RP

Jeffrey Scott is part of Houston-based Milton Roy’s Global Water Team. He oversees the Western region and brings extensive application expertise to Milton Roy and LMI partners and customers. He can be reached at: For more information on Furrow Pumps, please visit: For more information on LMI/Milton Roy, please visit:


5:32 pm
December 22, 2016
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Match Pump Specs to Chemicals

Marrying a specific product with the right equipment is crucial in chemical-processing pump maintenance.

This double-mechanically sealed, Plan 52 centrifugal pump is being used in a plywood-fabrication application. Photo: EnviroPump & Seal Inc.

This double-mechanically sealed, Plan 52 centrifugal pump is being used in a plywood-fabrication application. Photo: EnviroPump & Seal Inc.

By Michelle Segrest, Contributing Editor

The biggest problem a pump operator can face, especially when explosive, corrosive, and abrasive chemicals are involved is not having a structured maintenance program, according to Tim Mann, president of TKM Industries Inc., a Marietta, GA-based manufacturer of custom-engineered metering pumps for the chemical, wastewater, and mining industries.

“Sometimes the attitude is…if it works, don’t fix it,” Mann said. “This is absolutely the wrong approach. When working with chemical pumps, especially metering pumps, you are always pumping a specialty chemical. You have to be mindful of the product you are pumping because every chemical gives you a different problem. Many of them can be reactive to heat and pressure, for example. You have to design your maintenance program around those specifics.”

Chemicals that are non-viscous and non-corrosive may only require minimum scheduled maintenance, while those that are more aggressive require more frequent maintenance. “It’s important to consider the pump and the product you are pumping when designing the maintenance program,” Mann said. “It’s not one-size-fits-all. Every chemical creates a different challenge.”

Chemical-pump maintenance

To avoid some of the most common maintenance issues that occur in chemical-processing pumping systems, EnviroPump & Seal Inc.’s Monik Gandhi suggests insisting on a proper design from the beginning, ensuring a proper installation, and maintaining the pumps according to a strict schedule. EnviroPump & Seal Inc., Marietta, GA, is a manufacturer of ANSI process pumps and mechanical seals.

The top six maintenance issues and their solutions include:

Faulty or incorrect design. Verify the manufacturer’s recommendation using their pump curves and pump data sheets prior to purchase, Gandhi suggested. “Verify materials of construction used in the pump for any incompatibility. If the manufacturer has a distributor or manufacturer’s representative in the area, use them as a third party to verify the conditions of service required versus the pump curve and data sheets provided by the pump manufacturer.”

Manufacturing error. Look for pumps with the longest warranties or pump manufacturers with good references. “Those manufacturers that offer the longest warranties generally have more procedures in place to assure that the pump runs properly and efficiently for a longer time,” Gandhi said. “The standard pump warranty is for one year. Look for those manufacturers that offer warranties that are longer than that. The longest warranty currently available on a pump is three years.”

Assembly/installation errors or defects. Hire a millwright, or use the millwright who is staffed by the customer. “Follow all the manufacturer’s recommended installation and startup procedures,” Gandhi suggested. “Pay special attention to alignment, rotation, shimming, etc.”

“Live” process conditions different from base design. “This is a difficult problem to solve,” explained Gandhi. “It is looked at on a case-by-case basis. In some instances, the impeller trim can be changed, or the speed of the pump (among a list of other things). In other instances, the process flow is too different from the designed pump, and the pump must be replaced with a pump which can attain the desired conditions.”

Maintenance deficiencies and procedure neglect. Keep a daily check on all maintenance items (even those with instrumentation designed to alarm at a central location), Gandhi recommended. These items can include considerations such as cooling-water flow and basket-strainer cleaning.

Improper operation or operation not intended for the pump. Certain pump technologies can be used for only certain process streams, Gandhi said. “For instance, if you want a high turndown, you should use a pump which can acquire that, such as a peristaltic pump or a solenoid pump. If you want a pump that can pump very viscous materials, then a positive-displacement pump is the right solution. If there is high heat involved, then cooling accommodations must be made for the pump seals. If the wrong technology is used for the wrong process, the pump will never perform as needed by plant personnel. It is a good idea to do some industry research and/or rely on someone who is versed in the technologies to steer the customer toward the proper solution.”

A VIT-1000 centrifugal pump keeps product moving at a leading snack food manufacturer’s plant. Photo: EnviroPump & Seal Inc.

A VIT-1000 centrifugal pump keeps product moving at a leading snack food manufacturer’s plant. Photo: EnviroPump & Seal Inc.

Marrying chemical and equipment

All chemicals present specific challenges, making the marriage of the pump and the product it’s pumping of utmost importance, Tim Mann stated.

“Chemicals react differently at different speeds and pressures, and they also react differently depending on the type of pump,” he explained. “If you are using a progressive cavity or gear pump, for example, when they are spinning fast they create heat. Some chemicals don’t react well to heat, or they may be shear sensitive. By turning that kind of pump, you can create another kind of problem. The heat can cause the chemical to break down and, when this happens, it reacts in different ways. It could become sticky or more viscous or more abrasive, or less effective…it just depends on the chemical.”

Mann described a situation years ago when one of his customers made a slight formulation change to a chemical it was pumping. “We were using a gear pump that normally would last at least two years without any issues. This slight change caused the pump to break down at an alarming speed. We worked hard to figure out the problem and finally learned that the change in the chemical had caused it to become more reactive to heat, which was causing abrasion, which was wearing on the pump. We had to select a different piece of equipment and totally redesign the system to suit the product. Then the maintenance team had to determine a new maintenance schedule.”

According to Mann, the marriage of the pump and the chemical also relies on a strong partnership between the manufacturer and the operator.

“The technologies are changing so fast, and the chemical companies are always looking for an edge to make a better chemical,” he said. “Just a little bit of change in the formulation will cause maintenance and wear issues you didn’t expect. We work closely with the customer to make sure we understand the chemistry and which pump will work best with it. If I have any doubts, I always recommend a different pump to the customer. Marrying the equipment with the chemical is essential. If you don’t do it right, you are setting yourself up for failure.”

That symmetry extends to the components as well.

“It’s not just the pump,” explained Mann. “You have to also ensure the piping is running properly. The valves may need pulsation dampeners or relief valves. The pump requires maintenance, but so do all the other components. You have to be sure they are all functioning properly.”

Other considerations come into play. Some chemicals may create an off-gassing effect or introduce vapor in the lines, which can cause blockage. If vapor lock occurs, the pressure-relief valve must be working properly or the pump will be damaged or destroyed, Mann said.

Mechanical-diaphragm pumps use sodium hypochlorite to disinfect drinking water. Photo: Guardian Equipment, Sanford, FL

Mechanical-diaphragm pumps use sodium hypochlorite to disinfect drinking water. Photo: Guardian Equipment, Sanford, FL

Maintenance best practices

There is much education and critical research needed to maintain chemical-processing pumps. Chemicals are used in a variety of pumping applications, including wastewater, water, food and beverage, pulp and paper, oil and gas, pharmaceutical, and almost all other processing industries. The details matter, said Mann.

“When people talk high-tech, they think iPods or iPhones or electronic gadgets,” Mann said. “The chemical industry is very high tech and cutting edge. Chemicals have become much more active. Everyone is looking for an added advantage. When they do this, they often change the chemical. Sometimes the chemical companies provide the equipment because it’s always changing.”

This requires asking detailed questions, such as:

— What is the viscosity?

— What is the compatibility of materials?

— What is the specific gravity?

Answers to questions such as these can help to determine the right pump for the application. This leads to proper preventive-maintenance programs.

“You have to know your chemical,” Mann reiterated. “Customers and users should share all the information they can with the manufacturers. It’s a two-way street. We can’t walk in and tell the customer we understand everything about their chemical until we’ve taken the time to learn their chemical. At the same time, they don’t know 100% if your equipment is going to work to move that chemical unless they fully understand the type of pump and everything about it. In a metering pump, for instance, maybe you need a chemical that is more abrasive, so you want to use a harder metal component. This could increase the cost. It’s important to have this communication. It will save you unplanned maintenance down the road.”

It’s always a tradeoff between scheduling cost and time, Mann said.

“Some companies specialize in pumping certain chemicals. Some specialize in slurries. Others may pump a very clean, non-viscous material, close to water. Our plunger pump can pump very viscous materials, for example. Polymers are everywhere. But polymer is a very generic term. The type of polymer and the viscosities can vary greatly. We know we can pump this type of chemical without a problem. So some companies come to us for that specific reason.”

While the specifics are important, there are some common preventive-maintenance best practices, Gandhi said. “There are many things maintenance personnel can perform as preventive maintenance for the pumps in service as well as any spare units that may be in storage,” he explained. “Spares should be manually turned once every few weeks, keep all moving parts lubed to prevent lock up and rust.”

In Gandhi’s opinion, the most overlooked preventive-maintenance practice is to use common sense and all your senses.

“For a few minutes every day, it helps if a maintenance worker looks at the pump for items such as vibration or leaks, while listening to the pump for items such as cavitation or misalignment,” offered Gandhi. “Most of the issues that can arise with pump maintenance can be caught ahead of a catastrophic failure if the pump is monitored closely. In addition to eyes and ears, there are many forms of instrumentation that can remotely monitor critical elements of the pumping system.”

Technology, tools, tips

Mann and Gandhi recommended taking advantage of the many tools available to help with chemical-pump maintenance.

“There is a plethora of instrumentation that can help monitor your pump,” Gandhi said. “The most catastrophic pump failures can be caught before they become fatal to the pump. In addition to instrumentation, a daily visual/auditory check of all rotating equipment will increase pump life because the evaluator will see a problem when it is still manageable instead of when it becomes out of hand and the pump needs to be replaced.”

It’s important to use instrumentation. However, users should not to rely too much on technology, Mann suggested. “You can use a pressure gage or flow meter, but always feed back into the DCS or SCADA system and use the information to do your statistical process controls to [identify] your maintenance issues. Sometimes alarms go off so much and they are ignored and you don’t even hear them anymore. You see this all the time. In the control room an alarm goes off and the guy just reaches over and kills the alarm.”

Mann offered these additional tips:

— Ensure everything is working properly. “Routine checks make all the difference,” he said. “If you just follow the procedures, the equipment will last much longer. Less work, less money, less time. All good.”

— It only takes a minute to look at a gage or a pressure valve, so do not overlook this important step.

— Always make sure your safety procedures are in place and are followed.

— Be sure you have good preventive maintenance (PM).

— When you have shutdowns, make sure you properly clean the pumps and pipes.

— Make sure you are using good parts—the recommended parts—and that you have spares on hand.

— Always be ready to realize that it’s not just the pump, it’s the entire process line that needs maintenance. Take care of all the components.

— Have a checklist. If plants are running well, personnel generate good checklists and they follow the checklists. This will save you time and money and the equipment will run more smoothly. “PM doesn’t have to mean you have to tear the equipment down 100%,” Mann said. “PM may be just checking to make sure the oil levels are correct or everything is working. You may look at a pressure gage and everything is working fine but the pump has to work harder to keep the same pressures.” 

— Avoid complacency. Is someone checking to be sure the filter baskets are being cleaned as scheduled? Those kinds of small things can cause big problems. Some people don’t think they need a pressure-relief valve, so they just take it out or never check it because it always works.

— Don’t cut corners. Pay attention to the details.

“In the end, it is common sense,” Mann said. “It’s putting the procedures in place, and then following them.”

Mann described how overlooking something simple can cause dangerous problems when pumping chemicals.

“When I first started working in the industry, I was in a plant and an operator said he needed to change the filters,” Mann explained. “I was looking at it, and the gage was reading 50 psi. I asked him if we needed to relieve the pressure. He said no, because that gage doesn’t work… ‘It’s never worked,’ he said. I was skeptical enough that I backed up. He opened the filter and a chemical came pouring out and totally drenched him.

Fortunately it wasn’t an aggressive chemical, but it could have been. It was all over him. If he had checked the gage to see if it was working, and if he had been cleaning the filter baskets regularly, just routine maintenance, this would have been avoided. He did everything wrong. And he learned the lesson the hard way. It could have ended really badly. The only thing he did right was he was wearing safety glasses. The chemical ruined his clothes, but he was so lucky.”

Gandhi emphasized this point when he described a challenging maintenance issue.

“At one plant the seals on the centrifugal pump would continually fail within a week,” Gandhi said. “The pump was moving 450-degree thermal oil. The seals would overheat, and eventually fail. We decided to go with a Plan 52 cooling arrangement. We put cooling jackets on either side of the seal, as well as injected a barrier fluid (cooling as well) in between the seals. This greatly increased the run-time between failures for this particular plant.”

When working with chemicals, OSHA requires that every chemical supplier provide a Materials Safety and Data Sheet (MSDS). These can also be found online and will tell you whether a chemical is harmful/corrosive and provide additional information. This will help the operators  understand the chemicals and their potential hazards, but maintenance plans should be customized and flexible, Mann stated.

“A chemical pumping-maintenance plan is not something you create and then it’s good forever or works for every piece of equipment,” he said. “It’s always changing. In most plants, the chemistry is constantly changing. Everyone is always looking for a better way. You can’t create a maintenance plan and put it on the shelf and forget about it. It’s not that simple.”

Mann recommends creating a good work history to avoid reinventing the wheel on common problems. “You may fix one problem and create two more,” he said. “And, if it’s a really common problem, then you are not really fixing it.” RP

Michelle Segrest has been a professional journalist for 27 years. She specializes in the processing industries, and can be reached at