Author Archive | Jane Alexander

20

6:25 pm
June 16, 2017
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Are You a Safety Leader?

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All workers should think of themselves as safety leaders and set a good example for others in multiple ways.

Whatever image the word “leadership” might bring to mind, the fact is, it often can be difficult to demonstrate. Sometimes, leadership means going against the flow, when the flow is going in the wrong direction. When it comes to safety, though, anyone on a plant-floor team can be a leader. Everyone should be, even when that means taking what might seem like an uncomfortable stand.

Safety leadership on the plant floor requires real courage, given the many issues that personnel regularly confront. Those issues include, among other things, scheduling problems, cost concerns, and psychological factors such as peer pressure and complacency. The more safety leaders a team has, however, the easier it is for hazards to be identified, action taken, and the safety “flow” turned in the right direction.

Who is a safety leader? According to experts with the Safway Group (safway.com, Waukesha, WI), it’s someone who demonstrates that he or she values safety by working and communicating to identify and limit hazardous situations. The key to a true culture of safety, they stress, is for all workers at a site to think of themselves as safety leaders and set an example in that regard, not only through their actions, but by what they say, how they say it, and, just as important, how they listen.

Do you qualify as safety leader? To find out, consider the questions in the following three-part quiz from Safway.

— Jane Alexander, Managing Editor

1. Engagement

Are you engaged during safety meetings? Do you take notes and ask questions if something is unclear? Do you talk about the Job Hazard Analysis process? Are you prepared to stop work at any time if you believe an unsafe condition may exist?

randm2. Teaching, Mentoring, Coaching

Teaching, mentoring, coaching, and conducting safety observations are all excellent ways to promote safety conversations. Do you take time to explain the purpose behind safety procedures? Do you help others understand what cues help you assess a situation for safety? When you observe an opportunity for a safer way, do you communicate and address the issue?

3. Taking Suggestions Seriously

Good listening is essential for safety. It also takes time and effort to do well. Do you try to be open-minded and positive in response to other people’s safety suggestions? How about your body language? Do you give off a vibe of being open and engaged, and grateful for the feedback? Do you provide a meaningful response quickly, regardless of the outcome of the suggestion? All suggestions deserve positive feedback. It’s the building block of trust and openness, and, in the end, improvement.

Commit to safety

Most plant-floor personnel probably can’t answer “yes” to all of these questions every minute of every day. But when they make a conscious goal to be safety leaders, they’re well on their way to ensuring that they, their coworkers, and others are able to go home safely to their families every day. MT

For more information on access and multi-service issues and solutions, visit safway.com.

29

6:17 pm
June 16, 2017
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Help Your Air Compressors Beat the Heat

Atlas Copco USA - Spring Cleaning

Special summertime attention to several maintenance items can help keep compressed air systems up and running efficiently despite increased heat and humidity.

Summertime: The word conjures up images of relaxing on a beach with peaceful waves lapping at the shore. Most people equate summer with some degree of fun in the sun. For facility mangers, though, it can be a stressful time, given the unscheduled “vacations” that air compressors like to take during summer months and an associated rise in maintenance and energy costs.

With often-extreme temperatures and substantial increases in humidity, summertime presents textbook conditions for unexpected compressor shutdowns. Failure of this equipment can result in high repair costs and, more important, a disruption in production schedules that can lead to more costs and, ultimately, less revenue.

What can your operations do to battle the effect of summer on these systems? Beth Morgan of Atlas Copco Compressors (atlascopco.com, Rock Hill, SC) points to the following items that deserve special attention in terms of summer maintenance.

—Jane Alexander, Managing Editor

randmVentilation
Sufficient and temperate airflow is crucial to compressor performance. During the sweltering months of summer, confirm there is nothing prohibiting air from flowing freely around the unit and that the recommended ambient temperature is maintained. Repair loose foam or panels and remove any obstructions in or around the unit.

Oil
A compressor’s oil isn’t protected from the consequences of hot weather. Sweltering heat can decrease oil life expectancy, leading to damaging repercussions on the unit’s element. Using the correct oil (replaced at proper intervals, of course), and keeping oil filters clean will help ensure that your compressors run cool and consume less energy.

Coolers
Inspect the quality of compressor coolers. Clogged or blocked coolers can cause an air compressor to overheat. Be sure to examine the cooling fan for dust and residue that can prevent it from working properly. A neglected cooler may become blocked, requiring removal for a deeper cleaning.

Drains
Summer’s humidity can lead to greater levels of condensate from a compressor than what you would see in cooler months. Make sure drains are working properly and capable of handling the extra water. Confirm that the condensate is filtered properly to prevent oil from being released into the drain.

Filters
When air filters become dirty, airflow is inhibited. If that happens, the compressor must compensate for the drops in pressure, which leads to higher running temperatures. Oil filters are another matter. Oil quality deteriorates at higher temperatures, leaving behind greater deposits in the filter. Be sure to replace your units’ air and oil filters at the beginning of summer. Your compressor systems will run cooler, and use less energy with clean filters. MT

Beth Morgan is a manager with the Compressor Technique Service (CTS) division of Atlas Copco Compressors LLC, Rock Hill, SC. For more information, visit atlascopco.com.

24

6:01 pm
June 16, 2017
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Understand the Danger: Pitting Corrosion

1706rmcasset

Tiny, sometimes nearly invisible pits, such as these, are indicative of potentially deadly pitting corrosion.

Pitting corrosion is a localized breakdown of metal manifesting in small cavities or “pits” visible on a metal surface. The damage that these tiny, sometimes nearly invisible, pits cause can be deadly.

Case in point: Pitting corrosion is believed to be the cause of the 1967 collapse of the U.S. Highway 35 bridge between Point Pleasant, WV, and Kanauga, OH. Forty-six people died when that structure suddenly fell into the Ohio River. Investigators determined the cause of this disaster had begun decades earlier with a small crack that formed during the casting of the bridge’s I-beams. The I-bar subsequently broke under the compounding stresses of a corrosive environment and newer, heavier vehicles crossing the bridge.

According to Michael Harkin, an NACE and SSPC coating inspector and president of FEO Inc. (feoinc.com, Virginia Beach, VA), understanding how to prevent pitting corrosion goes a long way to ensuring long, safe, and useful service for metal assets exposed to the elements. He offers the following insight into the problem and approaches for combating it.

— Jane Alexander, Managing Editor 

There’s more to the pits indicative of a pitting corrosion attack than meets the eye. Far more damage is done beneath the metal surface because the corrosion bores inward. Pitting corrosion causes the loss of metal thickness, translating to a loss of structural integrity that can lead to stress cracking due to metal fatigue.

For example, if a beam that bears a heavy load loses thickness and mass due to corrosion, there’s less beam available to support the weight. The attack could go unnoticed but, over time, the metal fatigue it causes could lead to formation of cracks. Cracks can quickly lead to beam failure and set off a catastrophic chain reaction as unplanned stresses multiply.

randmHow it starts

There are several causes of pitting corrosion, including:

• localized mechanical or chemical damage to a metal’s protective oxide film
• improper application of corrosion-control products
• presence of non-metal materials on the surface of a metal.

When metals aren’t properly treated and freely exposed to the elements, chemical reactions between them and the environment form compounds such as ferrous oxide, more commonly known as rust.

Prevention steps

Preventing pitting corrosion starts early, beginning with the choice of the right metal during the design of an asset. The risk of pitting corrosion is greatly reduced when users know ahead of time how materials react in different environments. Higher-alloy metals resist corrosion more strongly than low-alloy materials.

Next, to the extent that it’s possible, control the operating environment. For indoor or sheltered assets, keeping environmental factors such as temperature, pH, and chloride concentration in check minimizes the risk of pitting corrosion.

Finally, apply the proper industrial coating to your assets and have them inspected with non-destructive testing (NDT) methods. MT

Notes on Non-Destructive Testing (NDT)

According FEO’s Michael Harkin, non-destructive testing is the only legitimate option for inspecting coatings systems that are already in service (and intended to be kept in service). NDT is a subset of non-invasive procedures that don’t compromise the integrity of a tested system or material. As applied to coatings, these procedures can include using electromagnetic waves to gauge the thickness of a coating, infrared thermography to measure heat distribution and determine how well a coating is binding to its substrate, or lasers to measure surface profile without physically contacting the substrate.

FEO Inc., Virginia Beach, VA, is a QP5-certified coating inspection and consulting company. For more information, visit feoinc.com.

138

2:07 am
June 1, 2017
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ITT Pro Services i-ALERT Ai Platform Makes Any Machine Smart

Screen Shot 2017-05-31 at 8.56.19 PMITT PRO Services (Seneca Falls, NY) has announced the launch of the i-ALERT Ai  (asset intelligence) platform. Leveraging the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), this web interface allows users to manage and monitor all of their i-ALERT2-enabled rotating equipment and sensors in one place, from anywhere in the world.

How It Works
According to ITT, the Ai platform is the latest service to be introduced since the May 2015 launch of the company’s i-ALERT2 Bluetooth Smart-enabled machine health monitor.

Available on a subscription basis, the i-ALERT Ai platform requires no downloading of software or dedicated hardware to run. With it, users can view trend data, machine notes, technical data, and vibration spectrum data collected by way of the i-ALERT2 application (app), all visualized in a simple timeline.

The new offering complements the i-ALERT2 route customization feature (introduced in 2016) that is said to cut collection of machine performance data by as much as 50%. After setting up designated routes with the i-ALERT2 mobile app, technicians are automatically guided to various assets and advised on the types of data to collect. Once a route is completed, the app automatically generates a report and emails it to the user.

Capabilities, Benefits
The i-ALERT Ai platform incorporates a number of noteworthy features that provide a variety capabilities and benefits, including, among others:

  • Asset Intelligence: Users can monitor the health of any rotating machine, i.e., pumps, motors, fans, mixers, gearboxes, and more. The technology tracks 3-axis vibration, temperature, kurtosis, and machine run-time. Data is logged every hour or on an alarm event.
  • Ease of Use: The free mobile app and simple interface put machine monitoring capabilities in the hands of any user.
  • Time Saving:: The app can quickly scan multiple machines at once and cover more equipment with fewer resources, freeing time for analysis and troubleshooting.
  • User Safety: A Bluetooth Smart wireless connection allows monitoring from safe distances.
  • Early Detection: Users can view real-time and historical data, diagnostic information and machine records. This provides them with the data necessary to make informed decisions.
  • Problem Solving: The platform makes advanced vibration diagnostic tools available to anyone who can use a smartphone or tablet.

For more information, including to view several short videos about using the i-ALERT Ai platform, CLICK HERE.

114

1:57 pm
May 26, 2017
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U.S. Tsubaki Boosts Capabilities with Acquisition of Canada’s Dia-Saw

Screen Shot 2017-05-26 at 8.49.49 AMU.S. Tsubaki Power Transmission (Wheeling, IL) has announced that Tsubaki of Canada Ltd. (Mississauga, ON) has acquired Dia-Saw Manufacturing Ltd. of Maple Ridge, BC. Dia-Saw started as a manufacturer of shake and shingle mill equipment and has since evolved into a leading manufacturer of sprockets and related drive components.

According to Tsubaki, this strategic acquisition will enhance support for all of its subsidiaries in North and South America by providing additional capabilities in production, alterations, warehousing, and more. The Dia-Saw deal also allows Tsubaki to further expand its product portfolio and offer a wider variety of solutions for its customers. The increased capabilities and products associated with this acquisition will significantly enhance

To learn more about Dia-Saw, CLICK HERE.

To learn more about U.S. Tsubaki Power Transmission’s comprehensive product offering, CLICK HERE.

89

9:20 pm
May 24, 2017
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FLIR Systems Taps James J. Cannon as New President and CEO

FLIR CEO Appointment_ Jim Cannon_5-23-2017FLIR Systems Inc. (Wilsonville, OR) has announced the appointment of James J. (“Jim”) Cannon as president and chief executive officer, effective June 19, 2017. He succeeds Andy Teich, whose retirement after 33 years of service was announced in February of this year.

According to the company, Cannon’s extensive and varied leadership experience, together with his proven operational expertise and ability to adapt business strategies to meet evolving market needs, makes him ideally suited to lead FLIR and its portfolio of technology-based products and applications. He had previously served for more than 16 years in a variety of senior leadership positions at Stanley Black & Decker Inc., most recently as president of Stanley Security North America & Emerging Markets. Prior to that, he was president of the company’s Industrial & Automotive Repair (IAR) business unit, first in North America and later  in Europe and Latin America, before then serving as president of Stanley Oil & Gas.

Cannon holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration/Marketing from the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga.  He’ll be based at FLIR’s Wilsonville, OR headquarters.

137

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.)

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