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May 1, 2005
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Managing an EAM/CMMS Project

Phase one: An unbiased team approach to system selection

The latest ARC Advisory Group study of the enterprise asset management (EAM/CMMS) software market profiles more than 80 maintenance application suppliers. This number of choices is enough to make any plant manager shudder. How can you pick the tool that is right for you? Is the decision left to your chief information officer (CIO) who may prefer a specific technology? Should it be the chief financial officer (CFO) who may be partial to the ERP system used for financials that also happens to have a maintenance module? How about the plant manager who is concerned about the growing complexity of regulatory compliance? Or the maintenance manager who may have specific functional needs?

Maintenance touches many business areas and systems, and all parties want a solution that best serves their own needs. It may seem counterintuitive, but some companies give precedence to nonmaintenance organizations when making maintenance system decisions, and then fail to achieve the full scope of intended benefits. Other plants give maintenance free reign without considering the big picture impact.

The tug-of-war between decision makers can make or break the success of an EAM/CMMS implementation. This article addresses the delicate balance of wants and needs, and how they apply in the application selection process.

Acknowledge the needs
Plant maintenance is considered by some to be the unglamorous underground of a company’s operation. It may be just a nagging afterthought in the minds of finance, human resources, production, supply chain, and administration personnel. That is, until something goes wrong. The spotlight turns on when disruptions to “normal” business operations occur, and turns off again when production resumes. No one knows better the critical role played by the maintenance organization than the maintenance personnel themselves.

Why is it, then, that everyone has an opinion on which business application best serves the needs of the maintenance organization? Is there room for more than one decision-maker?

The short answer is yes. The chief operating officer needs a system that supports reliable, safe, and high-quality throughput. The CFO demands timely and accurate reporting of each maintenance, repair, and operations transaction that impacts the general ledger. To the CIO, compatible, extendable technology is of utmost concern. The storeroom must have adequate, but not excessive, spare parts on hand to keep the operation running. Buyers want enough information with enough notice to negotiate the best prices on parts and equipment. Even the chief executive officer, who wants to increase revenues and decrease costs, has a stake in maintenance system decisions.

And then there’s maintenance. Maintenance personnel have an exclusive understanding of how best to safely and effectively keep all plant equipment and facilities operational. They also have unique knowledge of the data and processes needed to perform their job. They clearly have the most to gain—and lose—with the selection of a new maintenance system.

Because so many parties have an interest in maintenance, an unbiased approach to selection is essential to ensure the company makes the right decision.

Prerequisites for success
With so many diverse needs to be met, how can a company select the right software? There are literally dozens of EAM/CMMS solutions on the market of varying depth and quality—some extensions of ERP systems, and some best-of-breed. The vendors profiled by ARC are only the more prominent of a much larger market.

Providers come and go, merge and divest, and continuously tailor their products and strategic positioning. Over the years, ERP providers have beefed up their maintenance modules to better compete with niche players. Best-of-breed products provide new levels of depth and breadth, and integration has improved due to technology improvements. The utmost priority must be given to determining the single best solution.

The decision process itself can impact your success also. When a new ERP system is implemented, plant maintenance is often an afterthought and maintenance personnel may be excluded from the selection process. Even when a best-of-breed maintenance system is selected along with a suite of products, decisions may be based on integration capabilities first and functionality second. Companies cannot afford to let this continue.

Maintenance has evolved into a strategic practice that can generate a competitive advantage with high reliability and low costs. New technologies and maintenance strategies such as computerized modeling and failure prediction allow a new level of sophistication not possible in the past. Therefore, maintenance personnel must take an active role in every maintenance system decision.

The selection team
The people you can least afford to lose in day-to-day operations are probably the best ones for the selection team. It should be led by either an IT project manager or an operations or maintenance manager with project management skills. The balance of the team should include skilled representatives from all affected departments. Each team member will need a generous amount of dedicated time away from daily operations to successfully complete the selection. It may hurt in the short run, but the long-term rewards are great.

An experienced third party can help soften the blow. A facilitator from outside the organization can jump-start the selection process, minimize the time impact on critical resources, negotiate delicate turf issues, and expedite an unbiased decision.

No matter who leads the selection, in order to mitigate the risks in this process and achieve the greatest possible return on investment, it is important that decision makers have or develop extensive knowledge in:

• Business: best practice business processes, data, and methodologies

• Technology: hardware, software, and networks

• Culture: organizational roles and responsibilities

• Industry: drivers and opportunities relevant to your industry

• EAM: long-term strategy and viability of the vendors

How to decide
Selection team responsibilities include conducting a thorough internal assessment, attaining a strong understanding of the broad EAM/CMMS market, narrowing the field to a select few products, and performing a methodical assessment of the short list before choosing the right solution for the job.

1. Business review and performance assessment
Interviews and workshops are conducted to dissect and document present-day practices, and underscore those that are inefficient. Process bottlenecks, organizational constraints, data inadequacies, and technical limitations are addressed. With an emphasis on industry best practice models, potential remedies are outlined so the problems will not be perpetuated. This is the big picture stage, looking not only at the potential of EAM systems, but progressive, compatible technologies as well.

2. System cost benefit analysis
Unless you can articulate your needs in terms the executive team can understand, you may have difficulty receiving financial backing. Recommendations from the business review and performance assessment are the primary drivers for the cost benefit analysis. The authors must have a high-level understanding of comparative productivity gains achieved by other companies, as well as typical solution license, implementation, and support costs. The cost of doing nothing also must be included. Existing software and hardware will eventually become unsupported, and future integration costs will rise as related systems change. A thorough, bottom-line justification will provide the ammunition necessary to receive executive support.

3. Business requirements definition
Approval to proceed follows with a documented framework of business needs and system functions required to support the recommendations. Every business process for each role impacted by the new system must be documented and reconciled against industry best practices and lessons learned. This includes, for example, planned and unplanned work, union and nonunion labor, in-house and contract services, regular and overtime hours, and direct and stock materials. Once defined, a weight can be given to the requirements to allow for an unbiased evaluation of potential software products.

4. Request for proposal (RFP) development and evaluation
The RFP delivered to short-listed vendors must concisely and accurately convey the full scope of your needs. The business requirements definition provides the basis for this deliverable. Each vendor response must be carefully judged against your weighted needs. Methods to automate EAM/CMMS evaluation using quantitative measures at various levels can facilitate objective analysis and selection.

5. System selection and contract negotiations
Short-listed vendors should be provided a standard demo script that highlights your required functionality. This way, when the vendors demonstrate their software to the selection team, the typical sales hype is avoided. It is also beneficial to visit other companies currently using the software in order to gain further insight into strengths and weaknesses. Although all signs may point to one product, insight into the individual vendors and the near-term and enduring impact of a decision also must be considered. Only in this way can you be assured that you are selecting the solution that will meet long-term business objectives. Contract negotiation is the final, critical step to ensure that your needs will be met and your investment will be protected.

Is it worth it?
After reviewing these steps, you might have doubts. EAM/CMMS selection is no small task, and it comes with a great deal of responsibility. It would be easier to just leave well enough alone, but consider the long-term rewards as well as the risks and costs of doing nothing.

An effectively selected and implemented EAM/CMMS will undoubtedly generate bottom-line savings, but it is not all about money. Employee satisfaction will increase as time is better spent on productive work, knowledge is available when and where needed, and skills are allocated to more challenging responsibilities. Improved safety practices will benefit your employees and the surrounding community. Unplanned interruptions will be avoided, and downtime will be better managed. An investment made now can benefit everyone in the long run. Just make sure you identify the right team to lead the way.

Future articles in this series will discuss software implementation and project optimization.

C. Scott MacMillan and Lance Morris are principals of Cohesive Information Solutions Inc., 8215 Madison Blvd., Ste. 150, Madison, AL 35758; (877) 410-2570

System Selection Process Flow


The processes that are part of the EAM/CMMS selection project.


Process Integration Summary


How the various business areas integra

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6:00 am
May 1, 2005
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Volunteer As a Maintenance and Reliability Professional

 have been reading a great deal about volunteerism as the U.S. version of National Volunteer Week has just passed.

The 2005 theme, “Inspire by Example,” truly reflects the power volunteers have to inspire the people they help, as well as to inspire others to serve. The Points of Light Web site has many good resources about volunteering.

As I spent time on the site it struck me that volunteerism is alive and well in the maintenance and reliability community.

As I began this article, Maintenance Technology Editor Bob Baldwin was attending the annual meeting of MIMOSA (Machinery Information Management Open Systems Alliance), a nonprofit trade association which develops and encourages adoption of open information standards for Operations and Maintenance in manufacturing, fleet, and facility environments. The simplistic explanation for MIMOSA is a highly motivated group of people who are working to ensure all software can work together in a meaningful way without adding massive new programming code.

Since 1998, the group has grown in importance and currently offers numerous ways for interested people to get involved. If plant software and its interoperability are important to you, please visit the Web site and contact one of the board members listed to discuss how you can volunteer.

I recently had an opportunity to see MIMOSA in action at the International Maintenance Conference as 15 different vendors who each offer MIMOSA Compliant software came together for the first time and created one fully functioning information system. It was a very impressive demonstration.

The Association for Facilities Engineering (AFE) provides education, certification, technical information, and other relevant resources for plant and facility engineering, operations, and maintenance professionals worldwide. I recently renewed my membership as AFE has become more active in maintenance and reliability.

It has created councils for people who have specific interests and I am involved with the Maintenance Council. I happen to know that this council is seeking volunteers as I have been asked to lend a hand.

AFE has other benefits including local chapters and a growing resource-based Web site. It would be a great place for anyone in facilities maintenance to get involved.

My personal time is spent volunteering at the Society for Maintenance & Reliability Professionals (SMRP). This group has been around for 14 years and the volunteers have worked diligently to share best practices and to promote professionalism.

They are having an impact as you now read articles in this magazine, our Web site, and almost every other industry publication referring to “maintenance and reliability professionals.” That is you—in case you have not figured it out.

SMRP has a number of volunteer activities available including working on the best practices committee, the certification committee, the benchmarking committee, the standards committee, the marketing committee, the conference committee, and more. Once you learn your way around the group, you might even volunteer or be nominated as an officer or director and take on a leadership role.

We are all busy. Being a volunteer is hard work and requires a time commitment. I work hard in my volunteer role at SMRP and I hope that my contribution will also make a difference for the maintenance community. In return the things I have learned at SMRP have contributed to my personal and professional development.

So, get involved and volunteer as each of these fine organizations can surely use whatever help you can give. In return you will make a difference, learn a lot, and make great friends.

If you know of other maintenance-related organizations that seek volunteers, please e-mail me at

Terrence O’Hanlon, CMRP, is the publisher of He is the director of strategic alliances for the Society for Maintenance & Reliability Professionals (SMRP). He is also the event manager for CMMS-2005, the Computerized Maintenance Management Summit on July 26-29, 2005, in Indianapolis, IN,

Internet Tip: Network Online

There is a fantastic discussion going on at with thousands of maintenance and reliability professionals asking questions, posting case studies, and learning from each other in a noncommercial environment. The discussion is taking place on a Web-based, “threaded” discussion board.

The board requires registration to ensure spammers and commercial posters can be removed and your privacy is assured. Your e-mail is never displayed unless you decide to post it. The board is divided into subject-based categories. It is a good idea to cruise through the board and get a flavor for the type and tone of the discussions. Once you are comfortable, go ahead and share your advice, solve a problem, or post a question. You will be surprised at the speed and quality of the responses.

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6:00 am
May 1, 2005
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2005 Infrared Thermography Guide

Inspections can detect problems and avoid costly equipment failure.

Thermal imaging has evolved into a valuable diagnostic tool for predictive maintenance. By detecting anomalies often invisible to the naked eye, thermography allows corrective actions to be taken before electrical, mechanical, or process equipment fails. The use of palm computers and database software has improved and speeded up data collection.

An infrared inspection program can provide users with a quick return on investment. According to Scott Cawlfield, president of Logos Computer Solutions, Inc., Seattle, on average, for every $1 spent on an infrared electrical inspection there is a $4 return on investment for materials and labor to fix the problem equipment before it failed. Depending on other factors, he suggested, that ratio could be closer to 1:20.


Infrared thermography is a valuable tool in predictive maintenance programs. Here, a thermographer inspects a switchgear panel with the HotShot XL camera. (Photograph courtesy Electrophysics Corp.)

What’s in a program?
The essential elements in an IR inspection program, Cawlfield said, are to:

• Use or create an equipment inventory list to account for what equipment was tested and when.

• Assign a criticality factor to each piece of equipment to prioritize inspection schedules and repairs.

• Determine the pertinent information to be recorded in addition to temperature readings and reference points; other factors such as camera emissivity value, equipment load, wind speed, environment, and manufacturer influence temperature readings.

• Provide consistent data collection procedures.

• Analyze problem areas and generate appropriate reports.

Barriers to effective IR programs
But not all companies are enthusiastically adopting an infrared thermography program. The barriers often cited are in the financial arena—time, personnel, camera cost, training, or contractor expense. The most-mentioned aspect of the financial barrier is the lack of awareness of the benefits to the bottom line.

The main factor standing in the way of the effective use of infrared thermography technology centers on the cost of high-level education and training. It is not only training in thermography but also other associated topics such as materials science, physics, and thermodynamics, “plus knowledge of ‘how things work’, from engines and turbines to buildings’ thermal insulation or HVAC units,” noted one inspection service provider.

Advice from experts
Users of infrared thermography must realize that they should not build the program to meet all of their needs at first—allow it to be dynamic. Maintain good record keeping for trending purposes.

And be sure to communicate what the infrared program is contributing to the company. “Tout your program as often as you possibly can in a professional, reasonable way so that when money is tight people will understand your value,” was the advice from one provider.

A little outside-the-box thinking helps, too. “There are unique applications for nearly every industry, or even every facility. Sometimes it takes a little imagination, but the benefits can be staggering,” said another provider.



0505irthermotest1 0505irthermotest-after1

The thermal image (left) shows a poor connection on the back of a main breaker. The temperature in the red area exceeded 400 F, causing damage to surrounding components. The problem was found and repaired (right) before the equipment failed. (Photograph and thermograms courtesy Thermotest Inc.)

New applications
Suppliers for this directory were asked about new applications for infrared thermography, both in the plant and otherwise.

In plant applications, ITR Inc. cited monitoring of couplings and cranes, while Mikron Infrared added monitoring of boiler tubes and continuous monitoring of electrical control panels. Logos Computer Solutions mentioned PDA data collection running on Pocket SQL in conjunction with a Web browser/Web manager for infrared PdM program management.

Evaluation of motor and control circuits from the MCC was a new application suggested by Power Down. Snell Inspections and Infrared Solutions found companies doing more building diagnostics (e.g., building envelope, HVAC, and roof moisture surveys and inspections).

Expert Infrared Inspections has performed inspections on a 4 MW extreme duty dc motor in a steel mill and on television broadcasting equipment. And training has gone online, as Infraspection Institute offers distance learning courses in certification preparation and other areas.

Outside the plant, one of the more widely known new applications of infrared thermography was to measure the body temperature of individuals in airports during the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2003, noted Cantronic Systems Inc. Mikron Infrared cited an application in monitoring coal piles, while Infrared Research Inc. provided an environmental application in checking illicit discharges in streams and waterways.

Monitoring of leaf temperatures to improve irrigation was an application forwarded by IRISYS. Other new applications included using infrared to spot rodent and termite problems (Infrared Solutions), for metal shredding systems (FLIR Systems, Inc.), and security (ASC Systems).

Our two-part guide
This two-part guide to IR equipment and services is designed to give you a source for infrared thermography assistance. Information was supplied by the companies listed.

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6:00 am
May 1, 2005
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Find the Root Cause of Success

Positive deviance can have an effect on reliability and a profit report card.

When report cards make their way home from school, some make the trip faster than others depending on their contents. A recent research study tackled the topic of student report cards and how parents handle the not-so-stellar grades that sometimes appear. It found that if a student brought home three As, one C, and an F, only 6 percent of the parents concentrated on the As.

The study went on to say that parents who concentrated on the As as opposed to dwelling on the F saw the next report card improve by bringing up the F while maintaining the As; the parents who concentrated on the F did see the F improve, but at the cost of the As.

Many maintenance organizations give out report cards or metrics too. Now a less-than-adequate reliability report card does not have the effects of sending us to our room, cutting our allowance etc., but it has the same overall effect both on morale and financial security.

In general people tend to punish for poor performance and dwell only on the negative metrics. Would someone execute a root cause analysis on a system or machine that performs flawlessly to discover why? The question then becomes what does ignoring the things done right cost companies in both metrics and money.

Learn from the children
Another example of this phenomenon known as positive deviance occurred following the end of the war in Vietnam. In this example from the recently published book “Surfing the Edge of Chaos” by Richard Pascale, Mark Millemann, and Linda Gioja, the children of Vietnam’s poorer regions were suffering from high levels of malnutrition compounded by a lack of clean water and good sanitation as well as poor health care.

Working with the Save the Children foundation, Monique and Jerry Sternin moved into Hanoi to develop a new method to end the malnutrition. They embraced a concept from Tufts University called positive deviance that allowed them to facilitate the people of Hanoi in discovering their own solution to the problem. The process they used included understanding the culture and the knowledge it contained. They worked with the locals and studied not only the sick children but also the healthy ones.

They analyzed the living conditions and diets of the healthy children and concluded that the difference was that parents of the healthy children were doing some things differently—supplementing the rice-based diet with freely available fresh water shrimp, crab, and vitamin-rich sweet potato leaves and feeding their children more times per day than the malnourished children. Once this discovery was made it was easily leveraged across the culture in that area because it was developed from within; it was Hanoi’s solution. After six months two-thirds of the children had gained weight and the program was a sustainable success.

There are three points to take away from these examples:

• Study and learn from the good actors and not just the bad

• Develop and leverage the solutions from within the applicable area for buy in and sustainability

• Celebrate and encourage the successes and learn from the failures through true understanding of the issues.

Look to the successes
Reliability improvement efforts traditionally look at equipment that has high levels of vibration, oil contaminates, or elevated temperature levels. Then when the equipment fails technicians complete a root cause failure analysis (RCFA) to understand why it failed.

With this mentality the organization is looking at half of the information that is available. This shows only the failures and why they happen. What about the successes? Why did the successes happen?

One suggestion is to change the use of the RCFA process by moving the format to a root cause analysis-type process that can be used to understand both failures and successes in the same format. This one small change will allow companies to capture more solutions from their process. If there are 26 pumps in an area and only five have repetitive failure history why do the others charge on?

This is where the different way of thinking comes into play. Complete a root cause analysis on one of the good actor pumps to understand why it is so successful. Use the five whys or any of the other available root cause tools to insure finding the root cause of success. What might be found is a solid operating procedure, a good design, a best demonstrated practice, a better rebuild procedure, or any number of positive deviants that have led to a success instead of a failure. In many cases there may be preconceived notions as to what the solution might be, but the key becomes letting those go and chasing the data as a group until the solution is discovered corporately.

Use the affected group
Once uncovered, these good practices are much easier to leverage because they are internal, proven, and owned just like the dietary changes in Hanoi. There is no easier change to make than the one that was developed by the people making the change. They trust the information the change is based on because it is their information. They know it will work because they have seen it with their own eyes. They will force it to succeed because it has their names on it.

When solutions are developed that do not involve the group that is affected, they lack the buy in and data this process provides and success is a difficult goal to attain. This applies to reliability metrics in two ways—one, it provides solutions that improve metrics like overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) and mean time between failure (MTBF) and two, it provides a tool to use to address and leverage areas that excel in certain metrics. Do not forget to ask the question “Why am I succeeding?”

As it becomes apparent who is causing the positive deviance make sure to apply positive public feedback to encourage the practice to continue and propagate, basically focusing the light on what people are doing right. It has been proven that one should give three or more positive comments to every corrective one; this RCA philosophy provides an excellent vehicle to make that happen.

Because RCFA conclusions always lead to a human error if they are taken to completion this can easily turn them into a negative tool. The error may be with the equipment vendor’s design team, start up contractor’s installer, production’s operator, maintenance’s technician, or management’s supervisor. Some organizations use the RCFA or RCA findings as whipping sticks to punish people instead of as training and policy correction tools. This defeats the purpose and robs the program of the support and information that it is based on.

Always remember that no matter what contributing factors are found during the root cause investigation, at least one if not all of them is directly due to management or its policies. It may be that management chose to run the equipment above rated speeds, postponed preventive maintenance, did not provide the proper amount of training, or did not enforce the rules consistently as well as many others. With that said it is hypocritical and ignorant for management to use the RCFA findings to punish the offenders.

Make analysis a positive tool
Make the findings a positive tool by supplementing the failure investigations with the root causes of success process and find out who is promoting success in the facility. Make sure the RCAs are recognized as a positive tool that leads to praise and change within the organization. After learning from both successes and failures and implementing the discoveries, find a way to ensure that others want to be involved in these types of improvements.

Aim to constantly develop new ideas. Create energy around the RCA findings by celebrating successes with stakeholders. It is important to tailor celebrations to the team or even the individuals in some cases to get the most benefit. It may be different with each group of stakeholders but it has to make them want to do it again.

Remember that the positive things going on day to day are just as important to success as the failure you try to eliminate. Many times the solutions to the failures are right in front of you hidden by the day-to-day fires you fight.

Look at the forgotten equipment. Why are you able to forget about it? Why does it run so well? What are you doing or what was done right? These are the locator questions for many of the solutions to the reoccurring problems that tear away at the reliability of equipment as well as the bottom line. These solutions discovered from within the organization have the buy in and sustainability that is so often a struggling point for many outside solutions or cookie cutter approaches.

Once the home grown, supported, sustainable solution has been put into place and the sweet smell of success is in the air make sure to celebrate the accomplishment with all the stakeholders in the way that satisfies them the most. This becomes the fuel for many more examples of positive deviance that can change an organization into a more reliable and profitable enterprise.

Shon E. Isenhour, CMRP, is a senior consultant at Life Cycle Engineering, Inc., 4360 Corporate Rd., Charleston, SC 29405; (843) 810-4446

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May 1, 2005
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The Paradigm Trap

One hundred years ago, Albert Einstein was in the midst of an extraordinary run of paradigm-busting theories. In six months, he published five that would change dramatically what we thought we knew about the universe.

Einstein’s accomplishments were reviewed recently by Ronald Kotulak, science writer for the Chicago Tribune, in a special feature. In it, he recounted Einstein’s papers of 1905:

• March: Light exists as waves and particles

• April: Molecules can be measured

• May: All matter is composed of atoms

• June: Time and space are not constant

• September: Matter can be converted into energy, E = mc2.

It was an amazing leap of thought beyond the Newtonian paradigm. How did he do it? According to a quote from Kotulak’s article, Einstein said: “I keep asking questions that only children ask. They learn how to stop asking them in their schooling. I continue to ask them.”

Also, he was not bound by the existing paradigms of the famous physicists of the time. He was a nobody, a patent clerk, and had nothing to lose by thinking freely. He had no reputation to protect.

We have touched on similar themes from time to time in this column, noting that paradigm busters typically arrive at solutions by asking simple, basic questions and they are often successful because they are new to the job and do not have the baggage of the existing paradigm.

However, once you make the breakthrough, you may become trapped in the new paradigm. According to the article, “Einstein also dug in his heels when he didn’t quite agree with bold new scientific concepts, even after most other leading physicists accepted them.

“[Niels] Bohr and Einstein were close friends in the 1920s but had a falling out over quantum theory. Bohr loved the idea that in the subatomic world the behavior of particles could only be averaged out. Things happen by chance, and it is impossible to know exactly what an individual particle is doing at a given time.

“Einstein couldn’t fit quantum physics into his unending quest to unify all the forces of nature and couldn’t accept its loose ends, famously saying: ‘God does not play dice with the world.’”

We hope you have a maintenance and reliability paradigm that works and that you are not still rolling the dice with your equipment. And no matter how well your paradigm seems to work, don’t become trapped in it. Keep your eye out for the new theory that may take you to a higher level of performance.

Robert C. Baldwin, CMRP, Editor

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May 1, 2005
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Direction Is Not Supervision

Too many times, we take a supervisory position and make it unidirectional. I am not aware of any company that assigns job titles and descriptions to supervisors instructing them to just tell people who, what, when, where, how, and why to do something.

In fact, most companies have certain descriptions leaning toward quality and improvements. A supervisor must be a dynamic person who has the ability to push to achieve the corporation’s goals while building future supervisors or, more importantly, leaders.

Corporate goals drive the business in the direction the shareholders want. The underlying goal is continuous improvement.

Continuous improvements do not just happen; they are the product of the workforce that made the improvements happen. If the workforce is making the improvements happen then it is reasonable to say that a better-trained and happier workforce will make more improvements happen and in a shorter time. Corporations who are moving toward lean manufacturing and have to go through major change management initiatives will especially benefit from this type of atmosphere. “Lean production systems require more from the front-line worker than traditional mass production.” (Allen, Robinson, and Stewart, Lean Manufacturing: A Plant Floor Guide, 2001, p. 170)

Supervisors must be adept in problem solving, scheduling, and communication. Supervisors are the direct link from front-line employees to management. Supervisors are generally personnel who have a substantial amount of shop experience coupled with the training to execute schedules and maintain the status quo.

Shop experience is an important tool in the box when it comes to dealing with crisis issues on the shop floor. In addition, the supervisor must execute the schedule within the best possible compliance to keep the backlog of overdue maintenance actions to a minimum. Finally, the supervisor has to maintain a level of normalcy to the shift to keep employee morale at its peak. The one thing that seems to be overlooked in today’s fast-paced industries is the supervisor’s responsibility to form and shape the future leaders who work as his subordinates.

There are three important factors in shaping future leaders: communication, mentoring, and follow-through.

Communication is the backbone of everything done in business. Whether the communication is for direction or feedback it is a necessity for the organization to function. Every single continuous improvement program and quality management system stresses the importance of communication in all directions in an organization. In addition, the success of all these programs relies on communication.

Supervisors play an important part in the communication system by translating technical material into information needed by management, such as downtime, quality deficiencies, and project costs. Supervisors should be training the personnel working for them on the methods of communication and priorities of communication in relation to what management needs to know.

Supervisors have a great opportunity to become mentors for personnel that work for them. Mentors play a large role in the improvement of personnel by filling a key spot as advisors. The advisory role does not stop with job-specific training but also includes career planning, education planning, and life issues.

The supervisor does not have to be the direct and final advisor for these subjects. The direction a supervisor gives on whom to talk to can be just as important for the growth and morale of the personnel. Preparation says a lot about a leader and how he assesses tasks.

Finally, the follow-through demonstrated by a supervisor can display the concern and priority he has for employees. Employees generally ask questions due to some kind of genuine concern about a situation or subject. A supervisor needs to address the situation even if there is a negative response to the question. If there is not an answer available at the time, the supervisor needs to ensure he follows up on the question.

The lack of follow-through sets a bad example to employees and reduces the trust they have for the supervisor to meet their needs.

Supervisors make things happen on the shop floor and are the primary salespeople for new changes that will affect front-line workers. Effective shop floor management is essential to the success of any corporation. Communication makes shop floor management effective and fluid. The main point to remember is that the supervisor is the first line in the training of tomorrow’s shop floor leaders.— Robert Apelgren

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May 1, 2005
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Winning Top to Bottom Support for Reliability-Based Maintenance

Five practical steps toward gaining a consensus for aggressively pursuing a plant-wide reliability initiative.

Whether your firm bleaches pulp for paper, refines petroleum, or manufactures, your company executives are expected to watch the bottom line. They want equipment up and running at full capacity so they can meet their output goals—even if it means pushing the equipment well beyond its original design capacity. And they want it done with an ever-shrinking maintenance budget.

These are the realities facing North American maintenance managers. So it is your job to keep the equipment running smoothly—even under these impossible conditions.

You know a reliability-based maintenance management approach can provide the solution. You have read books that explain the latest theory behind equipment failure patterns and the benefits of early detection. You have even been to technical conferences and read industry publications to learn the current reliability “best practices.”

But how do you turn your organization around? You know you will need active cooperation from everyone. But how do you get technicians, supervisors, engineers, production managers, and others to buy in—particularly when they have 20-plus years of experience in a different paradigm? And more important, how do you get executive approval to move forward with reliability initiatives?

Here are five practical steps toward gaining a consensus among your entire team for aggressively pursuing a plant-wide equipment reliability initiative.

Step 1: Educate from top to bottom
Maintenance and reliability leaders have to be much more than just cheerleaders. They have to help others understand, believe in, and follow a new maintenance approach—one that often contradicts traditional wisdom and experience. There are no quick fixes here. Traditional maintenance knowledge and beliefs have been internalized through repeated exposure and experience over many years. New concepts and practices have to be acquired the same way—with repeated exposure over spaced intervals of time. Here are some practical tips for spreading the “reliability gospel” in your organization:

• Shatter the old myths. For example, as reliability leaders, we know that overhauling or replacing motors on scheduled time intervals actually lowers reliability because the rebuilt or new ones are more likely to fail early in their life (infant mortality). But others in the organization may still base their understanding of maintenance on older concepts. Resistance to change will persist until they understand the limitations of traditional approaches.

• Present a better way. New concepts and methods will not take root without a clear understanding of both how and why they are better. Explain, for example, how accurate data on heat exchanger efficiency establishes what is “normal” and why timely inspections are needed to detect degradation early enough to plan and schedule corrective maintenance.

• Use multiple formats. Delivering your message via creative and varied means will dramatically reduce the number of exposures it will take for people to “get it.” Quick learning points in regular meetings, water cooler conversations, and distributing short articles can be as effective as formal training.

• Show them “what’s in it for me.” Just because people “get it” does not mean they will “do it.” So help them understand how reliable equipment benefits them personally: The production manager meets his output goal, the maintenance supervisor does not get calls in the middle of the night, and the technician gets out of firefighting mode.

Planting lots of small seeds in different places will eventually cultivate a broad understanding of reliability concepts and an appreciation for the benefits that are gained. This exposure will lay the foundation for future acceptance—not to mention approval—of real change later.

Step 2: Benchmark where you are
Obviously it takes more than education to get a plant-wide reliability initiative off the ground. Achieving marked improvements in equipment reliability requires changing how you make maintenance decisions, how you invest limited plant resources, and what people do on a daily basis. Gaining approval for this level of change requires a comprehensive plan and a strong business case. The first effort should be to assess objectively where you are now.

Benchmarking can be a humbling experience for plants that are entrenched in traditional maintenance methodologies. They are shocked to find out how far behind they are. But a good dose of reality can provide a tremendous “attitude adjustment.” It is a bit like the doctor telling you that you are 25 lb overweight, your cholesterol and blood pressure are too high, and your life expectancy is 20 years shorter than it should be. Suddenly the latest fads of eating right and exercising have a whole new meaning.

So what do you use as a measuring stick for maintenance and reliability? Unfortunately there are no industry standard metrics like we have for safety. For safety, OSHA has defined how to calculate lost time incident rate (LTIR) and recordable incident rate (RIR). Companies have been tracking them for years, so we know that an RIR of 0.5 and LTIR of 0.05 are top notch.

Benchmarking maintenance and reliability can be a bit more involved. Experts simply disagree on what to measure and how to measure it. And few industries publish their outcomes. For many plants the best answer is to enlist a professional to assess the organization. But do not spend 6 months and a ton of money. For a mid-sized maintenance organization (50-200 technicians) $30,000-$50,000 and a few weeks should get you a decent scorecard and a best practices review. The unbiased opinion is well worth the time and cost; after all, one unplanned failure of a critical pump can cost you a lot more than $50,000 in lost production and repair costs.

For those who want to implement an internal benchmarking process, a core list of maintenance and reliability metrics is provided in the accompanying “Basic List of Maintenance and Relibility Performance Metrics,” adapted from benchmarks used by the management consulting firm ATKearney. Precise definitions of these metrics vary and the “top notch” score will vary with the type of operation.

Once you know how your outcomes stack up, the next step is to assess how you are doing maintenance—a best practices review. In other words, determine what techniques or methods you are using and to what extent. Examples of top notch practices include operator-driven maintenance, designing out failures, condition-based maintenance, and use of an enterprise reliability information system. If you do all the right things and do them well, you should achieve good results. So make sure there is good correlation between your best practices “score” and the performance outcomes “score.”

Communicating the results of a benchmarking effort to the organization can be risky business, particularly when the gap between perception and reality is great. But an early wake-up call can energize the organization and possibly save a plant from being closed.

Step 3: Establish a long-term vision
Once you have established where you are, your next challenge is to define where you want to be. The key to establishing a vision is to begin with the end in mind. Use the metrics from the benchmark to set specific, measurable targets for your performance outcomes 3-5 years in the future. Use the best practices from the benchmark to paint a vision of what maintenance and reliability will look and feel like when you get there.

Make sure you include the key stakeholders in the goal-setting process. Maintenance supervisors, engineers, reliability specialists, and production managers will all have to cooperate to achieve the goals. An offsite planning meeting can be a very effective forum to gain commitment, motivate your team, and establish momentum for your reliability program. And an outside resource can be helpful as a neutral facilitator of the process.

During the visioning process avoid getting mired in discussions of the details and difficulties of how you will achieve the results. When you plan a vacation you first decide where you want to go, then you sort out the logistics of how to get there and what to do along the way.

Step 4: Build a business case
Now that you know where you are going, what is it worth to get there? The business case answers the question “why do we want to have a reliability program?” It is not because we want to be top notch or be recognized at the next reliability conference. We want to make more money; that is why we are in business.

Fortunately there are very few endeavors that have a more compelling financial business case than a reliability-based maintenance management approach. And the homework you have done in Steps 2 and 3 make the calculation relatively simple. Consider the following examples:

• A 5 percent increase in Availability = a 5 percent increase in revenue for a continuous process plant that can sell all that it makes. A plant that produces $200 million per year generates another $10 million in revenue.

Reducing Overtime from 20 percent to 10 percent moves 10 percent of your labor from overtime rates to straight time rates. If your overtime multiplier is 1.5 and you have a $15 million labor budget you move $500,000 to the bottom line.

• Increasing your Planned Work from 50 percent to 80 percent moves 30 percent of your corrective work from unplanned to planned. Since a planned job costs 2/3 less, you save 20 percent overall. So for a corrective maintenance budget of $10 million you move $2 million to the bottom line.

Now when you are presenting your plans to the VPs from corporate and they ask “why do we need to do this reliability thing?” you can answer “because it will add $10 million to top line revenue and $2.5 million to bottom line profits.” Now you have their interest.

Building a compelling business case is often overlooked and underemphasized by technical experts in the reliability field. But executives are not persuaded by cool technology, world-class best practices, and the latest buzzwords. Even if they understand it and find it interesting, they will not act on it. So the function of the business case is to first educate the executives about the business value of reliability and then to explain the details of how you will roll out the program and how much it will cost. It is also very helpful to get your accounting folks involved in crunching the numbers to avoid credibility issues. Fig. 1 illustrates a typical business case for a small to mid-sized plant ($10 million-$20 million annual maintenance budget).

Step 5: Conduct a pilot program
Now you have gotten buy-in (or at least interest) at all levels of the organization, so where do you begin? The answer is to conduct some kind of pilot program. The pilot serves the following critical functions:

• Reduce initial investment. The pilot may cost only 10 percent of the full program, so you are far more likely to gain budget approval. And a mini-business case for a good pilot can easily show good returns in a short time period.

• Prove the business case. Even the best business case, completed with blessing from the accounting department, will have assumptions. The pilot serves to validate the assumptions and demonstrate the financial benefits.

• Test lab. You are attempting something new. So you want to be able to tweak things and figure out what works and does not work without the pressure and scrutiny of a huge project.

• Solidify buy-in. No matter how much preaching and planning you have done, many in the organization are going to be from Missouri. They need the “show me” of a pilot to get onboard for full rollout.

Selecting your pilot project is critical. Ideally, you want to identify a small but operationally significant portion of the plant and apply all of the new practices in that area. Make sure the project is small enough to initiate in 1-3 months and show significant results in 3-6 months.

Establish a method of tracking impact from day one. Document little successes and convert them to dollars using an accepted method like a balanced scorecard. Compile these into a success story and get accounting to bless the financial calculations.

Now you have got the buy-in, the confidence, and know-how to move forward with a plant-wide reliability program. And, more importantly, you have the proof you need to gain executive level funding approval.

Jay West is currently technology development manager for the Reliability division of BE&K, an engineering, construction, and maintenance company, 2000 International Park Dr., Birmingham, AL 35243; (205) 972-6000; e-mail ; Internet



Top Notch Value

Availability: the portion of time that a plant or major system is available for producing output of the appropriate quality and quantity

95-99 percent

Percent Failure Analysis: the portion of equipment downtime events that undergo a thorough analysis of failure modes, effects, and root causes

85-100 percent

Percent Planned Work: the portion of corrective maintenance work hours that are planned and scheduled in advance (not unplanned breakdowns)

85-95 percent

Percent Overtime: the portion of maintenance work hours that are performed at an overtime rate

5-8 percent

Relative Maintenance Cost: maintenance spending as a percentage of asset replacement value of the plant being maintained

1.5-2.5 percent

Technician Productivity: the percent of work hours spent on productive activities vs nonproductive (rework, waiting for parts or tools, etc.)

70-85 percent

Percent Rework: the portion of maintenance work that has to be redone due to poor installation, shoddy workmanship, or incorrect diagnosis

2-5 percent


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Fig. 1. Typical business case for a small to mid-sized plant ($10 million-$20 million annual maintenance budget).

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6:00 am
May 1, 2005
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Chiller Energy Efficiency Cuts Energy Costs

When Saint Francis Hospital was founded in northeastern Oklahoma in 1960, it was a 275-bed facility. It has grown into a facility licensed for 918 beds. Saint Francis’ traditions of excellent patient care, continuing education, and clinical research have made it stand apart. These traditions of excellence and leadership also hold true for the Saint Francis facility maintenance department.

The chiller plant at the hospital consists of three older 1920 ton Carrier and three newer 2000 ton York centrifugal chillers, totaling 11,760 tons of cooling capacity, along with a five-cell, 10,000 ton Marley cooling tower system with variable speed fans. The facility uses a total of 1300 tons of free cooling capacity through plate exchangers during the winter. The plant runs four 6000 gpm variable speed chill water pumps to create a secondary loop to the hospital, which increases overall efficiency by maximizing flow without bringing additional chillers online.

Commitment to excellence
Operators endure a three-year apprentice program, proceeding from limited experience to licensed operators of a chiller/boiler plant (a requirement of the City of Tulsa) to a first class unlimited licensed operator. This process provides additional training coordinated by hundreds of years combined experience in the maintenance department.

To ensure the facility maintains high performance, it uses automation where economically feasible. This includes direct digital controls (DDC) in the chiller plant along with state-of-the-art automated equipment to help manage the water treatment program. The chillers are sequenced to ensure the cooling load is met with the least amount of equipment in operation. Equipment operates near full capacity when possible, but averages 60-80 percent load, rarely falling below 50 percent. To help further reduce the kW/ton for each chiller, the entering condenser water temperature (ECWT) is dropped to its lowest possible temperature based on wet bulb and design conditions.

Accurate analysis needed
Committing to best practices and the need to save time analyzing log sheet data, the maintenance department was interested in an easy-to-use, cost-effective tool that would evaluate log data, trend and verify chiller performance levels, and provide cost analysis. In late fall 2003, Saint Francis contracted to beta test an Internet-based chiller energy efficiency tool developed by Efficiency Technologies, Inc. (EffTec), Tulsa, OK, called EffHVAC. The operators input their daily chiller logs into the tool, which calculated the chillers’ performance and compared kW/ton to full load design conditions to determine efficiencies, tonnage, and costs. It was immediately apparent that it was difficult to determine actual chiller performance by comparing to full load design. The results were an exaggerated efficiency and inaccurate cost analysis.

Realizing the impact that ECWT and part load values have on chiller efficiency, the company developed a proprietary calculated part load value (CPLV) that increased the predictability of the kW/ton for a chiller under all conditions. CPLV kW/ton is compared to the actual kW/ton produced by the chiller, resulting in accurate efficiency measurements and cost analysis.

Along with this improvement, advances in charting and data collection make it possible to view and verify the slightest changes in operations that affect efficiency. Other improvements to the program include chiller alarms, comprehensive troubleshooting guidelines, and water usage calculations. The troubleshooting guidelines help identify problems such as defective temperature sensor and pressure gauge. The water usage calculations determine the facility’s projected evaporation credits and cycles of concentration in the tower system, further improving overall plant cost analysis.

Baseline data
Taking past chiller logs and entering the data into the energy efficiency tool establishes a starting point for current analysis. Any improvements or operational changes, past or present, are immediately reflected for review. Log sheet data was input for 2003 and the reports were compared to the reports for 2004. This increased awareness and improved general operations such as ECWT adjustments, gauge and sensor calibrations, scheduled maintenance, monitoring weather conditions, and adding/shedding chillers. Two other significant operational changes that improved efficiency were flow adjustments and changing the chiller configuration.

Identify electrical/mechanical problem
The reports have helped identify an electrical problem in Chiller #5 that may have gone undetected indefinitely. The chiller was sporadically unloading and having difficulty loading. By examining the reports (Fig. 1) it was obvious that the condition was having an effect on the kW/ton and daily operation of the chiller. This chiller had been taken off line several times after this condition was diagnosed. Replacing an automatic refrigerant level controller corrected the problem.

Biocide sterilization, cleaning
Microbiological organisms can have a tremendous effect on heat transfer. It is not uncommon for their impact to cause a 10-15 percent reduction in efficiency, and even more in extreme cases. On July 20, 2004, the plant operators performed a routine scheduled tower/condenser sterilization which included hyperchlorination and biodispersants to strip away all biofilms in the tower/condenser system. The overall efficiency improvement is noticeable on the monthly calendar report and is a 2-3 percent improvement in efficiency system-wide (Fig. 2).

Monitoring weather conditions
The effects of dramatic weather change can immediately be seen in the reports (circled in gold Fig. 6). On July 9, a storm blew in an unusual cold front between 12:00 and 14:00 (military time), dropping the temperature 17 F. This dropped the kW/ton in Chiller #1 6.8 percent and dropped the ECWT 7 F. The kW/ton in Chiller #6 dropped 6.3 percent, and the ECWT dropped 6.9 F.

Adding, shedding chillers
To determine when a chiller should be added or shed, if the efficiency is improved when a chiller is added, the chiller should have been added sooner. If the efficiency falls, the chiller was added too soon. This is authenticated by analysis of the reports. In Fig. 3, the circle represents the impact on Chiller #1 by the addition of Chiller #5 at 09:30 and shed at 15:00. The introduction of Chiller #5 dropped the efficiency of Chiller #1 from 76 percent to 52 percent at 10:00; it returned to 79 percent efficiency at 12:00. The impact is temporary and the system should adjust after a short period of time provided the system load increases. The shedding of Chiller #5 was appropriate indicated by the minimal impact on the kW/ton of Chiller #1.

Flow adjustments
It became apparent from analyzing the reports that the chiller system flow had become out of balance due to seasonal adjustments (additional chillers were brought on line in April). Fig. 4 shows the efficiency of Chiller #1 prior to any adjustments in the flow rates. On July 8 between 08:00 and 10:00, flow valves for the chiller were adjusted and measured by a DP gauge to achieve design flow rates.

The results were immediately apparent in increased efficiency (Figs. 5and 6) and lower costs (Fig. 7). The increase in efficiency for the chiller was approximately 17 percent, cost avoiding approximately $144/day in energy. The awareness gained from this experience makes it possible to anticipate and adjust to the effect seasonal changes have on flow rates.

Load profiles
In 2003, the #5 Cooling Tower was down for repairs, limiting the use of Chiller #6. In 2004, the repairs were completed, allowing the full use of Chiller #6 (Fig. 8). This increased the flexibility of the plant and reduced the demand on the older, less efficient chillers. The plant load also increased approximately 23.7 percent to 23,074,439 tons through October, which included the addition of a new complex. Using the more efficient chillers and decreasing the use of the less efficient chillers helped lower the overall plant electrical costs while meeting the increased cooling demand.

Chiller-specific improvements
Table 1 shows a comparison of the improvements made on the individual chillers from January through October 2003 and January through October 2004. The total chiller specific cost avoidance through October 2004 is $67,110.

Total plant improvement
These overall plant improvements have resulted in substantially lower energy costs. From January to October 2003, the plant produced 18,650,119 tons of cooling at a cost of $667,880 ($0.0358/ton). From January to October 2004, the plant produced 23,074,439 tons of cooling at a cost of $726,066 ($0.0314/ton)—a $100,373 cost avoidance in energy usage. Subtracting from this the cost avoidance from chiller-specific improvements of $67,110 shows $33,263 from modifying the chiller configurations.

For a not-for-profit hospital that operates on a 2 percent profit margin, $100,373 in cost avoidance is equivalent to bringing in $5,018,650 in new business. The total energy cost avoidance through 2004 is conservatively expected to be more than $120,000. The continual improvement through 2005 is expected to yield even greater results.

The investment in the on-line tool was $3000 in 2004, which was recouped in approximately 9 days of energy cost avoidance. This tool has allowed management to accurately evaluate chiller performance and enabled plant operators to refine the best practices for their plant.

Future improvements
Based on the operational achievements, plans to increase efficiency and reduce energy costs are being developed. Knowing the relationship between flow and efficiency will allow the operators to monitor chiller performance and make immediate adjustments to ensure optimal efficiency. Chillers will be added and shed with greater predictability, minimizing unnecessary energy consumption. Load profiles associated with real-time energy pricing are being studied to determine potential cost avoidance and impact on plant operations.

Information supplied by Don Clark, Efficiency Technologies, Inc., 3105 East Skelly Dr., Ste. 420, Tulsa, OK 74105; telephone (866) 333-8321


Fig. 1. kW/ton spikes on Chiller #5 associated with an electrical/mechanical problem.

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Monthly Calendar Report


Fig. 2. Biocide sterilization and tower cleaning impact for Chiller #1.

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Fig. 3. Impact on Chiller #1 when adding Chiller #5.

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Fig. 4. Chiller #1 before flow adjustments.

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Fig. 5. Chiller #1 during flow adjustments.


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Fig. 6. Chiller #1 after flow adjustments.
Note: The kW/ton values scale for each chart changes, essentially zooming in for more detailed analysis when the CPLV kW/ton and actual kW/ton values get closer. For example, the kW/ton scale in Fig. 4 is from 0.55 to 0.80 and the kW/ton scale in Fig. 6 is from 0.50 to 0.675.

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Fig. 7. Calendar summary of flow adjustment results for Chiller #1.

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Fig. 8. 2003 vs 2004 chiller configuration.

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Table 1. Chiller-Specific Improvements


Chiller #1

Chiller #2

Chiller #3

Chiller #4

Chiller #5

Chiller #6

2003 kW/ton







– 2004 kW/ton







= kW/ton variance







x Total tonnage







= Total kW used







x Cost per kW







= $ cost avoided/lost







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The Importance of CPLV

Why determine efficiency and cost using calculated part load value (CPLV) kW/ton vs full load design kW/ton? Because a chiller rarely operates at full load design conditions and entering condenser water temperatures (ECWTs) vary throughout the year. Either can greatly affect overall kW/ton.

The Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute (ARI, has developed the measuring standard 550/590-1998 for integrated part load value (IPLV) and nonstandard part load value (NPLV). Its purpose is to reflect the chiller’s actual operating experience in the field. Depending on chiller types and compressor style, the IPLV/NPLV kW/ton can vary 10-40 percent below full load design under actual operating conditions. This ARI standard is used as a starting point for CPLV.

With this tool, CPLV analyzes full load design, actual part load, and actual ECWT to effectively calculate the outcome of what the actual kW/ton should be. The CPLV kW/ton is then compared to the actual kW/ton to determine efficiency and cost. This is more accurate than comparing strictly to full load design.

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