Archive | Condition-based Maintenance

81

6:40 pm
June 16, 2017
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Uptime: Face the Giant

bobmugnewBy Bob Williamson, Contributing Editor

We face challenging situations every day. In many cases, dealing with short-term challenges is a maintenance organization’s normal way of life. The problem is our long-term challenges, the ones at our doorstep, or looming just over the horizon that we often put off tackling. They’re “giants” bearing down on us.

Not too long ago, I spoke to nearly 90 maintenance professionals at an Oklahoma Predictive Maintenance User’s Group (OPMUG) event. Maintenance managers, supervisors, technicians, mechanics, planners, and engineers, they came from a wide variety of industries. Regardless of their particular role or business, though, they were all actively pursuing better maintenance practices.

I asked the attendees to take a few minutes and think about the top three challenges for maintenance that they expected to see in the next three, to five, to 10 years, then record them on note cards. Let’s consider what they wrote and how their thinking mirrors yours. Based on my analysis, the 117 challenges they came up with fit in the following nine major categories (some fit in more than one):

• Skills Gaps (35)
• Culture of Reliability (35)
• Training & Qualification (27)
• Top Management (26)
• New Technology (11)
• At-Risk Assets (10)
• Parts (10)
• Knowledge Transfer (8)
• Life-Cycle Asset Management (5)

It’s about ‘people’ on the front line

When we look for a common theme among the OPMUG responses, it’s not too surprising to see that it’s “people,” i.e., the biggest variable in improving equipment maintenance, performance, and reliability. Of the nine major categories above, three of them—Skills Gaps, Training & Qualification, and Knowledge Transfer (with a combined total of 70 responses)—point to challenges on the front line of maintenance.

Many responses alluded to difficulties in finding qualified technicians and shortages of skilled trades people. A few referenced the Millennial Generation’s communication skills, work habits, and expectations. Several addressed the lack of competencies for and interests in industrial maintenance careers.

Capturing the knowledge of workers nearing retirement appeared to be a sizeable challenge for many respondents. They noted that their organizations stood the chance of losing all skills and knowledge gained from years of experience. Furthermore, there was concern that even if they could capture crucial knowledge, without a capable replacement or the mechanism to train new employees, that knowledge would be lost.

It’s about ‘people’ in top management

A second group of categories—Top Management, Culture of Reliability, and Life-Cycle Asset Management (with a combined total of 66 responses)—points to need for leadership to improve equipment maintenance, performance, and reliability. Whether it’s the pursuit of best practices, asset-management processes, or culture change, top management sets the tone and defines the culture by purposeful actions, or,       by default, through inaction.

Some responses tied the challenge of Top Management to struggles with hiring and training priorities, i.e, management’s inability to grasp the severity of skills gaps, shortages, and knowledge transfer. Several mentioned decisions to cut maintenance costs and staff, reductions in time for preventive maintenance, and misinterpretation of the reliability requirements of new equipment.

Others referred to “silo” organizations and decision making that hindered maintenance and hurt the reliability of equipment and processes. These siloed objectives and decisions lead to an organization’s inability to focus on common goals for overall business improvement.

Regarding Culture of Reliability ranking right up there with Skills Gaps as a top challenge: Leading a culture of reliability means that the line of sight between reliability best practices and the goals of the business are understood. Frequently, that line of sight is not so apparent with reliability best practices appearing as a flavor of the month.

Facing our giant

Most equipment challenges lend themselves to reliable and sustainable countermeasures, or corrective actions. The giant we face isn’t so easily addressed: human variation, inconsistency, behaviors, moods, and habits present an ever-changing reliability improvement challenge.

Our giant can be lurking among front-line crews or behind decisions and actions made by top-, mid-level and/or front-line managers. Facing it with slingshots and stones may be our only option, that is, if slingshots and stones represent maintenance fundamentals, available tools, and accepting the reality of the situation.

We can no longer manage equipment performance and reliability the way we always have. There aren’t enough talented people, or isn’t enough time or money to continue that journey.

Bottom line, the skills gaps we see today, coupled with training and knowledge-transfer problems, are primarily caused by the fact that top management and reliability and maintenance professionals still aren’t “sitting at the same table” and focusing on common business goals. That’s sad.

Looking to the future, facing our giant will require fewer hands-on people, robust condition monitoring, building reliability into critical at-risk equipment, and, most of all, getting top-level management to believe in reliability best practices. MT

Bob Williamson, CMRP, CPMM, and member of the Institute of Asset Management, is in his fourth decade of focusing on the “people side” of world-class maintenance and reliability in plants and facilities across North America. Contact him at RobertMW2@cs.com.

46

5:09 pm
June 16, 2017
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Remote Monitoring Takes Hold in Oil & Gas

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Pioneer Energy Inc. provides a turnkey service that captures flared gases at the field site by way of a Mobile Alkane Gas Separator (MAGS) unit, separate from the well-drilling application.

By Grant Gerke, Contributing Editor

Digital transformation applications in 2017 are moving fast and taking diverse forms. Many industries, such as oil and gas and petrochemical, are quickly acting on better data-acquisition models so operators can move toward online condition-based monitoring for pumps and motors.

According to Brian Atkinson, a consultant with the Industry Solutions Group of Emerson Process Management (emersonprocess.com, Shakopee, MN), pumps account for an estimated 7% of maintenance costs of a plant or refinery. “While a pump failure in a refinery may only affect one part of a process,” he said, “pump failures in an oil field can shut down a well or pipeline,”

During the oil-market boon, operators took run-to-failure approaches with pumps and motors, and didn’t install cost-prohibitive wiring to monitor such units in the field. Wireless-network-standardization efforts over the last decade, however, have provided operators the ability to implement condition-monitoring strategies and avoid costly shutdowns that may seem necessary in lower-price markets.

As an example, Atkinson pointed to a white paper, titled, “Beyond Switches for Pump Monitoring,” from Emerson Automation Solutions. It details how oil and gas processing facilities can use cost-effective transmitters to provide continuous condition monitoring and a richer data set on in-the-field pumps. Among other things, it recognizes the American Petroleum Institute (API) Standard 682 that provides a roadmap for achieving continuous monitoring with IIoT-based solutions. This standard defines piping plans for pumps to assist processing facilities for the selection of the type of sensors and controls for pump auxiliary-seal flush systems.

The Internet of Things is changing the maintenance and reliability world. Keep up to date with our ongoing coverage of this exciting use of data and technology at maintenancetechnology.com/iot.

The Internet of Things is changing the maintenance and reliability world. Keep up to date with our ongoing coverage of this exciting use of data and technology here.

The white paper illustrates that traditional mechanical switches provide on/off data, while transmitters can communicate a broad range of measured variables and facilitate remote configuration, calibration, and diagnostics. With the transition to transmitters in the field, management can reduce field-maintenance service trips and reallocate those services to other resources.

A prime example of the process industry’s move to continuous, remote monitoring is Pioneer Energy’s captured gas-flaring application for remote shale fields. The Lakewood, CO-based corporation (pioneerenergy.com) provides a turnkey service that captures flared gases at the field site by way of a Mobile Alkane Gas Separator (MAGS) unit that’s separate from the well-drilling application.

Oil-and-gas-shale producers have usually thought of flared gas as a waste product. Remote monitoring, though, gives them the ability to resell or use it to power drilling operations wherever they may be. In Pioneer Energy’s case, that means being able to monitor the gas-separation unit in a central control room hundreds of miles away from well sites.

Pioneer Energy still provides technician services for minor maintenance of its remote MAGS units. According to the company, it uses Opto 22’s groov mobile monitoring to provide field technicians monitoring and control onsite through mobile devices.

“Our service technicians in the oilfield have 4G AT&T tablets that link to the groov server, which is connected to the OPC server,” said Andrew Young, lead controls engineer at Pioneer Energy Services. “They can see real-time operations as they’re enroute to a site to do a service call.”

Pioneer Energy’s gas-separator service is the embodiment of a new business outcome enabled by advanced sensor networks in a legacy environment. These types of small optimization strategies have begun to take hold in the oil and gas industry, and should be the rule instead of the exception going forward. MT

ggerke@maintenancetechnology.com

299

8:35 pm
June 15, 2017
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Glimpse The Future Of Predictive Maintenance

Critical-asset data can help identify failures before they occur to avoid downtime and protect the bottom line.

Catching problems in their earliest forms, no matter where in an operation they might arise, can help reduce downtime, costs, and risks.

Catching problems in their earliest forms, no matter where in an operation they might arise, can help reduce downtime, costs, and risks.

If you could see into the future, you would never miss a production target, endure a safety incident, or have a machine go down. Unfortunately, unless we somehow gain the power of clairvoyance, this fantasy will forever be out of our reach. While we may not be able to see into the future, we can predict it.

By adopting a predictive-maintenance (PdM) strategy, you can mine your critical-asset data and identify anomalies or deviations from their standard performance. Such insights can help you discover and proactively fix issues days, weeks, or even months before they lead to failures. This can help you avoid unplanned downtime, reduce industrial maintenance overspend, and mitigate safety and environmental risks.

The case for predictive maintenance

The sudden loss of a critical industrial asset can be devastating. It can result in unplanned stoppages and maintenance that eat away at your bottom line, while production remains at a standstill. This was the situation for one company operating an oil-sands mine in Canada. The company had to shut down the operation after detecting vibrations in an ore crusher, resulting in a weeks-long production stoppage that had been averaging more than 90,000 barrels/day. According to analysts, each week of downtime reduced quarterly production by about 1.5% and cash flow by about 1%.

Beyond the impact on production and profits, unexpected failures also can cause catastrophic events, such as explosions or chemical leaks, that threaten lives and the environment.

Many companies use robust industrial-maintenance programs and costly maintenance-service agreements to help avoid these issues. However, even the most comprehensive maintenance programs likely won’t eliminate all unplanned downtime. It can only take one failure to grind your operations to a halt for an extended period of time.

While technicians may not be able to actually ‘see’ into the future, smart technologies and advanced analytics can help them predict it.

While technicians may not be able to actually ‘see’ into the future, smart technologies and advanced analytics can help them predict it.

A smarter approach

Predictive maintenance delivers a more data-driven approach to industrial-maintenance programs. It uses predictive analytics and machine-learning algorithms, based on historical and real-time data, to identify specific issues on the horizon. Often these issues won’t show any physical signs of degradation—even a sharp human eye or an intuitive and well-trained maintenance technician wouldn’t be able to catch them.

In addition to helping prevent downtime, a PdM approach can better identify true maintenance needs. This can assist in making sure that you are targeting personnel depolyment, maintenance activities, and maintenance dollars where they are needed most.

Predictive maintenance can be especially useful in industries where the uptime of critical assets drives the bottom line. This includes large, heavy equipment in oil and gas, and mining operations, as well as critical machines in continuous-manufacturing operations.

A perfect example is a large, multistate compressor that experienced a bearing failure resulting in more than $3 million in maintenance and lost productivity. A postmortem on the incident, which involved reviewing 16 months of data, found that the bearing cooling system had not been operating correctly for six months.

Had this data been used as part of a PdM strategy, the company likely would have been able to identify the bearing degradation and its root cause before the failure actually happened. What’s more, the company would have been able to identify detailed preventive-maintenance steps for the cooling system.

Predictive maintenance also can be valuable in operations that experience high maintenance costs.

Often, companies can invest a lot of time and resources in maintenance but lack data to know whether their strategy is effective and addressing their actual needs. Predictive maintenance can help uncover unnecessary maintenance, which could save millions of dollars every year in some industries. This was another discovery in the compressor case. The company was performing certain maintenance activities that were unnecessary and could have been eliminated.

How it works

Predictive maintenance doesn’t require an extensive overhaul of your infrastructure. Rather, it can be deployed on your existing integrated-control and information infrastructure.

The process begins with discussions to identify what data you want to collect, what potential failures or other issues you want to predict, and what issues have arisen in the past. From there, the relevant historical data is collected from sensors, industrial assets, and fault logs.

Predictive-maintenance analytics software then examines the data to determine root causes and early-warning indicators from past downtime issues. Finally, the analytics software develops and deploys “agents” that monitor data traffic either locally or in the cloud.

Analytics software uses two types of agents. The first type is failure agents, which watch for patterns that are known to predict a future failure. If such patterns are detected, the agents alert plant personnel and deliver a prescribed solution.

The second type is anomaly agents, which watch normal operating patterns and look for changes, such as operating or environmental-condition changes. These agents also alert personnel of any detected changes so they can investigate and take corrective action if necessary.

Your crystal ball

Predictive technology has been around for decades. It’s used to detect credit-card fraud, fine-tune marketing programs, and even help us search the Internet. Its role in the industrial world takes the form of a rigorous documentation of events and failures that can help us see and address machine or equipment issues in their earliest forms.

Many manufacturers already see the value of historical failure reports as a tool to help prevent failures and downtime in the future. By using this data, which already exists in your assets, you too can reduce downtime surprises, cut down unnecessary maintenance, and potentially reduce risks in your operations. MT

Information for this article was provided by Doug Weber, engineering manager, and Phil Bush, remote monitoring and analytics product manager, Rockwell Automation, Milwaukee. For more information, visit rockwellautomation.com.

34

4:15 pm
May 15, 2017
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Remote Monitoring Empowers Solar Contractor

Solar-power systems that take the sting out of energy costs are effectively monitored with a state-of-the-art tool and cloud-based data system.

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The NuEra Energy Designs company in Newport Beach, CA, specializes in designing, installing, and monitoring solar-powered systems. Remote monitoring is handled by the Fluke 3540 FC monitor and Fluke Connect cloud-based data-analysis system.

NuEra Energy Designs is a Newport Beach, CA-based contracting firm that works with industrial and commercial businesses to improve their energy efficiency and to find ways to save money, typically by designing and installing solar systems and associated electrical equipment.

NuEra’s work starts with load studies and extensive evaluation of building-power systems and equipment. If appropriate, solar solutions and backup and demand-control systems are designed and built based on those studies.

A key selling point of NuEra services to customers is a welcome,  often near-immediate return on investment as a result of reduced energy bills, depreciation, and the potential to obtain energy and tax credits. In some cases, installation of solar systems and electrical upgrades delivers net revenue to clients who are then able to put power back into the energy grid.

Contractor, problem solver

Ken Dodds, the company owner and chief energy analyst, has established himself over the years as an electronics and electricity problem solver. He became a California-licensed contractor in the 1970s. His early projects were delivering power to remote ranches and other installations in the Mojave Desert, where it can be cost prohibitive to run conventional electrical lines. He has designed and built portable and off-grid solar systems to operate well pumps, power ranch homes, and illuminate street lights on remote military bases, complete with battery or multi-generator backup systems.

Though he started NuEra in Arizona more than six years ago, Dodds does the bulk of his business in California where the high cost of power helps makes solar systems a legitimate option for commercial customers. Add in energy savings through lighting, HVAC, and other electrical upgrades and the cost savings become substantial.

“One manufacturing-facility customer went from paying what would be $23,000 per year at today’s rates for energy (their old rate was a bit less), to getting $90 in return from the utility less than two years later,” Dodds stated.

The Fluke 3540 FC monitor provides real-time data capture.

The Fluke 3540 FC monitor provides real-time data capture.

Monitoring and documenting

To efficiently document studies and identify such savings, Dodds uses the Fluke 3540 FC three-phase power monitor (Fluke Corp., Everett, WA, fluke.com) to track three-phase systems at his client’s plants. The monitor takes power analysis and logging to a new level by putting the data stream onto data servers. Dodds is then able to remotely read and analyze these power measurements, depending on the configuration:

• current (A)
• voltage (V)
• frequency (Hz)
• power (W)
• apparent power (VA)
• non-active power (var)
• power factor (PF)
• total harmonic distortion voltage (%)
• total harmonic distortion current (%)
• harmonic content current (A).

The information is streamed from the Fluke 3540 FC to secure cloud servers where the measurements can be analyzed with the Fluke Connect mobile app or Fluke Condition Monitoring desktop software. Graphs show trends and fluctuations during the monitoring period. Dodds sets up alarms to indicate when the power is outside certain thresholds.

Monitoring the data gives Dodds a signature of the building, from the main feeders and on into critical pieces of equipment. “First, it lets us know where best to attack the building to make changes, or see if we can fix something upfront,” he said. “We look at kilowatts, we monitor the voltage, we look at use times. We can tell if the loading is off on different legs of the three phase, important because if it’s not uniform, you’re going to have issues.”

NuEra's Ken Dodds uses the Fluke 3540 FC three-phase power monitor to track three-phase systems at his client’s plants. The monitor sends the data stream to cloud-based servers for analysis.

NuEra’s Ken Dodds uses the Fluke 3540 FC three-phase power monitor to track three-phase systems at his client’s plants. The monitor sends the data stream to cloud-based servers for analysis.

Easily shared, reliable data

The data is useful to a wide range of workers. “The power-monitoring system not only educates our electricians to a problem,” Dodds stated. “If I’m worried about a motor or another big expensive piece of equipment, I can see trend graphs on what’s happening with the machine on my tablet or phone.”

Dodds connected a Fluke 3540 FC at one manufacturing plant recently so he could watch, in real time, the power going into the building, as well as the power going back to the grid from the solar system. “This is really valuable to me, especially for knowing what happened to the power I sent back to the utility. That is what they are paying my customer for so it’s verifying that,” he explained. “If my data shows I’m sending 15 kilowatts and the utility only shows 5 kilowatts, I can question that and we can figure what’s going on.”

Recently, the system allowed him to identify energy waste. “I discovered the other day a compressor was kicking on in the middle of the night. I called the building supervisor to see if anyone was working at that time. He said no, so we knew having the compressor on was a waste of money. You are paying for air to go leak around the plant. So these are some of the types of savings we find.”

The 3540 also provides power-factor data, a measure of real and apparent power, which can be a reason for the demand charges being high. “The convenience of monitoring energy consumption from anywhere is huge,” Dodds said. “I can use it in the car, when I’m on a roof or in the office or at the coffee shop or at home, wherever. My phone goes whoop whoop, when an alarm goes off. I check and I know what an asset is doing. It only takes a second to look at and read it. From anywhere, you can answer a text or send an e-mail. It’s exciting to see it develop.” MT

For more about the Fluke 3540 FC monitor, supporting software, and cloud-based data handling, visit fluke.com.

357

4:15 pm
April 13, 2017
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Reliability Changes Lives

Using skilled technicians and advanced technology, Eli Lilly and Company creates life-saving medicines and devices worldwide.

By Michelle Segrest, Contributing Editor

Throughout the halls of the Indianapolis Eli Lilly and Company facility, the corporation's brand is proudly displayed. All photos courtesy of Eli Lilly and Company.

Throughout the halls of the Indianapolis Eli Lilly and Company facility, the corporation’s brand is proudly displayed. All photos courtesy of Eli Lilly and Company.

At Eli Lilly, the motivation to improve production reliability is not just something that is tracked on graphs and charts for upper management to review. In fact, for maintenance and reliability engineer Carrie Krodel, it’s personal.

Krodel, who is responsible for maintenance strategies at the Eli Lilly Indianapolis facility’s division that handles Parenteral Device Assembly and Packaging (PDAP), has a family member who uses the company’s insulin. “I come to work every day to save his life,” she said. “Each and every one of us plays a part with reliability. Whether it’s the mechanics or the operators keeping the line running, the material movers supplying the lines with the products, or the people making the crucial quality checks, everyone is a part of it. And we all know that the work we are doing is changing lives.”

The Indianapolis site covers millions of square feet with nearly 600,000 assets that must be maintained. According to Rendela Wenzel, Eli Lilly’s global plant engineering, maintenance, and reliability champion, the company produces the medicine as well as the packaging for insulin pens, cancer treatments, and many other products and devices.

For the entire Eli Lilly team—which includes a group of about 80 engineers at the Indianapolis site—the responsibility is crucial. “If we mess up, someone gets hurt,” Wenzel said. “This is a big responsibility.”

However, it’s the human element of this responsibility that inspires an exceptional level of quality.

Team, tools, training

Screen Shot 2017-04-13 at 11.03.07 AMWayne Overbey, P.E., is the manager of the Maintenance-Manufacturing Engineering Services department. He said his team of seven maintenance technicians uses three primary technologies every day to keep the machines running—vibration analysis, oil analysis, and infrared technology. With a focus on condition-based monitoring, each team member has an area of responsibility to collect and analyze vibration data. In addition to the vibration data collector, each team member carries a small infrared camera to make heat-signature images used to diagnose and troubleshoot rotating-equipment problems.

The team also uses a digital microscope that can zoom to 3500X magnification. This helps them look closely at a bearing race, cage, and rolling elements and see what caused a failure, whether structural, corrosion-based, or failed lubrication. In addition, the group has an oil laboratory that can analyze oil and grease. 

The team performs more than 7,000 measurements on more than 4,000 rotating/reciprocating machines and performs vibration analysis on those machines monthly, Wenzel stated. The level of qualified individuals is high. “Anything that is process related, we have the equipment to look at it and analyze it,” she said. “We have people with ISO 18436-2 Cat 2 and Cat 3 verifications and even one expert with an ISO18436-2 Cat 4 certification, and there are fewer than 100 people globally with that level of certification. These guys are experienced, high-level certified professionals.”

The maintenance team increased its level of performance more than five years ago when it made the strategic decision to outsource the facilities (buildings and grounds) portion of maintenance. With about 220 maintenance professionals companywide at the Indianapolis facility, this allowed the team to focus more on production and analysis rather than the facilities, Overbey said.

The team has sophisticated data-collection routes set up as PMs and also focuses heavily on maintenance training.

“We have a difficult time finding people interested in maintenance,” Overbey said. “We have a strategic program to train people that takes 18 months to 2 years. When I was growing up, being an electrician or mechanic was a fine career, but now the attitude is that you have to have a college degree to be successful. Most of our crafts people here make more than the average liberal-arts major. As we cycle out the baby boomer work force, we need to find new talent and close the gap.”

Wenzel agreed that finding qualified crafts people has been a focus that has helped Eli Lilly in its drive for reliability.

“Wayne saw the need and developed an excellent program,” she said. “Management is supportive. He is training them and then sending them to get experience while they are going to school.”

The program is responsible for hiring 24 trainees, to date, and has been able to place 18 of them in full-time positions within Lilly maintenance groups. The remaining six trainees are still in the initial stage of the program. The training also uses basic maintenance programs provided by Motion Industries and Armstrong. Last year, there were more than 30 well-attended training classes focused on equipment used at Lilly. The company wants the training to be relevant to what the maintenance technicians perform on a daily basis.

“The whole condition-based platform makes us unique,” Wenzel said. “We have all the failure-analysis competencies. It’s a one-stop shop. We provide two-to-three day courses on condition-based technologies for crafts and engineers. The whole understanding, as far as what maintenance and reliability can do, is to increase wrench time and uptime. We are all seeing an uptake in technology.”

The Indianapolis Eli Lilly facility has more than 600,000 assets that must be maintained by its experienced engineering-services team.

The Indianapolis Eli Lilly facility has more than 600,000 assets that must be maintained by its experienced engineering-services team.

Best practices

Overbey stated that his main responsibility is to help the various site-maintenance groups improve uptime by using diagnostic tools to identify root causes of lingering problems. With a focus on training paying dividends, he said the high-quality people are what make the condition-based monitoring team successful.

The team works with the site-maintenance groups to reduce unexpected failures, so increased time can be focused on preventive maintenance. “We look at our asset-replacement value as a function of our total maintenance scheme,” Wenzel said. “We look at recapitalization and make sure we are reinvesting in our facility. We keep track of where we are with proactive maintenance. Those numbers are tracked facility to facility and then rolled into a global metric.”

Vibration analysis and using infrared technology has become a central part of the department’s reliability efforts.

“These guys have taken responsibility for the failure-analysis lab and taken it on as an added-value service,” Wenzel said. “For example, if there is a failed bearing, they take it out, cut it up, and provide a report that goes back to management. If we make a call that a piece of equipment has increased vibration levels and is on the path to failure, based on the vibration data collected, getting those bearings goes a long way in getting site buy-in when the actual bearing problem can be visually observed. Most individuals are skeptical when shown the vibration waveform (squiggly lines), seeing the bearing with the anomaly is the true test of obtaining their buy in.”

“We can compete with anyone in terms of oil analysis,” Wenzel added. “We can identify particles and have switched to synthetics. For example, when oil gets dirty, it becomes acidic. Something slightly acidic can be more harmful than something that is highly acidic because it will just continue to eat away at the material and cause significant damage before you can stop it. Something slightly acidic can really tear up bearings. The FluidScan 1100 can detect that.”

Screen Shot 2017-04-13 at 11.03.19 AM

More than 80% of the oil samples are now handled internally, Wenzel said. “As we are selling all of these capabilities to the PdM team around the world, we are starting to look at some of the potential issues at other facilities to provide extra analysis with this condition-based maintenance group,” she said. “We are sharing good ideas and processes across facilities. We now have a maintenance and reliability community.”

Eli Lilly employs Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) and the use of many chemicals requires a high level of cleanliness that is checked daily and regulated by government bodies.

Changeovers can often take weeks. “We check everything,” Wenzel said. “There is very involved and stringent criteria for how we clean a building. Regulations are a challenge, but they keep you on your toes. You don’t even notice it anymore because it becomes a part of what you do. It doesn’t faze the day-to-day thinking.”

The precision and accuracy of the facility's manufacturing equipment contributes to its product excellence.

The precision and accuracy of the facility’s manufacturing equipment contributes to its product excellence.

Operational excellence

Eli Lilly works with cross-functional teams in which maintenance, engineering, and operations are working on the overall process. Operations manager Jason Miller is responsible for running the process. Maintenance corrects the issues and performs preventive maintenance to get ahead of equipment failures and prevent unplanned downtime.

“Anytime we have an equipment failure we evaluate what happened and see what process we can put in place to get ahead of those things,” Miller said. “Line mechanics are on each shift and work with our line operators to understand and troubleshoot issues. We get ahead of issues to ensure [there is] no impact to the quality of our process.

With advanced robotics and a large amount of automation, monitoring performance and quality is key to successful operation and production, Miller stated. “Everything is captured, including downtime and rejects,” he explained. “We identify corrective actions at every morning meeting. We use the data on the line to drive improvement. The line is automated, but if there is a reject every 100 cycles, we need to take action. The robotics never stop. If you see overloads or rejects over time, this tells you about mechanical wear and other issues with the equipment. We drive data-driven decisions for maintenance.”

The preventive maintenance includes lubricating linear slides each month. When vibration is detected, adjustments are made immediately. “The machines tell us what’s going on. We just have to know how to read them,” Miller said. “We have manual and visual quality checks, but the machines also do quality checks. Reliability is critical because when patients are waiting on their medicine, the machines have to run the way they are supposed to run all the time. We have standards, and they have to be precise. This is medicine going into someone’s body. We are the last step of the process. It has to be packaged and labeled correctly, as well.”

Mike Campbell is the maintenance planner and scheduler for PDAP and has developed a system in which all preventive maintenance is performed during scheduled shutdowns.

“We develop a schedule with every piece of equipment and every scheduled PM associated with it,” Campbell said. “One line may have 50 to 60 PM work orders to perform during the week of the scheduled line shutdown. We bring in a lot of resources to do it all at once, typically requiring a day shift and a night shift.”

Advanced production technology is critical to the standard of reliability excellence.

Advanced production technology is critical to the standard of reliability excellence.

Changing lives with reliability

Wenzel said that looking at how each department interacts helps to put all the pieces of the reliability puzzle together. They have even received outside recognition of their practices in Indianapolis. In 2008, The Corporate Lubrication Technical Committee, of which Wenzel is the chair, won the ICML John Battle Award for machinery lubrication.

“It’s not only a cost piece, there is a whole asset-management piece and a whole people piece that we have to look at–not just the numbers, the metrics, the bars and charts–it’s the whole thing that makes a facility tick,” she explained. “Reliability isn’t just my job…it is everyone’s job. Every time I get into my car and turn the key, I expect it to come on. Every time I run that piece of equipment, I want it to perform the same way every time. That, to me, is reliability.”

Overbey said reliability is about being tried and true. “It’s predictable. It’s reliable every day. It’s the whole conglomeration of things that is very complicated, yet very simple. When all is said and done, reliability is a huge advantage for a company. You are only spending money when you need to. But it’s very difficult to get there.”

Wenzel said that consistency is a key to reaching reliability goals. Eli Lilly has global quality standards and good manufacturing practices that are applicable to each of the company’s sites across the world.

“Reliability means the equipment is ready each and every time it runs, and it should perform the same way each time,” Krodel said.

Doug Elam is Level 4 vibration certified, which is a rare level of qualification. He works on Overbey’s team and also tried to define reliability. “Reliability is an all-expansive subject that touches on different types of technology, the goal of which is to improve efficiency in machinery performance,” Elam said. “It requires an intense study of the background functions of the machines.”

Eli Lilly and Company uses robots on an assembly line to carefully package its products.

Eli Lilly and Company uses robots on an assembly line to carefully package its products.

Regardless of the definition, reliability for Eli Lilly always circles back to the human element.

“Patients come through and perhaps are on insulin or a certain pill, or a cancer treatment that has changed their lives,” Wenzel explained. “We listen to them, because it’s not just the medicine that matters, but the packaging and ease of use. It puts what we do in perspective. We take this feedback and incorporate it into our designs. It starts with an end user’s idea and need, goes to design, goes through production, then back to the end user. It’s like a circle of life.”

The research is carefully conducted with the end user always in mind.

“A lot of research is done to make the best fit for each subset of people,” Wenzel continued. “And at the end of the day you have a marketable product that you can be proud of. Being on both sides of the business, you understand why medicine is so costly. But when you find the one niche that helps cancer patients, or the kid who is near death, and then you can be a part of developing this medicine that completely changes his life, it just makes it all worthwhile.”

And yes, it’s personal.

“When you know people who use the products,” Wenzel said, “the work you do becomes a part of you.” MT

Michelle Segrest has been a professional journalist for 27 years. She specializes in the industrial processing industries and has toured manufacturing facilities in 40 cities in six countries on three continents. If your facility has an interesting maintenance and/or reliability story to tell, please contact her at michelle@navigatecontent.com.

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6:00 am
January 20, 2014
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The Manufacturing Connection: Converging Technologies Bring Manufacturing Teams Together

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By Gary Mintchell, Executive Director

I traveled for most of the last third of the year talking with industry executives, going to meetings and listening to presentations. One observation stands out: The coming convergence of functions within manufacturing and production.

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