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 These outdated assets provide limited to no data, are to expensive to retrofit, and don’t provide an accurate view of network activities.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

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

Understanding the “Impact” Cost of Reliability and Maintenance – A Terry Wireman Blog

 

Understanding the “Impact” Cost of Reliability and Maintenance

 

In previous blogs, I have discussed the cost of inefficient maintenance practices and the impact they have on a company’s expenses. In this blog, the focus will change from maintenance costs to what I refer to as “The Impact Cost of Reliability and Maintenance”.

When considering the impact costs, consider this scenario: A production plant in a sold out condition. Everything that can possibly be manufactured is being sold to customer. If a production line or critical piece of equipment fails (unreliability) during the production run, the production is halted until the equipment is repaired and returned to service (reactive maintenance).

What did the production disruption cost the company? Was it the total lost sales dollars or was it only the profit that was lost? First consider the difference between lost sales revenue and lost profits. Profit is usually calculated by taking total income (sales) and subtracting total expenses (salaries, energy, etc.) and what is left are the profits. If the production disruption reduces the total income by lowering the possible sales volume, then lost sales would have to be a factor in calculating the impact of the production disruption. This reduces the numerator in the impact calculation.

At the same time, the expenses may also be increased during the production disruption. There may be overtime for the maintenance technicians making the repair and there could be product loss in quality or quantity (particularly in a continuous process operation). These increased expenses impact the denominator in the impact calculation.

While this may seem simplistic, very few organizations consider all of the parameters when considering the cost of lost production. Visualizing the problem becomes more clouded when a plant is not in a sold out condition. Now the impact on lost sales revenue becomes a matter of debate among managers (especially financial managers). Can the lost production be made up and still meet the customer delivery in a timely manner? If the answer is “Yes”, then the sales volume may not be impacted. However, the profit component of the calculation will still be impacted, since expenses will be increased to make up the production. This is true since the equipment will now have to be operated when it was scheduled to be shut down. So there will be increased labor costs (usually at an overtime rate) and increased energy costs. There is a possible increase in raw material costs, since the supply chain demand will fluctuate. So again, the true profits of a company will be impacted negatively.

There is yet another scenario: What if the company has an extra line or excess capacity? Can the production crew be moved over to the spare line and run the product without any impact on profit? Possibly, but this line of reasoning leads to a much larger problem: A poor financial standing with investors. Why? Simply stated – profits are only part of the picture.

A higher level indicator used to evaluate companies today is Return on Invested Capital (ROIC). This indicator is utilized in Industry Weeks Best Plants program ROIC is – in its simplest form – the profits a company generates versus the invested capital that is being used to generate the profit. A quick analysis of this calculation would show that a company that uses fewer assets to produce the same profits as a competitor would be viewed as a better investment by Wall Street. So back to our position at the start of this blog – Would assets that are more reliable (higher output) and have a lower cost to maintain (lower life cycle cost) be more valuable to a company? The answer would clearly be “Yes”. The impact cost in the form of fewer assets and increased profits (ROIC) would make the company a much more attractive investment for the financial community.

How much of an impact does your reliability/ maintenance organization have on your company’s assets that are utilized produce its product? This is the TRUE impact cost that companies must focus on to maintain a competitive edge.

 

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Understanding the “Impact” Cost of Reliability and Maintenance – A Terry Wireman Blog2017-07-21T20:02:17+00:00

The Role of Maintenance in Asset Management – A Terry Wireman Blog

The Role of Maintenance in Asset Management – A Terry Wireman Blog

If your organization calculates return on fixed assets, you should be aware of the impact maintenance has on that indicator.

The investment a company makes in its assets often is measured against the profits the company generates. This measure is called return on fixed assets (ROFA). This indicator is often used in strategic planning when a company picks what facility to occupy or the plant in which to produce a product.

Asset management focuses on achieving the lowest total life-cycle cost to produce a product or provide a service. The goal is to have a higher ROFA than your competitor, so as to be the low-cost producer of a product or service. A company in this position attracts customers and ensures greater market share. Also, a higher ROFA will attract investors to a company, ensuring a sound financial base on which to build further business.

It is the responsibility of all departments or functions within a company to measure and control their costs, since they ultimately will impact the ROFA calculation. It is only when all departments or functions within a company work together that the maximum ROFA is achieved. However, it is beyond the scope of this article to deal with all those areas in detail. So, the maintenance function is the focus here.

Maintenance and Asset Management

In what ways does maintenance management impact the ROFA calculation? There are two indicators that may be used to show the impact:

Maintenance costs as a percentage of total process, production, or manufacturing costs. This indicator is an accurate measure for the costs of manufacturing and should be used as a total calculation, not a per-production-unit calculation. Maintenance will be a percentage of the cost to produce, but is generally fixed. This stability makes the indicator more accurate for the financial measure of maintenance, since it makes trending maintenance costs easier. If the maintenance cost percentage fluctuates, then the efficiency and effectiveness of maintenance should be examined to find the cause of the change.

Maintenance cost per square foot maintained. This indicator compares the maintenance costs to the total amount of floor space in a facility. This is an accurate measure for facilities because the cost is also usually stable. This indicator, too, is easy to use to trend any increases over time. If the percentage of maintenance costs fluctuates, then the efficiency and effectiveness of maintenance should be examined to find the cause of the change.

These two indicators show that traditional maintenance labor and material costs will have an impact on the ROFA. However, ensuring the equipment or assets are available can also have an impact. So, there are two main areas to examine: 1) maintenance costs and 2) equipment or facility availability.

Maintenance Costs–Labor

Maintenance productivity in most companies with reactive maintenance policies averages between 25% and 35%. These percentages translate into less than 3 hours per 8 hour shift of hands-on activities. Most of the lost maintenance productivity can be categorized into the following kinds of delays:

· Waiting for parts.

· Waiting for information, drawings, instructions, etc.

· Waiting for equipment to be shut down.

· Waiting for rental equipment.

· Waiting for other crafts to finish their part of the job.

· Running from emergency to emergency.

While 100% maintenance productivity is an unrealistic goal for any maintenance organization, 60% is achievable.

The productivity of maintenance technicians can be improved by concentrating on basic management techniques, such as:

· Planning jobs in advance.

· Scheduling jobs and coordinating schedules with operations or facilities.

· Arranging for parts to be ready.

· Coordinating the tools, rental equipment, etc. Reducing the emergency work to below 50% (measured by work orders).

With computer assistance, planning time per job is reduced, resulting in more planned and coordinated jobs. This results in more time for preventive maintenance activities, which in turn helps to reduce the amount of emergency and breakdown activities. The results are fewer schedule changes and increased productivity (by reducing travel and waiting times). Organizations that are successful in achieving good maintenance labor controls experience significant increases in labor productivity.

Maintenance Costs–Materials

Material costs are related to the frequency and size of the repairs made to the company’s assets. The sheer number of parts, in addition to stores policies, purchasing policies, and overall inventory management practices contribute to overall costs of maintenance materials. In some companies, little attention is paid to maintenance materials, and inventories may be higher than necessary by 20% or 30%. This increases inventory holding costs and makes materials unnecessarily expensive. Sometimes, the inability of stores to service the maintenance department’s needs results in “pirate” or “illegal” storage depots of “just-in-case” spares. This practice also drives up the cost of maintenance materials.

Good inventory controls enable companies to lower the value of the inventory and still maintain a service level of at least 95%. Such levels enable maintenance departments to be responsive to

the operations or facilities groups, while increasing their own personal productivity. Organizations that are successful in managing their maintenance inventories typically average 19% lower material costs and an overall 18% reduction in total inventory compared to companies that have not focused on this area.

Equipment or Facility Availability

Consideration of equipment or facility availability reveals the connection between asset management and maintenance management. Downtime cost for equipment may vary from several hundreds of dollars per hour to literally hundreds of thousands of dollars per hour. These costs are due to lost production from assets and/or lost or reduced efficiency (or occupancy) of a facility.

In some companies, levels of downtime run beyond 30%. Such levels result in lost sales opportunities and unnecessary expenditures for capital equipment. In general, the organization is in a weak competitive position.

By committing the organization to good maintenance policies and practices and using its computerized maintenance management system as a tracking tool, management can reduce equipment downtime. The result is more throughput, and more throughput enables the company to get more products or services from its assets, resulting in lower production costs and a higher ROFA.

Maintenance and ROFA

If asset management is a focus for your organization, it is possible for the maintenance function to contribute to overall plant profitability. While it takes cooperation and focus of all departments and functions within an organization to be successful, the maintenance department can have a dramatic positive impact on ROFA.

Since maintenance is typically viewed as an expense, any maintenance savings can be viewed as directly contributing to profits. By achieving maximum availability from equipment, a plant or facilities manager ensures that a company does not need to invest in excess assets to produce its products or provide its services. This result is a good indication that a company is truly managing its assets.

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The Role of Maintenance in Asset Management – A Terry Wireman Blog2017-06-28T20:00:36+00:00

Somewhere in Time – Part 2 – A Terry Wireman blog

Somewhere in Time – Part 2

In our last blog, we discussed the reasons for failures of CMMS/ EAM systems to produce the results for which they were purchased.  In this blog, I would like to take a different focus –The impact a CMMS/ EAM system has on Asset Management.  How are the two interrelated?  Consider (from the previous blog) the common reasons CMMS/ EAM systems fail:

  1. Lack of management support (55002 – 5.1)
  2. Lack of business processes to support the system (55002- 5.3)
  3. Insufficient implementation resources (55002 – 7.1)
  4. Insufficient staff to properly utilize the system (55002-7.5)

To understand how these four reasons impact asset management, we first need to understand why the EAM system is important to asset management. (For the sake of this blog, we will focus on physical assets.)  In the ISO-55000 document, section 2.4.1 mentions the need for analytical approaches across the life cycle of the asset.  The life cycle of an asset begins with the conception of the need for the asset through to the disposal of the asset.

The conception of the need for the asset implies that there is a business need and the purchase of the asset will add value to the organization.  It could be that there is a market demand for a product we are producing and our current asset base cannot meet the demand.  It could also be that the assets we current have are aging and are no longer capable of meeting the existing market demand.  A third reason may be that the business processes for the life cycle activities of the asset are inefficient and ineffective, resulting in excessive maintenance, repair and refurbishment expenditures.  (The ISO sections are mapped to this list)

For the sake of the brevity of this blog, let’s focus on the second item: the business processes for the life cycle activities of the asset are inefficient and ineffective, resulting in excessive maintenance, repair and refurbishment expenditures.  Various publications state that up to 95% of the life cycle costs of a physical asset are incurred in the operational and maintenance phase of a physical asset’s life cycle activities.  An organization’s failure to allow inefficient and ineffective operational and maintenance procedures to exist will have a negative impact on the value that the physical asset will provide the organization.   This indicates there is a significant financial impact that reliability/ maintenance policies and practices can have on the cost to manage an asset or asset portfolio.

Now continuing this line, what is likely to happen to the organization’s maintenance expenditures if there are poor business processes in place when a CMMS/EAM system is implemented?  Don’t these poor practices become “institutionalized” locking in higher than necessary maintenance and repair costs?  Consider the impact that a reactive reliability/ maintenance organization can have on maintenance and repair costs.

A reactive reliability/ maintenance organization will have a “hands-on” time of about 20%.  A proactive organization with good planning and scheduling processes may achieve 60%.  This basically triples the amount of reliability/ maintenance activities that they perform: ultimately lowering the reliability/ maintenance expenditures necessary for the asset to achieve the business goals it was purchased to achieve.

This is only one example of how CMMS/ EAM systems are needed to support Asset Management and how improper CMMS/ EAM system implementations can impact asset management. We could list many additional examples. However, if organizations don’t have CMMS/ EAM systems implemented correctly, delivering the data necessary to manage their assets, they will surely fail at asset management as they have at implementing and utilizing their CMMS/ EAM systems.  It is no wonder the failure to learn from past mistakes will continue to give managers a headache.

For additional information reference the IAM’s Subject Specific Guidelines (SSG) on asset information.  It can be found at: https://theiam.org/knowledge/iam-project-work/Subject-Specific-Guidelines

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Somewhere in Time – Part 2 – A Terry Wireman blog2017-01-25T13:29:18+00:00

Zero Breakdown Strategies – Step 5 – Preventing Human Error

Zero Breakdown Strategies – Step 5 – Preventing Human Error

Preventing human error will exist in at least two areas. The first to be considered is operations. If a piece of equipment is observed to be mis-operated, what really is the cause of the mis-operation?

* Is it a possibility that the operator was never trained correctly to operate the equipment?

* Isn’t it possible that the equipment was not designed for operability?

When these are observed, isn’t it possible to provide some form of interlock to prevent mis-operation?

The real cure to preventing mis-operation of the equipment is to develop standardized operating procedures and insure that all operators are trained to operate the equipment identically.

ISO-9000 standards require that the operators are to be trained to such a level that when they rotate from equipment to equipment, there is not the slightest variation in the quality of the product produced. If this was really accomplished in companies today, two things would occur. First, the operators would be so skilled that product quality would never be an issue (an ISO-9000 objective). Secondly, any equipment deterioration would be quickly identified and corrected before it reached the level where it would impact product quality (another ISO-9000 objective).

Unfortunately, there are very few structured operator training programs in industry today. Most are word of mouth, on-the-job training, or learn as you do programs. Structured operator training program with testing for skills proficiency would eliminate most of the operator errors in industry today.

What if the human error lies in the maintenance department? Then again, ask what caused the mistake? Isn’t possible that there are:

1. poor working conditions

2. poor tools and equipment

3. poor support structures

4. poor troubleshooting information and procedures

So when examining maintenance errors, consider the working conditions. It is usually hot, dirty, and dark when maintenance makes most repairs. Is it easy to make a mistake in these conditions? The answer, of course is “Yes”. So can the conditions be improved to make it easier to make repairs without making mistakes? The answer again is “Yes”!

Improving tools and equipment is important also. There are new technologies, new tools and new equipment that can help maintenance make repairs more accurately and quickly than the past. Are the maintenance departments using those tools at all plants and facilities? Definitely Not! In many plants and facilities, the attitude is negative about the maintenance function and subsequently they never get the tools and equipment necessary to achieve “World Class” levels of performance.

Consider also from a design perspective, are proper support structures such as auxiliary hoists and booms put in place when the equipment is installed? If so, this will make repairs much easier and quicker. In many plants and facilities, something must be rigged up each time the repairs to be made. This impacts the amount of time it takes to do the repair and increases the related downtime.

Consider to the age of the workforce. If the experienced individuals in the workforce work to leave, how would current workforce cope with that loss? Is it possible to develop troubleshooting flowcharts, and guides to help assist inexperienced individuals in troubleshooting, thus shortening repair times?

Artificial intelligence systems are currently being developed for maintenance. This may be the way of the future to help eliminate unnecessary equipment downtime.

All of these issues must be considered before automatically considering a particular problem is a design problem. In many cases companies will blame chronic equipment problems on the design engineer or the equipment manufacturer. Upon closer examination, it is found that in most cases the root cause of the problem is a maintenance or operational issue. It is key that these issues are addressed before attempting to redesign the equipment/ asset.

Consider in your plant or facility if all of the steps to zero breakdowns were the focus of improvement initiatives, what percent of all of your equipment failures would be eliminated? And how much time and resources would you have to focus on TRUE equipment/ asset problems? And:

What would your investment in a zero breakdown strategy improvement initiative actually be?

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Zero Breakdown Strategies – Step 5 – Preventing Human Error2017-01-25T13:29:27+00:00

Zero Breakdowns Strategies Step 4 – Improving Design Weaknesses

Zero Breakdowns Strategies – Step 4 – Improving Design Weaknesses

Design weaknesses can be improved in the equipment by strengthening the various parts to extend component life. This may take the form of some type of wear resistance, where a material is changed in a high wear area to a material that has a higher wear rating than the components around it.

Corrosion resistance may require the changing of material that is more corrosion resistant than the material around it to improve the process reliability. There may be occasions where stress in the design of the components is the issue and the design must be changed to minimize the existing stress and fatigue.

It may also be necessary to change materials and shapes of items so that they increase their reliability there may also be the need to improve assembly accuracy so equipment is assembled correctly. While all of these are great ideas to improve design weaknesses, there is one major problem with assuming a design weakness. How many people really know the true design life of basic components?

For example, what is the design life of a V-belt. In some companies V-belts are changed every three to six months, and this is a waste of manpower, spare parts, and equipment capacity. The true design life of a properly rated, properly installed, and properly maintained V-belt is three years of continuous operation or 24,000 hours. Yet, many companies change V-belts much more frequently.

However, this is not a design problem; it is usually an installation and maintenance problem. For example, how many companies really follow the proper design procedure outlined by the manufacturer when installing a V-belt? Usually it is a small minority. Installers may pry the belts on, run belts on, jog units to get belts on, but they do not follow proper procedures. They seldom check alignment, they seldom the check tension properly, or they seldom check for sheave wear. All of these can be root causes of major reductions in the belt life.

Another example is roller chain. The design life of roller chain properly installed properly rated and properly maintained is seven years. Roller chain installed improperly and not properly lubricated has an expected life of nine days. This is a tremendous difference in life expectancies. It is not a design problem, but more likely it is going to be a maintenance and installation problem. For example, some companies will continue to install a new roller chain over worn out sprockets. A chain and sprocket should be changed at the same time (a maximum of 3 replacement chains can be achieved). While this may seem excessive, it is the recommendation. (Just ask any motorcycle owner)

However, some companies may find that they can allow one sprocket to wear out 4 or 5 chains before changing the sprocket. In reality, it must be kept in mind, that when the chain is worn out, a similar amount of hardened material is worn from the sprocket. The tooth geometries changed as the chain the wears against them. Once the chain has worn, the tooth geometries are changed enough that it will increase the wear on the second chain, a corresponding increase will occur for the third chain, and the fourth chain, accelerating the wear until the chain fails very shortly after installation. It is only by understanding proper installation and maintenance practices around these components that design weaknesses can ever truly be identified.

Bearings are another example. How many bearings in a typical plant actually achieve the L-10 rating of the bearing? In most cases the bearings never achieve the design life, simply because they are mishandled installed incorrectly, or maintained incorrectly. One study showed that less than 5% of pump bearings in the petrochemical industry ever reach the L-10 rating. The actual rating is over 15 years, yet the majority of the bearings (95%) average just over a year of actual usage. Some companies changed bearings on a weekly or monthly basis and, when in reality they should be achieving years of use from the bearing.

Another study showed that just about 2/3rds of bearing failures are caused by user induced problems. These problems would include maintenance issues, operational issues, and construction/installation issues.

Best or Worst Practices?

In examining this ZBS step, it must be asked what atrocities do most employees commit against the basic components that prevent achieving design life?

For example, do you see plant technicians installing bearings with hammers? What impact does this have on the design life of the bearing?

Have technicians ever been observed welding on the same plane with bearings allowing the electric arc to pass through the bearing? This again, dramatically shortens the life of the bearing.

In the case of roller chain, repair sections are placed in chain or special links are put in chain. This introduces different forces in the chain drive that accelerate the wear. The chain will experience tight loads and light loads as the worn and new chain simultaneously operate. This creates tremendous wear on all affected components.

Summary

All of these issues must be considered before assuming a particular problem is a design problem with all components. In many cases companies will blame chronic equipment problems on the design engineer or the equipment manufacturer. Upon closer examination, it is found that in most cases, the root cause of the problem is a

maintenance or operational issue. These issues should be addressed first, then the true design error will be clearly identified. Then the design problems can be dealt with properly.

However, as a final note, do not assume that chronic equipment problems are always design issues. Most equipment problems are related to a basic root cause already mentioned in these blogs. If these issues are examined first, the solutions can be quickly implemented. This process will then make available resources to concentrate on solving what are really design problems.

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Zero Breakdowns Strategies Step 4 – Improving Design Weaknesses2017-01-25T13:29:28+00:00

Zero Breakdown Strategies Step 3 – Deterioration Prevention

Zero Breakdown Strategies Step 3 – Deterioration Prevention

In our last blog, we discussed operating standards which focused more on issues related to the operation of the equipment.  In this blog, we will discuss deterioration prevention which focuses on the equipment related maintenance issues.  Deterioration prevention covers areas such as establishing equipment base lines, standardizing repair policies and procedures, and standardization of spare parts.

Equipment restoration

Equipment restoration implies that equipment is to be maintained at a certain baseline level.  The equipment does always have to be in an as-new condition, but the baseline must be acceptable for achieving design capacity, quality, and reliability.  If the equipment is worn out, then predictive techniques such as vibration analysis cannot be used effectively.  Vibration analysis would try to read all sources of vibration, and if the equipment is in a worn out or substandard condition, there would be too many transient vibration signals for vibration analysis tools to be effective.  The same would hold true for other predictive techniques if the equipment is not kept at an acceptable baseline.  Once the equipment is at the specified baseline, then predictive monitoring techniques can be effective in finding and trending deterioration.  With this information actions can be taken and out of tolerance conditions corrected to keep the equipment at acceptable baseline.

Predictive and reliability tools

Once the equipment is at an acceptable baseline, then MTBF (Mean Time Between Failure) and MTTR (Mean Time To Repair) calculations can be used to track the equipment condition to insure that excessive breakdowns or long duration breakdowns are not occurring.  In addition, technologies such as vibration analysis, oil analysis, thermography, and ultrasound can be used to detect wear or deterioration and alert the maintenance workforce that a restoration process is required for the equipment.

Standardization of repair policies and procedures

Just as in the previous blog, operator variability will impact the reliability of the equipment, so too maintenance variability will impact equipment reliability.  Just as the operators may operate the equipment differently, two maintenance technicians may perform the same repair differently, with different results, and with perhaps mistakes being made. The solution to this problem is similar to the operations situation.  It is the proper training and development of standardized job plans for each of the major maintenance tasks.  This will insure that the equipment is rebuilt or repaired exactly the same way so that the proper reliability and utilization of the equipment can be achieved.

Standardized spare parts

In it is important that the inventory and purchasing personnel purchase OEM equivalent spare parts.  In many cases when maintenance specifies a spare part, the purchasing department, in an attempt to save money, will purchase a spare part that is not exactly as specified.  This creates problems with equipment reliability and may actually increase downtime.  If the component must be changed two or three times to save just a few dollars on the initial price of an item, this is a poor decision.  The related downtime and lost capacity will more than offset the small savings purchasing lowest cost spare parts generated.

A second area under spare parts is to look at how to insure that spare parts are purchased when needed and are not over purchased, so that the spare parts actually deteriorate while on the shelf.  Some companies will purchase MRO components in bulk and the shelf life expires before the stock can be used. In an attempt to prevent this occurring many companies develop good supplier relationships so that the parts can be delivered utilizing just in time processes.

Storage of spare parts

In many instances spare parts are stored incorrectly in maintenance storage areas.  For example, many bearings are unwrapped and left open on the shelf in storage.  Unwrapping a bearing actually begins its deterioration.  Bearings are extremely sensitive components and need to be protected while in storage.

Simply unwrapping a bearing and handling it with dry hands creates deterioration.  The PH balance in the human body is so acidic, it will actually begin to corrode a bearing if the steel is touched with dry hands during acquisition, storage or installation.  This corrosion leads to pitting, and interferes with proper shaft and housing fits and in some cases can actually deteriorate the raceway of the bearing.

Also V- belts are components that can be deteriorated quickly.  In many companies, V- belts tend to be stored at high elevations on pegs in the storage areas.  While this in itself is not incorrect, if the temperature reaches towards the higher level in the stores area, 120°F or above during the summer, this re-initializes the vulcanization process that was used to create the belts in the first place.  This temperature will over cure the compound of the V- belts rendering them white and brittle.  The belts must be stored at room temperature if they are to be protected in storage.

In some plants, major components of rotating equipment are setting motionless in storage.  While this is not bad itself, two of three ingredients required to destroy the equipment are present.  These are (1) a bearing not rotating, (2) mounted under load.  The third item that is needed to complete the destruction of the component is some form of external vibration.  If there is a punch press, overhead crane, forklift, or even sonic vibration, this will create microscopic motion in the bearing.  This rocking action in the bearing eventually will rupture the stationary fluid film barrier.  This results in metal to metal contact that destroys the bearing.  This is a condition known as a false brinnelling and is widely known about in the bearing industry.  Unfortunately, many companies do not understand this problem and henceforth some components are allowed to deteriorate and then when installed experience a very short life before failing.  The individual rebuilding the component is usually the one blamed, when actually the component was destroyed in storage.

Some companies also have “bone yards” where they store major spare parts and assemblies outside in the weather.  Then when the component is needed, they will go outside and dig it out of the field and install it and then wonder why it fails after a short time.  If components are stored outdoors, they must be protected.  This means they must be protected from condensation and moisture, heat, cold and etc.  Some companies will lose hundreds of thousands of dollars annually in component cost and unnecessary equipment downtime due to major spare parts deteriorating and as they sit out in the “Boneyard”.

Accessibility of equipment

In some cases, it may take longer to disassemble a piece of equipment to get at a worn component, that it does to actually change the component itself.  This has an impact on the meantime to repair calculation (MTTR), or simply put, the time it takes to repair a component when it fails.  Equipment should be designed or redesigned so that it is easily accessible for inspections, services, and minor adjustments.  If this is not done, it will result in unnecessary downtime, with the resulting lost capacity and the equipment may also provide substandard performance.

In this blog, we have discussed the third step to Zero Breakdowns –  deterioration prevention.  This step has focused on the equipment related maintenance issues.  In the next blog, we will discuss design deficiencies.  Unfortunately, a lack of understanding of the basics of component design is misunderstood, which leads to excessive costs for redesign.   Our next blog will highlight this problem.

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Zero Breakdown Strategies Step 3 – Deterioration Prevention2017-01-25T13:29:28+00:00

Understanding the “Impact” Cost of Reliability and Maintenance

Understanding the “Impact” Cost of Reliability and Maintenance

In previous blogs, I have discussed the cost of inefficient maintenance practices and the impact they have on a company’s expenses. In this blog, the focus will change from maintenance costs to what I refer to as “The Impact Cost of Reliability and Maintenance”.

When considering the impact costs, consider this scenario: A production plant in a sold out condition. Everything that can possibly be manufactured is being sold to customer.  If a production line or critical piece of equipment fails (unreliability) during the production run, the production is halted until the equipment is repaired and returned to service (reactive maintenance).

What did the production disruption cost the company? Was it the total lost sales dollars or was it only the profit that was lost?  First consider the difference between lost sales revenue and lost profits.  Profit is usually calculated by taking total income (sales) and subtracting total expenses (salaries, energy, etc.) and what is left are the profits.  If the production disruption reduces the total income by lowering the possible sales volume, then lost sales would have to be a factor in calculating the impact of the production disruption.  This reduces the numerator in the impact calculation.

At the same time, the expenses may also be increased during the production disruption. There may be overtime for the maintenance technicians making the repair and there could be product loss in quality or quantity (particularly in a continuous process operation).  These increased expenses impact the denominator in the impact calculation.

While this may seem simplistic, very few organizations consider all of the parameters when considering the cost of lost production. Visualizing the problem becomes more clouded when a plant is not in a sold out condition.  Now the impact on lost sales revenue becomes a matter of debate among managers (especially financial managers).  Can the lost production be made up and still meet the customer delivery in a timely manner?  If the answer is “Yes”, then the sales volume may not be impacted.  However, the profit component of the calculation will still be impacted, since expenses will be increased to make up the production.  This is true since the equipment will now have to be operated when it was scheduled to be shut down.  So there will be increased labor costs (usually at an overtime rate) and increased energy costs.  There is a possible increase in raw material costs, since the supply chain demand will fluctuate.  So again, the true profits of a company will be impacted negatively.

There is yet another scenario: What if the company has an extra line or excess capacity? Can the production crew be moved over to the spare line and run the product without any impact on profit?  Possibly, but this line of reasoning leads to a much larger problem: A poor financial standing with investors. Why?  Simply stated – profits are only part of the picture.

A higher level indicator used to evaluate companies today is Return on Invested Capital (ROIC). This indicator is utilized in Industry Weeks Best Plants program ROIC is – in its simplest form – the profits a company generates versus the invested capital that is being used to generate the profit.  A quick analysis of this calculation would show that a company that uses fewer assets to produce the same profits as a competitor would be viewed as a better investment by Wall Street.  So back to our position at the start of this blog – Would assets that are more reliable (higher output) and have a lower cost to maintain (lower life cycle cost) be more valuable to a company?  The answer would clearly be “Yes”.  The impact cost in the form of fewer assets and increased profits (ROIC) would make the company a much more attractive investment for the financial community.

How much of an impact does your reliability/ maintenance organization have on your company’s assets that are utilized produce its product? This is the TRUE impact cost that companies must focus on to maintain a competitive edge.

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Understanding the “Impact” Cost of Reliability and Maintenance2017-01-25T13:29:36+00:00

Maintenance is not Asset Management – Or is it? – Conclusion

Maintenance is not Asset Management – Or is it? – Conclusion

In the previous blog (Part 3 of this series) the design phase of an asset’s life cycle was discussed.  In this blog, we will finish the topic by considering the next two phases of the asset’s life.  These are the:

  1. The Project Phase
  2. The Operations and Maintenance Phase

In the project phase, the design is converted to a commissioned asset.  Based on the diagram in part 3 of this blog, this will involve the supplier selection and the project execution.  The company may purchase the new asset from a designated supplier or they may purchase all of the components to internally build the asset.  The purchasing of the asset is where the life cycle costs begin to escalate.

This is also the point where additional maintenance costs are decided.  If the asset is installed so that any maintenance tasks can be easily performed, the Mean Time To Repair (MTTR) will be minimized.  However, if the asset is installed in a manner that makes it difficult to perform even routine service on the equipment, the time to perform the maintenance activities will be unnecessarily inflated, which increases the life cycle costs.

For example, if an asset is installed too close to a wall or another asset, the clearances to access the serviceable components will be insufficient.  This may require additional disassembly of the asset or nearby structures to perform even routine maintenance.  This increase in required downtime to perform the task in addition to the increased maintenance labor that will be required can artificially inflate the design reliability and maintainability calculations.  This illustrates the need for careful consideration of the asset installation policies and procedures during the project execution phase of the asset’s life cycle.

This brings us to the commissioning phase of the life cycle.  During this phase there is the acceptance test of the asset and the handover of all related documentation.  The acceptance testing insures the asset will perform as designed.  So the design specifications should be reviewed and the asset should be able to demonstrate that it can perform, meeting those specifications.  In addition, suggested spare parts recommendations should also be reviewed and orders placed for sufficient stocking levels to allow the asset to be repaired in a timely manner, meeting the design MTTR.

An additional area to be reviewed is the suggested preventive maintenance tasks that are to be performed on the asset.  The time estimates (and frequencies) to perform the PM tasks will help determine the new staffing levels for the maintenance departments to insure the asset can be properly maintained, as specified in the design documentation.

Finally, the asset enters its operational and maintenance phase.  This is where up to 90% of the asset’s life cycle cost is incurred.  If the organization has carefully followed and documented the design and project phases of the asset’s life cycle, the life cycle costs can be properly controlled.  However, if the equipment is operated outside the design parameters or was installed incorrectly, the life cycle costs will be greatly increased, never allowing the asset to achieve the projected return on investment developed during the original business needs analysis (phase 1 of the asset’s life cycle).  This ultimately leads the organization to a non-competitive position when compared with another company that could properly manage the same assets.

So after several blogs on the topic “Maintenance is not Asset Management – Or is it?”, it can be seen that maintenance is not asset management.  However, competitive asset management could not exist without a maintenance organization that understands its role and performs to a “best in class” standard.  If a maintenance organization was not equipped to properly manage the 90% of an asset’s life that it controls, the projected design asset life cycle costs would be quickly exceeded.

Without a maintenance organization that delivers “best in class” service by being efficient and effective, no organization can properly manage their assets.  This level of service is achieved by doing the basics.  This includes:

Preventive maintenance

MRO stores and purchasing management

Work Order planning and scheduling

Utilization of a CMMS/ or EAM system

Predictive or condition monitoring techniques

Operation’s involvement in routine maintenance activities

When one examines all the services a maintenance department is required to provide, it is easy to see that we should re-word our question into a statement.  “Asset management cannot exist without maintenance and reliability management.”

Terry Wireman

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Maintenance is not Asset Management – Or is it? – Conclusion2017-01-25T13:29:37+00:00
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