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March 12, 2007 A Penton Media Publication Vol. III No. 5

Procedure Reconciliation, Part Two

Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz

Repair Scripts: The Flowchart

NEC at the Facility

Unsafe Assumptions

Visit the EC&M E-Tradeshow and Learn About Claim Litigation

Answer to Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz

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    Procedure Reconciliation, Part Two
    In Part One, we looked at eliminating procedural inconsistencies inside the CMMS. Now we'll look at eliminating inconsistencies in procedures as they are practiced.

    Your first step is to use the CMMS to identify a high maintenance item. Then, see which three people do the most of that maintenance and consider them your subject matter experts. These two steps are all you'll use your CMMS for, here. This use of the CMMS allows you to focus your efforts where they'll do the most good.

    Your next step is to take notes on how each person does the maintenance. You want to come away with a series of numbered steps put in simple terms, to describe how each person does this job. The notes for one person might begin as follows:

    • Measure voltage.
    • Measure current.
    • Open disconnect.
    • Measure starter contact resistance.
    If the three people do things the same way, congratulations! If not, you'll need to reconcile the variances. Begin by compiling two lists:
    1. A list of steps that all three experts did.
    2. A list of steps that only one or two experts did.
    Now, call your experts together and try to get consensus on which steps from the second list should be added. Refer to specific information in the manufacturer's maintenance recommendations, during the discussion. Once you've added the "should add" steps to the first list, you have reconciled three different "as practiced" procedures.

    You can use a similar process to address the sequence. Why does Joe do X first and Louise do Y first? If the sequence doesn't matter technically, your personal preference is probably fine.

    The point of all this is to remove variances from procedures so that they are consistent and are performed consistently. If two approaches are equally valid, choose one and do it that way.

    Procedural inconsistency builds suboptimal performance into a system. Procedural consistency "designs out" suboptimal performance. Consistency doesn't mean you can't improve procedures later. In fact, improvement is more likely when everyone is working from the same page.

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    Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz
    A critical piece of equipment has gone down due to failure of the drive motor three times in the past year. The repair logs show the same problem, but time to repair was 3.7 hours, 2.2 hours, and 4.4 hours, respectively. It seems obvious that the first two repairs weren't done correctly, or the third would not have been needed. But is a fourth repair on the horizon?

    The answer to this question appears at the end of this newsletter.

    Repair Scripts: The Flowchart
    In our previous issue, we described how to create checklists that help a technician quickly check for likely failure causes. Another approach is the flowchart. Flowcharts can be wonderful troubleshooting aides, but there are two potential problems:

    • They can become so convoluted that people won't use them.
    • The development process can become overwhelming.
    The solution to both problems is the same: keep things simple. But how can you do that if the equipment itself is complex? Use the drilldown approach. Fortunately, the drilling down is already done for you. Develop flowcharts from the relevant electrical drawings, starting with the one-line.

    Basing the flowcharts on the drawings reduces the work involved in developing flowcharts, and produces flowcharts that are consistent in structure to existing information. Tip: If you note the relevant drawing number for a given decision or action bubble on the flowchart, you tie information together and make the job easier for the technician.

    But if you already have the drawings, why create additional documents? Wouldn't a flowchart be redundant? No. The flowchart focuses on the decisions you have to make and the steps you have to take. The drawing provides information that a person uses to develop a mental flowchart anyhow.

    When you use a drawing during troubleshooting, you are making yes/no decisions and then deciding what step to take next. Having this mental work already done will save time and reduce errors, especially during high-pressure downtime situations.

    A good flowchart is easy to follow and contains minimal text on the page. It works best when it serves as a quick visual guide. If you make it too comprehensive, it won't be useful. Don't try to flowchart the system for every possible problem. If your flowchart identifies the most likely problems, it serves its purpose.

    NEC at the Facility
    If you install a switch in a metal enclosure, you're supposed to "ground as specified in Article 250" [404.12]. If you're using nonmetallic enclosures with metal raceways or metal-armored cables, you must make provisions for "grounding continuity." However, driving a ground rod next to the enclosure would not be part of complying with 404.12. The key is "as specified in Article 250." In 404.12, the NEC means bonding (Article 250, Part V), not grounding. See Article 100 for the definitions.

    Unsafe Assumptions
    In our previous edition, we identified three unsafe assumptions. Here are two more:

    • "If something is grounded, it's safe to touch." This arises from the false perception that grounding puts everything at the same potential. Per NEC Article 100, "grounding" means making an earth connection and "bonding" means making a metallic path. The resistance of earth is too varied and too large to eliminate differences of potential. Bonding is the only way to accomplish this.
    • "If you're conducting thermography or just taking a few electrical measurements, then arc blast protection isn't necessary." This assumption implies that a blast-producing fault will somehow know what you're doing. The truth is an arc blast can strike at any time, no matter what you're doing. Protect yourself based on an arc blast analysis, not on a task analysis.

    Show & Events

    Visit the EC&M E-Tradeshow and Learn About Claim Litigation
    Don't miss the live conference Claim Litigation: Bolstering Your Case presented by John DeDad, senior director, editorial and EC&M development, scheduled for March 15th. Learn how to retrieve costs resulting from undesirable and/or unplanned working conditions that are beyond your control. Find out how to document various claim categories such as acceleration and resulting decreased productivity, additional engineering costs for change-order work, additional financing expenses, and joint occupancy with other work forces. Visit for information on accessing the EC&M e-Tradeshow, a virtual online exhibition and live conference center.

    Quiz Answers
    Answer to Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz This situation has "procedural inconsistency" written all over it. Other than the fact it took longer and presumably was more thorough, you have no assurance that the third repair was correct. People are not working from the same page. That is the problem you need to solve so that future repairs can be evaluated against actual performance.

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