Monday, January 28, 2013

Walk down: It's Not Just Exercise Any More

Running in soxs
Do you know how many assets you have to maintain? Do you know what equipment types they are? If you need a part do you know enough about the equipment to place the order without a trip to see it? Do you have a perfect General Ledger that does not list assets that no longer exist?
If you answered no to any of these questions then you may need to go on a walk down.
Walk down is the process step that starts the path toward more reliable assets. During the walk down you collect things like equipment name plate data, equipment type, components, configuration, parts, as well as other details required for a good maintenance plan.
The data collected during the walk down will be used to build things like:
The hierarchy of equipment
The predictive maintenance database
The Bill of Materials or BOM for each asset It will facilitate discussions during the equipment criticality step of the process. Specifically when we dive into the question of redundancies and use. It will also be used by planners when they plan and accountants when the account for the assets on the books.
With all of these uses it becomes clear that  it is worth the effort to collect equipment data. So how do we get started? The way I see it you have two options. The first and undoubtably the best is to dedicate teams to each area of he facility and provide them with a walk down tool or database to collect the data. If you use this methodology you get better results faster than the alternative, however it comes at a cost. But hey like they always say, there is good, fast and cheap but you can only pick two. The second option is to collect as you go with a data collection form assigned to each work order the first time it is issued against the system of assets in an area. The form is completed and collected for entry into the CMMS and other databases. In this approach you spread out and some what lower the cost but at the the sake of speed. In most organizations time is money and unreliability never takes a break so in the end the best way is to dedicate resources and build quickly and then update future field changes with the form. If you have questions about databases or how long it should take a team to collect the data then shoot me an email or give me a call and we can discuss you facility and our past experiences.
Are you happy with your criticality or do you need to go for a walk?

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Five Whys and Wishbone: Program and Training Sponsorship

Over the years I have seen many sponsors give great supporting speeches but I have also noted a few that failed miserably along the way. Lets learn from them. One in particular was the kick off of a new root cause analysis facilitators program in a facility with a history of " flavor of the month" programs and lack luster performance. The "leader" did not attend the workshop because he was "fully up to speed" but came in at the end to say how important this new initiative was to the facilities future. He opened his speech with how he had used "five whys and wishbone" to solve problems in the past and that it could be done with no additional resources so it was perfect for them. It went down hill from there. All I could think was "I guess you could use wishbones but how many turkeys would it take to get to the root causes." For those of you who have seen my root cause methodology you know we talk about five whys and fish bones as the simplest of tools that can be used to create a culture of root cause but certainty are not the tools of serious problem solvers like the reliability engineers this "sponsor" was speaking to. My point is if you want your initiative to have even half a chance of success then take some time to learn what they are about. Brush up on the details. Spend a few minutes with the instructor finding out what the key questions are that you need to ask to really lend you support to the program and drive results. Also take a few minutes to understand what the practitioners will need. 
Many leader spend the time and show their support by attending the full class and learning with their team but if this is not an option then many instructors offer executive half day overviews of the course that can be provided prior to the start of the full workshop. In these session they cover all of the basic requirements, key concepts, question that need to be asked to drive results, and key expectations the leader should have.
Happy Training 

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Is Criticality Critical? Question Answered.

I was completing a reliability assessment of a manufacturing facility this week and this question came up: Is criticality really worth the effort it takes to do it right?
We can talk about what good criticality looks like in a future post but today lets talk about all of the things asset criticality is used for.
Good asset criticality with a nice asset distribution is used to:
Remove the emotion from the work approval process by prioritizing the work off of business need.
Determine the level of planning required for the job.
Determine the level of equipment maintenance plan (EMP) the asset requires to meet the business need.
Determine need for reliability centered maintenance (RCM) to identify failure modes.
Can help to identify what areas of the facility that are critical to the process or business and may require adjustments in maintenance or operations staffing.
Determine materials stocking requirements from a spare parts standpoint. In general, critical equipment will have more critical parts.
Determine root cause analysis need as a part of the triggers contained in the RCA process.
I am sure there are other place that we use criticality but I just wanted to show why this is so important and why it is worth the time it takes to complete your criticality the right way.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Keeping Good Parts Good

When it comes to inventory availability, it’s important to have the right parts in like-new condition to best support maintenance operations. The standard used by many is the same method that the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM’s) and distributors use to store spare parts.
The location where some spare parts are stored is critical to meeting the “ready to use” requirement. Minimizing the effects of temperature and humidity is basic, but the protection of parts against the effects of handling during cycle counts and normal store room movements is also a contributor. When possible, it is favorable to have vendors keep the spare parts on their shelves and use a “Just In Time” delivery agreement for access. When not possible, precautions must be taken. Parts that are not in prime condition for use are just as detrimental as no parts at all.
Table 1 shows several types of parts kept in most warehouses or unit locations that need special attention and the category of environmental hazard for these parts.
ABB Fig 1

Electrical Parts.
For many electrical parts, particularly parts with circuit boards, the three main environmental hazards that need to be guarded against are temperature, humidity and Electro Static Discharge (ESD).
During the last twenty years, the nature of electronics used in running a manufacturing plant has changed through the use of more advanced computer controlled equipment.  This equipment relies on the use of printed circuit boards that require a low humidity environment with little fluctuation in temperature.  Changes in temperature and humidity can cause the micro connections between the components and the printed circuit board to separate or warp.  These components are also subject to short circuits from small amounts of voltage, the source of which can be as small as a micro-discharge from the person holding the part.  For this reason, these electronic parts must be kept in their special ESD packages, usually a black bag made of non-conductive material originally supplied by the manufacturer.  These parts can be so sensitive that even when ESD parts are removed from their special package, the handling person should be grounded using a specially designed ground strap to avoid ESD damage.
Figure 1 is a picture of a typical electrical assembly properly packaged in an ESD bag and enclosed in a custom fit foam container. All employees should be alerted to “black-bag” parts and the caution required to keep them functional.
ABB Fig2
Belts and Hoses.
Belts and hoses are subject to degradation over time from the affects of UV light, heat, cold and humidity.  Unfortunately, there are no black or silver EDC bags to alert users of belts and few plants accurately date or rotate belts and hoses when aging occurs. Since many of the hoses and belts kept in a store room are an insurance spare, these parts may not have a high turnover.  When possible, it is best to allow the part supplier to keep these in their environmentally controlled warehouse.  This will ensure fresh parts are available for use when needed.  If not possible to keep the parts at the distributors’ warehouse, belts and hoses should be stored in an environment that is air conditioned in the summer and heated in the winter and not in direct sunlight. The store room should apply First In, First Out (FIFO) stocking practices so that the oldest parts are used first. In extreme cases, a lifecycle approach may recommend discarding and replacing dated belts and hoses after x number of years. We also recommends the use of flat storage wherever possible and hanging storage only with appropriate fully supportive fixtures.
Figure 2 shows properly stored gaskets.
ABB Fig3

Electric Motors.
Electric motors offer another possibility for degradation due to humidity, temperature extremes and vibration.  All motors should be kept in the same low humidity and stable temperature environment as belts and hoses, but they also require regular shaft turning to avoid low spots on the armature and coils and damage to the bearings from false Brinelling.  Motor turning can be managed through the use of tags attached to each motor that show the last turn date similar to the inspection date on a fire extinguisher.  Electric motors with horsepower greater than 25 should be kept heated through the use of electric heaters. This will prevent shrinkage and expansion from the effects of cold and heat on any metal parts that have different coefficients of shrinkage during temperature fluctuations.
Figure 3 displays an electric motor stored in a low humidity, heated and cooled warehouse.  Note the numbers on the motor used to align and indicate position on the shaft key way after rotation.  The date and position of rotation is also noted on the blue tag affixed to the motor.  The motor is bolted to a wooden skid to lessen area vibrations and ease movement
ABB Fig4
It is important to recognize many of the parts kept in a maintenance store room can be subject to degradation and damage from the effects of the environment and improper handling or storage techniques.  Keeping unknown defective parts on the shelf for emergencies will compound a break down when the defective part is installed and subsequently removed/replaced because of improper storage.  Whenever possible, the use of the distributor’s stock should be used as this stock is turned over more frequently than the plants’ stores stock.  Typically, distributors and manufacturers are more likely to keep parts in their stores under tight environmental and handling controls.
If keeping parts on-site, keep them on-site correctly! Hidden damage is worse than known damage and will cost the site more in the log run.