Archive | Work Processes


4:23 pm
May 16, 2016
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Maximize Millennial Workers

Millennials checklist on clipboard for survey of generation with age born between 1980 and 2000, social and connected, and cause driven

For many, the millennial generation presents a significant workplace management challenge and is often labeled lazy and entitled. Unlike previous generations, this group approaches things in a very different way. Like it or not, they are the future. In fact, that future is now. Millennials currently make up more than 35% of the workforce and that number will be just short of 50% by 2020. In other words, if you’re not one, you have to learn to work with them.

At the Uponor Connections 2016 users conference, held this past March in Las Vegas, keynote speaker Ryan Avery (a millennial himself) in his talk, “Motivating Millennials,” shed some light on what makes that generation tick. Uponor North America, headquartered in Apple Valley, MN, is a manufacturer of PEX piping systems.

Avery started his talk by making it clear to the baby boomers in the audience that they are the reason millennials are the way they are. Boomers had to work hard to move up the ladder and didn’t want their kids to have to do the same and now get to work with the result of that approach. What follows are more insights from Avery that, if you’re a baby boomer or part of some other generation, will help you understand and benefit from what can prove to be a talented group of workers.

—Gary L. Parr, Editorial Director

Ryan Avery assigned shapes to the two generations.

Screen Shot 2016-05-16 at 8.45.27 AM

The triangle represents baby boomers and their hierarchical approach to life and work. Millennials are the circle because they have a community approach and like to be coached. They don’t appreciate bosses and like to be part of a team. The shape for GenX people is a square.

While boomers grew up in and work in an aggressive/demanding culture, millennials do better if things are explained. They like to know why things are done or need to be done.

When millennials are presented with a task, they like to start with the result/goal and then be allowed to figure out how to get there. Established procedures aren’t always of interest to them. If they see a better way, they want the freedom to take that path. That path doesn’t always fit in the conventional 9-to-5 workday.

When communicating with millennials, stop multitasking — put your phone down and your computer screen aside. This applies to anyone, but managers should take care to talk to millennials like they matter. Four of five employees do not feel valued at work. That one valued person will give 90% more of himself/herself than the other four. Keep in mind that employees spend more time with managers than their loved ones. Pay attention to the person opposite you.

Millennials stay at their jobs an average of two years, meaning that they aren’t interested in the conventional end-of-the-year reward/bonus approach. They are much more receptive to little rewards throughout the year, such as meals or gift cards. Avery suggested that paying their monthly Netflix fee would be an excellent reward.

Millennials like a cause, which translates to the fact that they are more willing to participate if there is a social responsibility involved. Instead of a bonus, give them money to donate to their favorite cause or provide days off so they can volunteer to help others.

Instead of smoke breaks, provide social-media breaks.

They like to collaborate and don’t like to compete.

They are not big fans of the word “but.” Instead of  “Good idea, but . . .” try “I like your idea and another way to accomplish it is…” MT


3:49 pm
May 16, 2016
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On The Floor: Maintenance-Scheduling Triggers — Part 2 of 2

By Jane Alexander, Managing Editor

As noted in the April issue’s introduction to this, two-part “On The Floor,” when it rains, it pours. The overwhelming and detailed number of responses we received from our Reader Panelists regarding maintenance triggers simply wouldn’t fit in two pages. Alas, even with this second installment, we regret that we haven’t been able to capture all comments. To recap, we had asked these questions:

  1. What triggers our Panelists’ maintenance scheduling, or if they are consultants or industry suppliers, that of their client(s) or customer(s)? Sensors? OEM recommendations? Daily walks/PdM tool data? Word of mouth? A combination?
  2. Which approaches work best for them, and why, and vice versa?
  3. Would Panelists (or their clients or customers) want to change their current maintenance-scheduling process(es), and could they? If so, what would they do?

Edited for brevity and clarity, here are several additional responses.

College Electrical Laboratory, Manager/Instructor, West…

In our organization, we have different levels of maintenance staff. The maintenance crew ranges from technicians who have been at the job for 22 years to the college grads with two to three years on the job. Their diagnostic methods are very different. The operation uses a CMMS program to track the health of all process equipment. The seasoned technician walks around and touches all of the equipment at least once a day, checking for temperature, vibrations, loose parts, and strange smells. The newer technician uses some state-of-the-art test equipment: infrared heat sensors, vibration monitor, and sound-level indicators. All data go into the system so any potential problems can be handled.

The process that works best varies because experience comes into play. Some pieces of equipment are very old and have their own personalities. Test equipment does not always catch some of the problems, but the experienced maintenance staff seems to be able to diagnose a pending problem through their touchy-feely methods. Keeping track of this history has reduced downtime on most of the equipment. Education on all processes and updated technologies has added to our success.

We’ve been able to add preventive-maintenance hours to the schedule when we have tooling changes and other production breaks. Each experienced technician has a newer technician assigned to him for in-depth training. Every shift has a 15-min. maintenance-planning discussion before starting the daily operations.

Sr. Maintenance Engineer, Process Industries, Midwest…

[At our plant] it’s a combination. Before last year, it was mostly set frequencies based on historical failure data, daily walks, or OEM requirements. Now, we have tied our real-time data-collection system to our EAM software and are doing more and more condition-based scheduling using online temps, vibes, run-hours, levels, etc. We still do “all of the above,” but have become more well-rounded.

I’m not sure there is a best approach. Any of them work. It’s dependent on the situation. In some cases, walk arounds are the best because the equipment is new, or not in a harsh service, or has no failure history. In other cases, we have to monitor key operating metrics very closely to detect slight changes that signal the start of the failure curve. The best approach is often learned from past results.

It would be great to have everything monitored online and condition-based, but it’s not feasible, so, we continue to be flexible and adjust where necessary, using all forms of monitoring to gather the needed data.

Planned Maintenance, Supervisor, Midwest…

Our maintenance is scheduled through a combination of methods. Sometimes maintenance, such as filter replacement, lubrication, and some oil changes, is performed after the equipment has operated a predetermined number of hours. Other areas we have been able to extend oil life through PdM methods such as oil sampling and analysis data. The majority of scheduled maintenance is the result of condition-based monitoring through our scheduled PM inspections. Sadly, the dreaded, unexpected equipment/component failure too often determines scheduling for us.

Lubrication best practices, combined with using the run-time hours of the equipment to determine lubrication frequency, have made a positive impact. Predictive oil sampling and analysis activities have given us a better understanding of the condition of our gearboxes and air compressors. Performing condition-based inspection tasks is key to allowing us to schedule maintenance in a timely manner that helps us avoid extended and untimely equipment outages. Of course, for all of the obvious reasons, the reactive, “repair after failure” type of work on production equipment should be avoided at all costs.

I hope to see more of our maintenance activities scheduled as a result of PdM activities. These include expanding and improving our oil-sampling program and developing and expanding the thermal-imaging best practices we are just getting started. I am convinced we would benefit from vibration monitoring and analysis and would like to see it added as one of the predictive techniques we use. I support these types of practices and the need to get key personnel formally trained to fully realize the benefits of these activities.

Sr. Facilities Engineer, Discrete Manufacturing, Southeast…

We basically begin with OEM recommendations and add to them as we learn more about the equipment.

I believe that, over time, knowledge is gained that must be implemented into the scheduling. Each user has different issues with the equipment and the OEM specs are just a jumping off point. How critical [certain] equipment is to your operation also comes into play.

Plant Engineer, Institutional Facilities, Midwest…

Our building engineers make daily rounds of all their buildings and track how long belts and air filters have been installed. Greasing equipment and any oil changes are done per OEM instructions, as best as we can. Our utility laborers change air filters, as needed, when asked by the engineer in each building.

We try to avoid breakdown maintenance as much as possible. Our chillers are rodded out at least once a year, and as needed. A contractor does winter maintenance on all stand-alone chillers, and we clean stand-alone cooling towers as needed after cleaning for season start-up.

We have several dual-temperature water buildings and normally only change each one from winter to summer and summer to winter annually. We try to do heating repairs in summer and cooling in winter. About 80% of our buildings use steam/chilled water from our utilities plants. Our plate and shell and tube heat/cool exchangers are cleaned/rodded as needed. We monitor our systems on CMMS as much as we can. About 60% is in the CMMS, but not all systems have full controls.

This approach works very well, considering how much equipment and how many employees we have. We take care of approximately half of a university campus, i.e., 7 to 8 million sq. ft., spread over about 40 buildings. We cover these buildings 24/7 with a combined crew of about 45 building engineers, laborers, and supervisors.

We’ve only had minor changes to our approach in the [many] years I’ve been here. The fact that all employees are taught it from day one seems to be the main [reason for its success].

And now, some final food for thought

Acknowledging that he has no current clients, a retired industry consultant still wanted to weigh in on the topic of maintenance triggers. His comments seemed to be a good way to bring closure to this two-part Reader Panelist discussion. Or maybe they’ll keep the discussion going in other places.

“I don’t have any current clients, (retirement tends to slow things a tad),” he wrote, “but those I had tended to perform as-per-schedule tasks, with reactive tasks done to fix the squeaky wheel.”

According to this respondent, only two of his major clients actually performed effective scheduled maintenance regularly. “The rest always seemed two steps from panic. Even with CMM programs and sensor-indicated needs, most were always attempting to catch up, typically complaining that a lack of staff or supplies was holding things up. Major contributors included poor problem-solving skills, fixing symptoms, not looking for root causes, or an attitude of ‘why mess with it while it’s working.’”

In his opinion, these problems are ongoing, in industry and elsewhere. “It seems that this is an international issue,” he lamented. “Worldwide, no one asks ‘why?’ Even here at home, life-style poor health is blamed on others (bad genes are becoming vogue, bad advice runs a close second), ignoring the basic fact that we are what we eat and modern North Americans have better choices than most medieval kings.” MT

About the MT Reader Panel

The Maintenance Technology Reader Panel includes approximately 100 working industrial-maintenance practitioners and consultants who have volunteered to answer monthly questions prepared by our editorial staff. Panelist identities are not revealed and their responses are not necessarily projectable. Note that our panel welcomes new members. To be considered, email your name and contact information to with “Reader Panel” in the subject line. All panelists are automatically included in an annual cash-prize drawing after one year of active participation.


8:23 pm
April 11, 2016
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On The Floor: Maintenance-Scheduling Triggers — Part 1

What drives your maintenance scheduling?

What drives your maintenance scheduling?

By Jane Alexander, Managing Editor

When it rains, it pours. At least that’s what happened with April’s Reader Panel questions. They triggered an outpouring of responses—including several extremely detailed ones. In fact, we received so many thoughtful replies that, to fit them in, we’ll need to run them over two months. The questions we asked were:

What triggers our panelists’ maintenance scheduling, or if they are consultants or industry suppliers, that of their client(s) or customer(s)? Sensors? OEM recommendations? Daily walks/PdM tool data? Word of mouth? A combination?

Which approaches work best for them, and why, and vice versa?

Would panelists (or their clients or customers) want to change their current maintenance-scheduling process(es), and could they? If so, what would they do?

As always, we’ve edited this first wave of responses for brevity and clarity.

Maintenance Supervisor, Process Industries, Canada…

We use a combination of approaches. We have maintenance [personnel] and operators that use handheld devices with routes for regular inspections. Data is uploaded and emails are automatically sent out. Benchmark work orders in our CMMS are set to generate area-shut/routine work. We also have completed most of the areas on RCM. There’s still work to do to get PM work orders in the system, but that’s a continuous work in progress.

The handhelds are great if the operators/maintenance guys give us the correct information. The downside is the handhelds typically add to the huge list of emails that not everyone can read and some things fall through the cracks, i.e., minimum manning/new planners, and supervisors’ inexperience. [Other things that work well include] identifying critical assets, looking at types of failures most likely to happen, determining inspection frequency, and then “training the guys out in the field on what to look for.” Training on the sense and meaning of what can go wrong and what that looks like is critical for getting good data to act on.

Currently, work orders that are being generated are “go look at stuff”—they don’t identify or convey what should be getting done. A review of basic PMs needs to be done, as should a site/area audit to look at what is actually being inspected.

[I would recommend] providing some instruction for the operators and maintenance staff on the sense and meaning behind the PM program and ensuring there is feedback with follow-up discussions when reports coming in.

Maintenance Leader, Discrete Manufacturing, Midwest…

Our main scheduling is actually handled by our PM coordinators—who do an outstanding job handling several hundred machines per plant. Each one of our plants has a PM coordinator. If I had to choose a main trigger, it would be sensors. Our Maximo system also sets off triggers if we find an abnormality on a machine. Scheduling is generally [based on] an annual, semi-annual, or quarterly check on the machines. In our departments, we have multiple sets of machines, so we’re really doing one PM after another from cell to cell.

I really can’t say that our system has one approach that works better than the other. The biggest obstacles we run into are machines not being released from production to do the work.

The only thing that will correct that problem in our plants would be to have maintenance departments treated as a separate business and be given priorities when PMs are scheduled. Until then, we will still struggle to hit 100% compliance consistently.

Industry Consultant, Northeast…

To me, a combination of [maintenance-scheduling] triggers is best, but that requires a very dedicated planner who really understands how the world works. The most intelligent approach probably combines some fixed-time replacements, i.e., re-lamping an area or cleaning air handlers in late fall, with data supplied by predictive tools like vibration and infrared scanning.

Vendor recommendations can be a gamble. I know of a large OEM that suggests replacing bearings before they reach their design life, and the company designs around the L10! While reliability pros recognize that type of replacement practice actually reduces the reliability of the product, many of the OEM’s customers think the vendor is always right. (Along those lines, [reliability icon] Charles Latino used to say, “Never have a vendor do your failure analysis unless you have an experienced professional looking over the vendor’s shoulders.”)

There are many very competent vendors, but unless they know exactly how you are using their equipment, how can they do a good job suggesting maintenance procedures.

Sr. Maintenance Mechanic, Process Industries, South…

We use most of these [sensors, OEM recommendations, daily walks/PdM tool data, word of mouth] to some extent. We rely most heavily on PdM tool data for planned repairs with daily walks becoming a distant second. We use OEM recommendations for our newer equipment, but still verify the intervals with PdM tools. I don’t believe you can ever entirely eliminate walk-arounds. The senses that most of us possess, coupled with the desire for zero unplanned shutdowns, are still some of the best diagnostic tools available.

I think any of these methods can be very good, depending on the individual that uses them. PdM tools, in my opinion, are the best trigger available, provided they are in the hands of a trained person with the desire to learn and continue to improve their skills.  Daily walks are also great if done by the right personnel. OEM “recommendations” are just that—and should be used with the backdrop of experience your company has with similar machines.  As I alluded to earlier, I find OEM recommendations are very helpful with our new equipment, with which our experience is very limited.

I think ours [approach to maintenance scheduling] is heading in the right direction: away from time-based and more to condition based with the proper tools and training. I hope we continue to proceed this way.

The only downside I can see is the maintenance of the actual PdM tools. Training for employees, calibration, and repairs of the tools can be expensive and a great temptation to forgo during a tight budget cycle. Once this is done with no immediate consequences, it is very easy to repeat, sending your maintenance program a giant leap backwards. Sometimes “bean counters” don’t understand the value of trending data.

Industry Consultant, West…

Most of my clients use time-based maintenance plans, generated from experience combined with known best practices from other facilities within their companies. One of these clients has attempted to use counters within SAP, but at this point, that has not worked well for them.

All [of my] clients are using predictive techniques, with some success, and most count on the tribal knowledge of the facilities. Most of the technicians with that knowledge are close to retirement, and the knowledge is not being shared well. MT

Editor’s Note: Part 2 in the May issue.

About the MT Reader Panel

The Maintenance Technology Reader Panel includes approximately 100 working industrial-maintenance practitioners and consultants who have volunteered to answer monthly questions prepared by our editorial staff. Panelist identities are not revealed and their responses are not necessarily projectable. Note that our panel welcomes new members. To be considered, email your name and contact information to with “Reader Panel” in the subject line. All panelists are automatically included in an annual cash-prize drawing after one year of active participation.


5:24 am
April 11, 2016
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Culture Changed At This Indiana Refinery

The CountryMark refinery, one of only two refineries in the state of Indiana, processes 28,000 barrels of crude oil daily. All images courtesy of CountryMark.

The CountryMark refinery, one of only two refineries in the state of Indiana,
processes 28,000 barrels of crude oil daily. All images courtesy of CountryMark.

A WorkPlace Excellence Program redefines the way CountryMark operates every day and makes maintenance take a back seat to reliability.

By Michelle Segrest, Contributing Editor

The CountryMark distillate hydrotreater was built in 2006 to meet EPA Utra Low Sulfur Diesel fuel requirements.

The CountryMark distillate hydrotreater was built in 2006 to meet EPA Utra Low Sulfur Diesel fuel requirements.

For 73 years, the Countrymark maintenance team operated in a reactionary mode—and they were good at it.

In a crucially competitive market, the Mount Vernon, IN, oil-refinery leadership team realized the operation needed a complete overhaul to streamline processes, get control of inventory, and optimize workflow. Through a carefully conceived and well-executed plan, it is making a 180-degree switch to a predictive and preventive structure that has already increased production, decreased equipment failure, and saved costs.

Pat Ward, CountryMark’s vice president of Operations, is the corporate sponsor of the company’s WorkPlace Excellence Program, an idea that was born in 2008 and put into action in early 2013. Ward said he knew that one day CountryMark would have an interesting before-and-after story to tell.

“I would describe the ‘before’ maintenance program as classic reactionary—something would break and we would fix it,” Ward said. “Our craft people are very skilled and very knowledgeable about our equipment so, in this reactive structure, it is a testimony to them that we were as productive as we were. You can be very good at fixing things, but working in a reactive way comes at a very high cost.”

CountryMark operates one of only two refineries in Indiana and processes 28,000 barrels of crude oil every day while producing 450 million gal. of high-quality gasoline and diesel fuel each year. On the logistics side, trucks pick up crude from tank farms and deliver it to the refinery or to another tank on the pipeline system that gathers the crude from a three-state area. On the finished-product side, a distribution system includes a pipeline that connects terminals in Indiana where the finished product is sold.

A vital benchmark in the oil and gas industry is availability. CountryMark ranks high in this category worldwide as one of the most available facilities from an equipment standpoint.

“This is important to the manufacturer because it means you can capture most of the margin available,” Ward explained. “That’s how you win or lose in our business. If you have availability in your equipment and your process, then you can succeed. But we were doing this in a very reactive and expensive way.”

The goal was to maintain the high availability while driving down the cost and managing the risks effectively. However, arbitrarily cutting cost and putting the availability at risk could never be the answer. “We had to find a way to work differently. It was a question of committing the people, the funding, and the changes in our system so we could implement something better.”

Developing the program

CountryMark’s leadership fully invested in the WorkPlace Excellence Program. Proactive and preventive maintenance training began several years ago with consulting firm Life Cycle Engineering (LCE), Charleston, SC. Coaches were brought in to train leaders in four focus areas:

  • operations improvement
  • work management
  • reliability engineering
  • materials management.

Two systems were targeted for replacement or an upgrade. The CMMS system needed to be replaced and the financial-management system upgraded. The enterprise system existed, but it needed an upgrade to accommodate the new maintenance-management system software interface and inventory module.

The first step was preparing the organization for the change, with extensive training and multiple teams defining the work process in the four focus areas. In addition to key skills training, the teams included a combination of planners, craftsmen, frontline supervisors, maintenance managers, warehouse workers, and operators who were all involved in mapping out more than 30 new work processes.

Ward put EAM manager Mike Willman in charge. The LCE coaches for each of the four focus teams began working full force in February 2014.

Left. The CountryMark refinery, as seen from a plane that flies over the company's pipeline system every two weeks, checking for any potential problems in the company's pipeline system.

The CountryMark refinery, as seen from a plane that flies over the company’s pipeline system every two weeks, checking for any potential problems in the company’s pipeline system.

Putting the plan in motion

EAM coordinator Leslie Alton became the guardian of the program and the champion of change.

“We had used Excel spreadsheets for years,” Alton said. “But we had outgrown that program. We started working on gathering all the documentation and taking pictures of each of the objects (assets) and gathering their specifications. We now have close to 45,000 documents for all the assets. It is a fantastic equipment library that required 10 to12 people several years to compile.”

CountryMark graduated to a progressive software system. “It allows us to break everything down to the asset level, but we can roll it up based on equipment types or units,” she said. “This gives us granularity of how much an asset is costing us.”

The company’s assets include pumps, seals, motors—whatever is required to process crude into sellable products. However, 45,000 documents does not equal 45,000 assets. There are about 10,000 assets identified currently.

Alton’s role is to guide the program, identify roadblocks and opportunities, and make them visible so the best solution can be created.

Focus teams

The four focus teams are cross-functional, self-directed, and responsible for executing the master plan. They include site workers with diverse skills and abilities. The teams evaluate processes to identify opportunities for improvement and train in best practices.

Below. CountryMark employees work to optimize refinery operations while ensuring the health and safety of all workers.

CountryMark employees work to optimize refinery operations while ensuring the health and safety of all workers.

Operations improvement

The key component of this focus is making sure operations is inspecting equipment and identifying issues before failure occurs. Equipment-care rounds happen four times during a 12-hr.  shift.

There is a crucial relationship between operations and maintenance. Operators write most of the work requests because they are working with the equipment 24 hr./day, 365 days/year.

“When the equipment isn’t performing as well as it should, operators write a work request that has to be clear and succinct. In the new system they can sort through it to be sure someone else hasn’t already submitted it,” Ward said. “We didn’t have this previously. Operators also set the work priority. If it is an emergency, such as an equipment breakdown, this becomes a number-one priority. We break into the schedule in this case. If there are too many emergencies, then you are not doing very well in terms of cost management and efficiency.”

Operators are the first line of defense in terms of equipment care, so they sometimes perform maintenance tasks. They can also monitor the equipment and provide insight to prevent future issues. 

Work management

The work-management team ensures that all maintenance work is identified, planned, scheduled, and completed in a way that optimizes resources. Once the work is planned, materials are kitted and made ready for the craftsmen. Maintenance includes four planners (one for each craft), a scheduler, 36 craftsmen, and maintenance manager Randy Yeida, who has been with CountryMark since 1990.

Craftsmen are divided into four specialties—pipe fitters and certified welders, electrical and instrument shop, rotating equipment, and the craft shop (carpenters, insulators, general maintenance). Yeida meets with the maintenance supervisors every morning to discuss the schedule. The craftsmen are then assigned to work orders.

“We continue to try to be more preventive than reactive,” Yeida said. “Before, we were doing 30% to 35% emergency work. It’s been a culture change to go the other way. The goal now is to be less than 10% emergency work. Right now we are at about 20%.”

Planning the work makes the difference. Maintenance planners plan the jobs and ensure the parts are available before each job is assigned. Material-management kits the parts. “When the craftsmen go to work on a job, the tools are ready, the parts are ready, and the job is ready to be performed,” Yeida said. “This makes them more efficient.”

The maintenance team is responsible for more than 10,000 pieces of equipment, including pumps, motors, instrumentation, automation, transmitters, control valves, and other components. They work a regular 8-hr., Monday through Friday schedule, but analyzer technicians are on 12-hr. shifts with operators.

CountryMark pipeline welders help maintain the integrity of the company's pipeline systems in the tri-state area. This ensures that the necessary crude oil reaches the refinery and finished products travel safely to terminals to be picked up by CountryMark member owners.

CountryMark pipeline welders help maintain the integrity of the company’s pipeline systems in the tri-state area. This ensures that the necessary crude oil reaches the refinery and finished products travel safely to terminals to be picked up by CountryMark member owners.

Reliability engineering

This reliability engineering area of focus involves reducing failures. Fewer failures mean less repairs and reduced downtime. Equipment is assigned a criticality and ranking that drives preventive/predictive maintenance and spare-part inventory decisions.

Repeat failures are investigated to find ways to engineer out the cause. Maintenance tries to prevent the failure.

“First, you plan and schedule and get efficient in the maintenance work, which raises the cost effectiveness of your crafts and reduces the backlog of work,” Ward said. “But the big win is when you can eliminate defects or failures completely. In planning and scheduling, the craftsmen capture the reasons for failure and record the work they did to repair it. This generates a rich history of equipment performance from failures, which is then available to reliability engineers who identify ways to eliminate the failures.”

Materials management

The materials-management team ensures that the right materials are in the right place at the right time with acceptable quality and at the optimal cost to support planned and unplanned maintenance work. It involves purchasing, kitting, and consolidating storage locations. Since the program began, storage locations have decreased from 48 to five. More than 600 pumps and thousands of other components were entered into the new CMMS system, organized, and relocated.

This program streamlined the massive inventory. With the help of the planners and kitting process, the craftsmen and foremen can now focus on critical maintenance work. The turnaround time for jobs has significantly decreased. The team created a system where all purchase orders are processed and monitored for future use. Now there is a visibility of repairs and job histories.

Read more about the refinery’s materials-management program here.

CountryMark employs more than 500 highly skilled maintenance and reliability professionals.

CountryMark employs more than 500 highly skilled maintenance and reliability professionals.

The transition

The company understands that developing and implementing this program is a multi-year effort if they want it to be sustainable. There is confidence that the broad group of professionals with different work skills can map it out in a way that is comprehensive and understandable.

“The maintenance work we are doing today is what we did in the past,” Ward said. “We just used to do it in our heads, and we did it 50 different ways—and often after the fact. Now we have one process. It works more smoothly and all the different players do their part. The enabling part was to take some people out of the craft line and teach them to be good planners. This was a 100% culture change.”

The process is precise, but it is also fluid. Feedback and positive change is constantly encouraged.   

“If you have 35 work processes to follow every day, it’s really important that you stay disciplined with following it,” Ward said. “Leslie audits the system. She actually goes out into the field to see how we are planning and executing all the pieces. She makes sure everything is actually flowing the way it should. If it’s not, we improve the process. We get input from people from the field, bring it back, make the change in the process, then go back and implement the change.”

A refinery-management team meets on a regular basis to review recommended changes that will lead to improvement.

The after picture

Deep into the WorkPlace Excellence Program, a typical day at the CountryMark refinery now begins with operations performing care rounds. If something small and manageable needs repair (something that won’t shut down production or cause a health or safety risk) the job is assigned a 3, 4, or 5 priority so the job can be planned. Then it goes through work approval.

The planners then take over and create the needed work orders. They identify the crafts involved and determine the amount of time it will take. If parts are needed, they make sure they are available or parts are ordered. When all tools and parts are kitted, the job is scheduled with careful coordination between operations and maintenance.

The planned work schedule for the following week is posted on Friday and all kits are delivered before the Monday workweek begins. Then the craftsmen perform the jobs and enter the details into the system (including fault and failure codes), creating a useful work history. The planner checks the work order and closes it. Reliability professionals can then analyze key details such as mean time between failures.

If it is an emergency job—priority 1 or 2—the schedule must be interrupted to make the necessary repairs.

“In the world we live in today, after a year of implementation, everyone can write a work request,” Ward said. “If approved, operations sets priorities, and the work is planned. If there is a pump that we have to tear down and replace the bearings, for instance, the planner will walk down the job and then electronically step out each task. They determine the type of labor, the manpower, and the materials needed for each task. Only when the plan is completed and materials are on hand do we put the work on the schedule.”

Many key performance indicators are measured in the new system, Yeida said. These include metrics on schedule compliance, PM compliance, planned work vs. actual work, emergency work, priority percentages, scheduled vs. available, available craftsmen, and ready-to schedule jobs.

The culture change

With every change, training is required. People must be trained on processes, but it is also important that they can understand why the change has happened and buy in.

Alton said she remembers a specific moment when she could see a shift in attitude. The pump shop previously had hundreds of bins for the 600-plus pumps. Many of the materials were redundant, and no one knew what was in stock or where it was located. The pump-shop planners had been using the bin system for decades and they were accustomed to using them.

One pump-shop planner, Jeff Goad, was resistant to embrace the new system, Alton remembered. However, he worked with the materials-management team to ensure that all the pump parts were identified. “He came in one day and was just amazed that he could finally identify the parts he needed, and know where they were stored because now there was visibility,” Alton said. “He said, ‘This is so much better than those grey bins we used to have.’ He is now leading the charge for maintenance procedures for rotating equipment. He now understands and recognizes that we must have the PMs inside the system to ensure we are improving the reliability. The system is working.”

Ward saw the shift in culture change when warehouseman Larry Conyers bought into the new system. He had worked in the warehouse for 30 years. “We got into the reorganization and migrating to the new computer system. When they made the change to his warehouse, Larry literally went on vacation because he couldn’t watch the change. We were changing the way he had done things for three decades. Often, people in a situation like this will not survive, but Larry is a survivor and is now one of the leaders of the entire system. With time, the light bulb went off and he realized the system works. This realization helped him to become the champion he is today.”

At first, the planners were a bit overwhelmed, Ward said. “They knew how to plan work because they were good craftsmen. But it took time to adjust to sitting at a computer and planning a job for a fellow craftsman. In the beginning, we were planning just a handful of jobs a week. The thought of planning all the work seemed daunting. They learned quickly that even the smallest plan can be a journey. It takes several years to really perfect it. They thought they were wasting time to do this. But in the end, they saved time. Now we create 300 to 400 plans per month.”

Yeida has also seen the shift in culture among his maintenance team. “We must work on this on an ongoing basis, and it takes a while to see results,” Yeida said. “I had one guy who was kind of a naysayer, but he got called in in the middle of the night to work on a job. He said, ‘Man, we should have done this years ago. I got here and all the parts were ready, and I was ready to do the job. It didn’t take long to complete it, and I was able to go home early. The system is working.’ This is cool, because then they tell their buddies.”

Ward agreed that word of mouth can be powerful. “The energy it takes to move the organization forward is huge,” he said. “It must be sustained because there will be setbacks. Some individuals never get to that epiphany, but for most, they do. And when they do, they bring others with them.”

The key to sustainability, according to Ward, is actively managing the work process, finding better ways to work, and training, and to frequently review the suite of metrics to chart the progress.

“We still are in implementation,” he said. “We still have some people who are just now catching on. It’s kind of like a marathon—some people are already finished while some are just starting. But this is becoming how we work. It’s new. It’s different. But we have burned the ships, and we are not going back.” MT

Michelle Segrest has been a professional journalist for 27 years. She has covered the industrial processing industries for nine years. If you would like Michelle to tell your maintenance and reliability story, contact her at

Co-Op System—Local Ownership, Local Impact

CountryMark has been a farmer-owned cooperative since 1919 and is the 12th largest agricultural co-op in the U.S. It is owned and controlled by member cooperatives that are owned and controlled by farmers or local agricultural producers. The cooperative’s products and services are available to the public, and co-op members are also customers.

Patronage profits are returned to members, distributed in proportion to business volume. CountryMark profits remain in local communities to support local economies.

The company supplies fuel to member cooperatives in Indiana that distribute the premium-quality fuels through a network of more than 100 retail fuel stations, as well as more than 200 petroleum tank-wagon and transport routes. CountryMark Advantage Lubricants are distributed to member cooperatives in Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, and Kentucky.

CountryMark products fuel an estimated 65% of Indiana farmers and power about 50% of the buses that deliver children to school each day within the CountryMark trade area.

The CountryMark Process

CountryMark is an American-owned oil exploration, production, refining, and marketing company. It is the largest buyer of Illinois Basin crude oil, which is sourced from the oil fields of Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky. The oil is then refined to the highest specifications at the CountryMark refinery in Mount Vernon, IN.

Fuel quality is protected as it travels north along a 238-mile private pipeline. State-of-the-art blending technology at each CountryMark fuel terminal ensures that biodiesel and ethanol blended fuels are formulated for optimal driving performance and winter operability.

CountryMark also produces a complete line of high-quality lubricants, and it carries API-certified TerraCair diesel exhaust fluid (DEF). CountryMark fuels, lubricants, and DEF are delivered daily to farms, fleets, and families across the Midwest, and are available at more than 100 CountryMark-branded fueling stations. More than 65% of Indiana farmers and 50% of Indiana school corporations are powered by CountryMark fuels.

CountryMark’s upstream business includes a team of petroleum-exploration professionals, geologists, production engineers, drilling specialists, and reservoir managers. CountryMark’s oil-exploration and production group manage 1,400 oil wells in six states producing 3,500 barrels of oil each day. 


4:58 am
March 18, 2016
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People Culture and Change

“I love researching solutions to problems, evaluating the best path forward, and implementing improvements. Reliability has an endless supply of opportunity.” —Robert Bishop

“I love researching solutions to problems, evaluating the best path forward, and implementing improvements. Reliability has an endless supply of opportunity.”
—Robert Bishop

Robert Bishop combines technical expertise with leadership to improve reliability at Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.

By Michelle Segrest, Contributing Editor

A passion for people and equipment allowed Robert Bishop the opportunity to find his dream job at the intersection of reliability and systems improvement. “I enjoy dealing with the equipment side of things, but I also love to deal with people,” the Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. (BMS) maintenance engineer said. “I realized early on that this is part of who I need to be professionally.

With a degree in mechanical engineering from the Univ. of Rochester and a master’s of science in bioengineering from Syracuse Univ., Bishop had many career options. He worked in validation for 12 years and then had to make a decision to either be a lifer or diversify.

“I knew that if I didn’t do something soon, the decision would be made for me,” he said. “The opportunity came for the role I’m currently in, so I took the leap. From the first day I sat in this chair, I’ve never regretted it. If I could sit down and create the perfect job for myself, I couldn’t come up with a better fit.”

Three and a half years later, Bishop has balanced his technical skills with strong management skills to launch and implement many successful reliability programs for BMS.

“The best thing about my responsibilities is the ability to enhance and improve our systems,” he said. “No matter where you are on the continuum there is opportunity to improve. Technology is always changing and people are always joining the team. I love researching solutions to problems, evaluating the best path forward, and implementing improvements. Reliability has an endless supply of opportunity.”


Maintenance and reliability philosophy

Bishop said he believes strongly that action is more impactful than ideas.

“My overall reliability philosophy is to create robust systems, to educate your team, and then get out of the way and let them be successful,” he said. “People are more important than knowledge. I try to remind myself that it’s great to have a lot of ideas, but if we don’t actually do anything, we are never going to go anywhere. You can’t just drag your feet forever. You can force people to do what you want, but if you don’t invest in the people and acknowledge that they are the ones that makes things happen, you’re not going to see that benefit for the long run.”

Bishop works with 550 other employees at the BMS biological site in Syracuse, NY. The equipment is similar to what is typically used in a brewery, but with more filtration and chromatography steps. His team of 10 maintenance professionals works on tanks, filters, pumps, gearboxes, skid-based equipment, centrifuges, chromatography, and filtration skids. The larger team involves about 100 people at the site responsible for facilities and engineering. Bishop serves as a maintenance engineer but also is the acting maintenance manager, so he is responsible for maintaining the equipment, as well as the asset-management department and the CMMS system. The non-process equipment is handled through an outsourced maintenance company and there is also a facilities-management group.

Bishop’s connection with people extends to mentoring others to reach their goals and succeed.

He remembers an example when a young woman within a different organization at the site had an interest in reliability but didn’t have any background in it. “Over the course of about a year we had some meetings, lunch-and-learns, and many discussions on the topic,” Bishop said. “I provided her with reading material and links to webinars that would help her to learn. She recently sat for her Certified Reliability Leader exam and passed. I’m very proud of her and know that someday she will have a more formal role in the field of maintenance and reliability.”

Although Bishop spends each day in strategy meetings, but also solves day-to-day issues. He drives root-cause analysis, launches new systems, and is involved in upgrades to the CMMS system. One of his most successful best-maintenance practices is reporting by exception. “I don’t need to know when everything is going well. I need to know when things are not going as planned so I can communicate to the larger organization,” Bishop said. “I try to look for what isn’t supposed to be there.  For example, when you look at the integrity of the data in our CMMS system, you can create all the reports you want. Sometimes, it is beneficial to go look for things you don’t expect to find. For example, I don’t expect to find a blank priority field. But if I write a query for that and pull up all work orders that have blank priority fields I can ask ‘Why?’ I share an office with our reliability engineer and we report to different reporting structures within our larger facilities but we work closely together and there are a lot of topics that flow back and forth.”

Bishop focuses on high-value work. “We all could spend 90 hours a week working and still not get everything done. We have to identify where to put our effort.”

His commitment to people and processes does not go unnoticed by his peers.

“Robert is a well-respected member of the reliability community both internally at Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, and externally,” said George Williams, BMS associate director of asset management, Global Facilities Services. “Robert was awarded the BMS Reliability Excellence Leader of the Year award for 2015. Additionally, he was a finalist for the SMRP Rising Star award and leads their Biologics and Pharmaceuticals VSIG. He is a contributing author and presenter at multiple conferences annually. Rob consistently looks to contribute, collaborate, and improve what we do every day. His ideas have turned into standardized approaches for BMS shared throughout our network and helping to drive us to reliability sustainability.”

“With all of the achievements and accolades, most notable is that Rob is a leader. He is humble, gracious, and looks to develop others, which creates an environment where everyone contributes and feels welcomed. He has a rare combination of skills and knowledge, combined with drive, motivation, and impeccable soft skills to navigate the difficult terrain of a global company.”

Programs that make a difference

0316f1-tipsBishop is proud of several programs he has driven. He implemented one for paperless work orders that saved the company 120,000 pages of paper/year and also saved four full-time equivalent (FTE) efforts. However, he repurposed the people and no one lost their job. The program made valuable data available in real time while improving the quality of work.

He also drove a year-long PM-optimization program and implemented a lubrication-enhancement program that allowed closed systems, consolidated lubricants, and visual-management improvements.

The lubrication program focused on a BMS site that’s been around since 1943. It was originally a facility that produced penicillin during WWII, and had gone through a lot of evolutions through the decades. Many  of the lubricants on site were not needed. In fact, some of the drums of oil were 10 to12 years old.

“There were lubricants with slow turn, and it just wasn’t ideal,” Bishop recalled. “We didn’t know where everything went. A maintenance technician, who was here for 30 years, had a cheat sheet and knew which oil went in which gearbox. It worked great, but was not a very robust system. When I came into my role here, I took it upon myself to pull together a team that analyzed where everything was being used, and then we brought in one of our vendors who helped us consolidate.”

The program allowed the site to downgrade from 46 lubricants to just eight oils and four greases.

“We closed up the systems provided by the manufacturer on our gearboxes and level indicators. In most cases we used a sight-glass tube,” Bishop explained. “We closed the systems on the larger ones and installed Quick Connect so we could use a filter cart. We installed sample ports with dip tubes and we started doing oil sampling near where it is being used in the gears and not just in the bottom of the gearbox. We started the oil-sampling program to drive increased reliability. We weren’t necessarily having a lot of failures because of poor lubrication, but we had a lot of practices that weren’t ideal.”

The program included taking steps to do things through visual management. Now, gearboxes have a tag that indicates what is inside. It also identifies the viscosity and the manufacturer, and the same tag is on the oil container that is brought out to the field. An identical tag is on the oil-filtration skid.

It took about a year to transform into a closed system so no moisture or particles find their way into the gearboxes. “It was definitely worth the effort,” Bishop said. “We now have one of the better lubrication programs that I’ve ever seen. Nothing’s perfect, but we now have a very robust system.”

Challenges with change

0316f1-quoteBishop said he has always enjoyed change and the positive impact it can have on reliability systems. But sometimes it is difficult to convince others that change is a good thing.

“The biggest challenge is convincing people that improving systems and reducing workload will not result in reduced headcount,” Bishop said. “I point to my track record, and it speaks for itself. My goal is never to get rid of people. The people I work with know they can trust me. I wouldn’t say something and then do something else. For people who don’t know me, I am very proactive about addressing this.”

Bishop relies on tools such as a Best In Class (BIC) weekly meeting where all crew supervisors get together with a common goal to continuously improve and help each other. They use other tools such as ARMED software, which can identify KPI and reliability data such as a top-10 bad-actor list. Bishop also uses his more than 10 years of experience in the field of equipment qualification and validation—experience that has provided him with a robust understanding of documentation, quality systems, and equipment.

The greatest tool that Bishop uses is his ability to connect people with culture and change. “I always want to improve,” he said. “I always appreciate the people involved, and I know what it takes to change culture. It isn’t always easy, but it is always possible. It doesn’t have to be a huge project. It can be small, incremental things. But I’m a supporter of change. We must always strive to improve.” MT

Michelle Segrest has been a professional journalist for 27 years. She has covered the industrial processing industries for nine years. If you know of a maintenance and/or reliability expert who is making a difference at their facility, please drop her an email at


9:22 pm
February 8, 2016
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KISSing Is Good For Reliability


As catchy phrases go, ‘Keep It Simple Stupid’ has legs when it comes to managing equipment health.

The KISS principle is one of the first rules of good engineering practice. An acronym for “Keep It Simple Stupid,” it refers to the fact that most things function best if kept simple. According to Trent Phillips, global reliability leader for Novelis Inc., Atlanta (, the principle has maintenance and reliability significance.

As he wrote in a 2014 blog post on the Ludeca Inc. (Doral, FL) website (, end users often believe that costly, complex activities/functions are required to improve equipment reliability. While that may be the case in certain situations, you can make it the exception and not the rule in your facility. The point is not to focus excessively on expensive, complicated reliability functions you cannot complete and overlook the fundamentals in keeping equipment reliable.

What types of simple reliability improvements can you make? Phillips emphasizes these equipment basics:

  • Align shafts and other components.
  • Balance rotating components such as fan blades, impellers, and rotors.
  • Tighten appropriately; eliminate looseness and excessive vibration.
  • Lubricate correctly; not too much or too little.
  • Inspect.
  • Apply condition monitoring.
  • Understand where your efforts should be focused.

Also, don’t wait until equipment is installed and operating. According to Phillips, “Failure to address these vital aspects from the beginning through operation of your equipment will lead to higher maintenance costs and reduced equipment reliability.”

Unfortunately, important reliability-improvement efforts in plants often fall victim to lack of resources, understanding, time, and funding. To counter this situation in a facility, Phillips urges the reliability team to ensure that the site’s engineering, maintenance, production, purchasing, and management teams all understand, and routinely employ, fundamental KISS practices. MT

Indicators That Keep Things Simple

Trent Phillips, global reliability leader with Novelis Inc., Atlanta (, believes questions such as “Can we make our production schedule?” and other crystal-ball-type probing from plant personnel often put maintenance and reliability professionals in a tough position. In a December 2015 blog post on, he called out four future indicators that organizations can leverage to help answer such questions:

Preventive maintenance (PM) completion rate. Low PM completion rates directly correlate with increased future equipment-maintenance work. High PM completion rates mean that needed equipment maintenance is being completed and future maintenance issues will be avoided.

Ready-to-work backlog. This is an indicator of preparedness and efficiency to complete maintenance work.

Outage-schedule compliance. This important-to-track metric is an indicator of future maintenance work. Not adhering to outage schedules creates deferred equipment maintenance. This results in increased risks and likelihood that equipment performance will decrease at a future time, leading to lower capacity, increased downtime, and greater operating costs.

Equipment-asset-health reporting. Condition-monitoring tools, such as vibration analysis, infrared thermography, oil analysis, and ultrasound, can assure that impending failures are identified and corrected before they result in equipment downtime or other unwanted consequences. Tracking indicators from these technologies together can provide insights into future asset health. The “red” assets they identify can lead to unwanted equipment maintenance and downtime if corrective action isn’t taken. Additionally, if an effective critical-equipment ranking system is in place, asset-health-reporting can help prioritize maintenance efforts.

For more information on equipment-health-related strategies and techniques, including blog posts by Trent Phillips and other experts in maintenance and reliability, visit


4:10 pm
February 8, 2016
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Drive On-Time LPG Deliveries

Above. Thanks to the efforts of innovative product-transfer solution providers such as UK-based Meller Flow Trans Ltd., LPG-delivery company Flogas now has a next-generation, fit-and-forget solution for keeping its LPG-delivery vehicles on the road in the form of a product-transfer and metering system that incorporates Blackmer LGL series sliding-vane pumps and Flowcom 2000 flow meters.

Above. Thanks to the efforts of innovative product-transfer solution providers such as UK-based Meller Flow Trans Ltd., LPG-delivery company Flogas now has a next-generation, fit-and-forget solution for keeping its LPG-delivery vehicles on the road in the form of a product-transfer and metering system that incorporates Blackmer LGL series sliding-vane pumps and Flowcom 2000 flow meters.

Reliable sliding-vane pumps and non-mechanical flow meters are keeping liquid-propane gas suppliers on schedule and their customers happy.

Fleet operators in any industry have one driving principle: to keep their vehicles on the road lest delivery schedules—and customer satisfaction—be compromised. With package handlers and suppliers of inventory to grocery or clothing stores, for example, that requirement can be pretty straightforward, i.e., just make it to the customer’s site and unload the cargo. For other types of suppliers, however, the task is often easier said than done.

Take liquid propane gas (LPG). Providing this product to customers is not just a simple case of arriving at the desired address and leaving a box on the front porch. While a truck is a critical and indispensable component in the LPG supply chain, actual delivery can only be accomplished if the vehicle is outfitted with a series of working pumps, meters, hoses, controllers, and monitors that enable transfer of the LPG into a storage vessel. Unfortunately, since the abuse of daily over-the-road travel can hamper the performance of sensitive transfer equipment, the need for reliable components is a critical concern for LPG delivery companies.

“Vehicles are notoriously damaging and require robust operation,” explained Mark Allcock, managing director for Meller Flow Trans Ltd., located in Bradford, United Kingdom. “We don’t want sensitive equipment on the vehicle that will not stand the test of time and the rigors of daily road use.”

Opposite page. Since 1984, Flogas has operated a fleet of LPG tankers that make deliveries to bulk customers while also offering cylinder-filling services at its network of LPG depot terminals.

Opposite page. Since 1984, Flogas has operated a fleet of LPG tankers that make deliveries to bulk customers while also offering cylinder-filling services at its network of LPG depot terminals.

A systematic solution

Founded in 1960, Meller Flow Trans began as an industrial-engineering firm. In the years since, it has evolved to focus on and specialize in creation of product-transfer solutions for the United Kingdom’s transport industry, including development of cutting-edge LPG-delivery systems. Traditionally, these systems featured a mechanical metering component that governed LPG transfer from the storage tank to the delivery vehicle, and from the delivery vehicle to the customer’s storage vessel.

While mechanical positive-displacement oscillating piston-type meters have, over time, performed well in such applications, the fact that they require moving parts to operate makes them susceptible to damage that can put them out of commission and hamper on-time deliveries.

According to Allcock, although mechanical meters are reliable in their own way, things can go wrong with moving parts. “What we’re trying to do as a systems provider,” he said, “is bring together the most reliable pieces of equipment that we can find to give our end users, our customer base, a fit-and-forget metering and delivery system.”

In the search for a solution, eight years ago Allcock and Meller Flow Trans came upon the Flowcom 2000 flow meter, produced by Flow Instruments & Engineering GmbH, a European company based in Solingen, Germany. What sets the Flowcom 2000 apart from traditional meters is that it facilitates fluid transfer through venturi-based pressure-differential metering principles, rather than mechanical moving parts.

“These were the first people I knew of to use pressure-differential metering on trucks,” said Allcock. “The Flowcom 2000 is highly machined, a very, very accurate piece of equipment. It lends itself perfectly to the road-transport industry because there are no moving parts.”

The Flowcom 2000 turned out to be the final piece in Meller Flow Trans’ delivery-system puzzle that, over four decades, had included LGL series sliding-vane pumps from Blackmer, Grand Rapids, MI. (Blackmer is a product brand of the Dover Company’s Pump Solutions Group [PSG] based in Oakbrook Terrace, IL.) Working with the vast majority of LPG-truck fabricators in the UK, Meller Flow Trans has outfitted hundreds of vehicles with the Blackmer/Flowcom 2000 delivery system.

“We’ve been selling Blackmer cargo pumps in the UK for more than 40 years,” recalled Allcock. “It really is a fit-and-forget piece of equipment, very reliable, very easy to maintain when required, which is minimal to say the least.” As a result, he estimates that these pumps are used in 90% to 95% of the UK’s mini-bulk or bobtail LPG delivery trucks, and for good reason (see sidebar, previous page).

Operation of the Blackmer/Flowcom 2000 delivery system begins when the driver initiates it from a control box at the back of the vehicle. At that time, the prop-shaft-driven pump moves the LPG through a delivery line to a gas-bubble sensor that checks for pockets of air in the LPG. From there, it moves through a temperature probe that, if necessary, converts the temperature of the LPG to 59 F (15 C). Then it’s on to the flow meter, which creates a restriction in the line that builds pressure—high before the venturi and low after the venturi. A differential pressure transmitter converts the pressure into a 4-to-20-mA signal that’s sent back to the control box where the driver can read the measured flow in volume or mass.

After searching for a dependable LPG-transfer solution for more than eight years, Mark Allcock, right, managing director for Meller Flow Trans, was able to supply the Flogas team, including mini-bulk delivery-truck driver Paul Ward, left, and depot manager Gary Rolfe, center, with a reliable metering system featuring the Flowcom 2000 flow meter and Blackmer sliding-vane cargo pump.

After searching for a dependable LPG-transfer solution for more than eight years, Mark Allcock, right, managing director for Meller Flow Trans, was able to supply the Flogas team, including mini-bulk delivery-truck driver Paul Ward, left, and depot manager Gary Rolfe, center, with a reliable metering system featuring the Flowcom 2000 flow meter and Blackmer sliding-vane cargo pump.

Guaranteeing satisfaction

Another of Meller Flow Trans’ long-standing relationships in the UK LPG industry is with Flogas, Leicester, United Kingdom, which has been a customer for more than 30 years. Flogas entered the UK’s LPG market in 1984 with the acquisition of Portagas, and has grown to the point that it now has LPG-delivery operations in Ireland, Northern Ireland, Sweden, Norway, Belgium, and The Netherlands. In the UK, Flogas operates a fleet of LPG tankers that makes deliveries to bulk customers, while also offering cylinder-filling services at its network of depot terminals.

“At the Flogas site in Leicester, we have a wide variety of customers, cylinders, bulk, we do commercial bulk customers, a lot of dealers that do a lot of business for us,” noted Gary Rolfe, depot manager at Flogas’ Leicester LPG terminal. “We have more than 100 mini-bulk trucks in the company, and have been putting on a stronger, better metering system on the trucks. The Flowcom 2000 meters are certainly reliable, faster, and a lot easier for our drivers to use.” Moreover, as he characterized it, the whole process is simpler for all parties involved.

As a mini-bulk delivery driver for Flogas, Paul Ward is on the LPG industry’s front lines every day. His opinion of the Blackmer/Flowcom 2000 solution’s inherent reliability is clear. “It’s good to know,” he emphasized, “when I set off on my deliveries in the morning, that the pump isn’t going to cause me any problems, and that I can make my deliveries efficiently and safely.” MT

Application Specifics

sidebar1602fpump04Equipped with a Blackmer LGLD2E pump (2-in./51 mm), Flogas’ mini-bulk trucks perform hose-reel deliveries through 130 ft. (40 meters) of hose at a flow rate of 53 gpm (200 l/min). On its larger bulk-delivery semi-trailers, the company uses LGLD4B pumps (4 in./102 mm) that are capable of achieving flow rates as high as 185 gpm (700 l/min).

Featuring a cavitation-suppression liner that reduces the type of noise, vibration, and wear caused by entrained vapors, these pumps are well suited—and UL-listed—for LPG service. Their sliding-vane design also gives them significant self-priming and dry-run capabilities.

For more information, visit or