Archive | Management


9:36 pm
October 18, 2016
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Webinar | Legacy Plants Embracing Data Acquisition Strategies

Three well-maintained self-primer pumps located at a water treatment plant in Ohio. Photo: Summit Pump Inc.

As the Industrial Internet of Things dialogue has evolved this year, legacy plants and better data acquisition strategies have been part of the conversation. The fear of rip-and-replace has been replaced by data acquisition actions with quick return-on-investment in some cases.

This on-demand webinar from LNS Research and Panoramic Power show what’s driving connected assets and, more importantly, how to capture legacy asset data.

>> Related Content | Case Study: Operations and Maintenance Budget Isn’t Increasing, Sound Familiar?

Below is a quick overview of the webinar:

In  a recent webinar, Panoramic Power partnered with LNS research to break down how manufacturers can utilize Asset Performance Management (APM) tools and IIoT technologies to improve products and productivity – and the best way for managers to build a case for implementation of smart enterprise control at their own facilities.

Click Here to View >>

1601Iot_logo>> For more IIoT coverage in maintenance and operations, click here!


4:21 pm
October 13, 2016
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On The Floor: Pros and Cons — Panelists Discuss Succession Plans

By Jane Alexander, Managing Editor

Arbeiter in einer Industrieanlage - Raffinerie zur VerarbeitungThe Maintenance Technology editorial team travels a lot. No matter where we go or whatever industry event we attend, we can always count on concerns about replenishment of the skilled-worker ranks to surface (with an emphasis on reliability and maintenance professionals). While countless public, private, and academic initiatives, many of them supported by leading OEMs, are on the case, we wonder about the approaches that end-user organizations are taking. The topic seemed ripe for October’s Reader Panel discussion. To start the conversation, we posed the following questions.

— Did their organizations (or their customer/client organizations) have succession plans to fill key reliability and maintenance positions?

— If these plans were in place (or in the works), how were prospective successors identified and groomed?

— How did these organizations attract and qualify candidates and, eventually train them, if hired?

Our Panelists are encouraged to answer any or all questions with as little or as much detail as they care to provide. Edited, as always, for brevity and clarity, here is some of what they shared in this month’s responses.

Plant Engineer, Institutional Facilities, Midwest…

[Our institution] uses the Civil Service System to hire/promote trade employees. The system register lists all candidates that have taken and passed a Civil Service test for specific trade positions, along with full resumes (including required certificates/licenses). Each trade has a set of minimum requirements. Providing they meet such requirements, current employees can take a Civil Service promotional test to be added to that register.

Candidates listed in the Civil Service System promotional register could fill in for a higher position on a supplemental basis. That would give those candidates some experience for when openings occur. They would also be informed of any classes they might want to take to improve their qualifications.

As for attracting job candidates] the institution offers prevailing wages and tier-one benefits to employees in the trades (although some changes have occurred because of a state budget crisis and other issues.)

Engineer, Process Industries, Southeast…

No [we don’t have formal succession plans]. Since we have a small facility and staff, we use outside contractors and manufacturers for a lot of our maintenance work.

We have hired maintenance personnel from other area plants and from some of the same contractors that have worked on site with us.

Pay, benefits, and working conditions at our facility are in the top 50% for this area. We do send employees to specialized training with the manu-facturer of our equipment and have brought the manufacturer on site for training.

Maintenance Leader, Discrete Mfg, Midwest…

We have back-ups for some positions. A case in point would be for my position: I’ve recently been out recently [for personal reasons], and we’ve been able to bring in one of our other tradesman. He basically had a short training period working with me. From what I understand, he’s doing a great job. The only area where he is lacking is having a strong contact list (which took me a number of years to achieve).

We attract job candidates through the normal channels (employment services and also social media). I noticed that our company recently used Facebook as a way to reach potential trades and engineering personnel. When trades people are hired, they’re generally put with a senior person and evaluated by him or her for a short time.

I can say that in my 17 years here, we’ve only had a very small number of people that were not able to catch on and were released by the company. Overall, we have had a pretty good workforce!

Maintenance Supervisor, Process Industries, Canada…

No formal succession plans at this time. We’re currently working with just enough staff to accomplish our repairs. With not much time for PM or projects, they’re farmed out.

We tend to “grow our own” for the maintenance-manager positions. Others in production are hired from outside the company. We will use an outside firm to put together a prospective list of candidates for us.

Maintenance Engineer, Discrete Mfg, Midwest…

With our managers starting to retire, we’ve begun the succession-planning process. We’ve tried to hire from within, but some skill sets have caused us to hire a few individuals from outside the company. We also found some bad practices with the start of this succession planning and are trying to fix them on the fly.

We try to use past experience on our production floor for in-house personnel and often pull from our quality department (inspectors) to fill front-line supervisor positions. We often tried to use our better machine operators to fill machine technician roles, but found our machine training was lacking. So now we are paying to train new technicians and incorporate the updated training programs from here on out.

When we do hire from outside, a recuiting agency pre-checks candidates before any interviewing process begins. Our company has made hiring military veterans a priority.

College Electrical Laboratory, Manager/Instructor, West…

We have succession programs set up for several departments.

Senior maintenance staff members are assigned newer people to train as apprentices. My management position is covered by many of the senior maintenance personnel and in management training programs.

We try our best to promote from within. Most employees have attended Career Track interviews where we discuss what they want to do when they “grow up” in the organization. We then jointly set up plans for training and outside education to help them reach their goals. (We pay for their college classes and textbooks.)

To attract suitable staff candidates, we are involved in career fairs and recruiting seminars, and encourage refererrals from employees. Combined, these approaches supply a good group to consider for open positions.

Retired Plant Engineer, Industry Consultant, Canada…

In the plants I managed, trade succession was always an issue. Attracting prospective employees with sufficient experience on our particular systems was problematic. Those with vested seniority were unwilling to make the switch, and the less experienced were often doubtful we could provide them with the job security they already had.

We deliberated and argued, but eventually each plant settled on home-grown apprentices, with a defined path of promotion to [the positions of] lead-hand and supervisor. I learned that my own promotion was unlikely unless I groomed a lieutenant, and after setting up the trade training, I ensured that I could likewise move up (or out).

We decided that college graduates were the best pool to consider, and devised several auxiliary tests to narrow that group. We occasionally head hunted, but for the most part, the individuals we found weren’t permanent; they continued to be hunted.

Those plants (and many of my previous clients) are currently struggling with immigrant trades and college technicians to fill the gap left by retirement. But the pickings are slim.

A significant problem [as I see it] is that most immigrants have not had the solid technical schooling that we had when Europe was the primary source of immigrant trades. With a crowded curriculum, colleges seem to allow their grads to fall short of the “enabling’ skills that we previously took for granted.

What could improve the situation?

Plants should have in-house, hands-on classes that identify and gap-fill critical skills that enable mechanics to perform more complex ‘terminal’ tasks, i.e., having the discriminatory skills to identify the wear on a chain or sprocket as being within allowable limits, or the torque to be used when tightening packing glands on a pump.

One major factor that too many plants ignore is that the experience and skill of their best workers are transitory—gone with the products shipped or services provided. Their lasting legacy is the skills and knowledge they can pass on. Every plant should identify who has what and make it mandatory that be captured for posterity in a process that ensures it can be delivered to the next successors. That is what apprenticeships are designed to do, even in places where they are not officially recognized as a critical trade. A plant that retires any of their valuable employees without capturing their ‘special’ skills and knowledge is “throwing the baby out with the bath water.”

*Paper tests are valueless! Mechanics, electricians, technicians, etc., use tools and equipment on mechanisms and/or circuits. Thus, a test should be typical of a tough task that makes a difference to the plant’s performance. The time it takes and the number of wrong moves should also be taken into account.

I used a competency test for every hire, It took up to six hours and the plant paid the test-takers at the advertised rate. I also insisted that they bring their own tools so that I could gauge how well they cared for them and what level of skill they had at using their own property. (It’s too easy for people to make excuses about unfamiliar tools.) I also wanted see if they used adjustable rather than combination or box-end wrenches; if vise grips were their go-to tool; and in what condition their tools and toolboxes were. MT

This online post of the October 2016 installment of “On the Floor” is an expanded version of the material in the print magazine.


6:46 pm
October 11, 2016
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Keeping Maintenance Scheduling on Track

Create a revision code in SAP to mark the jobs that need to be completed each week.

Create a revision code in SAP to mark the jobs that need to be completed each week.

By Kristina Gordon, DuPont

The maintenance scheduler plays a critical role in any maintenance organization. This individual coordinates the production requirements with maintenance and engineering activities. The scheduler makes sure equipment is available to meet production demands, in a way that optimizes total business cost (production downtime, maintenance cost, MRO inventory cost).

It is very difficult to keep a schedule on track when you have shutdowns, material availability issues, and line breaks happening on a daily basis. The following Q&A may help make possible what many say is impossible.

Q: How far out should I be scheduling work?

A : Industry standard says you should have a maintenance work schedule completed four weeks out. Those schedules should have your jobs loaded at 100% for week one, 80% for week two, 60% for week three, and 30% for week four. This leaves room for critical jobs that must be moved around on your schedule or emergency situations, allowing you to stay on target.

randmQ: When I pull my backlog of work up in SAP, how can I mark the jobs I want to work on each week?

A: Creating a revision code in SAP is a very simple way to mark the jobs that need to be completed each week. Transaction OIOB will allow you to create the revision. Before you begin, you should create a naming convention for your revisions.

In this example, the revision that would be applied to the work order would be WWU-WK01. The second part is the description of the revision. The start and end date will be used by the system as the dates during which the work is allowed to be performed. That time is confirmed in the system.

Q: How do I make sure that I am scheduling my PSM (process-safety management) critical work first?

A: In SAP, PSM Critical Equipment can be marked with a permit. Permits are configured and can denote several different types of equipment such as PSM critical and ISO9000. Work can be found by searching for a PSM permit. You can also use characteristics to mark this type of work.  It is important to note however, that every PSM-critical piece of equipment may not always be placed on work orders or maintenance plans that are PSM critical. It is possible to complete non-PSM jobs on PSM equipment.

Q: How do I know when the planners have completed the planning process and the job can be put on the weekly schedule?

A: One way to accomplish this is to use user status’s. These are configured to meet your business needs, but can indicate that such tasks are completed, such as the job walk down completed, identifying other work streams that need to include planning hours, such as scaffold or insulators, and when all materials have been received and/or kitted. Once the user status indicates that the tasks are completed and ready to schedule, the scheduler can then place the job on the weekly schedule.


In the September 2016 installment of this column, the answer to the last question was cut off. Below is the question and the entire answer.

Q: If I have created a task list and need to move it to my work order, how can I do it without copying and pasting every line?

A: In the tool bar at the top of the page in IW32, click on Extra>Task List Selection>Direct Entry.  In the pop-up box you will be asked to click the radio button next to functional location task list, equipment task list, or general task list. Enter the group and group counter of the task list you would like to import. Click the check mark and the task list imports into the operation tab of the work order. MT

Kristina Gordon is SAP Program Consultant at the DuPont, Sabine River Works plant in West Orange, TX. If you have SAP questions, send them to and we’ll forward them to Kristina.


7:20 pm
October 10, 2016
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Are Your Electricians Safety-Trained?

OSHA and NFPA provide the guidelines, but our survey suggests there is still some room for electrical-safety training improvement.

OSHA and NFPA provide the guidelines, but our survey suggests there is still some room for electrical-safety training improvement.

randmWhen electrical systems are in question, anyone would be hard pressed to support any compromise in safety should maintenance work be required. To develop a picture of electrical safety in the manufacturing arena, we surveyed the readers of Maintenance Technology to determine their knowledge of electrical-system events/activities in their facilities. More than 230 professionals took time to respond. The survey results are presented below.

While the responses were overwhelmingly positive in terms of system knowledge and safety, there were enough of the “other” responses to suggest some element of training, either initial or ongoing, is in order. According to the electrical-training experts at AVO Institute, Dallas (, compliance with OSHA and NFPA 70E regulations is not optional. In addition, NFPA 70E stipulates that retraining, not refresher courses, must occur every three years.

Ask your team members to take the same survey. Your results will tell you whether training needs are immediate or if you’ve been doing your job well and additional training can be scheduled down the road. MT
—Gary L. Parr, editorial director