Costs and Capabilities of Pneumatic, Electric Actuators

Pneumatic or electric? It’s not a new question. The merits of each have long been subject to discussion, but a fair amount of confusion continues to exist about which makes more sense for what.

For example, are you considering replacing a compressor and 200 pneumatic cylinders with electric actuators because you think you’ll save on compressor costs? Or, perhaps you are thinking about building a new machine with pneumatics because 30 electric actuators are far too expensive. Make the wrong decision in either case and you could waste tens of thousands of dollars a year. Continue reading

Unleash the Potential of Your Reliability Function

There is no doubt early reliability techniques evolved to strategically handle plant maintenance. Predicting failures in advance and allocating sufficient resources helped the industry mitigate the impact of unexpected failures and unplanned outages. The early techniques also prevented maintenance folks from patching up the failures and demanded detailed root cause studies so problems leading to failures are fixed once and for all. But after many years, the function of reliability is still so tightly married to maintenance that it is often perceived to be the only combination that can unlock all challenges related to an asset. But can maintenance alone handle all aspects of reliability throughout the lifecycle of an asset? What if the asset has inherent design flaws or inadequate commissioning procedures? What if it is being operated outside of its operating parameters? Such issues are related to engineering and operations, which are outside of the maintenance scope. Continue reading

10 Ways to Reduce Reactive Maintenance

For purposes of this article, reactive maintenance is any planned or unplanned work with a priority designation of emergency or urgent, therefore requiring immediate attention. Plus, there could be work of any priority that is “worked on” outside of the weekly schedule, which this author calls “self-inflicted reactive maintenance.”

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Maintenance is Really Not the Problem

In late May, Uptime Publisher Terrence O’Hanlon posted on LinkedIn that attendance at maintenance conferences has dropped significantly. Responses to his post offered plausible reasons, including budget constraints, lack of or recurring content, and total saturation. While these are no doubt contributors, there may be one more growing reason for this decline: more and more organizations are finally recognizing that maintenance is not the source of their competitive or financial problems. This article provides proof for why this reason may be on point.

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Power Station Maintenance: Which Strategy Is Best?

Lack of investment in maintenance could potentially have costly consequences. Besides safety risks, defects in power stations often result in cost-intensive remediation measures and temporary loss of power production. The ideal maintenance strategy is about applying the right measures at the right times. However, there are no silver bullets for power station maintenance.

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Using Performance and Development to Sustain Performance Improvements

The road to better manufacturing performance is littered with well-meaning improvement efforts that fall short. In some cases, initial progress fizzles out due to a lack of structure and incentives. In others, the workforce never embraces the desired change, viewing it as a top-down directive rather than an initiative they can truly own. Although executives often recognize emerging issues that impede improvement, developing and executing strategies that effectively address those issues have proved to be a recurring challenge.

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The Meaning of Bearing Life

How long will a bearing last? Standardized life equations help to answer.

Experience shows seemingly identical rolling bearings operated under identical conditions may not last the same amount of time. In most cases, it is impractical to test a statistically significant number of bearings, so engineers rely on standardized bearing-life calculations to select and size bearings for a particular application. These calculations continue to evolve and become more accurate over time, reflecting the collective experience of the bearing industry, including recent advances in manufacturing, tribology, materials, end-user condition monitoring, and computation. Continue reading

Systematizing Your Asset Management Operation

When it comes to asset management, most companies focus on maintenance, repair and operations (MRO). In theory, this makes sense. You would think that focusing on MRO would be the most effective way to improve equipment performance and reduce downtime. But in fact, it can compromise the effort. Too much focus on MRO prevents people from taking a step back and seeing the big picture. Continue reading