Archive | Reliability & Maintenance Center


3:43 pm
August 14, 2017
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It’s Time to Inspect Your Steam Traps

Any steam system can leak, and any trap can potentially waste steam. Properly performed, well-planned, routine system inspections are crucial.

Any steam system can leak, and any trap can potentially waste steam. Properly performed, well-planned, routine system inspections are crucial.

Savvy maintenance teams are consistent and persistent in following a protocol that monitors plant steam systems. According to a Steam Trap Inspection Guide from UE Systems (Elmsford, NY) these systems should be inspected routinely—and for good reason: Faulty steam traps not only waste energy, they can contribute to pipe erosion, negatively affect product quality in various processes, and even play a role in environmental pollution.

To be clear, the frequency of steam-trap inspections is often determined by application. For example, steam systems used just for facility comfort, i.e. heating, are usually inspected annually (in the fall), while those associated with production operations might be inspected biannually or quarterly, depending on the impact of steam on the process.

Ultrasonic inspections

Ultrasonic testers translate the high-frequency emissions of a trap down into the audible range where they are heard through headphones and seen as intensity increments on a meter. Some units have frequency tuning to filter out additional signals and to tune into the sounds of steam and condensate while others have on-board recording and data logging.

Although there are a variety of trap designs, for purposes of inspection, there are basically two main types: continuous flow and intermittent (on/off). Each type has its own unique pattern. It’s important to listen to a number of traps to determine a “normal” operation in a particular situation before proceeding with a survey. Generally, when checking a trap ultrasonically, a continuous rushing sound will be the key indicator of live steam passing through.

randmThe most common method for ultrasonically testing a steam trap is to touch it on the downstream side. The technician should then adjust the sensitivity to the point where the trap sounds are capable of being heard. This is usually a setting at which the meter’s intensity indicator is in a mid-line position. Adjusting the sensitivity to levels that are either too low or too high will make the trap sounds difficult to hear. If frequency tuning is available on the instrument, choose 25 kHz.

Important considerations

• Since ultrasonic testing of steam traps is a positive test, it provides results in real time. The main advantage of this technique is that it isolates the tested area by eliminating confusing background noises. Personnel, in turn, can quickly adjust to recognizing differences among various traps.

• While performing a steam-trap survey, it’s important to note specific trap conditions on a chart. Every trap should have a tag with a corresponding identification code. Poorly operating units should be documented in a non-compliance report and follow-up procedures planned. Be sure to include digital photographs of traps. These reports should reference items such as trap number, condition, and date of repair.

• As part of a quality-assurance procedure, all repaired traps should be scheduled for re-test. A comprehensive report describing the results of a steam-trap survey is recommended. This report should include items such as the number of traps tested, the number found in good condition, and the number of faulty ones. A cost analysis indicating the gross amount of savings, repair costs, and net savings associated with the survey should also be included.

Keep in mind

Any steam system can leak, and any trap can potentially waste steam. If performed properly, a routine, planned program of steam-trap inspection and repair can continually pay for itself and contribute to a company’s bottom line in terms of productivity, quality, and energy savings. MT

For information and registration details regarding UE Systems’ September 2017 webinar series on steam-system inspections, email Adrian Messer at, or telephone 914-282-3504.


3:22 pm
August 14, 2017
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SAP Tips and Tricks: Put Variants and Layouts to Work

randmBy Kristina Gordon, DuPont

This month we answer the question: What variants and layouts does SAP offer and how can they help users?

SAP contains search screens on almost every transaction. This allows the user to establish variants by entering a set of criteria that can be saved and displayed each time the transaction is run, without reentering the criteria. This could be a group of work orders, functional locations, materials, or all objects in a date range.

There are ways that a dynamic date range can be entered. With this option, each time the transaction is run, it can start with the current day and go backward or forward by a prescribed number of days or you may want to look at the previous month or future dates. Regardless of the criteria, the dynamic date range can be set so your criteria run on that range each time you execute the transaction, without reentering the dates.

It is possible to create several different variants for the same transaction, based on the information you want to see. Variants are at the heart of effective use of dashboards. They are time saving and accurate, helping eliminate human error.

Layouts help, too

Layouts are a component of the variant that defines the information that will be displayed on the report, once executed. The layout controls the columns, sort order, format, and filtering options.

Layouts help control the look of your report, based on the selection criteria in your variant. Just like variants, you can create multiple layouts for the same transaction, depending on the audience and how you want your information to be viewed.

To create a variant, open a transaction and enter the search criteria you would like to see every time you execute. Select Goto from the menu, then select variants, then save the variant. If the system default variant comes up, make sure to change the name and not overwrite it.

In the variant name field, enter a name for your variant. You have two options for saving your variant. The user-specific option will be a personal variant, only seen by you as the creator. To implement this, you must enter the name of the variant in the format of U_SAP USER NAME. For example, U_EG8931.




The screen grabs above show the steps involved in setting up a user-specific variant.

The second option is a global variant that everyone can view. To create a global variant, you must start the variant name with a / then the description. If you check the box “protect variant,” only the creator will be able to change the variant.

Next, you can save your variant variables by selecting an object to create a dynamic range. In the example below right, due date was selected. Click on the selection variables button on the tool bar, then choose the value you want to save in your variant. MT

Kristina Gordon is SAP Program Consultant at the DuPont, Sabine River Works plant in West Orange, TX. If you have SAP questions, send them to, and we’ll forward them to Kristina.


3:16 pm
August 14, 2017
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Select The Best Seats for Your Butterfly Valves

randmButterfly valves owe much of their popularity to their economic cost and efficient designs. Among the butterfly valves available in today’s marketplace, the resilient-seated type (the most basic) is the design that’s commonly used in fluid-processing applications.

According to the fluid-handling experts at Crane Engineering (Kimberly, WI), the functionality of a butterfly valve is greatly dependent on its seat, which seals between the pipe flanges and the valve disc. In resilient-seated designs, the stem is centered in the middle of the valve disc that, in turn, is centered in the pipe bore. These valves typically feature a somewhat-flexible seat and rely on the disc for a high level of contact with the seat to ensure a proper seal.

Seat-Type Pros and Cons

Three basic seat styles are available for resilient-seated butterfly valves. A recent post on the Crane Engineering blog discussed the pros and cons of each, including their specific strengths and weaknesses. (Use Table I for quick reference.)

Screen Shot 2017-08-14 at 9.28.59 AM

1708rmcfluidhandling01dBooted (dovetail) seats. These seats have a dovetail shape that mates with the inner-diameter valve bodies. They’re easily removable and serviceable because the fit isn’t physically bonded. Unfortunately, they’re prone to movement when mounted between flanges, resulting in deformation that tends to bulge around the disc-contact points. This sensitivity to mounting conditions limits the versatility of booted-seat butterfly valves. Molded and cartridge seats were developed to address such weaknesses.

1708rmcfluidhandling02dMolded seats. These seats are bonded to the bodies of valves through an injection-molding process. While this provides a direct bond, it makes the seat irreparable. Since the seat is integrated with the valve body, the entire valve must be replaced if the seat becomes damaged. Still, a molded seat’s permanent bond with a rigid valve body has advantages over a booted seat. Molded-style seats also resist deformation and dislocation during valve mounting and are capable of dead-end or vacuum service.

1708rmcfluidhandling03dCartridge seats. These seats are created by compression molding a layer of elastomer onto a rigid phenolic backing ring, which supports the elastomer in multiple directions. This process is much more consistent than the injection molding used to create molded-style seats. It provides constant pressure to form the seat shape and maintains tight control of its dimensions. Because of the tight tolerances, cartridge seats offer the best torque consistency and highest wear resistance. This type of seat also improves upon the molded style by making the seat replaceable. In highly abrasive applications, i.e., where valves need to be replaced on a regular basis, the cartridge seat could simply be replaced rather than the entire valve.

Cartridge seats offer advantages unmatched by other seat styles. When the valve body has an integrated retaining lip, a cartridge-seated valve is capable of dead-end service. Unlike booted or dovetail seats, cartridge seats can more efficiently operate in a system that requires vacuum service.

Update Your Valve-Speak

To learn more about general valve terminology, download Crane Engineering’s  “Ultimate Glossary of Valve Terminology”. MT

Crane Engineering is a distributor of industrial-grade pumps, valves, filters, wastewater-treatment equipment, and other fluid-processing technology. Services include repair, corrosion-resistant coatings, and skid-system design and fabrication. For more information and instructional videos, visit


7:09 pm
July 12, 2017
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SAP Tips and Tricks: Understand Shift Factors And Tolerances

randmBy Kristina Gordon, DuPont

My recent article, “Maintenance Plans: What do all the fields mean?”, generated two very good questions from reader Nigel Wilson, who wants to further understand how a maintenance plan functions. Here are answers to those questions.

Q: What is the relationship (if any) between shift factors and tolerances? Are they used in conjunction with each other or separately?

A:  Shift factors and tolerances can be used in conjunction with each other or they can be used separately. The screen shots illustrate how this is accomplished.

Tolerance defines late or early completion time period and the impact it has on the plan schedule: (+) tolerance is set for late completions and (-) tolerance is set for early completions.

The shift factor is the percentage of shift that a plan can move if not completed on time. For example, if a maintenance plan is due Sept. 1, but the work is not confirmed until Sept. 5, the shift factor will determine the next plan due date. A100% shift on a monthly plan will move the due date to the exact day in the next month that the work was confirmed in September (in this case, Oct. 5). A 0% shift will not allow the plan to move the due date. The order was completed Sept. 5, but the due date is on the first of every month, therefore, the next due date will be Oct. 1.



To use the shift factor and tolerance together, the principals are still the same. However, you are now taking the percentage of the shift factor into account with the completion from the tolerance. The images above illustrate how the plan change date changes with a 100% shift factor and doesn’t change with a 0% shift factor.

Q: How do shift factors and tolerances handle multiple cycles on a maintenance plan?

A:   Tolerances and shift factors react the same in single-cycle and strategy plans. Settings should be set at the strategy level, then they will carry over to each individual maintenance plan when it is created. To avoid this situation, you may also want to maintain hierarchies in the maintenance strategy against each pack, if you haven’t already done so. MT

Kristina Gordon is SAP PM Leader, DuPont Protective Solutions Business and SAP WMP Champion, Spruance Site, Richmond, VA. If you have SAP questions, send them to and we’ll forward them to Kristina.


7:01 pm
July 12, 2017
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Interpret the IP Code Correctly

Electrical mill machinery for the production of wheat flour. Grain equipment. Grain. Agriculture. IndustrialPlant personnel often see the terms “sealed,” “waterproof,” and “dust tight” in marketing and technical literature for electrical equipment. In dusty or wet applications, such as industrial slurry manufacturing, offshore oil rigs, water/wastewater treatment facilities, and milling/hulling processes, the level of “sealedness” is of prime importance to avoid contamination. But what do these terms really mean and is there a way to precisely quantify that “sealedness?”

The answer is yes, according to Meredith Christman of IMI Sensors, a division of PCB Piezotronics (, Depew, NY). In fact, an international standard that helps personnel do just that has been in place for almost 40 years.

In a recently posted white paper, Christman cites the International Electrotechnical Commission’s IEC Standard 60529: Degrees of Protection Provided by Enclosures that, in 1976, introduced the concept of quantifying a product’s level of “sealedness” with the establishment of the Ingress Protection (IP) Code. Limited to enclosures for electrical equipment with a rated voltage of less than or equal to 72.5 kV, this standard defines protection against ingress of body parts, solids, and liquids toward hazardous electrical or mechanical components.

Christman then goes on to explain how plant personnel can interpret the IP Code. Among other things, she includes details on:

Specified tests

randmIn defining and quantifying the “sealedness” levels of the three ingress protection categories, i.e., “sealedness” against body parts, solids and liquids, the IEC Standard 60529 prescribes corresponding tests. General test requirements recommend the atmospheric conditions during which each test should take place, while specific test procedures stipulate the following:

• location of the contaminant source as compared to the electrical equipment

• length of time that the electrical equipment should be subjected to the contaminant

• amount of contaminant to which the electrical equipment should be subjected.

Specific IP ratings

Once a product has successfully passed the appropriate tests, it can be marketed with a specific IP rating. This rating consists of the IP designation followed by one of four alphanumeric characters, with each character identifying a particular level of protection or a specific nuance about a particular protection level.

Alphanumeric #1: Protection against ingress of body parts and solids (with priority to solids).  Ratings range from no protection to protection against solids as fine as dust. When a product is rated to a particular level, it can be automatically assumed that that product could also be successfully rated to all other levels below it. Performing the tests associated with the lower levels of protection is not required.

Alphanumeric #2: Protection against ingress of liquids. Ratings range from no protection to protection against any liquid during a continuous-submersion application. When a product is rated to a particular splash level, it can be automatically assumed that that product could also be successfully rated to all other levels below it. However, when a product is rated to a particular submersion level, it can only be automatically assumed that the product could also be successfully rated to the other submersion levels below it without additional testing, but not to the lower splash levels. If a product needs to have both a splash and submersion rating, then both sets of applicable tests need to be performed.

Alphanumeric #3: Protection against ingress of body parts if not adequately described in alphanumeric #2.

Alphanumeric #4: Supplementary information.

For more details, download the white paper, “Keeping Out Contaminants: Understanding Ingress Protection Ratings” by clicking here and choosing the “Industrial” tab. MT

Meredith Christman is a product manager II with IMI Sensors, a division of PCB Piezotronics, Depew, NY,


6:57 pm
July 12, 2017
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Adhere to a ‘Best Practices’ Cyber Framework

Security concept: Lock on digital screen, contrast, 3d renderIn 2013, the United States’ National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST, Gaithersburg, MD, was tasked with developing a framework that would become an authoritative source for cybersecurity best practices. Other countries have similar standards or are actively working on versions. In some places, such as France, these standards carry the weight of law.

According to Andrew Kling, director of Cybersecurity and Software Practices for Schneider Electric (, Andover, MA), the standards that emerged from the NIST framework established an ordered, structured approach to addressing cybersecurity challenges and helped translate vague, fear-based concerns into commonsense risk analysis, risk-tolerance assessment, and risk avoidance.

“Confronting the cybersecurity challenge as part of a focused risk-management program,” Kling noted, “allows an organization to take on one of the biggest threats to its ability to deliver shareholder value. For plants to operate profitably, they must protect the reliability of their assets and operations. Cybersecurity attacks threaten their reliability, which in turn jeopardizes their ability to turn a profit.”

randmHe explained that, while the set of core cybersecurity practices necessary to manage cyberthreats are well known, there are still barriers to adoption. For the most part, these obstacles are related to an improper understanding of the risks at hand, as well as to an organization’s ability to resist them.

Consequently, despite regulatory and risk-management incentives, Kling said finding companies that effectively address cybersecurity is rare. To his way of thinking, it’s time to change the conversation away from the fear of a cyber attack to something understood in all boardrooms: How do cyber attacks threaten the reliability of plant assets and operations and their ability to contribute to the bottom line.

This requires managers to know and understand their plants’ cybersecurity positions and appetites for risk tolerance. This information helps them recognize the difference between where they are managing cyber risks and how much gap there is to close. Here’s where a strategy to improve an operation’s cybersecurity readiness through comprehensive security-risk management pays off.

Crucial steps

What’s an operation to do? Andrew Kling points to these specifics:

• Discuss and understand your risk-management plan and objectives (which usually means protecting your ability to produce).

• Locate responsibility for risk management in your organization so that decision making, execution, and incident response are efficient and successful. Assess your risk-management workflows.

• Ascertain the value of your manufacturing processes and assets to your organization and potential attackers. Basically, you need to calculate your security risk. For example: If the plant were to go down for a day due to a cyber attack, loss of production would equal $X.

• Model the cyber-threat landscape. Analyze threats specific to your industry and your plant. Remember that threats are constantly evolving as new skills, techniques, and tools emerge. You might need expert help.

• Determine where security-risk-management functions should integrate into your organization’s infrastructure. These functions can take many forms, i.e., risk avoidance, mitigation, acceptance, and/or transference.

• Construct a cybersecurity plan that lets the organization respond to an evolving threat landscape. Analyze options to the plan and rank the effectiveness of its elements in reducing risks.

• Prioritize and execute the plan to manage your organization’s cyber risks.

• Keep in mind that program elements, such as bug patching and threat monitoring, are continuous. A cybersecurity risk-management plan isn’t a single event, but a continuous operation.

In short, have a plan, execute it, measure its effectiveness, and, if necessary, adjust it. Taking these simple steps to manage your cybersecurity risks can have a significant impact (in a good way) on your bottom line. MT

—Jane Alexander, Managing Editor

For more information, visit and


6:35 pm
June 16, 2017
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SAP Tips and Tricks: Improve Efficiency with Equipment Bill of Materials

randmBy Kristina Gordon, DuPont

A bill of materials (BOM) is a list of items used to perform maintenance activities. There are different types of BOMs, as they are often called but, in maintenance functions, we generally use equipment BOMs. This material list is created in a hierarchal manner and associated with one specific piece of equipment. BOMs can also be created for functional locations, making it efficient to select materials.

The second type of BOM is associated with a material type called an IBAU. This is a maintenance assembly list created by using individual parts tied to a higher-level material instead of an equipment master or functional location.

Creating a good BOM can be a critical factor in completing work for a piece of equipment. It will, at a glance, make it possible to identify the materials needed to service that piece of equipment.

In the following example, you will learn how to create a bill of material and how to display it in your work order.

Transaction IB01

Enter the equipment master number for the bill of materials you wish to create, plant code, and BOM usage 4 (plant-maintenance usage), and the date you wish to make your BOM valid from.

Click the enter button.


Add the following information

• ICT: This indicates the status of the material, i.e., stock (L), non-stock (N) or text (T).
• Component: This is your material master number.
• Quantity: Number of components needed to service the equipment
• UN: Unit of measure for how you receive the material

Once finished, click the save button.


You will have the ability to see the new materials on the BOM you created under the functional location in which the equipment is installed (transaction IH01).


When creating a maintenance work order for the equipment, pull up the materials on the BOM by using the list button on the components tab of the work order.


This automatically lists the materials on the BOM. Select the check box for the materials that you wish to carry into your work order. Click the green check mark.


Your materials populate in your work order.


Note that a ritual should be built around updating your BOMs on a frequency. This allows new materials, or materials with different specifications, which will also have a new material master number, to be added and any materials no longer applicable to be deleted. This can be completed in transaction IB02, change bill of materials. MT

Kristina Gordon is SAP Program Consultant at the DuPont, Sabine River Works plant in West Orange, TX. If you have SAP questions, send them to and we’ll forward them to Kristina.


6:25 pm
June 16, 2017
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Are You a Safety Leader?


All workers should think of themselves as safety leaders and set a good example for others in multiple ways.

Whatever image the word “leadership” might bring to mind, the fact is, it often can be difficult to demonstrate. Sometimes, leadership means going against the flow, when the flow is going in the wrong direction. When it comes to safety, though, anyone on a plant-floor team can be a leader. Everyone should be, even when that means taking what might seem like an uncomfortable stand.

Safety leadership on the plant floor requires real courage, given the many issues that personnel regularly confront. Those issues include, among other things, scheduling problems, cost concerns, and psychological factors such as peer pressure and complacency. The more safety leaders a team has, however, the easier it is for hazards to be identified, action taken, and the safety “flow” turned in the right direction.

Who is a safety leader? According to experts with the Safway Group (, Waukesha, WI), it’s someone who demonstrates that he or she values safety by working and communicating to identify and limit hazardous situations. The key to a true culture of safety, they stress, is for all workers at a site to think of themselves as safety leaders and set an example in that regard, not only through their actions, but by what they say, how they say it, and, just as important, how they listen.

Do you qualify as safety leader? To find out, consider the questions in the following three-part quiz from Safway.

— Jane Alexander, Managing Editor

1. Engagement

Are you engaged during safety meetings? Do you take notes and ask questions if something is unclear? Do you talk about the Job Hazard Analysis process? Are you prepared to stop work at any time if you believe an unsafe condition may exist?

randm2. Teaching, Mentoring, Coaching

Teaching, mentoring, coaching, and conducting safety observations are all excellent ways to promote safety conversations. Do you take time to explain the purpose behind safety procedures? Do you help others understand what cues help you assess a situation for safety? When you observe an opportunity for a safer way, do you communicate and address the issue?

3. Taking Suggestions Seriously

Good listening is essential for safety. It also takes time and effort to do well. Do you try to be open-minded and positive in response to other people’s safety suggestions? How about your body language? Do you give off a vibe of being open and engaged, and grateful for the feedback? Do you provide a meaningful response quickly, regardless of the outcome of the suggestion? All suggestions deserve positive feedback. It’s the building block of trust and openness, and, in the end, improvement.

Commit to safety

Most plant-floor personnel probably can’t answer “yes” to all of these questions every minute of every day. But when they make a conscious goal to be safety leaders, they’re well on their way to ensuring that they, their coworkers, and others are able to go home safely to their families every day. MT

For more information on access and multi-service issues and solutions, visit