Archive | January


6:00 am
January 1, 2008
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Solution Spotlight: Where An Obsession Is Leading To Increased Efficiency

The Operating Engineers Trust Fund Building…

0108_hvac_1If you’re a Union Pension Trust Fund that owns real estate and demands the highest level of operating efficiency for your buildings, you need to continually implement cutting-edge energy conservation measures. This is done by maximizing the long-term financial performance of the investment.

Those who work for the Operating Engineers Pension Trust, Local 12, out of Pasadena, CA, want to be the best when it comes to HVAC systems optimization and performance. As the chief engineer for this Trust Fund, Bruce Manning admits to being obsessed with finding ways to minimize energy use in the buildings for which he is responsible.

One of those sites is the Trust Fund headquarters located at 100 E. Corson St. in Pasadena. Manning’s obsession is why he is so excited about the performance of the new Danfoss Turbocor technology. The newly installed oil-free compressors in the building have opened the door to additional cooling savings. He predicts these could be as high as 50-70% versus his older compressors.

Supporting the system
The four-story office building was completed in 1988 and encompasses 210,000 gross square feet. The heart of the original cooling system was two 120-ton, open-drive reciprocating compressors connected to a built-up direct-expansion (DX) coil with 16 expansion valves.

Conditioned air is delivered to four floors of VAV boxes from the centralized penthouse air-handling system with dual, side-by-side DX coils and associated face-off dampers, variable-speed driven supply and return-air fans. The system also features a fully functional, 100% outside air (O/A) enthalpy-controlled economizer system.

The road to improvements
When Manning, a 30-year engineering and energy analysis veteran, took over in 1993, he performed extensive maintenance management and energy management evaluations of the entire real estate portfolio, including this facility. Over time, he installed VFDs on the supply and return fans, as well as the cooling tower fans to conserve energy by eliminating the previous constant-volume fan operation using inlet-guide vane control. He then retrofitted and overlaid a point-intensive DDC energy management control system on all mechanical equipment and floor VAV boxes.

Manning developed his “Energy Report Card,” which utilizes kBtu/sq. ft. as the primary benchmark to evaluate and sustain the energy efficiency of his buildings. After evaluating all possible plant retrofit options for years, he knew that additional efficiency improvements were possible, but not at the right cost/benefit and associated return-on-investment ratios. He became particularly interested in refrigeration compressor improvements and began studying and tracking a new low-friction, oil-free refrigeration compressor. This technology was developed by Danfoss Turbocor and was beginning to appear in California. Manning says, “I had been following the development of this technology since its inception.”

Manning concluded that the technology with its oil-free design, variable-frequency speed control, floating magnetic bearings, centrifugal compression and digital controls was the ideal replacement compressor for his building. Since then, the technology has exceeded his expectations.

“For the first time,” he concludes, “I have seen a refrigeration system that can be so precisely tuned that there is zero operating slop.” MT

Danfoss Turbocor
Tallahassee, FL

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6:00 am
January 1, 2008
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Communications: Partnering With Management


Ken Bannister, Contributing Editor

Many of the pyramidal corporate management structures favored up to the 1990s have virtually all been closeted in favor of the lean, flat organizational tree, in which executive and operational management staff often take on symbiotic roles.

Within these downsized, ‘flatter’ management organizations, however, there remain hierarchical levels of accountability and responsibility. For example, in today’s typical organization the maintainer might report to either a maintenance or production supervisor, who, in turn, may report to a dual-role maintenance/production manager, who may report to the plant manager, who could report to the board of directors, who, in turn, reports to its corporate shareholders. Add profit sharing to the mix and the circle is complete when the maintainer is also a shareholder. In this new order, each and every corporate employee is charged with a degree of responsibility and accountability, to be defined within their new job description.

Within the maintenance function, management’s responsibility is two-fold: first, to understand and communicate the business needs of the corporation to the maintenance fraternity; and second, to provide the maintenance department with a set of structured management systems, processes and integrated business/department goals that allow maintenance to perform and achieve in a productive, proactive manner. When a maintenance department is able to work with a management team that delivers on its responsibilities and understands the integral nature of the maintenance function, it is more likely to accept change, and tangibly measure, quantify (probably for the first time ever) and improve upon its corporate goals. How is this achieved?

Understanding prompts communication
A manager’s business perspective is very different to that of a maintainer. Whereas a maintainer will usually only plan (if at all) for daily/weekly activities, and is more likely to be involved in work at a detailed or ‘micro’ level, an executive manager’s perspective is more likely to take on a macro approach, requiring planning in the three- to five-year range, viewing business from a 60,000 ft. perspective. An operations or middle manager’s responsibility is to bridge the gap between the micro and macro, providing logistical planning in the monthly to yearly time frame. Understanding each other’s differing needs and requirements is key to harmonization and communication within the corporation. This is achieved through a number of initiatives:

Aligned Vision…
The maintenance department partners with management to chart out a departmental vision that clearly defines and states to all other departments its commitment to them and the corporation as a whole. The maintenance vision is easily crafted using the corporate vision statements as templates, ensuring cohesion and alignment with other departments and the corporation.

Corporate-wide Programs…
The maintenance department aligns its business methods and processes to comply with such corporate-wide initiatives as quality assurance ISO 9000/QS 9000 or environmental ISO 14,000. Intradepartmental collaboration on such initiatives assures positive change and agreement on the way maintenance is managed and performed.

Business Planning…
Building a maintenance business plan forces maintenance to be proactive, to attain insight on corporate needs, to achieve input toward the production schedule, to receive new initiative funding and to develop and aspire to milestone achievements. Again, business planning is a collaborative maintenance department/management team exercise.

Goals and Objectives…
These elements must be achievable and reflect short-term, mid-term and long-term needs and requirements of both the department and the corporation. Determining goals and objectives allows the maintenance department and management to work together as a team and understand each other’s unique business perspective. Goals and objectives represent tangible, quantifiable deliverables that signify program success and achievement.

Communicating effectively and facilitating management’s needs and requirements will likely afford the maintenance department newfound respect and a voice in future planning initiatives. Maintenance must seek to determine and deliver representative reports required by management.

In an age of corporate mergers, downsizing and budget slashing, the maintenance department is always vulnerable to cutbacks in both budget and manpower. Many maintenance departments have witnessed the destruction of their proactive maintenance programs because management did not understand the importance of the maintenance function and the maintenance investment required to attain and sustain throughput capacity and quality assurance.

Maintenance must be proactive in its dealings with management, understand management’s perspective and teach management the importance of the maintenance function. MT

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
January 1, 2008
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Part II: Collaborative Design – Building Cultures of Reliability-In-Action

Based on the use of a learning exercise over almost two decades, the first article in this series (pgs. 32-37, MAINTENANCE TECHNOLOGY, December 2007) described how individuals tend to subtly side-step discussing costly errors and mistakes in their organizations.

Practice makes perfect when it comes to harnessing the “tools” that help optimize equipment and human performance.

In the first installment of this series, the author discussed the underlying assumptions of cultures-in-action and how human reasoning and resulting decisions impact performance and reliability. This month, Dr. Becker discusses how functional Collaborative Design tools contribute to creating a culture-of-reliability.

Not surprisingly, at first blush, many participants have been uncomfortable with what this learning exercise has revealed. Everyone likes to believe that they “walk the talk.” Their experiences illustrate that they believe healthy cultures foster alignment among organizational goals, processes and peoples’ behavior and personal values; very noble goals. However, the learning exercise asks people to dig below what is discussable and to make a distinction between what is espoused and what is actually produced in action. The level of alignment typically highlights compliance to goals rather than commitment, and how that compliance impacts decision-making and costs.

When it comes to equipment and business processes, decisions often are supported by rigorous data collection, including leading and lagging key performance indicators (KPIs) like return on investment (ROI) or schedule compliance. Yet, organizations typically do not apply the same data collection rigor to decision-making-in-action. Instead, as decisions are examined and accountability is invoked, people can fall into subtle defensive patterns in an effort to cope with systemic error and performance interdependencies in hopes of not being seen as incompetent or lacking team skills. The fear of being unfairly judged leads to distrust. These defensive patterns can limit the implementation of changes in equipment and business processes and feed a self-fulfilling fad loop. Based on their own illustrations, participants conclude that the full range of business value is restricted according to the level of discussability and trust.

Collaborative design
Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines reliability as “suitable or fit to be relied on: trustworthy.” For anyone working in a process-oriented industry, reliability is a key word in the Holy Grail of performance. Equipment and human decision-making form a complex performance platform that is essential to producing a competitive product. That’s why collaboration is so important.

At the close of the referenced learning exercise, someone (either participant or leader) will ask how to alter the self-fulfilling loop of distrust we have uncovered— and how to do it without continuing the same old pattern of espousing continuous learning, collaboration, accountability etc. It’s a difficult question to answer; if it weren’t, participants would already be implementing the answer in their organizations.

Working over the past 18 years with people’s internal dialogues, (i.e. what they think, but don’t necessarily say), I have collaboratively field-engineered a compact set of communication-based tools that I have come to call “Collaborative Design.” The vision of Collaborative Design is to maximize organizational performance while simultaneously enhancing human dignity. These tools productively expand discussability and measure the business impact of doing so. Their fundamental premise is based on invitation as a way to create psychological safety for discussing issues.

Like any tool, Collaborative Design skill application is learned through practice. Great golfers, musicians, tennis players and executives, for example, understand the importance of repeatable processes for improving one’s swing, sound, ground stroke or decision-making process. Collaborative Design is no different, except with one distinction—the current decision-making culture is unconsciously put in place to prevent the expansion of discussability, which is the very goal of Collaborative Design.

Collaborative design performance criteria
Collaborative Design is driven by a set of functional tools. Functional tools are any set of actionable tools with these performance criteria:

  • Defineable. A clear definition and purpose exists and can be verified in action.
  • Measureable. Any tool or cluster of tools can be assessed for its business impact.
  • Integratable. Any tool or cluster of tools can be taught and applied in the field and used with other applications.
  • Repeatable. Any tool or cluster of tools can be applied over and over with the same end result; skill improves.
  • Sustainable. Any tool or cluster of tools endures over time.
  • Self-correcting. Any tool or cluster of tools will endure because unintended consequences are uncovered.
  • Ethical. Given their self-correcting nature, any tool or cluster of tools is non-manipulative, maintaining business value and human dignity.

0108_collabdesign_fig1As noted in Fig. 1, Collaborative Design’s basic tool set is composed of the following six functional tools:

  1. Continuous Invitation—A tool for balancing decisionmaking control
  2. The Source of Human Action—A tool that productively accesses what people are thinking but not necessarily saying
  3. Private to Public—A tool for stating private thoughts, while minimizing negative reactions
  4. Stating a Bind—A tool for resolving legitimate but competing objectives
  5. Active Inquiry—A tool for understanding how others characterize a problem
  6. Field Testing—A quality assurance tool for measuring the business impact of Collaborative Design or any other change tool

Five of the six tools are composed of two parts: a conceptual framework and an actionable model. Field Testing is the application that measures the business impact and quality of tool application.

There are three fundamental assumptions of Collaborative Design. Individuals seek to deepen their personal reflection skills by: 1) expanding their acceptance of their own and others’ mistakes; 2) committing to practice-inaction; and 3) maximizing performance.

Although it would go beyond the scope of this article to discuss all of the tools, a basic introduction into Invitation will help the reader begin to understand Collaborative Design and the premises upon which it rests.

Continuous invitation
Invitation is the threshold by which all the other tools are accessed. It sets up informed choice, mutual control and trust. The features of Continuous Invitation are as follows:

  • Its business impact is felt when the tool is competently applied in daily business.
  • It is most powerful when used with the other Collaborative Design tools.
  • It productively helps uncover what is difficult to discuss or undiscussable.
  • It builds true commitment to business objectives, not compliance.
  • Like any tool, competence is built through practice.
  • Although counter-intuitive, the right to decline exists. This provides mutual control, hence balancing power

0108_collabdesign_tab1Field testing has consistently revealed that even when invitations were partly created, invitees were more likely to sincerely commit to the decision at hand because they experienced mutual control deep into their bones. When invitation was practiced, management found it could make collaborative decisions quickly and build trust rapidly. Furthermore, once trust was established, management found it could make command and control decisions as well, with few unintended consequences. Because discussability was expanded, team members better understood managerial time and performance pressures.

As noted in Table I, invitation is composed of four domains:

The production script shown in Table II was developed by field testing different configurations in action. Ultimately, the configuration reporting the fewest negative consequences was crafted into an action tool. Like any tool, by using it, practitioners develop their own style through artful application.

Invitation matched with active inquiry doesn’t exclude other decision-making models. For example, command and control models are appropriate in times of crisis. However, without inquiry tools for checking decision, command and control can create unintended consequences. For example, in the worst case, one engineer described being ordered to stand by during a startup and before he could explain that the pump had no oil in it, he was ordered to do as he was told. “I was so angry they would not listen,” he remembered. “I didn’t say a word; the turbine rolled and the pump fried.” Cost of the repair? About $250k.

0108_collabdesign_tab2Early users of the tool often confuse invitation with giving up their rights as a manager. “What if they decline my invitation,” they ask. If an invitation is declined, it means the tool is working. You know where you stand on an issue. Declining often means that the invitee is not in a position, typically emotionally, to discuss a topic. Invitation provides a platform for exploring options, even when someone declines. The inability to discuss an issue does not prevent the manager from ultimately taking unilateral action. The first explicit effort, however, is to make decisions collaboratively.

A simple rule (and important rule) is to NOT use invitation if you are NOT extending a true invitation. If acting unilaterally, explain why. In addition, be ready for the unintended consequences of unilateral control—public acceptance, private resistance and decision-making dependence on the manager; little true accountability.

Making it work
A culture-of-reliability is defined as the collective ability to detect and correct performance gaps at ever-increasing rates of speed and precision across the organization’s industrial and business processes, as well as the human decision-making system in which the industrial and business processes are embedded. If any one of these three interdependent performance systems is diminished, the ability to maintain reliable, sustainable performance is at risk.

It is not uncommon for organizations to focus change efforts on their industrial and business processes, product innovation etc. and overlook the human decision-making process that rests under all of them. Taking a team-building class or understanding your leadership style is not enough. At its deepest level, human reasoning and its resulting decision- making is the root cause of equipment and process reliability. Collaborative Design optimizes equipment and human performance by productively uncovering hidden bottlenecks to performance and building true commitment to increasing the detection and correction of mistakes and errors at ever-increasing rates of speed and precision.

Coming in Part III
In the final segment of this article series, a non-traditional process for implementing Collaborative Design will be discussed. To productively change and sustain a cultureof- reliability requires not letting the old culture unilaterally define what changes are acceptable and, at the same time, not using the same old set of values to invoke the change. MT

Brian Becker is a senior project manager with Reliability Management Group (RMG), a Minneapolis-based consulting firm. With 27 years of business experience, he has been both a consultant and a manager. Becker holds a Harvard doctorate with a management focus. For more information, e-mail:

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6:00 am
January 1, 2008
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Using Ultrananocrystalline Diamond To Improve Mechanical Seal Performance

Through extensive R&D and the advent of improved equipment and processes, nature’s hardest substance now appears to have a very bright future in the area of seal faces.

A mechanical seal is a critical component whose useful life significantly impacts the overall reliability and robustness of pump or centrifugal compressor. Unscheduled or premature failure of the seal leads to increased maintenance and increased overall equipment costs to the user. The overall performance of a mechanical seal often is most affected by the performance of the faces and the intervening lubricating film. This primary element of a mechanical seal represents a classic problem in the science of tribology, the study of friction, wear and lubrication.

The demands placed on seal faces require careful attention to the issues of wear resistance, chemical compatibility, mechanical and thermal properties—all of which are determined by the end use application and overall seal design. When a mechanical seal is used in a pump, the liquid in the pump is used to cool and lubricate the seal faces. The seal faces are in sliding contact and prevent the liquid in the pump from reaching atmosphere. This contact also generates frictional heat that must be removed from the seal faces. Failure to remove this unwanted heat often results in the boiling of the lubricating liquid film at the seal faces, usually leaving a deleterious residue and causing premature failure of elastomeric components in the seals (static-secondary seals). Both of these undesirable effects of elevated temperatures lead to premature seal failure.

The ability to maintain coolant on the seal face is even more critical when compounded by the demands associated with the pumping of abrasive media or a pump’s ability to withstand intermittent and unscheduled coolant loss. The ability to run two hard-faced seal materials such as SiC against each other often is desirable but not practical due to the premature failures that result from elevated temperatures caused by friction at the seal interface.

In the case of a centrifugal gas compressor, a noncontacting mechanical seal is used to contain the gas within the machine. A lift mechanism, such as spiral grooves, is included in the design of the seal. During operation the seal faces do not make contact except at startup and shutdown. The intense frictional heat occurring at this time must be controlled or face damage can occur.

Based on the benefits nature’s hardest substance would appear to offer for this application, the idea of using the diamond as a wear resistant face material in seals is not new. Diamond also possesses many other attractive properties, including extremely high thermal conductivity and chemical resistance. Unfortunately, previous attempts at integrating diamond into seal faces failed due to difficulties in ensuring that the diamond face presented the necessary surface finish required for such a demanding tribological application. Following extensive research and development and improvements in equipment and processes, those problems appear to have been solved.

Today, a new form of diamond with ultrananocrystalline grains has entered the industrial arena. Invented at Argonne National Laboratory and commercialized for seals by John Crane, Inc. and Advanced Diamond Technologies, Inc., UNCD®, as it is commercially known, provides the surface roughness typical of normal, unprocessed seal. UNCD has been dynamically tested and shown to signifi- cantly reduce the frictional heat and increase the life of the seal faces in accelerated wear. The work highlighted in this article was completed, in part, by funding from the National Science Foundation and the Department of Energy.

Manufacturing hurdles
One of the major obstacles in providing a diamond-treated surface for a mechanical seal is maintaining the surface flatness and roughness necessary to achieve sealing. Early work in diamond surfacing placed extreme demands on finishing and polishing the diamond to meet the required metrology and geometric specifications of a seal face. Surfaces were rough and had a high degree of waviness. Additional lapping of the diamond surface to achieve sealing could not be done cost-effectively due to the hardness of diamond. Consequently, many researchers abandoned the idea of using diamond as a surface for seals.

The development of ultrananocrystalline diamond (UNCD), though, generated renewed interest in diamondtreated seal faces. The process demonstrated that the base material could be treated with diamond without changing its original flatness. This was a major breakthrough in the manufacturing technology for diamond-structured surfaces. At last, diamond could be applied to a seal face without any further work to achieve the desired flatness for sealing fluids. Moreover, UNCD, unlike other diamond films, has nanometer-scale roughness that allows as-deposited UNCD to have sufficient smoothness so that it doesn’t degrade a soft counterface. In other words, UNCD works in both hard on hard and hard on soft sealing applications.

Still, there was an additional obstacle to overcome. Work to this point was done to transfer this laboratory-scale process to meet the demand of seal production. New equipment and processes had to be designed to handle a larger volume of seals at one time. Once this was done, the new equipment and processes had to be validated. Tests were run on production parts and compared to those run on the smaller scale equipment. Continuous testing confirmed that the production parts met the early results for friction and wear testing of parts manufactured on the smaller scale equipment.

0108_diamon_fig_1_2Friction testing
Friction plays an important part in the success or failure of a set of seal faces. Not all materials make good seal faces. Some materials have properties that hold heat in the seal face, while others wear too much. Applying diamond to a seal face reduces both friction and wear. One of the best substrate materials for diamond is silicon carbide. Silicon carbide and diamond have very similar material properties. Results of friction testing for UNCD on a SiC face are as follows:

  • Carbon running against UNCD on silicon carbide µ = 0.07
  • Silicon carbide running against UNCD on silicon carbide µ = 0.04

The results for carbon versus UNCD on silicon carbide were expected. This is a normal value for friction in seal design work. The results for silicon carbide versus UNCD on silicon carbide were very good. When silicon carbide runs against itself without any diamond treatment, the coefficient of friction is greater than 0.1. For those applications requiring hard-on-hard seal faces, the application of a diamond-treated seal face is a major improvement. Several groups of seal faces have been tested, resulting in the same friction values.

0108_diamond_fig_3_4Dynamic testing
An important step in qualifying materials for a mechanical seal is dynamic testing in hot water. This test involves running a 1.375” diameter seal in 250 F water at 100 psig and 3450 rpm. At these conditions, the pressure-velocity value for the seal is 170,000 psi x ft/min. This test in hot water is very demanding of the seal. Each test run consists of running a group of four pumps, three fi tted with seals treated with diamond and one without a treated surface. The results of hot-water testing were outstanding for the diamond-treated seals. Very minimal or no measureable wear occurred over the 100-hour test. The untreated silicon carbide seals in each case failed due to heavy wear across the entire seal face. The conditions for the untreated and treated seals are shown in Figs. 1, 2, 3 and 4. In each test, the seals were run against carbon.

These results (as depicted in Figs. 1, 2, 3 and 4) were typical for each test run. The UNCD-treated surfaces were in excellent condition with very little carbon wear. The untreated seal had high wear for both the carbon and silicon carbide seal faces.

An interesting measurement taken after testing was surface flatness. The diamond-treated seals had no change in surface flatness during testing. The untreated silicon carbide had an increase of 240 microinches. This is an indication that the untreated surface was running hotter than the diamond-treated surface. Continued increases in flatness or surface waviness will lead to unwanted seal leakage and wear.

The development of ultrananocrystalline diamond (UNCD) and the improvements in equipment and processes have resulted in an excellent material for seal faces. When applied to a base material such as silicon carbide that has been lapped flat, no further processing is required to achieve a working seal face. Results in friction testing also have been excellent. UNCD shows promise when run against carbon or silicon carbide. Tests in hot water demonstrate no visible wear occurring during the 100-hour tests. Untreated silicon carbide failed to pass the hot-water test. Tests have shown that diamondtreated seal faces will improve seal performance. MT

James P. (Jim) Netzel is director of Seals Engineering for Advanced Diamond Technologies, Inc. of Romeoville, IL. His 40+ years of experience in the design and application of mechanical seals includes 20 years of service as chief engineer at John Crane, in Morton Grove, IL. During his career, Netzel has authored (and presented) numerous technical papers through the International Pump Symposium, STLE, ASME, BHRA, AISE, SAE and various trade publications. He also has written chapters on seals and sealing systems for The Pump Handbook, The Centrifugal Pump Handbook and The Compressor Handbook. E-mail:

Charles F. (Charlie) West, the VP of Engineering for Advanced Diamond Technologies, has been leading and working in product development of thin inorganic films for over 35 years. During that time, he has been directly responsible for the development of many vapor phase thin-film (primarily CVD) applications in the areas of electronic, biomedical, optics and wear and corrosion. Before joining ADT, West was one of the founders of QuesTek Innovations, LLC, another high-tech startup in the Chicago area. He had been the CVD Group leader and a research scientist at Northwestern University prior to starting QuesTek and a research scientist for 10 years at Battelle Columbus Laboratories in the Electronic and Optical Materials Group. Over the course of his career, West has been personally responsible for enabling and transferring new and unique CVD processing to NASA, universities, national laboratories and several industrial firms. E-mail:

Tom W. Lai is principal engineer at John Crane, stationed in Morton Grove, IL. Since joining the company in 1982, he has been involved in developing new products, maintaining seal analysis software and providing technical support to advanced seal applications. Lai holds four patents related to face seal designs. He received his B.S. from National Taiwan University and his M.S. and Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering and Master of Management degree from Northwestern University. He is a registered Professional Engineer in the State of Illinois and a member of STLE. E-mail:

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6:00 am
January 1, 2008
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Viewpoint: Recruiting And Retaining Talent In The Technology Age


John Granda, Executive VP, Syclo

Leading organizations are leveraging mobile to control costs by extending asset life and performance and optimize labor deployment. The automation and streamlined workflow that mobile technology delivers also helps with recruitment of skilled technicians and the retention of staff by giving them state-of-theart tools to work smarter more effectively.

For peak efficiency, managers should look at their operations with a critical eye. Examine workflow procedures where bottlenecks stymie productivity—processes that create data entry backlogs and deprive management of the accurate it needs to most effectively plan work and report. After minimal review, managers will find that paperwork is a reoccurring culprit, robbing management of wrench-time and adding unacceptable administrative, travel and inventory costs.

Eliminating reliance on paper forms by deploying mobile technologies has helped organizations around the globe control costs. The bestin- class mobile applications are deployed from ‘platform’ technology that allows for multiple connections to software applications such as the CMMS/EAM, purchasing, payroll, project management and more. For many asset maintenance teams that deployed mobile work management applications, the platform has enabled them to automate other areas such as maintenance inventories, rounds, inspections, equipment audits and plant turnaround task tracking.

Achieving rapid ROI and long-term value
Mobile works best when it is rapidly deployed—in just weeks—by experienced teams that connect to the CMMS/EAM system from pre-built modules. This allows for easy training of users and no disruption to production.

Mobile technology that enables the use of a wide variety of devices such as laptops, handheld computers and tablet computers is critical. Additionally, mobile that adopts to the latest communications peripheral technologies including GPS, GIS and RFID, helps organizations stay competitive and attract top talent.

Mobile technology ends reliance on paper— streamlining workflow and allowing workers to focus on their responsibilities without timeconsuming data entry. Many maintenance shops report that their techs spend as much as an hour per shift just completing paperwork. With the mobile products available for work management today, it now is possible to cut that time to an average of 15 minutes per shift. A group with 50 techs can ‘return’ over 5000 hours of wrench time to the organization.

The ability to almost instantly concentrate more resources on proactive instead of reactive maintenance allows supervisors to spend more time mentoring and training their teams. That’s a real plus in the quest to retain skilled techs.

With the exponential increase in data uploaded into the CMMS, managers are able to create reliability- based work plans and execute on preventive tasks that lead to reduced equipment failures and extended asset life. Mobile technology helps organizations control costs by cutting unnecessary travel, foot traffic, optimizes on-hand inventory, reduces shrinkage and helps control a number of admin expenses.

What to look for
Mobile maintenance software should be platform- based for peak effectiveness and be capable of supporting multiple mobile solutions. It is also critical for the platform to be capable of integrating with multiple data backend systems and planning applications, including HR and project management systems. Moreover, the platform must be quickly upgradeable to access multiple mobile products and also support on-line and off-line communications. That’s key to a lower cost of ownership.

Finally, keep in mind that the use of top-level technology indicates to highly skilled/professional workers that an organization is a serious achievement-oriented environment. Today’s computer-savvy workers expect employers to provide them with the types of tools they need in order to perform at their best! MT

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6:00 am
January 1, 2008
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Uptime: Where Is The Reliability Improvement Policy?


Bob Williamson, Contributing Editor

Policy – A deliberate plan of action to guide decisions and achieve rational outcome(s). Policy merely guides actions toward those behaviors that are most likely to achieve a desired outcome. (…From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Most successful businesses and institutions in the modern world have a number of policies that 1) serve as a guide for running the business and making decisions; 2) set clear expectations; and 3) serve as a guide for improving the business enterprise. A company “policy manual” is usually a compilation of the policies and procedures to be used as a guideline for consistency and continuity of the various actions routinely taken while running the business.

Think of how most companies manage their employees’ vacations, sick time, medical leave, hiring, compensation and such. They typically use “policies” developed by their business leaders or executives to assure fairness in decisions that affect their employees. “Employee handbooks” outlining these policies often are published and distributed to keep the organization—and all of the people who are employed there—on a common course. In the case of product and process quality, many companies have developed a “Quality Policy Manual” that sets the operating framework for their ISO-9000 quality work processes and methods.

So, where is the “Reliability Policy”—the policy that guides improvement of the maintenance and reliability processes and methods? Where is the company policy ensuring that the equipment and facilities (often the single largest investment) are treated with responsible care by all employees, in ways that assure reliable and consistent performance, revenue generation and competitiveness? Unfortunately, most capital-intensive businesses do not have a “Reliability Policy” that serves as a guide for managing capital assets, maintaining, making decisions about and improving the performance and reliability of those assets?

Who needs a reliability policy?
Any capital-intensive business that depends on equipment assets to generate revenue will benefit from a Reliability Policy that is deployed throughout the organization. Manufacturing, petro-chemical processes, utility systems, power generation, transportation, distribution centers, mining operations and agriculture are just a few examples of businesses that depend on equipment—reliable equipment—to produce and market competitive goods. Generally speaking, every one of these businesses has numerous policies that set expectations and serve as operating guidelines. For example, look at the typical written policies in your business—policies that are communicated in many formats throughout the business—and how they are used to guide successful decision-making and behaviors:

  • Safety & accident prevention policies
  • Quality & defect prevention policies
  • Environmental & pollution prevention policies
  • Human resources policies
  • Finance & accounting policies
  • Privacy & personal information policies
  • Corporate social responsibility policy
  • Information systems & data management policies
  • Business ethics policies
  • Shareholder & dividend policies
  • Proprietary & business information policies
  • Purchasing & procurement policies

When there is NO POLICY, how does a company expect its employees to respond to equipment maintenance and reliability questions, problems, opportunities and improvements? If you want to improve the way your equipment and facilities are operated and maintained, how they are cared for and how their performance is improved, you need a Reliability Policy—or better yet, a Reliability Improvement Policy. Such a policy should originate at the top levels of the company and may be fairly general in regard to plans, schedules and tactics. A “guiding coalition” of formal and informal leaders should structure the policy statement.

What should a policy statement contain?
The Reliability Improvement Policy statement should become more and more explicit as it is interpreted from the top down through the organization. At the lowest leadership level (plant, area, department), it should be a specific plan or a strategy for taking action that is consistent with the Reliability Improvement Policy statement.

A Reliability Improvement Policy statement should be explicit regarding:

  • The compelling business reason for improving equipment and/or process reliability;
  • The acceptable maintenance and reliability work processes and standards;
  • What is to be improved;
  • How reliability improvement will be measured;
  • The timeframes in which reliability improvement should be made.

How do you deploy this type of policy?
A time-proven method for developing and establishing company improvement policies is called “Policy Deployment.” The purpose of Policy Deployment is to enable the shift from the status quo so as to make major performance improvements by analyzing and addressing current business competitive opportunities and operational problems.

Policy Deployment methods called “Hoshin Planning” (Hoshin Kanri), a system of strategic and operational planning, were developed and refined by numerous companies such as Toyota, Nippon Denso, Komatsu and others in Japan during the 1960s. These companies blended proven ideas from Dr. Edward Deming (PDCA cycle), Dr. Joseph Juran (quality policy) and Dr. Peter Drucker (MBO) into strategic planning to create the Hoshin Planning methodology—and since the 1980s, many well-known businesses in the United States have made significant and sustainable improvements using it. This policy deployment process continues to thrive in many successful Lean Enterprise businesses.

Policy Deployment cascades, or deploys, top management policies and targets down the management hierarchy. At each level, the policy is translated into policies, targets and actions for the next level down. Using a “Policy Deployment” strategy for establishing and infusing a “Reliability Improvement Policy” makes sense: It will connect the important factors of business success from the highest levels of the company to the plant-floor workgroups and then back to the top levels.

This Policy Deployment “line of sight” acts as a compass, pointing north, keeping the entire organization heading in the right direction. Without a common direction, focused leadership and engaged workgroups at all levels, almost any improvement process is doomed to failure or, at best, stagnation.

So, where are we going?
Over the years, the Cheshire Cat in Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland has been paraphrased time and again by those of us considering the “direction” of continuous improvement in our industrial operations… “If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.” Accordingly, if we don’t have a Reliability Improvement Policy, how can we possibly hope to achieve consistent and sustainable maintenance and reliability improvement success? The answer to that may best be summed up in the words of another particularly insightful “cat”… “Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” Thank you, Henry Ford. MT

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6:00 am
January 1, 2008
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Technology Update: Nondestructive Testing Services

Keep the following information in mind as you seek out the best product for your specific needs.

Nondestructive testing (NDT) is crucial in ensuring the reliability, integrity and SAFETY of materials, components, equipment, vessels, processes, etc. Some NDT techniques can be used in a time-based program to monitor equipment components. Others can be used for examining suspected failures identified through different means, or as a way to check the condition of critical components when they are returned to service after maintenance. The following is a sampling of some of the companies and services offered in the field of nondestructive testing.

0108_techupdate_11Metallurgical Technologies, Inc. P.A.

Metallurgical Technologies, Inc. P.A. (“MTi”) is a metallurgical analysis and testing laboratory that specializes in rapid response forensic engineering. Accurate test results are obtained using advanced analytical equipment and techniques. Results are interpreted and recommendations are made by licensed Professional Engineers who are recognized as experts in their field as well as recognized expert forensic engineers. The company provides a full spectrum of metallurgical engineering services including: failure analysis, corrosion and defect investigations, reverse engineering, SEM/EDS microanalysis, mechanical and weldment testing, chemical analysis, metallography, consulting, nondestructive testing, and litigation support to a wide range of clients in various industries. MTi also can provide testing and analysis results within 24 hours.

Metallurgical Technologies, Inc. P.A.
Mooresville, NC

Magnetic Analysis Corporation

Magnetic Analysis Corporation has over seventy years experience in nondestructive testing. They developed the first American made system using electromagnetic principles for the detection of flaws in steel products. Since then, MAC has grown to become a source of NDT services and equipment for testing metals. Their technology encompasses eddy-current, electromagnetic, fluxleakage and ultrasonic methods. Dedicated to a production oriented approach to testing, MAC offers both individual instruments and complete systems that incorporate materials handling as well as nondestructive testing. MAC field engineers are located throughout the United States, Europe and Australia.

Magnetic Analysis Corporation
Mount Vernon, NY

Quad City Testing Laboratory, Inc.

For more than 25 years, Quad City Testing Laboratory, Inc. (QCTL) has been providing testing and inspection services to all aspects of industry. QCTL is both field and laboratory capable in all nondestructive testing methods. Because they are not a repair service or a manufacturer, the company can provide its customers with an impartial assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of structural components. Services offered include: radiography (gamma & X-ray), magnetic particle (wet and dry), ultrasonic (shear & longitudinal wave), ultrasonic thickness integrity, liquid penetrant (visible & fluorescent), visual, hardness, holiday testing, eddy current, leak testing, mechanical (tensile/bend testing), technical consulting/level III services, welder and procedure qualifications, training and dielectric.

Quad City Testing Laboratory, Inc.
Davenport, IA

Predict Monitoring Systems Inc.

Founded in 1996, Predict Monitoring Systems Inc. is a service and training provider of predictive maintenance technologies. Over the past 10 years, they have expanded their services and markets throughout Ontario and Western New York. Predict Monitoring Systems Inc. offers a full range of nondestructive testing, which includes liquid penetrant, magnetic particle and ultrasonic inspection. All testing is performed by c.g.s.b. certified personnel. Applications include lifting equipment, corrosion monitoring, weld integrity, and commissioning of new equipment. Predict Monitoring Systems Inc. can recommend and implement inspection programs to help evaluate the condition of the customer’s equipment and the quality of their products.

Predict Monitoring Systems Inc.
Welland, ON

Thielsch Engineering Corp.

Thielsch Engineering Corp.’s Nondestructive Examination (NDE) department offers both in-laboratory and portable field inspections utilizing radiographic, magnetic particle, ultrasonic, liquid penetrant, hydrostatic and videoborescopic examination techniques. Certified Welding Inspections (CWI) are also performed on a local, national and international basis as well as in support of the other divisions of Thielsch Engineering. The company’s inspectors are qualified to meet the requirements of the American Society for Nondestructive Testing Practice SNT-TC-1A. Each nondestructive examination is performed to the requirements of major codes, including the ASME Boiler and Pressure Vessel Codes, the ASME/ANSI Codes for Pressure Piping, the American Petroleum Institute Codes, American Welding Society Standards and military specifications.

Thielsch Engineering Corp.
Cranston, RI

Zetec, Inc.

Zetec provides nondestructive (NDE) inspection solutions based on integrated multi-method technologies— eddy current, ultrasonic, remote field and magnetic flux leakage. The company offers complete NDE solutions worldwide, including a line of turn-key systems, instrumentation, software products, supplies, calibration, repair, training and inspection services. In addition, their customers bring Zetec hundreds of new nondestructive testing challenges. Zetec focuses on these customer applications to provide complete solutions as well as leadership for innovation and best practices in NDE inspections. Zetec’s team of industry and technical experts—application engineers, probe designers, machinists, and assemblers—help to meet those challenges.

Zetec, Inc.
Issaquah, WA

Quality Services Laboratories QSL-Plus

Quality Services Laboratories QSL-Plus offers a wide variety of testing techniques of equipment and materials. Inspection techniques include traditional nondestructive testing, such as GPR, PMI and MP; radiography and advanced testing, such as acoustic emission, automated UT and ACFM. They also provides specialized solutions for power equipment testing (power transformers, load tap changers, on-site DGA, high voltage bus bars, circuit breakers, instrument transformers, gas insulated substations, high voltage cables), transportation vehicles (aerial lift, fire apparatus) and the pulp and paper industry.

Quality Services Laboratories QSL-Plus
Trainer, PA

EMP Engineering Services, Inc.

Founded in 1997, EMP Engineering Services has provided services to clients in business segments from basic metals to component manufacturing to power generation. The company provides complete equipment management programs, including condition monitoring services for rotating equipment and power delivery systems and asset management services. These programs help customers drive down life-cycle costs associated with the ownership and use of power utilization and delivery equipment. EMP Engineering Services’ condition monitoring employs the following technologies: vibration monitoring, motor circuit evaluation (MCE), infrared inspections and ultrasonic inspections.

EMP Engineering Services, Inc.
Dresher, PA

Conam Inspection and Engineering Services, Inc.

The CONAM organization’s nondestructive testing capabilities include conventional NDT applications combined with advanced technologies. NDT services include ultrasonics, radiography, eddy current and remote field eddy current, magnetic particle, liquid penetrant, positive material identification and visual. Virtually all CONAM services are available within their growing network of laboratories or deployed to the field seven days a week, around-the-clock. These services are delivered by trained and experienced inspection professionals and supported by a management team dedicated to customer service. Industries served include refining, power generation, aerospace, petrochemical, automotive, construction, pulp and paper, transportation, metalworking, primary metals and defense.

Conam Inspection and Engineering Services, Inc.
Princeton, NJ

PTI Industries

PTI Industries utilizes state-of-the-art equipment and procedures to verify that the customer’s parts meet required specifications. They specialize in the following nondestructive testing techniques: fluorescent and liquid penetrant inspect and magnetic particle inspeciton (MPI). PTI provides their customers with accurate results, quick turnarounds and low prices. Their experienced technicians, trained customer service personnel and quality-control department work to easily integrate their nondestructive testing operations into your production schedule.

PTI Industries
Enfield, CT

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6:00 am
January 1, 2008
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Publisher’s Notes: – On Target, On The Job, Around The Clock


Bill Kiesel, Publisher/Vice President

With this issue, our 240th, we begin our 21st year and are proud to be “Your Source for Capacity Assurance Solutions.

Throughout 2007, we spent very little time looking back. Instead, as always, we tended to focus our attention on going forward—on the issues, strategies and solutions you can leverage to help your organizations stay productive and profitable. Business intelligence is all about delivering the right information in the right format to the right people at the right time so those people can make effective and timely business decisions. It is our top priority to continue doing the same for you in 2008 and beyond.

In our constant quest to keep you informed, I am very pleased to let you know that we have begun our New Year by rolling out a New Website. While it may be the same Internet address you’re accustomed to visiting—www.—we’ve given it a great new look and functionality. We used your comments and suggestions to polish the design, add new features and make your search for solutions much easier than before. Much, much easier…

As you know, Maintenance Technology is not just a successful, must-read magazine; it is a successful, must-read brand—in print and online. Our staff puts the same emphasis on quality, targeted content in our online products as they do with our print publication.

Reliability and maintenance professionals throughout industry have known for 20 years that they can count on Maintenance Technology to deliver the comprehensive technical and business information (i.e. “capacity assurance solutions”) they need. Now, with our newly designed Website, that information-gathering experience will be significantly enhanced. Features and search functions that will make it simpler than ever to access the content you need include:

  • Advanced Archived Articles—Easily find information you are seeking in our previously published editorial:
    • Search by month and year
    • Search by topic or keyword
  • Streamlined Supplier Search—Quickly locate the suppliers, products and/or services you need to keep your systems and processes up and running.
  • Training—Explore relevant educational offerings and links that help you stay up-to-date on the skills and certifications critical to your job.
  • White Paper Hosting and e-Distribution—Dig deep into cutting-edge technologies and methodologies supplied by industry’s top thought leaders.
  • Events—Stay in touch with what’s happening in the reliability and maintenance arena, including upcoming premier industry events.

But, that’s just a start. will continue to evolve, grow and improve as you and the industry do. I encourage you keep an eye out for more new features—and don’t hesitate to let us know how our publication and Website can serve you even more effectively going forward. As Darwin noted, “It is not the strongest or the bravest that survive. It is those that are most adaptable to change.” Happy New Year! MT


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