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It is surprising that most users of Condition Monitoring (CM) technologies do not keep their software and/or device firmware updated. Many reasons such as having to pay for updates and support may explain why this happens.
Some of the disadvantages of not keeping your software and firmware updated are:

  1. You will not receive critical bug fixes. This means living with an annoying problem that may be resolved by simply updating.
  2. You will not receive feature enhancements. Maybe some of the new features you have requested or new functionality that will allow improvements in job performance is easily available by updating.
  3. Most vendors do not keep older versions of their software and firmware operational for support. This makes customer support much more difficult for all involved.

Some companies,  like LUDECA, do not charge for support or update agreements on the products they provide. Therefore, it makes even more sense to keep your CM hardware and software updated. Make sure that you keep your contact information updated with your vendor as well. They will wish to notify you when updates are available and can’t if no primary contact information our outdated information is provided.
Latest firmware and software for your LUDECA products.

by Trent Phillips

Some of the best engineers start out as technicians,  operators and mechanics. The reasons should be obvious, but are not always understood.  These individuals know how to install, operate and maintain equipment. A good manager, engineer or Condition Monitoring (CM) Analyst should always seek the advice of equipment operators and maintenance employees. The value obtained from a simple conversation can be enormous. They can help with critical things that may otherwise have gone overlooked. This can help improve the design, installation, operation or maintenance of equipment.  The information they are capable of providing but isn’t being exploited may explain why routine reliability problems continue to occur. Never overlook the wealth of information that may be sitting next to you at lunch or working next to you each day!
Watch our Reliability Matters videos

by Trent Phillips

  1. It is impossible to implement good planning and scheduling methods
  2. Equipment failure is usually random and the root causes are very difficult to determine
  3. Higher level of equipment damage is experienced
  4. Higher equipment repair cost is experienced
  5. Higher spare parts inventory is required
  6. Greater maintenance staffing is required
  7. Higher overtime labor cost is experienced
  8. Higher machine downtime is experienced
  9. Higher risk to product quality
  10. Higher risk to human safety
  11. Higher environmental risk
  12. Lower production availability is experienced resulting in reduced capacity
  13. Lower profit is experienced
  14. Competitive advantages are lost

by Trent Phillips

UPTIME • December 2013/January 2014
AES Southland provides power to Southern California from a multitude of power resources. In 1998,  AES Southland acquired the Alamitos natural gas power plant from Southern California Edison. Since that time,  AES has undertaken a number of programs to modernize the generating station and improve the reliability of the Alamitos facility.
In 2010, AES Alamitos’ Units 3 & 4 boiler circulating pumps and Units 5 & 6 exciters were identified as having reliability issues. These machines were never equipped with vibration probes and only the metal temperatures of the exciter pedestal bearing and common lube oil drains were monitored by the control room recorders. Due to low cost of implementation and OMNITREND software compatibility, it was decided to purchase and install a VIBNODE monitoring system to improve the reliability of the AES Alamitos Units 3 & 4 boiler circulating pumps and the Units 5 & 6 exciters.
Download entire article RETROFIT MONITORING WITH BIG PAYOFF RESULTS by Jim Cerda and Greg Lee.

by Greg Lee

Do you know when your machinery will fail? The answer may surprise you:

  • 6% of machines fail during the infant mortality period (startup)
  • 11% of machine failures are due to age
  • 89% of machinery failures are random

[Source: United Airlines Study]
This means that your equipment is as likely to fail after a few months of operation as it is after longer periods of operation (many months,  years, etc.).
Machines usually give some type of indication before failing.  Condition Monitoring techniques like vibration analysis can help you become aware of the changes in machinery condition that lead to failure.  This knowledge will lead to benefits such as:

  • Reduction in machinery failures
  • Fewer catastrophic failures
  • Increased production
  • Better maintenance planning
  • Better maintenance scheduling
  • Greater control over spare parts
  • Reduced costs
  • Increased uptime
  • Increased equipment reliability
  • Increased equipment life
  • Improved profit
  • Reduced risk
  • Many more…

After this reading post, you now do not have to 89% of the time wonder what is going to happen next with the equipment in your facility.
 

by Trent Phillips

What are some of the common “Root Causes” of bearing failures?

  • Imbalance and misalignment account for a large percentage of premature bearing failures
  • Improper lubrication
  • Improper mounting methods (using a hammer,  etc.)
  • Improper application for the installed bearing
  • Manufacturing defects
  • Excessive vibration after installation
  • Excessive vibration before installation (during storage, transportation, etc.)
  • Exceeding normal bearing life expectancy

Download our Calculations of Bearing Defect Frequencies

by Trent Phillips

7 Abilities of Reliability

Good equipment reliability requires that several abilities be taken into consideration for success:
1. Design-Ability: Most equipment is designed with the focus of being “on-time” and “on-budget”,  but not to be reliable.  It is very difficult for your Maintenance Department to overcome poor equipment design.  Poor equipment design will create recurring issues that will require repeated maintenance over the life span of the equipment.
2. Install-Ability: Equipment that is not properly installed will continually require maintenance resources to keep it operational upon demand.  Additionally, large amounts of equipment defects are introduced during the installation process.
3. MaintainAbility: Maintainability is a characteristic of design and installation.  The machine should be designed and installed so that maintenance activities can be easily completed in a timely manner restoring the equipment to its normal operating state, safely and with a reliability focus.
4. MeasurAbility: Equipment design, installation, operation and maintenance must be measured.  All of the “abilities” should be designed and implemented in a way that allows performance and adherence to be measured.  Otherwise, continuous improvement will be very difficult.
5. UsAbility: The equipment should be designed with its intended users (operations and maintenance) in mind.  The equipment must be efficient to use, easy to learn to operate and maintain.
6. AccountAbility: Create reasonable expectations that challenge people, provide them the required means (tools, etc.) to do their job, offer support and hold them accountable for their efforts.  Do not be oppressive!  Be rewarding instead!  A management style that is oppressive and punishes people for mistakes will create a work force that hides things.  A management style that rewards people for their successes will produce an environment of employees that want to make continual improvements.
7. SustainAbility: Consideration and planning should be given to the long term implementation and sustainability of any reliability program.  This includes ensuring that funding, management support, training, resources, etc. are provided continually and not just for a few months, or the first year, etc.  A large percentage of reliability programs fail because they are not implemented in such a way as to make them sustainable over the longer term.
Condition Monitoring can help with these aspects of reliability.  Condition Monitoring can help identify design related issues, installation related issues, maintenance tasks that should be completed, identify where processes tend to fail (accountability), etc.
Watch our ReliAbilities video tutorial

by Trent Phillips

Often,  “plant floor” realities can create a problem when planning shutdowns,  because sometimes power transmission components like sprockets, idler rolls, sheaves, timing belt wheels, couplings etc. can’t be inspected properly without shutting down an entire process. In such cases there are times when a simple “visual” inspection would be enough to reveal the need to order a new part and have it ready. If this might be the case for you, take along a good strobe light, and if you can get close enough safely, “freeze” the coupling, sheave, sprocket or whatever the component, while in motion to get a good look at it. By carefully varying the strobe timing, you can cause a component that is spinning at 3600 RPM to rotate at any speed you like (say a half RPM) and inspect all of it—every tooth of the gear, every part of the belt or sheave. If flaws are obvious, you may have just saved your company some downtime, not to mention a potential catastrophic failure!
CAUTION! Remember that with strobe lights the eye is deceived into believing that something is not moving, or moving very slowly, when in fact it is moving very fast. Do not ever forget this and NEVER reach out to touch the part you are inspecting!

by Mike Fitch CRL

MAINTENANCE TECHNOLOGY • November 2013
Management’s decisions are major factors in the success of most efforts around a facility,  including the ensuring of equipment health and uptime. The wrong ones can erect obstacles. How does your management team stack up?
Management is responsible for ensuring that a facility performs in line with certain safety,  operational, maintenance, environmental, competitive and financial goals. Even on a good day, this can be daunting task. Every cost-effective resource available should be leveraged to achieve those goals. Condition monitoring (CM) is one such resource.   Management teams have, unfortunately, been known to make some mistakes when attempting to implement successful condition-monitoring programs. Understanding those mistakes is key to a site capturing the returns that it seeks from its CM efforts. Thus, it’s important to beware of the following situations.
Mistake #1: Failure to plan and execute correctly
Mistake #2: Failure to support adequate training
Mistake #3: Failure to use technology appropriately
Mistake #4: Failure to commit to full-time CM personnel
Mistake #5: Failure to create widespread awareness
Mistake #6: Failure to effectively integrate data
Mistake #7: Failure to create standards
Mistake #8: Failure to create sufficient collection schedules
Mistake #9: Failure to be proactive
Mistake #10: Failure to properly apply CM technologies
Read my entire article Condition-Monitoring: 10 Common Management Mistakes

by Trent Phillips

Vibration data collection on plant equipment can be very problematic due to safety concerns,  time constraints, access difficulties and other reasons.
Solution: The use of a termination switchbox and vibration sensors can allow an analyst to safely collect vibration data away from conditions that could complicate or event prevent manual readings from being taken due to safety concerns or other reasons. In addition, this can speed the data collection process and increase time efficiency within the Condition Monitoring (CM) program. A capable data collector such as the VibXpert II  allows a CM program to collect data remotely using methods like the one described above. This capability can greatly enhance safety and efficiency within your CM program.

by Mario Rostran CRL

When you are planning on attending a training course there are a few things you as a student should do. These could include some simple things such as:
1. When making hotel arrangements,  consult with the person/company providing the training and ask for a list of recommended hotels. They may negotiated special rates with certain hotels or they may know the hotels that are the most convenient to the location.
2. Always ask for and review the training agenda/syllabus.
3. Allow extra space in your luggage to carry back the training materials you will be given during class.
4. Ask questions during the course (there are no “dumb” questions). If you don’t understand something ask —there is always a first time to learn anything. Not understanding something and not asking hurts only you.
5. If possible use the software and/or instrument prior to the class as this can help you formulate productive questions and you will gain much more from the course.
6. Remember that if you’re not rested you will not get the full benefit of the course —do not let your night time enjoyment compromise your ability to focus on the training material each day.
7. If you’re unhappy with something in the class tell the instructor either during class or on a break. The instructor wants you to have a productive training experience.  The instructor cannot help you if you do not make your questions or concerns known.  Remember,  courses should be targeted to the average experience in the class and not for the most advanced participant or for the novice either.
Check to see if your equipment needs any calibration or repairs prior to attending the class.  Make arrangements to have these repairs or calibration completed while you are attending the training course.  This is the perfect time to have these types of things completed.
 
 

by Gary James CRL

UPTIME • October/November 2013
“Many different tools have been used over the years to detect changes in machinery condition. The human hand,  eye,  and ear have been the oldest tools used to detect conditional changes in machines. It is important to understand the value and limitations of our human senses.”
Most machines give some indication that a potential component failure is about to occur that will lead to a functional failure.  Our goal should be to identify, monitor and correct components that are failing before they create a functional failure that will prevent the machine from performing as intended.  Condition Monitoring is a primary tool used for this process.  For example, a bearing defect is an example of a potential failure.  The bearing would be monitored for degradation and replaced before it completely fails, preventing the machine from performing its intended function (functional failure.)
It could be argued that God created the first condition monitoring instrument when he created man.  Our main senses are touch, sound, sight, taste and smell.  Additionally, humans have other senses that can detect balance, heat, pain, etc.  All of these senses can provide very valuable data about the environment around us and the equipment we work with each day.  Therefore, the human being is the first CM instrument to be used—versatile in application and proven to be very a beneficial tool.
Download my entire article Moving Beyond our Human Senses

by Trent Phillips

A successful condition monitoring program is only as good as the database for it that is configured by the end user. A condition monitoring database should be treated as a living entity. The database can only grow and fulfill its main objective by constantly having information added to it to continuously strengthen the database.

Vibration Analysis Database

When creating a new condition monitoring database a lot of unknowns exist about the machinery. The most important piece of information that is vital in vibration analysis is the correct running speed of the machines that are designated for monitoring. Common unknown items might include bearing types and models,  number of vanes or impellers and gear ratios. Most of the equipment in your facility will need repair over the next few years. Once the machines have been repaired or internal parts replaced, these unknown items can be identified. It is important to notify the appropriate maintenance personnel to collect this information for you as the opportunity arises in future. Adding the identified items into the condition monitoring database allows for the vibration analysis to be performed with greater certainty.
Another vital item to add to and update in a condition monitoring database is machinery-specific alarms. Smart alarms have the ability to save you 50% of analysis time when analyzing vibration data. Do you need to look at every spectrum and waveform that is collected every month? With properly set alarms the problem machines can be found a lot more easily by the simple colors assigned when an alarm is triggered. Alarms can be set to automatically trigger when specific fault conditions develop.  With a few clicks of the mouse the machine and measurement that is in alarm can be viewed.   Of course, having the properly set alarm levels will be a benefit when looking for machines that have issues. Alarm levels can be obtained from many different sources, but the best alarms are the ones tailored for the specific machine that is being monitored. Alarms need to be tweaked on an annual basis so that a new adaptive alarm can be set for the machines. A four year old alarm setup on a machine before it was sent out for repair might not have the best current alarm settings needed for that machine.
LUDECA offers a service in which we can tune up your existing database. This can be done remotely or onsite. A database assessment is completed on your database to make certain proper data is being collected as well as tweak your current alarms as needed. Additional items are also updated and completed. If interested please contact us for more details.

by Mickey Harp CRL

Vibration Analysis TrainingWith Training funds being difficult to obtain these days it is critical that we do everything possible to have a satisfactory and productive training experience.  This includes evaluating whether it would be more cost effective to attend a training class off-site (such as at a vendor’s facility) or having the course conducted at your facility.  There are advantages and disadvantages to both. Typically,  if multiple personnel from your facility will be attending it could be more cost effective to have the course presented in-house at your facility.  This would eliminate travel costs, per diems, etc. for your personnel. If only one or two individuals are attending, then it might be more cost effective to attend the course off-site at the vendor’s training center.  Also, attending a course off-site may remove you from the internal distractions and interruptions that occur from being in the plant environment during the training course.  When you decide to attend a training course you have the right to expect that the course will be presented in a professional manner by an instructor who knows the material and subject matter.

by Gary James CRL

Most of us use the Internet to email our friends,  review sports scores, read the news, or entertain ourselves. Management usually frowns upon employees using the Internet during working hours, for valid reasons. Nevertheless, the Internet can be a valuable work tool and it is important that you and your management understand the ways in which the Internet can provide value to your work.
A vibration analyst can use the Internet to research important equipment information (bearing information, drawings, etc) that can greatly enhance their analysis efforts. The internet can be used to take a Condition Monitoring (CM) training course. For example, the analyst can use the Internet to take a vibration analysis certification course. This prevents the employee from having to travel, spend time away from their family and their job. This reduces employee stress and saves the employer money. A good technology provider can use the Internet to log into the computer remotely to help install software, provide training and troubleshoot problems. A good technology provider can supply remote analysis support through the Internet as well. This can save a lot of money, because the support can be instantaneous and the provider does not have to travel to your location.
The items described above and many more are now possible by utilizing the Internet as a tool.  It is very important that you and your management (especially your IT people) understand the value of full internet access for your CM team.

by Trent Phillips

Good condition monitoring software will have capabilities that allow importing of critical process data into the CM database.  Information such as temperatures,  pressures, equipment speed, etc., are very important to the vibration analyst or other CM analyst.  This information provides additional parameters to help the analyst understand and confirm the results uncovered during their analysis.

by Trent Phillips

AuditWe all become instantly nervous when we get some type of notification from the IRS. Are we about to be audited? This is almost never a pleasurable experience to be looked forward to.
A Condition Monitoring (CM) technology and methods audit,  on the other hand,  can be very valuable. Have you considered having an outside source audit your vibration analysis program or other CM technologies? Management is usually aware of the cost of having this done but not usually aware of the value it provides.
Having someone audit your vibration analysis program or other CM technology can save you multiples of its cost in return. If done correctly the audit process can be completed quickly and provide valuable results.  It can help you ensure that you are using your technologies to their fullest potential. It can be used as a training activity. You may not be aware of the analysis opportunities you have been missing and how the CM technology can be better applied to the specific needs of your facility.
Help management understand the value an audit could provide. You may be allowed to use this type of service to learn and move your vibration analysis program or CM technology to the next level. CM technology audits, unlike an audit form the IRS, can actually be quite pleasurable.
 

by Trent Phillips

Are others in your plant or corporation aware of the capabilities of the Condition Monitoring (CM) technology you utilize and all that you do with it? It is critical that management,  maintenance employees and production employees are aware of what you do and the value CM technologies provide. This will make them much more responsive to your needs and efforts and make your job much easier as a result.
Consider taking a maintenance or production employee along when you do data collection and show them how you use this information for analysis of equipment problems. Hold level of awareness meetings and invite plant management and employees to attend. This will allow you to expose them to the capabilities that you and the CM technologies offer. The goal is not to turn them into analysts, but to help them better understand the value in CM efforts.

by Trent Phillips

A plant that is unreliable cannot be safe.  As a plant becomes more reliable it becomes a safer working environment.  Safety incidents decrease,  because less work is required on the equipment,  less equipment failures occur which creates unsafe conditions, etc.  Reliability breeds safety!
How is your facility using reliability efforts such as Condition Monitoring to create a safer working environment? 
Have you had discussions with your Safety Department about the value that reliability efforts such as CM provide to the overall safety of your plant?
 

by Trent Phillips

Condition Monitoring (CM) tools have become smaller,  lighter,  faster and more sophisticated in recent years.  Functionality that once was limited to a computer in an office can now be easily done in the field with the right CM analysis tool.  It is now possible to do complete equipment analysis at the machine.  Modern Condition Monitoring tools have very sophisticated root cause analysis capabilities as well.  This is very important, because a condition monitoring program should go beyond the identification of potential failures in equipment like bearing issues, etc. that lead to functional failures and downtime.  A good condition monitoring program will include root cause activities which identify the reasons behind equipment issues (why the bearing, etc. developed an issue).  These activities will help your equipment reliability efforts move to the next level.
Is your facility simply identifying conditional changes in equipment for repair or working toward identifying the root causes of those conditional changes?
What processes are you using for root cause identification and analysis?

by Trent Phillips

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