Archive | May


8:09 pm
May 15, 2013
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My Take: Well, Duh?

newjaneresizeBy Jane Alexander, Deputy Editor

Who among us hasn’t found a challenge-based reality television series to wrap our minds around for a while? There are so many to choose from. My favorites over the years have been Project Runway, Shark Tank and HGTV’s Design Star and All-American Handyman. That was until I heard about a new one (which, as I write this column, hasn’t aired its first episode).

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8:03 pm
May 15, 2013
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Automation Insider: Get the Most From Your Software Systems

garymintchellBy Gary Mintchell, Editorial Director

Germany’s Hannover Fair is billed as the world’s largest industrial trade show. That’s where I was last month—with just over 200,000 of my closest friends—browsing my share of more than 6000 exhibits. While capacity assurance may not have been explicitly referenced, readers of this magazine would probably recognize it as an overarching theme running through the products on display. Here are a couple of issues that caught my attention.

How prepared are you?
For example, how many of you and/or your teams get work orders from a CMMS package? Do you ever obtain enough information to get a head start on a problem before going out to investigate it? Have you ever been suspicious of an operator’s response to an alarm from the DCS?

The answer to these types of dilemmas could be an MES application—which can provide a wealth of information about process status prior to personnel heading out to deal with a problem. This information often can precede a work order in the sense that crews are able to see problems trending and prepare in advance for corrective actions. Based on my past experience in engineering roles, I believe there’s great value in knowing up front what tools and spares to take along on a job (and perhaps cut out a second or third trip).

At Hannover, I spent some time at the Forcam stand (, where CEO Franz Gruber explained how MES working with CMMS can pay big dividends when it comes to getting processes back online quicker.

Are you going mobile?
Speaking of getting information, how many of you are using smart phones and tablets in your facilities these days? I realize doing so can be difficult or prohibited in hazardous or classified areas, but there are many areas where it’s not. Using these commercial technologies in personal life inevitably bleeds over into business life. (That’s how the first PCs invaded businesses in the 1980s.) Manufacturers are now even working on Class I Div. 2 tablets. What a fantastic way to research problems without the need to find a computer: Just pull out your portable device and access a few key pieces of diagnostic information. However, the word is that personnel in maintenance areas—from technicians to supervisors—seem to be lagging in adopting mobile technologies.

A recent study by the enterprise asset management supplier IFS ( found that 75% of users have little to no mobile access to their EAM or CMMS. Only 34% reported using a handheld mobile device to work in these systems. This is not to mention gleaning trending or component information from other software programs that could be accessed via a smart phone or tablet app. (I recently saw
a demo of a soon-to-be-released app of this type that makes finding key information quick and easy. Stay tuned.)

But the IFS findings point to a corporate IT obstacle, as well. “The study indicates that those who limit remote access to connection solutions like VPN tend to be less likely to report high levels of access and are less likely to be working in the software from a handheld device,” IFS North America Vice President for Energy and Asset Management Patrick Zirnhelt told me.

Mobile devices are key to the next generation of productivity. We need to convince IT that opening up the system, most likely through implementing cloud technology, will pay dividends in productivity and profits. It’s time to plan your implementation and get moving.MT

Gary Mintchell,, Co-founder and long-time Editor-in-Chief of Automation World magazine, now writes at

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7:56 pm
May 15, 2013
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Uptime: Putting The Pieces Together In Pursuit of 100% Reliability

bob williamson thumb thumbBy Bob Williamson, Contributing Editor

How close to 100% reliable is your most critical equipment… the equipment that should perform as intended the first time, every time? It should be 100% reliable for safety, environmental or just plain business purposes. What organization would be satisfied with 45% reliability of these critical processes? Probably none. But under-performing processes are more common than many can imagine.

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7:45 pm
May 15, 2013
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Boosting Your Bottom Line: Tools To Manage Motor Breakdown

motor-decisions-matterHow will you respond when a motor breaks down in your plant? A common course of action is to repair the unit if that costs less than replacement. As shown by the chart below, however, total costs of motor ownership depend more on a motor’s efficiency than repair or replacement costs. Typically, the energy to operate a motor represents 95% of its lifecycle cost, while purchase and repair costs represent less than 5%. Motor Decisions MatterSM (MDM) can help you make the cost-effective choice through resources like the MDM Decision Tree, which diagrams the steps in the decision-making process.

The MDM Website ( links you to resources like the Horsepower Bulletin [Ref. 1] that can help inform your repair-replace decisions. Developed by Advanced Energy, it breaks down the many aspects of lifecycle costing and helps users establish guidelines for repairing or replacing a motor based on size, operating hours and cost of electricity. Another useful resource, MotorMaster+ 4.0 [Ref. 2], was created by Washington State University and the U.S. Department of Energy. This comprehensive program compares the financial results of various repair-replace decisions. 

Once the true lifecycle cost of a motor is understood, you can make a sound decision about whether to replace it with an energy-efficient motor or to repair using best practices.

Best Practice Motor Repair-Rewinds
Motor repair-rewinds that are improperly performed, or performed on a motor with significant damage, have the potential to degrade its nameplate efficiency. Since even a small decrease in motor efficiency can cause a marked increase in your total operating costs, it pays to make sure your repair maintains motor efficiency. Best-practice repair services can do just that. As detailed in the ANSI/EASA AR 100 standard [Ref. 3] developed by EASA, the Electrical Apparatus Service Association (, and approved by ANSI (the American National Standards Institute), a 22-page document defines recommended best-practice repair-rewind by establishing guidelines for each rewinding and rebuilding step. A 2003 study by EASA and the Association of Electrical and Mechanical Trades (AEMT) found that best-practice rewind-repair procedures maintain motor efficiency within ± 0.2%—and in some cases can improve motor efficiency [Ref. 4].

When it comes to motor rewinds or repairs, work with your local utility and motor service provider to develop and implement a repair policy that makes efficiency a priority. More resources, including a 2011 Webcast, Motor Management Truths and Consequences: Understanding Electric Motor Rewinds and Efficiency [Ref. 5], are available in the “Helpful Resources” section of the MDM Website. Visit us
online to start making cost-effective motor management decisions today.



4. The Effect of Repair/Rewinding On Motor Efficiency; EASA/AEMT Rewind Study and Good Practice Guide;

5.; and

The Motor Decisions Matter (MDM) campaign is managed by the Consortium for Energy Efficiency (CEE), a North American nonprofit organization that promotes energy-saving products, equipment and technologies. For further information, contact MDM staff at or (617) 589-3949.


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6:59 pm
May 15, 2013
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Don’t Procrastinate…Innovate!: The Why Factor

ken bannister thumb thumb thumb

By Ken Bannister, Contributing Editor

In 2011, Applied Technology Publications (parent of Maintenance Technology and Lubrication Management & Technology magazines) launched its first “Maintenance & Reliability Innovator of the Year” competition. The level of response we received for that inaugural competition overwhelmed us. Response for the 2012 competition was just as exciting, making it difficult for the judges to choose an overall winner and three runners-up. The 2012 competition, like the one in 2011, reconfirmed our belief that the spirit of innovation is alive and well—and working hard—in the maintenance and reliability community. It was reflected in all entries, each of which managed in one way or another to challenge the status quo and current orthodoxy regarding the true meaning of “innovation.”

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6:37 pm
May 15, 2013
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Big Money Talks: What's Up With Waste-To-Energy?

billlivotiFor those unfamiliar with “waste-to-energy” (WtE), it’s the process of burning municipal wastes in large furnaces to produce steam that, in turn, is used to drive turbines that generate electricity. WtE has always interested me.

During a recent tour of a waste-to-energy plant in Central Florida, the conversation turned to our National Energy Policy (or to be more specific, the lack thereof) and Federal tax credits for renewable energy. My host shared some alarming facts with me—along with his concerns and frustration. 

His facility had recently been acquired by a company that has patented a promising WtE technology called “Advanced Thermal Recycling” (ATR®). Although the plant is now using ATR, it’s limited in how much power it can produce due to—get ready for this—lack of trash! Here’s our dirty little secret: More than half the waste produced in this country goes into landfills. Only a quarter to a third is recycled, and a very small amount is used for energy recovery. 

I left that Central Florida operation enlightened by the innovative technology I had seen, but bewildered as to why our country has failed to embrace waste-to-energy as a solution to a couple of nagging problems (i.e., where do we find new sources of energy and what can we do about our ever-growing mountains of waste). 

Looking back at the history of WtE in the United States, it seems as though both politics and special-interest groups may have had a hand in running the long roller-coaster ride this viable technology has found itself on. 

A Brief history of WtE in the U.S.

  • 1885: U.S. Army builds the first garbage incinerator on Governor’s Island in New York Harbor, and Allegheny, PA, builds the first municipal incinerator.
  • Early 20th century: Some U.S. cities begin gener-ating electricity or steam from burning waste.  
  • 1920s: Atlanta sells steam from its incinerators to the Atlanta Gas Light Co. and Georgia Power Co.
  • 1970: Clean Air Act ends open burning at U.S. landfills, opening the door for WtE technology and forcing cities to look at this type of technology with regard to trash disposal.
  • 1975: The first privately built WtE plant opens in Massachusetts.
  • Late 1970s: The Federal government begins funding feasibility studies for local governments interested in setting up new WtE plants.
  • 1980: The 1980 Energy Security Act provides insured loans, loan and price guarantees and purchase agreements for WtE projects using municipal solid waste.
  • 1980: The Energy Security Act authorizes research and development for promoting the commercial viability of energy recovery from municipal waste.
  • 1986: The Federal Tax Reform Act (FTRA) is implemented, which both helped and harmed the development of WtE facilities. While the FTRA extended Federal tax credits available for such facilities to 10 years, it unfortunately repealed the tax-free status of WtE plants that were financed with industrial development bonds.
  • 1990s: With the expiration of tax credits, WtE plants begin to fall out of favor.
  • 2007: The U.S. has 87 WtE facilities, consuming about 31.4 million tons of solid waste (which represents 12.5% of all municipal solid waste disposal).
  • 2010: Eighty-six WtE plants with the capacity to process more than 97,000 tons of municipal solid waste per day are operating in 24 states.
  • 2012: There is a sudden increase in WtE sector activities as companies begin developing new technologies for converting municipal garbage into electricity, heat and biofuels.

Interesting WtE Facts
Estimates by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and BioCycle magazine on the amount of U.S. waste and modes of disposal give some indication of the potential we have with waste-to-energy technology. Look at the accompanying tables and consider the following:

  • Approximately one ton of waste will produce 525 kWh of electricity (roughly what a quarter-ton of coal or a barrel of oil produces). 
  • During combustion, the volume of waste material is reduced by about 90%, and its weight by 75%.  

Fifteen states have categorized waste-to-energy as a resource in their renewable portfolio standards. Yet, while some Federal laws have categorized waste-to-energy as a renewable resource, some Federal and state tax advantages given to other renewable resources ARE NOT available to WtE facilities. Furthermore, as you might expect, special-interest groups in various parts of the country staunchly oppose waste-to-energy.


Renewable energy and waste disposal
From a semantics perspective, although waste-to-energy may not actually be a renewable source of energy, it most certainly is saving our environment. I would definitely categorize WtE as a “Green Solution” and submit that it should be subsidized by Federal tax credits. This technology has a future: What better way to kill two birds with one stone?

Like any other energy source, however, there are downsides: Emissions, odor from the waste prior to incineration, convoys of trash trucks and the proverbial engine blocks that could be thrown by irresponsible individuals into dumpsters and, in turn, destroy WtE processing equipment are just a few of them. Can these issues be overcome?  Given the technology available today, I think so. 

My next column (coming in August’s MT) will discuss how a WtE plant works and more. UM

Bill Livoti is Power-Generation Business Development Manager for WEG Electric Corp. and Electric Machinery Co., Inc. 


1. “Municipal Waste Production” (Chapter 18), Window on State Government, Susan Combs, Texas State Comptroller of Public Accounts,

2. “Waste to Energy: A Mountain of Trash, or Pile of Energy,” Melissa C. Lott and David Wogan,

3. Recovered Energy, Inc., Presents the Recovered Energy System,

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6:36 pm
May 15, 2013
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Efficient Gadgets

0513gadget1Best-in-Class Power & Run Time From Intelligent Rotary Hammers 

Milwaukee Tool has expanded its M12 FUEL™ line of power tools with the new M12 FUEL™ 5/8” SDS Plus Rotary Hammer for drilling holes of up to 5/8” in concrete and masonry. According to the company, this electro-pneumatic unit not only offers 75% more speed and the largest SDS Plus bit capacity in its class, at only 10” long and 3.9 lbs, it performs comparably to much larger tools at a fraction of the size and weight. Designed, engineered and built by Milwaukee Tool, the product’s 12-volt brushless POWERSTATE™ motor provides up to 6200 BPM and up to 900 RPM. New Milwaukee REDLITHIUM™ XC4.0 batteries allow up to 2X more run-time, 20% more power and 2X more recharges than standard Lithium-Ion batteries, and function in extreme conditions  (below 0 F/-18 C) with fade-free power. An advanced REDLINK PLUS™ Intelligence hardware and software system ensures continuous full-circle communication between tool, battery and charger to optimize performance and overload protection.

Milwaukee Tool, Inc.
Milwaukee, WI

Retrofittable Variable-Speed Refrigeration Motors 

The Nidec 56 Frame Variable Speed Condenser Motor for Supermarket/Commercial Refrigeration applications is designed to work with both split- and self-contained refrigeration systems. A key feature of the compact unit’s integrated motor and drive system is its use of ECM technology (permanent brushless magnet) According to the manufacturer, in addition to longer motor life, the variable-speed capabilities of the easy-to-install 56 Frame Condenser Motor translate can translate into higher efficiency, lower energy costs and greater precision in controlling refrigeration systems for end-users. Other features/benefits include:

  • Integrated electronics for quick retrofit
  • Active Power Factor Correction (PFC)
  • Active thermal protection
  • Dip switches allow easy set-up on factory floor or in field
  • Sensorless feedback gives precise rpm without encoder
  • 6 KV surge protection
  • Rigid base or belly band mount
  • Sine wave and ball bearings ensuring less noise and vibration

These units are well-suited for use by both OEMs and aftermarket/retrofit customers.

Nidec Motor Corp.
St. Louis, MO


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