Just ask ‘em… the two guys in the picture to the left. They made up our “2011 Maintenance & Reliability Innovator of the Year” Grand Prize-winning team. Going out on a limb here, I’m betting they would tell you that the prizes they won for their snazzy SNAP Tool innovation were nice, but the publicity and bragging rights they walked away with were even better.
“I’ve been in maintenance management a long time. It seems that the toughest part of my job lately has been making improvements in the way we do maintenance. And it’s not getting any easier. If anything, it’s tougher to find support for improving maintenance these days than it was ten years ago. So, how can we REALLY improve maintenance?”
Next month, we cast our votes for President of the United States. The timing of this call to civic duty creates a good opportunity to remind the winning candidate that the hardworking industrial community has good ideas on how to address some big issues. We offered Panelists the chance to share their thoughts on several topics with the man who will occupy the Oval Office over the next four years. The only rule was that they focus on solutions, not politics. We promise to send a copy of this month’s column to the winner of the November election. Here’s what our Panelists said:
Technology is making it easier than ever for operations to document and organize critical technical information.
This respected maker of test and measurement instruments is operating in accordance with the purpose of its own products to keep its Washington-state headquarters on the cutting edge of energy efficiency.
“Dear Dr. Lube, the automated grease-lubrication systems on our remote, continuously operating pump stations suffered intermittent failures last fall and spring. They seemed to shut down on their own accord, only to start up by themselves after many hours, whereupon they operated perfectly until the next incident (which could be hours or days later). Any suggestions?”
The key to unlocking this problem is the specific time of year the failures occur. In spring and fall months, depending on geographical location, temperatures can be erratic—swinging from very cold to very warm in a matter of hours.
Due to its viscous nature, the state of a lubricant will change as ambient temperatures change. When the temperature heats up, a lubricant “thins out” and flows freely. As the temperature drops, the lubricant “thickens up” and becomes more resistant to flow.
Heating systems in buildings are typically turned on in the fall and off in the spring. When this is scheduled for specific calendar dates, a facility could still experience extremely cold temperatures in the early to mid-morning hours. Such conditions are enough to thicken a lubricant’s viscosity to the point that it stalls a lube pump (especially with pneumatically operated systems). As the building warms, the lubricant thins to the point that the pump seems to “magically” start working. The common use of NLGI #2 grease only compounds the situation, since most automated lubrication systems are rated for less-viscous NLGI #1 grease.
Check with your lube supplier to ensure that the correct viscosity of grease has been specified for your lubrication-system type and ambient temperatures at the site during those times when they’ve experienced intermittent failure. A lighter grade may be necessary during the winter or transition months.
Review maintenance records to determine the date of the last reservoir fill and ensure that grease was in the reservoir when the system failed. Perform a physical system check to make sure the correct lubricant is currently in use.
If a grade changeout is impractical, wrap the reservoir with a thermostat-controlled blanket wrap heater (similar to a car battery wrap heater) or drum heater, plug it in and use during times of transition between seasons.MT
Looking for advice from Dr. Lube? For specific lube questions and/or details about ICML lubrication-certification training (including in-house sessions and an upcoming workshop at MARTS 2013), email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Or, go ahead and contact Ken Bannister directly. Telephone: (519) 469-9173; email: email@example.com.
As this personal perspective notes, looking for the real causes of problems is a more effective approach than simply pointing a finger at others.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has made industrial information, software, training, grants and resources available in the past. Given some recent updates to the agency’s Website, significantly more information is now available. The materials developed in relation to electric-motor applications have been put through extensive reviews by industrial teams and revised to reflect new data.
If you haven’t yet visited it, the DOE Website, http://www.eere.energy.gov/topics/manufacturing.html, contains information on all of the above, including software for steam; process heating; combined heat and power; compressed air; motors; pumps; fans; HVAC systems for data centers; solar panels; and refrigeration. These tools are free to download and use, as is the site’s other information. Training classes in a variety of tools are also available through the site, with some provided, for fee, by third parties.
The addition of PdM capabilities
One of the top DOE software programs, MotorMaster Plus, in its last version, received funding in 2000 from Dreisilker Electric Motors, Inc., Pruftechnik and ALL-TEST Pro for modifications that added predictive maintenance (PdM) capabilities. This allowed end-users to add vibration, motor-circuit analysis and similar testing to a motor database and search motors by condition, thus permitting repair versus replace decisions to be made in advance of equipment failure. This version of MotorMaster Plus works on Windows through XP. Another version of the software, MotorMaster International, which does not have the PdM tool capability, works on versions of Windows through Windows 7. In addition to these software programs, DOE offers a separate belt-efficiency calculator that can be used online or downloaded for computer use. Users can enter a series of motors and the calculator will compare the efficiency of standard V-belts to cogged V-belts.
Tools for mature motor-system management programs
The combination of motor-system-related materials, software and training offerings available via the DOE Website certainly can be utilized as the basis for an effective motor-systems management program. Still, there are other items that should be added to a mature/maturing program, as the primary emphasis of the tools referenced in this month’s column is energy, followed by reliability, maintenance and lifecycle costs. We’ll cover a number of those other items in future articles.MT
Dr. Howard Penrose is VP of Engineering and Reliability Services for Dreisilker, Webmaster of the IEEE Dielectrics and Electrical Insulation Society, and Director of Outreach of the Society for Maintenance & Reliability Professionals (SMRP).