Archive | 2017

17

2:16 pm
May 18, 2017
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On The Floor: Reports from Ground Zero — Growing a Skilled Workforce

vocational student learns air conditioning repair from an experiBy Jane Alexander, Managing Editor

The cover and several pages of May’s Maintenance Technology might give you the impression that we had a common theme in mind: workforce matters. It wasn’t by design; it just worked out this way. The following MT Reader Panel question fit the theme nicely, though. Our Panelists began answering early and enthusiastically. The bad news, again, is that we couldn’t include all of their responses in the print issue. The good news is that we have this expanded version of the discussion here on maintenancetechnology.com.) Here’s the question:

Q: How were their organizations (or client/customer organizations) helping to develop, empower, and enable skilled workers for today’s and tomorrow’s industries? 

The following responses have, as always, been edited for clarity and brevity.

Industry Consultant, West…

Only a couple of my clients are addressing this issue. The ones who aren’t seem to think they’ll be able to entice employees away from companies that are actually finding a way to train the workforce. Development of workers seems to be the largest challenge at this time. Workers hired out of high school have few or no skills that translate to industry, other than moderate computer abilities. Workers hired with tech-school training seem to be hit and miss. Some have valuable skills, but lack work ethics; others have neither.

One client has created a tiered system that has some similarities to previous apprenticeship programs, but the tiers are self-paced, allowing more ambitious workers to advance (and make more money) more quickly. So far this has been successful, to a degree, but a stumbling block seems to be that Millennials do not work for goals that are two or three years away, but want results in one year or less. They also seem to feel that if another employee gets a raise, they deserve one as well, no matter if they’ve completed the same requirements as the other worker. While there are exceptions to this, the situation can lead to  friction in the workforce.

Most of my clients seem to be doing well when it comes to empowering and giving all workers a voice. And most appear to be enabling their workers much better than in the past. This helps retain the long-term employees they have.

Maintenance Engineer, Discrete Mfg, Midwest…

Our plant has begun retraining senior maintenance personnel to adapt to the ever-increasing automation of our production machinery. We’ve also started training some maintenance apprentices to begin refilling the pipeline to replace aging in-house staff (average age in our facility is around 50). We’re using the vocational school in our area on basic skills (welding, shop equipment use, power transmission, and electricity) for apprenticeship candidates and other technical specialists who want to participate. The program is going into its second year, and the only issue we’re working through is putting apprentices in situations where they can use their newly found knowledge in practical settings.

Maintenance Supervisor, Process Mfg, North America…  

Unfortunately, our organization is moving away from technical training for our maintenance people. It has imposed a limited budget for training across the corporation and is using it to train upper management on aspects of contract negotiations and employee interactions. I only have one technician scheduled for training on a PLC course. Nothing else has been approved. This is not an optimal situation, as technicians only buy into their jobs if they can be shown that the organization is interested in keeping equipment working and running at optimum production levels.

Reliability Specialist, Power Sector, Midwest…

Our organization participates in job fairs at the high school, trade school, and university levels. We are active members on curriculum boards at two trade schools in the state. We assist with training recommendations, and provide tools and equipment to the union-trades training facilities. Our organization has an in-house apprenticeship training program, heavily invested into continuous training of all personnel to maintain a highly skilled workforce and encourage training for future positions using in-house training and college tuition support. We also participate in high school-through-college job shadowing programs and internships.

Sr. Facilities Engineer, Discrete Mfg, Southeast…  

Our facility has become involved with Junior Achievement. A variety of our personnel spend predetermined time at local schools leading classes that focus on possible vocations, working as part of a team, and other things to help students understand more about what work will be like. We also hire summer interns, usually in some engineering position. We’ve had chemical, mechanical, and electrical majors.  This year we’ll have an environmental science student to help with some environmental updating. This will be good for us and offers good experience for the intern. The position is paid.

Plant Engineer, Institutional Facilities, Midwest…

We have a Civil Service System, and tradesmen/women must meet all the qualifications and experience before being interviewed. The system has drawbacks, but as a whole, our hires are very qualified. It also allows people to move to other positions by attending classes or studying until they meet the qualifications for a higher position. Some employees who started out as janitors later became laborers, then stationary firemen/women, then building engineers, even an assistant chief engineer.

Technical Supervisor, Public Utility, West…

This is a real problem for the hydro and power-generation industry. We’ve not had good luck “stealing” experienced journey-level employees from other utilities lately. We’re part of a state system, and drastic reductions in various benefits over the past decade have removed the incentive for such personnel to “jump ship” and join our organization.

We’ve developed detailed system descriptions of our project, so if we bring in personnel from the non-power industry, they have a training road map/program with lot of hands-on training.

Our experience with a somewhat expensive service that puts former military personnel into industry jobs has been varied. We’ve been bringing in student interns to support our engineering departments for several years, and have hired one full-time.

Industry Consultant, International…

Concerning this question, I have seen both short- and long-term approaches among my clients. As an example, one operation has chosen to contract out skill sets and hold down costs with a minimum of on-site crafts personnel or crafts-qualified supervisors. This tends to be a bit short-sighted but is “OK” short term.

Those taking more of a long-term approach include a major utility that has chosen to partner with local crafts unions such as IBEW, IAM, Iron Workers, etc., to develop an in-house apprenticeship program. Training is done at the local union facility for one-half day and on the company site the rest of the time, with company crafts Journeymen as mentors. Progress is monitored every six months in a formal joint union and company meeting, and raises are given for progress to a four-year Journeyman status. This type of program, which is administered by HR, works well for companies already operating in a union environment. (Non-union operations I’ve worked with have set up up similar in-house training with local colleges and trade schools, sometimes using local union Journeymen as instructors or evaluators.)

In Canada, I’ve seen several  companies join together with the First Nations Reservation groups to set up specialized schools that provide not only training in  crafts along typical apprenticeship lines, but also for special or heavy-equipment operators, miners, and staff clerical/medical personnel. These companies usually have requirements to staff with as many locals as possible. To meet this requirement, local training and personnel/crafts development is a must. In some of these remote locations, outside sourcing of competent Journeymen is difficult.

Based on personal observations, I’ve found that HR and Operations/Maintenance Management working in conjunction with local craft unions and in-house Journeymen as mentors tend to produce the best and most likely to “stay” new craftsmen, These people are already in the company and are familiar and “at home” with their local environment.

Engineer, Process Mfg, Southeast…

Our plant is a founding member of [a not-for-profit regional workforce-development alliance]. The organization engages in activities to improve the overall training and skill level of [the region’s] craft persons and trade persons and promote consistent application of skill standards in the industrial and contractor workforce. It also works to provide, develop, and implement training programs to ensure consistent skill-level designations for trade persons.   Partnering with educational institutions and others, it provides information and assistance with career and skills assessments, training programs, certification standards, and accepted credentials for skilled crafts persons and trades persons. Coordinating with local industry and employers, it assesses present and future needs for skilled workers and develops and implements initiatives that alleviate shortages.

Industry Consultant, International…

Concerning this question, I have seen both short- and long-term approaches among my clients. As an example, one operation has chosen to contract out skill sets and hold down costs with a minimum of on-site crafts personnel or crafts-qualified supervisors. This tends to be a bit short-sighted but is “OK” short term.

Those taking more of a long-term approach include a major utility that has chosen to partner with local crafts unions such as IBEW, IAM, Iron Workers, etc., to develop an in-house apprenticeship program. Training is done at the local union facility for one-half day and on the company site the rest of the time, with company crafts Journeymen as mentors. Progress is monitored every six months in a formal joint union and company meeting, and raises are given for progress to a four-year Journeyman status. This type of program, which is administered by HR, works well for companies already operating in a union environment. (Non-union operations I’ve worked with have set up up similar in-house training with local colleges and trade schools, sometimes using local union Journeymen as instructors or evaluators.)

In Canada, I’ve seen several  companies join together with the First Nations Reservation groups to set up specialized schools that provide not only training in  crafts along typical apprenticeship lines, but also for special or heavy-equipment operators, miners, and staff clerical/medical personnel. These companies usually have requirements to staff with as many locals as possible. To meet this requirement, local training and personnel/crafts development is a must. In some of these remote locations, outside sourcing of competent Journeymen is difficult.

Based on personal observations, I’ve found that HR and Operations/Maintenance Management working in conjunction with local craft unions and in-house Journeymen as mentors tend to produce the best and “most likely to stay” new craftsmen. People trained this way are already in the company and are familiar and “at home” with their local environment. MT

If you’re interested in becoming an MT Reader Panelist, email jalexander@maintenancetechnology.com.

Tip of the Month | May 2017

“Once you’ve tightened a bolt to the correct torque rating, use colored nail polish to paint a straight line across its head and onto the bolted equipment. If this straight line ever appears broken, it’s an indicator that the bolt has loosened. This extremely inexpensive vibration-monitoring technique provides an important visual cue that operators can easily detect during daily checks and, in turn, leads to fast maintenance response.”

— Tipster: Ken Bannister, MEch Eng (UK), CMRP, MLE, Contributing Editor

What about you?
Tips and tricks that you use in your work could be value-added news to other reliability and maintenance pros. Let us help you share them. 

Email your favorites to MTTipster@maintenancetechnology.com. Who knows? Like this month’s featured tipster, you might see your submission(s) highlighted in this space. (Anyone can play. You don’t need to be an MT Reader Panelist.)

27

4:29 pm
May 17, 2017
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SAP Chemical Customers Looking for Platform Solutions

Maintenance missteps in chemical-pumping applications can be catastrophic.

Chemical-pumping in action.

There’s a lot of talk about the “things” in the Industrial Internet of Things formula, but analytical platforms are also very integral parts to this complex solution. Return on investment (ROI) or even total cost ownership (TCO) metrics are key ingredients for many manufacturers in realizing the justification for a digital transformation for a plant.

Recently, SAP chemical manufacturers discussed platform and investment at the Best Practices for Chemicals event in Houston. Mark Sen Gupta, from ARC Advisory Group’s Industrie 4.0 blog, recently wrote a post, titled, “Cloud Adoption Slow and Steady Among SAP Chemical Users.” The post outlines the urgency for chemical plants to modernize and connect their assets to transform legacy facilities.

Here’s an excerpt from the post:

Companies are at different stages regarding cloud adoption readiness. Some companies have a clear Cloud strategy; some are in the process of moving their test systems into the cloud, others are still waiting. Overall, though, attendees agreed that moving to the cloud should be part of system migration considerations targeting at Total Cost of Ownership and complexity reduction through standardization.

The takeaway for me is more learning is needed by plant managers and executives to better understand platform solutions and possible new business outcomes, beyond asset management. SAP has two resources to help in this area, the Leonardo Portfolio and a Digital Transformation Navigator tool. The Leonardo Portfolio advertises its ability to “bridge things with processes” but also new business processes and business models.

For more information on Leonardo Portfolio, click here, and more about the Digital Transformation Navigator Tool.

1601Iot_logo

 

 

For more IIoT coverage in maintenance and operations, click here! 

26

8:25 pm
May 15, 2017
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Uptime: Engage the New Workforce

bobmugnewBy Bob Williamson, Contributing Editor

I’m worried that we’re not effectively engaging younger, newer employees in our reliability-improvement initiatives,” lamented a participant in one of my workshops. “How should we be working with them?”

That type of concern and question is becoming more common in today’s older industrial facilities—and for good reason. The ways we employed, trained, and engaged previous generations of employees won’t necessarily work going forward. Now is the time to re-tool our approaches. Here are some insights into those generations and how to engage their members in the workplace.

The divide

Think about the differences in your family, i.e., your grandparents, parents, yourself, and your children. Each generation is different, based on experiences with different technologies, socio-economic conditions, educational approaches, and politics, among other things. Let’s look at four generations and various factors that formed their lives:

• Matures (born before 1945): Strong family and community ties, WWII and Pearl Harbor, post-WWII economic boom, manned space flight.

• Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964): Cold War, Civil Rights movement, Vietnam War, political assassinations, feminist movement.

• Gen X (born between 1965 and 1977): Disintegrating families, unemployment, advent of personal computers and the Internet, Space Shuttle explosion, end of the Cold War, Berlin Wall destruction, Gulf Wars.

• Gen Y, aka “Millennials” (born between 1977 and 2000): Oklahoma City bombing, 9-11 terrorist attacks, growth of school violence, global warming, increasing divorce rates, advent of smart phones and other technologies, everybody gets a trophy.

Millennials learn, and in turn, approach work much differently than past generations.

Millennials learn, and in turn, approach work much differently than past generations.

The formative years

Major generational events combine with situations in an individual’s formative years to influence their behaviors, beliefs, expectations, and interests. During the late 1960s and into the 1970s, Dr. Morris Massey described three major life-shaping periods:

• Imprint Period (birth to 7 years of age): We absorb everything, accepting much of it as true, especially coming from our parents. The sense of right and wrong, good and bad is learned here.

• Modeling Period (between 8 and 13 years): We copy people, primarily our parents, and other people who impress us (community leaders and teachers, for example). We try different things to see how we feel about them.

• Socialization Period (between 13 and 21): We tend to look for ways to depart from our earlier programming and are significantly influenced by our peers. Media (social-media) messages, especially those that seem compatible with peer-group values, have a major influence.

The challenge in a workplace is how to effectively engage (and value) inherent generational differences, despite the diverse, life-shaping events and experiences of peoples’ formative years.

Focusing on Millennials

Get ready. Millennials will make up 75% of the workforce by 2025, preceded by record departures of seasoned, skilled workers. The bad news is Millennials often lack the skills, knowledge, and experiences employers are seeking in replacements for their disappearing skilled personnel. While more people may make up the labor pool, it’s the skills shortages (skills gaps) that will prevent them from securing employment. According to a 2015 report titled “The Skills Gap in U.S. Manufacturing: 2015 and Beyond,” from Deloitte (deloitte.com, New York) and The Manufacturing Institute (themanufacturinginstitute.org, Washington), in the next decade, nearly 3.5-million manufacturing jobs will likely need to be filled. Because of the skills gap, 2 million of those jobs are expected to remain open.

Knowledge transfer and reliable training processes are rapidly becoming a more-than-compelling need in many business sectors. The traditional training model, however, is mostly inefficient, ineffective, and inconsistent with how Millennials learn. Still, the task at hand involves more than training them—it’s engaging them.

Millennial expert Christine Hassler offers some pointers on how to work with and benefit from this generation. It starts with understanding that members of this group are typically over-parented, self-expressive, optimistic, globally oriented, and wanting to make a difference. They tend to be multi-taskers, entrepreneurial thinkers who value freedom and flexibility, but believe that organizations rarely make use of their skills. According to Hassler, prospective employers can leverage these characteristics by offering what these job seekers want most:

• diverse opportunities based on individuality and creativity
• fair compensation for work that has a purpose
• a great place to work, i.e., fun and ethical
• a sense of belonging and social engagement flexibility.

Attracting Millennials can be enhanced by employers that:

• invest in technology and social media
• have a story to tell, a brand
• leverage current Millennial employees in recruiting
• embrace social and environmentally conscious practices
• re-invent the workplace environment
• address how their goals can be achieved by working here.

Hiring Millennials may require employers to overhaul their practices and:

• recruit, hire, and train for skills mastery
• look for leaders, out-of-the box thinkers, and optimists
• deploy creative application and interview processes
• upgrade employee orientation and on-boarding programs
• include Millennials in interview and selection processes.

Retaining newly hired Millennial employees can be improved by employers that try to:

• make the first day unforgettable
• offer feedback, flexibility, and transparency
• create a fun workplace with a sense of purpose.

Managing Millennials must be accomplished by leveraging their expectations:

• provide frequent feedback
• provide clear expectations with accountability
• coach, rather than direct (see the following “Situational Leadership” model)
• challenge and empower them
• inspire them (be a strategic and aspirational thinker)
• add the human element
• be open and transparent
• show respect for all people at all levels
• get to know employees on a personal level
• conduct weekly check-in
• provide interpersonal training and personal development
• provide technology platforms for feedback sharing.

Developing Millennials into leaders must go beyond traditional programs and begin early in their employment through:

• cross-functional expertise and rotational learning
• apprenticeship models with assigned mentors
• involvement with “high-ranking” executives
• intrapreneurship (defined as workplace innovation)
• ongoing training and personal development
• formal knowledge-transfer processes
• connection to the bigger “why” (beyond “what” and “how”).

Engagement is ‘situational’

Leading and empowering Millennials is where the proven principles of Ken Blanchard’s “Situational Leadership” framework for employee development can come into play. Adapting our leadership styles to fit individual employee needs will be one of the most important methods you can use to engage Millennial employees.

According to Blanchard, the four sequential leadership styles in the Situational Leadership model include directing, coaching, supporting, and delegating. These leadership styles are aligned with four sequential stages of individual employee development:

• low competence/high commitment
• some competence/low commitment
• higher competence and/or variable commitment
• high competence/high commitment.

Efforts to empower and engage employees, especially Millennials, must build on what motivates them. How we lead them to be productive members of an organization is an integral part of that motivation.  MT

References:

Dr. Morris Massey, What You Are is Where You Were When, 1986 video program, Enterprise Media, MorrisMassey.com.

Christine Hassler, “Bridging the Generational Divide Attracting, Engaging, and Managing a Multi-Generational Workforce” (keynote), millennialexpert.com.

“Situational Leadership” training program, The Ken Blanchard Companies, KenBlanchard.com.

Bob Williamson, CMRP, CPMM, and member of the Institute of Asset Management, is in his fourth decade of focusing on the “people side” of world-class maintenance and reliability in plants and facilities across North America. Contact him at  RobertMW2@cs.com.

27

7:43 pm
May 15, 2017
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SAP Tips and Tricks: Manage Assets with Refurbishment Order

By Kristina Gordon, DuPont

randmWhen assets need to be refurbished or fabricated, SAP offers an order type called a Refurbishment Order. The purpose of this order is to assist sending the item to a repair shop, either on or off site; having that asset repaired or fabricated; and then receiving it back into inventory at a different valuation or cost. The new store-room inventory value will be based on the cost charged to the refurbishment work order.

Name a work order type by whatever nomenclature your company uses. In this example, we will call the refurbishment work order type WO10. When creating and executing a refurbishment work order, follow these steps from creation to closure. Note that some of the transaction codes used here are finance- and costing-based. Such steps may be designated only by your finance department.

1. Set up transaction IW81 (standard SAP transaction code for refurbishment):

1704rmcsap01p

2. Fill in the needed information (note that the screen layout looks very different from a work order created in IW31):

1704rmcsap02p

3. Create the operation steps for internal labor and a line with your PO information for outside services:

1704rmcsap03p

4. Add the asset/material to the work-order components, then release and save the order:

1704rmcsap04p

5. Once work is completed and the asset/material is ready to be returned into inventory, confirm the internal labor hours to the work order that was added in step 3, using transaction IW41.

6. Add actual overhead to the work order using transaction KG12:

1704rmcsap05p

7. After time confirmations are completed and material movements have been made, TECO the work order.

8. Using Transaction IW8W, return the material back to inventory.

9. It is now time to financially settle the work order. This will also change the value of the material in inventory (Note that this screen looks very similar to the overhead calculation screen in KG12):

1704rmcsap06p

Creating and executing a refurbishment order is more labor-intensive than normal work-order types. However, refurbishment orders will keep your inventory value correct and maintain complete tracking and history of the work performed on the asset. MT

Kristina Gordon is SAP PM Leader, DuPont Protective Solutions Business, and SAP WMP Champion, Spruance Site, Richmond, VA. If you have SAP questions, send them to editors@maintenancetechnology.com and we’ll forward them to Kristina.

31

6:39 pm
May 15, 2017
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Understand Motor/System Baselines

Want to get the most from your electric motors? Think of St. Louis-based EASA (Electrical Apparatus Service Association,  easa.com) as a treasure trove of practical information and its members as a “go to” source for help with specific applications. Consider this insight on motor/system baselines.

— Jane Alexander, Managing Editor

According to EASA’s technical experts, changes in motor/system vibration readings provide the best early warning of developing problems in a motor or system component. Other parameters to monitor may include operating temperature of critical components, mechanical tolerances, and overall system performance, including outputs such as flow rate, tonnage, and volume.

Motor-specific baselines incorporate records of electrical, mechanical, and vibration tests performed when units are placed in operation or before they’re put in storage. Ideally, baselines would be obtained for all new, repaired, and in situ motors, but this may not be practical for some applications. These baselines typically include some or all of the following:

randmLoad current, speed, and terminal voltage

Changes in these parameters usually indicate that a vital system component is damaged or about to fail. Other electrical tests may include insulation resistance, lead-to-lead resistance at a known temperature, no-load current, no-load voltage, and starting characteristics.

QUICK TIP: Some changes in the current and speed may be normal, depending on the type of load.

Motor current signature analysis (MCSA)

This test diagnoses squirrel cage rotor problems, e.g., broken bars or an uneven air gap. It’s more accurate if a baseline is established early in the motor’s life.

Mechanical tests

These normally consist of measuring shaft runout (TIR) and checking for a soft foot.

Vibration

Although overall vibration readings can be used as baseline data, Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) spectra in all three planes at each bearing housing are preferred (see “Vibration Analysis” on page 22). Shaft proximity probes can be used to determine sleeve bearing motor baselines.

Infrared thermography

This tool can detect changes in the operating temperature of critical motor components, especially bearings.

New-motor baselines

Comparing factory terminal winding resistance and no-load amps with data taken under load can be useful when monitoring the condition of a new motor or troubleshooting system problems. Factory baselines are often available from the manufacturer or its website. The accuracy of factory data depends on how it was obtained, but it’s usually sufficient for field use.

Baseline data for a newly installed motor could reveal an error, e.g., misconnection for an incorrect voltage, and prevent a premature motor failure. Rather than simply “bumping” a motor for rotation before coupling it to the load, operate it long enough to measure the line current for all three phases, as well as the voltage and vibration levels.

QUICK TIP: Comparing the baselines of a failed motor and its replacement could reveal application- or process-related weaknesses in the system.

Repaired motor baselines

Service centers usually provide no-load and/or full-load (when stipulated) test data for repaired motors, including voltage, current, and vibration spectra. Comparing these results with historical baselines and those obtained on site when the motor is returned to service may confirm the quality of the repair or possibly reveal underlying system problems. For example, increased vibration levels in on-site tests might indicate a deteriorating motor base or a problem with the driven equipment rather than a balancing issue with the motor.

With newly repaired motors that have been in operation for many years, baseline comparisons are invaluable in root-cause failure analysis and may even expose consequential damage from certain kinds of failures, e.g., a broken shaft. To correctly identify cause and effect and prevent recurrences, always investigate equipment failure at the system level. MT

For details on using motor/system baselines, as well as expert advice on a wide range of other motor-related issues, download Getting the Most from Your Electric Motors, or contact a local EASA service center.

24

6:11 pm
May 15, 2017
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Slurry-Pump Tips: Extend Mechanical Seal Life

Selecting the right pump with the right type of mechanical seal is the first step toward slurry-pumping success. (Photo copyright ITT Goulds Pumps)

Selecting the right pump with the right type of mechanical seal is the first step toward slurry-pumping success. (Photo copyright ITT Goulds Pumps)

Although you may consider mechanical seals to be relatively small components in slurry-pumping systems, they can be the crucial bridge between failure and success. An incorrect or poor seal selection can cause major damage to the pumping system. The bottom line: If your operation wants to get the most from its slurry pumps, the choice of mechanical seals is crucial. Fluid-handling experts at Crane Engineering (Kimberly, WI, craneengineering.net) offer several tips for extending the life of these components.

— Jane Alexander, Managing Editor

Seal Considerations

As discussed in a recent blog post on craneengineering.net, increasing slurry-pump reliability starts with an understanding of the challenges involved in moving highly abrasive fluids such as manure, cement, and starch. These pumps clearly have their work cut out for them. Thus, when selecting a mechanical seal for slurry service, pay attention to these details:

randmRobust design characteristics. Heavy slurry usually involves a high solid content. A seal design that can withstand erosive impacts while protecting the seal faces is a must. Specially designed seals for slurry applications typically feature durable construction materials, hardened faces, and heavy-duty springs to ensure the seal faces have the correct pressure setting to seal the system.

Restriction bushings. When pumping a slurry mixture, process pressure will naturally drive the particle-filled fluid into the sealing interface, causing abrasion and accelerated wear. A restriction bushing isolates the mechanical seal from the harsh process so that the seal is mostly sealing the cleaner, cooler flush fluid.

Proper flushing. A proper flushing plan will keep abrasives away from the seal faces. Seal flushing also keeps things moving in the stuffing box to prevent solids stagnation and build-up. As with any pumping application, you should always avoid dry running conditions.

Additional Considerations

Choosing the proper seal for a slurry pump is just part of the equation. It’s also imperative to select the right pump for the job and to maintain it properly.

As with other pumping systems, poor equipment conditions caused by bad bearings, cavitation, excessive impeller loads, and misaligned shafts can lead to excessive vibration and shock to the mechanical seal. A slurry pump running under these conditions will generate more heat and more opportunity for abrasives to enter the sealing interface. MT

Lubricating Film Matters

According to Crane Engineering’s fluid-handling experts, regardless of your pumping application, a lubricating film at the sealing interface is always needed.

A film that is too thick will increase leakage and may allow particulate between the mechanical seal faces, increasing wear from abrasion. Conversely, a film that is too thin will generate heat and degrade materials. Keeping the sealing interface cool and clean will promote longer seal life.

Crane Engineering is a distributor of industrial-grade pumps, valves, filters, wastewater-treatment equipment, and other fluid-processing technology. Services include repair, corrosion-resistant coatings, and skid-system design and fabrication. For more information and instructional videos, visit craneengineering.net.

39

6:01 pm
May 15, 2017
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Use IR Switchgear Windows Properly

IR windows provide a measure of safety and reduce labor by allowing thermographers to inspect switchgear without opening panel covers. (Photo courtesy of Fluke Corp.)

IR windows provide a measure of safety and reduce labor by allowing thermographers to inspect switchgear without opening panel covers. (Photo courtesy of Fluke Corp.)

By Jim Seffrin, Director, Infraspection Institute

In an effort to reduce the risk of injuries associated with arc flash, many sites have installed infrared (IR) transmissive windows or ports that permit IR inspections of switchgear without the need to open panel covers. Although such devices can provide a measure of safety and help to reduce labor associated with those inspections, they pose unique challenges not associated with direct line-of-sight imaging.

Switchgear windows are typically constructed of a rigid frame with a fixed IR transparent material that enables an imager to view through them. Switchgear ports consist of a rigid frame with small openings through which an imager may be sighted. Depending upon type, some feature a single hole, others incorporate metal screens containing multiple holes.

randmIR windows will always attenuate infrared energy received by the imager. While this attenuation affects qualitative and quantitative data, the greatest challenge involves temperature measurement. Accurate temperature measurements can’t be obtained through a screened port. Furthermore, the ability to accurately measure temperatures through an IR window is possible only if the following conditions are met.

• The window opening must be larger than the imager’s lens objective.
• The target must be at or beyond the imager’s minimum focus distance.
• Values for window transmittance and target emittance must be known and properly entered into the imager’s computer.
• The imager’s lens must be kept perpendicular to and in contact with the window.

When it is not possible to meet all of the above conditions, imagery should be evaluated only for its qualitative value. As always, any inexplicable hot or cold exceptions should be investigated for cause and appropriate corrective action taken. MT

Words to the Wise: Beware Hidden Electrical Danger

Getting ready for an infrared inspection of electrical equipment often requires manual preparation of switchgear components, which could be a riskier endeavor than many people might think. Unwary thermographers and other personnel can, in fact, be injured through contact with cabinets or component surfaces that have become accidentally or unintentionally energized.

Switchgear enclosures and components are generally designed to prevent their surfaces from becoming energized. Under certain circumstances, however, enclosures and other dielectric surfaces can become unintentionally energized to significant voltage levels. This potentially lethal condition can be caused by improper wiring, faulty equipment, or contamination due to dirt or moisture.

When conducting infrared inspections on or near electrical equipment, always keep the following in mind:

• Only qualified persons should be allowed near energized equipment.
• Treat all devices and enclosures as though they are energized.
• Never touch enclosures or devices without proper PPE (personal protective equipment).
• Do not lean on or use electrical enclosures as work surfaces.
• Always follow appropriate safety rules.
• Know what to do in case of an accident.

Working alone near exposed, energized electrical equipment isn’t just dangerous, it’s a violation of federal law. Thermographers who perform infrared inspections on any electrical equipment should never work alone. Since CPR can’t be self-administered, at least two people trained in first aid and CPR must always be present when working near most exposed, energized equipment. Having a second CPR-trained person along not only satisfies OSHA requirements, it may save your life.

To paraphrase a time-honored electrician’s admonishment, remember that while there are old thermographers and bold thermographers, there are no old, bold ones.

Jim Seffrin, a practicing thermographer with more than 30 years of experience in the field, was appointed to the position of Director of Infraspection Institute (Burlington, NJ), in 2000. This article is based on several of his “Tip of the Week” posts on IRINFO.org. For more information on electrical systems, safety, and other infrared-related issues, as well as various upcoming training and certification opportunities, email jim@infraspection.com or visit infraspection.com.

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