Author Archive | Jane Alexander


10:37 pm
June 26, 2016
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Upgraded SKF Explorer Spherical Roller Bearings Offer Longer Service Life in High-Vibration Applications

Screen Shot 2016-06-26 at 5.30.48 PMUpgraded Explorer spherical roller bearings for vibratory applications from SKF, Lansdale, PA, have been newly engineered to provide increased performance and longer service life.

Typical applications include vibrating screens, compactors, road rollers, and similar end-uses that operate with high vibration and exposure to contamination, and/or poor-lubrication conditions. Because these bearings are designed to accommodate very heavy radial and axial loads, they’re also well suited for applications where misalignment or shaft deflections may occur.

Features and Capabilities
According to SKF, products in this Explorer spherical-roller bearing family are made from high quality, super-clean, and tough steel; benefit from an upgraded heat treatment; and integrate a special cage design. These combined features, the company says, offer a number of advantages beyond an extended  service life (several times longer than other spherical roller bearings under typical heavy-duty conditions). They include:

  • Lower operating temperatures for cooler and longer running;
  • Improved resistance to wear and contamination;
  • Excellent performance in high-speed applications;
  • Reduced risks of fretting corrosion and induced axial preload;
  • Extended re-lubrication intervals that reduce maintenance costs and boost safety.

The bearings are available in a wide range of bore sizes with increased dimensional precision, two hardened steel cages with an outer ring centered guide ring, and C4 internal radial clearance standard. Optional PTFE-coated cylindrical bores can be supplied to reduce fretting corrosion on the shaft. Custom products can be developed to meet the most demanding requirements.

For more information on SKF’s complete lineup, including, bearings, lubrication technologies, mechatronics, and condition-monitoring solutions and services, among others, CLICK HERE.


9:43 pm
June 26, 2016
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CBS ArcSafe RSA-22 Reduces PPE Requirements for Operating Medium-Voltage, GE Load Break Switches (IC1074 Series)

Screen Shot 2016-06-26 at 3.55.38 PMAccording to Denton, TX-based CBS ArcSafe, its RSA-22 remote switch actuator (RSA) with a magnetic latching system allows sites to operate the General Electric medium-voltage load break switch (IC1074 series) without having to make any modifications to existing electrical equipment.

The lightweight, portable RSA-22 lets technicians remotely close or trip the load break switch from a safe distance of up to 300 ft., while remaining stationed outside the arc-flash boundary.

Typical applications include squirrel-cage, wound-rotor, and synchronous motors, as well as feeding transformers and other power-utilization circuits.

CBS ArcSafe designs, manufactures, and assembles all of its RSA units in the U.S. The company notes that all of these devices are portable and fast and easy to set up. All offer mechanical and/or electrical safety protection; adjust to fit unique electrical equipment configurations; reduce requirements for personal protection equipment (PPE); and help sites with NFPA 70E arc-flash safety compliance.

Optional features include radio remote capabilities with a range up to 300 ft., 24 V DC LED light, wireless video-camera system with LCD monitor, and rugged protective case assembly.

For more information on the RSA-22 and other CBS ArcSafe remote switching solutions, CLICK HERE.



11:52 pm
June 13, 2016
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SKF Battery-Driven Grease Gun Features Integrated Grease Meter

Screen Shot 2016-06-13 at 5.38.51 PMLubrication delivery was in the spotlight at the annual SKF Technical Press Day (Monday, June 13) in Philadelphia. The company’s Battery-Driven Grease Gun (TLGB 20), one of several new and notable products rolled out at this year’s event, offers a portable solution for maximizing the efficiency and accuracy in the manual lubrication of bearings, machines, and off-road equipment throughout industry.

The device’s integrated grease meter adds value by dispensing the proper amount of lubricant for an application to prevent over- or under-greasing.

A rechargeable 20-volt lithium battery delivers extended service life to enable timely manual lubrication of equipment anywhere and anytime in a manufacturing plant or in the field.

User-friendly features include a durable, ergonomic design with a three-point stand for operator comfort and convenience. A built-in light serves to illuminate the work area and a display on the tool indicates battery charge level, amount of dispensed grease, pump/motor speed, and blocked lubrication points.

This versatile unit can dispense up to 15 grease cartridges per battery charge and delivers two flow rates adjustable for a specific application. Pressures up to 700 bar (10,000 psi) can be achieved.

Th TLGB20 grease gun comes in a sturdy carrying case with a 900mm (36-in.) high-pressure hose, battery, and 90-min. charger.

The manufacturer notes that the SKF Battery-Driven Grease Gun joins a growing portfolio of unique lubrication-technology solutions for promoting optimized machinery health, reliability, and productivity.

For more information on SKF’s expanding lubrication-related lineup, CLICK HERE.

To learn more about other reliability-focused solutions from SKF (Landsdale, PA and Gothenburg, Sweden), including the company’s extensive bearing, condition-monitoring, and mechatronics portfolios and associated service offerings,  CLICK HERE.





9:49 pm
June 13, 2016
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On The Floor: Some Panelists See True Benefits of CMMS Systems

By Jane Alexander, Managing Editor

The capabilities of computerized maintenance management software systems (CMMSs)—and how plants use them—are a hot topic across industry. This month, we encouraged our MT Reader Panelists to discuss the state of such systems and level of usage at their sites (or, if consultants or suppliers to industry, at their client/customer sites). We started with three questions:

  • Did the responding panelists’ organizations (or those of their clients/customers) use a CMMS and to what degree?
  • What benefits have the organizations seen from such systems?
  • Had the reasons or cost of these CMMS implementations been justified?
  • We received a number of very detailed answers and present them here (edited somewhat, as always, for brevity and clarity).

Industry Consultant, West…
All of my clients use a CMMS, at this time (SAP PM).  [The degree of deployment] ranges from one group using it for every maintenance activity, to another that uses it less than half of the time, i.e., limiting use to only activities that help metrics generated from work-order reporting. (More time is spent skewing the metrics than would normally be spent on actual maintenance, but the metrics do look awesome!)

According to my clients, one of the most notable benefits is the improved communication between operations and maintenance. Both sides find value in this. The CMMS users don’t usually see the justification of the cost and are vocal about that. But the company [client] bean counters insist there are significant cost benefits.

Maintenance Leader, Discrete Manufacturing, Midwest…
At our facility, we use a Maximo CMMS as part of our toolbox. When an operator has a problem, the job is put into the system. All PM [preventive maintenance] planning goes into it. The system is fully utilized to generate problem areas. We input as much information as possible.

We are currently building a database that includes what parts are used on which machines. This allows us to see part usage, which we can use for PM work. All of our uptime and downtime reports are taken from this information. This has also allowed us to adjust PM frequency changes.

One of the things I personally did when I worked on the floor was to include as much information as possible. I can’t tell you how many times I helped myself with this information. I put in parts used and even what I did to fix the problem. Like I said, I treated it [the CMMS] as a tool, in my toolbox. A lot of the people on the floor were reluctant to use it. I feel now that they are finally seeing how the system is an asset.

[In the past] my biggest complaint was always “garbage in is garbage out.” [But], we’ve seen a cultural change, and I am ecstatic that the system is finally being used properly.

Retired Industry Consultant, Northeast…
About 30% [of my former clients] used their CMMS properly, but in a limited manner: tracking and assigning work, parts, labor, patterns of failure, and costs. Several attempted to use just parts of the process, i.e. scheduling of maintenance and tracking costs of parts and time, and about 40% tried and dropped the process as being too complex, or not showing the expected returns. (Plants with fewer than four mechanics typically didn’t bother; those with 10 or more dabbled with several types.)

Only one major client identified real benefits per advertised claims, and saved time and money, but it [had] made significant changes to its communication infrastructure, i.e. adding PDAs (personal digital assistant devices] with bar-code readers, bar-coding all machine parts, having assignments downloaded (via wifi) to local machine-control centers, uploading [equipment] life info and wear activity to a central controller, and assigning work to mechanics’ PDAs. The rest of our clients claimed some benefits, but the CMMS system was not used fully, [meaning that it was] not much better than a simple scheduler.

Most users claimed the effort to enter initial data was too intensive. Very few CMMS programs allowed easy transfer of existing data sources, especially paper- or card-based methods. Also, few companies had a real tracking system, being inventory-of-parts-based rather than actual trouble or need based. Getting to a reliability-initiated process also requires a cognitive shift for most maintenance managers, who are still locked into failure mode.

Plant Engineer, Institutional Facilities, Midwest…
Our university has CMMS for about 70% to 80% of our buildings, and any time we remodel one, we try to add it to the system. We use it as much as we can, including for trend logs; tracking alarms; making adjustment; scheduling on/off times and occupied/unoccupied modes; troubleshooting equipment; monitoring labs that have limited access, yet are critical areas; and to save as much energy as possible.

The cost of our CMMS can vary with each project. The university has standards for each type of remodel, be it housing, labs, hospital, or classrooms. Most of the time, we don’t get all options a CMMS system could provide, but we learn to deal with whatever we do get.

Our major problems arise when a sensor fails, power is interrupted, etc. Since all of our computerized maintenance management isn’t part of the same system, our staff must learn several different CMMSs. Other issues that seem to take a lot of time are checking alarms in about 80 buildings and hundreds of pieces of equipment with limited access to computers.

Sr. Maintenance Engineer, Process Industries, Midwest…
We use an EAM (Maximo) and are on the latest version.  It is ingrained in all of our plants’ practices for maintenance, purchasing, inventory management, and workflow of business processes for approval of CAPEX, engineering requests, EHS reports, process improvement ideas, etc. We have been on the system since 2007. 

We’re now utilizing a third-party mobile software that integrates directly with Maximo, and are expanding to bar-coding and mobile work practices. Reporting has been the biggest hurdle, since the out-of-the-box reports leave something to be desired. In-house report developers help get customized reports written.

Typical expected benefits include tracking asset management, costs, etc.  They lead to sound business decisions for improving maintenance practices, inventory management, vendor leverage, and improved work efficiency. We’re always trying to get more from the CMMS, but we’ve definitely been able to use the data from all parts of the system to help drive business decisions.

Maintenance Supervisor, Process Industries, Canada…
We’re currently working with Synergen (an Oracle-based CMMS product). It’s used extensively in our pulp mills and, to some degree in the solid-woods side [of our business]. We use it for our maintenance planning and scheduling, accounting, and stores-inventory management.

There are huge benefits from having a coordinated system. It still needs to be developed (it’s a work in progress), but the BOMs [bill of materials], shutdown, and daily maintenance scheduling [capabilities] are invaluable. We don’t currently track our failure codes (not entered at the source), but work-order history and costs do allow for some analysis.

Costs are completely justified. We would be in the dark without it [our CMMS]. Having access to the purchase-order system, stores inventory, bill of materials, and work-order requests all work toward having a leaner system with the required information available to the right employees.

College Electrical Laboratory Manager/Instructor, West…
We have two CMMS systems: one old and one newer. They’re set up among five processes, each with its own maintenance team. Both systems are used, but not to their full extent. The main problem seems to be the time required for data input. Our maintenance staff’s hourly wage is approximately $30, and if each person takes one hour a day to input data, the cost becomes high.

For the use we get out of our CMMSs, the benefits are great: reduced downtime and parts costs, improved staff management, etc. A side benefit is associated with honesty in doing PMs and paperwork. I think the newer system takes too much administrative time compared to overall benefits.

I’m not sure about the cost justification. People filling out the information are mechanics, not secretaries. If you hire one extra person per shift to input data, the program cost increases. We really use the systems for tracking PMs, predictive maintenance, parts inventory, and developing equipment history. MT


3:07 am
June 13, 2016
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Schneider Electric Urges Caution with Electrical Equipment after Severe Weather Events

Screen Shot 2016-06-12 at 9.14.13 PMEnergy-management giant Schneider Electric, manufacturer of Square D products, is reminding businesses to be especially careful with electrical equipment in the aftermath of severe weather. The recent devastating storms and floods in Texas and the impact they’ve had on operations are a case in point.

The most frequently occurring severe-weather events in the U.S. involve water in the form of hurricanes and storms with subsequent flooding. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), 40% of businesses do not reopen after a disaster¹. Following a natural disaster, quickly and efficiently assessing the damage is key.

To ensure personnel safety and avoid costly damage to physical equipment and financial losses associated with prolonged shutdowns, Schneider Electric encourages sites to heed the following precautions: 

Wet Electrical Equipment
Electrical equipment that has been submerged or come into contact with water must be replaced, though there are exceptions to this rule for larger equipment, which may be able to be reconditioned by trained factory service personnel.

Equipment that may be reconditioned includes:

  • Switchboard enclosures and certain bus structures
  • Switchgear
  • Low-voltage power circuit breakers
  • Medium-voltage circuit breakers
  • Low-voltage bolted-pressure switches
  • Medium-voltage switches
  • Motor control center enclosures and bus structure
  • Panel-board and load-center enclosures
  • Liquid-filled power transformers
  • Cast-resin transformers
  • Busway: epoxy-coated bars

Attempting to dry out equipment (in many cases) leaves portions of the current-carrying parts with damp or wet surfaces. These surfaces may be in contact with insulators or other materials that prevent them from being properly dried out and cleaned of debris.

Residual debris or wet surfaces may result in a loss of dielectric spacing within the equipment, and could present a hazard upon re-energization.

Equipment that must be replaced in its entirety includes:

  • Miniature and molded case circuit breakers
  • Molded case switches
  • Multi-metering equipment
  • Safety switches (AC and DC)
  • Load centers or panelboard interiors;
  • Dry-type transformers
  • Busway: mylar wrapped bars
  • Solid state components
  • Programmable logic controllers
  • Fuses
  • Electromechanical relays, contactors, starters, push buttons, limit switches, and other input logic and output controls
  • Solid state motor starters
  • Adjustable speed drives
  • Motor control center components

Equipment with Field-Replaceable Interior Components
Generally, this type of replacement is limited to a load center or panel-board type of product where the entire assembly can be removed and replaced as a unit. In this case, there is a possibility that enclosures can be reused if they have not been subjected to physical damage and if they have been properly cleaned of all debris and foreign materials.

Cleaning Agents and Abrasives
Do not apply cleaning agents, particularly petroleum-based cleaners, to the current-carrying portions of electrical equipment to remove foreign debris, residues and other substances. Some cleaning and lubricating compounds can cause deterioration of the non-metallic insulating or structural portions of the equipment. Do not use abrasives such as sandpaper or steel wool to clean current-carrying parts of the equipment. These materials may remove plating or other conductive surfaces from the parts, which could result in a hazard when the equipment is re-energized.

Non-Submerged Equipment in Flooded Areas
This situation requires careful inspection by a qualified person to determine if moisture has entered the equipment enclosures. If any signs of moisture or damage exist, the equipment should be replaced or repaired.

Relevant Codes and Standards
Businesses should reference relevant industry codes and standards to ensure they are taking the safest possible route to recovery. NFPA 1600 is the overarching standard and primary document on disaster recovery, emergency management, and business continuity. For workplace safety and planning, OSHA references NFPA 70E, Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace. NFPA 70B, Recommended Practice for Electrical Equipment Maintenance now includes a chapter on electrical disaster recovery in the 2013 edition. In addition, the National Electrical Manufacturer’s Association (NEMA) has published “Evaluating Water-Damaged Electrical Equipment” and “Evaluating Fire- and Heat-Damaged Electrical Equipment.”

For more information, CLICK HERE.

Additional Resources

  • Getting Back to Business at the Opry Mills Mall (Schneider Electric Repair Project to the Severely Flood-Damaged Opry Mills Mall, Maintenance Technology, July 2011)
  • NEMA Standard AB 4-2003, Guidelines for Inspection and Preventive Maintenance of Molded Case Circuit Breakers Used in Commercial and Industrial Applications
  • NEMA Standard BU 1.1-2000, General Instructions for Proper Handling, Installation, Operation, and Maintenance of Busway Rated 600 Volts or Less
  • NEMA Standard PB 1.1-2002, General Instructions for Proper Installation, Operation, and Maintenance of Panelboards Rated 600 Volts or Less
  • NEMA Standard PB 2.1-2002, General Instructions for Proper Handling, Installation, Operation, and Maintenance of Deadfront Distribution Switchboards Rated 600 Volts or Less
  • NEMA Standard ICS 1.1-2003, Industrial Control and Systems: Safety Guidelines for the Application, Installation, and Maintenance of Solid State Controls


¹ FEMA, Protecting Your Businesses, 2013



2:02 pm
June 7, 2016
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IGUANA Security Brings High-Strength, Government-Grade IP Encryption to All Plants and Facitlities

Screen Shot 2016-06-07 at 8.51.23 AM
According to TRL Technology (Tewkesbury, Gloucestershire, UK) the ‘Green’ products from its IGUANA Security brand allow commercial and industrial operations to securely send and receive sensitive information while harnessing the flexibility of local IP networks and protecting data from increasing threats of cyber attack.

Based on the same architecture and security aspects of the company’s award-winning CATAPAN range of Government Grade IP Encryption solutions, IGUANAGreen products can be used as stand-alone devices where remote or branch working is required, or as part of a larger secure communications network that facilitates data transfer to multiple devices and locations.

Screen Shot 2016-06-07 at 8.38.16 AMIGUANAGreen for Enterprise (1GBPS and 10GBPS Commercial Hardware IP Encryption) is a high-speed 2U form-factor encryptor that offers the highest levels of security. It’s well suited for bulk encryption and aggregation of voice data and industrial control system traffic. Features and capabilities of this high-availability design

  • Flexible key management solutions
  • High speed, low latency
  • Easy configuration

Screen Shot 2016-06-07 at 8.39.45 AMIGUANAGreen Mini (100MBPs Commercial High-Assurance Hardware IP Encryption) is a small, lightweight variant of TRL’s high-grade assured encryption solution. Like IGUANAGreen for Enterprise (above), it offers the highest levels of encryption and is well suited for protecting voice data and industrial control system traffic. Features and capabilities of this high-availability design include:

  • Small footprint, low power consumption
  • High speed, low latency
  • Easy configuration
  • Tamper detection
  • 64 duplex security associations

Why Hardware Encryption?
TRL notes that software-based systems often lack dedicated true random number generators, resulting in weaker cryptographic keys. To ensure the highest possible quality of cryptographic keys, IGUANAGreen network encryptors and the IGUANAGreen Key Management Solution use dual redundant hardware-based true random number generators, ensuring a constant stream of true random data is available for key generation.  The company says the high-performance version its IGUANAGreen offering—IGUANAGreen for Enterprise—runs at close to the theoretical maximum bandwidth under all traffic conditions.

To view a short video on IGUANAGreen, CLICK HERE.

For more information about IGUANA Security, CLICK HERE.



2:37 pm
June 1, 2016
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CBS ArcSafe Offers RSA-164J for Square D PowerPact, P-Frame 250-1200 A Manually Operated, Molded-Case Circuit Breaker

Screen Shot 2016-06-01 at 9.18.16 AMDenton, TX-based CBS ArcSafe, a Group CBS Company, has introduced the RSA-164J, a remote switch actuator (RSA) for the Square D PowerPact, P-Frame 250-1200 A, manually operated, molded-case circuit breaker.

The new, lightweight, portable RSA-164J allows technicians to close or trip the circuit breaker from distances of up to 300 feet while remaining safely stationed outside the arc-flash boundary.No modifications to existing electrical equipment are required for installation and operation of the device thanks to CBS ArcSafe’s magnetic latching system.

Features and Capabilities
The RSA-164J is compatible with manually operated PG, PJ, PK, and PL breakers. Typical applications of these circuit breakers include metering, monitoring, and protection for motors, transformers, and other large non-linear loads.

Optional features include radio remote with range up to 300 ft., a 24 V DC LED light, wireless video camera system with LCD monitor, and rugged protective case assembly.

According to the manufacturer, all CBS ArcSafe RSA units are portable, fast and easy to set up, offer mechanical and/or electrical safety protection, are adjustable to fit unique electrical equipment configurations, reduce the requirements for personal protection equipment (PPE), and help users with NFPA 70E arc-flash safety compliance.

All CBS ArcSafe products are manufactured in Denton, TX, USA. For more information, CLICK HERE.


7:30 pm
May 25, 2016
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Feature-Rich PlantStruxure PES V4.2 Automation System Debuts at Schneider Electric Connect 2016

Screen Shot 2016-05-25 at 2.23.04 PMSchneider Electric Connect 2016, in New Orleans, is continuing to serve up a full plate of activities and product news today.

First up was this morning’s Plenary session focussing on  cyber-related issues, starting with a presentation on  “HMI & Alarm Management Best Practices.” by Bridget Fitzpatrick, of Wood Group Mustang.

Gary Williams, senior director of Technology, Cyber Security & Communications at Schneider Electric, then took the stage to put cyber threats into context for end users by encouraging attendees to “Be as AGGRESSIVE as a Hacker, or Lose Productivity.”

On the product front, Schneider Electric has announced the release of PlantStruxure PES V4.2 that integrates new hardware with capabilities from the company’s Modicon M580 ePAC lineup to meet demands of Industrial Internet of Things applications.

According to the company, the addition of Modicon M580 redundant controllers delivers exceptional plant and asset availability for critical continuous process operations and, thus helps to improve overall business performance.

How It Works
Fifty percent of today’s PlantStruxure PES projects require at least one pair of redundant controllers within the configuration. Schneider Electric notes that PES V4.2 meets next-gen requirements with the M580 ePAC and the ability to lock down ports within a single configuration environment. The company says the high level of cyber security offered by the  PES V4.2 “ensures nearly 100% uptime for customer systems.”

A core feature of the Modicon M580 ePAC is its Ethernet-based architecture. Integration into the PES solution improves system management and provides customers with a level of standard communication, guaranteeing a future-proof system.

The Foxboro, MA-based manufacturer says new services will be available for engineering and commissioning, which will make navigating a control program easier, as well as improve performance when making project changes. PlantStruxure PES V4.2 is also equipped with ready-to-use application and industry libraries, allowing systems to be built more quickly and with lower engineering costs. By integrating energy-management features from other Schneider Electric automation and power devices, such as asset-centric Altivar drives, the system can help users realize greater energy-cost savings.

The Schneider Electric Connect 2016 Automation Conference runs through Thursday, May 26, at the Marriott New Orleans Hotel. For more information from this event, CLICK HERE.