Don't Play the Blame Game
NEC in the Facility
Mitigating Harmonics in Commercial
EC&M Code Change
Answer to Electrical
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MRO Insider addresses topics such
Working with management and supervision
National Electrical Code® on the production floor
Safety procedures and programs
Equipment maintenance and testing tips
Managing motors and generators
Trends in training and education
Managing energy use
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The designations "National Electrical Code” and “NEC” refer to the
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Don't Play the Blame
Do you suffer through an ongoing blame game between
maintenance and other departments, or do you enjoy the privilege of
working with people that don't play this game? Either way, the same
strategy for ending blame game behavior prevents it from ever getting
People who play the blame game often ask accusatory questions. Whose
fault is it that Line 3 went down and delayed a critical shipment? Who
is making us miss our numbers?
Non-blamers ask an entirely different set of questions. What must we
do to prevent another overtemperature on Line 3? What can we do to
reduce scrap on Line 2? The emphasis is on "we" and on solving specific
problems. Maintenance is an ally, not a target or scapegoat.
Customers don't care who gets blamed for a problem in your company.
They want quality goods that are delivered on time -- that's what
paid to get. So, what should you care about?
You can stop the blame game by motivating others to support the
maintenance effort. You don't have to wait for senior management to
introduce a new program of the month or to conduct a cheerleading
Start by being objective. For our purposes, this
When you are objective in these ways, others will support the
maintenance effort. They see that you share objectives, and that they
help themselves by helping you. Occasionally, you should remind them of
this -- objectively, of course.
- Identify clear objectives (desired outcomes), based on what your
internal customers need to get product out the door.
- State your objectives clearly and often.
- Focus your work on these objectives.
- Be rational and fact-driven (objective), rather than emotional and
This approach converts maintenance blamers into champions of
maintenance proposals and spending requests. Your new problem will be
one prioritizing the demands of your maintenance supporters -- a nice
problem to have.
The following tools will help get you started:
- Repair logs. These should include failure analysis and
summary. Stay factual (objective) and focused on the problem. Language
like "operator error" is counterproductive, because you're "blaming"
rather than "finding."
- Graphical representation. Track downtime causes in a
spreadsheet or in your CMMS. Record downtime by type, then graph the
five downtime causes. Sort by some important factor (e.g., revenue
so everyone can clearly see what needs attention.
- Solid recommendations. Base recommendations on
information, technical standards, and industry practices (all objective
sources). Ask managers of affected departments to point out what you
have overlooked due to not having their perspective and
Save on Registration for InfraMation
Register by September 30th for InfraMation, the world's
largest infrared camera applications conference, and receive 1 free
hotel night and a free guest pass. Hosted by FLIR, InfraMation will
happen on October 15-19, 2007 in Las Vegas. InfraMation features
sessions on condition monitoring and predictive and preventive
maintenance, as well as clinics on electrical applications. Visit www.inframation.org, or call
You're the chief electrician at a pickle plant, where
the Line 3 conveyor seems to fail as regular as clockwork. After
examining the repair logs, you see this is no exaggeration. The
-- a motor overload trip or a failed bearing in the gearbox --
consistently happen shortly after the start of the second shift.
From this limited information, can you determine a likely cause?
should you do next?
The answer to this question appears at the end of this
How many times have you done the same repair on the
equipment? Above, we talked about using repair logs to show others why
equipment fails as part of getting people behind the maintenance
However, you should also use these logs to analyze equipment history
patterns, because doing so reduces total repair time.
The following are two examples. The first is an example of failure
frequency, while the second is an example of dominant failure
Always document the apparent cause of any failure before
repairing it. This may not be the actual cause, but eventually a
will emerge. Where the equipment is critical or repairs are costly,
conduct a post failure analysis to determine the actual cause so you
- Example 1. The main drive motor on Extruder Four failed due
to voltage imbalance four times in the past six months.
- Example 2. Of the last 10 failures on Conveyor 3 so far this
year, seven were due to excessive loading.
NEC in the
When terminating a grounded conductor in a panel, use
only one conductor per terminal [408.41]. Yes, multiple conductors can
fit onto one terminal. Nevertheless, that doesn't mean they should.
Each terminal screw can generate sufficient clamping force for a
single termination lug. Exceeding this limit produces an unreliable
connection. Rather than build in failure, follow 408.41 to build in
Some terminals are rated for more than one conductor, but use them
only for parallel conductors.
As kids, we are taught that it's better to listen than
to talk. That's generally good advice, but it doesn't always apply to
safety. For example:
- Ask if in doubt. If something in a work procedure isn't
to you, don't guess. Ask someone who is authoritative. Seek a correct
answer, not an excuse for unsafe behavior.
- Report problems promptly. Report unsafe conditions to the
proper authority, without delay. This helps protect everyone. An
unreported safety hazard is unlikely to be fixed and recurrences are
unlikely to be prevented.
Show & Events
in Commercial Environments
This free live conference will be presented by John
DeDad, EC&M magazine, on August 16th at 10 a.m. Eastern and
Pacific times, in the EC&M e-Tradeshow. To gain access to the
event, go to www.ecmweb.com/etradeshow,
sign in or register as an attendee, and follow the signs to the
presentation room. And be sure to take a look at the On-Demand Theater,
where you can view past online conferences 24 hours a day, 7 days a
week, and 365 days a year.
Where do you turn when you need accurate information on
changes to the National Electrical Code? Acknowledged as the leaders in
providing information on the NEC, EC&M magazine and EC&M
Seminars have been the preferred sources of this information for more
than 60 years. Seven Code change conferences have been scheduled in the
fall of 2007. Host cities include: Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Orlando,
Philadelphia, St. Louis, and Seattle.
As an approved provider with the National Council of Examiners for
Engineering and Surveying (NCEES), through its Registered Continuing
Education provider Program (RCEPP), professional engineers attending
of our 2008 Code change conferences will receive Professional
Development Hours (PDHs), a requirement for re-licensing in many
The conferences are also approved by every state that has a continuing
education requirement for contractors and electricians.
For additional information on the dates and locations of these
Produced by the editors of EC&M
October 29-31, 2007 * Hilton Anatole* Dallas
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Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz
Repair logs don't need to be extensive to be useful, as
long as they are clear and factual. In this case, you have enough
information to identify a likely cause.
These failures only happen on the second shift. The fact that they
happen at the start of the shift indicates that operator does something
differently at the start of the shift.
For instance, perhaps the operator is energetic at the start of the
shift and wants to speed things along to make better numbers. So
of sliding the crates of finished pickle jars onto the conveyor, he
throws them on there. The momentary pressure jolt overloads the
Although this could be a power quality problem, it probably
will only appear to be a power quality problem. Discretely
observe the operator, and you'll know. You can use a power analyzer to
document the pressure shocks -- they will show up as current spikes
the motor supply.
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