Archive | Services


11:29 pm
June 28, 2016
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Analytics Drive Energy Costs Down

“Listen to your Machines and Find Real Savings with Energy Analytics” was one of the first presentations offered at the Siemens 2016 Automation Summit, held June 27 to 30 in Las Vegas. The core of Stephan Ihmels’ presentation was a case history involving a discrete-manufacturing facility in the Chicago area.

Ihmels is business-development manager, Plant Data Services, Siemens Industry Inc. Digital Factory division, Alpharetta, GA.

Management at the Chicago manufacturer was looking to reduce costs. Their goal was a 10% reduction in energy costs, while improving efficiency and productivity. They also wanted to realize a payback of less than 2 yr. and to be able to allocate energy use to different departments.

They decided to reach their goals by using the Siemens Energy Analytics Platinum package, a subscription software and analysis service that carried, for this application, a $3,000/month fee. The service offers custom online dashboards, analytics, and diagnostic support. The payoff is delivery of specific energy-reduction actions and implementation consulting and coaching from Siemens experts.

The system too some planning and setup, but it started making a difference the first month. An analysis of the manufacturer’s compressed-air system showed that 36% of the air consumption was caused by leaks (an ideal level is less than 10%). Tackling that problem resulted in a $16,900 savings the first year.

Electricity monitoring indicated that 14.4% of electricity was consumed during non-productive hours. Now that that is straightened out, they are realizing $45,000 in annual savings.

Overall, they had no problem reaching their 10% utility-reduction goal and have realized an annual energy savings of $70,000. Their ROI for the project was less than a year, way ahead of their 2-yr. goal.

When implementing a system such as this, Ihmel recommended that you focus your initial efforts on applications/processes where savings will be achieved quickly. Also, make full use of the extensive data and reporting generated by the system by making sure the web dashboard is viewed, shared, and analyzed by everyone involved, including management.–Gary L. Parr, editorial director

Learn more about the Siemens Energy Analytics service at


7:58 pm
January 12, 2016
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Maintenance in the Palm of Your Hand

An operator receives real-time troubleshooting information and is virtually able to repair the issue on the spot. Photos by Wunderlich-Malec

An operator receives real-time troubleshooting information and is virtually able to repair the issue on the spot. Photos by Wunderlich-Malec

VIP Services is a mobile app and maintenance tool designed to improve efficiency and increase productivity.

By Michelle Segrest, Contributing Editor

Four years ago, a longtime customer of Wunderlich-Malec (Minnetonka, MN) approached the engineering service provider about the possibility of a paperless solution for its maintenance operations.

“Our customer was faced with their labor force retiring and a high rate of attrition occurring at multiple sites,” said business unit manager Joel Gil. “The client wanted to have a means of digitizing their systems so that new employees could have information instantly and be able to support their maintenance needs.”

This customer’s concern is common across countless industrial markets. Because of global pressures, many industrial sectors were forced to downsize their engineering and maintenance workforce 15 years ago. Now this senior workforce is retiring. The tribal knowledge is escaping without a means of documenting or passing down.

Stop brain loss

VIP (Virtual Information Portal) Services is the gap-stop measure for what Gil calls “brain loss” in the industrial marketplace. The traditional way to look up information was using printed documentation or drawings. Today, advancements in electronic technology provide more accurate and relevant information.

The product is a configurable, user-friendly mobile app designed to deliver relevant data, documentation, and up-to-date information, all in the palm of one’s hand.

The automated-scanning process provides wireless connectivity to relevant, critical documentation to communicate information from the plant floor. VIP’s POI (point of interest) feature delivers relevant information to the location where it is critically needed to perform a task.

VIP Services addresses two major needs of most manufacturing and industrial facilities:

  • Reduce unscheduled downtime—Time is lost when technicians leave the work area to find resources, such as schematics, procedures, or other data needed to complete a task. VIP Services links all of the equipment to all of its relevant data and information resources. It provides specific and accurate information for the technician at the site of the equipment, which is where needed information is the most critical.
  • Improve decision-making communication—Communication about production downtime issues and their resolution using traditional channels (email or phone) is often unclear or delayed until the appropriate person can physically be onsite and ‘see’ the issue for themselves. VIP Services shows the problem, complete with all relevant process data and resources, to the subject-matter expert who can support the local technician with better communications for quick problem resolution.
Considerable information can be stored, transmitted, and analyzed without leaving the job site.

Considerable information can be stored, transmitted, and analyzed without leaving the job site.

How it works

VIP POI can turn any manufacturing floor into a data-rich environment. Each POI is read by a preconfigured tablet that displays relevant product or application information. Some of the features of the VIP Services product include:

  • VIP on Demand—This technology displays POIs as pdfs, drawings, manuals, URL links to web pages, and videos.
  • VIP Real Time—This feature displays live process data relating to the POI from the PLC or SCADA systems on the plant floor. The data points can be displayed numerically, as well as presented in trend, pie chart, or bar graphs. Operators experience greater efficiency because they have immediate access to information.
  • VIP Zip—This feature captures real-time snapshots or videos of a problem and transmits them by email. The pictures can be annotated to highlight relevant issues. Productivity is increased because decisions are based on more accurate and relevant information. Remote experts can review the video or annotated photos for troubleshooting support.

Maintenance streamlined

With VIP Zip, maintenance professionals can document a current downtime issue and immediately store the information for future use.

With VIP Zip, maintenance professionals can document a current downtime issue and immediately store the information for future use.

Gil cited a few examples of how VIP Services has helped companies improve productivity through this streamlined maintenance tool. “Most important, VIP Services saves time,” Gil said. “Having relevant information instantly in the palm of your hand gives the maintenance team the ability to get a system back on line without having to leave the site to collect the needed drawings for the problem.”

VIP Services can also contribute to cost savings. According to Gil, “With the help of VIP Zip, the maintenance team is able to document a current downtime issue. They are able to create a video, provide audio, apply annotation, and zip the file into an MP4 file. This file can then be emailed to a remote technician who can assist in the correction with greater success. Using VIP Services results in production resuming sooner, because the decisions being made are more accurate.”

Maintenance-team benefits

Among the many maintenance benefits, this tool offers quick value, low risk, low cost of entry, fast troubleshooting and repair, simplicity, low repair cost, and improved efficiency and productivity, Gil said. “VIP Services does not mandate that you rearrange data or existing information,” he said. “It only points at data within your existing islands of information.”

Those with less-intense/complicated applications or who simply want to test the waters can use VIP Lite, a quick-start version of the complete package that allows configuration of 25 POIs. VIP Lite includes VIP Zip snap capability using your own tablet. The system uses the current investment of maintenance tools and database systems and becomes the portal to this information.

Using VIP Real Time, a user can see what they need to get the job completed faster. There is no need for the technician to leave the work site. “Bottom line, this tool offers faster troubleshooting and repair, which saves time and money,” Gil said.

The VIP Services tool is simple to use because it uses common technology. No special skills or training are required. “The tool is very intuitive and can be used after a very short five-minute walk-through tutorial,” Gil said. “VIP Services is a tool that uses powerful technology that gives you info where and when you need it.”

VIP Zip eliminates the need to send experts to the job site. This tool offers superior communication capabilities when explaining issues on the factory floor. For more information, visit MT

Michelle Segrest has been a professional journalist for 25 years. She is co-owner of Business Discovery Services Group in Birmingham, AL, and spearheads the company’s Marketing Services division. She has worked as a journalist in the industrial processing industries for eight years.


3:42 pm
May 22, 2014
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Sonic Resonance Cleans Pipes and Process Equipment

AIMM 0522_homeAccording to AIMM Technologies (AIMM), its Hydrokinetics cleaning technology can clean what’s typically been considered “un-cleanable” interiors of piping, tubes, lines and process equipment in plastics, chemical, refining, offshore and other facilities. Based on the induction of “sonic resonance” into a cleaning water stream, Hydrokinetics has been shown to be capable of doing with a hydroblasting, lancing, drilling and baking acidizing can’t.

The sonic resonance travels through the water stream and safely transfers to both the tube and the fouling material. Because of the different compositions of the tube and the fouling material, they resonate at different frequencies, breaking the bond between them and allowing the fouling to be expelled easily and safely. Hydrokinetics uses less water than traditional clearing methods. For pyrophoric and chemical instability applications, it’s possible to use fluid media other than water. Because the equipment is compact, AIMM can quickly dispatch a unit and technician to sites anywhere in the world.



5:21 pm
May 13, 2014
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Conveyor Inspection Reduces Maintenance Costs, Improves Safety

Martin Engineering’s Walk the Belt Program provides regularly scheduled reviews of belts, cleaners, tracking, chutes, dust control and other components from experienced specialists with the training and expertise to maximize productivity and reduce downtime.

Walk the Belt Martin EngineeringFeaturing immediate transfer of data and photos to facility managers, the program establishes an evolving record of each belt for current analysis and future reference. By taking responsibility for routine maintenance and identifying potential issues before components fail, technicians assist customers in maintaining system performance and extending service life, while minimizing fugitive material and unplanned shutdowns.

According to this Neponset, IL-based company, every conveyor is different, even those in the same facility. Thus, within the scope of its “Walk the Belt Program,” it creates a specific inspection plan based on the design, capacity, throughput requirements and the desired level of fugitive material abatement.

How it works

Despite the program’s name, Martin Engineering’s technicians do far more than merely walk along the length of a customer’s belts. One of their inspection techniques is standing stationary at a number of points along each conveyor and watching one or more complete revolutions of the belt, noting its condition, tracking, carryback and other factors.

They take detailed notes, identifying trouble spots by component name and location as they are found, often logging data directly into a smart phone or tablet immediately at the site. Digital cameras and other devices allow the technicians to take photos, record video, make rough measurements and perform other tasks, then share a wealth of information with customer operations personnel for discussion and prioritizing.

Maintenance and repair tasks can be included in the program and performed routinely, or scheduled upon request. Martin Engineering professionals can also provide a comprehensive survey of the entire plant’s material-handling system, including measured levels of respirable and fugitive dust and spillage. This report delivers grid-based results, giving the client real information that can be used to prioritize needs and avoid misplaced spending.


Martin Engineering points to a number of benefits associated with this “Walk the Belt” program. Among them are reduced costs. For example, while conveyor owners typically perform service on their systems only when a component fails, it’s less expensive in the long run to incorporate continuous maintenance into a plant’s operational plan.

Enhanced worker safety is another important benefit. The company points to the significant risks that conveyor inspections and maintenance can pose to a plant’s in-house staff. Employees that may not be well-trained for such inspections and maintenance are brought into close proximity to moving belts, rolling components and pinch points, all in an environment that is commonly dirty, distracting and noisy.

Fugitive material management is a key element of the inspection program, and one of Martin Engineering’s specialties. As problems from the creation, accumulation or escape of dust are multiplied by the increased possibility of regulatory citations, fines and shutdowns, it’s imperative that plants prevent the escape of fugitive particles.

A key to minimizing the release of dust is the proper maintenance of components such as belt cleaners, transfer point seals, dust curtains, suppression systems and air cleaning equipment. Proper adjustment and timely service will minimize carryback and dust issues all along the conveyor.


3:22 pm
August 20, 2013
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For On The Floor: Repair Services — Room To Improve

rick carterBy Rick Carter, Executive Editor

Repair or replace? When the answer is “repair,” today’s maintenance pros usually know right away if the work can be done on-site with in-house staff or if an outside service contractor is needed. When contractors get the nod (as they increasingly do) maintenance teams like to think their equipment is in good hands. But is it? Sometimes yes, often no, say MT’s Reader Panelists, most of whom see room for improvement. 

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