How SAP Leonardo Can Help Utilities Build Smarter Grids

How SAP Leonardo Can Help Utilities Build Smarter Grids

How SAP Leonardo Can Help Utilities Build Smarter Grids 


SAP Leonardo is SAP’s digital transformation engine. It is design-thinking driven methodology coupled with the latest technologies driving new solutions built on the SAP Cloud Platform. It is designed for companies to rethink business processes, find more efficient ways of doing things, and seek undiscovered revenue streams. 

With sensor-based data, there is a wealth of ways that SAP Leonardo can be applied in Enterprise Asset Management. This is a first in a series of posts where we will examine by industry the types of use cases that SAP EAM customers can find with SAP Leonardo. This time around, we will be looking at how the Utilities sector can take advantage of the set of methodologies, technology, and solutions with a Smart Distribution Grid. 


Traditional Maintenance Strategies 

Many of our current electric distribution grids use decades-old substations and distribution lines. These outdated assets provide limited to no data, are to expensive to retrofit, and don’t provide an accurate view of network activities.  

To monitor these older assets, utilities have traditionally taken a condition-based maintenance (CBM) approach—meaning they wait for an issue to arise to apply a fix. This is certainly better than no solution, as it does provide a significant amount of data on the health of the asset. However, it can be inaccurate at times leading to false alarms. There also can be hidden costs in solution deployment. Finally, the data is largely unusable for advanced and predictive analytics, and the solutions are typically only monitoring sections of the circuit.  

While utilities have managed to run with these methodologies, they also leave them more susceptible to major events like equipment failure and inclement weather. Having a better view of the overall health of assets through data is the ideal state for optimizing their lifecycle and functionality. 


Enabling the Smart Distribution Grid with SAP Leonardo  


With a Smart Distribution Grid, which can be built with the help of the SAP Leonardo solution, smart sensors collect asset data which is then processed through a central asset data hub builton the SAP Cloud Platform. Using predictive algorithms, the data tells us when the assets need to be worked on. Then maintenance notifications are sent, and work orders are created through SAP’s digital core—meaning SAP S/4HANA.  

This is tremendously valuable. Predictive maintenance can reduce costs by 10 to 40 percent versus traditional CBM. Downtime is also reduced dramatically—50 percent, as we aren’t waiting for an asset to break down before fixing it. Overall, we expect this can reduce equipment and capital investment by 3 to 5 percent just by extending the life of current assets.  

Beyond the maintenance cost reduction, the Smart Distribution Grid can limit the need for physical bank inspection. That minimizes operations and maintenance efforts. On top of that, there is less necessity to retrofit all assets as with CBM, because sensors can be installed strategically. The smart sensors themselves are relatively easy to install, as they quickly clamp onto lines. That leads to a safer process for linemen. The smart sensors are also battery free, so they do not require reoccurring maintenance.  

On the IT side, there is no need for custom programming for each sensor—each can operate with the same code. The Big Data platform built on SAP Cloud Platform also enables theexploitation of existing CBM data with or separately from real-time sensor data using predictive algorithms.  

SAP Leonardo as the Driver 

Putting together a smart distribution grid can drive efficiency and cut down costs, but it does require new technology such as Big Data capabilities and predictive analytics. SAP Leonardo can be the driver to those new technologies, providing a methodology for implementing them as well as the technological platform to build solutions.  

At Vesta, we are an SAP Leonardo IoT accelerator partner with extensive experience in Utilities. Contact us to help make your gird smarter and your maintenance more efficient.  





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How SAP Leonardo Can Help Utilities Build Smarter Grids2019-01-11T15:12:05+00:00

SAP Leonardo for Discrete Manufacturing Looks to Bring New Options for Purchasing Major Assets

SAP Leonardo for Discrete Manufacturing Looks to Bring New Options for Purchasing Major Assets

Industries such as Utilities, Oil and Gas, and Rail rely on supply chains from discrete manufacturers to build or supply the parts to maintain key assets. Traditionally, those assets are highly capital-intensive, with large investments required in equipment in order to run a business. At Sapphire Now, SAP launched SAP Leonardo for Discrete Manufacturing, which seeks to have the same impact on the discrete manufacturing business as the cloud has had on enterprise software.

The “as-a-service” designation was largely popularized by “Software-as-a-Service” or SaaS—where software is purchased via subscription rather than a license. In SaaS, the infrastructure is offered via the public cloud, so the company doesn’t need to make the initial investment in physical assets such as servers. This has revolutionized the way enterprise software is purchased, particularly in line-of-business units.

SAP is hoping SAP Leonardo for Discrete Manufacturing can have the same impact on the buying and selling of industrial equipment that the cloud has had on software.

How SAP Leonardo for Discrete Manufacturing Works

The data collected from the Internet of Things (IoT), particularly sensor-based data on industrial equipment, has the potential for huge impact on not only the way companies maintain their assets, but operate their businesses in general.

SAP Leonardo for Discrete Manufacturing is an industry innovation kit that seeks to guide manufacturers toward a pay-for-outcome model—meaning a shift from selling major assets to providing them as-a-service.

One customer example SAP has often pointed to in this sector of a company in the air compressor industry. By using sensor data, that SAP customer changed its business model from selling air compressors to selling air-as-a-service. That means its customers only paid for the air they used, rather than buying and maintaining air compressors. The air compressor company had the best insight into keeping the compressors in working order, so it took that burden off the customer.

With this new SAP Leonardo innovation kit, SAP plans to help customers help calculate risk and identify strong potential customers through machine learning, asset intelligence, and predictive maintenance capabilities. The solution will use IoT data and other contextual business information to help determine project costs and revenue to ensure fair pricing and quotes.

Finding What’s Best for Manufacturers and Industries

At Vesta Partners, we specialize in the Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) space, so we have many of the same customers as discrete manufacturers in industries such as Rail, utilities, and oil and gas.

For our customers, if SAP Leonardo for Discrete Manufacturing does what it intends, then the purchase and maintenance of major assets may be greatly impacted—going from large capital investments to pay-per-use on industrial equipment.

However, what is important to remember here is that this SAP Leonardo solution is only designed to identify those discrete manufacturing customers that are the right fit for an as-a-service offering. It may be the case that a Rail or Utilities or Oil and Gas customer finds it more cost effective to continue purchasing, rather than subscribing to, equipment.

Other times, it may prove beneficial to pay for equipment as-a-service. If that’s the case, then that’s a good thing for all parties. The important thing to keep in mind for customers of discrete manufacturers is that these changes are coming, and technology like SAP Leonardo for Discrete Manufacturing is helping to usher in that new era.

Contact Vesta Partners to find out how SAP Leonardo fits into your EAM strategy.

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SAP Leonardo for Discrete Manufacturing Looks to Bring New Options for Purchasing Major Assets2018-07-10T19:03:03+00:00

VIDEO: New Vesta Europe President Achim Krüger on EAM’s Changing Landscape

VIDEO: New Vesta Europe President Achim Krüger on EAM’s Changing Landscape

Hear from new Vesta Europe President Achim Krüger on the changing technology in Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) and SAP solutions.

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VIDEO: New Vesta Europe President Achim Krüger on EAM’s Changing Landscape2018-06-28T18:13:48+00:00

Dr. Achim Krüger: Why I Am Joining Vesta Partners

Dr. Achim Krüger: Why I Am Joining Vesta Partners

I’ve spent 16 years at SAP, the last seven of which I was responsible for its global enterprise asset management (EAM) business. Throughout that time, I’ve most enjoyed helping customers get value out of their SAP investments. Now, to be in even more direct contact with customers and serve them even better, I am excited to join Vesta Partners as President of Vesta Europe.

achim krüger Europe EAM SAP

Dr. Achim Krüger, new Vesta Europe president.

First off, you may be asking, why Vesta specifically? Well, from my point of view Vesta is not your typical IT consulting firm—these people live and breathe EAM, and from leadership on down Vesta is stocked full of people with years of experience in asset management. This is not some big consulting firm that specializes in all and nothing at the same time—they are keyed in on EAM in a holistic way.

This experience and expertise is important as SAP EAM customers face a technology crossroads. With the rise of SAP S/4HANA, IoT and IT/OT convergence, GIS integration and SAP HANA Spatial, SAP Leonardo, and many other new topics, software roadmaps are getting more and more complex and dynamic. That’s why I want to take my experience from the SAP side and leverage that to help customers directly.

As President of Vesta Europe, I will certainly seek to grow our business in Europe—we currently have strong practices in Benelux and the UK. However, I will not be limited to European customers when it comes to imparting the knowledge I’ve gained over the past years in the EAM space—so my role will be global in that sense. I will be working with customers to capitalize on existing and emerging technology wherever I can.

It’s an important time for EAM, and I am thrilled to be in a role that will put me face-to-face with more customers as they embark on journeys to not only transform their technological landscapes, but their businesses as well.

This post was written by Achim Krüger, President of Vesta Europe.

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Dr. Achim Krüger: Why I Am Joining Vesta Partners2018-06-04T17:12:38+00:00

AI Overlords, or Assistants? SAP Bots are Here to Help

AI Overlords, or Assistants? SAP Bots are Here to Help

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning have a great deal of potential to change the way people work. Understandably, there is great concern about the robots stealing our jobs. However, one of the first real applications of AI is to help humans work better. We see glimpses of intelligent robots helping us all the time on commercial websites like Netflix and Amazon in the form of “if you liked this, you might like that.”

These recommendation engines are driven by machine learning and are very accurate (at least for me). Although the recommendations can be unsettlingly on point, they are a big improvement in the user experience by reminding us of things we are interested in that we may have forgotten about and keep us engaged on those sites.

An AI Conversation

It is not a big stretch to see how machine learning can be leveraged in enterprise user experiences as well. In fact, SAP Leonardo features conversational AI as a way of interacting with enterprise software through the natural language capabilities of SAP Leonardo Machine Learning Foundation. Based on this foundation, you can build your own digital assistant or bot that can assist with the completion of tasks. For example, a conversational interface that helps create a new maintenance notification where the system helps a person define and resolve the problem as illustrated below.

SAP chatbot maintenance, AI, artificial intelligence

Interacting with natural language in the form of voice or simple text commands is much easier for casual users and allows for a dramatic improvement in user satisfaction by providing individual and contextual communcication. To that end, SAP introduced CoPilot in the 1705 release of SAP S/4HANA Cloud and continues to invest in bot technology. In fact, SAP has recently purchased a French company called Recast.AI to further drive the development of conversational chatbots. Considering the benefits of AI-driven software in the workplace, instead of fearing our new robot overlords, maybe we can welcome a new and more human-centric way to interact with enterprise systems.

Post by: Rob Ericsson

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AI Overlords, or Assistants? SAP Bots are Here to Help2018-04-27T19:50:42+00:00

Better SAP EAM Through SAP Fiori and SAP S/4HANA

Better SAP EAM Through SAP Fiori and SAP S/4HANA

What’s the business case for SAP S/4HANA? That varies by company of course, but those with a vested interest in SAP Enterprise Asset Management (EAM), there are some clear benefits in making the leap from a legacy system to SAP’s latest ERP innovation.

From the user experience, to analytics and the ability to extend with SAP Cloud Platform, there are key differences in S/4HANA from its predecessors. There are challenges in moving to SAP S/4HANA, though. That’s why Martin Stenzig, Rizing CTO, took to the podium in front of a packed room at SAP-Centric EAM in Austin, Texas to discuss those key topics that SAP customers should keep in mind when considering the leap to S/4HANA.

Combining Mobility and Usability

EAM isn’t commonly something that happens on one laptop or in a single location. For many industries, maintenance is done by field employees, making the challenge of entering and accessing data a challenge—and one that requires mobile capabilities.

However, simply providing mobile capabilities to field maintenance workers does not guarantee adoption. Employees have to be encouraged to use mobile applications, and the best way to do that is by providing a simple user experience that makes work easier.

“The discussion is changing. It’s not anymore about mobility and usability—it is a combination of both,” says Stenzig.

For SAP customers, Stenzig points to the SAP Fiori user experience in SAP S/4HANA as way to take traditional SAP transactions that were tougher to access in SAP GUI and put them in a more user-friendly interface. Fiori is browser-based, which means it is can be accessed on many different operating systems, allowing a field employee conducting on a mobile phone or tablet to see the same screen as their colleague back in the office who may be scheduling the maintenance.

SAP itself point to the Fiori user experience as a key differentiator in asset management on S/4HANA versus asset management on legacy SAP ERP systems. However, Stenzig does warn that a key question to ask when considering Fiori Launchpad—it does require connectivity–as an access point for employees in the field is whether or not they will have access to WiFi or mobile internet.

Read more on how asset management differs in SAP S/4HANA.

SAP Cloud Platform Vision

An important piece of SAP’s plan for how customers deploy S/4HANA is utilizing the SAP Cloud Platform as a way to augment systems that would be considered vanilla by past SAP ERP standards.

“How SAP envisions SAP Cloud Platform is to keep core S/4HANA fairly static and with a sidecar approach transfer tables you need into the cloud,” says Stenzig. “If you want to build add-ons to SAP systems, do it out there (in SAP Cloud Platform).”

Stenzig explains while this strategy makes logical sense, it’s not necessarily easy to accomplish. It’s important to have a stakeholder drive the development on SAP Cloud Platform, because if so the time to innovate is reduced dramatically.

“If you don’t do anything with [SAP Cloud Platform] right now, that’s fine, but you need to get versed on it,” he adds.

Attend one of Vesta’s complimentary SAP Asset Management workshops.

The Basis Challenge

Stenzig said the biggest lesson that SAP EAM customers considering a transition to S/4HANA should consider is the importance of training SAP Basis teams for the move. Their tasks change with S/4HANA, going from not just working with the core SAP ERP system, but to previously optional components such as Enterprise Search. Basis teams must also consider working with SAP Fiori, which means different browsers and different security certificates. There’s also the integration with SAP Cloud Platform—these are all things that Basis teams need to know.

“The challenge we see is that Basis organizations simply aren’t trained—that’s not their fault, it’s normal while going to S/4HANA to underestimate that part,” says Stenzig. “Either contract somebody, train individual people, or make it part of the contract that you already have. As a partner, [Vesta Partners] is making it a contingency to make sure your Basis people can do what is required.”

Taking EAM ‘Out of the Stone Age’

Why make all this effort to move to S/4HANA? Well first, Vesta Partners EAM Codex can make the process easier and faster, but aside from that moving to S/4HANA is part of laying the technological footprint that can enable companies to take advantage of new technologies. That means SAP Leonardo and that entails—Internet of Things, blockchain, Big Data, advanced analytics and more.

“You want to get to the point where you can talk about predictive maintenance or digital twins, but you’ll never get out of the Stone Age until you change the foundation,” concludes Stenzig.

Learm more about building your S/4HANA and SAP Leonardo foundation with EAM Codex.

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Better SAP EAM Through SAP Fiori and SAP S/4HANA2018-04-19T23:13:33+00:00

Asset Management Differences in SAP S/4HANA vs. SAP ECC

The Difference Between Asset Maintenance in SAP S/4HANA vs. SAP ECC

SAP S/4HANA® is SAP’s next-generation ERP, but here’s a little secret: Transactions in legacy SAP ERPs—such as SAP ECC—can be just the same in S/4HANA. Does that mean running asset management with S/4HANA is the same as running it in SAP ECC? Not quite, and the fact that S/4HANA is optimized to run on the SAP HANA database is a key differentiator.

“I hear comments that S/4HANA asset maintenance is the same as ECC, but SAP HANA is why certain things are only possible in S/4HANA,” says Karsten Hauschild, Solution Manager at SAP, who spoke at the SAP-Centric EAM conference this week in Austin, Texas.

The SAP Fiori Impact

Hauschild points to S/4HANA’s user experience, which is driven by SAP Fiori applications such as Request Maintenance and SAP GEO Framework. The former drives maintenance request notifications, while the latter taps into SAP ESRI to run SAP plant maintenance transactions via maps.

“The user experience from a workflow/work order perspective is vastly different from SAP GUI (SAP’s transaction code-driven user interface),” says Hauschild. “That’s from feedback we’ve gotten from current customers—that SAP GUI is ugly.”

There’s also a S/4HANA-specific maintenance scheduling application which is meant to replace SAP Multi Resource Scheduling (MRS) for scheduling individual technicians.

HANA-Driven Intelligence

The case for an improved user experience is about expanding the number of employees that can access the data in the SAP system, Hauschild adds. SAP GUI screens that aren’t part of Fiori apps have also been updated to look more like Fiori.

Beyond an interface that is prettier to look at, S/4HANA is also utilizing its in-memory database to drive embedded analytics and what SAP calls “Enterprise Search”—a keyword-based search function. The embedded analytics provide visualizations directly on S/4HANA transaction screens, while also providing automatically calculated KPIS.

Enterprise Search allows users to find transactions and information within the SAP system regarding a term—rather than looking up by transaction codes or work order numbers.

The Same, But Different

As an example of the similarities between the two ERPs, Hauschild says all plant maintenance transactions that exist in ECC are in S/4HANA, and have been since its launch. Overall, an SAP customer moving to S/4HANA from ECC doesn’t have to change business processes, it’s just the way SAP supports those processes from a user experience and analytics point of view—with Fiori, embedded analytics and enterprise search—that is different, he explains.

Now, that doesn’t mean that it will be a guaranteed breeze for customers to move old transactions onto S/4HANA—that process can still be arduous. Fortunately, that’s where Vesta’s EAM Codex solution comes into play, to speed up that transition to modernized SAP enterprise asset management.

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Asset Management Differences in SAP S/4HANA vs. SAP ECC2018-04-19T23:10:34+00:00

Perception IS Reality – a Terry Wireman blog

Perception  IS Reality – a Terry Wireman blog

In his book “The Real Truth about Success” Garrison Wynn says this:

“You must be willing to get real about how you are viewed by others, accept how they see you, and get past how you want them to see you.  Perhaps some people can effectively change the way others perceive them, but it is much easier, much more realistic and effective, to understand how you are viewed and find a way to make it work for you.  We have to understand what other people see when they see us.”

So, that leads to the question, …

…“What does our company’s executive management see when they see us?”  Do they see a technical wizard?  Do they see a great engineer with marginal interpersonal skills but with no real business management vision?  Do they see a great financial manager, a person who always has all their budget numbers right on target with no interpersonal skills?

Have we ever thought about career paths for reliability/ maintenance managers?

How much does our executive management’s perception of us steer us toward a certain career path?

How often are reliability/ maintenance managers perceived as technical wizards and their career path is to the top level of their department and it is at a “dead end”.

Not that there is anything wrong with that from a career perspective – many individuals can have a financially and personally rewarding career in that position.  However, how often do we see a plant manager evolve from the reliability/ maintenance leadership position?  While it does occasionally happen, it is unusual to see.  Is perception reality for senior executives making these decisions?

What if we have a hybrid individual that has a degree in engineering, but never developed the interpersonal skill necessary to be a leader.  Does this perhaps lead the individual to a career path in engineering, becoming a great design or project engineer?  There is nothing wrong with setting that as a career path.  But again, how often do we see strong technical people chosen for a leadership role in the organization, when they don’t have strong leadership skills?  Is perception reality for senior executives making these decisions?

Finally – why are we discussing this subject?  For two reasons.  The first is many of our current reliability/ maintenance/ asset management leaders are nearing (if they are not there already) retirement age.  Who will (a) fill their current roles? And (b) move into leadership roles that are being created in other parts of the organization (operations, engineering, division or corporate level)?

Secondly, what about the asset manager’s role?  As more and more companies move toward ISO-55000 or an asset focus business strategy, who will take that leadership position in their organization?  Should it be accounting? Operations? Supply Chain? Or Reliability/ Maintenance?

Your company’s perception could soon become YOUR reality.

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Perception IS Reality – a Terry Wireman blog2017-01-25T13:29:18+00:00

A Business Case for SAP GIS Integration

A Business Case for SAP GIS Integration

The following is an excerpt from the “A Business Case for SAP GIS Integration” White Paper by Martin Stenzig:


“For the longest time GIS and SAP EAM were continents all onto themselves. Each contained many little countries but nobody from one continent would talk to anybody from the other, except for the occasional letter from an aunt. This is analogous to the way enterprise applications work in many organizations. While they are often viewed in a similar way, as large software applications, at best they perform different parts of similar tasks. More commonly they do different things, employ different practices, workflows and methods, communicate in different languages and utilize varying modes of governance. While the different continents analogy makes initial sense, when you dig into the capabilities and uses they look more like different planets.

Companies often use GIS and SAP for different purposes even if they are part of the same workflow. At its most basic level, GIS is used to add location to business processes. The majority of business data has a location component and GIS imbeds the “spatial factor” into operations. Companies employ GIS systems to map their assets, and it is the platform for querying infrastructure attributes. It is used as the foundation to build applications for regulatory compliance, integrity management or field activities like asset or environmental inspections. Having a geographic view of these processes makes the solutions significantly more effective. It is imbedded in complicated analyses like risk assessment or financial management because it is the “magic” ingredient that exposes critical, previously unseen, relationships. GIS is in emergency management and control rooms because geography turns complicated data into powerful, vital and quickly understood information. Implementations have proven that GIS improves an organization and makes it easier to operate effectively.

SAP on the other hand manages a separate yet linked series of vital functions. Companies implement SAP for enterprise resource management. It is a powerful solution and when an implementation is complete it can revolutionize almost every major process in an organization. It provides the consistency and captures the details critical to any organization’s business processes. SAP has the functionality to create and maintain an Asset Register which is used as the foundation for enterprise asset management. It defines the process and facilitates the purchasing of materials and then supports critical equipment traceability to eliminate potential disasters. It is the tool that integrates work management with finance and supply chain so that valuable financial decisions can be made and systems can be in continuous operation…”




Click here to read the full content of the “A Business Case for SAP GIS Integration” White Paper by Martin Stenzig.

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A Business Case for SAP GIS Integration2017-07-20T15:31:11+00:00

Zero Breakdowns – Step 1 Maintaining Basic Conditions

Zero Breakdowns – Step 1 Maintaining Basic Conditions

In my last blog, I raised the question about zero breakdowns and if it was possible to achieve that state of equipment reliability. This blog starts the first of five steps to achieving zero breakdowns. The first step is to maintain basic conditions. The three components to this step are:

  • Equipment cleaning
  • Tightening procedures
  • Lubrication

Equipment cleaning activities in many companies today are primarily motivational activities.  And while motivation is a good reason to clean equipment, there are also technical reasons to clean equipment.  For example, consider an electrical motor.  If electrical motor is allowed to become contaminated, the contamination acts as an insulator, interfering with the thermal transfer process or heat dissipation.  This results in excessive temperature rise of the motor.  As the temperature increases, the design life of the motor decreases.  One study showed that in some motors the useful life was reduced by ½ for every 10 degree C rise in operating temperature above the designed operating temperature.  This can be a self-destructive problem, since in some annealed copper wire; a 50 degree C temperature rise causes a 20% increase in resistance in the wiring.   This leads to even more heat, more resistance, more heat, until the motor fails.

Even if this does not result in an immediate failure of the motor, it may result in getting six months of life out of a motor, when it was designed to provide 6 to 10 years of life.  This means that unnecessary maintenance will be performed.

Also, consider that gear cases have a similar problem.  If gear case exteriors are allowed to become contaminated, the internal temperature of the gear case will rise.  As the temperature rises, the manufacturer’s suggested lubricant for the gear case is incorrect.  The higher temperatures will result in thinning viscosity of the lubricant, creating metal to metal contact between components in the gear case.  This will result in rapid wear, again shortening the life of the gear case.

As with the motor, the gear case and components will not fail immediately: however it may need to be replaced after two or three months of use, rather than seven or eight years of use.  This leads to excessive maintenance cost and lower availability of the equipment.

Hydraulic systems also have a problem with cleanliness and heat.  A hydraulic system is equipped with a reservoir that is designed to dissipate the heat in the hydraulic fluid as it returns to the tank.  This cooling function may be enhanced by coolers to lower the temperature of the fluid.  If the tank becomes dirty or the coolers become clogged and the temperature of fluid begins to rise.  Once it reaches about 140 degrees, the hydraulic fluid will begin rapid degradation.  Once study shows that the hydraulic fluid will oxidize twice as fast for every 20 degree F temperature rise above 130 degrees.  At 215 degrees F the oil life expectancy will drop to 3% of original design.

As the hydraulic oil reaches the end of its life, it loses its lubricating quality, allowing rapid wear of system components, such as pumps, valves and actuators.  This rapid wear produces particles and contaminants that will further damage the hydraulic system and degrade its performance.

Another problem related to overheated hydraulic fluids is inlet air leaks or cavitation.  As the air bubbles transfer from the suction side of the pump to the pressure side of the pump, the air bubbles implode, producing temperatures of up to 2100 degrees F.

Regardless of how the oil is overheated, it will take on a varnished and sticky quality.  The varnish particles travel downstream through the pump and other components such as control valves and actuators clogging lines and causing sticking valves that burnout solenoids and other components.  This results in the system failure and downtime or erratic operation and the related minor stoppages.

Tightening or torquing procedures.

When considering proper torquing procedures, one must first consider the proper tools.  In many organizations technicians are observed using crescent wrenches, channel locks, or other improper tools to tighten hex-headed fasteners.  The proper tool, of course is a torque wrench.  A torque wrench can measure the proper amount of torque applied to a fastener.  This is important, since all threaded fasteners are two inclined planes wedging against each other.  When a fastener has the proper amount of torque applied, it is distorted, locking the threads so they will not loosen.

If fasteners are not torqued sufficiently, the faster is not deformed, it will not lock, and eventually works loose, creating a vibration, wear, and ultimately failure.  Conversely, if a fastener is over tightened, it can exceed the elasticity of the fastener material, deforming the fastener so that is weakened.  Then the fastener, when re-tightened will loosen quickly or break.

Also, it is not just enough to understand the amount of torque to a size of fastener, the amount of torque is also determined by the grade of the fastener.  There are many grades of fasteners available and even in the same size; each requires a different amount of torque.

Consider how many failures at a plant or a facility have the root causes simply because a mechanical device was not fastened correctly.  The fasteners would begin to work lose, creating vibration, creating wear, which increases the vibration, which increases the wear, until a failure occurs.  This scenario is all too common in plants today.  What percent of all failures at a specific plant or facility could be eliminated by paying attention to proper fastening procedures?  One study in the petrochemical industry showed that 50% of all fastener failures occur due to improper assembly and incorrect torque.

Proper lubrication.

Proper lubrication would include the following items:

  1. the right lubricant
  2. the right quantity of lubricant
  3. the right application method
  4. the right frequency of application

The question might be asked, how often do individuals get all four of the requirements correctly performed?  Do some individuals use power grease guns to lubricate bearings and continue until the bearing is filled with grease is then forced out of the seals? Is completely full the correct level of lubricant for a pillow block bearing?  In reality, a pillow block bearing is designed to be filled only one-third full of oil or grease to allow for heat dissipation during operation.  So when the bearings are over lubricated, they over heat, and their life is shortened dramatically.

Lubrication also needs to be monitored for contamination.  Any solid contaminants in the lubricant will eventually come between the components in a drive and accelerate the wear on the components.

Water is also a contaminant, but it acts differently.  Water has no load carrying capability.  As water molecules move between the components of a drive, the fluid film barrier or is ruptured and metal to metal contact occurs.  This accelerates wear in the gear case or drive.  For example, water content does the following:

.03% water content reduces bearing life to 50% of L-10 rating

.2% water content reduces bearing life to 17% of L-10 rating

1% water content reduces bearing life to 6.3% of L-10 rating

2% water content reduces bearing life to 4% of L-10 rating

By these figures, it is quite easy to see the dramatic impact even the slightest water content has on the life of the lubricated components.

Mixing lubricants can also create problems.  Since different vendors use different additives to their lubricants, mixing incompatible lubricants will cause a chemical reaction.  This leads to the formation of acids, alkaloids, thinning viscosity, thickening viscosity, coagulation, etc.  It is important to always understand the interchange requirements and consequences of mixing lubricants.

So there it is- the first step to zero – How does it apply to your plant or facility?  If you were to perform a true root-cause analysis of all of your equipment failures, what percent of them would be related to cleanliness, fastening procedures, and lubrication?  What if your technicians suddenly started performing these tasks as described in this blog?  Would your failure rate drop?  By how much?  50%? 75%? More? Less?

The next blog will discuss step 2 on the journey to zero breakdowns.

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Zero Breakdowns – Step 1 Maintaining Basic Conditions2017-01-25T13:29:29+00:00
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