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August 24, 2007 A Penton Media Publication Vol. III No. 16

Ask, Listen, Act

Avoiding "Too Much" Maintenance

Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz

Reduce Repair Pressure

NEC in the Facility

Safety During Unscheduled Repairs

Answer to Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz

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MRO Insider addresses topics such as:

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  • National Electrical Code® on the production floor
  • Safety procedures and programs
  • Troubleshooting techniques
  • Equipment maintenance and testing tips
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  • Managing energy use

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    Ask, Listen, Act
    Production people are your customers, and you are there to support production. Sometimes, however, your customers' attitudes can undermine that mission. You can perform your job better when production managers see maintenance as an asset, not a liability -- and see you as an ally, not a competitor. Are these the prevailing attitudes present in your facility? If not, your maintenance program is in trouble.

    In our previous issue, we discussed the blame game -- instead of fixing problems, people focus on shifting blame to someone else (e.g., you). This undermines the enterprise, not just the maintenance department. Being objective helps you end the blame game, but you have to go beyond that.

    If production managers are your advisors, you will make fewer mistakes and accomplish more. If they are your advocates, then your mistakes will be minimized rather than magnified, and your achievements will be magnified rather than minimized. Three simple acts will encourage this situation, while fostering the attitudes you need your customers to have:

    • Ask. What is important to production managers, and what are their priorities? Ask what problems should be addressed on specific lines or equipment, and ask for their thoughts on what should be done.
    • Listen. Focus on the person speaking to you. Listen without arguing or judging. This will help you understand the situation, and it will raise that person's perception of you and your department. You will gain more by listening than by "winning" an argument.
    • Act. Form maintenance plans around the priorities of production managers. Let people know what action you've taken based on their suggestions and why.

    Avoiding "Too Much" Maintenance
    Performing unnecessary maintenance consumes resources you should use to reduce the highest cost downtime. To get started on addressing this complex issue:
    • Compare maintenance tasks and frequency to the manufacturers' recommendations. Examine the reasons for any differences.
    • For non-critical equipment, schedule PM based on measurements vs. tolerances. For example, if your quarterly measurements in a given PM procedure are off by only 30% of tolerance, change the frequency to semi-annual.
    • For critical equipment, analyze risky procedures (for example, those likely to produce errors or failures) and those that require shutdown. Develop ways to eliminate them or reduce their frequency.


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    Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz
    Investigating a motor overcurrent trip, you find water inside the weatherhead. During your PM work, you've noticed weatherhead gaskets tend to be brittle. Some even have chunks missing. How can you solve this problem?

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

    Reduce Repair Pressure
    The sheer pressure of the ticking downtime clock reduces repair effectiveness -- mostly due to shortcuts and human error. People under this pressure are less likely to clean equipment thoroughly, align parts precisely, recheck work, or prevent contamination. The result is built-in "re-failure," rather than true repair.

    Only the bravest (or most foolish) technician will tell a distressed production manager, "I'm going to leave you down for an extra 30 minutes so I can do this repair more precisely while your people stand around doing nothing." That half hour could prevent many hours of future downtime, but when product isn't moving out the door production managers are in high stress mode until it's moving again.

    Follow these three tips to reduce pressure inside the repair bottle:

    1. Use "quick-swap" assemblies. Years ago, an electronics tech would solder individual components off and onto circuit boards. So, why is it standard practice today to replace the entire board? Because doing so quickly restores functionality to the system. Slip out the old board, slip in the new one. To apply this principle to critical equipment, identify repairs that involve time-consuming or error-prone component installation and keep a "ready-to-go" subassembly as a spare.
    2. Use kitting. Do your repair crews run back and forth for spare parts, drawings, test equipment, or tools while equipment is down? Create repair kits for your most critical equipment, and locate them near the equipment in a dedicated locker.
    3. Hold drills. Soldiers practice fighting before being deployed to the battlefield. Using mockups, practice specific repair jobs. This way, repair techs aren't learning during downtime. They are "battle ready" when they arrive.

    NEC in the Facility
    Some equipment manuals for industrial control systems require that an individual ground rod be driven for that system. In some cases, power distribution panels will be "isolated" from control module panels. None of this makes sense in light of Ohm's Law, Kirchoff's Law, or the IEEE Green Book (IEEE-142).

    Moreover, such an installation violates 409.60. You must bond multisection industrial control panels together with an equipment grounding conductor (EGC). The EGC is actually a bonding conductor. The EGC must terminate to the equipment grounding (bonding) bus or to a grounding (bonding) termination point provided inside a panel. Nowhere does 409.60 refer to a connection to earth.

    Safety During Unscheduled Repairs
    A 2,000A breaker fails open. You can obtain a replacement breaker within an hour. However, you'll have to disconnect the service to replace that breaker. Where will you get the power for lights so that you can see to put it in? Do you have enough time to obtain a rental generator, or will your crew work by flashlight?

    The mindset in many facilities is that generators are costly and therefore should be avoided. In reality, properly sized generators are relatively inexpensive to buy, operate, and maintain.

    A correct cost benefit analysis addresses the safety ramifications of working in poor light under high pressure. In addition, refer to 110.26(D), OSHA 1910.333, OSHA 1926.26, OSHA 1926.56, and other safety requirements. And there's that small matter of an unseen wrench lying across two phases when you restore power...

    Quiz Answer
    Answer to Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz Why are you opening weatherheads as part of your routine PM work? This is an example of an unnecessary task. Opening the weatherhead at the motor may be necessary for troubleshooting, but seldom for preventive maintenance. Why break perfectly good seals and connections, when doing so adds several points of failure in the maintenance process? Installing motor monitoring devices will further reduce the number of mistakes humans can introduce into motor systems.

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