Author Archive | Greg Pietras


7:42 pm
April 13, 2017
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Top Tips For Maintaining Air Compressors

Use these tips to improve air-compressor performance and increase uptime.

Use these tips to improve air-compressor performance and increase uptime.

Air compressors and their output are valuable assets on which countless plants depend for efficient daily operations. Regular attention to and proper management of the health of these critical equipment systems can save time and money in all manufacturing systems.

John Skalka, service manager for Sullair (Chicago) offers several tips for maintaining your site’s air compressors. According to Skalka, following these procedures to help monitor and maintain air-compressor performance can result in reliable equipment and reduced downtime.

—Jane Alexander, Managing Editor

Maintain filters and separators.

Proper maintenance of a compressor’s consumable filters and separator elements will not only help to ensure maximum unit uptime, but also maximize its efficiency and performance.

Air intake and oil-filter maintenance should be conducted every 2,000 hr. Monitor the oil filter for contamination and wear metals, leading indicators that air-end maintenance is required.

Air/oil separator elements should be changed every 8,000 hr., along with compressor fluid. Proper air/oil separator maintenance will ensure oil carryover stays within the manufacturer’s specifications.

Remember that use of OEM service parts and lubricants in compressor maintenance will help ensure optimal equipment performance.

randmSample oil.

Regularly acquiring and analyzing oil samples helps monitor the condition of the compressor lubricant, as well as the unit itself. A robust oil-sampling and monitoring program will alert the user to fluid degradation resulting from increased viscosity, ingestion of chemicals or particulate, and high water content. It can also identify the presence of wear metals, which is a sign of bearing degradation, prior to catastrophic failure.

Oil-condition monitoring makes it possible to change the lubricant only when necessary to maintain peak performance. Samples should be drawn quarterly, during routine service maintenance on a compressor.

Remember to always draw your samples through a clean oil-sample port or from the center of the oil sump. Doing so will ensure that the results are free from particulate contamination.

Keep variable-speed drives clean.

Many of today’s compressors are equipped with a variable-speed drive (VSD) that increases efficiency and reduces energy consumption. While VSDs are electrical components, they are not completely maintenance free.

Most VSDs contain cooling fans and heat sinks that can accumulate dust and dirt during regular operation. Maintenance activities will help them run cooler and prolong their service life.

Eliminate the guesswork.

For plants that are unable to ensure regular compressor maintenance with in-house resources, outside support is available. Check with your local air-compressor sales and service center about plans that allow skilled, factory-trained technicians to routinely service your compressor(s) and related air-system equipment.

Finally, keep in mind that proper maintenance will help you realize years of reliable service from your compressor. MT

Sullair, part of Accudyne Industries (Luxembourg and Dallas, has been developing and manufacturing air compressors since 1965. For more information, visit


7:25 pm
April 13, 2017
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Surge Vessels Address Hydraulic Shock

Properly implemented surge vessels can optimize pump/piping-system performance and address hydraulic shock.

By Frank Knowles Smith III and Steve Mungari, Blacoh Fluid Controls Inc.

Damage to pumps and piping systems from hydraulic shock, also known as water hammer, can often result in catastrophic failure, along with expensive repair and downtime. 

In the world of petrochemical processes, hazardous conditions resulting from pump damage or line breaks can also bring about significant liability concerns, along with very negative publicity. With many plants and facilities currently in operation without protection against hydraulic shock, what can be done from a maintenance, repair, and operations (MRO) standpoint to avoid this inevitable problem? 

The issue

Under steady-state conditions, a plant’s pumping system will tend to operate near the nominal working pressure unless there is change of flow velocity. This change is defined as hydraulic shock and immediate mitigation efforts are needed to prevent damage from occurring. 

This fluid acceleration or deceleration can be attributed to several likely causes, with the most common being from either “pump trip,” or sudden valve closure. A pump trip, generated by sudden loss of power to the pump station or by a pump stop without warning, can drop the working pressures near the pump’s discharge side to negative levels and cause possible vapor-pocket collapse.

The sudden valve closure from electrical, hydraulic,  or mechanical failure, or from human action, can result in a dramatic increase in pressure at the inlet side of the closed valve. That pressure increase is experienced as high-velocity (potentially exceeding 4,000 ft./sec.) transient pressure waves that will oscillate throughout the piping network unless the transient wave energy can be suppressed. 

Pipes that shake violently, even occasionally with restrained piping, and with loud banging noises are the ones typically experiencing hydraulic shock. Pumps and motors are also likely to be damaged concurrently as the transient-pressure energy waves travel back through the pump until the check valve slams shut.    

Weak points in the piping network, such as flange connections and pipe elbows, tend to bear the brunt of the pressure wave’s damaging effect and are often the first to break.    

In a single-pump system, several transient-mitigation options are available to address the transient wave’s effects. Some of the most popular are surge vessels, air-release/vacuum valves, pressure-relief valves, surge-anticipator valves, and vacuum breakers. Even with an existing facility or pipeline, space is often readily available to accommodate which specific pieces of mitigation equipment are necessary to solve the problem. However, what does the facility do when the plant is pumping in series?

Case in point

A large oil-industry customer, involved with a chemical-process application, was looking for a way to protect their pumping system infrastructure from damage and repair expenses, along with reducing lost product costs from the breaks. 

For their application, a booster pump (which requires a minimum of 100 psi NPSH (net-positive suction head) is located approximately 10,000 ft. from a high-pressure injection pump. When power is lost at the booster pump’s location, with the high-pressure pump operating, a transient negative-pressure wave is generated. 

This wave causes a sudden pressure drop at the booster pump’s discharge side and travels at approximately 4,000 ft./sec., making contact with the high-pressure pump. In this situation, it’s important to protect the high-pressure pump from cavitation damage and maintain a minimum 100 psi NPSH on the booster pump.

Monitoring and protecting

Should the high-pressure pump trip when the booster pump is running, a high-pressure “up surge” transient pressure wave will be created at the inlet flange of the high-pressure pump. High pressure can also bypass the check valve and cause additional damage.

A properly sized surge vessel, with the sizing calculated through the use of computer surge-analysis software at the high-pressure pump, will accept energy from the pump trip. It will also be able to accept energy (compress vessel gas volume) on a high-pressure pump trip. 

On the high-pressure pump trip, the flow will stop, based on the system demand, and will pump dynamic head. However, there is a concern of reversal of flow back through the high-pressure pump from the up-surge transient wave due to check-valve closing time. 


Fig. 1: Negative-pressure transient wave. Graph shows a transient negative-pressure wave on a pump’s discharge side that occurs when power is lost to a booster pump. Green shows booster-pump pressure and red shows high-pressure-pump pressure.

A properly sized surge vessel will accept the transient energy, but check-valve closing time will vary,  based on factors such as type of valve and pipe size. With the specific closing time a critical factor to the accuracy of the results from the computer surge analysis, this must be properly entered into the analysis. The results of the analysis can be verified at the time of commissioning using a report from a transient pressure-monitoring system, with the data being read and recorded at a minimum of 100 times/sec.

Fig. 2: Pressure variation without a surge vessel. Fig. 2 shows pressure variation in a system that is not equipped with a surge vessel. Green is the booster-pump pressure and red is high-pressure-pump pressure.

Fig. 2: Pressure variation without a surge vessel. Fig. 2 shows pressure variation in a system that is not equipped with a surge vessel. Green is the booster-pump pressure and red is high-pressure-pump pressure.

When evaluating how to size a surge vessel to deliver energy, or to keep the high-pressure pump’s NPSH correct in time to de-energize, further computer surge analysis is needed. In this example, the graph in Fig. 2 shows the booster pump tripped (pressure shown in green) while the high-pressure-pump suction pressure is shown in red. In monitoring the liquid level and pressure in the high-pressure pump’s suction-stabilizer surge vessel, the high-pressure pump can be successfully de-energized in 15 sec.

Fig. 3: Surge-vessel pressure at booster pump. Figure 3 shows the pressure inside of a surge vessel at the booster pump.

Fig. 3: Surge-vessel pressure at booster pump. Figure 3 shows the pressure inside of a surge vessel at the booster pump.

The pressure drop to the high-pressure pump’s minimum NPSH will keep the pump protected. Figures 3 and 4 show the change in pressure inside the surge vessel placed at the booster pump and at the high-pressure pump.

Fig. 4: Surge-vessel pressure at high-pressure pump. Figure 4 shows the pressure inside of a 106-ft3 surge vessel at a high-pressure pump.

Fig. 4: Surge-vessel pressure at high-pressure pump. Figure 4 shows the pressure inside of a 106-ft3 surge vessel at a high-pressure pump.

By making use of computer surge analysis to correctly assess the conditions with the booster and high-pressure pump conditions, the customer was able to understand how properly sized and placed surge vessels can assure optimize operational performance by confirming proof of design with transient monitoring of pressure and flow.

With the surge vessels properly located, potential damage to the pumps and piping network from hydraulic shock was eliminated. As a result, considerable time and equipment cost savings were realized.RP

Frank Knowles Smith III is executive vice president of the Surge Control team at Blacoh Fluid Controls Inc., Riverside, CA ( He has three decades of academic, design, and application experience. Steve Mungari is the business development manager at Blacoh. He has more than 20 years of process-control experience in the areas of fluid measurement and control technologies.


5:18 pm
April 13, 2017
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‘Spring Cleaning’ For Your Fuse Inventory

Improve safety and reap cost savings through smart, streamlined ordering and stocking.

Sometimes it pays to take a fresh look at routine tasks. A major manufacturer of refrigeration and air-conditioning products was contacted by its electrical-equipment distributor regarding the site’s fuse orders. The production operation had hundreds of fuses in its storerooms—numbers that represented a $22,000 burden sitting in inventory.

Over time, those storerooms had accumulated fuses from a variety of manufacturers. For maintenance personnel, the natural impulse is to replace a blown fuse with one of the same brand, type, and rating. While this seems like the safest approach, it leads to unintended duplication in a storeroom. What’s more, workers continue to reorder fuses that may have become obsolete and/or they don’t update to more modern, safer types.

Seeking to determine how much of their current fuse inventory was really needed, managers at the site generated an electronic spreadsheet of such items in their storerooms and asked the electrical distributor to forward it to Chicago-based fuse supplier Littelfuse ( for analysis. The results were, in simple terms, shocking.

The fuse vendor supplied a consolidated inventory list that reduced the number of SKUs by 37%—from 224 to 164. Several fuses, which may have been on the shelves for 10 to 15 years, were older styles that didn’t provide maximum safety and equipment protection. After managers cleaned out the old and confusing array of fuses and adopted the recommended consolidated fuse inventory, they were able to project a savings of approximately $6,000/year. 

Those savings, however, didn’t include the cost of downtime avoided by switching to indicating fuses that are more quickly identified when outages occur. Nor did the calculation factor in the labor savings from being able to quickly find a needed fuse on the shelf, or the potential costs of inadequate protection from the use of obsolete fuses.

A simple table posted in the storeroom allowed personnel to cross-reference old fuse types and brands with the new types they should use. To top it off, the vendor printed customized bin labels with the plant’s part numbers, reorder numbers, and barcodes for all fuse sizes.

Plants depend on hundreds of fuses, in panels such as this one, to protect workers and equipment.

Plants depend on hundreds of fuses, in panels such as this one, to protect workers and equipment.

Now, it’s your turn

Whether you work with a supplier or do it on an in-house basis, here are the steps for cleaning up your site’s fuse inventory.

1. Inspect for damage. Look for fuses that are not clearly marked and discard them. Issues such as flooding from storms or broken pipes can also damage fuses. If the sand or filler material inside the fuse gets wet, it may not safely quench the arc, and may never completely dry out. When in doubt, throw it out.

2. Identify outdated fuses. Print out your fuse inventory and highlight old fuse types such as Class H (renewable) and even Class K5 fuses.

Unfortunately, some workers still think that renewable fuses can be “repaired” and put back into service, but this is definitely not recommended. They have a low short-circuit interrupting capacity of just 10,000 A. They provide no current limitation, and there is no way to control what a worker will use as a replacement element. These fuses are truly obsolete, and UL prohibits renewables in new applications.

Also called “one-time” fuses, Class K5 fuses were an improvement over renewables. They are tamperproof, and have a higher interrupting rating of 50,000 A, but they provide no current limitation.

Class RK5 fuses are rated to 200,000 A and provide current limitation. They don’t provide the level of current limitation that the newer Class RK1 fuses offer. Current limitation is extremely important. It is used to reduce the danger of arc-flash hazards so that workers can wear less PPE. Current limitation also improves the short-circuit current rating (SCCR) and simplifies selective coordination. 

3. Consolidate. Give your inventory printout to your preferred fuse vendor and ask for a consolidated inventory list. The vendor will know which modern fuses to substitute for older types, know which types fit which fuse holders, and be able to cross-reference with other suppliers. Based on the experience of Littelfuse, typical savings for a large manufacturer range from $18,000 to $30,000.

4. Upgrade to indicating fuses. Indicating fuses are a common-sense way to decrease downtime. When a fuse opens, the maintenance worker can quickly identify which fuse or fuses need to be replaced. In contrast, when indicating fuses are not used, significant downtime can occur and personal safety can be jeopardized.  

When one or more fuses blow and shut down a system or production line, maintenance workers will often ignore OSHA and NFPA 70E safety requirements and go into a live panel to meter each fuse to determine any that have opened. This extremely dangerous approach can create a significant safety hazard for the worker and anyone else nearby. Best-case scenario, the worker de-energizes the system and then pulls the fuses to check for those that have opened. This process, though, can be time consuming and lead to increased downtime. The opened-fuse visual indication of indicator fuses helps eliminate–or at least significantly reduces–these potential issues.

5. Get organized. Some fuse vendors will print bin labels with the facility’s part numbers, reorder numbers, and barcodes. These can be customized to work with your company’s asset-tracking system.

Effective consolidation and organization of a site’s fuse inventory provides many benefits.

Effective consolidation and organization of a site’s fuse inventory provides many benefits.

Bottom line

Any time of year is a good time to “spring clean” your fuse inventory. The benefits are numerous. Sites can decrease downtime by standardizing on indicating fuses that allow open fuses to be identified quickly. Modern fuses simplify selective coordination that can greatly limit the scope and potential magnitude of an outage.

Furthermore, by using current-limiting fuses, operations help protect equipment and workers from faults and dangerous arc flash. In addition to reduced downtimes, better system coordination in the event of a fault, and lower arc-flash hazards due to optimal current-limiting protection, considerable cost benefits can be realized.  MT

Information in this article was supplied by Dave Scheuerman of Littelfuse, Chicago. Learn more at


4:15 pm
April 13, 2017
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Reliability Changes Lives

Using skilled technicians and advanced technology, Eli Lilly and Company creates life-saving medicines and devices worldwide.

By Michelle Segrest, Contributing Editor

Throughout the halls of the Indianapolis Eli Lilly and Company facility, the corporation's brand is proudly displayed. All photos courtesy of Eli Lilly and Company.

Throughout the halls of the Indianapolis Eli Lilly and Company facility, the corporation’s brand is proudly displayed. All photos courtesy of Eli Lilly and Company.

At Eli Lilly, the motivation to improve production reliability is not just something that is tracked on graphs and charts for upper management to review. In fact, for maintenance and reliability engineer Carrie Krodel, it’s personal.

Krodel, who is responsible for maintenance strategies at the Eli Lilly Indianapolis facility’s division that handles Parenteral Device Assembly and Packaging (PDAP), has a family member who uses the company’s insulin. “I come to work every day to save his life,” she said. “Each and every one of us plays a part with reliability. Whether it’s the mechanics or the operators keeping the line running, the material movers supplying the lines with the products, or the people making the crucial quality checks, everyone is a part of it. And we all know that the work we are doing is changing lives.”

The Indianapolis site covers millions of square feet with nearly 600,000 assets that must be maintained. According to Rendela Wenzel, Eli Lilly’s global plant engineering, maintenance, and reliability champion, the company produces the medicine as well as the packaging for insulin pens, cancer treatments, and many other products and devices.

For the entire Eli Lilly team—which includes a group of about 80 engineers at the Indianapolis site—the responsibility is crucial. “If we mess up, someone gets hurt,” Wenzel said. “This is a big responsibility.”

However, it’s the human element of this responsibility that inspires an exceptional level of quality.

Team, tools, training

Screen Shot 2017-04-13 at 11.03.07 AMWayne Overbey, P.E., is the manager of the Maintenance-Manufacturing Engineering Services department. He said his team of seven maintenance technicians uses three primary technologies every day to keep the machines running—vibration analysis, oil analysis, and infrared technology. With a focus on condition-based monitoring, each team member has an area of responsibility to collect and analyze vibration data. In addition to the vibration data collector, each team member carries a small infrared camera to make heat-signature images used to diagnose and troubleshoot rotating-equipment problems.

The team also uses a digital microscope that can zoom to 3500X magnification. This helps them look closely at a bearing race, cage, and rolling elements and see what caused a failure, whether structural, corrosion-based, or failed lubrication. In addition, the group has an oil laboratory that can analyze oil and grease. 

The team performs more than 7,000 measurements on more than 4,000 rotating/reciprocating machines and performs vibration analysis on those machines monthly, Wenzel stated. The level of qualified individuals is high. “Anything that is process related, we have the equipment to look at it and analyze it,” she said. “We have people with ISO 18436-2 Cat 2 and Cat 3 verifications and even one expert with an ISO18436-2 Cat 4 certification, and there are fewer than 100 people globally with that level of certification. These guys are experienced, high-level certified professionals.”

The maintenance team increased its level of performance more than five years ago when it made the strategic decision to outsource the facilities (buildings and grounds) portion of maintenance. With about 220 maintenance professionals companywide at the Indianapolis facility, this allowed the team to focus more on production and analysis rather than the facilities, Overbey said.

The team has sophisticated data-collection routes set up as PMs and also focuses heavily on maintenance training.

“We have a difficult time finding people interested in maintenance,” Overbey said. “We have a strategic program to train people that takes 18 months to 2 years. When I was growing up, being an electrician or mechanic was a fine career, but now the attitude is that you have to have a college degree to be successful. Most of our crafts people here make more than the average liberal-arts major. As we cycle out the baby boomer work force, we need to find new talent and close the gap.”

Wenzel agreed that finding qualified crafts people has been a focus that has helped Eli Lilly in its drive for reliability.

“Wayne saw the need and developed an excellent program,” she said. “Management is supportive. He is training them and then sending them to get experience while they are going to school.”

The program is responsible for hiring 24 trainees, to date, and has been able to place 18 of them in full-time positions within Lilly maintenance groups. The remaining six trainees are still in the initial stage of the program. The training also uses basic maintenance programs provided by Motion Industries and Armstrong. Last year, there were more than 30 well-attended training classes focused on equipment used at Lilly. The company wants the training to be relevant to what the maintenance technicians perform on a daily basis.

“The whole condition-based platform makes us unique,” Wenzel said. “We have all the failure-analysis competencies. It’s a one-stop shop. We provide two-to-three day courses on condition-based technologies for crafts and engineers. The whole understanding, as far as what maintenance and reliability can do, is to increase wrench time and uptime. We are all seeing an uptake in technology.”

The Indianapolis Eli Lilly facility has more than 600,000 assets that must be maintained by its experienced engineering-services team.

The Indianapolis Eli Lilly facility has more than 600,000 assets that must be maintained by its experienced engineering-services team.

Best practices

Overbey stated that his main responsibility is to help the various site-maintenance groups improve uptime by using diagnostic tools to identify root causes of lingering problems. With a focus on training paying dividends, he said the high-quality people are what make the condition-based monitoring team successful.

The team works with the site-maintenance groups to reduce unexpected failures, so increased time can be focused on preventive maintenance. “We look at our asset-replacement value as a function of our total maintenance scheme,” Wenzel said. “We look at recapitalization and make sure we are reinvesting in our facility. We keep track of where we are with proactive maintenance. Those numbers are tracked facility to facility and then rolled into a global metric.”

Vibration analysis and using infrared technology has become a central part of the department’s reliability efforts.

“These guys have taken responsibility for the failure-analysis lab and taken it on as an added-value service,” Wenzel said. “For example, if there is a failed bearing, they take it out, cut it up, and provide a report that goes back to management. If we make a call that a piece of equipment has increased vibration levels and is on the path to failure, based on the vibration data collected, getting those bearings goes a long way in getting site buy-in when the actual bearing problem can be visually observed. Most individuals are skeptical when shown the vibration waveform (squiggly lines), seeing the bearing with the anomaly is the true test of obtaining their buy in.”

“We can compete with anyone in terms of oil analysis,” Wenzel added. “We can identify particles and have switched to synthetics. For example, when oil gets dirty, it becomes acidic. Something slightly acidic can be more harmful than something that is highly acidic because it will just continue to eat away at the material and cause significant damage before you can stop it. Something slightly acidic can really tear up bearings. The FluidScan 1100 can detect that.”

Screen Shot 2017-04-13 at 11.03.19 AM

More than 80% of the oil samples are now handled internally, Wenzel said. “As we are selling all of these capabilities to the PdM team around the world, we are starting to look at some of the potential issues at other facilities to provide extra analysis with this condition-based maintenance group,” she said. “We are sharing good ideas and processes across facilities. We now have a maintenance and reliability community.”

Eli Lilly employs Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and the use of many chemicals requires a high level of cleanliness that is checked daily and regulated by government bodies.

Changeovers can often take weeks. “We check everything,” Wenzel said. “There is very involved and stringent criteria for how we clean a building. Regulations are a challenge, but they keep you on your toes. You don’t even notice it anymore because it becomes a part of what you do. It doesn’t faze the day-to-day thinking.”

The precision and accuracy of the facility's manufacturing equipment contributes to its product excellence.

The precision and accuracy of the facility’s manufacturing equipment contributes to its product excellence.

Operational excellence

Eli Lilly works with cross-functional teams in which maintenance, engineering, and operations are working on the overall process. Operations manager Jason Miller is responsible for running the process. Maintenance corrects the issues and performs preventive maintenance to get ahead of equipment failures and prevent unplanned downtime.

“Anytime we have an equipment failure we evaluate what happened and see what process we can put in place to get ahead of those things,” Miller said. “Line mechanics are on each shift and work with our line operators to understand and troubleshoot issues. We get ahead of issues to ensure [there is] no impact to the quality of our process.

With advanced robotics and a large amount of automation, monitoring performance and quality is key to successful operation and production, Miller stated. “Everything is captured, including downtime and rejects,” he explained. “We identify corrective actions at every morning meeting. We use the data on the line to drive improvement. The line is automated, but if there is a reject every 100 cycles, we need to take action. The robotics never stop. If you see overloads or rejects over time, this tells you about mechanical wear and other issues with the equipment. We drive data-driven decisions for maintenance.”

The preventive maintenance includes lubricating linear slides each month. When vibration is detected, adjustments are made immediately. “The machines tell us what’s going on. We just have to know how to read them,” Miller said. “We have manual and visual quality checks, but the machines also do quality checks. Reliability is critical because when patients are waiting on their medicine, the machines have to run the way they are supposed to run all the time. We have standards, and they have to be precise. This is medicine going into someone’s body. We are the last step of the process. It has to be packaged and labeled correctly, as well.”

Mike Campbell is the maintenance planner and scheduler for PDAP and has developed a system in which all preventive maintenance is performed during scheduled shutdowns.

“We develop a schedule with every piece of equipment and every scheduled PM associated with it,” Campbell said. “One line may have 50 to 60 PM work orders to perform during the week of the scheduled line shutdown. We bring in a lot of resources to do it all at once, typically requiring a day shift and a night shift.”

Advanced production technology is critical to the standard of reliability excellence.

Advanced production technology is critical to the standard of reliability excellence.

Changing lives with reliability

Wenzel said that looking at how each department interacts helps to put all the pieces of the reliability puzzle together. They have even received outside recognition of their practices in Indianapolis. In 2008, The Corporate Lubrication Technical Committee, of which Wenzel is the chair, won the ICML John Battle Award for machinery lubrication.

“It’s not only a cost piece, there is a whole asset-management piece and a whole people piece that we have to look at–not just the numbers, the metrics, the bars and charts–it’s the whole thing that makes a facility tick,” she explained. “Reliability isn’t just my job…it is everyone’s job. Every time I get into my car and turn the key, I expect it to come on. Every time I run that piece of equipment, I want it to perform the same way every time. That, to me, is reliability.”

Overbey said reliability is about being tried and true. “It’s predictable. It’s reliable every day. It’s the whole conglomeration of things that is very complicated, yet very simple. When all is said and done, reliability is a huge advantage for a company. You are only spending money when you need to. But it’s very difficult to get there.”

Wenzel said that consistency is a key to reaching reliability goals. Eli Lilly has global quality standards and good manufacturing practices that are applicable to each of the company’s sites across the world.

“Reliability means the equipment is ready each and every time it runs, and it should perform the same way each time,” Krodel said.

Doug Elam is Level 4 vibration certified, which is a rare level of qualification. He works on Overbey’s team and also tried to define reliability. “Reliability is an all-expansive subject that touches on different types of technology, the goal of which is to improve efficiency in machinery performance,” Elam said. “It requires an intense study of the background functions of the machines.”

Eli Lilly and Company uses robots on an assembly line to carefully package its products.

Eli Lilly and Company uses robots on an assembly line to carefully package its products.

Regardless of the definition, reliability for Eli Lilly always circles back to the human element.

“Patients come through and perhaps are on insulin or a certain pill, or a cancer treatment that has changed their lives,” Wenzel explained. “We listen to them, because it’s not just the medicine that matters, but the packaging and ease of use. It puts what we do in perspective. We take this feedback and incorporate it into our designs. It starts with an end user’s idea and need, goes to design, goes through production, then back to the end user. It’s like a circle of life.”

The research is carefully conducted with the end user always in mind.

“A lot of research is done to make the best fit for each subset of people,” Wenzel continued. “And at the end of the day you have a marketable product that you can be proud of. Being on both sides of the business, you understand why medicine is so costly. But when you find the one niche that helps cancer patients, or the kid who is near death, and then you can be a part of developing this medicine that completely changes his life, it just makes it all worthwhile.”

And yes, it’s personal.

“When you know people who use the products,” Wenzel said, “the work you do becomes a part of you.” MT

Michelle Segrest has been a professional journalist for 27 years. She specializes in the industrial processing industries and has toured manufacturing facilities in 40 cities in six countries on three continents. If your facility has an interesting maintenance and/or reliability story to tell, please contact her at


7:30 pm
December 19, 2016
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MT Online Podcast: Cybersecurity with Saadi Kermani



Saadi Kermani

Cybersecurity is a vital and often overlooked aspect of today’s manufacturing environment. In this podcast, editorial director Gary L. Parr discusses various facets of manufacturing cybersecurity with Saadi Kermani, technology evangelist and business-development manager for the Industrial Information Management business at Schneider Electric. Topics include the greater cybersecurity picture, vulnerabilities that manufacturers may or may not realize they have, and how company cultures must change to integrate network/computer-security awareness.

In Saadi’s current role at Schneider electric, he enables industrial customers and partners to realize the benefits of lower operational costs, optimized assets and streamlined processes through the use of advanced analytics, KPIs, and real-time access to industrial process data delivered through a set of online managed services. Previously, he was the product manager for Wonderware SmartGlance and Wonderware Online, in addition to being a key contributor to the strategic definition and deployment of cloud hosted solutions for Wonderware. Prior to that role, he was stationed in Europe, providing strategic account management as a technical account manager for the Global Software Customer Support division.


5:47 pm
November 21, 2016
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IMVAC Wraps 2016 Conference, Announces 2017 Event In Australia

screen-shot-2016-11-21-at-11-44-05-amThe International Machine Vibration Analysis Conference (IMVAC) has announced a revised schedule for 2017, adding a September event in Gold Coast, Australia. IMVAC is a professional development conference intended for vibration analysts, condition-monitoring technicians, condition-monitoring managers and reliability engineers.

The 2017 schedule will bring conferences to four venue locations worldwide: Dubai, UAE (April); Antwerp, Belgium (June); Gold Coast, Australia (September) and back to its inaugural venue in Orlando (November). The 2016 U.S. event was held Oct. 31 through Nov. 2, drawing attendees from 22 countries. According to the company, exit polling of attendees and sponsors indicated that 100% of would consider attending a future IMVAC.

For more information, visit the conference’s website at