Archive | May


6:00 am
May 1, 2007
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The Maintenance/Engineering Partnership


Ken Bannister, Contributing Editor

Technically, the Engineering department is the closest relative to the Maintenance department. Examining each other’s role in the context of equipment life cycle management portrays a definitive, closely related directive.

Maintenance is charged with the primary role of providing equipment availability, reliability and capacity (throughput) in accordance with the engineering and production design specifications on a day-to-day basis. Engineering is charged with the primary role of designing and developing equipment specification(s) to fit the needs of the Production department, as well as commissioning of equipment or systems capable of delivering on their specified performance.

More recently, great strides have been achieved in amalgamating technical effort through the introduction of the Reliability department— wherein reliability engineers and predictive maintenance technicians dovetail the two departments into a cohesive partnership. The partners focus specifically on increasing equipment reliability and availability of both new and legacy equipment through increased understanding of equipment failure and the incorporation of Reliability Centered Maintenance principles. Companies that have achieved this advanced partnership state have understood and acknowledged that both partners’ roles constantly overlap, requiring mutual exchange of information on a continual basis to realize both mandates and significant increases in equipment availability, reliability (life cycle), and throughput.

As with any successful relationship, both parties must understand and state what they expect from the relationship, then work together on mapping the input and output instruments that will deliver on those expectations, e.g. meetings, work flow, standardized operating procedures or guidelines, informational reports, budgets, tools, skills, etc. Once mapped, both sides must commit to a management action plan and work through the process, adjusting as the relationship progresses.

The following complaints are typical of the kind that must be addressed in this relationship:

Complaint #1
“The only time Engineering involves us is when they hand us the keys to the new equipment, at which time they believe their job is finished.”
“We’ve tried numerous times to involve Maintenance in the design and commissioning process of new equipment, yet every time they are either too busy, unprepared or unable to specify their needs.”

Too many times, the performing of a simple maintenance task is made difficult due to either poor access, or having to shut down and lock out the equipment. This increased maintainability easily can be avoided through effective dialogue between the Maintenance and Engineering departments in the early design stage.

Engineers are schooled from the beginning on all facets of operator ergonomic design, but few are aware of designing for maintenance prevention using a perimeter-based maintenance design (PBM) in which all lube access, filter change points and predictive maintenance (PdM) measurement points are brought to the machine’s perimeter. This allows Maintenance (or Operators, in a Total Productive Maintenance–TPM environment) to perform proactive work while the equipment is running in production mode.

Adopting guard designs that allow access in less than 30 seconds can reduce redundant maintenance work by hours, freeing up precious resource time. If, however, Engineering actively solicits the assistance of Maintenance in the early design process, Maintenance must commit to the process and provide the services of a maintenance planner who is acutely aware of the access and replacement problems.

New equipment acceptance sign-off at the machine builder’s plant and on-site commissioning are great opportunities for Maintenance and Engineering to work together toward common goals. Often a new equipment specification requires the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) to deliver a set of working drawings accompanied by a set of preventive maintenance (PM) job plans.

Unfortunately, most OEM PM plans are too generic, not taking into account the recipient’s work culture or the operating conditions under which the equipment will perform. These stock PM plans can be traded for much more valuable OEM engineering time by inviting the OEM engineer(s) to take part in a Maintenance-department- conducted RCM failure analysis process on the new equipment—PRIOR to receiving the equipment on site. When the equipment is being commissioned, the job plans can be verified while both the reliability engineers and maintainers familiarize themselves with the machine.

Complaint #2
Maintenance: “When specifying new equipment components such as bearings, controls, chains, gearboxes, etc, why does every Engineer have to specify similar, yet different components? Don’t they realize this leads to the stocking of multiple similar parts and unpredictable failure patterns?”
Engineering: “If the Maintenance department is unhappy about the components we specify, why can’t they make the effort to inform us on items they prefer, with a reasonable justification for their choice?”

Both parties will receive tremendous benefits from a consolidation and standardization process in which known MRO items that produce consistent reliability are documented. Developing a shared preferred-parts and component-specification listing book in which parts are recognized and listed according to reliability, maintainability and life cycle, is crucial for building and maintaining equipment that can be trusted.

0507_communications1In the parts book, each part is categorized as it would be in the CMMS or EAM maintenance management inventory module, It would include, as a minimum, a photograph of the item, item description, OEM #, corporate inventory identification # (if used), vendor #, and item price. Reliability data used to justify the item listing primarily includes Mean Time Between Failure (MTBF) reports, cost of downtime associated with item failure and item maintenance replacement cost (item cost + total labor cost). This listing book also will benefit both the Purchasing and Inventory departments—which are able to reap cost savings through the setup of preferred vendors and the reduction of MRO inventory requirements. At the same time, this approach promotes familiarity with both maintenance components and component maintenance.

Complaint #3
Maintenance: “When capital budgets get cut, the first system to be eliminated on new equipment is always the lubrication system.”
Engineering: “Maintenance performs manual lubrication throughout the rest of the plant, what’s their problem?”

An engineered lubrication approach is crucial to achieving moving equipment reliability. Automated systems deliver up to three times the life cycle of bearings that are manually lubricated. In order to protect and justify an automated lubrication system, the maintenance department must provide lubrication-failure-related data through fault code analysis of lubricationrelated failures tracked and reported within the CMMS program.

Industrial lubrication education is crucial for both Maintenance and Engineering, in order for these departments to be able to better understand and facilitate how to apply a truly efficient failureprevention program.

Concluding thought
The relationships between Maintenance and Engineering have great strengths, whose benefits are multiplied exponentially when harnessed through a team effort.

Ken Bannister is lead partner and principal consultant for Engtech Industries, Inc. Telephone: (519) 469-9173; e-mail:

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6:00 am
May 1, 2007
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Is Your Electrical PPE Adequate?

0507_electricalsatefy1Despite the great strides that have been made over the years to get workers into safer clothing, researchers still want to know what level of thermal protection is safe enough.

The last 15 years have seen tremendous progress in protecting workers against the heat energy associated with arc fl ash. One major area of improvement has been the steps taken to get workers into safer clothing. The arc rating system developed by ASTM and the development of the predictive equations identifi ed in NFPA70E and IEEE1584 have been instrumental in this effort.

Arc fl ash testing has been at the center of these developments. The arc thermal performance value (ATPV) of electrical personal protective equipment (PPE) relies on arc fl ash tests performed in a high power test lab. The IEEE 1584 equations were developed empirically from arc fl ash tests performed in North American test labs from the late 1990s through 2002.

Recent research into arc fl ash phenomena, however, indicates that workers could be under-protected against the heat generated during an arc fl ash event. Test results presented at IEEE conferences [Ref. 1, 2, 3] and at the 2007 IEEE Electrical Safety Workshop show that different confi gurations of electrodes (conductors) yielded heat energy higher than current predictions due to the directional nature of the arc development. Additionally, initial tests of PPE, when placed within this directional plasma fl ow, did not provide the level of thermal protection predicted by its APTV.

0507_electricalsatefy2Directional nature of arc development
Unrestricted high-current arcs move according to magnetic forces to increase the area of the current loop. Currents fl owing in the opposite direction in parallel conductors give rise to forces that drive the arc away from the source to the end of the conductors where they typically burn off the tips of electrodes (busbars).

The behavior of a 3-phase arcing fault in equipment is very chaotic, involving rapid and irregular changes in arc geometry due to convection, plasma jets and electromagnetic forces. Arc extinction and re-ignition, changes in arc paths due to restriking and reconnection across electrodes and plasma parts and many other effects add to this chaotic nature and make it diffi cult to create equations for accurate predictions of its properties (e.g. impedance). Although it does not capture this chaotic behavior, Fig. 1 demonstrates an arc’s general directional nature. The alternating 3-phase current creates successive attractive and repulsive magnetic forces, dramatically moving the plasma jets which feed an expanding plasma cloud. The cloud is driven outward, away from the tips, creating “plasma dust” as the highly energized molecules in the plasma cool, then recombine into various materials. The molten electrode material ejected off the tips also is in this fl ow.

Arc fl ash hazards
When the arc is being established, current begins passing through ionized air, generating massive quantities of heat. Large volumes of ionized gases, along with metal from the vaporized conductors, are explosively expelled. As the arc runs its course, electrical energy continues to be converted into extremely hazardous energy forms. Hazards include the immense heat of the plasma, radiated heat, large volumes of toxic smoke, molten droplets of conductor material, shrapnel, extremely intense light and a pressure wave from the rapidly expanding gases.

Recent tests have shown that an object in the expanding plasma cloud (refer to the red object in Fig. 1) is directly exposed to the highest heat of the event. Temperatures greater than 15,000 C have been cited for this area. In addition to the convective heat transfer from the plasma, this object is directly exposed to the molten metal ejected from the electrode tips and radiated heat from surrounding plasma.

Objects close to the arc but outside of the plasma jets (refer to the green object in Fig. 1) are not likely subjected to as high a quantity of heat. Exposure is predominately radiant heat, but includes convective fl ow from the thermal expansion of the gases. Objects in line with the electrodes but distant from the plasma jets (refer to the blue object in Fig. 1) receive lower convective heating and less radiant heat and molten metal spray.

The amount of heat absorbed varies with the method of heat transfer and receiving surface properties. For example, the amount of heat transferred from a mass of molten copper to a surface area would be greater if it adhered to the object instead of contacting it for a brief time.

Test setups currently used for standards
Although the overriding principle of electrical safety is to de-energize equipment and place it into an electrically safe condition prior to work, there are numerous cases where companies put workers in PPE to perform tasks on energized equipment. The standards typically utilized to predict the magnitude of heat exposure and the protective ability of fl ame resistant (FR) fabric worn by exposed workers are based upon two unique electrode confi gurations in their test procedures. Heat transferred during tests with these orientations is most likely dominated by radiant heat (see Sidebar page 36).

0507_electricalsatefy3Effects on heat measurements with alternate test confi gurations
Research performed at Ferraz Shawmut’s High Power Test Laboratory has uncovered electrode confi gurations that project signifi cantly more heat energy out of enclosures toward worker locations than currently predicted by the standards. To simulate components found in low-voltage electrical equipment, various setups were created for controlled testing. Heat was measured and compared with results obtained with the standard confi guration shown in the Sidebar fi gure on page 36. Results of these comparisons were published in two recent IEEE papers. [Ref. 2, 3] Confi gurations that forced the arc’s plasma jets outward toward the worker produced heat measurements nearly twice those predicted by current IEEE 1584 equations when studied at typical working distances of 18 inches.

In the barrier confi guration setup, the electrodes are “terminated” into a block of insulating material (barrier) as shown on the left in Fig. 2. This setup represents conductors connected to equipment from the top, such as the component shown on right in Fig. 2.

With the barrier in place, the arc’s downward motion is halted and plasma jets are formed along the plane of the barrier top surface (i.e. perpendicular to the plane of the electrode). This signifi cant fi nding is demonstrated in Fig. 3. The photo on the top shows a side view of arc development along the plane of the barrier in a setup without side panels. This test shows the possibility of higher convective heat transfer toward workers than the open vertical setup, shown from the front, on the bottom in Fig. 3. The barrier confi guration also ejected signifi – cantly more molten electrode material. [Ref. 3]

Chart 1 compares heat measurements (made with copper calorimeters) with the barrier setup to standard predictions. The black line represents predictions of IEEE 1584 equations for switchgear (20” cubic box) for the available fault currents with a fi xed 6-cycle clearing time. Alarmingly, the barrier test results almost always rose above the line—sometimes more than twice the prediction. All tests with the vertical confi guration at this voltage were at or below the prediction.

Another confi guration that deserves serious consideration is the “horizontal electrode confi guration.” This setup simulates equipment where bussing is open-ended, but pointing toward the front of the enclosure, like that in the equipment shown on the left in Fig. 4. The arc development, very similar to that described for Fig. 1, is shown on the right in Fig. 4. Like the barrier confi guration, all tests resulted in heat measurements signifi cantly above the predicted levels.

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6:00 am
May 1, 2007
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Maintenance Audits Improve Maintenance Business Performance

Be sure to assess and benchmark all aspects of your Maintenance function.

Last month, in part I of this two-part article, readers again were reminded of the fact that improvements in Maintenance performance and equipment reliability have a direct link to a company’s bottom line. The article then went on to detail how assessing and benchmarking all aspects of an organization’s Maintenance function is critical in developing a detailed roadmap to success. In this month’s concluding installment, two case studies highlight how real-world companies leveraged the findings of their respective Maintenance Business Reviews to help their plants move down the road to increased uptime and profitability.

Case studies
Case #1. Single Cement Plant…
A cement plant consists of four wet process kilns producing approximately 1.3M tons of clinker per year. Alongside the “old” plant, a modern dry process plant was built with a design capacity of 2.15M tons per year. Once the new plant was commissioned, the plan was to decommission two of the existing wet process kilns. This was projected to bring the total plant capacity to 2.8M tons per year.

Over the years, the plant had been struggling to achieve the budgeted production levels. This was a difficult task in light of low equipment reliability and availability. There was a perception that most of the problems were caused by Maintenance and that something needed to be done—although there were no concrete systems in place to validate this perception. The new high-capacity dry process kiln put even more emphasis on the way the plant was run and maintained. As a solution, plant management chose to purchase and implement a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS).

Experience has shown that a CMMS alone will not solve maintenance problems or improve maintenance efficiency and effectiveness. At least it won’t without a comprehensive improvement and implementation program based on “best practices” tailored to the local plant-specific and business conditions. Thus, the plant manager decided to conduct a Maintenance Business Review in order to:

  • Benchmark the Maintenance organization
  • Identify opportunities for improved plant performance (uptime).
  • Develop improvement targets for the Maintenance organization.
  • Implement a detailed Maintenance Improvement Program.
  • Build a proactive Maintenance organization to ensure reliability and availability of the new kiln once online.



The review and benchmarking was conducted, and the improvement potential was identified. The spider chart in Fig. 5 indicates the score achieved by the plant superimposed on benchmark data—best, average and lowest scores recorded in the database.

The data in Fig. 1 is important because it shows how the cement plant’s Maintenance function compared to bestin- class and peers. Moreover, the review report contained detailed information on how the Maintenance organization functioned, its strengths and weaknesses, opportunities for improvement and that all-important road map for implementation. The main findings are reflected in the following list:

  • The Maintenance organization was reactive in nature. The majority of work performed amounted to corrective actions resulting from equipment breakdowns. No history was recorded.
  • Although some of the equipment Preventive Maintenance (PM) Plans were completed based on OEM recommendations, these were not executed.
  • Maintenance planning and scheduling was not practiced. Workers had to plan their own work.
  • There was at least one major outage per kiln every year, yet there were no structured outage plans to follow. As one supervisor put it, most outage work was planned in “people’s heads.”
  • Spare parts were scattered throughout the plant. There appeared to be an excess of big-ticket items in storerooms, tying up monetary resources, while there were numerous stock-outs, causing unplanned downtime and a need for rush deliveries.
  • Plant equipment reliability and availability were not monitored to the required detail to support effective root cause analysis.

It is important to note that the Maintenance Business Review of this operation projected the potential for improvement in financial terms. It was estimated that a realistic increase in plant availability would result in additional production valued at $2.1M annually. Savings from optimizing spares-holding was estimated to be approximately $500,000.

Subsequently, a detailed Plant Improvement Program (PIP) was developed, with emphasis on modern maintenance techniques and technologies. The CMMS implementation plan formed an integral part of the PIP implementation. More importantly, a maintenance strategy for the new kiln critical assets was developed, thus ensuring that the systems would perform at the required levels in the future and that there would be no condition deterioration.

The implementation process of the new strategies spanned a time period of approximately 12 months, with results exceeding expectations and initial estimates. Although not all of the elements are described in detail in this article, key implementations included:

  • Installing CMMS software
  • Populating the CMMS with plant asset data
  • Creating asset hierarchy down to maintainable item and assigning equipment criticality
  • Developing Preventive Maintenance (PM) plans for most critical equipment, which included implementing a process for development and optimization of these plans
  • Developing and implementing a comprehensive integrated Predictive Maintenance (PdM) Program for all critical equipment
  • Designing and implementing work order process flow best suited for the plant (The process was implemented in the CMMS.)
  • Designing and implementing a Plant Performance Monitoring System (This system has proven to be an invaluable tool for the identifi- cation of “low-hanging fruit,” therefore it has allowed for cost-effective elimination of the plant problems and bottlenecks.)
  • Redesigning the Maintenance organization and then introducing Maintenance Planning and Scheduling functions, as well as a Plant Reliability Engineer
  • Reviewing spare parts inventory, resulting in a stock reduction of $500,000
  • Implementing a spare parts management process, using the CMMS and a bar coding system for inventory management, to ensure accuracy of inventory and limit stock-outs
  • Developing BOMs (Bills of Materials) for most critical equipment
  • Training key personnel in Planning and Scheduling, Reliability and modern Maintenance Management techniques
  • Creating a “reliability culture” throughout the plant

This list reflects the “tangible” benefits. It does not capture the “intangibles”— specifically how management changed the overall perception of the Maintenance function. As a result, Maintenance now is considered to be an integral contributor to improved business performance. People have recognized the value of the Maintenance function, and this has helped increase employee morale and contribution to the business.

Introducing the Reliability Engineer and the Plant Performance Monitoring System into the organization helped in identifying plant and equipment problems, but, more importantly, created an actual reliability culture. People began noticing problems—and dealing with them. The Maintenance organization began planning its work—and being more proactive than in the past. The results? Increased plant uptime and production came about without an increase in the Maintenance budget! Today, this cement plant’s PM program is in place and EXECUTED!

Case #2. A Cement Corporation…
A cement corporation owns nine cement plants located around the country. The plants were managed through three regions. Unfortunately, there was limited communication among the regions, let alone among individual plants. Each of the nine plants adopted its own Maintenance Management processes and practices; there was little standardization or best-practice sharing. Although some of the plants had installed CMMS, they were deriving various degrees of effectiveness from these systems.

Management made the decision to purchase and implement an Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) System throughout the corporation. This created the perfect opportunity to redesign and create new management processes.

The vice-president of Operations understood the importance of modern, standardized maintenance processes for sustainable plant performance and profitability. A decision was made to carry out a maintenance audit at each of the nine plants. The intent was to review the Maintenance organizations, benchmark their processes and identify best practices and opportunities for improvement through creation of common benchmarks, standardization and transfer of best practices, methods, tools and people.

The standardized audit and benchmarking process was performed by the same team of certified auditors over a 12-month period. The results, presented to the corporation’s Technical Committee, formed the basis for development of a detailed Maintenance (Plant) Improvement Program. The following lists detail some of the findings.


  • Management took a forward-looking approach and commitment to improve maintenance practices and performance.
  • Workforce:
    • Knowledgeable and technically sound
    • People react well to crisis
    • Commitment demonstrated in all plants
  • ERP and CMMS standardization across the Group perceived as a good opportunity
  • PM programs developed and implemented at all plants, but not all resulted in the same level of effectiveness
  • Well-maintained plants, in general
  • Personnel aware of the continuous improvement process and its benefits



In summary, there was a commitment at every level of the organization to moving forward with changes and improvements. This was somewhat unexpected, but it was the most important ingredient for success.

Major improvement opportunities common to all plants

  • Realignment of Maintenance organizational structure
  • Implementation of Daily Planning and Scheduling
  • Implementation of Plant Reliability function
  • Processes for capturing employees’ knowledge/ experience
  • Maintenance systems performance monitoring
  • Continuous Improvement Program
  • Outage management
  • Contracted services management
  • Sharing of best practices (Each plant had some areas that were ranked as being “excellent.” Unfortunately, because there was a lack of appropriate processes, these “best practices” were not shared across the corporation.)

Each of the nine plants was benchmarked and a comparison made with other plants in the corporation, as well as with outside competition. Fig. 2 shows a normalized score for each plant, with the best ones on the left. (As a side note, it was an interesting experience to present the final report and findings to all Plant Managers and see their reactions to this chart. Managers of the best plants were very proud and did not hide it.) In order to introduce the plants to the best practice, a bar showing the competition score was added (the bar furthest to the left). As it clearly shows, each of the nine plants had a gap to close.

The plant audits formed the basis for the development of a comprehensive, detailed Maintenance/Plant Performance Improvement Program, addressing all aspects of the Maintenance function. Expected results—now a reality—were as follows:

  • Standardized implementation of the ERP/CMMS throughout all plants
  • New, proactive Maintenance organizations better supporting business requirements
  • Standardized reporting for the Maintenance function
  • Comprehensive Continuous Improvement Programs implemented and benefits realized
  • Resources shared across the corporation, if justifiable by a business demand
  • Spare parts managed throughout the corporation in a standardized way (A virtual storeroom was created so spare parts levels could be optimized for the entire corporation.)
  • Maintenance budget on the target to be decreased by 35%, without affecting plant reliability and equipment condition

This cement corporation case study is a great example of how a comprehensive maintenance systems audit can be utilized within a corporation for improving its plants’ performance. Actually, the term “audit” might be a misleading one, as this is truly a comprehensive process that encompasses auditing, benchmarking and redesigning maintenance business processes. It touches every aspect of the Maintenance function and its interaction with the business it supports.

Proactive maintenance and improved reliability of assets will lead to an increase in uptime and profits.

An investment in a Maintenance Business Review will allow companies to benchmark themselves against the industry and identify areas of opportunity. This type of comprehensive “audit” should be used on a regular basis (annually) to demonstrate and track improvement progress.

The output of the Maintenance Business Review becomes the input for a Performance Improvement Program. A Plant Performance Improvement Program will be the impetus to drive the organization to a reliability-focused culture that is essential for business success. Benefits of a Plant Performance Improvement Program include:

  • Increased equipment reliability
  • Increased plant uptime
  • Reduced Maintenance cost per manufactured unit
  • Increased company profit
  • Increased Maintenance function effectiveness and efficiency
  • Improved plant communication
  • Better personnel morale

Corporations with multiple plant locations will benefit by identifying standardized processes and systems.

In conclusion, Maintenance Business Reviews (Maintenance Audits) offer a proven vehicle for driving plant improvement processes. Moreover, by conducting such a review, management clearly demonstrates the necessary commitment for driving sustainable changes throughout the organization.

Krzysztof (Kris) Goly has more than 25 years experience in the field of maintenance and reliability. His past experience includes positions of maintenance and engineering manager, reliability manager and, most recently, principal consultant for Siemens Industrial Services, based in Alpharetta, GA. Goly is a Certified Maintenance and Reliability Professional. E-mail: kris.goly@

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6:00 am
May 1, 2007
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Do We Really Know What We Are Measuring?

Inaccurate, unreliable partical counting can hamper your ability to make smart oil suitability decisions. That can cost your company considerably in tearms of time and money.

It’s no mystery to Maintenance professionals that clean oil promotes enhanced equipment performance and reliability. There is, however, something that many of them do not know. Today’s most commonly used particle counting tests for determining oil cleanliness—Filter & Count Method; Light Blockage Method—too often yield inaccurate and inconsistent results.

As detailed in this article, the inconsistency and lack of precision with these current practices can lead companies to waste considerable amounts of money and time developing maintenance plans based on inaccurate and unreliable information. But, by incorporating innovative methods to address sources of errors—including air entrainment, water content, and additive effects—particle counting precision and accuracy can be greatly improved. Maintenance professionals can then make better oil suitability decisions, garner a stronger return on their lubricant investment and enhance their equipment performance.

What is cleanliness?
Oil cleanliness can be defined as a measure of the level of dirt, other insoluble or hard particles in fresh or in-service oil. There are a number of factors that can impact a lubricant’s cleanliness, most notably contamination and harsh operating conditions, such as extremely high temperatures, pressures and operating speeds. To this end, maintenance professionals are implementing oil analysis programs with the desire to gain accurate readings on the cleanliness of their oil to support oil suitability decisions.

Oil cleanliness is typically determined by particle counting. The Filter & Count (ISO 4407) and Light Blockage or Extinction (ISO 11500) tests are the most widely used methods of particle counting. Thus, the results of these tests were used as the foundation for the discoveries detailed in this article.

Filter & Count Method–ISO 4407…
Particle counting using the Filter & Count Method is conducted exactly how it sounds. Oil samples pass through a fine-patch filter that captures particles that are greater than four microns (> 4μ) in size. After the sample has passed through the filter, the particles on the filter patch are counted and measured under a microscope. The Filter & Count Method is considered to be the most accurate method of particle counting because the test is not normally affected by fluid color, air or water.

There is, however, no precision statement for the test, so the accuracy of the measurements is unknown. In addition, agglomerated particles, particle coincidence (excessively high particle counts that prevent accurate detection by the instrument), sometimes emulsified water and even air bubbles can contribute to false readings. It also is important to note that this test is extremely laborintensive and expensive. Furthermore, human error and variability can contribute to inaccurate readings and low test precision.

0507_oilanalysis1Light Blockage (Laser) Method–ISO 11500…
The Light Blockage Method is the most commonly used particle counting test. For this type of test, a laser is focused on a capillary through which oil flows. As particles pass through the laser, the beam is partially blocked and the transmitted light is measured by a photocell detector. The amount of light blockage is related to the number and size of particles in the sample. Similar to the Filter & Count Method, there is no precision statement for this test, so the exactitude of the measurements is unknown. In addition, compounds such as air, water and some additives which refract or impede light, can cause false readings. This method also cannot effectively measure dark fluids.

ISO Classification…
Once these tests have been completed, oil analysis providers utilize ISO Cleanliness Code – ISO 4406 (see Fig. 1). This chart has been used to establish a standardized code for quantifying oil cleanliness. In essence, it is a counting tool. The ISO range code number, or simply the ISO code, represents the number of particles found per milliliter of oil, and a single ISO code increase represents (roughly) a doubling of particles in the fluid. Under ISO 4406, an ISO code is determined by measuring and grouping particles into three categories based on their size in microns (> 4μ, >6μ, and >14μ). (To put the size of the particles in perspective, the width of a human hair is about 40μ.) As an example, the results outlined in Fig. 2 indicate that the ISO cleanliness code of the oil is 21/17/12.

Maintenance professionals typically use particle counts—along with other in-service oil analysis results—to make oil suitability decisions, based on the fluid’s cleanliness rating and, consequently, its expected tendency to cause wear and premature failure. Recognizing the importance of oil cleanliness, equipment manufacturers have started to include limitations based on particle counts in their warranty specifications. A growing number of companies also include particle counting guidelines in their internal maintenance practices to ensure a strong return on their equipment investment. While monitoring oil cleanliness is geared toward improving equipment cleanliness and thus enhancing equipment reliability and life, both Maintenance professionals and Lubrication specialists have to be cautious when making decisions based on the results from these particle counting tests.

Comparison Study 1: Filter & Count Method
If samples of the same oil are tested using the Filter & Count Method with different operators, then all of the ISO cleanliness ratings should be exactly the same, right? Well, this hypothesis was dispelled when we evaluated the following four lubricant samples with increasing levels of particles at one lab with three different operators.

  • Sample A is a hydraulic fluid filtered through a 1μ filter
  • Sample B is a 50/50 mixture of Sample A and NIST SRM 2806a (a standard fluid with a known level of particles)
  • Sample C is NIST SRM 2806a
  • Sample D is Sample C spiked with 2 mg Medium Test Dust (a standard material used in the laboratory to generate fluid samples of increasing particulate levels)

Cleanliness values were assessed based on counts of particles with sizes greater than 5μ and 14μ.

For clarity, Fig. 3 shows the results for particles >14μ; particle counts for both >5μ and >14μ showed the same pattern. These results indicate that even though the Filter & Count Method was conducted on samples of the same oil, the values that were generated varied by as much as two ISO codes between operators, or roughly a factor of four in terms of particle counts.

0507_oilanalysis2Comparison Study 2: Laser Blockage Comparison
In a second experiment, the reliability of the results of the Light Blockage Method was investigated. Filter & Count tests also were conducted for comparison. Here, 100 ml samples of a lubricant, formulated with a medium amount of additives, no polymers and a silicon antifoamant, were taken from one batch and distributed to four different particle counting labs. Each lab was given the same instructions on how to handle the samples and run the Light Blockage tests. Particles with sizes greater than 5μ and 15μ were evaluated for each test. Fig. 4 plots the results generated from the four Light Blockage tests. There was a fluctuation of as much as two ISO codes generated from these tests.

Comparison Study 3: Filter & Count vs. Laser Blockage Methods
In light of the differences between the ISO cleanliness ratings generated by both the Filter & Count and Laser Methods, several comparative tests were conducted to determine if any correlation between the results could be established.

In each test, samples for multiple batches and package styles of the same lubricant were evaluated. To ensure that the results were unbiased, these tests were conducted by a third-party commercial lab and no special instructions were given. The lab only was directed to evaluate ISO cleanliness using both the ISO 4407 Filter & Count and ISO 11500 Laser Blockage Methods. For clarity, only counts of particles larger than 14μ are shown.

0507_oilanalysis3First, the Filter & Count Method and Laser Method were performed on 19 samples of a lubricant that was formulated with a medium amount of additives, a silicon antifoamant and no polymers. This formulation is representative of a commonly used hydraulic fluid. The average ISO Code of the lubricant was 11.

The results of the test generated a mean delta of the ISO codes between the two test methods of 1.7, with variations in results as high as four ISO Codes. In many of these cases, Maintenance professionals would be inclined to change an oil that still could be serviceable. There appears to be a bias toward the Filter and Count method giving a higher particle count than the Laser Blockage method.

To investigate this theory further, the same evaluation was conducted on 17 samples of oil that was formulated with a medium level of additives with polymers and a silicon antifoamant. The average ISO value of this lubricant also was 11.

For this series of tests, the mean difference of ISO Codes was 2.5. In contrast to the previous sample, the results of the microscope tests were lower than the laser method more than 82% of the time. Additionally, it should be noted that the Filter & Count and Laser Blockage Methods failed to give the same test results more than 87% of the time, with differentials as high as five ISO codes. Moreover, the measurements differed by greater than one ISO code more than 50% of the time.

These significant variations establish that there is no distinct correlation between the reported cleanliness of the oil and the method of testing. Not only was there no correlation between the two methods, the accuracy and precision of both methods are clearly in question.

Comparison Study 4: Rate of Cleanliness
A comparative study also was conducted to see if comparing the results of the Filter & Count and Laser Blockage tests would unveil a discernible pattern when analyzing oils of varying cleanliness levels. The samples included clean samples (IS0= 10), samples of medium cleanliness (ISO= 12) and relatively dirty samples (ISO= 15, 16, 17). Similar to previous tests, only particles larger than 14μ are shown.

When the 26 different samples of the cleanest lubricant were tested, the mean difference in test results was 1.7. The results of testing 23 lubricant samples with medium cleanliness generated an average difference in oil cleanliness rating of 2.1, with variations as high as 4 ISO codes between results. Finally, the average difference between the oil cleanliness values of the 15 samples of the dirtiest lubricant was 1.9.


What do these results indicate? They indicate that there does not appear to be any consistency or pattern in the oil cleanliness results of oils with varying particle counts. Thus, Maintenance professionals need to be cautious when making oil suitability decisions based on particle counting results.

Sources of variation
The lack of standardization in the testing methods’ practices and instruments can explain some variation in the test results. This, however, is only part of the story. There are several other factors that lead to inaccurate results. These include:

  • Sample handling and storage
  • Emulsified water in oils
  • Air bubbles in oils
  • Aggregated particles in oils
  • Particle coincidence
  • Variability in additive chemistry (i.e., polymers, liquid dispersions, etc.)
  • Oil viscosity

During any particle counting test, sludge, emulsified water and fibers can all be interpreted as similarly sized particles. Additionally, black particles that absorb light and shiny particles reflecting light can affect the results of the oil cleanliness measurement. There are means by which to improve oil cleanliness testing, though.

Let’s now explore ways to increase test accuracy and precision, so that you can depend upon particle counting results more when making decisions about the health of, and investment in, your lubricant.

0507_oilanalysis5Minimizing test variability
As we’ve seen, significant sources of variation can occur from air bubbles, antifoam additives and water entrapped in the oil, and these “phantom particles” generate some of the largest spikes in ISO cleanliness values. With this in mind, many oil analysis companies are developing innovative ways to improve the repeatability and reproducibility of particle count tests.

The effects of air…
Because air has a different refractive index than oil, air bubbles can be measured as hard particles by Light Blockage particle counters. It has been discovered that by pre-treating the oil sample with an ultrasonic bath or a combination of ultrasonic bath and vacuum, inaccuracies in particle count as a result of air bubbles can be minimized. The ultrasonic treatment helps to remove the bubbles and provide more accurate particulate values.

Although there is not a significant change for particles greater than four microns, it is clear in Fig. 5 that by using this method, the particle count of the particles greater than six microns and particles above 14 μ has been signifi- cantly lowered after ultrasonic treatment. Thus, a more accurate assessment of an oil’s cleanliness can be determined by removing entrained air.

Using an antifoamant…
Foam is created by the combination of air and a lubricant and can compromise the performance of a product, possibly leading to equipment problems. Many lubricant manufacturers include antifoamants in the formulation of their products. Although these ingredients can improve equipment performance, they also can contribute to inaccurate particle counts when a sample is tested.

Fig. 6 illustrates how an antifoamant substantially increases the cleanliness rating of an oil and how this interference can be avoided through the use of a diluent—a miscible liquid or solvent used to dilute and lower the viscosity of the sample. By obtaining a more accurate value, Maintenance professionals will be able to make better decisions about whether or not they need to change their oil.

The effects of water…
Water tends to have a deleterious effect on lubricant and equipment performance, potentially leading to frequent component failure. When testing new or used oil, the water in a lubricant can increase the particle count in a laser particle counter.

Fig. 7 details the increase in the oil cleanliness rating (indicating “dirtier oil”) when water is added to a lubricant. Therefore, water is shown to affect the “hard particle” count, which we know should not be the case. Similar to the case of antifoamants, when a diluent is added to the same lubricant, the oil cleanliness rating is reduced, thus generating a more accurate particle count.

While there are currently no ASTM standard test methods for measuring the cleanliness of lubricating oils, innovative modifications to the Laser Blockage method can greatly increase the accuracy and repeatability of the results by eliminating test interference from entrained air, water and antifoamant additives. Armed with better in-service oil analysis results, Maintenance professionals can make better decisions about the suitability of an oil.

Bernie Koenitzer and Clint Smith are technical service advisors with Imperial Oil Ltd.

Alex Bolkhovsky and Dr. Tim Nadasdi are products technical advisors with ExxonMobil Lubricants & Specialties.

This article was the focus of a presentation at MARTS 2007. For more information, e-mail:

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6:00 am
May 1, 2007
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The Inadequacy Of Learning By Phone And Surfing The Net

0507_profdevelopment1The story is true, the narrative real. Names have been changed so as not to touch too many raw nerves.

Played out over a recent several-day period, the following situation seems to be typical of how some industry specialists are attempting to acquire knowledge these days. The point is that phone calls and Internet searches should not be viewed as substitutes for the more traditional structured approaches to learning. These approaches include reading appropriate texts.

“Hi Heinz,” read the e-mail from a stranger. “I have read thru (sic) some of your articles I found at Magazine X and have learned quite a bit. How can I get in touch with you to discuss what levels of consultation you offer? If you could call me today or tomorrow, I’d appreciate it very much, as I am working on a short-fuse project. Thanks very much…Tommy”

So, I called Tommy, an engineer employed by a very large, well-known Engineering and Design firm involved in the construction and upkeep of nuclear power plants. I spent about 20 minutes on the phone, trying to steer him in the direction of reference material that would explain why one of the pumps he was concerned with seemed to always have an excessively high bearing housing oil level. Since he was interested in “solving” the problem by using sealed grease-lubricated bearings, I attempted to explain why this solution is certainly not worthy of being the first one to consider. It’s difficult, however, to download several decades of applicable pump experience to relative newcomers when virtually every question asked seems out of context, and would require a string of tie-in explanations. Therefore, for written backup, I mailed Tommy a list of applicable books and articles that would shed more light on the issue. He replied in writing:

“Heinz, thanks for your time & info yesterday. It was most helpful. I am looking forward to your recommendations for reading/reference material. I was hoping to ask—you wrote an article that appeared in Magazine X (in which) you created a subjective rating system for various configurations. I was trying to see how my system of questions would fall within the rankings. Would you be willing & interested in hearing my interpretation of what ranking my system has and offering your feedback & thoughts? Thanks, Heinz, looking forward to your recommended references…Tommy”

OK. I replied, “Try calling between 1 and 2 PM (CST) today.” Tommy acknowledged:

“Thanks, Heinz. I will call tomorrow. Thanks for your thoughts, I am going thru all of them. In your subjective ratings chart of lube systems, what is the “balance line” between bearings? I am not sure what it is, to figure out if the APS system has it or not. Thanks very much…Tommy.”

A second reply was needed to indicate that I would be available until 3 PM (CST) today, and that tomorrow I could be reached at and from—whatever. Tommy, though, apparently is busy. He e-mails back:

“Subject: RE: Pump bearing upgrades. Heinz—I actually have a meeting today from 1-2 with GOODANDBIG PUMP CORPORATION to discuss their recommended oil level, as well as discuss with them the feasibility of greased, sealed bearings. Can I call you afterwards? And, what is your phone number? I also have asked a pump & motors engineer here if they have your ‘Pump User’s Handbook’ so I can start using it today. By the way, from reading your writings, I would very much like to use a flinger disc, but it would not fit inside their housing. Thanks…Tommy.”

Although I promptly e-mailed the following information and questions to Tommy, I also recalled early in our communications that he had mentioned being on a “short fuse” project. In light of this, I assumed he probably would not see my reply prior to his meeting with GOODANDBIG. I wrote:

  • Greased, sealed bearings are suitable within a somewhat limited DN-range only. Therefore, what is your bearing DN (bore diameter times rpm)?
  • Once the grease is depleted (due to churning or oxidation or separation centrifugation) into oil and soap, the bearing will fail rapidly. Therefore, any non-regreasable “life-time” grease-lubricated bearings at a nuclear power plant will probably have to be replaced on a precautionary (safe) schedule. Does that imply that regreasable bearings are a wiser choice? Not necessarily, because regreasable bearings should be avoided at plants that disregard the critical nature of using correct regreasing procedures.
  • Does this plant use intelligent regreasing procedures? How do you know?
  • Also, regardless of bearing lubrication and application method, bearings with certain cage materials should not be used in your pumps.
  • Important: I believe it should be mandatory to (a) use a modern bearing protector seal on the bearing housings, and (b) only use pressure-balanced lubricators; i.e. you must disallow “open system” constant level lubricators.
    • What type of flinger disc doesn’t fit in their bearing housings?
    • What size doesn’t fit?
    • What material is used in flinger discs that DO fit elsewhere in industry?
    • What’s the constraint with the particular pump type that you seem to be dealing with?
    • Are any upgrade measures possible?
    • Have upgrade measures been implemented by Bestof- Class companies elsewhere?
    • Why don’t these other companies have the problem you seem to have?
    • What sense does it make to pursue a fundamental design change when others don’t seem to have the problem?
  • The pressure that exists behind a bearing is not always that existing in front of the (same) bearing, nor at the bearing at the far end of the housing. Sometimes, this unequal pressure is due to windage generation (fan effect) by an angularly arranged cage. At other times, it has to do with lack of a suitable drainage opening at the bottom of the bearing seat. This is shown on Fig. 7-22 of the “Pump User’s Handbook.” The area of the needed cross-sectional opening is determined from equation 7-6.
  • When unequal pressures are suspected, Best-of-Class users will install a “balance line” (tubing or pipe) that ensures that all spaces are at equal pressure.
  • I strongly suspect that the workers at the affected facility don’t understand that the laws of physics demand an air volume to exist at the top of the constant level lubricator bulb. This air will be at a slight vacuum and, together with the static pressure of the liquid column in the bulb, must equal the pressure in the air space floating above the liquid oil level in the bearing housing.
  • Based on what you have related to me so far, attempts to overfill the lubricator bulb are the most likely (although not the only possible) cause of the high oil levels.
  • Unfortunately, we are approaching a level of correspondence that goes beyond what I consider normal. Perhaps we might agree that my time, too, is valuable. Please honor my request to confine your call tomorrow to very brief essentials.…HPB

Tommy’s reply came the next day:

“Hello, Heinz, thank you for your commentary & explanations. I appreciate them very much! I actually don’t have any specific questions to ask, I was just seeking clarifications, which have been very helpful. Perhaps I don’t need to call today and would only touch base if I had another clarification to ask? I will pursue finding your book. Thanks very much, Heinz! I wish you had been teaching some of the classes I took…Tommy.”

That was the end of the story, or so I thought (see Sidebar). I might add that the classes I took in the 1950s didn’t teach the details outlined in my e-mails, either. On the other hand, they did teach the fundamentals of common sense and showed us students how to apply the basics of physics to hydraulics and general troubleshooting.

Collectively, common sense and physics were (and still are) the foundation of mechanical engineering. “Cold phone calls” were unheard of in the 1950s, and the Internet did not exist. But books did, and books were our prized possessions. Furthermore, the desire to read and educate oneself was there. Today, however, as evidenced by this round of communications between Tommy and me, whether that same desire to actually read and educate oneself still exists in some industrial environments is doubtful.

Tommy Wasn’t Done Yet…

A day or so after receiving what I thought had been Tommy’s last e-mail message to me, I find the following in my Outlook mailbox:

“Heinz, thanks for the info. You had asked me about the DN #—and I too wanted to verify the DN #, to apply it to your 1-100 scale of relative bearing housing scheme ratings. The shaft RPM is 3600. The shaft journal sizes are 2 5/8″ and 3 1/8” OD. Therefore the DN values are: 9,450 and 11,250. Or in mm (240,000 and 285,750). If you are using a DN value of 8,000 to “allow or disallow” slinger rings, is that in units of inch-rpm? Thanks very much…Tommy”

I reply. “Yes, it’s inches multiplied by rpm. Thus, I would allow slinger rings only if the installation were to positively meet “criteria of perfection” in terms of horizontality of shaft system, immersion depth, oil viscosity, ring concentricity and ring finish (RMS). That said, I would disallow them whenever the facility cannot: (a) ascertain that these criteria are met; but (b) expected me to give them advice on Best Available Technology. Slinger rings simply are not Best Available Technology at DN values exceeding 8000.”

Now, Tommy e-mails back:

“Thanks, Heinz. After our discussion last week, I asked Maintenance to verify concentricity of the ring. No results yet. As for horizontality, it’d be hard to make it ‘perfect’ within a very small tolerance, of course, however I’m looking into what features exist to mitigate this, such as running the slinger ring in an arced groove or groove or slot, etc. All the best, appreciate the food for thought as always. . .Tommy”

Exasperated, I vow to send Tommy one last e-mail. It reads as follows:

“In which case, (and assuming that the laws of gravity DO INDEED pertain at your plant), the slinger ring will make contact with the sides of the groove, and will slow down. Then, we’re right back to where we started and the whole exercise has been futile. At which time I anticipate you will suggest making the slinger ring cross-section trapezoidal. Note that the resulting sharper edges easily cut though the oil film and abrasive wear will take place. Wear particles (slivers of brass or bronze) will contaminate the oil, and on, and on and on. . . That, then, explains why Best-of-Class professionals do NOT consider slinger rings appropriate for the truly reliability-focused.”



Frequent contributor Heinz Bloch is well-known to Maintenance Technology readers. The author of 17 comprehensive textbooks and over 340 other publications on machinery reliability and lubrication, he can be contacted directly at:

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6:00 am
May 1, 2007
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Solution Spotlight: Circuit Breaker Replacement & Retrofilling For Industrial Facilities

Electrical distribution is pretty simple in an industrial facility, at least for those who aren’t involved in MRO activities. As long as the lights are on and machinery is humming, everyone is generally happy. On the other hand, if the constant flow of electricity is interrupted for an extended period, it could lead to grave consequences like missed deadlines, lost sales and a tarnished reputation.


Circuit breakers are the linchpin of a facility’s electrical distribution system, so it’s probably not surprising that several warning signs of an aging system relate to these devices. That includes a steadily increasing amount of breaker nuisance tripping or failure of a main breaker. When these warning signs occur, it’s a message that breakers may need to be upgraded to help the power distribution system meet current and future needs.

Replacing and retrofilling
When an electrical distribution system is new, it doesn’t require a great deal of attention outside of routine maintenance. But loads increase over time, through expansion and other factors, and equipment ages, including circuit breakers. Nuisance tripping and minor outages become more common, translating to increased maintenance costs that strain budgets.

More ominous is the possibility of a massive power outage that could occur at any time. Suddenly, an entire system upgrade—including brand-new equipment purchases, short circuit coordination and revision of the facility’s single-line diagram, along with downtime and all the related labor issues—is required, costing thousands of dollars and potentially weeks to complete.

Replacing or retrofilling existing decades-old circuit breakers with the benefits of today’s devices can go a long way in modernizing a system and avoiding the problems associated with removing old switchgear and replacing it with new equipment. For example, fused switches and circuit breakers have provided arc flash protection in the past, but breakers have been introduced to the market that provide high interrupting ratings without fuses, up to 200,000A at 508Vac. Such breakers eliminate problems common to fused switches and breakers, including hazards associated with changing fuses and the need to stock/replace fuses, as well as dependence on related mechanical hardware that requires maintenance or replacement. Plus, they are built to trip faster in order to protect both equipment and workers nearby, and typically feature a smaller footprint than fused breakers.

Replacement and retrofilling options don’t require a major time commitment, either. For example, replacing a breaker may require a short 15- to 20-minute outage that can be done during off-hours. A retrofill process is a bit more extensive; it might take 8 to 10 hours per breaker section—but, that’s certainly more desirable than a complete system upgrade.

Consider the following information as a primer regarding replacement and retrofill processes for LV and MV circuit breakers.

Replacement circuit breaker
A replacement LV or MV power circuit breaker is a new breaker that uses a modern modular drawout assembly, designed and tested to interface with components inside the existing switchgear’s breaker compartment. An MV replacement breaker is simply a like-for-like replacement that requires no interface to rack into the existing cubicle. With the LV upgrade option, a new cradle interface is inserted into the existing breaker compartment. The cradle design typically includes a new racking mechanism, safety interlocks, primary and secondary disconnecting devices, truck operated contact (TOC) mechanisms, a new breaker compartment door and other provisions.

A replacement LV or MV power circuit breaker matches the original breaker in form, fit and function and is designed and tested in accordance with ANSI C37.59 and C37.09 standards. Because a number of breakers manufactured more than 50 years ago are still in operation but no longer supported, the replacement breaker provides facilities utilizing older switchgear with a viable alternative for increasing performance and reliability.

Another key benefit of LV breaker replacements is that they allow maintenance personnel to exchange older, existing breakers for one common breaker that is interchangeable throughout a facility’s power distribution system. Another advantage is that they allow for equipment upgrades without having to schedule a bus outage.

Circuit breaker retrofill
An LV or MV circuit breaker retrofill entails the replacement of the old breaker and related compartment components, such as the stationary primary and secondary disconnects, cell interlocks and racking mechanisms, with a drawout circuit breaker and cradle of a modern, previously qualified design.

During the retrofill design and installation, the existing switchgear cell is modified and equipped with a new drawout cradle assembly. Significant changes are made to the structural components of the existing circuit breaker compartment as well as to the line and load bus structure and bus bracing. New isolating barriers are installed to conform to the latest electrical switchgear industry standard requirements.

LV or MV circuit breaker retrofills are employed when and where a facility can afford modifications that require extended switchgear shutdown (minimum 8-10 hours). When the available fault current is higher than the withstand capabilities of the existing circuit breaker, a retrofill or replacement can upgrade the capacity of the existing system. In such cases, the entire switchgear bus structure and bus bracing must be evaluated and upgraded, which requires the switchgear to be de-energized during modifications.

Heed the warning signs
Confronted with the warning signs of an aging power distribution system, a maintenance organization should consider commissioning a facilities audit. Such a study includes evaluation of the entire electrical infrastructure, and can indicate if replacement or retrofill options are appropriate or if a more extensive upgrade is recommended.

The bottom line, however, is to do something if the warning signs are present. Doing nothing runs the risk of extended downtime and higher costs.

Joseph Weigel is a product manager for Square D Services marketing. He has been strongly involved in the development of the Arc Flash Safety program for Schneider Electric to educate customers on emerging arc flash safety standards.

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6:00 am
May 1, 2007
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Problem Solvers

High-Speed Vision Sensors

0507_probsolvers_cognexCognex Corporation now offers the In- Sight® 5600 series of vision sensors. This new line features the same design as the In-Sight 5400 series, but has double the processing speed and memory. Included in the product line is the standard (640×480) resolution
as well as the two-megapixel (1600×1200) models for performance in high-speed applications. All sensors have an IP67 (NEMA 4) rating and advanced vision software for inspection, identifi cation, measurement and alignment tasks.

Cognex Corporation
Natick, MA


Better Safety Instrumentation Monitoring

0507_probsolvers_honeywellHoneywell says that its new SIS-Health Monitoring technology helps reduce maintenance and failures in safety instrumented systems. It includes the SIS-Health Monitoring Local Reliability Database module that stores all inventory information regarding a site’s safety instrumentation. The SIS-Health Monitoring Analysis Toolset lets operators analyze, validate and optimize these systems’ reliability and Safety Integrity Level (SIL). Operating as standalone units or together as an integrated system, the two modules can be used with any type or brand of safety instrumentation.

Phoenix, AZ


Lockout/Tagout Solutions0507_probsolvers_panduit

A new Lockout/Tagout and Safety Solutions Catalog, SA-IDCB33, is now available from Panduit Corp. The smallsized catalog covers the company’s lockout/tagout products, safety and facility identifi cation products and training materials. A convenient reference section on industry standards also is included. The free catalog can be requested through customer service or downloaded from the company’s Web site.

Panduit Corp.
Tinley Park, IL





0507_probsolvers_commtestState-of-the-Art Vibration Analysis

With the popularity of its vb3000™ portable vibration analysis tool in mind, Commtest has engineered its all-new vb7™ instrument’s electronics from the ground up. Designed by and for predictive maintenance professionals, the vb7 incorporates stateof- the-art components, sculpted into an especially comfortable, lightweight unit. The manufacturer notes that the all-in-one tool is suitable for every level of vibration analyst, from novice through expert. Its Ascent® software contains the collective experience of over 25 years of  expert in-depth machine fault analysis.

Knoxville, TN


Centralized Mist Removal In A Box

0507_probsolvers_cecoAcid and other chemical mist can be removed with a minimal 99.5% effi ciency, using CECO Filters’ Mist Collector Systems (CMC). Mist cleaning is confi ned to a single room with this “boxed solution” design that can collect effl uent from several operations. According to the manufacturer, its fi ber bed fi lters provide up to 10 years of service life. Standard CMC units come in 18 sizes, with ACFM capacities ranging from 2,400 to 36,000.

CECO Environmental Corp.
Cincinnati, OH


Extreme Condition Computers

0507_problemsolvers6Glacier Computers notes that products in its new Everest series for harsh environments are ideal for both forklift and fi xed-mounted applications. These computers have passed thermal and reliability testing, have been HALT tested and have an MTBF of 40,000 hours. Screens are available in 10.4” and 12.1”. They also come with multiple processor options, a 6V to 60V isolated internal power supply and the ability operate in Linux and numerous Windows formats.

Glacier Computer
Amherst, NH

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6:00 am
May 1, 2007
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Viewpoint: Top Management Culture Change

My grandmother used to say “Nice words are seldom true and true words are seldom nice.” I do not sell engineering services, hardware or computer systems, so I do not need to be nice. In my role as an adviser and consultant, I must be honest. This means that I often must tell organizations what they need to hear and not what they want to hear—although I really try to do it in an as nice way as possible. Here are some true words to top management.

Anyone who has been involved in reliability and maintenance improvement initiatives for any length of time has heard that a culture change in work practices is necessary to deliver sustainable results. This is true—and these needed changes are the same as they were 30 years ago. So, why don’t all companies succeed with these types of improvement initiatives?

The culture change that is so talked about must first occur at the top level of the organization. If the president of a company tells the vice president of Manufacturing that he or she must cut the cost of manufacturing, this message will trickle down in the organization and the focus will be on cutting costs instead of doing something about measures that can drive down the cost. As many other contributors to this publication have noted, short-term savings followed by long-term losses will be the result of this culture. If a plant needs to save energy, no doubt heat recovery systems, better insulation, more efficient processes etc. will be considered and investments in these solutions will be made. Such investments, in turn, will drive down the use of energy. The only difference when it comes to maintenance cost reductions is that many of these do not require capital investments at all. It is more a matter of doing better with what you already have.

The resistance to accomplish more cost-effective maintenance is seldom in the Maintenance organization. Many Maintenance managers are in veritable “budget jails” built by management cultures that prioritize short-term savings ahead of long-term gains that can generate savings 10 to 50 times higher than the costs of deferring maintenance. To temporarily survive, these Maintenance managers will focus on cutting costs until such measures result in reduced reliability. As a consequence, he or she will be fired.

What a shame. We can’t afford not to implement measures that improve reliability, which, in turn, will drive down maintenance costs. It is, perhaps, the last significant improvement initiative we can make to stay competitive. The rest of the world buys modern equipment. With automation, it is easier than ever for anyone to learn how to operate this equipment. The real challenge lies in how well the equipment can be maintained and how reliable it will be.

Oh, yes, I generally get agreement from top management when I have the opportunity to talk with them. Agreeing with an idea and eagerly championing it, however, don’t necessarily go hand in hand. All too often, I hear the following: “We agree with you. Better reliability is our greatest improvement potential. But, we must first cut costs.”

The opinions expressed in this Viewpoint section are those of the author, and don’t necessarily reflect those of the staff and management of MAINTENANCE TECHNOLOGY magazine.

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