Archive | Maintenance


5:44 pm
June 23, 2017
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Temperature Transmitters

An expanded line of ProSense temperature sensors includes the XTP transmitter probes. The line combines an RTD sensing element and transmitter electronics in a single stainless-steel temperature transmitter probe. Available in three preconfigured temperature-measuring ranges, the probes are ready to use out of the box. Probe lengths include 30, 50, 100, or 150 mm and two male NPT thread sizes that allow direct mounting, eliminating the need for a separate probe mounting or adapter fittings.
Cumming, GA


4:59 pm
June 22, 2017
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Diesel Oils

1703mtprod10pThe company’s Signature series Max-Duty and Heavy-Duty synthetic diesel oils exceed the API CK-4 requirement in areas including improved wear protection,, stronger oxidation stability, better shear stability, increased resistance to aeration, reduced emissions, and improved fuel economy. Max-Duty is said to provide exceptional cold-temperature performance and is available in 5W-30, 0W-40, 5-W40, and 15W-40 viscosities. The Heavy-Duty product is available in 10W-30, 5W-40, and 15W-40.
Amsoil Inc.
Superior, WI


6:40 pm
June 16, 2017
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Uptime: Face the Giant

bobmugnewBy Bob Williamson, Contributing Editor

We face challenging situations every day. In many cases, dealing with short-term challenges is a maintenance organization’s normal way of life. The problem is our long-term challenges, the ones at our doorstep, or looming just over the horizon that we often put off tackling. They’re “giants” bearing down on us.

Not too long ago, I spoke to nearly 90 maintenance professionals at an Oklahoma Predictive Maintenance User’s Group (OPMUG) event. Maintenance managers, supervisors, technicians, mechanics, planners, and engineers, they came from a wide variety of industries. Regardless of their particular role or business, though, they were all actively pursuing better maintenance practices.

I asked the attendees to take a few minutes and think about the top three challenges for maintenance that they expected to see in the next three, to five, to 10 years, then record them on note cards. Let’s consider what they wrote and how their thinking mirrors yours. Based on my analysis, the 117 challenges they came up with fit in the following nine major categories (some fit in more than one):

• Skills Gaps (35)
• Culture of Reliability (35)
• Training & Qualification (27)
• Top Management (26)
• New Technology (11)
• At-Risk Assets (10)
• Parts (10)
• Knowledge Transfer (8)
• Life-Cycle Asset Management (5)

It’s about ‘people’ on the front line

When we look for a common theme among the OPMUG responses, it’s not too surprising to see that it’s “people,” i.e., the biggest variable in improving equipment maintenance, performance, and reliability. Of the nine major categories above, three of them—Skills Gaps, Training & Qualification, and Knowledge Transfer (with a combined total of 70 responses)—point to challenges on the front line of maintenance.

Many responses alluded to difficulties in finding qualified technicians and shortages of skilled trades people. A few referenced the Millennial Generation’s communication skills, work habits, and expectations. Several addressed the lack of competencies for and interests in industrial maintenance careers.

Capturing the knowledge of workers nearing retirement appeared to be a sizeable challenge for many respondents. They noted that their organizations stood the chance of losing all skills and knowledge gained from years of experience. Furthermore, there was concern that even if they could capture crucial knowledge, without a capable replacement or the mechanism to train new employees, that knowledge would be lost.

It’s about ‘people’ in top management

A second group of categories—Top Management, Culture of Reliability, and Life-Cycle Asset Management (with a combined total of 66 responses)—points to need for leadership to improve equipment maintenance, performance, and reliability. Whether it’s the pursuit of best practices, asset-management processes, or culture change, top management sets the tone and defines the culture by purposeful actions, or,       by default, through inaction.

Some responses tied the challenge of Top Management to struggles with hiring and training priorities, i.e, management’s inability to grasp the severity of skills gaps, shortages, and knowledge transfer. Several mentioned decisions to cut maintenance costs and staff, reductions in time for preventive maintenance, and misinterpretation of the reliability requirements of new equipment.

Others referred to “silo” organizations and decision making that hindered maintenance and hurt the reliability of equipment and processes. These siloed objectives and decisions lead to an organization’s inability to focus on common goals for overall business improvement.

Regarding Culture of Reliability ranking right up there with Skills Gaps as a top challenge: Leading a culture of reliability means that the line of sight between reliability best practices and the goals of the business are understood. Frequently, that line of sight is not so apparent with reliability best practices appearing as a flavor of the month.

Facing our giant

Most equipment challenges lend themselves to reliable and sustainable countermeasures, or corrective actions. The giant we face isn’t so easily addressed: human variation, inconsistency, behaviors, moods, and habits present an ever-changing reliability improvement challenge.

Our giant can be lurking among front-line crews or behind decisions and actions made by top-, mid-level and/or front-line managers. Facing it with slingshots and stones may be our only option, that is, if slingshots and stones represent maintenance fundamentals, available tools, and accepting the reality of the situation.

We can no longer manage equipment performance and reliability the way we always have. There aren’t enough talented people, or isn’t enough time or money to continue that journey.

Bottom line, the skills gaps we see today, coupled with training and knowledge-transfer problems, are primarily caused by the fact that top management and reliability and maintenance professionals still aren’t “sitting at the same table” and focusing on common business goals. That’s sad.

Looking to the future, facing our giant will require fewer hands-on people, robust condition monitoring, building reliability into critical at-risk equipment, and, most of all, getting top-level management to believe in reliability best practices. MT

Bob Williamson, CMRP, CPMM, and member of the Institute of Asset Management, is in his fourth decade of focusing on the “people side” of world-class maintenance and reliability in plants and facilities across North America. Contact him at


6:17 pm
June 16, 2017
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Help Your Air Compressors Beat the Heat

Atlas Copco USA - Spring Cleaning

Special summertime attention to several maintenance items can help keep compressed air systems up and running efficiently despite increased heat and humidity.

Summertime: The word conjures up images of relaxing on a beach with peaceful waves lapping at the shore. Most people equate summer with some degree of fun in the sun. For facility mangers, though, it can be a stressful time, given the unscheduled “vacations” that air compressors like to take during summer months and an associated rise in maintenance and energy costs.

With often-extreme temperatures and substantial increases in humidity, summertime presents textbook conditions for unexpected compressor shutdowns. Failure of this equipment can result in high repair costs and, more important, a disruption in production schedules that can lead to more costs and, ultimately, less revenue.

What can your operations do to battle the effect of summer on these systems? Beth Morgan of Atlas Copco Compressors (, Rock Hill, SC) points to the following items that deserve special attention in terms of summer maintenance.

—Jane Alexander, Managing Editor

Sufficient and temperate airflow is crucial to compressor performance. During the sweltering months of summer, confirm there is nothing prohibiting air from flowing freely around the unit and that the recommended ambient temperature is maintained. Repair loose foam or panels and remove any obstructions in or around the unit.

A compressor’s oil isn’t protected from the consequences of hot weather. Sweltering heat can decrease oil life expectancy, leading to damaging repercussions on the unit’s element. Using the correct oil (replaced at proper intervals, of course), and keeping oil filters clean will help ensure that your compressors run cool and consume less energy.

Inspect the quality of compressor coolers. Clogged or blocked coolers can cause an air compressor to overheat. Be sure to examine the cooling fan for dust and residue that can prevent it from working properly. A neglected cooler may become blocked, requiring removal for a deeper cleaning.

Summer’s humidity can lead to greater levels of condensate from a compressor than what you would see in cooler months. Make sure drains are working properly and capable of handling the extra water. Confirm that the condensate is filtered properly to prevent oil from being released into the drain.

When air filters become dirty, airflow is inhibited. If that happens, the compressor must compensate for the drops in pressure, which leads to higher running temperatures. Oil filters are another matter. Oil quality deteriorates at higher temperatures, leaving behind greater deposits in the filter. Be sure to replace your units’ air and oil filters at the beginning of summer. Your compressor systems will run cooler, and use less energy with clean filters. MT

Beth Morgan is a manager with the Compressor Technique Service (CTS) division of Atlas Copco Compressors LLC, Rock Hill, SC. For more information, visit


8:21 pm
June 15, 2017
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Counterfeit Parts: Dangerous and Costly

Is your site putting personnel safety at risk and fueling downtime with the repair parts it buys? 

Bearings abstract composition

By Wally Wilson, CMRP, CPIM, Life Cycle Engineering (LCE)

Counterfeits show up in all areas of our daily lives, from name-brand clothing and accessories to electrical components and repair parts for industrial maintenance. According to the United States Chamber of Commerce (, Washington), counterfeit goods cost the American economy more than $400 billion annually. While items such as fake Rolex watches and fashion knock-offs may not pose a danger to the user, they’ll typically lack the level of performance genuine products would provide. Counterfeit maintenance, repair, and operational (MRO) spare parts, however, can create a serious hazard for equipment systems and facilities, and, most important, the personnel that work with and around them.

The bad news is your operations could be buying and using counterfeit parts and not know it. Counterfeits (or fakes) can look so much like original parts in their packaging, graphics, and engraved identification markings, that it’s nearly impossible to distinguish them from the real thing. The increasing flow of fake, after-market bearings from China and other Asian countries is a good example of this dangerous supply-chain situation. These items continue to create enormous headaches for major bearing manufacturers such as SKF, NSK, and Timken, among others. Many imported counterfeit bearings even come with phony certificates proclaiming that the items were manufactured in the USA and meet specified standards for American-made products.

The main source for counterfeit parts is the Internet, including websites such as eBay and Amazon. This is the first stop for many maintenance planners, given the difficulties in finding what may be categorized as “obsolete” parts for older equipment. Not buying parts on the Internet isn’t the solution, though. Fakes have also infiltrated the supply chain of some of the most trusted distributors.

Alas, maintenance and procurement managers often view the counterfeiting threat as a minor concern. When a bearing fails in a pump or small motor, there’s usually no safety risk, and the collateral damage can be minimal. When it comes to equipment failures in larger components, such as compressors, large-drive motors, and other major process equipment, counterfeits reflect a definite risk of injury to personnel, including operators and maintenance technicians. Sadly, increasing quantities of large-sized counterfeit bearings are said to be showing up on equipment in a wide range of today’s industrial operations.

Distinguishing ‘real’ from fake

The drive to reduce maintenance cost and equipment downtime will sometimes cause buyers who are sourcing parts for equipment repairs to engage suppliers that sell these items at low prices. The cost-reduction pressure has opened the door for the entry of substandard parts into the MRO supply chain and, ultimately, too many plant storerooms. The result is a seemingly neverending, vicious cycle. Installed on equipment, the counterfeits deliver shorter-than-expected service life, emergency calls to address equipment failures increase, and the culture of a maintenance department becomes (or remains) reactive.

In most cases, original replacement parts, if they are installed correctly and maintained properly, will perform longer and better than counterfeits. Reliability engineers and maintenance planners should be tracking the service life of all installed components and parts. Take, for example, a motor bearing with an expected service life of 60 months that’s only lasting 30 months or less. The equipment’s maintenance history can be a clue that you’re using substandard parts.

Other aspects to track or monitor in determining if counterfeits are being used include MTBR (mean time between repair) or MTBF (mean time between failure). Many organizations are implementing RCM (reliability-centered maintenance) programs to manage their production equipment. The problem, in many cases, is that they’re not using the data from these analyses to create valid strategies to address the root cause of their equipment failures, which might be associated with counterfeits.

Risk/Reward 101: Gambling on unknown suppliers can be a dangerous, often very costly game. Certifying a primary supplier provides the most effective preventive measures for ensuring that spare parts are genuine and will perform as expected.

Risk/Reward 101: Gambling on unknown suppliers can be a dangerous, often very costly game. Certifying a primary supplier provides the most effective preventive measures for ensuring that spare parts are genuine and will perform as expected.

The results of a root-cause analysis could also be an indicator that additional training is required. Alignment, lubrication, and preventive monitoring are areas that should have standard procedures to ensure the equipment is installed, operated, monitored, and maintained the same way by all of the maintenance technicians, which is crucial in combating counterfeits.

Monitoring the TCO (total cost of ownership) of equipment is also helpful. It can provide a business-case justification for upgrading to new technology or modifying current equipment to eliminate the need to embark on a treasure hunt for obsolete parts every time the need arises.

Note: In the case of bearings, whenever there’s an indication that a failed component is a counterfeit, legitimate suppliers can conduct an analysis to determine the cause of the failure and validate the part as original or counterfeit.

Reducing counterfeit risks

Don’t be complacent. If you understand the health of your equipment and you have trusted/certified suppliers, the risk of getting counterfeit parts is greatly reduced. Plant personnel, however, still must remain vigilant. Consider purchasers at a major aircraft manufacturer who thought they were buying name-brand ball bearings produced by a trusted American manufacturer, only to learn differently. The sub-standard imported products, i.e., fakes, were discovered during a positive material identification (PMI) inspection during the storeroom receiving process and a potential catastrophe was avoided.

The earlier in the MRO supply chain that counterfeit parts can be identified, the lower the risk the parts will get into your storeroom and production equipment.

Certifying a primary supplier for needed spare parts provides the most effective preventive measures for assuring that procured parts are genuine and will perform as expected. Keep in mind that we make suppliers reactive when we don’t properly maintain equipment.

In summary

When you understand the health of your equipment, it is much easier to implement a proactive maintenance program that reduces reliance on Internet and excessive expedited purchases. Being able to plan and schedule equipment downtime for repairs allows your suppliers to be true partners in your MRO supply chain. We expect our trusted suppliers to solve our problems and get parts to us quickly. If, for some reason, they can’t, sites may put their operations at risk by gambling on unknown sources. In the end, that can be a dangerous, very costly game.

It’s important for maintenance departments to never let their guards down.

Stay alert. Among other things, monitor equipment-repair histories and key performance indicators. Check your spare-parts inventory to make sure you don’t already have counterfeits in your storeroom, and that your procurement processes aren’t opening the door to new ones. Finally, always remember this: Deals that seem too good to be true can come back to haunt you. MT

Wally Wilson is a senior subject-matter expert in materials management and work management, planning, and scheduling with Life Cycle Engineering (, Charleston, SC. He can be contacted at



7:45 pm
June 15, 2017
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Musings on Maintenance And Mobility

klausblacheBy Dr. Klaus M. Blache, Univ. of Tennessee, Reliability & Maintainability Center

What we do and how we do it have changed dramatically with regard to maintenance and its impact on reliability. Gone are the days when you could easily repair most things on your car and perform regular maintenance. Today, it’s all about computer sensors, algorithms, and data historians. As a result, in most cases, we take for granted that our transportation modes are adequately maintained and reliable. Let’s look at some snippets of what’s going in areas of reliability and maintenance (R&M) on cars, trains, planes, and ships.

Cars: Tesla’s plant in Fremont, CA (, Palo Alto) is now the most advanced and talked about automotive factory in the world. The site was the former home of New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. (NUMMI), a joint venture of General Motors and Toyota (1984 to 2010). Based on my scan of recent Tesla job postings, maintenance technicians in Powertrain are expected to perform at a Journeyman Level on all machines in the assigned area and be responsible for preventive maintenance, troubleshooting/repair, clean lines, and escalation of assigned equipment. Individuals in these roles must be willing to tackle whatever maintenance challenge arises and to assist and learn from others in their areas of expertise. A sampling of the posted jobs seems to highlight the company’s interest in worker flexibility and high levels of employee engagement. This doesn’t mean maintenance technicians are expected to have all the answers regarding plant culture. Installing and sustaining an autonomous workforce may be more difficult than building autonomous vehicles.

Advances in technologies, approaches, and methods are helping to keep our various modes of transportation moving, as well as ensuring that they are reliable and safe.

Advances in technologies, approaches, and methods are helping to keep our various modes of transportation moving, as well as ensuring that they are reliable and safe.

Trains: Railways are considering using drones to help with security, initial track inspections, and predictive maintenance. Some already leverage them for safe, economical checking of switch-point heating systems. Other advanced-technology approaches include the use of: wheel-temperature detectors (infrared) to check brakes, wheel-profile monitors (lasers and optics) to assess wheel wear, and acoustic-detector systems (acoustic signatures) to identify wheel-bearing failure. Deutsche Bahn (DB) and Siemens are piloting predictive analytics to avoid failures and make vehicle maintenance recommendations. All diagnostic data is ultimately made available to maintenance personnel.

Planes: The 472 million-cubic-sq.-ft. Boeing aircraft plant in Everett, WA, is the largest building in the world by volume. A tour guide told me maintenance costs on new 787 Dreamliners produced there are 30% lower than for earlier models. These planes are also expected to have a 30-yr. life (versus 20 for metal planes). Built mostly from carbon/polymer resin (lighter than aluminum, tougher than steel) Dreamliners consume 20% less fuel than earlier Boeing planes. Maintenance on these technological marvels also requires expertise in repairing composite structures.

Ships: On the Hawaiian cruise ship “Pride of America,” I discussed maintenance and operations with the vessel’s chief engineer. Manned by a 927-member crew, this 81,000-ton, 921-ft., ship runs with 25-MW propulsion power and 50-MW auxiliary power. (Its maximum speed of 27.6 mph is fast enough to water ski). Typical maintenance activities include corrosion repair; cleaning drains, air ducts, and chiller and boiler tubes; venting engine fumes; and conducting on-board monitoring. The 54-person engineering staff is “hands on” and also does maintenance. Big maintenance is performed in port. Conditioned-based maintenance is often outsourced.  Spare parts can be a particular challenge, since the ship is usually moving from place to place.

Much goes into keeping cars, trains, planes, and ships moving. Next time you travel by any of these modes of transportation, think about what’s being done to ensure your reliable and safe journey. MT

Based in Knoxville, Klaus M. Blache is director of the Reliability & Maintainability Center at the Univ. of Tennessee, and a research professor in the College of Engineering. Contact him at


2:07 am
June 1, 2017
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ITT Pro Services i-ALERT Ai Platform Makes Any Machine Smart

Screen Shot 2017-05-31 at 8.56.19 PMITT PRO Services (Seneca Falls, NY) has announced the launch of the i-ALERT Ai  (asset intelligence) platform. Leveraging the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), this web interface allows users to manage and monitor all of their i-ALERT2-enabled rotating equipment and sensors in one place, from anywhere in the world.

How It Works
According to ITT, the Ai platform is the latest service to be introduced since the May 2015 launch of the company’s i-ALERT2 Bluetooth Smart-enabled machine health monitor.

Available on a subscription basis, the i-ALERT Ai platform requires no downloading of software or dedicated hardware to run. With it, users can view trend data, machine notes, technical data, and vibration spectrum data collected by way of the i-ALERT2 application (app), all visualized in a simple timeline.

The new offering complements the i-ALERT2 route customization feature (introduced in 2016) that is said to cut collection of machine performance data by as much as 50%. After setting up designated routes with the i-ALERT2 mobile app, technicians are automatically guided to various assets and advised on the types of data to collect. Once a route is completed, the app automatically generates a report and emails it to the user.

Capabilities, Benefits
The i-ALERT Ai platform incorporates a number of noteworthy features that provide a variety capabilities and benefits, including, among others:

  • Asset Intelligence: Users can monitor the health of any rotating machine, i.e., pumps, motors, fans, mixers, gearboxes, and more. The technology tracks 3-axis vibration, temperature, kurtosis, and machine run-time. Data is logged every hour or on an alarm event.
  • Ease of Use: The free mobile app and simple interface put machine monitoring capabilities in the hands of any user.
  • Time Saving:: The app can quickly scan multiple machines at once and cover more equipment with fewer resources, freeing time for analysis and troubleshooting.
  • User Safety: A Bluetooth Smart wireless connection allows monitoring from safe distances.
  • Early Detection: Users can view real-time and historical data, diagnostic information and machine records. This provides them with the data necessary to make informed decisions.
  • Problem Solving: The platform makes advanced vibration diagnostic tools available to anyone who can use a smartphone or tablet.

For more information, including to view several short videos about using the i-ALERT Ai platform, CLICK HERE.


1:57 pm
May 26, 2017
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U.S. Tsubaki Boosts Capabilities with Acquisition of Canada’s Dia-Saw

Screen Shot 2017-05-26 at 8.49.49 AMU.S. Tsubaki Power Transmission (Wheeling, IL) has announced that Tsubaki of Canada Ltd. (Mississauga, ON) has acquired Dia-Saw Manufacturing Ltd. of Maple Ridge, BC. Dia-Saw started as a manufacturer of shake and shingle mill equipment and has since evolved into a leading manufacturer of sprockets and related drive components.

According to Tsubaki, this strategic acquisition will enhance support for all of its subsidiaries in North and South America by providing additional capabilities in production, alterations, warehousing, and more. The Dia-Saw deal also allows Tsubaki to further expand its product portfolio and offer a wider variety of solutions for its customers. The increased capabilities and products associated with this acquisition will significantly enhance

To learn more about Dia-Saw, CLICK HERE.

To learn more about U.S. Tsubaki Power Transmission’s comprehensive product offering, CLICK HERE.