Archive | Management


4:05 pm
July 7, 2016
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Change Your Game to Proactive

Basketball arena

Expanding the definition of reliability to include the human element can transform an organization’s culture and boost overall business performance.

By Jeff R. Dudley, HSB Solomon Associates LLC

Question: What’s a common denominator among the Beatles, Elvis Presley, Led Zeppelin, Jack Nicklaus, Michael Jordan, Wayne Gretzky, Steve Jobs, and Bill Gates?

Answer: The ability to change the game in their respective vocations or pursuits.

Game changers are entities that transform existing situations or activities in significant ways. They develop ideas or means of performing that completely alter the way a situation, profession, or even an industry develops. Each of aforementioned groups or individuals had a profound impact on their profession. At times, they appeared iconic, having a significant impact on the culture around them. Looking at them, you would label them as leaders, innovators, and proactive in their approaches.

When businesses exhibit these characteristics, they are thought to have great leadership and considered to be forward thinking or proactive. They’re also typically highly successful in their respective sectors.

Screen Shot 2016-07-07 at 10.29.45 AM

Culture continuum

All businesses develop a culture that defines them. The more leadership-focused an organization is, the more proactive it becomes. Figure 1 illustrates a culture continuum moving from highly reactive to highly proactive, highly manager-led to highly leader-led, and low reliability to high reliability. As an organization’s culture moves more to the right side of the chart, the opportunity for achieving game-changing performance increases. That’s good news. The bad news is that it’s still uncommon to find organizations moving toward and performing on the far right.

Unlike individual game changers, countless organizations that hope to achieve game-changing performance often lack the culture to sustain the dedication and commitment to excellence that will keep that performance going. Instead, they languish in a reactive, manager-led state. The biggest obstacle to their success is that it is simply easier to be complacent than to constantly strive for improvement.

Staying reactive leads to inevitable outcomes

By necessity, reactive organizations have to be manager-led—everybody has to be told what to do. Since seeking permission is standard operating procedure, things happen much slower. With risk-taking held in check, very little innovation occurs. As a result, such organizations become stuck in “this is how it has always been done” mode.

Following the same old path and holding risk in check, however, has another downside: Reactive work, coupled with lack of planning, leads to greater risk to employees and the business itself. Let’s examine some data that support this pattern.

The Solomon Associates, Dallas, “International Study of Plant Reliability and Maintenance Effectiveness” (RAM) study shows that third- and fourth-quartile (Q3 and Q4) performers are more reactive than first- and second-quartile (Q1 and Q2) performers. (All Solomon studies break results into performance quartiles with Q1 being the best and Q4 the worst.)

This research also shows that the majority of work done by companies with reactive cultures is significantly less planned and scheduled. Moreover, there’s an elevated potential for high-level emergency work that must to be completed. All of these factors potentially put employees at a higher risk. According to the compiled data, reactive organizations do approximately twice as much work as their proactive counterparts.

So how does the reactive culture put businesses at risk? Reactive cultures incur significantly more asset downtime and, as a result, are not capable of producing as much product as they could, therefore becoming less profitable. Reactive cultures are also less productive, from all aspects of running a business. They experience higher operating costs, compared with proactive cultures, and generally spend less time operating their assets and more time fixing them.

Another issue to consider has to do with the frequency and severity of environmental incidents. Solomon’s data indicate such incidents occur more frequently in a reactive culture and become more noteworthy than with proactive cultures. Obviously, these types of issues can have a negative impact on business sustainability.

In any organization, profitability is driven by asset availability and the cost to produce that availability, assuming a saleable product with sufficient standard margin. Reactive cultures typically have a strong cost focus, allowing cost to drive reliability. This type of environment creates a short-term focus on profitability and often results in de-capitalized assets and unsustainable profitability.

Performance improvements

As a culture moves to a proactive mindset, the organization becomes more resilient and possesses the capacity to turn the previously described negatives into positives—something we refer to as “LeadeReliablity.” This is where game-changing performance occurs.

As proactive organizations evolve, they become more leader-led. Administrative leaders trust that employees have been trained, know what to do in most situations, and will do it well. They use their leadership skills to teach others how to lead in their area of expertise, developing leadership traits in all employees. As more personnel apply their skills and ideas, innovation and improvement flourish. As the pattern continues, the organization transforms itself. Everyone begins to act like a leader, and performance, as a whole, improves dramatically.

Risk also is minimized because of the proactive nature. The opposite of what was previously discussed is true: Fewer employees are involved in every task and overtime is typically held to a minimum. Tasks are planned, scheduled, and completed on time, with little emergency work. Employee risk is minimized because most work and potential hazards are thought out ahead of time. These organizations typically have stellar safety results and performance.

Business risks are minimized as well because these organizations are reliable suppliers to their customers—and their customers know they can depend on them. As a result, these organizations are the ones other customers turn to when reactive organizations cannot meet their commitments. Proactive organizations create customer loyalty.

Proactive cultures focus on reliability first and allow cost to create the desired reliability, which sometimes means that, in the short-term, they spend more in a targeted fashion to address a specific issue. The outcome of this mindset is high reliability at the optimum cost to achieve it.

Game changing

While proactive cultures that continue on their reliability journey become game changers in all areas, the change in reliable performance is especially noteworthy. These organizations stand out because they have patiently and bravely followed a path that has made them significantly different from others. They excel in the following three areas:

Culture: Organizations that excel in the area of culture focus tirelessly on minimizing unplanned events, identifying the abnormal, and not allowing the abnormal to become normal. They plan, schedule, commit to, and complete tasks as planned and scheduled. They do not accept the status quo and know they can continuously improve.

Individuals in these types of organizations think of themselves as a “leaders” who can make a difference in what they do. By constantly focusing on “what could go wrong,” they don’t allow unplanned events to be disruptive. If and when problems do arise, they have already decided what to do about them. They believe they can learn from everything and take every opportunity to teach what they have learned. They are well trained and follow procedures, yet treat each procedure as a living document that can be improved. They have authority and freedom to act to address any situation. They use experts inside and outside the organization to reach solutions. Others desire to be a part of such organizations.

Reliability: Organizations that excel in this area consider reliability in broader terms than those with an asset focus. Their definition of reliability also deals with how personnel conduct their business and meet their commitments. They realize that, without reliable personnel, their assets don’t stand a chance. Because their focus is on a long-term commitment to reliable assets, however, such organizations deliver impressive results. Q1 performers consistently deliver more than 97% mechanical availability. More than 75% of their downtime is due to planned turnarounds.

Spending on Reliability and Maintenance: Cost control is not the driver for organizations that excel in this area. During their journeys, spending is optimized to deliver desired asset reliability. The culture has a positive impact on the amount of spending that occurs. A focus on proactive discovery, addressing abnormal conditions, planning, scheduling, and efficient completion of the work drives costs to the optimum level. As the culture continues to develop in such organizations, spending is driven down. Note that game changers are not the lowest-spending organizations. In fact, our research has shown that the lowest-spending operations typically have poor reliability and are normally Q3 performers).

Scoring big

If you want your organization to be the Michael Jordan of its industry, you must focus on reliability. Your definition of reliability will put employee-behavior at the forefront. Reliable human behavior creates reliable asset operation.

During the journey, you will focus on growing a reliable culture and target your spending. You understand you are not under any less constraint than your competition. But, because you are constantly becoming more reliable, you target your spending to eliminate future spending. As a result, you are constantly becoming more profitable than if you had not started this journey. You do not make promises to customers, employees, and stakeholders that you cannot keep.

As a result, you and your organization become a game changer in the area of reliably running your business and create customer loyalty, employee engagement, and sustainable profitability. MT

Jeff Dudley is a senior consultant with Dallas-based HSB Solomon Associates LLC ( He has spent more than 30 years in the reliability and maintenance arena. Contact him at

learnmore2Choose Reliability or Cost Control

Set Your Mind for Complete Reliability

Seven Steps to Culture Change

Match Attitude, Structure, to Change Culture


4:00 pm
July 6, 2016
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Expect Disaster, Plan for Recovery


Not having a disaster-recovery plan in place is like being up a flooded roadway without a paddle, or worse.

By Jane Alexander, Managing Editor

Floods, tornados, lightning, hurricanes, earthquakes, fires, explosions: Is any disaster really “expected?” Isn’t an element of surprise integral to the definition of a disaster? The answer is not a simple yes or no.

Any disaster, natural or man-made, probably affords the opportunity to make the most crucial decisions of your career. How you react to an overwhelming crisis may determine your professional future.

Being caught unprepared is not inevitable. According to Pat Beisert, president of Irving, TX-based Shermco Industries U.S., (, plant personnel can identify potentially catastrophic situations before they occur and develop mitigation approaches to reduce their impact on the site’s operations.

While no disaster is really ‘expected,’ personnel can identify potentially catastrophic situations before they occur and develop mitigation strategies to reduce their impact on site operations.

While no disaster is really ‘expected,’ personnel can identify potentially catastrophic situations before they occur and develop mitigation strategies to reduce their impact on site operations.

In advance

Disaster preparedness is typically defined as those actions required to ensure the effective coordination of efforts during an event. “Most people never think about recovery until it is too late,” stated Beisert. “To create a business case for a solid disaster-preparedness plan, there has to be a corporate culture that advocates and supports the creation of policies and plans that are based on the worst-case threats to business.”

He points to several must-do items when putting together a disaster strategy. The first is to establish a planning committee with the responsibility, authority, and budget required to minimize production disruptions and assure personnel safety. Committee members should include the plant manager, human-resources manager, and representatives from other departments, including safety, operations, purchasing, accounting, and electrical and mechanical maintenance. The committee should establish key activities in these areas:

  • Communications before, during, and after events
  • Training of management and personnel
  • Disaster drills for the facility and community services
  • Coordination with insurance providers
  • Coordination with state and federal agencies
  • Organization charts for the disaster teams
  • Hazard assessment
  • Safety assessment
  • Signage
  • Documentation and corrective actions.

“Electrical-system and equipment-recovery processes,” Beisert explained, “can be planned well in advance of any event to ensure a safe and reliable re-start commissioning, as well as future operational reliability.”

The key is to carefully document electrical equipment and circuits early on—prior to removal—to ensure they are reinstalled properly.” At a minimum, the documentation process should include the following:

Each piece of equipment should be tagged with an item number that corresponds to an equipment-tracking form and saved with photos to a local database.

All control and power wires should be marked and match an accurate diagram of the electrical system. All control wires should be labeled with wire numbers and the power wires with phasing tape. This will ensure the wiring will be connected as it was originally found.

Each piece of equipment should have at least one digital photo.

If equipment leaves the site for repair, it should carry equipment-shipping documents that correspond with item tag information. Equipment that comes back to the site should carry information on date shipped, date returned, date installed/to be installed, and the date quality assurance/quality control (QA/QC) was performed.

Each piece of equipment must be tagged and the tag filled out with all pertinent information for the electrical systems such as equipment-sequence number, plant identification number, plant description, date, power center, and room number.

To make the best disaster planning and recovery decisions, Beisert encourages plant personnel to use industry standards and guidelines for equipment assessment and electrical testing and analysis from sources such as NEMA ( and NETA ( The potential to recondition electrical equipment will vary with the nature of the electrical function, the degree of flooding, equipment age, and the length of time the equipment was exposed to water. Documentation should include condition-monitoring data and other previous performance history and characteristics of the equipment. Such data can help establish priorities for the realistic recovery or replacement of an asset.

“Age alone,” said Beisert, “should not be a consideration for replacement of electrical equipment, as much can be upgraded utilizing new components and other life-extension options during the remanufacturing process. If there is still concern regarding long-term reliability, remanufactured products can allow you to restore service until a new replacement can be found.”

Many of today’s facilities remain unprepared for a variety of natural and man-made disasters that could shut down operations.

Many of today’s facilities remain unprepared for a variety of natural and man-made disasters that could shut down operations.

After the fact

So what should you do if a damaging flood strikes—and your plant had not prepared for the possibility? Beisert laid out details of a six-step restoration process that Shermco follows to help plants achieve a safe, quick return to normal status at the lowest total cost after a disaster is over.

Step 1: Base camp/assessment. Often, even basic office space and personnel conveniences are not available after a major event. The disaster team first responders should first establish temporary facilities that include shelter, emergency-power systems and supply, safety/first-aid facility, and communications equipment. This forms the “base camp” for the recovery. Adequate parking and material-lay-down areas are critical, as much of the site’s equipment will need to be removed and temporarily stored before restoration.

A full assessment of the situation, including damage survey and status of records such as control- and power-systems drawings, must be done. Also critical is establishing a detailed logistics plan for an effective equipment supply chain, staffing, temporary housing, catering, and transportation.

Step 2: Data acquisition/control. Careful documentation, including one-line drawings should be developed, based on current electrical code as the core of the plan to return the facility to service. All affected equipment, including wiring and bus systems, should be inventoried and evaluated for replacement or repair. This will also be necessary for insurance claims and to complete operations-procurement planning and execution. Full engineering and safety plans should also be completed at this point, including coordination-study reports based on the new design.

Step 3: On-site clean-up/repair. All damaged components, identified in the previous steps, will be removed and either cleaned, remanufactured, or replaced, as required. All wiring and bus bars will be cleaned, dried, or replaced. New engineering drawings will be completed before installing equipment to integrate new or updated components and to assure that everything complies with code. Any motors, transformers, or switchgear that cannot be properly serviced on site should be sent to a certified repair facility with carefully scheduled return after repair.

Step 4: Installation/testing. Repaired and replacement equipment and power-distribution-system design upgrades should be installed by certified technicians under engineering supervision by the restoration team or OEM support engineers, if required. Base-line reliability and acceptance testing of equipment and wiring systems, including grounding, should be completed before connecting to the main substation, if possible, to assure proper installation and performance of the various components and machinery. This is also the time to verify any additional safety-related engineering studies, including arc-flash and shock hazards.

Step 5: Startup/commissioning. Working closely with production and operations personnel and following OEM and industry standards, the electrical and mechanical assets should be carefully brought back on line and commissioned to assure proper design and operation. Once normal operation is restored, the restoration-services team returns control to the normal operations management and staff.

Step 6: Follow-up consulting/maintenance. Once the plant is up and running again, it’s time to set up the site’s plan for any future disasters, as well as establish a strong maintenance program based on the newly tested and commissioned equipment. As the facility, in essence, has been handed a clean slate with new or equivalent equipment, this is the best time to improve long-term reliability and develop engineering and technician support for future maintenance or expansion projects.

What would you do if a flood was to strike or a water main were to break and your site had not planned for the ensuing damages and business interruption?

What would you do if a flood was to strike or a water main were to break and your site had not planned for the ensuing damages and business interruption?

Lessons learned

As Beisert put it, the take-away here is fairly obvious. “Devoting time and committing budgets to prepare a detailed disaster plan, identify and establish a recovery team, and then take proactive steps when an event can be predicted, offers the fastest, most cost-effective way to get back to business. Maintaining equipment records and electrical drawings, as well as updating to current industry standards and codes, will also pay back in recovery time, as less re-design will be required during the process.”

Unfortunately, even today, large numbers of operations find themselves without a recovery plan when disasters occur. Beisert’s bottom-line advice: “Plan, predict, and invest in reliability. While they’re all good moves on their own, they can be critical to a plant when the unexpected happens.” MT

Shermco Industries Inc., Irving, TX, offers a full line of electrical maintenance, testing, and repair services, including disaster-recovery support. For more information, visit


3:31 pm
July 6, 2016
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Do Employees Make Your Network Vulnerable?

Employees, most of the time innocently, can be the weakest part of a company cyber-security plan. Education is the key to strengthening that plan.

By Dennis Egen, Engine Room

Some of the largest and most damaging security breaches in history occurred in 2015. According to a May 2015 Ponemon Institute, Traverse City, MI, study, commissioned by IBM, the average total cost of a single corporate data breach was $3.79 million, an increase of 23% from 2013.

The breaches that received the most attention in recent years were those affecting millions, sometimes tens of millions, of consumers and their personal information: Ebay, , Target, Anthem, Premera Blue Cross, and the Federal Office of Personnel Management, to name a few.

But the manufacturing environment isn’t immune. In 2013, Symantec, a global cyber-security company, reported that manufacturing was the most targeted sector for cyber attacks, accounting for 24% of all targeted attacks. Theft of personal data isn’t the objective of the cyber attacks on manufacturers. Instead, the main security concerns in the manufacturing environment are intellectual property theft, data alteration, and outside interference in manufacturing processes.

Despite these threats, American manufacturers have not taken the most basic steps to secure their data from the single biggest threat to information security—their own employees.

It has been estimated that 60% of data compromises are caused by employees or insiders (freelancers, contractors, consultants). The vast majority of these breaches are unintentional.

Rogue employees

So what should be done to address this internal threat? First, recognize that, while most employee-caused data breaches are due to negligence or lack of proper data-security education, the potential actions of disgruntled employees must also be considered. Rogue employees, especially members of the IT team with access to network, data center, and administrative accounts, can severely compromise a manufacturer’s important data. Corporate vigilance can go a long way toward curbing this kind of activity. Notice telltale changes in employee behavior:

  • Is a usually reliable employee’s performance dropping?
  • Is an employee acting differently with colleagues?
  • Is a normally prompt employee now habitually arriving late to work?

Such vigilance may help identify potential harmful activity in action. But being proactive will, in the end, provide greater information security:

  • Perform an annual information security audit.
  • Identify all privileged accounts and credentials. Which users have access to what data?
  • Create attack models to identify exposure to insider threats and perform a damage assessment of these threats.
  • Closely monitor, control, and manage privileged credentials to prevent exploitation.
  • Control flow of inbound delivery methods.
  • Filter executable mail and web links.
  • Monitor and look for irregularities in outbound traffic.
  • Implement necessary protocols and infrastructure to track, log, and record privileged account activity.


Negligent or careless employees

Interestingly, one of the main factors in employee-caused data breaches is that potential outside hackers have changed the focus of their attacks. As companies have become more aware of external threats, they are improving their security procedures, implementing the latest security technologies, creating effective policies and employing greater vigilance. So, some outside attackers are shifting their focus and attacking enterprises through their employees by targeting less-secure home systems to gain access to manufacturer networks.

Aside from this possible shift in focus by some outside attackers, what’s behind the problem of negligent, careless employees? Workplace stress, multitasking, and long hours are contributors. But lack of education about information security and work policies are the main culprits. Most employees aren’t aware that several of their common work habits can easily put company data at risk.

Of course, there are accidental situations that can occur, such as leaving one’s laptop on the train or at a restaurant and mistakenly sending an email containing confidential information to the wrong person. But other potentially damaging practices can and should be prevented.

According to one provider of identity protection and fraud detection solutions, about 60% of users who have access to a company network use the same login credentials as on other non-company sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Since many targeted breaches begin with a phishing effort to grab users’ social media passwords, many inadvertently put confidential company login information right out for anyone to see.

Employees who want to finish some work at home may be putting sensitive files on a cloud-storage application such as Dropbox, which can lead to mixing and sharing of personal and corporate data.

Other common contributors to employee-caused security breaches include:

  • using weak passwords (containing fewer than eight characters; not employing upper and lower case letters; containing personal information such as birthdates, phone numbers, or addresses; using word or number patterns such as abcd or 12345)
  • not changing passwords frequently
  • visiting unauthorized websites
  • clicking on links from people they don’t know
  • failing to protect their laptop screens from prying eyes when working outside the office
  • using generic USB drives that are not encrypted or safeguarded by other means.

BYOD: a major culprit

Employees used to leave their work data at work. Now, mobile devices give employees access to corporate data anywhere, anytime. BYOD (bring your own device) has become a major risk for company data security. BYOD allows hackers to exploit poor employee security habits and weak passwords with the use of fake free Wi-Fi networks, fake login pages for popular sites, and phishing emails. A recent survey showed that 60% of employees either have no security or have stuck to the default settings for their mobile devices.

Here’s how the BYOD trend can have an impact on business:

Mobile phishing: Phishing can be used to attack mobile users as well as computers. Hackers can engineer an email to trick a user to open a malicious attachment or click on a link. The attacker can use the information gained from this phishing expedition to connect to the corporate IT network to steal data.

Being compromised by corporate-network attacks: Many outsider attacks take advantage of the fact that current network security solutions lack the visibility required to protect mobile devices once they leave the corporate network. Therefore they focus on mobile devices traversing public and private networks.

One of the basic ways to keep mobile devices safe and secure is to ensure that devices remain updated to the latest operating system version with full security protection. However, a more comprehensive approach is required. Here are some suggestions:

  • Employees will take information security seriously when they know it is an important focus of their company’s management. Make security a part of performance appraisals. Let employees know that IT security also means job security.
  • Create a written information security plan and share it with employees.
  • Educate employees about the need to change their work behavior in an age of increased BYOD. They should know about phishing, shoulder-surfing (an individual peering over the shoulder of an electronic-device user to acquire personal-access information), password protection, physical hardware security, and basic encryption.
  • Use software to manage mobile devices. This could be as simple as settings on the company exchange server, or more advanced use of mobile-device-management software such as Good or AirWatch.

There are a few don’ts:

  • Don’t use public Wi-Fi when performing client or sensitive corporate work.
  • Don’t click on any link in an email if you are not 100% sure of its source.
  • Don’t use work login information for social media.

Having programs and processes in place that include a mixture of training, policy, and technology are vital to addressing insider threats before they become a major issue. MT

Dennis Egen is president and founder of Engine Room (, a technology and security firm based in Philadelphia.

learnmore2If You Build It, Secure It: Think Like a Hacker

Engine Room, Philadelphia, helps clients mitigate risks by identifying and addressing vulnerabilities before they can be exploited.


9:30 am
June 30, 2016
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Vibration Monitoring Keeps Aviation Fuel Flowing

Wireless solution increases reliability, safety, and efficiency within a critical transportation operation.

Busy airports require a dependable fuel supply. In this situation, wireless vibration monitoring makes it possible for a fuel-supply company to achieve reliability goals and keep planes in the air.

Busy airports require a dependable fuel supply. In this situation, wireless vibration monitoring makes it possible for a fuel-supply company to achieve reliability goals and keep planes in the air.

At busy airports around the world, the ability to provide a constant, reliable supply of aviation fuel is key. For one major international airport, this responsibility falls to a single fuel-services provider. It stores all aviation fuel transferred to the airport and is the facility’s only fuel-receiving terminal.

Because fuel services are so crucial, the organization’s primary goal is to ensure that the operation stays up and running 24/7/365. At the same time, the plant needs to operate as an efficient business, meaning it is essential to run with minimum manpower.

A case in point

In 2015, the fuel-services company decided to expand and improve its automation system. This move would increase safety, reduce downtime, and free-up time for operators and engineers to focus on other mission-critical tasks. The organization found a solution in Emerson’s AMS asset-management software, coupled with the manufacturer’s CSI 9420 wireless vibration transmitter, both produced by Emerson Process Management, Austin, TX (

The facility manages four fuel-transfer pumps—two of which are running at any given time. Their location and function makes these units notoriously difficult to monitor. Also, due to the heavy workload and ambient temperatures that can exceed 100 F, the pump bearings frequently fail.

Ensuring a steady fuel supply is a primary objective for the world’s busy airports. Automation is helping one aviation-fuel services provider do just that while creating a safe, efficient maintenance environment within its operations.

Ensuring a steady fuel supply is a primary objective for the world’s busy airports. Automation is helping one aviation-fuel services provider do just that while creating a safe, efficient maintenance environment within its operations.

Operators needed a solution that collected more information without increasing the cost or man hours. The solution was wireless vibration monitors, which, in turn, have helped create a safe, efficient maintenance environment.


Although the fuel-service pumps had been monitored for many years, the costs and complexity of running cabling made continuous monitoring out of the question. Before implementing wireless vibration monitors, the plant had to monitor the pumping system through motor and bearing temperature profiles and the intermittent use of handheld vibration monitors. This process presented several problems.

Operators were only able to record intermittent vibration values for the pumps, making it difficult to see true trending. The effort required significant time and did not provide constant monitoring. In the case of an intermittent impact or similar event, it was possible for operators to miss important data.

Wireless monitors offer plants the reliability of continuous monitoring without the added expense of miles of cabling.

Wireless monitors offer plants the reliability of continuous monitoring without the added expense of miles of cabling.

Collected vibration data were entered into a complicated spreadsheet. The problem with such an approach is that even the most robust spreadsheet has significant limitations in its ability to track trends and processes—and provides no predictive-maintenance data whatsoever. Furthermore, while detecting mechanical problems was relatively easy, it was much harder to detect problems that came from process mistakes. That’s because the spreadsheet couldn’t provide an accurate timeline for comparison.

Although personnel could react to events they saw happening, there was little data to show what exactly was going on—which, ultimately, led to the need for more operator and engineer hours to evaluate detected problems and determine a solution. The commitment to operating with a limited staff made it essential that the company reclaim these man hours as quickly as possible.

Problems solved

Implementing wireless vibration monitors, along with a predictive-maintenance software application, dramatically changed this fuel-service provider’s processes. Having pump vibration constantly monitored means that the organization can feel confident personnel will quickly be made aware of any change in function.

In short, operators know that a bearing is heading for failure long before the problem results in process upset. This type of predictive-maintenance capability is vital, as servicing a pump means taking it offline for approximately two months to have it repaired by the manufacturer.

Because the fuel-service facility can’t afford any downtime, the ability to predict pump problems provides peace of mind by allowing personnel to schedule maintenance, not act out of desperation.

Wireless pump monitoring has also increased operator safety. With remote capture of vibration readings, plant personnel have less contact with running machinery than they did when manually recording vibration values. Less contact with the running machines translates to fewer opportunities for accidents that might result in injury.

Moving from recording machine-health data on a spreadsheet to the automatic recording of those data in an asset-management application has been one of the most significant improvements in the operation’s processes.

The asset-management software allows the organization to observe trends in equipment health that simply could not be tracked through a spreadsheet. Alarms are now raised with any abnormal situation and operators are equipped with the tools they need to make decisions quickly. MT

Payoff From Understanding What Could Happen

Managing equipment through an asset-management application allows an organization to better understand what is happening and what could happen on the plant floor. In the case of the aviation-fuel-services company, having vibration and temperature data continuously tracked, stored, and analyzed in the asset-management software lets the plant’s operations and maintenance teams build a timeline around events. This ability is particularly important when a change in process is the catalyst for hardware failures.

Because the software can show exactly when a problem arises, the plant can compare the data with maintenance logs to see if a process change occurred at the same time. In turn, management can rest easy regarding deployed process changes, i.e., know that, regardless of how seemingly insignificant, such changes will always pose a low risk to operations.

On the plant floor, engineers see the most benefit from the plant-wide automation-system enhancement, as they can now spend their time on operational matters instead of pouring over spreadsheets, tracking temperature and vibration data for maintenance. The front-end operators are also relieved that they have reduced their equipment checking time.

Wireless vibration monitors provide the fuel-services people with the flexibility to move toward a holistic machinery-health-management plan. Plant management can feel confident that detailed pump health information is always available and no unexpected shutdowns are lurking around the corner. Management also gains peace of mind that safety is improved, as maintenance teams have fewer reasons to be working around dangerous equipment.

For more information, visit Emerson Process Management at


8:32 pm
June 21, 2016
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CMMS Drives Culture


“Using Your CMMS to Influence Culture,” a webinar presented June 21, 2016, by Roy Rothwell, senior consultant, professional services at eMaint Enterprises, Marlton, NJ, focused on understanding your operation’s culture and how it can make or break CMMS success. Rothwell presented an engaging discussion about both sides of the CMMS/culture marriage and the impact success can have on overall reliability.

While the presentation was educational, the real highlight was the resources that Rothwell offered. Each of them, by themselves, is valuable, but the combination is a powerful toolkit for anyone trying to implement a CMMS, understand/change company culture, and make significant progress toward reliability. A survey of attendees revealed that most can benefit from those resources:

  • 13% of attendees have no CMMS in place
  • 34% are just getting started with a CMMS
  • 45% have a CMMS in place and are tracking data
  • 9% are actively track and measure data for continuous improvement.

The backbone of Rothwell’s presentation was the information found in Stephen Thomas’ book, The Workbook for Improving Maintenance and Reliability Through Cultural Change, April 2005, Industrial Press Inc., New York. The book is $30 and the link is to

One of the standout items in the book was Thomas’ discussion about the cultural infrastructure in companies. He describes it as the hidden hierarchy of people and communication processes that binds an organization together and the unofficial manner in which information (valid or invalid) flows throughout that organization.

A second source was a column written by our own Bob Williamson in the June 2013 issue of Maintenance Technology. That column, titled “Reliability is more about People than Machines,” talks about the success factors for reliability improvement:

  • Data
  • Focus
  • Process
  • Constraints
  • Causes
  • Mindset.

A third resource comes from the eMaint people. It’s titled “Ten Keys to CMMS Success.” The document is just a graphic, but they offer a webinar on the subject. See it here.

My favorite bullet point from the entire webinar came from the Champion Effect segment: “A born-again skeptic is your best ally.”

Click here to hear the recorded webinar.

Click here to download a pdf file of the presentation.

If you’re looking to implement a CMMS or have one an aren’t sure what to do with it, start with this webinar and the resources it offers. At minimum, you’ll build a good foundation.–Gary L. Parr, editorial director



9:19 pm
June 20, 2016
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White Paper | How To Design an Industrial Internet Architecture

Source: Industrial Internet Consortium

Source: Industrial Internet Consortium


Interoperability has been the “mantra” in manufacturing for some time, but management needs more resources for fully-realized IIoT. The industrial internet depends on interoperability and that’s why this reference paper on industrial architecture can be a valued asset in developing plant or process manufacturing strategies. The Industrial Internet Consortium recently released this Industrial Internet Reference Architecture white paper and it provides multiple points-of-view for the enterprise: connectivity, functional, implementation, safety, communication security, data distribution, secure storage and integrations best practices.

Chapter 13 discusses edge networking principles and recommends a blueprint for data reduction techniques, along with other best practices with storage. Contributors include a who’s who of technology and manufacturer suppliers, such as ABB, GE, SAP, IBM, RTI, Fujitsu, Intel, Micron, and AT&T, to name a few.

Download the White Paper >>


9:49 pm
June 13, 2016
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On The Floor: Some Panelists See True Benefits of CMMS Systems

By Jane Alexander, Managing Editor

The capabilities of computerized maintenance management software systems (CMMSs)—and how plants use them—are a hot topic across industry. This month, we encouraged our MT Reader Panelists to discuss the state of such systems and level of usage at their sites (or, if consultants or suppliers to industry, at their client/customer sites). We started with three questions:

  • Did the responding panelists’ organizations (or those of their clients/customers) use a CMMS and to what degree?
  • What benefits have the organizations seen from such systems?
  • Had the reasons or cost of these CMMS implementations been justified?
  • We received a number of very detailed answers and present them here (edited somewhat, as always, for brevity and clarity).

Industry Consultant, West…
All of my clients use a CMMS, at this time (SAP PM).  [The degree of deployment] ranges from one group using it for every maintenance activity, to another that uses it less than half of the time, i.e., limiting use to only activities that help metrics generated from work-order reporting. (More time is spent skewing the metrics than would normally be spent on actual maintenance, but the metrics do look awesome!)

According to my clients, one of the most notable benefits is the improved communication between operations and maintenance. Both sides find value in this. The CMMS users don’t usually see the justification of the cost and are vocal about that. But the company [client] bean counters insist there are significant cost benefits.

Maintenance Leader, Discrete Manufacturing, Midwest…
At our facility, we use a Maximo CMMS as part of our toolbox. When an operator has a problem, the job is put into the system. All PM [preventive maintenance] planning goes into it. The system is fully utilized to generate problem areas. We input as much information as possible.

We are currently building a database that includes what parts are used on which machines. This allows us to see part usage, which we can use for PM work. All of our uptime and downtime reports are taken from this information. This has also allowed us to adjust PM frequency changes.

One of the things I personally did when I worked on the floor was to include as much information as possible. I can’t tell you how many times I helped myself with this information. I put in parts used and even what I did to fix the problem. Like I said, I treated it [the CMMS] as a tool, in my toolbox. A lot of the people on the floor were reluctant to use it. I feel now that they are finally seeing how the system is an asset.

[In the past] my biggest complaint was always “garbage in is garbage out.” [But], we’ve seen a cultural change, and I am ecstatic that the system is finally being used properly.

Retired Industry Consultant, Northeast…
About 30% [of my former clients] used their CMMS properly, but in a limited manner: tracking and assigning work, parts, labor, patterns of failure, and costs. Several attempted to use just parts of the process, i.e. scheduling of maintenance and tracking costs of parts and time, and about 40% tried and dropped the process as being too complex, or not showing the expected returns. (Plants with fewer than four mechanics typically didn’t bother; those with 10 or more dabbled with several types.)

Only one major client identified real benefits per advertised claims, and saved time and money, but it [had] made significant changes to its communication infrastructure, i.e. adding PDAs (personal digital assistant devices] with bar-code readers, bar-coding all machine parts, having assignments downloaded (via wifi) to local machine-control centers, uploading [equipment] life info and wear activity to a central controller, and assigning work to mechanics’ PDAs. The rest of our clients claimed some benefits, but the CMMS system was not used fully, [meaning that it was] not much better than a simple scheduler.

Most users claimed the effort to enter initial data was too intensive. Very few CMMS programs allowed easy transfer of existing data sources, especially paper- or card-based methods. Also, few companies had a real tracking system, being inventory-of-parts-based rather than actual trouble or need based. Getting to a reliability-initiated process also requires a cognitive shift for most maintenance managers, who are still locked into failure mode.

Plant Engineer, Institutional Facilities, Midwest…
Our university has CMMS for about 70% to 80% of our buildings, and any time we remodel one, we try to add it to the system. We use it as much as we can, including for trend logs; tracking alarms; making adjustment; scheduling on/off times and occupied/unoccupied modes; troubleshooting equipment; monitoring labs that have limited access, yet are critical areas; and to save as much energy as possible.

The cost of our CMMS can vary with each project. The university has standards for each type of remodel, be it housing, labs, hospital, or classrooms. Most of the time, we don’t get all options a CMMS system could provide, but we learn to deal with whatever we do get.

Our major problems arise when a sensor fails, power is interrupted, etc. Since all of our computerized maintenance management isn’t part of the same system, our staff must learn several different CMMSs. Other issues that seem to take a lot of time are checking alarms in about 80 buildings and hundreds of pieces of equipment with limited access to computers.

Sr. Maintenance Engineer, Process Industries, Midwest…
We use an EAM (Maximo) and are on the latest version.  It is ingrained in all of our plants’ practices for maintenance, purchasing, inventory management, and workflow of business processes for approval of CAPEX, engineering requests, EHS reports, process improvement ideas, etc. We have been on the system since 2007. 

We’re now utilizing a third-party mobile software that integrates directly with Maximo, and are expanding to bar-coding and mobile work practices. Reporting has been the biggest hurdle, since the out-of-the-box reports leave something to be desired. In-house report developers help get customized reports written.

Typical expected benefits include tracking asset management, costs, etc.  They lead to sound business decisions for improving maintenance practices, inventory management, vendor leverage, and improved work efficiency. We’re always trying to get more from the CMMS, but we’ve definitely been able to use the data from all parts of the system to help drive business decisions.

Maintenance Supervisor, Process Industries, Canada…
We’re currently working with Synergen (an Oracle-based CMMS product). It’s used extensively in our pulp mills and, to some degree in the solid-woods side [of our business]. We use it for our maintenance planning and scheduling, accounting, and stores-inventory management.

There are huge benefits from having a coordinated system. It still needs to be developed (it’s a work in progress), but the BOMs [bill of materials], shutdown, and daily maintenance scheduling [capabilities] are invaluable. We don’t currently track our failure codes (not entered at the source), but work-order history and costs do allow for some analysis.

Costs are completely justified. We would be in the dark without it [our CMMS]. Having access to the purchase-order system, stores inventory, bill of materials, and work-order requests all work toward having a leaner system with the required information available to the right employees.

College Electrical Laboratory Manager/Instructor, West…
We have two CMMS systems: one old and one newer. They’re set up among five processes, each with its own maintenance team. Both systems are used, but not to their full extent. The main problem seems to be the time required for data input. Our maintenance staff’s hourly wage is approximately $30, and if each person takes one hour a day to input data, the cost becomes high.

For the use we get out of our CMMSs, the benefits are great: reduced downtime and parts costs, improved staff management, etc. A side benefit is associated with honesty in doing PMs and paperwork. I think the newer system takes too much administrative time compared to overall benefits.

I’m not sure about the cost justification. People filling out the information are mechanics, not secretaries. If you hire one extra person per shift to input data, the program cost increases. We really use the systems for tracking PMs, predictive maintenance, parts inventory, and developing equipment history. MT