Archive | September


4:54 pm
September 18, 2013
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My Take: Strivers Wanted

newjaneresize2 thumb thumbBy Jane Alexander, Deputy Editor

Classes are back in session for children across the country. Wherever they are, I hope all those bright, shiny faces are paying attention, and not just in their crucial STEM-related courses (science, technology, engineering, math). Invaluable life skills can be gleaned from all areas of study. The trouble is, not all kids are capitalizing on the opportunities to do so. I’ve sat in on too many industry events over the past few years where folks decry the lack of math, reading, problem-solving, communication and just plain people skills among annual crops of newly minted high school grads. The situation has evidently been bad all over.

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4:37 pm
September 18, 2013
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Don’t Procrastinate…Innovate!: Looking Into The Past For The Future

ken bannister thumb thumb thumbBy Ken Bannister, Contributing Editor

“Al, bent over the wheel, kept shifting eyes from the road to the instrument panel, watching the ammeter needle, which jerked suspiciously, watching the oil gauge and the heat indicator. And his mind was cataloguing weak points about the car. He listened to the whine, which might be the rear end, dry; and he listened to tappets lifting and falling. He kept his hand on the gear lever, feeling the turning gears through it.

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4:24 pm
September 18, 2013
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Boosting Your Bottom Line: Forget Guesswork — Tracking Boosts Reliability

motor-decisions-matterImproving your plant’s reliability is a gift that keeps on giving. In implementing effective motor management practices, you make your job as a maintenance professional easier by improving operating and production performance, lowering maintenance costs and reducing equipment downtime. The first step toward greater relia-bility is to conduct a plant-wide motor survey that records basic, but crucial, data about your motor fleet. 

It’s worth the time
Although conducting a motor survey and implementing a tracking program may seem daunting, remember that it’s not necessary to survey every motor in the facility. If your site has many motors, it could make sense to start with equipment running the most critical applications, units with the longest run-times or highest failure rates, or simply the oldest ones. 

Maintaining a log of motor repairs through a tracking program can help flag opportunities to repair or replace motors before failure, during scheduled downtime. Some facilities have reported that it’s not unusual for a motor to be repaired and then installed in a different application in another part of the plant. Tracking programs record the unit’s history to help predict reliability or prevent misapplication. Your local motor-service expert can help you with a motor inventory.

Free help is available
There are also a number of motor tracking resources available that will not only make your life easier, but are free to download. One of the best-known tools is MotorMaster+ 4.0*, created by Washington State University through a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (USDOE). This software is a comprehensive program that enables you to create a detailed motor database. You can use the database to make data-driven decisions for long-term savings. It also contains important manufacturer information for more than 20,000 motors. 

What’s next?
A motor survey and tracking program are the first steps in developing a motor management plan. Simply put, you can only manage a motor fleet if you know what’s in it and monitor changes over time. That’s where Motor Decisions MatterSM (MDM) can help. 

The MDM Motor Planning Kit, available as a free download at, explains the fundamentals of motor management and helps you get started. The MDM 1·2·3 Approach software tool includes a motor inventory sheet that runs simple calculations and provides motor reports and tags, using sample data from customer plants and facilities. Additionally, MDM has a comprehensive case-study library with numerous examples of how customers saved money and energy by implementing motor management strategies, beginning with a motor inventory. Start tracking today, and enjoy the long-term benefits of increased reliability. MT

* MotorMaster+ 4.0 is available here.

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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4:20 pm
September 18, 2013
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Automation Insider: Get More From Intelligent Field Devices

garymintchellBy Gary Mintchell, Editorial Director

This month’s column is the third installment in a series on how modern digital technologies help maintenance and reliability professionals and plant management improve performance. (The previous installments discussed HART Communication protocol and FDT.)

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4:18 pm
September 18, 2013
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Reliable Gadget

0913gadgetTest Fluorescent Lamps, Pins And Voltage With One Pocket-Sized Tool

Amprobe® has introduced the LT-10 Lamp Tester, a lightweight, pocket-sized tool that takes the guesswork out of troubleshooting fluorescent fixtures. According to the company, the one-button device can verify in seconds whether fluorescent bulbs are operational prior to installation or removal, making it well-suited for facilities with large numbers of fixtures to maintain. Featuring a highly responsive 48” retractable and removable antenna, it extends the reach of technicians and reduces the amount of time they spend climbing up and down ladders. While the unit’s non-conductive antenna sleeve allows for safe testing, its 2” plate delivers better readings and is removable so personnel can troubleshoot bulbs through architectural grids. The LT-10 also features VolTect™ non-contact voltage detection to provide both visual and audible alerts to identify the source of voltage without the need for an extra tool. 

Everett, WA


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