Archive | July


3:02 am
July 2, 2000
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Carrying RCM Tasks to the Plant Floor

We generally think of reliability centered maintenance (RCM) implementation as three separate activities:

  • RCM analysis resulting in recommended RCM-based preventive maintenance (PM) tasks
  • Carrying those RCM-based PM tasks to the plant floor (task packaging)
  • Conducting the Living RCM Program to measure results and fine tune the process.

I found (much to my surprise at first) that successfully initiating and completing the first activity (analysis) was done with very little, if any, difficulty. The problems, however, with the other two activities were often extremely difficult, and sometimes catastrophic. These problems varied from site to site, but there are a handful of common topics:

Staff buy-in
Nothing new is ever successfully introduced into an operating plant, facility, or factory unless the people who are charged with the responsibility to do it are 100 percent behind it. You will obviously obtain some degree of acceptance of RCM simply by the successful completion of the analysis process on some complex plant systems. But this acceptance (buy-in) is very narrow, and, as a result, many practitioners often move on to task packaging without first obtaining a broader degree of ownership and buy-in from plant supervision and craft personnel. Without that broader acceptance, it is unlikely that any attempt to carry the RCM PM tasks to the floor will be successful. So, a carefully planned program of indoctrination and education must precede any attempt to actually do the RCM PM tasks, and the broadest possible inclusion of plant personnel in the analysis process itself should occur in order to systematically develop buy-in and ownership with the work force.

Equipment-oriented mindset
In a typical plant, we commonly find craft and supervisory leaders to be skilled and dedicated people who have spent many years of hands-on work with the equipment. In fact, their careers are focused on assuring that the equipment is always operating or available to operate if called upon. In other words, their job focus is equipment preservation. However, RCM takes a different view of what their job focus should be—namely, to assure that critical plant functions are always available when required. This is function preservation.

The shift in emphasis from equipment to function preservation frequently becomes a difficult concept to sell; yet it is the basis for all of the RCM-based PM tasks. Plant personnel need to have some grasp of the conceptual logic behind RCM, or they will have difficulty changing their old (and comfortable) ways of doing business.

New tasks, new technologies
Human beings resist change. We are comfortable with the status quo. Over the years, in comparing the content of existing PM programs versus a recommended RCM-based PM program, changes in the range of 40 to 80 percent occur. Clearly, plant staff personnel must have some appreciation of where changes of this magnitude come from and why they are very beneficial to do. But beyond that, other resistance factors enter the picture.

The RCM program will always introduce new PM tasks (it also will delete nonvalue-adding tasks). These new PM tasks will require new work orders, often completely new procedures, and perhaps also new tools and craft skills.

In a large number of cases, RCM will introduce predictive maintenance (PdM) tasks into the program. This will always require some degree of new tools and craft skills. So the shift to the RCM program is not just a buy in and function-oriented mindset; it is also a commitment to some degree of time and money to make it happen. Thus, various levels of management approval could be involved. And most certainly, a dedicated attitude among the craft personnel together with efficient resource planning is a must if successful implementation is to occur.

The first step to solving these potential problems is to recognize their existence, and then make them a part of your overall installation plan for the RCM program. You must decide up front how you will address these issues. If you wait until they are upon you, chances are that you may never proceed to place your RCM-based PM tasks on the floor where they belong. MT
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2:59 am
July 2, 2000
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It's Time To Grow Up, Gearhead


Robert C. Baldwin, CMRP, Editor

“We find people who want to install software and technology when they should be installing a strategy.” That is a comment from one of the contributors to this issue’s directory of Maintenance Information Systems for Midsize and Larger Organizations. I call this fixation with having the right technology the gearhead mentality.

The gearhead mentality was first called to my attention by my son. He has been teaching electric guitar and bass for some years and applying his income toward his education. He is now in the home stretch of a master’s degree. A number of his students have always wanted to spend the lesson time paid for by their parents in discussing the pros and cons of various models and brands of guitars, amplifiers, and effects pedals rather than on learning to play the instrument. He calls these students gearheads.

Music gear usually doesn’t make much of a difference if you don’t know how to play, or don’t practice very often.

There are gearheads everywhere. Lots of them are in sports, looking for the best racket, club, ball, or shoe to give them that winning edge. In fencing, the sport in which I compete, the gearheads are easily sucked into discussion on the virtues of various sword handle designs—French, Belgian, Russian, Italian, American, Visconte, etc. It doesn’t make much difference what kind of handle you use if your feet are slow, or you can’t put your point on the target, or you can’t make an effective parry.

Sports gear usually doesn’t make much difference if you can’t keep your eye on the ball. Laser guided rackets and clubs aren’t available & yet. And when they arrive, the gearheads will have them, but performance in the new laser game will remain a function of conditioning, skill, and strategy.

There was a newspaper story recently about the initiative in Wyoming to connect every schoolroom in the state to the Internet, including a six-student school that meets in a mobile home. The author pointed out that those students were more interested in working the ranch than surfing the net.

Educational gear doesn’t make much difference without a challenging lesson plan developed by an understanding teacher.

So, when it comes to gear, how different is reliability and maintenance than music, sports, or education? If you’re a gearhead, it’s time to grow up and work on the fundamentals instead of looking for some technology to save your skin. When you grow beyond the gearhead stage, our directory can help you in your search for the best software to execute your reliability strategy. MT

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2:14 am
July 2, 2000
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Keeping the Gloss on Maintenance at Johnson Polymer

Plant keeps tight rein on spare parts inventory with EAM/CMMS. Equipment history reports help keep reliability and maintenance operations efficient.

In enterprise asset management or computerized maintenance management system (EAM/CMMS) is fundamental to running a reliability and maintenance organization in a businesslike manner. Such a system has been keeping us on track since the late 1980s.

Our five facilities in Sturtevant, WI, produce the base polymers used by the SC Johnson family of companies. You’ll find them in everything from floor coatings to, very likely, the ink and coating on the article you’re reading now. We have 138 operators and staff supported by 10 maintenance technicians who, in turn, can be supplemented with staff from SC Johnson central maintenance.

As an ISO 9000 certified facility and member of the Chemical Manufacturers Association, we always desired to account for our maintenance operation. We had started our own stockroom to provide needed special parts and wanted to track work orders, parts, and other aspects of maintenance. We knew a computerized system would help us more efficiently meet and support our objectives and the regulatory requirements for maintenance integrity.

In the late 1980s, we selected Mainsaver as our EAM/CMMS and, from the get-go, employed the full system, including inventory control, purchasing, work order system, and predictive maintenance. We saved over $200,000 that first year through consolidating our purchasing power. We were able to demand better pricing and obtain shorter delivery times. In addition, we received savings from the efficiencies such an EAM/CMMS provides.

We have been able to maintain spares at a level that is both sufficient and cost-effective. Reports are generated and requisitions issued whenever quantities drop below a predetermined level. Sufficient stock is available for scheduled projects.

The purchasing module generates purchase orders (PO) for both stocked and nonstocked items, special orders, and services. It tracks open POs and generates a list of those that are past due. When we create a PO, our Finance Department pulls through the information for the accounts payable system, later matching up the PO with the vendor invoice.

Our system receives maintenance input, creates work orders, and tracks work in process. It provides a variety of reports, including work status and equipment availability, as well as cost and repair history. This is especially important for creating a maintenance program that’s predictive and proactive.

Today we’re tracking and performing predictive maintenance on 1300 various reactors, tanks, valves, pumps, and controllers. Each of these is identified in the system with its own equipment number. We track the history on each piece of equipment and can write work orders against all of them. We average 62 work orders a day.

In addition, each of these listed equipment products has many spare parts. In fact, we stock over 4000 unique items in our stockroom and turn this stock 1.3 times per year.

How our system works
It doesn’t happen very often, but let’s assume an equipment asset, such as a valve, breaks. First, a work order is written to repair Valve No. 1234. The appropriate spare parts, designated on the spares list, are checked from the stockroom and installed. We know when the failure occurred, what parts were issued, who repaired the valve, and when the problem was corrected.

In addition, we also will determine if the valve is to be disposed of or repaired. If repairable, a new work order is written. The valve is provided the spare parts it needs, as written on that work order, and rebuilt. It then is issued back to stock. Again, we can determine the materials and labor expense of fixing that valve.

Histories are analyzed and used to update the predictive maintenance needs of that valve application and whether it is economical to repair or dispose of such valves. More importantly, though, because of having the right spare parts on hand, when we have a breakdown, we can respond and repair more quickly to keep that line flowing.

Never having breakdowns or downtime is even better. That’s where predictive maintenance comes in, and we count heavily on the EAM/CMMS to assist us. In addition to knowing the history of our equipment, we know the number of hours Valve No. 1234 should operate. We know its efficiencies from our automated processing system. That valve should be able to handle 100 gpm. If its efficiency slacks to 99 gpm, we need to keep an eye on it. Let’s assume the line is scheduled to run for another 4 hr. We’ll nurse it to avoid a breakdown or slowdown. The second the line stops, we’re there to replace or repair that valve.

Our lines run 24/7 and can be in continuous operation for a month or two at a time. That’s a maintenance nightmare. On the other hand, we do know when the plant is scheduled for a shutdown. So does the EAM/CMMS and, using it, we know what equipment needs to be updated during that shutdown, based on the tracking and histories of that equipment. We also know what parts are needed so, ahead of time, we order those we don’t have and assure all required parts are in stock by shutdown.

For scheduled shutdowns, we quite often will hire two or three people from central maintenance to help our 10 staffers. Again, we know what the workload will be, based on histories of both equipment and labor time. Once that plant stops, we get to work, refurbish the plant in the limited time allotted, and assure that the facility is ready to go when production wants to turn on the switch.

Reports are vital
It’s one thing to collect all the data. It’s something else to get it into information that helps us manage. We can track our individual maintenance technician hours, even when nonmaintenance functions such as training or company meetings are attended. We break out that time so it’s not allocated to actual maintenance work. We need to know the exact time spent on specific jobs. Knowing how long it takes to replace the typical Valve No. 1234, we know how much time to schedule for replacing 15 of these valves when we have a plant shutdown. We don’t want to hire too many or not enough central maintenance help plus we can better schedule our own people.

A shiny future
We’re not standing pat. During the second half of this year, we plan to switch our system from an IBM AS/400 computing platform to one using Microsoft Windows, which is no problem with Mainsaver EAM/CMMS. We’re also looking at the web-enabled benefits. For instance, we have a sister plant in Delaware that’s now on its own. With enterprise visibility, especially on key, expensive parts, we could increase our stocking power, minimizing the redundancy of stocking seldom used parts. We could make both plant maintenance operations more efficient by having even better histories on parts and suppliers.

The slogan of Johnson Polymer is “where solutions surface.” We in maintenance also like to think of it as our own for our plants and, in turn, for our customers. MT

David J. Wenszell is stockroom manager and training coordinator–North American manufacturing at Johnson Polymer, Sturtevant, WI 5317l

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10:00 pm
July 1, 2000
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Misalignment: Is it Still a Problem?

Is shaft alignment still a source of problems for your rotating equipment? With all of the tools, technology, and training sold in the past decade, why are there still a large number of equipment component failures that can be traced directly to poor alignment practices?

This article will identify some of the sources of the problem and offer a few suggestions as to how to dramatically reduce the reoccurrence of failures due to misalignment.

Pre-alignment preparation
The amount of time spent going through a pre-alignment checklist directly affects the longevity of the equipment. Lists may range from a single sheet of paper with 10 items used at a wastewater treatment facility to a 100-pg document at a nuclear power station. It is important that each item on the list be addressed before attempting to perform an alignment on any piece of rotating equipment.

Soft foot correction
This is the most overlooked step in preparing to perform an alignment. If this step is neglected, hours can be spent trying to achieve the alignment tolerance required for the equipment. Time spent here will greatly speed up the alignment job and will contribute to the life of the machine.

Soft foot has been called machine frame distortion, coplanar correction, and several other names. The bottom line is that if all of the feet of both machine components do not rest firmly on the top of the baseplate, when the hold down bolts are tightened movement occurs.

The issue of torque wrenches also needs to be addressed. If craftspeople are spending an inordinate amount of time working on alignments and are getting frustrated with those moves that calculate out to add 0.005 in. and then remove 0.006 in., it is probably a good time to invest in a couple of good quality torque wrenches. If consistency cannot be achieved when tightening bolts, a lot of time and money is wasted.

Hardware setup
After each point on the list has been examined and all corrective action has been completed, alignment hardware can now be attached. It is always good practice to make sure that the tool is ready to perform its function. When using dial indicators, make sure the stem moves smoothly in and out, the bezel turns, and it is easy to read. If it is possible, bring an extra one along to the jobsite. Accidents do happen.

When using a computer- or a laser-based system to assist in obtaining measurements and calculating the needed corrections, make sure the batteries are in good condition and are fully charged. Dead or leaking batteries can cause serious problems and make the job take longer to complete.

Check the chains, rods, nuts, thumbscrews, etc., for rust and freedom of movement. Some of these tools sit on the shelf for long periods of time between uses. A quick shot of lubricant can help avoid a stuck or cross-threaded part.

Make sure to collect all the accessories and tools needed before going out to the jobsite. If the method or system has not been used for a while, make a quick review of the correct procedures. It can save a lot of time and frustration in the field.

While in the process of taking readings, make sure the readings are repeating. If the values are changing every time a set of readings is taken, there may be a problem with the hardware, in the bearings, or in the coupling. In addition to being repeatable, the readings also should be reproducible. Measurements should be reproducible to within 0.0005 in. to instill confidence in the installation. If they are not, a deeper investigation needs to be made as to the cause of the inconsistency.

Use the proper tools the right way
After obtaining a set of readings and determining that corrective action is required to achieve proper alignment tolerances, use the right tools.

When vertical corrections are called for, use pre-cut shims. Most shims available are made to close specifications and generally measure to within a half thousandth of the thickness indicated on the shim. It is always a good practice to check the shim before inserting it under a foot to be sure it is the correct thickness and to insure that one shim is not stuck to another, especially when using thin shims.

When raising the machine to insert shims, be careful. Personal safety is more important than anything else. A prybar can slip out from under the foot or the case and cause an injury. Parts can break off or bend. Lifting the machine with a chainfall or hoist is better. Hydraulic rams or mechanical jacks also can be used to lift or move the machine.

Horizontal movement of the machine is easier, but there are some things to watch for. If there are jackbolts present on the base of the machine, check to make sure they are lubricated and will turn smoothly. The bolts may be rusted in place and could require the use of a tap and die to restore freedom of movement.

Maintaining control and accurately measuring the amount of movement are essential. It is difficult to make precise moves with a sledgehammer, not to mention what that might do to bearings, seals, and couplings that were not designed to take heavy impacts or shocks.

Always keep a record of the alignment work done. It is a good practice to record a set of as-found readings before making any corrections on the machine. After the alignment has been completed to within the manufacturer’s or the facility’s tolerances, make and keep a set of “as-left” or final alignment readings. These can be used the next time an alignment check is performed to see if any movement has occurred. A documented history of the work done on a pump and motor can be valuable in determining the life expectancy and overall operating condition of rotating equipment.

Record keeping forms and charts are available from most manufacturers and distributors of alignment hardware. Some have software packages that work in conjunction with their systems to provide a record of alignment jobs. Others also have the capability of downloading directly to a printer or to a personal computer to assist in generating documentation for future reference.

There are also several good maintenance management programs available that provide space for documenting alignment information along with vibration, infrared, ultrasonic, and lubrication analysis information.

The final argument
What is the response to “But you don’t understand the people I work for. They will never give me the time to do all the things you have talked about.”? Do the best possible job with the tools available, the level of knowledge available, and the amount of time given to perform the task. Most likely there will be the chance to work on that particular piece of equipment again in the not-too-distant future. For each opportunity, correct as many of the problems as possible and eventually everything on the list will be corrected. MT

Information supplied by Rob Collins, Mr. Shims, 729 N. Yale Ave., Villa Park, IL 60181; telephone (800) 727-4467

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