Archive | February


6:00 am
February 1, 2008
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Boosting Your Bottom Line: Motor Breakdown And The Costs Of Repair

At first glance, the decision appears simple: rewind or otherwise repair the motor when it is cheaper than buying a new motor. It is, however, important to your overall bottom line to consider the total cost of ownership, including purchase, repair and operating costs. Efficiency is a key cost factor–the electricity used to power a motor typically represents 95% of its lifetime operating costs.

“Best practice” repair services can maintain the efficiency of your motors. A 2003 study conducted by the Electrical Apparatus Service Association (EASA) and the Association of Electrical and Mechanical Trades (AEMT) found that best rewind/repair procedures maintain motor effi- ciency within ± 0.2%. It also is possible to improve motor efficiency during repair. (See “The Effect of Repair/Rewinding on Motor Efficiency: An EASA/ AEMT Rewind Study and Good Practice Guide to Maintain Motor Efficiency,” 2003).

The “Helpful Resources” page of the Motor Decisions Matter (MDM) Website (www.motorsmatter. org) contains links and background information to several best practice repair resources published by EASA and the Department of Energy (DOE) Industrial Technologies Program. Detailed definitions and studies also are available on the industry resources page of EASA’s Website,, including “EASA Tech Note 16 Guidelines for Maintaining Motor Efficiency During Rebuilding,” and “ANSI/EASA AR 100-2006, Recommended Practice for the Repair of Rotating Electrical Apparatus.” Examples of best practices include:

  • Conducting a stator core test before and after winding removal
  • Repairing defective stator laminations
  • Calibrating all test equipment and measuring devices at least annually
  • Measuring and recording winding resistance and room temperature
  • Having the appropriate power supply running the motor at rated voltage
  • Balancing the rotor
  • Repairing or replacing all broken or worn parts and fittings
  • Having a documented quality assurance program
  • Having and using appropriate test equipment
  • Documenting measurements and test results

Maintaining efficiency during repair is important to your bottom line as well. Review the best practices referenced above and talk with your motor service provider about opportunities to improve reliability and avoid efficiency loss during repair. Having a sound motor management plan in place before the failure occurs can help eliminate rushed decision-making. The “1-2-3 Approach to Motor Management” spreadsheet from MDM is a good resource to help evaluate motor repairreplacement decisions.

While developing your motor plan, you may find that it makes sense for your company to establish and implement a motor repair policy. It certainly did for Ash Grove Cement & Riverside Inc. By adopting a motor repair purchasing specification, this cement and lime manufacturer was able to save $6000 per hour of lost production time by quickly determining core damage before making repair decisions. A case study describing Ash Grove Cement’s commitment to motor repair excellence is available on the MDM website. It’s a real “boosting-your-bottom-line” success story. MT

The Motor Decisions Matter campaign is managed by the Consortium for Energy Efficiency, a North American nonprofit organization that promotes energy-saving products, equipment and technologies. For further information about MDM, contact Ted Jones at or (617) 589-3949, ext. 230.

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6:00 am
February 1, 2008
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Viewpoint: Business Improvements Through Partnership


Magnus Pousette, Vice President, ABB Reliability Services North America

For many process industry and manufacturing companies, building new plants, investing in productivity improvements and achieving world-class operational status is more of a dream than reality. Numerous organizations simply look to maintain their current profit and revenue levels through outsourcing and cutting costs in unimportant activities. Investing in sustainable business improvements often are afterthoughts because of a management focus on short-term value.

With these companies constantly facing increased customer demands, hypercompetitive market pressures and higher shareholder expectations, concentrating on cutting costs through limited-value solutions such as outsourcing may lead to diminishing results. Businesses, however, can win by focusing on their core expertise, such as mining, papermaking, rolling aluminum or tire building, and partnering with companies that better understand important non-core processes in order to achieve higher results.

Partnering enables companies to stand shoulder to shoulder with manufacturers to tackle new and difficult challenges. Partners have the same goal as the manufacturer, participating in strategy and production meetings, and mutually striving to achieve jointly created and targeted metrics. The fundamental components of successful partnering are:

  • Mutual objectives
  • Performance basis

Mutual objectives
The key to an effective partnership is creating mutually desirable objectives that are defined by Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Partnering KPIs should be shared so that the partner can drive a direct impact on overall business performance.

The secret to doing this successfully is the word “mutual.” If both parties agree up-front to work together long-term, it will be in both parties’ interests to make adjustments that deliver longterm success. This means that both the manufacturer and the partner must develop and maintain a high degree of trust, be flexible and stay focused on winning. The partnership will not be profitable and sustainable if only one party is successful.

Performance basis
A true partnership involves both parties sharing risks and successes. In collaborating with mutual KPIs, the partner’s profit motive is aligned with the manufacturer’s profit motive. Linking financial incentives to improved performance drives the partner to deliver continuous and sustainable value rather than short-term results. MT

Partnering drives profitability
Today, in the highly competitive business environment, companies no longer can afford to focus on solutions that create limited financial benefits. They must move to a higher value-added partnering approach to achieve sustainable value creation and improvement. By developing partnering relationships with service companies that are world-class experts in their field, leading organizations can accelerate achieving business improvements and sustainable financial success.

Magnus Pousette is vice president and general manager of ABB Reliability Services North America, a professional reliability systems, consulting and partnering company managing maintenance operations for more than 150 client sites worldwide in the chemical processing, discrete manufacturing, electronics, food processing, metals, mining, paper and oil & gas industries. E-mail: magnus.pousette@

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6:00 am
February 1, 2008
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Uptime: Sustaining Reliability Gains


Bob Williamson, Contributing Editor

A Reliability Improvement Policy, as described in the January 2008 installment of this column, along with a Plan developed, supported and administered by company leadership at all levels is essential for fueling positive changes in the maintenance and reliability process. Sustaining improvements in maintenance and reliability should be the next concern of your leadership team as it develops and deploys your Reliability Policy.

Since there is a compelling case that our business success or growth depends on the results of change efforts, sustaining positive change is fairly easy if: 1) it is not an option; and/or 2) it is a condition of employment. Why, then, do so many maintenance and reliability improvement initiatives stop or go dormant in such a short time?

Could it be that there is no honestly “compelling” reason to change? Could it be that everyone who should be leading the change process has NOT bought into it? Could it be that some are afraid of change (i.e. afraid of the unknown)? Or could it be they simply don’t want to change at all? Truth is, it could be all of these reasons and more!

So, how do we sustain positive changes and innovations in maintenance and reliability in our organizations?

Sustainability of innovative work processes, be they maintenance- or operations-related, have been promoted by many purveyors and “innovators” for decades. Sometimes it is “sales hype” and other times it is wishful (or hopeful) thinking. Sustaining positive change in equipment, plant and process reliability is a must in today’s highly competitive and rapidly changing global economy. Sustaining positive change depends on people—you and me, senior leaders and plant floor people, mechanics and operators, all of us—buying into the new methods, adopting them and sometimes changing our beliefs and behaviors in the workplace.

Reliability-Centered Maintenance (RCM), Preventive Maintenance (PM), Total Productive Maintenance (TPM), Operator-Performed Maintenance, Condition-Based Maintenance (CMB), Life-Cycle Costing (LCC), Lean Manufacturing, Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS), ALL represent some of the numerous changes in the ways companies, and people, take care of their equipment and facilities today. Have you seen some of your maintenance and reliability improvement programs come and go? Have you started on an improvement journey only to have it stall, go stagnant and (perhaps) even stop all together? It happens all the time in many businesses large and small all over the world.

Let’s explore how individual attitudes throughout the organization, from senior leadership through plant floor employees, can affect the development and sustainability of maintenance and reliability changes in the workplace.

Individual innovativeness
Some people are more innovative, more adventurous than others. Studies over the years have shown that people embrace change or new ideas at different rates. Take for example studies done by Everett Rogers dating from the early 1960s up through the early 2000s. Rogers identified five groups of “adopters” of innovation:

  1. Innovators represent the first wave of adopters (2.5%). They are adventuresome, well educated, have multiple sources of information and are willing to tolerate initial problems that may occur, as well as willing to seek solutions.
  2. Early Adopters represent the next wave of adopters (13.5%). They tend to be the social leaders, popular, educated, visionary, and are looking to adopt new ideas that will lead to breakthroughs even though a high-risk, high-reward project may be the only way.
  3. Early Majority represents the next wave of adopters (34%). They are motivated by evolutionary changes, rather than revolutionary changes, where their larger group adopts the changes together and is willing to move along quickly.
  4. Late Majority represent the next wave of adopters (34%). They tend to be more skeptical, traditional, looking for price-sensitive, ready-to-go, bullet-proof solutions for staying competitive. They don’t want to fall too far behind.
  5. Laggards represent the last wave to adopt (16%). They are the skeptics who cherish the status quo and do not believe that the innovation is any good at all. They are likely to block movements toward changes in their areas.

When an entire organization, a company, a department or even a plant-floor crew is expected to quickly adopt innovative maintenance and reliability methods, the degree of individual innovativeness can greatly influence success and sustainability of the maintenance and reliability gains.

“Individual innovativeness” should be carefully considered when striving for sustainable breakthroughs in maintenance and reliability performance using any innovative change process or work methods. Identifying the Innovators and Early Adopters in your organization to lead maintenance and reliability innovations will be essential to your success. Seek them out. Engage them as both formal and informal leaders.

Advocates of change
In many cases transforming an organization from highly reactive or repair-based maintenance to highly planned, preventive and proactive maintenance represents a significant work culture change. John Kotter, in his book Leading Change, estimates that 85% of corporate and company CULTURE change efforts fail. In Kotter’s analysis of successful and unsuccessful company change, he identified his own four categories of people:

  1. Advocates strongly support the change process and push its implementation.
  2. Incubators understand the innovation and the need to change, but they are waiting to see if it will stick.
  3. Apathetics don’t know much about the innovation or the change process and don’t believe it has anything to do with them or their jobs.
  4. Resisters will actively block the change efforts.

What would happen if senior leadership chose a mix of Incubators, Apathetics and even Resisters to lead the change efforts? There wouldn’t be a “snowball’s chance…” of succeeding. Conversely, what if senior leadership made sure that those leading the innovations were all Advocates willing to walk the talk? There likely would be no limit to what they could accomplish.

You can see how “leadership” of any change effort easily can be influenced by the mindsets, attitudes and paradigms of those charged with heading up such an initiative in an organization. Maintenance and reliability innovation leaders also must be aware of other personal change dynamics at work in their workplace and consciously approach change accordingly.

Leading sustainable change
Creating major change can be a challenge for any size organization. But, what would happen if the change were not successful—if the desired results were not achieved and sustained? In many cases sustainability of maintenance and reliability is “a must” for business success. After years studying hundreds of businesses change efforts, successes and failures, Kotter identified the following “Eight-Stage Process for Creating Major Change.” Two of the most important aspects of these eight stages are: 1) that change starts with a compelling reason to change from the status quo; and 2) that change builds on this compelling foundation, one proven stage at a time, to create lasting change.

  1. Establishing a sense of urgency: A real compelling business case for change, not a threat.
  2. Creating the guiding coalition: A true team with enough formal and informal power to lead the change.
  3. Developing a vision and strategy: Where are we going and how will we get there.
  4. Communicating the change vision: Face-toface vision-sharing and walking the talk.
  5. Empowering broad-based action: Getting rid of obstacles, taking educated risks.
  6. Generating short-term wins: Very visible, very fast, rewarded, recognized and celebrated.
  7. Consolidating gains and producing more change: Leveraging the “wins” for more paradigm-shifting change.
  8. Anchoring the new approaches in the organization: Showing results and successes due to changes in behaviors at all levels, and ensuring leaderships’ ability to sustain the behaviors.

Be cautious, however, when looking at this list of Eight. Each stage is sequential, meaning that it builds on the one(s) before it. Thus, an individual stage will not be successful if the preceding step is flawed, or incomplete.

Keep in mind, as well, that Kotter’s “Guiding Coalition” is of utmost importance: The maintenance organization alone can rarely lead and deliver sustainable gains in reliability. This “Coalition” must include all of the leadership stakeholders in the business (operations, finance, maintenance, engineering, quality, safety, environmental, labor union, et al).

The bottom line for sustaining gains
Gaining senior leadership buy-in is a prerequisite to sustainable change if you believe breakthrough changes in maintenance and reliability methods are essential to ensure your business success. Sustainable gains must be led from a business perspective by senior leadership with clear expectations and accountabilities through all levels of leadership down to the individual work groups and employees.

Let’s make sure that improvements in maintenance and reliability are: 1) not an option; and 2) are a condition of employment. Our business success or growth depends on it! MT

  1. Rogers, Everett M., Diffusion of Innovations, 5th Edition, 2003, Simon and Schuster, ISBN 0-7432-5823-1.
  2. Kotter, John, Leading Change, 1996, Harvard Business School Press, ISBN 0-8758-4747-1. (as well as several Harvard Business Review articles on the subject).

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6:00 am
February 1, 2008
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Protecting A Power Plant’s Damper Shafts

0208_damper_fig1Less downtime. More uptime.

Protective bellows installed on the damper shafts of the bag house at Xcel Energy’s Sherburne County (Minnesota) Generating Plant (Sherco) are extending shaft life by minimizing corrosion from exposure to condensing flue gas and other contaminants. To fit the plant’s four different shaft lengths, the bellows are made in stock-length modules and joined with backing plates for specific applications to reduce spare parts stocks and expedite repairs.

The problem
Xcel Energy is a leading energy company that serves 3.3 million electricity customers and 1.8 million natural gas customers in 10 Western and Midwestern states. The Sherco plant is a coal-fired facility with two 750 MW units and one 940 MW unit. It goes without saying that this type of plant is especially interested in the reliability and availability of its process systems.

Sherco’s 940 MW B&W unit, built in 1985, includes a reverse air-type bag house. In the reverse air design, flue gas from the boiler is filtered as it passes through the middle of the bags. As the cleaned gas passes through an outlet duct, the ash is trapped by the bags.

According to senior production engineer Lawrence Glass, the bag house compartments have two sets of dampers, which are basically large steel discs about six feet in diameter. One is an outlet damper, and the other is a reverse air damper. These are positioned in ducts that make it possible to isolate the compartment and control the air flow. When the outlet dampers are closed and the reverse air dampers are opened, the cleaned flue gas flows backward and cleans the ash out of the bags.

0208_damper_fig2The dampers are activated on a rotating cycle by pneumatic cylinders that are controlled by a programmable computer. Although the shafts only move approximately three or four times per hour, the repetitive motion along with insufficient clearance between the bellows and the shaft was causing the previous bellows to wear.

“These are dry scrubbers,” Glass says. “We spray lime slurry into the flue gas and keep the temperature as close as possible to the dew point of 125 F so it doesn’t condense. If one of the bellows develops a hole and the air leaks in, it cools the gas below the dew point, and it condenses. Then it can cause the shaft to corrode so much that it breaks off.” When this happens, he points out, it is necessary to retrieve the damper from the bottom of the flue gas duct about 30 feet below and re-install it with a new shaft.

The solution
To reduce repairs and minimize future problems, Glass notes that the Sherco facility is replacing the carbon steel shafts with stainless steel and now using a modular approach to stocking and installing the bellows. As he explains it, the easiest way to replace the corroded 2” diameter shafts is to cut them off at the poppet, slide a hollow shaft over the stub and weld it in place. Since the new stainless steel shafts have an outside diameter of 2 ½ ”, it has been necessary to redesign the bellows to accommodate the larger size.0208_damper_fig3

In the process of redesigning the bellows, Glass worked with A&A Manufacturing Co., Inc., of New Berlin, WI, a specialist in the design and manufacture of bellows, boots, way covers and many other protective components for machinery. Sherco uses A&A’s Gortiflex® Molded Bellows that are manufactured from a continuous sheet of elastomer-coated fabric formed into a cover with only one diagonal seam. This delivers a completely sealed design similar to a molded bellows—but does so without tooling or die charges.

The new bellows are sized with a 4 ½” inside diameter to allow more clearance over the shaft and prevent abrasion. Glass orders them in two different lengths that can be joined as needed to accommodate various Fig. 3. View inside the bag house shows some of the 200 cylinders that need bellows protection. shaft lengths, thus eliminating the need to stock quantities of many different sizes. Their flanged ends allow the sections to be bolted together with backing plates or mounted to the dampers.

While the new bellows design helps to avoid the wear that can cause holes and lead to corrosion, Glass also maintains that they are easier to replace if a hole were to develop. “The holes always occurred at the bottom end, and we had to throw the whole bellows away,” he says. “Now, we can save money by just taking off the bottom piece and replacing it, which is another reason for buying them in sections.”

Pressure differentials between the environment and the bellows are relatively low, possibly two or three inches of water, according to Glass. However, the pressure is positive at startup and then becomes negative during operation. To maintain the shape of the bellows under these changes, wire rings are inserted inside each convolution.

Maintaining system value
The reverse air bag house design is not as widely used in power plants as the pulse-jet type, primarily because of its higher capital cost. Despite that fact, Glass says it is a good design with very low pressure drop, and the bag life is twice as long as on a pulse jet. He expects that the new bellows design will minimize the previous shaft corrosion problem and help maintain the value of the system. MT

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6:00 am
February 1, 2008
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Think Electronic: Managing EH&S Data

Ensuring regulatory compliance and processing the vast amounts of information associated with it is never-ending. New tools not only save time, they also can provide benefits well beyond the environmental health and safety function. Choose wisely.

0208_ehs_1Information is central to fulfilling mandated obligations for environmental, health, and safety (EH&S) compliance reporting; quantifying and documenting progress toward sustainability; and supporting decisions associated with best maintenance practices and capacity assurance. But information is only as good (and useful) as its sources, gathering methods and timeliness.

Too often, excessive time may be expended in collecting, analyzing, re-formatting and preparing consistent and uniform reports. Multiple (and far-flung) locations, languages and regulations can present unwanted complexities. Incompatible IT platforms and reporting protocols can make communications and reporting all the more challenging. All present roadblocks to meaningful data management and application.

Now, however, solutions have arrived via electronic EH&S information management systems customized to serve across geographical, functional and cultural lines. These Web-based suites of software modules have been shown to enable more consistent regulatory compliance reporting, uniform record-keeping and streamlined decision-making while advancing reliability and sustainability initiatives within a manufacturing organization. Other inherent advantages include real-time access to a common global repository of data, elimination of redundancies and improved risk management.

So much data, so little time
Most manufacturing enterprises probably could write “books” about the volumes of data they must routinely collect, process and manage whether to satisfy compliance reporting requirements or monitor internal operations. It’s a never-ending task.

The amount of effort put into compiling and managing EH&S data, though, can be staggering, especially when companies must rely upon paper-based systems for the job.

In one case, managers at multiple global locations reported that as much as 25% of their time was spent just collecting, analyzing, re-formatting and preparing the massive amounts of necessary data for required EH&S reports.

0208_ehs_fig1Capturing all the benefits
Electronic data management systems offer the viable alternative to create a centralized database platform for moving the process forward in significant ways. A system’s impact can additionally extend well beyond reporting requirements by suggesting opportunities for improvement. Related remedial actions, based on timely information, sound decision-making and corrective recommendations, can deliver practical results, especially in meeting sustainability objectives.

Example #1…
Data analysis enabled a facility to reduce lubricant consumption for plant machinery by 18% and, in turn, reduce the time and money previously spent for associated lubrication- related maintenance. Even more dramatically, overall production eventually rose by 30%. This was accomplished by repositioning equipment maintenance practices to reliability- centered paradigms driven by condition monitoring technology. Recurring and costly unscheduled downtime for machinery virtually vanished.

Example #2…
Simply by changing maintenance practices based on a benchmarking review, 4% in energy reduction opportunities were identified for a plant’s compressors.

Example #3…
Live CO2 tracking led to the decision to install a heatrecovery system on a factory’s roof to recover excess heat from the exhaust air heating the building. This has so far reduced carbon dioxide emissions by about 380 tons a year and amounted to millions of kilowatt-hours in savings by capping the traditional reliance on expensive purchased energy. Example #4… For another manufacturer, energy efficiency has been on the rise with implementation of an array of sustainability- oriented projects prompted by a review of generated information. Actions have included introduction of frequency-controlled pumps, heat recovery from the production of compressed air, installation of new lighting in factories and warehouses and roof insulation.

Making the most of modules
Today’s innovative information management systems consist of a suite of software modules with the capability to work on a stand-alone basis or as an integrated suite. This allows for immediately tailored solutions and the flexibility to expand as needed. Software solutions for Environmental, Safety, Audits and Assessments, Metrics and Task/Calendar are among those most widely engaged.

  • Environmental. In line with the growing interest in sustainability, manufacturers increasingly have accelerated programs to help reduce their environmental footprint linked to activities, products, and services. Information management software technology helps to provide a mechanism imparting transparency, consistency and accuracy. Customized electronic software programs can achieve the following benefits:
    • Centralize all permit-related activities and compliance requirements and track all details associated with various permit requirements.
    • Track storage tank maintenance, repair and operation activities and establish automated notifications for pending preventive maintenance activities.
    • Streamline waste management procedures and processes, generate waste management manifest records and integrate activities with waste management vendors.
    • Capture, manage and rate all environmental aspects organization-wide, determine benchmark severity of environmental impact to establish objectives and targets and generate management programs.
  • Safety. Rising worker compensation costs and stricter enforcement of health and safety regulations continue to add risks in the marketplace. Managing and reducing such risks can correlate directly to a reduction of safetyrelated incidents and their costs, while improving performance and profitability. Among other things, safety-oriented electronic information management systems give users the ability to:
    • Generate real-time charts, graphs and reports of incident statistics and perform statistical analyses of key incident types and details.
    • Track and manage material safety data sheets, formalize a chemical approval process with notifications and generate customized chemical labels.
    • Create consistent, safe working processes by designating proper work techniques and requirements
  • Audits and Assessments. These constitute highly effective methods to validate the level of compliance and conformance to any standard or requirement. Information management software applications allow manufacturers to track the audit process reliably and in a timely manner from start to finish. Modules additionally can link corrective and preventive actions, based on findings. The enabling audit-related software can do the following:
    • Organize all policies and regulatory requirements into a centralized database and generate customized audit protocols, based on facility type and risk potential.
    • Perform statistical analyses of audit findings, based on audit type, EH&S program element, and the severity of the finding, among other parameters. Assign and delegate corrective and preventive actions derived from any audit or finding.
    • Track findings related to International Standards regulatory requirements (such as ISO 14001 and OHSAS 18001), best management practices, and company policies.
    • Determine risk levels for all EH&S areas.
    • Perform facility-wide and/or department-specific selfassessments for EH&S audits.
  • Metrics. While critical EH&S data represent vital components of sustainability reporting, the absence of a common database platform forces facilities to report data in the form of paper hard copies or spreadsheets. Consequently, the data validation, normalization and aggregation process typically remains a laborious task. For multinational entities, reporting in consistent units (i.e., tons vs. kilograms) is rare, which necessitates manual (and more timeconsuming) data-conversion steps. Inefficient and error-prone EH&S metrics management may threaten to become the status quo. An electronic information management system can change the scenario to:
    • Allow corporate EH&S teams to link all facets of an organization’s metrics reporting, tracking and analysis. This can further allow for development and management of specifically tailored metrics for business units or divisions.
    • Tally automated unit conversions and derivative data calculations.
    • Provide transparency in data and immediate comparisons of performance vs. goals and targets.
    • Invite comparison between facilities, divisions and various operating units to support business decisions leading to improved operational efficiencies.
    • Report and store data centrally to allow comprehensive corporate EH&S reports to be generated at any time.
  • Task/Calendar. Meeting the wide range of compliance requirements is fundamental to any EH&S program and a proactive approach will make or break timely adherence to deadlines. Electronic information management modules can trigger reminders of pending due dates and keep all team members informed about crucial timelines. Specifically, these systems can:
    • Establish a library of various task types.
    • Assign “ownership” to any task by user, group and role type.
    • Create pre-due date reminders and post-due date alerts for all tasks.
    • Establish, organize and manage all corrective and preventive actions in a centralized depository for access by all team members.

Firsthand experience
Our expertise with EH&S information management systems stems directly from firsthand experience. With operations around the world, multiple languages and currencies and incompatible IT platforms and reporting protocols, SKF managers were spending inordinate amounts of time preparing required EH&S reports.

In 2004, a Web-based EH&S information management system was implemented at all SKF North American sites and then was expanded in 2006 to 120 sites in 40 countries. This implementation reached manufacturing, distribution, R&D, administration and sales offices and influenced more than 5,000 users. Our customized system incorporates/ performs the following:

  • Sustainability metrics to collect, manage, and analyze environmental, safety and social metrics globally.
  • Audits and assessments to manage audit life-cycle, deficiencies, and corrective actions from compliance and management system audits.
  • Document management for distribution throughout our organization.
  • Task/calendar to track corrective and preventive actions company-wide and to allow each site to manage action items resulting from regulatory, corporate, and site requirements.
  • Chemicals and MSDS management for company-wide monitoring in these areas and to streamline the chemical approval process.

Since developing and implementing our own EH&S information management system, many customers have turned to us to help engineer customized solutions for their operations.

Our first advice is to underscore that for any electronic information management system to run effectively, factors unique to an organization should be evaluated before deployment. These range from a company’s structure and culture to information technologies and protocols.

Above all, whether intended for one facility or thousands, when considering such a system, there are a number of issues to take into account, including, most importantly:

  • Adaptability. Customization must be built into the system to work with existing policies, processes and procedures and to accommodate (where appropriate) multiple languages, currencies and measurement units.
  • Cost-effectiveness. In addition to integrating with existing systems and minimizing disruptions, electronic data management programs should preserve IT investments, avoid any need for additional desktop software and be able to grow without becoming prematurely obsolete.
  • Versatility. Software modules should work on a stand-alone basis or as an integrated suite of modules to provide the flexibility for system expansion as needed.
  • User-friendliness. All software modules should have a consistent look and feel supported by intuitive, userfriendly navigation. A system works best when the potential for user resistance is minimized. MT

William C. McGlocklin is director of Environmental Affairs, and Randy A. Greaser is director of Sustainability Sales- North America for SKF USA Inc. E-mail them respectively at: and

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6:00 am
February 1, 2008
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Can’t We All Get Along?

Coordinating production and maintenance can be a big challenge for an operation, but it doesn’t have to erupt in a range war. Effective peacemakers are out there, including those in the form of advanced software tools.

0208_fences_1It’s a typical quandary in asset-intensive production environments. Maintenance management is tasked with ensuring that production equipment operates at peak effi- ciency so that production targets can be met. But, production management is sometimes reluctant to turn over equipment for maintenance because the resulting downtime might negatively impact their ability to meet those same targets. Those responsible for maintenance then lament that they can’t access the equipment to perform essential maintenance activities. As those on both sides of the fence know, this conflict can become a vicious circle, resulting in both insufficient maintenance and inadequate or poor quality production throughput.

Across the great divide
Responsible maintenance and production managers know they must coordinate their planning efforts to benefit the entire organization, not just their individual departments. More importantly, they have to frequently communicate and closely collaborate during the actual execution of the production and maintenance schedules to be sure they’re operating at maximum efficiency and that all targets—both production and maintenance—are met. The coordination and planning for these two different, but closely related, activities have typically been manual, time consuming and prone to error. Automated processes, however, can signifi- cantly improve the planning, scheduling and execution of both maintenance and production functions.

Most, if not all, asset-intensive production operations function in two primary phases: 1) the long-term planning phase; and 2) the actual execution—or production—phase. This discussion refers to the long-term planning phase where desired production schedules are established and maintenance strategies are adopted as the “slow loop” phase. It also targets the execution phase, where production equipment is running, product is being produced, and maintenance plans are actually carried out, as the “fast loop” phase.

Slow and fast loop planning in our own lives…
Consider the following example of slow and fast loop planning. It’s one to which more and more of us can relate these days.

You want to attend an important industry conference in Orlando, fl. You begin making your plans (this is the “slow loop” phase). You arrange flights, rental car, hotel and even set up a breakfast meeting with an important client. Everything is organized and looks great, until…

On the afternoon of your departure, you arrive at the airport 90 minutes ahead of time, only to learn that severe storms are causing all flights to be delayed. When the gate agent announces that your plane will leave an hour later than scheduled, it’s clear that you almost certainly will miss your connection out of Atlanta.

Upon finally arriving at ATL and galloping across the crowded concourse to your connecting flight’s gate, you find it has just left—and that the last Orlando flight of the day is overbooked. You’re stuck in Atlanta until the next morning.

In case you haven’t guessed it, you’re now in the “fast loop.” That is, you’re in the phase of your trip that is the actual execution of your plans, but things aren’t going as you had anticipated. Accordingly, you begin to adjust. You rebook on the earliest flight out in the morning. You try to find a reasonably priced hotel for the night, as close to Hartsfield as possible. You cancel your hotel room in Orlando for tonight only. You call the car rental company to adjust your pickup arrangements. You try to reach your important client so he’ll know well in advance why you won’t be showing up for breakfast the next morning. When everything else is taken care of, you revisit the conference schedule to see what sessions you probably will be missing tomorrow, hoping against hope that you can catch a repeat presentation or two on the second day. Sound familiar?

Slow and fast loop planning in a production operation…
Now think of the previous analogy in terms of a typical production environment.

Sales targets at Great & Speedy Product Company have been set for the coming fiscal year. Those targets dictate what the production output must be. The production and maintenance management teams must devise a plan that will create the product required to fulfill the anticipated demand.

Maintenance plays an important role in this planning session because production assets must be maintained at peak performance in order to generate the required amount of throughput. Thus, production and maintenance management teams now collaborate to determine the best maintenance times and procedures needed to keep the equipment running properly, and to minimize the impact on production output. Using available information and historical maintenance and equipment failure data, both teams agree on a preventive maintenance (PM) schedule, include some maintenance time for unanticipated failures and derive an overall schedule that will support both anticipated maintenance and production output requirements. At this point, the slow loop, or planning phase, has been completed.

The new fiscal year—the fast loop—begins. Operations run smoothly and as planned—for a while…

In the second month, though, there is a sudden and unexpected surge in demand for the product—much to the delight of sales—and production must be increased by 20% over at least the next month, perhaps longer. Faced with this new demand, production management decides to forego scheduled maintenance on two important pieces of equipment to keep them available for a greater number of production hours. Maintenance objects, but, given the newly revised targets, it has little say in the matter and concedes that it will catch up on those maintenance activities the next time around.

New production demands are being met and all seems well—but again, only for a while. Soon, one of the machines where maintenance has been skipped suffers a catastrophic breakdown and has to be taken off line for an extended period of time while replacement parts are ordered and repairs are made.

It turns out that the machine in question was already close to a major mechanical component failure about the same time its skipped PM should have been done. That maintenance would have detected the impending failure and corrected it before a catastrophic event actually occurred. Since that didn’t happen, the new production demands will not be met in the near term and maintenance costs on this particular machine will exceed the planned budget.

As a result of the unexpected surge in demand and the unanticipated equipment failure, the maintenance and production plans that were developed and accepted back in the original slow loop planning phase will now likely be out of sync as well. Revisiting, reanalyzing and revising the original maintenance and production and maintenance schedules may also be necessary.

Who in a production operation can’t relate to this hypothetical example of unexpected changes to the plan? Suffice it to say that the “fast loop” is always full of surprises, and that the “slow loop” can’t anticipate them all.

Coping with uncertainty
How do you cope with and minimize—or even eliminate— the negative impact these “surprises” can have on your operations? Most organizations today don’t effectively coordinate maintenance and production schedules. Sadly, some organizations don’t appear to coordinate these two tightly coupled activities at all, electing to treat the maintenance function, in the words of one maintenance manager for a large process operation, as merely an “afterthought.”

What if you could successfully coordinate the development of both maintenance and production schedules to:

  • Always know how maintenance activities are going to impact production?
  • Guarantee that important maintenance procedures are always done on time?
  • Improve responsiveness to unanticipated disruptions, equipment failures or changes to production demand?
  • Minimize or even eliminate the risk of machine failures and missed production targets?
  • Boost your ability to meet production targets?
  • Assure that maintenance and production managers are always in sync?
  • Increase your overall operational effectiveness?

Today’s software technology, including that offered by Actenum Corporation (see Sidebar) enables automated planning and scheduling for both maintenance and production activities. Maintenance and production managers can work collaboratively to develop a slow loop schedule that simultaneously evaluates both required production output and essential maintenance activities to produce a plan that:

  • Shows expected production output by specific time period.
  • Lists detailed maintenance activities and frequencies.
  • Measures and displays the risk of missing targets.
  • Evaluates and displays potential conflicts.
  • Analyzes and displays other user-definable key performance indicators (KPIs), such as equipment availability or utilization.

This type of advanced software can automatically calculate and optimize both the maintenance and production schedules to deliver the production output required and fit within constraints that maintenance and production managers may define. For example, management can establish a threshold for the risk it is willing to accept for missing a production target or allowing a machine to fail.

These software tools can then analyze the planned maintenance and production schedules and automatically calculate and display the risk of missing that target, or the risk of a device failing. If the calculated risk exceeds the acceptable threshold, the software can automatically and continuously suggest adjustments to the maintenance and production schedules until an acceptable level of risk is attained.

Of course, the experience and knowledge of the managers in charge of the operations cannot be discounted. Therefore, smart managers will use software capabilities to augment their decision-making in a “two-expert approach.” They can—and should—adjust and tweak the schedules until they are satisfied with the results. Some software allows them to do so using a simple “drag and drop” interface to add, move or change planned maintenance events. All the while, the impact of such changes on the production target and other KPIs is automatically calculated and displayed for management consideration and action.

From uncertainty to confidence
So, let’s apply these capabilities to the hypothetical (but often real) scenario at Great & Speedy Product Company.

In the slow loop and armed with the type of software described here, Good & Speedy’s maintenance and production management teams can automatically develop a maintenance schedule that ensures production targets are consistently met and virtually guarantees key maintenance activities are never missed. Furthermore, the software also displays the impacts of the proposed schedule on specific user defined KPIs, including: a risk factor for missing the targets, the risk of equipment failure, the actual amount of production output expected, the optimal schedule for performing maintenance to achieve production targets but protect against unforeseen failures, and potential conflicts (such as a missing skilled worker required for a scheduled maintenance activity).

Management can then either automatically or manually revise the schedule until an optimum outcome is reached—and even play “what if” games to come up with alternative schedules to accommodate potential unforeseen events. For example, by anticipating a potential boost in demand and developing an alternative production and maintenance schedule in advance, management could make sure increased demand is capable of being met without sacrificing important maintenance routines.

Suppose, though, that despite everyone’s best efforts, an unexpected equipment failure still occurs several weeks into a fast loop production run. In such a case, software, such as that by Actenum, can generate an optimal revised maintenance and production schedule based upon the unforeseen failure. It can evaluate the existing production targets and maintenance requirements, and generate an updated schedule that will ensure production runs get back on track in the shortest possible time, while still assuring that important maintenance events are not overlooked.

In short, software technology available today can make both maintenance and production managers’ planning responsibilities a lot easier and much more accurate. Given organizational goals, the software can automatically analyze, rationalize and produce the best possible maintenance and production schedule needed to achieve those goals. The results are purely objective and not influenced by individual biases or personalities. And it’s hard to argue with a fact based, objective plan.

A better way
Bottom line? Tearing down the fences that once divided production and maintenance in an operation is not as diffi- cult as it once was. Advanced software technology means there are easier, faster and more accurate ways to develop your maintenance and production schedules than in the past. Today’s comprehensive software solutions also let you refine those schedules as unanticipated events occur. If these activities are still a largely manual process in your organization, remember that there really is a better way for the parties in asset intensive production environments to get along. MT

Michael Israel is the founder of igniteService, Inc., a consulting firm specializing in maintenance, service and repair business practices. Based in Las Vegas, NV, he has more than 25 years experience in maintenance and service operations and related software solutions, including more than 15 years in management and executive positions at IBM, Oracle and SAP. Telephone: (702) 476-5328; e-mail:

About Actenum Corporation

Actenum Corporation, based in Vancouver, BC, develops software solutions that enable organizations to increase their ability to achieve production targets and reduce their operational risk. According to the company, it specializes in providing tools for the effective planning and scheduling of key assets, as well as decision support for disruption management in complex operations, where conditions are constantly changing.

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6:00 am
February 1, 2008
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Non-OEM Pump ReBuild Shops Part III – Assessment Criteria

Use this assessment tool to evaluate any pump repair shop with which your operations are currently working, or any that you are considering for future work.


This article is the third in a series based on a presentation delivered at the 2007 NPRA Reliability & Maintenance Conference in Houston, TX. Here, as with the previous installments (which ran in the July 2007 and September 2007 issues of Maintenance Technology), the authors discuss how to distinguish competent pump repair operations.

Part II of this series, published in September 2007, concluded by promising specific assessment criteria for those considering entrusting their pumps to a non-OEM pump rebuilder. Referring to competent pump rebuild shops, we coined the term “CPRS.”

CPRS assessment tool and matrix
The following information can be used as an assessment tool for any shop that you, as a pump user/owner, are considering for future work—as well as for those with whom you might presently be doing business.

Mergers and consolidations over the past decade or so have had a significant impact on both pump users and pump manufacturers. Given the consolidations in the pump industry and changing landscapes in terms of qualified workers/associates to effect a competent repair, it is strongly suggested that a pump user/owner use this tool and survey all the shops it is working with and/or considering working with, at least once a year. A lot of things can change—people come and go, improvements can be made or lost and financial performance pressures persist. These factors all have a direct impact on the capability of your outside repair shop.

Although this assessment tool is by no means complete, it can be the basis for assessing one’s in-house pump repair shops and those of your OEM, as well as any non-OEM facilities. Routine assessments of repair shops can avoid unwanted surprises and the ensuing aftermath of a poor repair on a critical piece of equipment.

0208_pumprebuild_tab11Formats and general information…
There are many formats that will allow pump users/owners to gauge or assess the competence of any repair facility. Indeed, true reliability engineering includes making an assessment of potential bidders for both new and old (or “mature”) equipment [Refs. 1, 2, 3 and 4]. One such format starts with a general listing of items, names, and similar logistical and general information. It progresses to specialization reviews and obtaining answers to questions of real interest:

  • In what types of equipment repairs does this shop specialize?
  • With which OEMs’ pumps and models does the shop have experience?
  • What is this shop’s annual revenue stream?
  • What is the annual employee turnover rate?
  • What type of technical training is available to the staff?
  • Does this shop have training records and where are they located?
  • What are the shop’s plans to continue to keep and attract qualified staff?
  • How many shifts does the shop operate?
  • How easy is it to switch to 24-hour emergency coverage, if required?
  • What is the education and discipline of the engineers? (mechanical, hydraulicor other discipline)

0208_pumprebuild_tab21Then, we need to explore the shop’s customer base and satisfaction information.

  • Who are the top 10 customers of this shop?
  • What markets do these customers represent? (e.g. refining, pipeline, power, other)
  • How long have these top 10 customers been among the top 10? (ask for explanation of variances)
  • How does the shop measure customer satisfaction? Is it transparent or called “highly confidential?”
  • Does the shop measure productivity, safety and quality, and are the charts visible?
  • What is the shop’s rework/scrap rate in terms of percentage of total sales?
  • Does the shop document non-conformance reports (NCRs)? What does it do with these NCRs?
  • Does this shop have a process for continuous improvement to reduce rework?

Just as a shop’s inability or unwillingness to proved the data listed above would raise eyebrows, certain issues in Table III also should give rise to concern: 0208_pumprebuild_tab31


  • What is the square footage of the shop?
  • What is the square footage of the office?
  • Is the air quality good? Is air circulation sufficient?
  • Is the production area adequately lit?
  • What safety programs are in place?
  • Does the shop have a safety manager on site? (Explain.) Who is responsible for safety?
  • What is the OSHA Recordable Injury Incident rate?
  • What is the general state of cleanliness in the shop?
  • Do tools, equipment, etc., have their own place and is everything stored in its place?
  • Are there maintenance records of shop machinery and who performs PM’s?
  • What is the condition of the shop’s major machine tools? How old are they?

Scheduling system/visual management systems…

  • What electronic production scheduling tools are in place? Are they used?
  • Who has schedule responsibility? How often are production meetings? Who attends?
  • What is the shop’s on-time delivery performance? How is this measured?
  • What happens when a delivery is in jeopardy? What is the process used to notify the customer and to improve schedule?
  • What is the repair process flow? Is it visible? Are shop’s employees trained on their respective roles and responsibilities?
  • Are there any “bottlenecks” or excess work in process at any one machine or workstation?
  • Are there computer terminals on the shop floor that feed the scheduling system?
  • Is the plant laid out in a continuous flow or does work in process travel back and forth from workstation to workstation?
  • What is the level of communication on the shop floor?
  • Are shop travelers/routers used and are they signed off at required checkpoints?

Next, the selection sequence should address the shop’s quality assurance and quality control systems. The questions are as follows:

  • What are the shop’s quality certifications? (ISO, Mil Spec)
  • Is there a vision and mission statement? Is it visible and displayed in the facility?
  • Is there a designated quality manager and to whom does that person report?
  • What systems/processes are in place to ensure that the requirements are clearly defined and adhered to?
  • Are non-conformance reports written and what is the process to ensure no further non-conformances are likely to occur?
  • How is quality measured and are there charts/graphs to that effect that are visible in the facility?
  • What is the process to communicate special requirements to ensure that they are incorporated into the repair process?
  • Does this facility have an effective “Root Cause Failure Analysis” process and how does it work?

Documentation management…

  • Does this facility have standardized receipt inspections? As found reports? As built reports? Balance reports? Repair process and flow chart?
  • Does this facility have a digital camera and software to include pictures on the repair reports?
  • How long does it take to complete an inspection and as-found report? A repair quotation? The final as-built report after the repair process is finished?
  • What is the preferred method to communicate/transmit documentation packages? (electronic, paper, other)
  • Are recommended upgrades (hydraulic, mechanical, etc.) well defined and is an ROI (return-on-investment) calculation used to determine payback?
  • What is the flow process for engineering reviews and work scope requirements? At what point are these communicated to the customer?

The level of the shop’s outside/procured services is of interest and must be explored.

  • How does the repair shop manufacture parts? What is the process used to ensure dimensional and metallurgical conformance?
  • Where does the shop procure its castings? What process is being followed to procure these castings?
  • What other services does the repair shop contract out? (heat treat, metal spray, chrome plating, heat treating, NDE)
  • Has the shop surveyed its suppliers to ensure they will provide conformance to the specification?
  • Who has the responsibility for final QA/QC of materials and services procured from outside vendors?
  • How long has the relationship existed between the outside supplier and the repair shop for each service?
  • What has been the historical quality and delivery performance of the outside suppliers? How is this measured and what records are kept?

CPRS assessment scoring matrix
Once an assessment is made, it is important for each surveyed category to be measured. Follow-up is needed to ensure that conformance criteria are met. Any categories found to be unacceptable need to be revisited and changes made to bring them up to acceptable conformance. A scoring matrix like the one shown in Table IV will help.

Needless to say, this scoring matrix can be expanded to include other items of interest. Note that the “comments” segment in it lends itself to cataloging highly detailed information.

Coming in Part IV
Next month, in the fourth and final installment of this series, the authors will present two case studies that illustrate the strengths of superior non-OEM pump repair facilities. MT

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

Jim Steiger is senior aftermarket engineer with HydroAire, Inc., in Chicago, IL. Telephone: (312) 804-3694.

Robert Bluse is president of Pump Services Consulting, in Golden, CO. Telephone: (303) 916-5032.


  1. Bloch, Heinz P., “How to Select a Centrifugal Pump Vendor,” Hydrocarbon Processing, June 1978
  2. Bloch, Heinz P., “How to Buy a Better Pump,” Hydrocarbon Processing, January 1982
  3. Bloch, Heinz P., “Implementing And Practicing Reliability Engineering,” ASME Energy Conference, Houston, TX, January 1996
  4. Bloch, Heinz P., Machinery Reliability Improvement, Gulf Publishing Company, Houston, TX, 3rd Edition (1998) ISBN 0-88415-661-3

All photos in this and other articles in this series were taken by professional photographer Stephen J. Carrera, and used courtesy of Hydro, Inc. Founded in 1969 and headquartered in Chicago, IL, Hydro Inc. is the largest independent pump rebuilder in North America, providing support for industrial, municipal and power generation plants around the world. Continue Reading →


6:00 am
February 1, 2008
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Solution Spotlight: AAAAH! WHAT A FIT!

This FPU compressor skid feels just right…

The latest Sundyne Pinnacle Compressor Skid has been shipped for installation in a state-of-the-art Floating Production Unit (FPU), built by Korean-headquartered Hyundai Heavy Industries Co., Ltd. for Total S.A. of France. Destined for the Moho-Bilondo oil and gas fields off the Congolese coast in Africa, this compressor package marks a milestone for Sundyne and further acceptance of the API-617 standard for low-flow, high-speed, integrally geared compressors.

0208_solutionspot_11Sundyne first learned of the US$410 million FPU project back in 2002. According to David Looi, the company’s regional sales manager for Asia, the specification originally called for two screw type compressors. That changed after several telephone calls and a formal presentation to both Hyundai and Total.

Jacques-André Mayeur, Sundyne’s area sales manager for France, made the formal sales presentation to Total offi- cials. Key to the decision to switch to the integrally geared compressor was its compact size, reduced maintenance requirements and lower operational cost. “In fact,” Mayeur says, “Total engineers were so impressed with the Pinnacle compressor they ordered another skid unit for a project under construction by Foster-Wheeler.”

Supporting two oil and gas fields and 12 wells, the oil-free, pulsation-free 4-stage LF-2440 Pinnacle will be used to increase process efficiency and help lower greenhouse gas emissions through low-pressure gas recovery. “Specifically,” Greg Pickerel, Sundyne project manager explains, “the unit will be taking gas off the third stage separator of the process and increasing the pressure to match the feed into the HP (high pressure) compressor, thus recovering process gas.”

The 1350 KW motor and skid are mounted on a unique three-point AVM (Anti-Vibration Mount) for additional stability and increased reliability. The skid design also incorporates a 316L SS, API-614 lube oil seal system to support the compressor in the harsh salt water environment.

Sundyne notes that its products have long been associated with reliable leak-free pumps and compressors that not only ensure human safety but continue to drive ecologically sound business. As the Moho-Bilondo oil and gas field and many other environmentally sensitive off-shore applications around the world are developed, the future potential for specifying and placing these types of products looks significant. MT

Sundyne Corporation
Arvada, CO

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