Archive | August

242

4:19 pm
August 20, 2013
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My Take: What’s Holding Up The Show Now?

newjaneresizeBy Jane Alexander, Deputy Editor

As I’ve always said, MT’s August issue with its annual “Executive Outlook” section is my favorite one to put out each year. That’s because I get to move somewhat beyond my comfort zone of technical and technology-driven articles and pose business-related questions to some top executives of leading suppliers to our industry. As long-time readers of this magazine may recall, the theme of each year’s “Outlook” is different, and we never have trouble getting individuals to respond—even when what we’re asking might seem a tad sensitive. This year’s questions (there were two of them) could be construed as just that.

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3:38 pm
August 20, 2013
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Uptime: Problem-Solving And Culture Change

bob williamson thumb thumb

By Bob Williamson, Contributing Editor

“We keep having equipment problems (not the same equipment all the time, but the same causes on the same shift almost every time). We know what we need to do from a reliability perspective, BUT we can’t get anybody else to change the way they do things. How do we get buy-in for working smarter?”

Why change? We’ve always done things the other way… The answer to that age-old question sets the stage for a shift in behaviors and habits—or further entrenches us in the way we’ve always done things. We are all creatures of habit. We like consistency in the way we do things. It’s easier that way.

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1196

3:22 pm
August 20, 2013
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For On The Floor: Repair Services — Room To Improve

rick carterBy Rick Carter, Executive Editor

Repair or replace? When the answer is “repair,” today’s maintenance pros usually know right away if the work can be done on-site with in-house staff or if an outside service contractor is needed. When contractors get the nod (as they increasingly do) maintenance teams like to think their equipment is in good hands. But is it? Sometimes yes, often no, say MT’s Reader Panelists, most of whom see room for improvement. 

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429

3:17 pm
August 20, 2013
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Automation Insider: Put Your Assets To Work

garymintchellBy Gary Mintchell, Editorial Director

Last month, I went into detail about HART Communication technology and how the embedded diagnostics could help maintenance and reliability professionals do a better job—if only they knew about how to tap into this valuable resource. This month’s column explores a technology that works within asset-management and operations systems to provide users with all of the information that exists within each instrument: FDT Technology (www.fdtgroup.org). Short for “field device tool,” this technology can be used in existing or new facilities, and can drive significant operational and financial benefits across the entire plant life cycle.

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377

2:43 pm
August 20, 2013
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Executive Outlook 2013: All Of Us Have To Make Our Own Luck

0813eoflukeLooking back, we knew in mid-2012 that we were headed into some choppy waters. Still, I don’t think anyone knew that the global macro uncertainty would endure for as long as it has—or that its breadth and depth would be as significant as it has been. 

Overall, we feel that the U.S. is probably one of the most stable markets worldwide right now. The European economy may continue to struggle for some time, affecting its worldwide supply chain. The relatively new uncertainty around China’s growth, meanwhile, has just started to create ripples. Then you have sector-specific changes to consider, such as the continued investments around oil and gas in the United States and Canada. 

The other persistent change to consider is workforce demographics. I believe American industry is still compensating for an inadequate supply of skilled, experienced workers. Of course, we as an industrial culture are adapting, using Kaizen methodology to drive efficiency and productivity and continuing the decades-long application of new technology. However, I think industry could do more to support vocational and engineering education. 

Our own research here at Fluke indicates that when students graduate from American vocational technical programs, quite often they do not possess enough hands-on skills and field experience to be a match for industrial hiring needs.* In regions with particularly acute shortages, some manufacturers have taken the step of creating in-house apprentice programs. What if more industries, across broader sections of the market, took direct action? 

I encourage all employers to collaborate with their local vocational colleges to help bring hands-on training as close to market as possible. As we have found, it’s rewarding to leverage our core competencies in manufacturing excellence in ways that nurture the next-generation workforce. 

I’ve been with Fluke for just over a year now, and I believe in what we do. Fluke is a noble business and a brand leader for a reason. Our products lead in safety, and in the hands of our customers, they keep the world up and running. 

Ever since this most recent wave of economic uncertainty began unfolding, our mindset has been that we have to “Make Our Own Luck.” We may not be able to affect the health of global markets, but we are in complete control of our organizational health and our value to our customer. In other words, know your strengths, focus and deliver! MT

*Reference white paper at http://www.fluke.com/fluke/usen/community/fluke-news-plus/ArticleCategories/RD/trends-in-the-workforce?utm_campaign=workforce&utm_source=PRN%20&utm_medium=release

More Executive Outlooks:

0813eoabb

Enrique Santacana, President & CEO, ABB North America

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William J. Stevens, President & CEO, Motion Industries

0813eomilwaukee

Steven P. Richman, President, Milwaukee Tool Corporation

0813eoskf

Poul Jeppesen, President and CEO, SKF USA Inc.

0813eokluber

Ralf Kraemer, CEO, Klüber Lubrication North America

0813eorockwell 

Mike Laszkiewicz, Vice President & General Manager, Power Control Business, Rockwell Automation, and Chair, Manufacturing Council

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Jay A. Burnette, President, Waukesha Bearings Corporation

0813eonidec

Rich Heppe, President, Industrial Motors, Nidec Motor Corporation

 0813eoemerson

Steve Sonnenberg, President, Emerson Process Management

0813eofluke

Wes Pringle, President, Fluke Corporation 

 

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266

2:42 pm
August 20, 2013
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Executive Outlook 2013: Grow Value Of Existing And Planned Investments

0813eoemersonFirst, we agree that the global economic recovery seems to have stalled, and indications are that it will remain flat for the near term. Consumer demand has not yet exhausted existing manufacturing capacity, allowing manufacturers to defer major capital expansions. Many of our customers are instead working with us to improve the economic performance of their existing assets.

There is optimism in some sectors of the economy, notably those related to the shale oil and gas expansions. Similarly, depletion of oil fields is leading to new projects, and even new technologies like FLNG (floating liquefied natural gas) to meet global energy demands.

Emerson Process Management is helping further economic development by constantly increasing the value that our customers get from their existing and planned investments—for example, by improving plant safety, reliability and efficiency. Much of the hard work has been done, and our customers are enjoying the benefits.

That said, we know that there is still room for improvement, especially in areas where the cost of adding sensing points to collect additional data was previously a barrier to project approval. We are aggressively addressing that barrier by driving down the cost and complexity of installing additional intelligent instrumentation. For example, our investment in wireless technology has dramatically reduced the cost, time and effort required to install new instruments. Today, a manufacturer can install a wireless instrument at one-quarter of the cost of a wired device. This opens up new opportunities to monitor rotating equipment, steam traps and environmental conditions that were hard to justify earlier. 

With the additional information provided by these new instruments, manufacturers can often identify problems before they impact production, and better allocate maintenance resources to reduce downtime and maintain safe and reliable operations. This ability to provide affordable pervasive sensing will help manufacturers move from reactive to predictive maintenance—one of the keys to success in the 21st century.

It’s worth noting that pervasive sensing and the additional information it generates about manufacturing operations and maintenance could actually add to the complexity of running an enterprise. The solution is an efficient method to sort through the data, identify areas of real concern and convey the need for corrective action to the right persons in the enterprise to set things right. Increasingly, manufacturing enterprises will bring such data back to central locations where diagnostics specialists or other experts can examine it and relay the need for preventative maintenance back to the plant. This centralized data analysis will also foster collaboration between disciplines that will often be necessary to arrive at the right overall course of action.

Being shut down for just one or two days a year due to unforeseen events can make the difference between successful financial performance and the elimination of bonuses and profit for entire manufacturing complexes. To help our customers avoid such problems and play a role in the economic recovery, we are developing and deploying the eyes and ears that enable process manufacturing plants to move operational performance to previously unachievable levels. MT

More Executive Outlooks:

0813eoabb

Enrique Santacana, President & CEO, ABB North America

0813eomotion

William J. Stevens, President & CEO, Motion Industries

0813eomilwaukee

Steven P. Richman, President, Milwaukee Tool Corporation

0813eoskf

Poul Jeppesen, President and CEO, SKF USA Inc.

0813eokluber

Ralf Kraemer, CEO, Klüber Lubrication North America

0813eorockwell 

Mike Laszkiewicz, Vice President & General Manager, Power Control Business, Rockwell Automation, and Chair, Manufacturing Council

0813eowaukesha

Jay A. Burnette, President, Waukesha Bearings Corporation

0813eonidec

Rich Heppe, President, Industrial Motors, Nidec Motor Corporation

 0813eoemerson

Steve Sonnenberg, President, Emerson Process Management

0813eofluke

Wes Pringle, President, Fluke Corporation 

 

 

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281

2:41 pm
August 20, 2013
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Executive Outlook 2013: Review U.S. Trade Policy And Level The Playing Field

0813eonidecAs to what’s holding up our long-awaited economic recovery, it all begins with prioritizing how to spend money. And that means from the perspective of state and local governments, as well as the perspective of commercial companies.

Spending on public works projects is down 25% from where it was in 2010—all across the country. If our government representatives recognized that investing in public works projects puts people to work, broadens the tax base, improves and repairs infrastructure and circulates dollars back into local economies, real economic growth would be achieved.

On the private/commercial side, our customers in the electric motor industry are hesitant (really hesitant) to make major investments at this time. Many tell me that they would rather take a “band-aid” approach to a problem than engage in a major overhaul. Why?

In one word, “uncertainty”—uncertainty about the possibility of more government regulations coming down the pike, higher taxes and how the Affordable Care Act is going to impact their businesses.

I’m also concerned about the Federal Reserve Policy of Quantitative Easing: Is it a good strategy? It’s had a positive impact on the stock market, but what happens when the Fed begins to pull back on it?

We continue to hear reports about consumer spending getting better, but from my vantage point, I’m just not seeing the pull-through. For example, I’ve noticed that for the second quarter, the three-month moving average for things like industrial machinery and iron and steel products is down from the same quarter a year ago.  

Other things hindering a robust recovery in the U.S. include Europe’s well-documented economic issues; there’s no real end in sight there. Plus, even though the economic growth rate is higher in China than it is in the U.S., we’re seeing a slowdown there.

Regarding what can be done to break up the “logjam,” I’ll circle back to my first paragraph: I feel that it’s critical for state and local governments to invest in public works and infrastructure projects, like water and wastewater systems. We need to see infrastructure projects prioritized.

We can all participate by being active in and supporting our respective professional and/or industry trade associations. Nearly all of them have Governmental Affairs departments or groups that help shape policies and legislation.

U.S. trade policy is another area that needs to be reviewed.  Just from an electric-motors point of view, we need to level the playing field with Brazil and China in terms of taxes and tariffs. It continues to be much easier for manufacturers in Brazil and China to sell here than it is for us to sell there.

One final thought: I think it would be a huge positive to repatriate cash held by U.S. companies outside the United States. Bring the cash back here, where it can help all of us, and our communities.MT

More Executive Outlooks:

0813eoabb

Enrique Santacana, President & CEO, ABB North America

0813eomotion

William J. Stevens, President & CEO, Motion Industries

0813eomilwaukee

Steven P. Richman, President, Milwaukee Tool Corporation

0813eoskf

Poul Jeppesen, President and CEO, SKF USA Inc.

0813eokluber

Ralf Kraemer, CEO, Klüber Lubrication North America

0813eorockwell 

Mike Laszkiewicz, Vice President & General Manager, Power Control Business, Rockwell Automation, and Chair, Manufacturing Council

0813eowaukesha

Jay A. Burnette, President, Waukesha Bearings Corporation

0813eonidec

Rich Heppe, President, Industrial Motors, Nidec Motor Corporation

 0813eoemerson

Steve Sonnenberg, President, Emerson Process Management

0813eofluke

Wes Pringle, President, Fluke Corporation 

 

 

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