Ask, Listen, Act
Avoiding "Too Much"
Reduce Repair Pressure
NEC in the Facility
Safety During Unscheduled
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
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The designations "National Electrical Code” and “NEC” refer to the
National Electrical Code®, which is a registered
trademark of the National Fire Protection Association.
Ask, Listen, Act
Production people are your customers, and you are there
to support production. Sometimes, however, your customers' attitudes
undermine that mission. You can perform your job better when production
managers see maintenance as an asset, not a liability -- and see you as
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
- 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
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.
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
tolerances. For example, if your quarterly measurements in a given
procedure are off by only 30% of tolerance, change the frequency to
- For critical equipment, analyze risky procedures (for example,
likely to produce errors or failures) and those that require
Develop ways to eliminate them or reduce their frequency.
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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
The sheer pressure of the ticking downtime clock
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
Only the bravest (or most foolish) technician will tell a distressed
production manager, "I'm going to leave you down for an extra 30
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
are in high stress mode until it's moving again.
Follow these three tips to reduce pressure inside the repair
- 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
so quickly restores functionality to the system. Slip out the old
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.
- Use kitting. Do your repair crews run back and forth for
spare parts, drawings, test equipment, or tools while equipment is
Create repair kits for your most critical equipment, and locate them
near the equipment in a dedicated locker.
- Hold drills. Soldiers practice fighting before being
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
Some equipment manuals for industrial control systems
require that an individual ground rod be driven for that system. In
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.
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
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...
Electrical Troubleshooting Quiz
Why are you opening weatherheads as part of your
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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