November 23, 2005 A PRIMEDIA Property Vol. I No. 3

Differentiating Maintenance From Repair

Two Ways to Reduce Maintenance Costs

Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz

Reduce Downtime Through Communication

The Practical Implications of OSHA 1926.104

Replacing A Circuit Breaker

NEC on the Production Floor

Answers to Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz

About This Newsletter
This twice-a-month
e-newsletter is brought to you from the publisher of EC&M magazine.

MRO Insider addresses topics such as:

  • Working with management and supervision
  • National Electrical Code® on the production floor
  • Safety procedures and programs
  • Troubleshooting techniques
  • Equipment maintenance and testing tips
  • Managing motors and generators
  • Trends in training and education
  • Managing energy use

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    Differentiating Maintenance From Repair
    A misperception that works against a high ROI for maintenance is the failure to distinguish between maintenance and repair. If people are busy repairing things, that's not a sign you are fully using maintenance resources — it's a sign you are underutilizing them.

    The key is to identify those activities that reduce the likelihood of failures. Prioritize the planning and execution of those activities, and repairs will automatically drop in size and frequency — lowering cost relative to output at the same time.

    It may "look good" when a team restores operation in record time. But a wise manager will ask why that operation went down to begin with, and what you are doing to keep it from going down again. You should be asking those same questions.

    Two Ways to Reduce Maintenance Costs
    Create and maintain kits for specific equipment. "Kitting" eliminates wasted steps. While you may end up "carrying" some extra supplies, tools, and possibly test equipment, you will reduce the labor costs of working on certain equipment — especially key if this work requires downtime. A case in point: One factory had a stamping machine that required frequent maintenance attention. Without kitting, the maintenance techs made repeated trips to the shop for the same things they needed every time. Rather than pay them to walk back and forth, the smart approach is to keep a locker stocked at that stamping machine.

    Appoint experts. Give one person the responsibility to understand the ins and outs of a particularly important piece of equipment. This would be the "go-to" person who studies the manuals, goes to training, and contacts the manufacturer for updates and information. Give this person "ownership," and hold him or her accountable for knowing that equipment and watching or reviewing any work done on it. "The devil is in the details." When everyone is a generalist, nobody takes care of those details. This practice works best when you spread "ownership" around so everyone "owns" something. This practice is at its worst when one person "owns" all the critical equipment.

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    Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz
    1. If lights briefly flicker on a clear day, what should your follow-up action be?
    2. A 400A breaker trips, and you investigate. You find no ground fault, and you reset it. You use a recording meter and monitor that circuit. Later, the breaker trips on 200A. What should you do next?
    The answers to these questions appear at the end of this newsletter.

    Reduce Downtime Through Communication
    In most MRO environments, there's a gulf between operators and maintenance people. The reason often goes back to "blame game" politics at departmental meetings — nobody wants to be blamed for missing this week's numbers, so people avoid identifying any cause that could reflect back on their own department. This short-sighted attitude prevents those bad numbers from becoming good numbers.

    To correct this, clearly and consistently communicate that you need operators to describe events near the time of failure as accurately as possible or you can't prevent future failures. Most failures are due to human error, but human error is often preventable with changes to equipment and/or procedures. So operators need to understand that if they do something that causes a shutdown, you want to identify how to make their job easier and less prone to mistakes. Possible cures include:
    • Adding delays in controls (easily done in the PLC)
    • Reconfiguring man machine interfaces (MMI)
    • Clearing up signage (over time, signage tends to bloat)
    • Installing guards, moving switches, or similar
    • Changing the process
    • Replacing or modernizing equipment.
    But, you can't do any of these things until you know the real story. Gain operator confidence by backing your promises with action rather than blame. In so doing, you will eliminate previously "hidden" causes of failure.

    For Quick
    Motor Change-Outs

    Decontactors are a combination plug & receptacle and disconnect switch. They allow electrical equipment to be safely and easily disconnected and connected - up to 60 hp or 200A. Since there is no access to live parts workers can change out a motor without having to 'suit-up'. Inquire about our free trial program. Meltric Corporation, call 800-433-7642,

    The Practical Implications
    of OSHA 1926.104

    This regulation addresses safety belts, lifelines, and lanyards (SLL). In construction, the rules are well-understood -- but typically misunderstood in MRO. Falls consistently rank in the top three for causes of industrial deaths — attention to fall SLL is important.

    Some rules of thumb:
    • Don't re-use any SLL after a fall — take it out of service and replace it.
    • Inspect SLL before use — during a fall will be too late.
    • Secure lifelines above the point of operation, and to structural member or point of anchorage that can hold at least 5,400 pounds (OSHA's estimated equivalent force in a fall).
    • Never secure lifelines to any raceway, not even rigid conduit.

    Replacing A Circuit Breaker
    When a breaker fails inspection, consider replacing it. With the advances in breaker technology, breaker replacement offers many potential benefits. Consider new features that improve reliability, maintainability, and serviceability. And it's also possible your original breaker is no longer suitable for the load(s) on that circuit.

    Before specifying a replacement breaker, look closely at the load characteristics — which may have changed over time. You may need an entirely different breaker design, compared to what you were using. Assess the entire panel, if the breaker needs replacement due to age. Otherwise, you will get into a costly situation of "chasing your own tail" where increasing the risk of unplanned downtime.

    If you are replacing a service entrance panel, schedule a grounding system test for the same day as the shutdown for the replacement work.

    NEC on the Production Floor
    Many people skip over Article 100. Perhaps that's because the idea of reading "vocabulary words" isn't very exciting. But words convey meaning, and misunderstanding the meaning of certain words has gotten many people killed in this industry. One of the major misunderstandings is the idea that grounding (earthing) equipment and metallic objects provides equalization of potential. Bonding does this, but grounding does not.

    Take the time to read Article 100 definitions carefully. If you haven't clearly understood the definitions of grounding and bonding before, doing so now will shed some light on why your PLC has intermittent problems, you had a flashover, electronic power supplies mysteriously fail, or that water fountain shocks people who drink from it.

    Quiz Answers
    Answers to Electrical
    Troubleshooting Quiz

    1. The typical reaction is to assume a glitch in the utility supply. But the problem may be far more dangerous than that. The list of possible causes is long. To find the needle in the haystack, start at your power monitor (if you don't have a power monitor, this situation could make you wish you did). If you don't find an anomaly through your power monitor, inspect and test your lighting supply transformer. You may also have problems with insulation integrity, grounding, or bonding.
    2. Test that breaker. This may require removing the breaker. If you are unfamiliar with breaker testing, hire a NETA-certified testing firm to perform the testing. Before opening the breaker, isolate (lockout and tagout) each load on that breaker. Then, remove that breaker from service. Before closing the breaker, walk down the loads to ensure they are still isolated. Then, close the breaker to return it to service. Finally, bring each load back online one at a time. Don't operate a fully-loaded breaker -- the last thing you ever see might be a coworker wildly gesturing for you to stop.

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