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Resource Library

Reliability Tips

In our Reliability Tips section we have put together close to 100 tips and snippets of information regarding everything from Maintenance Management, to Root Cause Problem Elimination, to Planning and Scheduling Priorities, and Results of Condition Monitoring.

Find information about corrective maintenance, change in maintenance and maintenance priorities. We will define "Maintenance costs" and we have a definition for "Preventive Maintenance" (PM). Have you though about if Maintenance Planners Actually Do Maintenance Planning? 

 What do you know about Industrial Preventive Maintenance (PM) and Maintenance Key Performance Indicators (KPI's)?  You can read about maintenance management for supervisors, maintenance planning and how to managing maintenance.  We also talk about plant maintenance, predictive maintenance and reliability centered maintenance.  You need to know how to set maintenance priorities and what smart maintenance methods really is.

We discuss documentation tool for Root Cause Analysis,  and we talk about what a "Root cause" really is. And the big question: are Root Cause Failure Analysis even important?

You can lean about Spare Parts Classification, Spare parts description and Spare Parts Management Indicators.

Find several technique tips regarding everything from alignment and misalignment, belts, grease, benchmarking, bearings, hydraulic, inspection, steam trap to vacuum pumps.

  • Dispelling the Obsolete Part Myth

    by Tina Idhammar

    When is a part obsolete?  There are a few myths surrounding obsolete parts:

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  • Work Order Job Kits

    by Tina Idhammar

    By Terry Taylor, Senior Consultant 

    The Kitting of parts and materials is a mission-critical component to the successful execution of any Planned job.

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  • Listen to your Cog Belt

    by Tina Idhammar

    Are you hearing a slapping noise? This can be caused by poor tension, which may cause a reduction in performance and lead to belt breakage. Read More

  • Condition Monitoring Standards

    by Tina Idhammar

    Visual Inspections- Des-Case Breather

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  • IDCON’s Shutdown Optimization Program (SOP)

    by Tina Idhammar

    by Greg Gustavson, Senior Consultant, IDCON

    Shutdown Best Practices Checklist

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  • Reliability Tip: OTR Inspections- Gear Coupling

    by Tina Idhammar

    Subjective OTR inspections on gear couplings should include Noise, Visual, Temperature, grease leaking, guards and keyway.  Noise could be caused by:

     

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  • Measuring a bearing condition without a vibration analyst

    by Tina Idhammar

    Scenario:

    You are the Reliability Engineer responsible for developing an in-house condition based PM program.  One item you’re monitoring is an important process fan. This fan is located on a large cooling bed for spray-dried materials and is running 24/7.

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  • What are your shutdown drivers?

    by Tina Idhammar

    By Senior Consultant Greg Gustafson

    One of the main factors affecting major and minor shutdown schedules is to understand “why you are shutting down”. We call this the ‘shutdown drivers’.

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  • Put your hands on it

    by Tina Idhammar

    By Greg Gustafson, Senior Consultant

    One of the most important lessons I have ever learned in my career was from a senior maintenance and turnaround manager named Don.

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  • Is a Condition Monitoring (CM) Technician Worth $2,610.11?

    by Michael Lippig

    I’ve met more than my fair share of “handicapped” CM Techs;  “handicapped” with the lack of tools, training and poorly designed systems. As Deming noted “...you can only be as effective as the system you work in allows you to be.” 

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  • Maintenance Tip - Oil Sampling

    by Tina Idhammar

    By Terry Taylor, IDCON INC

    The most important point about oil samples and oil analysis in general is you are looking for any “change” that is taking place.

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  • Best practices for non-shutdown backlog targets

    by Tina Idhammar

     
    Total backlog    4 - 6 weeks – Includes all approved work
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  • Smart Tools for Failure Analysis

    by Tina Idhammar

    By Torbjorn Idhammar, IDCON INC


    Some plants buy a high-powered microscope in order to do failure analysis. While this sometimes is necessary, it could be good to consider other options to get started. 

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  • Specific Tactics of Electrical Preventive Maintenance Inspection

    by Tina Idhammar

    The fundamentals of an effective electrical preventive maintenance program is to reduce the potential for a serious electrical interruption.

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  • Test Your Knowledge

    by Tina Idhammar

    What Maintenance Method would you choose for the 4 components below? 

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  • Types of Misalignment

    by Tina Idhammar

    Picture 1: Offset, or Parallel – the shafts are parallel to each other, but are not co-planar, or in the same plane.  This can be both vertical and horizontal.

  • Corrective Maintenance...Opportunity for Practical Root Cause Problem Elimination (RCPE)

    by Tina Idhammar

    by Owe Forsberg, Senior Consultant, IDCON INC
     
    Imagine you work in a mill as a mechanic and get a work order that states: Replace bearings on a press roll due to high vibration level.  You complete the work and the bearings and seals were replaced according to the plan.  The machine was started up and is now producing paper again.  
  • Setting priorities Class guide

    by Tina Idhammar

    Read the following and use the priority matrix to assign a priority rating to each situation: 

    A) A Vibration Analyst reports that there is an increase in vibration in the input shaft bearing in the reducer that drives a critical raw material conveyor. It is being monitored frequently, and it appears to be a minor defect in the outer race.

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  • Maintenance tips on Equipment / component detail cleaning

    by Angel Custodio, Senior Consultant, IDCON INC

    Companies tend to minimize the impact of basic cleanliness on equipment / components. Maintenance usually emphasize in condition monitoring programs such as vibration, temperature (motors, bearings….), on-the-run inspections and others.

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  • How do you match or select your materials when doing corrective maintenance or installing new equipment?

    by Owe Forsberg

    The skilled millwright and pump specialist has experienced multiple breakdowns with a centrifugal pump. The pump has been rebuilt multiple times but it keeps breaking down with 4-6 months interval. The symptom of the failure was a catastrophic failure of the seal, each time.

    Read More
  • Diesel Fuel Injector Failures

    by Terry Taylor, Senior Consultant, IDCON INC

    Over the past 10 years, the North American diesel fuel market has slowly moved from High Sulphur fuel to Low Sulphur fuel (< 500ppm) and eventually to Ultra Low Sulphur (ULSD) fuel (<15ppm). With these changes, new problems have arisen.

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  • Spare Parts Description Naming Convention

    by Angel Custodio, Senior Consultant, IDCON INC

    Spare Parts naming has always been a challenge, from the lack of description standardization among parts manufacturers to CMMS & ERP systems templates (parts classification) being configured by individual users.  Typically, the description is either entered manually or by a template that comes with the CMMS, ERP or third party software. 

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  • Grease Selection Made Simple

    by Terry Taylor, Senior Consultant, IDCON INC

    First question- what is grease? Grease is simply a semi-fluid product that’s made up of an oil (70-90%) combined with a “thickener” (5-15%). Added to the mix are a few special additives (3-10%) to make some specific improvements and you have GREASE!

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  • Maintenance people must be SMART to make it work

    by by Owe Forsberg, Senior Consultant, IDCON INC

    A while ago I was at a plant that had a set of vacuum pumps with a life of less than 3 months. I think most of us would say that is not normal, even if we are not vacuum pump experts. The process engineer was under the impression that the vacuum system needed to be redesigned.

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  • Implementing Risk-based Work Selection Practices

    by Greg Gustafson, Senior Consultant IDCON INC

    Implementing Risk-based Work Selection practices for Shutdown Maintenance will increase plant utilization and reduce cost.

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  • Compressed Savings

    by Tina Idhammar

    A collection of leaks in your compressed air system amounting to a .25" hole equivalent in a system pressurized to 100PSI can cost over US$8,500 per year.

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  • Spare Parts Classification

    by Tina Idhammar

    The definition of Spare Parts Classification can fluctuate depending on the vision and/or focus assumed at any given moment. Some examples of definitions:

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  • Predictive maintenance practices increases production and reduce cost

    by Tina Idhammar

    Are you experiencing unnecessary equipment repairs that are avoidable and reactive in nature and do you have recurring equipment component failures, such as seals, bearings, and gaskets that are preventable? Do you have failures that make it hard for you to explain your plant’s maintenance expenses (e.g. rotating equipment seizing from lack of lubrication)?

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  • Documentation Tool for Root Cause Analysis

    by Tina Idhammar

    There are many different documentation tools for Root Cause Analysis.  Some of the most common are:

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  • Infrared Thermography Essentials

    by Tina Idhammar

    Infrared (IR) thermography has become an essential tool in many Predictive Maintenance (PdM) Programs. Infrared cameras have become user-friendly and plentiful in the marketplace, but there is still a lot to learn about thermography and proper camera operation.

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  • Spare Parts Kit Age

    by Tina Idhammar

    Kitting and staging parts sounds good but…

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  • Drills & Thrills

    by Tina Idhammar

    Did you know that there is a simple trick to selecting the correct drill for metric threads?

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  • Trouble finding parts in your Storeroom?

    by Tina Idhammar

    One of the most common complaints we hear in plants that are using a computerized maintenance management system is that it is hard to use the computer to find parts in the Storeroom. There are a couple of reasons for this.

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  • Smart Method: Nord-Lock Bolt Securing System

    by Tina Idhammar

    The Nord-Lock Bolt Securing system (washers) has proven to hold tightness in a vibrating environment much better than other typical bolt securing systems such as nylon inserted nuts, split ring washers, and a regular bolt and nut. The Nord-lock system is also easy to mount and dismantle unlike some other methods.

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  • The Root Cause isn’t that Important

    by Tina Idhammar

    Root Cause Analysis or Root Cause Failure Analysis are commonly used terms. I have always felt that these terms are somewhat misguided. I say so for some really simple reasons.

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  • Scheduling – A Hot Potato?

    by Tina Idhammar

    Improving equipment reliability often comes down to improving basic work systems such as planning and scheduling, preventive maintenance, root cause analysis, technical database, and stores. Preventive Maintenance and maintenance planning are often easy sells in plants because they are not very threatening to people and they make sense to do. 

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  • Preventive Maintenance for Instrumentation

    by Tina Idhammar

    IDCON often gets the question, “What kind of Preventive maintenance should be in place for instrumentation?” from maintenance managers with mechanical background.  The exact answer will vary from plant to plant depending on equipment and level of automation, but in general on can divide the preventive maintenance tasks for instrumentation as follows:

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  • Do Maintenance Planners Actually Do Maintenance Planning?

    by Tina Idhammar

    The answer is that maintenance planners usually do very little maintenance planning and scheduling. A maintenance manager for a large steel mill contacted IDCON a few weeks ago for a consulting assignment.

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  • What is Reliability worth in $

    by Tina Idhammar

    Do you know what reliability is worth in your plant?  If not, it is a good idea to figure out how much a 1% increase or decrease in reliability is worth.  Here is a couple of ideas on how to do so. 

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  • Smart Maintenance Method

    by Tina Idhammar

    It is possible to change out splices in power lines while the line is energized.  The procedure also improves the reliability of the splice. A splice is usually pressed together using hydraulics while the line is down (see result in figure 1, left image). But a company names Quanta replaces and redesigns the splice using implosion to enhance the quality and replace the old splice on-the-run. The high quality result can be seen in figure 1 below. 

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  • Maintenance Managers – Do you have a clear path forward?

    by Tina Idhammar

    I recently visited a couple of plants where I asked the same question to all people I met.  The question was “What are the most important things for this plant to improve upon in order to improve equipment reliability?”

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  • What's a "Root cause?"

    by Tina Idhammar

    IDCON is convinced that the process of analyzing the root cause of failures and acting to eliminate these causes is one of the most powerful tools in improving plant reliability and performance. But what is a "root cause"? One definition is "The cause of a problem which, if adequately addressed, will prevent a recurrence of that problem." Lets look at an example.

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  • Long-lasting change in maintenance?

    by Tina Idhammar

    Sustainable improvements to the maintenance function can be achieved the same way as any other successful change in an organization. For change to be successful, all the people who will be affected by the change and will have to change the way that they work must be committed to the new work processes, standards and procedures. 

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  • Setting Maintenance Priorities

    by Tina Idhammar

    Perhaps you, or one of your management team, feel that a better way of setting maintenance work priorities is needed. This usually happens because it seems that important work is not being done as soon as it should, or it appears that maintenance people are working on jobs that are not particularly urgent.

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  • Maintenance Key Performance Indicators (KPI's)

    by Tina Idhammar

    It is often said that "what gets measured gets done". And getting things done, through people, is what management is all about. Measuring things that get done and the results of this effort is an essential part of successful management, but too much emphasis on measurements, or the wrong measurements may not be in your company's best interests.

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  • Adjusting packed centrifugal pumps with open impellers

    by Tina Idhammar

    Open impellers are frequently used in centrifugal pumps which pump liquids that contain suspended solid materials (slurries, paper stock, etc). They do not plug as easily as closed impellers and usually have a simple external adjustment to maintain the correct impeller clearance as internal parts wear.

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  • Defining "Maintenance costs"

    by Tina Idhammar

    One universal measurement of maintenance performance, and perhaps the measure that matters most in the end, is the cost of maintenance. Unfortunately maintenance costs are often used to compare maintenance performance between companies or between plants within the same company.

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  • Using corrective maintenance work plans to improve plant reliability

    by Tina Idhammar

    Preventive maintenance is generally considered to include both condition-monitoring and life-extending tasks which are scheduled at regular intervals. Some tasks, such as temperature and vibration measurements, must be done while the equipment is operating and others, such as internal cleaning, must be done while the equipment is shut down.

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  • Maintenance Management for Supervisors

    by Tina Idhammar

    All maintenance management processes you implement in your plant come down to a change at the frontline (hourly and first line of management) at some point.  Nothing improves until your maintenance management improvement projects hit the frontline.  Maintenance Management for Supervisors is a vital part of your plant reliability.

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  • Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM)

    by Tina Idhammar

    Reliability Centered maintenance is a step-by-step instructional tool for how to analyze a system’s all failure modes and define how to prevent or find those failures early. RCM becomes a very detailed study of things we already know, often with the justification to “make sure we don’t miss anything.

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  • What is the Core Knowledge in Root Cause Analysis?

    by Tina Idhammar

    It is common to see why-why analysis, logic-trees, fishbone diagrams, cause and effect diagrams, and barrier analysis diagrams put in the forefront when explaining root cause analysis.

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  • Maintenance Planner’s Checklist

    by Tina Idhammar

    It’s not fun, it’s borderline boring…it’s the checklist.

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  • Digital Cameras

    by Tina Idhammar

    Digital photographs, with the addition of simple notes, are a very powerful planning tool and can save hours of work. Here are a couple of examples:

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  • A Planner's tool kit

    by Tina Idhammar

    About 25% of a Planner's time should be spent in the field, assessing and "scoping" maintenance work. To make this time as useful as possible, a good "planner’s tool kit" is essential. A good planner's tool kit should contain the following items, all in convenient package, such as a light-weight tool belt.

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  • Root Cause Problem Elimination: A tool for whom?

    by Tina Idhammar

    Should problem elimination be executed by an elite group or by the frontline (supervisors and hourly)? In IDCON’s opinion, 80% of all problems can be solved by the frontline if they are trained in a simple problem elimination process. The problem elimination process must be simple, yet detailed and structured enough to eliminate problems.

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  • Managing Maintenance

    by Tina Idhammar

    Mahatma Gandhi was once asked what he thought of western civilization. He replied that he thought it would be a good idea. The same though comes to mind when considering management skills in maintenance departments.

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  • Root Cause Analysis (RCA)

    by Tina Idhammar

    One of the steps in root cause analysis is to define a problem. Defining a problem can be a simple process or it can be a very complicated process depending on what process you follow. We believe it is important to keep the root cause analysis fairly simple in order for the frontline (planners, supervisors and hourly) to use the process.

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  • Maintenance Planning

    by Tina Idhammar

    The work process we call maintenance planning can almost always be improved in any given mill or plant. In fact in most plants we visit maintenance planners don’t plan. Planners do all kinds of tasks except work order planning.

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  • Industrial Preventive Maintenance (PM)

    by Tina Idhammar

    Improving an industrial preventive maintenance process can be a daunting task. Existing PM processes have often developed continuously over many years. The current preventive maintenance process may therefore be hard to organize and analyze.

    Where does one start to improving an existing PM process?

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  • Spare Parts Management Indicators

    by Tina Idhammar

    There is a saying: “What you can’t measure, you can’t improve”. The saying are not necessarily always true, but it is interesting, because I think a derivative of the saying is true: “What you measure, is usually what you get."

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  • Reliability Management: Change

    by Tina Idhammar

    If you are a reliability professional or reliability management, you may sometimes wonder why it is so hard to improve equipment reliability. At first glance it may seem as a simple task to improve equipment reliability in a plant where there are obvious improvements to be made. Let’s quickly list some of the key actions that affect equipment reliability and reliability management.

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  • Plant Maintenance: Deciding if Components should be Inspected or Not?

    by Tina Idhammar

    Have you ever been in a situation where someone says: “we don’t have time to inspect this equipment; there are just not enough people in our plant maintenance department”, or perhaps: “Why would we start inspecting the equipment now, it’s never been done before."

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  • Case study: Results of Condition Monitoring

    by Tina Idhammar

    We often get the following two questions:

    1. With what condition monitoring technique are failures usually found?
    2. What is the cost saving associated with finding failures?

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  • Basic Principle of Hydraulic Motor

    by Tina Idhammar

    The Hydraulic motor described here (pdf) is a radial-piston type motor. The motor has a rotating cylinder shaft and stationary housing. The cylinder block is mounted in fixed roller bearings in the housing. Even numbers of pistons are located in bores inside the cylinder block.

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  • Philosophy: Maintenance work

    by Tina Idhammar

    There is a strong correlation between maintenance work carried out as an emergency job versus carried out as a planned and scheduled job.

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  • Philosophy: A note about work order priorities

    by Tina Idhammar

    What are work order priorities? If we ask any given plant with a Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS), if they have a well defined priority system, the answer is almost always, yes. The question is, do they really? Well, let’s define what a world-class priority system is, then why not use this “did you know” and check if your own priority system is of high quality or not?

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  • Philosophy: Inspection Interval

    by Tina Idhammar

    When we work in plants and get involved in discussions of what the right inspection (condition monitoring) interval is for different equipment, we run into some interesting philosophies on how to select inspection interval.

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  • Definition: Preventive Maintenance (PM)

    by Tina Idhammar

    When discussing improvement opportunities in your plant, does preventive maintenance ever come up? I’m sure it does. We are often in plants when these discussions take place. An interesting phenomenon is that most plants haven’t defined what preventive maintenance is, even though the topic has been discussed for years. Many feel it is obvious what preventive maintenance is, is it really?

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  • Technique: Inspection

    by Tina Idhammar

    Water in oil is a common, but often overlooked reliability problem. Water will not only destroy the oil film strength, but may also cause flash-vaporization which causes erosive wear if there is enough water content in the oil.

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  • Technique: The smart hook

    by Tina Idhammar

    If you have slow moving bearings that you need to inspect without disassembling and cleaning them, the smart hook can be a good tool to use.

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  • Technique: Benchmarking

    by Tina Idhammar

    A popular measurement is maintenance cost (MC) as a percent of Estimated Replacement Value (ERV). The data from our SIMATM database shows that the MC/ERV for process industry is:

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  • Technique: Vacuum pump

    by Tina Idhammar

    "The basic function of a Vacuum Pump?"

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  • Tools: Grease gun with cordless power and volume meter

    by Tina Idhammar

    Assalub of Sweden has a new powerful cordless rechargeable grease gun. The gun does not require air or electric connections; it functions on a rechargeable battery. The grease gun has a meter that accurately measures the amount (volume) of grease feed to the bearing. Thanks to the harness, the gun is easy and convenient to use.

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  • Technique: Dirt is bad for bearings

    by Tina Idhammar

    We are taught that dirt is bad for bearings. But why is it bad? If dirt enters between the ball/ roller and the bearing race, the oil film breaks and dirt will grind between the roller elements and the bearing race. But isn’t it a bit much to ask craftspeople to wear gloves, work in clean rooms, and cover open bearing with plastic bags while working on the bearing installation?

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  • Definition: Break-in jobs

    by Tina Idhammar

    How does IDCON define a break-in job?

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  • Technique: Steam Trap

    by Tina Idhammar

    The purpose of a steam trap is not as the name may indicate to trap steam, but rather to trap condensate in a steam line. The trap is mounted on or adjacent to a steam line.

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  • Technique: Hydraulic

    by Tina Idhammar

    Did you know that fittings for hydraulic units are very different from regular fittings for air and instrumentation? The hydraulic fittings have much deeper and thinner threads in order to be more resistant to leakage.

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  • Philosophy: Planning & Scheduling

    by Tina Idhammar

    Did you know the difference between planning and scheduling? In fact, many organizations think that the two are the same. Other organizations know the difference, but end up doing a lot of scheduling and very little planning. Let's figure out the difference by starting with short format definitions of planning and scheduling.

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  • Technique: alignment

    by Tina Idhammar

    That a perfect .000” alignment can sometimes be the wrong thing to do? Rarely, if ever, do two machines in a machine train generate the same temperatures during operation. These factors can cause perfectly aligned shafts to be misaligned out of tolerance while operating. Let’s take use the following motor driven pump as an example of this fact.

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  • Technique: Belts

    by Tina Idhammar

    A stroboscope is a wonderful diagnostic tool for belt drives.

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  • Maintenance Tip: Clean – Dry – Tight – Friction Free

    by Tina Idhammar

    Statistics indicate that more fires start from electrical system failure than from any other cause. Electrical equipment is usually well designed and properly installed. However, the principal reason for electrical system breakdown is the failure to maintain the installation in its designed state.

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  • Root Cause Failure Analysis (RCFA) or Troubleshooting for the Frontline

    by Tina Idhammar

    You may have been through a Root Cause Failure Analysis (RCFA) training at some point in your career. If not, you probably are aware of the basic concept and that there are many Root Cause Failure Analysis (RCFA) classes available to your plant.

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