Archive | Maintenance


8:52 pm
March 16, 2017
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Intelligent Water Making Strides towards Predictive Analytics

EXCEL XR metering pumps are designed for the specific chemical pumping requirements of municipal and industrial water treatment.

Last week, I ran across a Smart Water spending forecast from Bluefield Research and this week there’s an interesting post from Jim Gillespie, co-founder of Gray Matter Systems, a system integrator for cloud solutions and predictive analytics. All signs point to an increased spend in this sector for pump and motor sensors, but where will this investment come from?

According to Gillespie and his post on TechCruch, utilities may be able to sell “solutions” to other wastewater operations like the power industry has done. Gillespie cited how the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority has commercialized their intellectual property, giving them a new revenue channel. The water district is commercializing their water ammonia versus nitrate algorithm and selling it other treatment plants, according to Gillespie.

>> More || Smart Water Infrastructure Continues to Grow, but Real Challenges Persist

As I noted last week, new investment dollars are hard to come by but there’s are a lot of new use cases in the wastewater space, see below:

Another IIoT development, a new SaaS application that’s set to launch later this month, will calculate wastewater clarifier tank performance — providing quick analysis on a critical step in the wastewater process. The tool, called ClariFind, alerts utilities as they’re getting close to a failure before they experience it. ClariFind will predict when sludge will overflow and be released. This kind of problem causes EPA issues and fines that can run in the millions of dollars. It will also be able to predict a thickening failure, which is when the effluent doesn’t settle correctly and creates a costly sludge blanket in the tank. ClariFind is just one part of a water operations suite of productivity enhancers — solutions as a service.

Read the Full Post on TechCrunch >>

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2:58 pm
March 13, 2017
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Keep Stored Gear Reducers Service Ready

When gear reducers and other capital spares are improperly prepared for storage, their service readiness can be seriously compromised.

When gear reducers and other capital spares are improperly prepared for storage, their service readiness can be seriously compromised.

Are your statically stored gear reducers service ready? That’s the first of several questions from Dillon Gully of Motion Industries (headquartered in Birmingham, AL, He has good reason for asking. In conducting borescope inspections of statically stored internal-gear reducers for customers, Motion Industries personnel discovered as many as one-third of these assets sitting on shelves in a failed state.

Next questions: Are you willing to gamble the OEE (overall equipment effectiveness) and profitability of your facility on gear reducers and, for that matter, other capital spares that might not be service ready? What would you tell your boss if a critical spare were to fail within mere hours? Think this scenario doesn’t apply to you? How can you be sure? Gully offers some advice for achieving peace of mind.

— Jane Alexander, Managing Editor

Effective management of capital spares involves up-front identification of these assets and making sure they are in service-ready condition prior to preparing them for long-term storage. Unfortunately, many operations don’t follow through on this process once purchased units arrive on site. According to Gully, these steps are the only way to support the reliability of stored spares.

Capital spares can be defined as any item that is critical to production, promotes safety, decreases downtime, and/or prevents environmental issues. Gear reducers certainly qualify. The best way of verifying that these assets won’t fail as soon as they’re put into service is to inspect them before they are stored away—perhaps for years. Minimally invasive borescope inspections are a particularly good inspection method.

In a borescope inspection of a gear reducer, a camera scope visually inspects the condition of bearings, gearing, and internal components. The procedure can be accomplished through a plughole, which prevents contamination of an asset, if it is, indeed, ready for service. (Compared to the cost of replacing a failed bearing, costs associated with borescope inspections are also minimal.)

randmStorage planning

While information gleaned from borescope inspections can be used to confirm service readiness—or help identify steps for making a spare service ready—it can also help determine how to prevent these units from improper storage.

Corrosion, i.e., rust and contamination, are two, of many, causes of failure in gear reducers. When borescope inspections identify the presence of these failure modes, steps can be taken to correct them before the equipment is put into storage, as well as prevent those problems from recurring during storage.

Once a plan to prevent failures in stored spares is developed and implemented, it should be consistently followed. Every unit that will be stored, for whatever period of time, should be carefully protected. Preventing rust and contamination is a great start in protecting asset reliability and, thus, ensuring service readiness.

An ongoing process

Keeping stored spares in service-ready condition requires management accountability. Someone must be assigned responsibility for these assets, and expectations should be clear and realistic. It’s the responsibility of that designated person to ensure all spares are properly prepared and maintained. Identifying failed spares and bringing them back to service-ready condition is an ongoing process. As Dillon Gully emphasizes, “It should not be done one time and then forgotten.”

This plan for reliability can lower the probability of failure and bring a welcome degree of certainty regarding your stored gear reducers and other capital spares. MT

Working as an analyst for Motion Industries’ service center in Pensacola, FL, Dillon Gully has been conducting vibration and borescope inspections and managing capital spares for three years. For more information on these topics, visit or


2:37 pm
March 13, 2017
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On The Floor: One Question, Lots of R&M Tips and Tricks

By Jane Alexander, Managing Editor

Sharing proven R&M tips and tricks can make life easier (and happier) in all plants.

Sharing proven R&M tips and tricks can make life easier (and happier) in all plants.

As the headline on this page notes, we posed just one question to MT Reader Panelists this month. It must have been a good one: Oh, how they came through with answers (lots of them). 

Q. What was their (or a client’s/customer’s) top reliability or maintenance tip or trick and why?

To be clear, we also asked respondents to discuss the value their submitted tips or tricks have for their organizations (or their clients/customers) and how they might be of value to other Reliability and Maintenance (R&M) pros, regardless of industry sector. Edited for brevity and clarity, here’s what several Panelists shared.

College Electrical Lab, Manager/Instructor, West…

Knowledge of process equipment is one of the most important pieces of data needed for trouble shooting. We developed a program supported by skilled technicians that we do weekly with our newer crews: One of the experts on a piece of equipment will take two or three other technicians to the equipment and discuss how the equipment works, past problems, past solutions, troubleshooting concepts, equipment-danger symptoms, etc. This process is similar to a doctor’s morning hospital rounds with medical residents. The program has been very effective in reducing downtime.

Industry Consultant, Northeast…

The neatest trick that I’ve ever used in explaining equipment problems is to look at the machine with a strobe light. Freeze the image (set the strobe frequency) at the frequency of the peak vibration, then shift the strobe frequency by 10 or 20 cpm and focus on the machine. You’ll be able to see the relative movement and it gives a “real time” ODS (operating deflection shape). Using this, my clients have seen coupling torsional vibration waves in tank-mounted bases that are 1/4-in. high.

Maintenance Leader, Discrete Mfg, Midwest…

I would say, once you find a program that works, stick to it. As I’ve mentioned in past MT Reader Panel discussions, we had struggled with our R&M and PM programs for years. The company finally brought in a consultant who listened to the end users (the trades people). When the resulting program was rolled out and the maintenance team saw that their ideas and suggestions had been included, they took ownership of it. Before, whenever “flavors of the month” were rolled out, they were introduced as, “this is the program, and this the way it’s going to be done.” And they generally failed.

Industry Consultant, Mexico…

My top tip is to review asset history (at least a year’s worth) to detect major and repetitive failures, through statistical analysis, and using paretos, compare with the PMs to assure you have specific procedures to attack potential failures.

Technical Supervisor, Public Utility, West… 

In the power-generation industry, one of the most valuable assets is the (GSU) generation step-up transformer. The lead-time to replace a failed transformer is very long, and the chance of a failed unit causing a catastrophic fire is high. The electrical-power industry has developed online monitoring systems that monitor partial-discharge (PD) activity on transformer internals and high-voltage (HV) bushings. This monitoring equipment is “cheap insurance” that can detect problems and alarm on transformer or bushing internal issues. That can prevent transformer and bushing failures and keep the generating units operating safely. 

Industry Consultant, International…  

While this may not be a tip or trick, as such, I’ve found that equipment ownership and assigning operator responsibility can pay big dividends and drive reliability-cost improvement when properly applied. I may have mentioned this in previous MT Reader Panel discussions, but one of my major clients established an “Equipment Ownership Program” where operators, sometimes in partnership with a maintenance person, “owned” the equipment. The program was confined to critical equipment elements involving major production units, not just any items. These positions eventually became highly sought after. Maintenance personnel still handled overhauls, supervised lube programs, and dealt with major repair situations, of course. Equipment uptime improved dramatically.

CBM Specialist, Power Generation, South… 

While performing thermal imaging, I use a high-definition, name-brand camera that normally operates in the automatic mode. I, however, like to obtain most images using the manual mode. Here’s my timesaving tip: To quickly obtain the correct span for an image, I fill the viewfinder with the desired image. The camera will automatically select the desired span. Pressing the manual button simply locks in the span that has been acquired by the automatic function of the camera. This will provide an object of interest with a span very close to what is desired. It’s a simple way to adjust the span of the camera and provide a fast, accurate thermal image.

Plant Engineer, Institutional Facilities,  Midwest…  

I recommend using a pocket-sized laser thermometer (that fits in your shirt pocket) because it’s easier to carry (and not forget). Mine has a range of  –22 F to 932 F, which covers most temperatures that our maintenance personnel confront. It also has an AA battery (not the button style). On a related note, you can convert any type of expandable pocket tool into an easy-to-carry expandable ruler. Using a scribe/awl or etching tool, simply mark your distances on the tool when it is fully extended. I’ve picked up many of those types of tools as tradeshow giveaways over the years.

Industry Consultant, Southeast…

What a couple of our clients have recently found helpful is the idea of a line-of-sight through their businesses from top to bottom (strategic direction) and bottom-to-top (performance management). As they plan maintenance, this concept is helping them to think of why they need an asset, what performance it needs to deliver, and how they determine that it’s not performing adequately (through SCADA, field inspection, notification from Operations and/or Engineering). This is allowing them to define what type of maintenance an asset needs, what data they need to collect prior to doing preventive maintenance, what data they need to document while inspecting for the need for corrective maintenance, and, getting all of that configured in their work-management system. 

The line-of-sight aspect focuses the conversation on why: why are you inspecting that asset, why are you doing that every six months, why are you collecting that piece of data. 

The result of one of those conversations was that tracking the physical condition using inspections and a 1-to-5 score wasn’t particularly helpful. What they really needed were notifications from Operations personnel, who observed the asset in the field and were the first to know that it wasn’t performing or able to perform its service function.

Not to worry

Although we couldn’t include every tip or trick our Panelists submitted, we’re not done with them. We’ll be using their additional recommendations and — I hope — some from you non-Panelists, in another way.

Check out below to learn how everyone can participate in “MT’s Tip of the Month” program. MT

Introducing MT’s “Tip of the Month” Program

As a reliability and/or maintenance (R&M) professional, do you have a tip (or many) that could provide value for others working in the field? Is it a quick, proven problem solution, a clever workaround, or a better way to perform a task, evaluate a situation, document an issue, or communicate information? Please tell us about it and why it could help other R&M pros. We’ll be posting these tips online, and select one each month to publish in this space. Anything goes, as long as it’s work related.

Email your tips to Be sure to include your full contact information (name, title, organization, location, phone, and email) in case we need to reach you. That’s the only way we’ll consider posting and/or possibly selecting your submission as a “Tip of the Month.” (If you wish to remain anonymous, we’ll honor your request. We still need your contact info, however.) And, no, you do not have to be a member of the MT Reader Panel to contribute. We look forward to receiving your tips!


2:59 pm
March 8, 2017
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RDI Technologies’ Iris M Lets You See Subtle, Yet Harmful, Machine Motion

Screen Shot 2017-03-08 at 9.05.22 AMRDI Technologies (Knoxville, TN), says “seeing is believing” when it comes to the company’s Iris M powered by Motion Amplification video-processing product and software package. The patented technology measures subtle machinery motion (including deflection, displacement, movement, and vibration) and amplifies that motion to a level that’s visible to the naked eye (see example application video). Every pixel becomes a sensor, creating millions of data points in an instant.

According to RDI, the user simply has to point the camera at an asset, obtain the video data, and push a button to amplify the true motion of the entire field of view. By drawing a box anywhere in the image, he/she can then measure the motion with a time waveform and frequency spectrum.

Editor’s Note: A recently released Stabilization Update software module for the Iris M powered by Motion Amplification package allows users to  stabilize video that contains motion from camera shake due to environments where ground vibration is unavoidable (see video). In addition to automatically stabilizing based on the entire image, this update features an option to draw a Region of Interest (ROI) in the image that the user knows to be stationary. This helps in complicated motion environments.

For more information, CLICK HERE.


6:49 pm
February 28, 2017
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Process Operators and Tools May Bridge the Gap to Predictive Maintenance


Peter Reynolds, contributing analyst for ARC Advisory Group.

Jim Wentzel, dir of Global Reliability at General Mills has been on the conference circuit recently and has been discussing “contextuality” when it comes to manufacturing data in the food industry. In his discussions, Wentzel discusses General Mills “data journey” as a company — their own plants and contract manufacturing plants outside the enterprise — and is pushing for data transparency throughout the entire enterprise eco-system. That means various types of plant and enterprise data, such as plant floor , instrument, machine vibration, supply chain and even other plants mixed together to make efficient decisions.

That means a lot of business units — and external companies per Wentzel— coming together and possible changes in workforce responsibilities. One scenario would be to have process operators provide key insights on equipment health due to a better working knowledge and lifecycle history of a particular asset.

>> View More | Silicon Valley Company Joins the Predictive Maintenance Party

Peter Reynolds, contributing analyst for ARC Advisory Group discusses this scenario with his most recent post, “Predictive Maintenance or Predictive Operations?” Reynolds describes how operations can lean on better tools, processes and how condition-based monitoring goes only so far:

Both Prognostics and Condition-based monitoring are still reactive approaches and have been used widely for decades. Still, many companies struggle with making significant improvements in predicting failures and extending the life of critical assets.

He goes on to write:

Therefore one might come to the conclusion that any predictive maintenance or asset reliability strategy might begin with an overarching operations strategy and weigh heavily on the skills of the process engineer. The process engineer (and not the maintenance and reliability engineer), has the ability to interpret the process data across the spectrum of the process and any assets.

The rub is that operations, maintenance and even IT need to view enterprise via data in one IIoT platform, such as ThingWorx, Element Analytics, or many other offerings that can provide varying analytics to different groups.

>> To read the full post, click here

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7:14 pm
February 22, 2017
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MindShare Design Acquires CMMS Provider WorkStraight

Screen Shot 2017-02-22 at 12.56.44 PMMindShare Design, Inc., (Oakland, CA) has announced the acquisition of WorkStraight (Newport Beach, CA), a growing player in the computerized maintenance management software (CMMS) arena.

Screen Shot 2017-02-22 at 12.45.44 PMWorkStraight’s software solutions are used in a wide range of operations to manage, monitor, and control maintenance operations, resources, field marketing, construction, and more. Its web-based, Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution can be accessed on PCs, smartphones, tablets, and other browser-based devices.

According to the two companies, MindShare Design’s suite of business-acceleration tools, software, and data expertise combined with WorkStraight’s work-order management product represents a critical convergence in the marketing and ultimate delivery of solutions that ensure uptime and maximize return on assets for maintenance and operations managers.

For more information on Mindshare Design, CLICK HERE.

To learn more about WorkStraight’s solutions, CLICK HERE.



7:05 pm
February 16, 2017
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Silicon Valley Company Joins the Predictive Maintenance Party

predictive maintenance platform

Source: Element Analytics

Silicon Valley-backed Element Analytics formally announced their industrial software analytics solution, Element Platform, to the market last month. The San Francisco-based Element Analytics is taking aim at the oil and gas, chemical, utility and mining industries while partnering with OSIsoft and Microsoft’s Partner Network.

The platform and the solution is a good fit for those industries, as those fields tend to rely on proprietary automation and equipment platforms that need optimization. Oil and gas, specifically, moved their strategy from offshore to their current installed base to find profitability and most producers are understanding the need for infrastructure improvement. From the press release, the Element Platform works with OSIsoft’s technology in moving unstructured, operational sensor data from “silos” to a cloud-based analytics platform, where asset models help predict downtime for physical equipment.

Related Content | How to Start a Predictive Maintenance Program

“Industrial operators face no shortage of data, says David Mount, Kleiner Perkins’ Green Growth Fund partner and co-founder of Element Analytics. Mounds of data exist, but getting the data to a ready state is core to making it analyzable, predictive and actionable.”

Predictive maintenance technology has been slow to be adopted due to operational and production conflicts, but recent IIoT solutions live on separate platforms. This allows for control platfom updates, like security patches to occur, while not interrupting asset management programs.

The Element platform also uses Microsoft Azure and Cortana Intelligence for the cloud-based analytics.

For more information, visit

1601Iot_logoFor more IIoT coverage in maintenance and operations, click here!