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Top Plant


MFC Netform
Shelby Township, Mich.

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success story

Clean Sweep!
Air system study yields multiple benefits to bottom line
An aerospace parts manufacturer was experiencing high maintenance
costs as well as excessive downtime with their compressed air system.
Their modulation control compressor caused unnecessary energy usage
on the weekends and off peak times, resulting in exceptionally high
energy costs. Additionally, problems with air quality led to product rejects
and costly scrap rates.

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the plants fluctuating demand. It revealed that the 200 hp modulating
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result of the new air treatment equipment, the plant also saw improved
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December 2016
Volume 70, No.10

Cover image courtesy: MFC Netform

2 0 16

Top Plant

MFC Netform
Shelby Township, Mich.

People are at the cornerstone of the manufacturing philosophy at

MFC Netform, the 2016 Plant Engineering Top Plant recipient. As Tim
Cripsey, the executive vice president of MFC Netform, notes, The
technology is a secondary tool. What makes us successful is our people
and how we trust our customer focus and our employee focus.

PLANT ENGINEERING (ISSN 0032-082X, Vol. 70, No. 10, GST #123397457) is published 10x per year, monthly except in January and July, by CFE Media, LLC, 1111 W. 22nd Street, Suite #250, Oak Brook, IL 60523.
Jim Langhenry, Group Publisher /Co-Founder; Steve Rourke CEO/COO/Co-Founder. PLANT ENGINEERING copyright 2016 by CFE Media, LLC. All rights reserved. PLANT ENGINEERING is a registered trademark of CFE Media, LLC used
under license. Periodicals postage paid at Oak Brook, IL 60523 and additional mailing offices. Circulation records are maintained at CFE Media, LLC, 1111 W. 22nd Street, Suite #250, Oak Brook, IL 60523. E-mail: customerservice@ Postmaster: send address changes to PLANT ENGINEERING, 1111 W. 22nd Street, Suite #250, Oak Brook, IL 60523. Publications Mail Agreement No. 40685520. Return undeliverable Canadian
addresses to: 1111 W. 22nd Street, Suite #250, Oak Brook, IL 60523. Email: Rates for nonqualified subscriptions, including all issues: USA, $145/yr; Canada, $180/yr (includes 7% GST,
GST#123397457); Mexico, $172/yr; International air delivery $318/yr. Except for special issues where price changes are indicated, single copies are available for $30.00 US and $35.00 foreign. Please address all subscription mail
to PLANT ENGINEERING, 1111 W. 22nd Street, Suite #250, Oak Brook, IL 60523. Printed in the USA. CFE Media, LLC does not assume and hereby disclaims any liability to any person for any loss or damage
caused by errors or omissions in the material contained herein, regardless of whether such errors result from negligence, accident or any other cause whatsoever.


December 2016 3


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of Epicor Software Corporation in the United States and certain other countries.



2016 Best Practices
29 Building on manufacturings progress
Manufacturing is focused on continuous improvement. While we may not be able to
see what that improvement might look like in five years, we can look back at where we
began and where we are to see that progress is being made every day. This years collection of best practices builds on that progress.

Global manufacturing


VFD efficiency


Electrical testing


Reliable bolted joints


Quality and throughput


Air casters


Performance reviews


Power plant operations


Digital plant

Whats Inside:

IN Focus
IN Conclusion


December 2016 5


In search of excellence

Perhaps my favorite business author

is Tom Peters, and his first big book, In
Search of Excellence, is a great read for a
long plane trip. The book was first published in 1982, so many of the key players
and a few of the companies no longer are
part of the business landscape. Yet its fundamental message that excellence in management is both top-down and inside-out
resonates today, and the strategies Peters
and co-author Robert Waterman espouse
are still valid today.
We tend to think of excellence on a
grand scalebig moments and big events
on a big stage. As I often see in traveling
to manufacturing plants and in hearing
presentations at trade events, Ive discovered real excellence often comes with little
fanfare and with quiet satisfaction. There
are no press conferences and media events.
There is an innate sense in all of us to
want to achieve. Its not just about winning,
because excellence and winning are not
always the same thing. Excellence is about
getting better for the sheer enjoyment of
the achievement. In one of the great sports
movies of all time (we can ignore the four
sequels), Rocky Balboa didnt win his first
fight with Apollo Creed; all the same, he
achieved something excellent.
That being said, a focus on excellence
leads to winning. You can win with less
than your best, but you cannot do it consistently. Striving for excellence is good; I
think everyone tries to be excellent. The
difference between the effort and the
achievement is the difference between
leadership and success.
Thats an especially important concept in
these uncertain days. Leadership is about
getting people to follow you; success is built
on the group as a whole as opposed to just
the leader. As I often have noted, Custer
was a leader; so was Robert E. Lee. Neither
is considered a successful leader from a historical perspective, but there were armies
behind each of them.
We celebrate excellent leadership each
year with our Top Plant award, and while
we honor one manufacturer this year, there
are thousands more around the country
whose individual search for excellence
should not be overlooked. Manufacturing

6 December 2016

1111 W. 22nd St. Suite 250, Oak Brook, IL 60523
Ph. 630-571-4070, Fax 630-214-4504

BOB VAVRA, Content Manager
630-571-4070 x2212,
EMILY GUENTHER, Associate Content Manager
630-571-4070 x2220,
AMANDA PELLICCIONE, Director of Research
CHRIS VAVRA, Production Editor
630-571-4070 x2219,


+44 1933 408078
H. LANDIS LANNY FLOYD, Electrical Safety Group Inc.

Bob Vavra
Content Manager

for excellence is good; I

think everyone tries to be excel-

lent. The difference between the

effort and the achievement is
the difference between leadership and success.

Send your plant floor selfies to
took a beating in the presidential campaign
for all the things it is not, and what went
overlooked is all the things manufacturing
continues to achieve.
Manufacturing is productive. Manufacturing is progressive. Manufacturing
is inclusive. Manufacturing is vital and
vibrant. Manufacturing builds on the
great ideas of the past, melds them with
the innovations of the present and shapes
its own future.
The manufacturers I meetand the
great manufacturers who read this magazineknow there are challenges and
obstacles. Yet each day, they search for
excellence, and they find it in safer, smarter
plants that are ready for the next challenges
put in front of them.
And wed better be ready. Did I mention
my second favorite business book? Its the
1990 retelling of the leveraged buyout of
RJR Nabisco in 1988. The title is, Barbarians at the Gate. PE

DAVE REIBER, Reiber Reliability
LARRY TURNER, Hannover Fairs USA



Content For Engineers. Thats what CFE Media stands

for, and what CFE Media is all aboutengineers sharing
with their peers. We welcome content submissions for all
interested parties in engineering. We will use those materials online, on our Website, in print and in newsletters to
keep engineers informed about the products, solutions and
industry trends.
* explains how
to submit press releases, products, images and graphics,
bylined feature articles, case studies, white papers, and
other media.
* Content should focus on helping engineers solve problems. Articles that are commercial in nature or that are
critical of other products or organizations will be rejected.
(Technology discussions and comparative tables may be
accepted if non-promotional and if contributor corroborates
information with sources cited.)
* If the content meets criteria noted in guidelines, expect
to see it first on our Websites. Content for our e-newsletters
comes from content already available on our Websites. All
content for print also will be online. All content that appears
in our print magazines will appear as space permits, and
we will indicate in print if more content from that article is
available online.
* Deadlines for feature articles intended for the print magazines are at least two months in advance of the publication
date. Again, it is best to discuss all feature articles with the
content manager prior to submission.

Learn more at:

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The way forward in 2017

Editorial Advisory Board offers their views on whats up next year

After a year of political and social
upheaval, the prevailing question as we
sit on the cusp of 2017 is, Whats next?
For manufacturing, that
question will be answered
in changes to both the
way countries invest and
interact, as well as seeing how new strategies
that emerged in 2016 will
expand and grow in the
new year.
Plant Engineering asked
the members of its Editorial Advisory Board to offer
their views on a variety
of topicsfrom Brexit to
standards, and from the IIoT to global

Here are their thoughts on how

manufacturing will be impacted in the
coming year:

Larry Turner

CEO and president of

Hannover Fairs USA
As part of a global company, what do you see
as the key issues facing
manufacturing as we head
into 2017? How will those
issues impact U.S. manufacturers?
LARRY TURNER: The workforce gap
continues to be one of the largest issues

input #6 at

facing manufacturers not only in the

United States but also in Europe. On the
bright side, in the U.S. rapid advances
in robotics continue to take over more
mundane tasks such as assembly, grinding and deburring. By taking advantage
of these robotics advancements to manage mundane tasks, manufacturers gain
the benefit of motivating employees with

around the
world continue to actively
consider what needs to
happen to stay globally

Larry Turner, Hannover Fairs USA

more interesting responsibilities with the

hope of attracting new employees with
more varied and value-added jobs.
Manufacturers around the world continue to actively consider what needs to
happen to stay globally competitive. In
the U.S., manufacturers are questioning
how to properly digitize their facilities in
the next year to ensure stronger networks
and infrastructure security. As they look
to implement IIoT solutions, we are
offering them via our global portfolio
of industrial technology events the best
platform to source the latest solutions.
We understand that our U.S. manufacturing clients are deciding where to
apply analytics on the factory floor to
capture and evaluate data. Our global
events, such as next Aprils Hannover
Messe, make sure that they have immediate access to the best integrated technologies to improve their operations in
the most efficient manner without causing problems in the future.
Finally, the challenge to adopt cuttingedge technologies and solutions on the

factory floor is not so daunting anymore.

We see a continued upswing in advanced
manufacturing in the U.S. because solutions providers are more quickly moving
from prototyping to production.

Dave Reiber, CRL/CMRP

Senior Reliability Leader

at Reliabilityweb
Plant EnginEEring:
Weve seen a greater
emphasis on the value of
maintenance as part of
the discussions around
the Industrial Internet of
Things (IIoT). Do manufacturing leaders finally
understand the idea of
Maintenance as a Profit
Center? How will IIoT impact maintenance in the coming year?
Dave ReibeR: I am so glad to answer
this question. I have been involved with
spreading the news about the Industrial

Internet of Things for about six years

now, and it seems like just recently,
manufacturing is coming to the table.
This is not a new strategy. We know
strategic data gathering and analytics
has been going on in health systems,
banking systems, warranty systems and other
industries for several
years, but the expensive
assets that keep our
manufacturing backbone
alive have been largely
overlooked. We would
see good predictive maintenance programs, good
asset condition monitoring programs in places
but not all-encompassing
system data gathering.
I see that changing very quickly. We
are seeing a run toward getting all the
data, aggregating it live, trending, patterning, and developing formulas for
throughput, safety, and quality. There
are new startups, every day, looking to



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get in on this movement. When your
competition does something that
will surely give them an advantage, it
doesnt take long for everyone to get
onboard. I think that 2017 will see a
huge step toward maintenance as a
profit center.

Mark Watson

Senior research manager, IHS Markit

Plant EnginEEring: After Brexit
and the U.S. election, whats the mood
in Europe right now, and how will this
affect global manufacturing in the
coming year?

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Mark Watson: Suppliers are commenting that 2016 has been a difficult
year; sales have been down by between
6% and 10%. The 2017 outlook is for
flat sales. If there is any growth, it will
be limited.
The overall sentiment is that were
at the bottom (or very close to it); the
only way for the market to go is up, but
were unlikely to see much evidence
until 2018 at the earliest.
With the U.S. election, its a wait
and see attitude. Its a bit too soon
to know what the impact will be and
if the Trump Administration will go
through with rhetoric [that] Brexit will
have no real impact on the EU market next year; the U.K is not seen as
important enough to make a big difference to overall regional performance.
There are potentially some negative tax
implications for U.K. manufacturers.
If the U.S. and Brexit decisions are
impacting at all right now, its with
smaller companies. Larger players
look confident enough to continue
with planned investments; smaller companies seem more nervous
about the implications of
the changes in the U.K.,
and U.S. investments may
be postponed.

Lanny Floyd, PE, CsP,

CEsCP, CMrP, CrL, Life
Fellow IEEE
(800) 237-5225
input #8 at

Principal consultant, Electrical Safety Group Inc.

10 December 2016

plant engineering

Plant EnginEEring: Electrical

safety continues to be a hot topic in
manufacturing. What are the standards
groups (IEEE and NEC, in particular) looking to discuss in 2017? What
should manufacturers be focused on?
Lanny FLoyd: Recent research
comparing occupational fatality rates
in the U.S. and the United Kingdom
shows the fatality rate from electrical
energy in the U.K. is approximately
1/3 that of the U.S. One of the major
factors impacting this difference is
regulatory policy on risk assessment
and risk mitigation during design of
electrical products, equipment, tools
and facilities.
For more than 30 years, regulations,
codes and standards in the U.K. have
helped instill a safety culture based
on risk assessment. During this same
period, regulations, codes and standards in the U.S have been more
focused on safe work practices and
use of personal protective equipment.
In recent years safety management
standards and electrical safety standards in the U.S. have been evolving
to incorporate or expand application
of risk assessment methodology. This
includes the following standards:
ANSI Standard Z10 - 2005, Standard for Occupational Health and
Safety Management Systems, first
published in 2005 and revised in
ANSI Standard Z590.3 - 2011,
Standard for Prevention through
Design Guidelines for Addressing
Occupational Hazards and Risks
in Design and Redesign Processes
NFPA 70E-2012,
Standard for Electrical Safety in the
Workplace expanded guidance to facilitate risk assessment
in s ele c t ing s afe
work practices and
PPE. The 2015 and
2018 editions continued to expand
this guidance.

IEEE 1683-2014, IEEE Guide for Motor Control Centers Rated up to and including 600 V ac or 1000 V
dc with Recommendations Intended to Help Reduce
Electrical Hazards
IEEE P1814 (under development), Recommended
Practice for Electrical System Design Techniques to
Improve Electrical Safety.
These and other standards are bringing awareness and
action to enable standards developers, manufacturers,
designers and end users to
adopt more robust and comprehensive application of risk
assessment methodologies to
further reduce risk of electrical
injuries and fatalities.

Gerald Gerry Bauer

is everything

President, EccoFab - Rockford, IL

Shon Isenhour, CMRP CAMA

Partner, Eruditio LLC

Plant EnginEEring: Weve

seen a shift from preventive
maintenance to predictive
maintenance and now to prescriptive maintenance. Talk
about how you see reliability
and maintenance strategies
evolving. And whats the next

It is a world of
just data
collection and

Shon ISenhouR: The shift

trending but
from traditional preventive
maintenance to predictive
algorithms and
maintenance has been ongocorrelations.
ing with more success in some
Shon isenhour, Eruditio LLC
industries than others. I am
sure this will continue, but
the prospects of prescriptive
maintenance really excite me. It is the next step.
For the companies that are embracing the concept, it
is leading to a step change in up time performance. It
is a world of not just data collection and trending but
algorithms and correlations. We are finally seeing the
marrying of all different types of data from multiple
sources, and it is giving us an unprecedented look into
the health of not just our assets but also our manufacturing systems.
This is going to allow a whole new level of root-cause
analysis of abnormalities well before they become failures. It will move us well up the P-F curve into a realm
of truly proactive maintenance. The critical piece will
be retaining the right kind of talent that understands
both the algorithm creation and the relationships that
they represent to the maintenance world. This is not a
skill that is common in maintenance today but will be
critical for competitiveness in the near future. PE

It doesnt quit.
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In fact, it doesnt think of anything but the job at hand.

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plant engineering

December 2016 11

input #9 at

Cyber threats need
a fresh approach

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ISS Source

Reliability matters to you.

Reliability matters to us, too.
Oil-free. Risk-free.

While security experts talk about changes needed to

adjust for the advancing cybersecurity threat the industry
is experiencing, the mindset remains mired in the past.
If we look at security in 2016, we really arent seeing
the step change we thought, said Joel Langill, industrial
control system (ICS) cybersecurity subject matter expert
at AECOM during his keynote at the ICSJWG 2016 Fall
Meeting in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla. The industry has to move
toward a resilient architecture by creating a security risk
The thinking has to be more along the lines of if a
machine went away, what could happen and how to function without it.
That can occur by creating zones to establish trust boundaries based on:
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Conduits, which provide the ability

to communicate between zones, will
be the step change in security.
You have to manage your scope of
loss, Langill said. If you are compromised, there should be limited
opportunity to compromise other
nodes. If you rob a bank you havent
won unless you can leave with the
With todays attack sophistication,
it is inevitable hackers will get in; the
issue is all about containing and mitigating. So, if an attacker gets in, you
want to be able to block any egress.
The idea is to contain the attack and
not allow it to propagate.
Everything has to be risk-based
and you have to have a risk factor
against your assets. Security is all
about risk management.

Converged resilience

Langill based his new and different

way of thinking about security not
just on the cyber side, or what he
calls logical security, which includes
cyber and wireless, but also physical

12 December 2016

plant engineering

security. That is what he called con- does not have the stopping capability it tiple components took place.
verged resilience.
had 10 years ago. The same is true of fireIn that incident, Langill said, attackers
It is about physical security. If you are walls. Yes, there are some good ones out were able to login via remote connecnot physically secure, then you may not there, but they can be averted. The way tions and disconnect breakers along with
be cyber secure, he said.
of thinking is the same as it was in 1996. installing destructive malware to disable
Langill talked about the evolution of The way we fight threats in 2016 has to be selected assets.
a physical threat in todays world. He different than the way we did it in 1996.
While awareness of the assault was
said it all started with box cutters
high, even after this blatant attack
on planes which led to the 9-11
in the ICS sector, end users still
attacks and that created the Transdid nothing.
Everything has to be risk-based and
portation Security Administration
The mindset attacks will hit
(TSA) that now searches all air passomeone else and not me has got
you have to have a risk factor against to change along with the archaic
sengers. Add on top of that, the
capability to create a bomb from
your assets. Security is all about risk approach the industry continues
a sports drink and some hydrogen
to take toward security, Langill
peroxide, which led to the 3-1-1
rule on airplanes.
People are trying to do the
Joel Langill, AECOM
Those were physical attacks that
same thing they have been doing
had a cause and effect. But in the
in the past, Langill said, but with
cyber environment, we are seeing attacks,
On Dec. 23, 2015, power went out for a a new risk-based model could give end
but no real change in how the industry high number of customers (reports range users a fighting chance to ward off any
approaches the issue.
from 80,000 customers to 700,000 homes) type of attack. PE
Antivirus is dead. Malware is able to in the Western region of the Ukraine
Gregory Hale is the editor and founder
get through it to attack a system, Langill served by regional power distribution
said. That is not to say, a user does not companies. A picture has become clear of Industrial Safety and Security Source
need it, they just have to understand it that a coordinated attack involving mul- (, a CFE Media partner.

input #12 at

Five ways to avoid electrical hazards
By David Manney
L&S Electric

There are many potential hazards in

an industrial facility. But, one that has the
potential for causing severe physical injury

and death is electricity. In fact, electrocution

fatalities are one of the most common for
workplace accidents. Electrocution came
in second after falls on construction sites.
Because of the real potential for injury or
death associated with electrical accidents, it

The Gold Standard

for Performance

is important to take the necessary steps to

avoid this type of problem. Anytime electricity injures somebody; it could require
a significant time off the job for recovery.
Recovering from an electrical burn or
shock is both painful and slow. It is important to establish guidelines that will protect
your employees from the potential dangers.
One important thing to do is to properly train any employees that are working
around electricity and let them know the
dangers associated with it. Those employees should not be working on power or any
electrical components unless they are fully
qualified to do so. Not having the proper
knowledge about the possibility of injuries
or accident makes it more likely for them
to occur.

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Along with training individuals who work

with or around electricity, it is also important to consider the following suggestions.
These tips can also help to avoid injuries
associated with electrical hazards.
1. Identify the problem: When there
is any chance of electric shock or an arc
flash, identify and professionally assess the
problem. Perform an arc flash survey at
your facility to determine those problem
areas. Determine what level of protection is
necessary when working in the area. Also,
mark areas that are high risk to alert people
to the dangers and to keep unqualified personnel out of the area.
2. Use the right tools: When working on
or around electricity, using the proper tools
is vital to avoid electric shock or arc flash.
3. Lock out/tag out (LOTO): Before
working on any electrical equipment, utilize the proper lockout and tag-out procedure.
4. De-energize: Until taking the proper
lockout tag-out and ground procedures,
treat all electrical equipment as if it were
energized. Never work on energized equipment.
5. Test: Make sure there is no power
before touching any conductor or circuit. PE
David Manney is a marketing administrator at L&S Electric. This article originally appeared on L&S Electric Watts
New Blog. L&S Electric Inc. is a CFE
Media content partner.

14 December 2016

plant engineering

Three steps to improve performance management

By Cheryl Jekiel

Employees can sometimes be discouraged after receiving a performance

review, especially and when they are told
of areas they need to improve in.
Most employees put their hearts and
souls into their work and being rated
average or less than average leaves
them feeling deflated and hurt. Sometimes it can lead them into looking for
another job, one in which they feel they
would be appreciated.
Since the majority of traditional performance management systems utilize a
variation of the bell curve ranking system, it leaves 80% to 90% of employees being told they are average or need
improvement. What impact does this
have on their motivation and engagement? The intent of reviews and their
actual impact is vastly different. This
conflict can be wasteful of employee
engagement and can impact turnover.
However, when it comes to applying
Lean principles to an organization, performance management reviews are often
the last areas to be considered in terms
of their impact on the team. Rarely
do managers consider how it does or
does not drive an improvement-based
culture. This can be surprising since it
is an area that affects the motivation
and mindset of all employees, which in
turn impacts the effectiveness of Lean

Three key steps

Does it inspire employees to do

more? Should engagement be
expanded in the business?
Does the system help reinforce key
ideas or does it send conflicting

If Lean principles encourage an

o p e n / n o - b l a m e e nv i r o n m e nt
where employees are free to bring
up issues without fear of retribution, does the performance management system recognize errors

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There are three key steps to take when

considering making revisions to a performance management system, and how
it aligns with improvement efforts.

1. Evaluate the system against Lean

As with all forms of improvement,
evaluation should be the first course
of action. This step is often done better as a team. Here are a few examples
to consider:
What should be the key elements of
a culture: root cause problem solving, team work, customer focus,
business skills, etc.?
plant engineering

December 2016 15


input #14 at

as an opportunity or an area for
judgment on the individual?

their opinions on the current system

and solicit ideas for improvement.

Include feedback from team members (voice of the customer). In order

to facilitate change, there needs to be a
foundation that confirms that change
is needed. Survey the workforce to get

2. Create discussion and consider

Reach out to benchmark other organizations for best practices. Seek out
written articles and books written on

the topic of performance management.

Having conversations help people
think deeply about the impact of performance management and potential,
unintended consequences of some
Based on areas of agreement, brainstorm ways to make improvements
such as increasing the amount and
quality feedback. If this information is
presented to others, make suggestions
on what would be an improvement,
and why it will drive better results.

Since the majority of traditional performance management systems utilize a

variation of the bell curve
ranking system, it leaves
80% to 90% of employees
being told they are average
or need improvement.

3. Take change in steps and consider

the timing of changes.
Similar to other aspects of improvement, experiments can help to see what
difference new approaches make on
employee morale and motivation.
Since the performance management
system is woven into the fabric of the
organization, it can take time to make
a change. It might be beneficial to consider timing.
Review systems are best changed well
before they are in effect. As the end of
this calendar year approaches, its not
too late to change the approach for 2018
and potentially impact 2017. By aligning these areas of the organization to
work together instead of against each
other, a Lean culture will continue to
grow and thrive. PE
Cheryl Jekiel is an author for AME
and a 2017 AME Boston Conference
Chair. This article originally appeared
on AME Target Online Magazine. AME
is a CFE Media content partner.
input #15 at

16 December 2016

plant engineering

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Manufacturers Association

The Voice of the Conveyor

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information, publications, safety labels and

Its our technical side that

make us strong, but its our
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safety information. No other organization has

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been more instrumental in the development

of standards, safety practices or engineering
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input #16 at


Industrial Internet of Things &

Industrie 4.0
Turning research into insights makes for better business decisions
This study was conducted by CFE Media to gauge the engineers understanding and
current implementation of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and Industrie 4.0.
Respondents to the 2016 Industrial Internet of Things & Industrie 4.0 study identified
five key findings regarding their familiarity and implementation of the IIoT framework
and Industrie 4.0 platform.
According to the study, familiarity with the IIoT framework and the Industrie
4.0 platform has significantly increased since 2015; 79% of respondents
are very/somewhat familiar with IIoT, compared to 60% last year, and
53% are very/somewhat familiar with Industrie 4.0, compared to 33%
previously. More than half of respondents expect IIoT and Industrie 4.0
to improve connections between people, data, and machines at their
facilities. Other expected benefits include increased information flow,
increased innovations, and improved data analysis.

Access the 2016 Industrial Internet of Things & Industrie 4.0 report with
additional findings and insights.


Managing safety within process industries

ixty-three percent of respondents to the Plant Engineering

2016 Safety survey work within
key process industriessuch as
food and beverage, chemicals, and petroleum refining. Below are five high-level
findings regarding safety management
that are impacting the process industries:

1. Commitment to safety: Two-thirds

of operations and senior management personnel are very committed

to safety, while half of line supervisors
and workers are just as dedicated.

2. Safety programs: As a result of

implemented safety programs in the

majority of process facilities, the cost
of injuries and insurance claims has
decreased over time, while productivity has increased.

3. Enforcement: Regular safety meetings

(82%), safety audits (79%), a safety
committee (77%), and focused leadership from management (71%) are the
top methods for encouraging safety

within facilities. Eighty-two percent

of process facilities have at least one
manager dedicated to safety.

4. Safety meetings: Meetings to review

and address safety topics are generally

conducted monthly (55%) or weekly
(26%); very few facilities hold these
meetings daily or with every shift. The
most vocal personnel at these meetings are management/corporate managers (69%), line workers (69%), and
safety managers (66%).

5. Safety strategies, technologies: The

top strategies or technologies that process facilities use to enforce safety are
personal protective equipment (86%),
lockout/tagout systems (82%), and job
safety analysis procedures (77%).

View more information at
Amanda Pelliccione is research
director at CFE Media.

Only 35% of facilities have a peak

load sharing program with their local
utility companies. Of these facilities,
most programs are currently successful. Source: Plant Engineering 2016
Energy Management Study

of plant personnel
expect an increase in bonus
compensation for 2016; the
average increase of 3.1% is
expected. Source: Plant Engineering 2015 Salary Survey

of facilities are challenged with a lack of understanding about new maintenance
options/technologies, coupled
with a lack of employee training.
Source: Plant Engineering 2016
Maintenance Study

50% of facilities are

actively increasing safety training/awareness and improving

process safety to protect their
workers. Source: Plant
Engineering 2016 Safety Study

Seventy-five percent of plant management/corporate executives and safety executives/managers

feel very safe on the job; only half of work group leaders, engineering staff, and line workers feel
the same. Courtesy: Plant Engineering

18 December 2016


Plant Engineering surveys its audience on several topics each year,
including: salary survey, maintenance, energy management, safety,
and workforce development. All
reports are available at

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Integrator Database

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global end-users and system integrators hosted by Control Engineering, Plant
Engineering, and our global partners in Asia and Europe.
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input #17 at

Top Plant

This photo shows

an aerial view of an
automated production cell at MFC Netform that produces
275,000 flowformed/
machined drums
per year for a leading Tier 1 automotive supplier. All
images courtesy:
MFC Netform



e talk a lot about technology in manufactur- What we cannot reduce to data is the way workers feel about
ingabout the machines and software and the their jobs and about their organization. In developing a plant
strategies around them that make our plants strategy, MFC Netform started with its customers and built a
safer and more efficient. Those are impor- manufacturing process that met their needs. This allows for
tant advancements in developing a modern MFC Netform to customize and even redesign products to
manufacturing facility.
meet the needs of their end users.
One aspect we try not to overlook, but one that
To accomplish this, MFC Netforms focus on
is even more crucial to a plants success, is the
employee input and employee training makes
human element. Improving the way humans
every worker part of quality control and
work with the plant operations and with each
of process improvement. They also have
other go a long way to making your plant
embraced a Lean manufacturing philosophy,
more successful.
which brings workers and processes closer
People are at the cornerstone of the manutogether. They also have a fundamental comfacturing philosophy at MFC Netform, the
mitment to safety at all times.
2016 Plant Engineering Top Plant recipient.
All this reliance on people doesnt mean
As Tim Cripsey, the executive vice president
the company has overlooked technology of
of MFC Netform, notes in the story to folcourse. Quite the contrary; MFC Netform
low: The technology is a secondary tool.
has a sophisticated enterprise resource planWhat makes us successful is our people and
ning (ERP) system, and it uses robotics and
2 0 16
how we trust our customer focus and our
automation extensively to enhance the manuemployee focus.
facturing process.
When asked why his plant was recognized as this years Top
But it was the people-first commitment from MFC Netform
Plant award winner, Cripsey said, There are only two real of Shelby Township, Mich., that elevated the facility to this years
reasons in my opinion: The people and the culture.
Top Plant award. It stands as an example of just how important
As manufacturers aspire to be a Top Plant, the focus is on people are to building a successful manufacturing plant.
metrics and measurements. Plant managers offer key performance indicators (KPIs) and overall equipment effectiveBob Vavra,
nessdata we reduce to acronyms such as KPIs and OEE.
Content Manager, CFE Media


December 2016 21

2 0 16

A focus on

people and culture

While much of the U.S. automotive industry was struggling to survive the aftermath of
the most recent recession, MFC Netform held its own.
Making powertrain parts in Michigan

By Jack Smith
Content Manager, CFE Media

xceptional manufacturing companies are more than

just production cells or CNC machinesthey are
people who form a can-do culture. Strategic management philosophies, customer focus and employee
empowerment make MFC Netform in Shelby Township, Mich., the 2016 Plant Engineering Top Plant.
MFC Netform was established in 2003 as a subsidiary of
Metal Forming & Coining, a Tier 1 press-based cold forming
company located in Maumee, Ohio. MFC Netform manufactures metal components typically used in powertrain applications and supplies them to OEMs and Tier 1 automotive
companies. Initially, consideration was given to adding these
processes to the Maumee location. However the differences
in all areas of production and support requirements created
the need to establish a new facility.
These automotive components are made in high-volume,
highly automated production cells, passing from machine to
machine without manual interaction. But the technology
is a secondary tool, said Tim Cripsey, who led the start-up
from day one and is executive vice president of MFC Netform.
What makes us successful is our people and how we trust
our customer focus and our employee focus.
There are many traditional reasons why MFC Netform is
a Top Plant: High technology processes, a strong customer
focus, state-of-the-art operating system, strong manufacturing
and maintenance activities and strategic product and process
positioning. There are only two real reasons in my opinion:
The people and the culture, Cripsey said.

People make the difference

MFC Netform came up with a methodology unofficially

called the Netform Way, which is more about attitude than
a manufacturing approach. It is how we approach our work
and how we treat and work with other people, Cripsey said.
Its what makes us go that bit further in everything we do,
what makes us never satisfied with the status quo and makes
us an improving, rather than stagnant, entity.

22 December 2016


MFC Netform focuses on flowforming and machining. Flowforming is a cold metal forming process in which a preformed
metal blank is pressed against a hardened mandrel using CNC
equipment to ensure that part profiles and dimensions are
accurate. Secondary processes include milling, broaching,
turning, drilling, staking and deburring.
The Shelby Township facility is relatively new. It began operation in 2003, and added three major machining and forming lines in 2012. The parts start in the cell as either a cold
forging, hot forging or a stamping, Cripsey said. Using cold
formed preforms manufactured in the Maumee facility gives
us an advantage over our competitors, as it is a unique process
that has weight and strength advantages. That said, we are not
tied to that processwe will use whatever preform makes the
most technical and fiscal sense. The parts pass, without being
touchedapart from inspectionthrough the entire line. At
the end of the line, the parts have been washed and deburred.
Typical cells have from five to 10 CNC, flowforming, or
broaching, machines that produce several hundred thousand
parts per year working three shifts. And it takes no more than
two operators to run an entire cell. Operators do setups, continuous improvement, equipment checks, load and unload
parts and do visual inspections, said Cripsey. We use robots
extensively for part loading and unloading, or for holding parts
for deburring. We also make sure our cells are not dedicated
pieces of equipment. We have to remain flexible in terms of
what we can make here.
Being involved in customers product designs prior to the first
round of prototypes is a key strategy for MFC Netform. We can
sometimes redesign customers products from two pieces to one,
from three pieces to two and in doing so, we can save them money
and complexity in their product designs, Cripsey said. A good
supplier is involved early in the design process, because as soon
as they test that one prototype as a two-piece, its too late for us to
offer a one piece because they have already tested it. We will also
suggest alternate solutions for customer problemseven ones
that we do not offer. While customers find it unusual at first, it
goes a long way to gaining their trust.
Customers sometimes have difficulty controlling inventories,
which can create scheduling challenges. Schedule leveling is

This photo shows an overview of MFC Netform,

located in Shelby Township, Mich. The facility
manufactures advanced powertrain components
for the automotive industry.

used to smooth out customer demand and reduce changeovers,

said Dan Januszek, general manager, operations at the Shelby
Township plant. Most orders are received electronically from
our customers using standard electronic document interchange
(EDI) systems. Some orders are entered manually but are managed in the same way.

Managing operations

According to Januszek, productivity and efficiency at MFC

Netform have increased over the past five years. He attributes
the success of the plants operational performance to the philosophy of employee engagement in all areas of the business,
continually looking for opportunities for process and business
improvements and the use of the enterprise resource planning
(ERP) system. The ERP system is the main factor behind our
success, he said. It promotes communication, control and
integrates all departments, yet it does not force the company to
work its way. We still control the business systems.
However, running a high-volume automotive component
manufacturing facility does have its challenges. The repetitive
nature of the business can breed complacency, especially in
the areas with manual involvement, such as visual inspection,
said Januszek. This can be overcome by auditing, training,
job rotation and clearly defined accountability for all areas of
the business.

Another challenge is the availability of qualified, motivated

employees. There is a shortage of skilled manufacturing personnel that leads to the need for programs for developing the skills
from within, along with the associated training implications,
Januszek said.
The company does encourage promotion from within. We
offer an employee referral bonus and train on the job as well
as through development opportunities, said Januszek. We
are developing people from within. Opportunities are posted
internally first before going outside the plant. There are many
operators in development positions that allow them to show their
capabilities while learning new skills. Many of the management
and production personnel have been promoted up through the
company over time. We have a program called CAF, which
is a formal tracking program for operator development. CAF
reflects Cross Training, Attendance, Flexibility and Engagement.
An example of promoting from within is Derek Lapp. Lapp
started as a CNC operator and continued to develop his skills
within the company. In his words, I came here as a traditional
CNC operator, and was given the opportunity for growth. Now,
in my role a senior technical operator, I am involved in a broader
range of activities, such as implementing continuous improvement ideas, addressing cell production issues and learning the
art/science of flowforming, which in turn leads to greater fiscal
and personal rewards.

December 2016 23

2 0 16

This flowforming machine is used for the production

of automatic transmission drums at MFC Netform.

MFC Netform uses a pull system to order perishable tooling. A preset finished goods level is used to pull production
from the manufacturing cells. The manufacturing lines are
designed based on single-piece flow, said Januszek. There is
a formal continuous improvement program in place. Operators
are engaged in all activities within the company. Our customer
supply modelvarying at short notice with large fluctuations
means we need to keep 1 to 2 weeks safety stock. We use the
safety stock level to pull production from the manufacturing
cells at the required rate.
Cripsey said you are what you measure. The Shelby Township plant uses an OEE report from its ERP system for overall
reporting and the supporting reports of scrap, downtime, and
root-cause issues. It also uses the ERP systems labor reporting metrics to track labor efficiency. Best practices are shared

through various levels of management review.

Daily, weekly and monthly meetings communicate performance and corrective actions. A
formal review of lessons learned occurs during
regularly scheduled advanced quality planning
Teams are used for a variety of activities, such
as operational reporting, continuous improvement, personnel development and training,
system/department activity training and event
planning. Empowering people makes teams
effective, said Cripsey. However, teams still
need direction. Every team needs to have a goal,
and it needs to have rules of engagement. Teams
are critical to the success of the company. Currently, our teams have two directions: product/
work area teams and shift teams. Both have
advantages. Teams drive continuous improvement in all areas and are assigned ownership of
activities/assets and areas.

Focusing on Lean

MFC Netform has daily plant-wide standup meetings. A

standup meeting is an informal 15-minute meeting where
office personnel, shift leaders and key operators review production issues and improvements that would help address
these issues. The company continually looks for ways to
minimize waste and has instituted waste-elimination training
It also has a formalized continuous improvement program
that is operator-based with management involvement and
support. Cell-based production continuous improvement
teams have been in place for several years. This has recently
been augmented by a formal, tracked continuous improvement
program that has varying points for problem identification,
solution generation, approval and implementation.
Continuous flow is used for all part production. Betweenmachine part quantities, which are typically high to aid production numbers, are continually re-evaluated
to determine if there are opportunities to
lower them to improve quality. Operators
are respected and involved in all aspects
of the company, from production to the
social committee to continuous improvements. Customer satisfaction is key in all
we dofrom product design to problem
response. Customer is king, or a close
second after the employees, Cripsey said.
An advanced robotic deburring
machine removes sharp edges from a
carrier used in an automatic transmission application.

24 December 2016


Areas of the plant are selected for focused Kaizen reviews.

All areas of the plant are involved, and the events are preorganized by the plant manager and his support staff. The
events are pre-planned so that longer term activities can still
be carried out at the same time. Activities include cleaning,
repairing, painting, process improvements, maintenance and
so on. At MFC Netform, a Kaizen event is a broad-based
company-wide activity that not only addresses the issues in a
cell but also reminds nonproduction personnel why we come
to work, Cripsey said.

Embracing technology

MFC Netform relies heavily on its ERP system to run not only
its Lean-based manufacturing operations, but every aspect of
the business. It stands to reason that
technology is fully embraced at the

a cloud-based quality management system, Schroeder said.

Measurement results from the gages are automatically logged
in the system. Beyond the benefits of a wire-free workspace, this
wireless connectivity eliminates data entry and makes inspection
massively productive. In many cases, inspection times have been
reduced by as much as 70%.

Maintaining uptime

The maintenance department also relies heavily on technology.

We use preventive maintenance throughout our plant, said
Rob Herston, manufacturing engineer, maintenance manager.
However, on critical equipment, we have integrated our predictive maintenance directly into our computerized maintenance management system (CMMS), which is part of the ERP

A flowformed drum is moving

through a production cell automatically. This part is on its way
to CNC machines for subsequent
turning and processing.

company. We have a high level of

automation, said Cripsey. Operator work is focused on value-added
activities, as opposed to material
handling, hence the widespread use
of robots. However, the automation
we purchase is flexible to allow reuse
of the equipment on subsequent programs should there be an unforeseen
early end to a parts production.
The high use of wireless technologies stems from the organizations younger, progressive workforce, said Jeff Schroeder,
information systems manager at MFC Netform. Most employees
are extremely comfortable with technology in their personal lives.
As a result, they come to work as an employee with the same
high expectations of technology as they would as a consumer.
Schroeder said that deploying wireless network technology
has yielded numerous practical benefits. It makes the plant as
a workspace more agile and flexible, he said. Users can access
services and applications when and where they want them. For
example, an engineer can comfortably program automation
without opening an electrical panel or setting foot inside a
robot cage. Wireless technology has not just made employees
more mobile. It has transformed the way machinery and other
seemingly stationary resources are thought of.
For example, one employee designed a complete mobile workstation to facilitate tool changes entirely inside a machine. The
workstation effectively physically deploys all resources needed to
perform a tool change to its point of use. It has made substantial
impacts to planned scrap and downtime.
Beyond networking, wireless plays a large role in inspection.
Every handheld gage in the plant is wirelessly connected to

suite. Predictive tasks performed by our techs are input directly

into the ERP, which automatically generates trend reports that
are sent to management for review. The ERP is also used for
preventive maintenance activities (for both operator and maintenance techs), spares control, downtime trending/tracking,
work request generation and tracking.
Key items are monitored for predictive trends to allow for
planned downtime prior to failure or process interruption, rather
than reactive unplanned repairs. Lead (proactive) measurements
and machine integration for remote monitoring are key aspects
of the companys long-term maintenance strategy.
Maintenance is a companywide responsibility, according to
Herston. Operators know their machinesand the way they
typically runbetter than anyone in the company. An operator
is the first line of defense when it comes to noticing a potential
failure. At that point, maintenance can perform the needed corrective maintenance to stop or prevent the failure. Operators
and maintenance both perform preventive maintenance tasks
best suited for their skill sets.
Preventive and predictive maintenance are highly encouraged
by our management team, said Herston. They understand
that, to maintain elevated uptime, we must invest a significant

December 2016 25

2 0 16

amount of resources, both monetarily and with personnel/staff.

A robust training program is needed for each operator and
piece of equipment to ensure that the preventive activities are
performed to the standards of the maintenance department.
MFC Netform actively seeks ways to minimize its use of
energy. Reducing energy consumption is part of our departmental strategy because it can free up funds for needed
repairs and also relieve stress on critical equipment, Herston said. A good example is compressed air. By reducing
the amount of wasted compressed aireither by repairing
leaks or changing how we use air knives/blow-offswe know
the variable drive compressors will not run as hard, reducing
the amount of power we use. We also can avoid/delay capital
expenditure through addressing these issues.
Herston added that the plant lighting was changed to
reduce the amount of energy consumed. In addition, employees are controlling overhead doors to keep the climate in the
facility stable, thus saving energy.
The maintenance department follows the same culture as the
rest of the company. We believe in promoting from within,
Herston said. We identify employees with a certain drive and
skillset and challenge them to advance their skills and careers.
We recently brought on two junior maintenance techs. This was
an internal hire from production personnel, which allows us
to develop current production employees into skilled trades.
These techs are being trained by our senior techs and will
eventually move into full-time maintenance tech positions.
MFC Netform strives for a safe work environment. To ensure
employees remain safe, the plants actions include:
Providing mandatory lock-out/tag-out and safety training
as part of its employee orientation process
Holding biweekly crossfunctional safety meetings, which include
employees from all levels
of the organization
Requiring that all tasks/
a c t iv it i e s mai nt ai n
appropriate training
records; workers cannot
operate machinery without proper credentials
Focusing on ergonomics
and risk management

Conducting weekly layered process audits with representatives from maintenance, operations, plant engineering
and quality
Completely sealing and interlocking machines with controls. If machines are opened, machines automatically
shut down.
A culture of safety is an expectation at the Shelby Township
facility. The smallest of injuries are reported and tracked. By
continuously being prudent about small issues, big issues are
Januszek said that equipment maintenance presents the biggest safety challenge. Because each repair is unique, safety
protocols dont always address stress- and strain-related risks.
He said that the plant approaches safety aggressively by sending the message that production never trumps safety. Safety
issues are dealt with immediately and have absolute priority
over anything else.

Looking ahead

Challenges will continue to arise for MFC Netform. From the

successful implementation of technology that may be semiobsolete by the time it is released, all the way to developing work
force personnel with the will and knowledge to repair machines,
those challenges will be ongoing. However, the ability to solve
customers problems with solutions from both MFC Netform
and the MFC Maumee facilities provides for a bright future for
both locations.
Regardless of how much technology changes, the people and
the culture will remain the focus at MFC Netform. PE

This robot is used for

machine tending in a
production cell at MFC
Netform. Parts are automatically loaded and
unloaded into and out
of a machining center.

26 December 2016


CFE Medias

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Plant Engineering is excited to introduce our new Digital Reports.
2016 Digital Report

Air Strategies

2016 D igital R epoRt


Its often called the fifth utility. Compressed air plays a vital role in most
manufacturing plants, and availability of compressed air is crucial to a
wide variety of operations.
Sponsored by:
Atlas Copco, FS Elliott
To view and download this digital report visit:

It's clear by now that the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) is a transformative manufacturing strategy that will improve operations, reduce cost and
increase quality and safety.
Sponsored by:
Cisco, Epicor, Festo, Iconics, Kepware Technologies, Red Lion
To view and download this digital report visit:

2016 D igital R eport

Strategic maintenance means understanding all the parts of your plant,

understand what needs attention and when, how to make sure you take
the machine down for maintenance on YOUR time, rather than when the
machine wants to take itself down.
Sponsored by:
Rexroth Bosch Group, TPC Trainco



To view and download this digital report visit:

There is no more fundamental right in the American workplace than the right
to work safely. Creating that safe work environment is both a mechanical and a
human process.
Sponsored by:
Gates Industrial Safety


To view and download this digital report visit:

Building on
manufacturings progress

n publishing, the last really great idea was moveable type. Today, almost 700 years later, print communications really is not much more just people
taking that basic idea and refining it and adapting
it to changes in customer needs and technology.

Even in the midst of what some call the Fourth

Industrial Revolution there is very little truly revolutionary in manufacturing. Manufacturings last really
revolutionary idea was the assembly line. Today, you
are as likely to find a robot on that line as you are a
human, but the materials still move along, are reformed
and combined, and a finished product emerges at the

We do a better job today of measuring and managing

all aspects of that line, and of its component parts. We
know when a line may fail from the data we collect or
from a sensor weve installed. We can maintain and
optimize those machines by acting on the data we collect. The process, however, remains largely the same.
So how do we improve? Not by leaps and bounds,
but in small ways. Incremental improvement is like
watching an iceberg melt (an apt analogy these days).

We cannot see the difference in minutes or days, but

observed over a period of time, it is a powerful change
that can occur. We have to be patient to see change.
The best practices we offer this year, and the many
more great best practices you can find on any topic at will not transform your plant
tomorrow. They will provide fresh ideas to improve
aspects of your plants operation. Measured another
way, what would 2% improvement mean to your company and to your personnel?
Manufacturing is focused on continuous improvement. That quest to do a little better every day is the
reason manufacturing innovation didnt stop at the
assembly line. The process of improving manufacturing every day continues in large plants and small.
While we may not be able to see what that improvement might look like in five years, we can look back at
where we began and where we are to see that progress
is being made every day. This years collection of best
practices builds on that progress. PE
Bob Vavra
Content Manager, Plant Engineering


Global Manufacturing


Air casters


VFD efficiency


Performance reviews


Electrical testing


Power plant operations


Reliable bolted joints


Digital plant


Quality and throughput


December 2016 29

BestPractices: G lobal m anufacturinG

In the IIoT age,

automation simplifies work
By Doug Burns
Lenze Americas

odern automation initiatives are gaining traction across the globe. Following three previous revolutionsthe development of the
steam engine, mass production on the conveyor belt, and the dawn of computersthe
term Fourth Industrial Revolution might
have some believing the manufacturing world is changing
overnight. Although tempting to characterize an influx of
technology as revolutionary, the long history of manufacturing shows us that the nature of all change is evolutionary.
A logical next phase, digital automation technologies
ushered in an era of unprecedented machine intelligence.
Advancements in sensors, networking and the use of new
communication systems created a surge of Industrial Internet
of Things (IIoT) initiatives aimed at producing goods with
improved flexibility, speed and efficiency. The rate of adoption for automation technologies has been extraordinary,
with nearly every factory now automated, and projections
show the global robotics industry expanding to over $226
billion by 2021.
Many companies already use machine intelligence to
expand the efficiency and performance of operations. A
recent survey (Business Insider) found that over 80% of
executives agree that successful adoption of IoT technologies will be critical for future success. Another study (Quest
Technomarketing, Germany) reports that half of all mechanical engineers already rely on modular, intelligent machines.
The number of these machines will increase twice as quickly
as generic machine production over the next few yearswith
modular, intelligent machines slated to reach an 80% market
share within three years.
All of these trends are boosting demand for intelligent
motion controlalong with the need to manage complexity.
Lets look at some successful strategies for implementing
automation technologies.

Think in terms of individualization

One of the most important drivers of Internet of Things

(IoT)-enabled and digital motor drive technology is the
trend toward product customization. There is a growing
need to streamline and conserve resources, along with a
steadily growing world population and trends toward flexible packaging and individualization of demand.

30 December 2016

plant engineering

For example, some automakers no longer offer as wide a

range of models. Buyers can select a special detail or combination of details that may only be produced for one car. The
trend toward increased individualization is obvious in other
industries as well. In years past, a supermarket might stock
two carton sizes of milk available in full fat or skim versions.
Todays shoppers can choose between many different carton
sizes and various qualities from normal pasteurized milk to
raw, organic, rice, and soy milk.
Do we drive more cars or drink more milk as a result? Not
necessarily. Batch sizes are shrinking all the time, yet variances
are increasing for the same quantity produced. You can easily find many other examples of shrinking production runs.
Greater variety may not mean more consumption necessarily,
yet can translate into more sales of a manufacturers brands.
As production quantities decrease, the goal is to contain
costs without compromising on quality. Representing a shift
from high-volume and limited variability manufacturing, many
industries are already experiencing rising demand for lower
volume mixed production runs. Automated factories will see
more temporary production lines requiring reconfiguration
for increasingly diverse products. That means manufacturers
increasingly must adapt to mix demand and ever-changing
product portfolios, which translates into more rapid changeover of products or packaging sizes.
Therefore, they need to think about how best to produce
more variety at a reasonable cost. Obviously, a separate
machine for every packaging or product variation drives up
cost. Rather, machines must be capable of doing more. Intelligent and connected machines are more flexible and better
equipped to manufacture customized products with the highest degree of productivity, quality and resource efficiency in
small and large series production quantities.

Dont invite complexity

Machine builders and manufacturers shoulder a great deal

of responsibility when it comes to automation technology
implementation. Advanced automation technologies can
provide tremendous opportunities; they can also add layers of
complexity in the form of kinematic programming and control systems and integration into the network, Internet- and
cloud-based platforms.
Everything stands and falls on efficient and effective production planning as production runs decrease. While plantbased controlled production planning might be up to the job,
the complexity involved would be practically impossible to
manage at that level.

System boundaries may blur between a machine and other

machines upstream and downstream. Logically speaking,
it only makes sense to have machine intelligence and communication with other machines involved in the application.
Compounding the complexity, most plants still operate with
at least some legacy systems.
Another challenging factor is an aging workforce and
lack of experienced employeesand high competition for
candidates who possess technical skills. Machines must not
be endlessly complex for the human operators. Protracted
machine design and commissioning, programming demands
or steep learning curves do not support faster pace and leaner
operations needed to compete in a digital world.

Focus on simplicity

So what should be the focus when it comes to specifying

motion control? Go back to basics. By definition, automation innovation should make jobs easier. Simplifying complex technologies requires modularity of motion control
concepts and standardization of functional units from the
motor to the shaft. Better machines require drive control
solutions that overcome the challenges of product individualization and the complexities of digital technologies.
Robots must be more easily programmed to perform
a wide range of tasks to support flexible manufacturing,
including product design variability. Machine designs
must accommodate product variants and easy changeovers.
Machines with self-optimization and the right motor and
inverter systems can make automation more efficient by
expediting machine commissioning, programming and
maintenance diagnostics.
Modularity makes it possible to add or remove machine
drive modules in the production process or quickly retool
machines using modular programming. For machine builders it is nothing short of a paradigm change. Their first
priority used to be perfecting a machine to manufacture
products with the greatest possible efficiency to the highest
possible standard. Now they can offer customers optimal
flexibility and the agility, without sacrificing quality.
On the plant floor, modularity means different packaging sizes, materials and even contents can be processed,
packed and palletized on a single machine. Modular and
standardized machine drives and software engineering tools
are already helping make complex production requirements
and IIoT-enabled technologies more manageable.
Built on parameterized programming technology, smart
motor drives expedite machine kinematic programming
from concept to deployment. Parameterization allows easier
commissioning than traditional programming. Replacing
complex programming with uniform machine-configuration
software tools significantly reduces engineering time and
technical requirements and eliminates redundancies that
drive up costs.
Frequency inverters with advanced functionality actively
support connectivity for new and legacy machines. Bringing a smart drive online no longer requires special training, thanks to modular motion control components and

engineering tools. So, machine builders can focus on what

they know bestelements unique to their projectsthe
differentiators that make their products more competitive.

Fast track connectivity

Digital connectivity is driving equipment monitoring and

asset management strategies to improve performance,
uptime and machine operating life. Agile and scalable drive
technologies enable efficient data flow, visibility and control, with secure data transmission for real-time decisionmaking, diagnostics, maintenance and predictive analytics.
Wherever machines are moving things, and wherever components are monitoring, controlling and driving machines,
this is where you can find connected drive and automation
technology. While engineering tools are needed, one ought
not require an advanced degree to commission and operate
a machine.
Simplifying otherwise complex operations is the main
challenge that intelligent drive systems can overcome. The
modular concept is also migrating into software. Highquality, adaptive software will become a key driver of innovation and engineering productivity. Machine module functions no longer require traditional programming; they can
be programmed simply by adjusting parameters.
Motion-centric automation solutions incorporate ergonomics and user-friendly, multi-touch, human machine
interface (HMI) operating systems for process visualization
and easier integration to support network and IIoT-enabled
connectivity and control.
In terms of advanced control, data aggregation, monitoring
and diagnostics, cloud-based applications make it possible
to perform complex functions remotely that were once only
accessible at the plant level.

Set IIoT in motion

Speed, flexibility, productivity and efficiency remain cornerstones of manufacturing production, packaging and logistics.
Yet the dynamics in global markets are changing, reflecting
new supply chain models with more variation and shorter
production cycles requiring greater agility to reduce machine
development time and turnkey system integration.
The design and engineering of machines has always been
characterized by a high degree of customer centricity, requiring
the translation of manufacturing needs into technical solutions. Thats where scalable and easily configurable modular
motion control and drive components and software designed
to address a wider range of application requirements can make
the greatest impact.
IIoT technologies have proliferated not only in large companies but also in small and mid-sized companies. There is
no lack of on-ramps, so the choice ultimately comes down to
leading or lagging behind competitors. Harnessing technology to simplify complexity is the direction the industry has
been headed for many years. The goal now is to continue
systematically down this path. The IoT framework supports
this trend and stands to act as a stimulus to all segments of
industry. PE
plant engineering

December 2016 31

BestPractices: V FD e FFiciency

VFD efficiency:
Three best practices
By Gary Jacott
Motion Industries

he use of variable frequency drives (VFDs) to control the speed of an ac induction motor has many
benefits including improved process control, energy
savings, higher reliability and reduced wear and tear.
Ac motors are very common in manufacturing and
processing plants.
When a motor is run at half its maximum speed, it consumes
significantly less energy than it does at full speed.
For centrifugal loads (fans and some pumps) the power at half
speed can be as little as 1/8th the base speed power. When using
a VFD, motor speed can be changed almost instantaneously to
address load and process changes (temperature, pressure, force,
etc.). An added benefit is its ability to increase the precision
of process control with the ability to control motor speeds to
within 0.1% tolerance.

A VFD can provide a soft start capability for a motor (that

is, the motor can be ramped up to desired speed instead of being
turned on at full RPMs), decreasing the mechanical stresses
associated with full-voltage startups. This results in lower maintenance costs and a longer motor life. In cyclic loads, the VFD
also helps to avoid motor overheating.
VFDs have advanced over the years in both functionality and
high speed switching technology. The output waveform is not a
perfect sine wave, which can present some challenges that can
be overcome by following some best practices upon installation.
Here are three best practices when looking to improve VFD

1. Specify/install an input line reactor

Transient voltages on the ac power lines can cause inrush currents to a VFD drive, resulting in an overvoltage condition of
the dc bus. These transient voltage conditions are often caused
by utility capacitor switching and will cause VFDs to shut
down without warning. The addition of a line reactor will limit
the magnitude of inrush current. This current prevents trips
and component failures and reduces the amount of potential
A line reactor will also reduce input line distortion, which
is caused by the nonlinear characteristics of drives. The line
reactor will limit the inrush current to the rectifier, rounding
the waveform, reducing the peak currents, and lowering the
harmonic current distortion. High-peak currents may cause
distortion of the voltage waveform. The reduction of those peak
currents also reduces total harmonic voltage distortion and
mitigates harmonics sent back on to the line.

2. Specify/install shaft grounding rings

Due to the high-speed switching frequencies in pulse width

modulated (PWM) inverters, variable frequency drives induce
shaft currents in ac motors. The switching frequencies of
insulated-gate bipolar transistors (IGBT) used in these drives
produce voltages on the motor shaft during normal operation
through parasitic capacitance between the stator and rotor and
discharge through the bearings and can cause pitting, fluting,
and premature motor failure.
Shaft grounding rings for ac motors divert harmful shaft
voltages to ground and extend bearing life. Most motor manufacturers stock standard motors with grounding rings installed
VFD is used for variable demand control of the centrifugal
pump. Image courtesy: Motion Industries

32 December 2016

plant engineering

internally. They can also be added externally in the field or

installed internally by a motor repair facility.

3. Install an output filter for long motor lead

lengths over 100 feet

The inverter section of a drive does not produce sinusoidal

voltage, but rather a series of voltage pulses created from the dc
bus. These pulses travel down the motor cables to the motor.
The pulses are then reflected back to the drive. The reflection
is dependent on the rise time of the drive output voltage, cable
characteristics, cable length, and motor impedance. If the voltage reflection is combined with another subsequent pulse, peak
voltages can be at a destructive level.
One IGBT drive output can have reflected wave, transient
voltage stresses of up to twice the DC bus. Research has indicated
that the fast switching capability of the IGBTs, along with an
excessive lead length between motor and VFD, will contribute
to reduced motor life.
To reduce problems, use an output filter such as:
Line reactors at the inverter output (typically protects to
about 500 feet)
dv/dt filter (RLCresistance, inductance, capacitance) at
the inverter output (typically protects to about 2,000 feet)

Sine filter at the inverter output (not distance limited)

Snubber circuit at motor (not distance limited).
These devices reduce the rise (dv/dt) and reduce the voltage level seen at the motor terminals. VFD-rated cable is
also recommended.
These best practices are good rule-of-thumb recommendations and will help prevent premature motor failure and
improve system reliability. See the VFD manufacturers installation manual and the motor
manufacturers guidelines for
more specific details. PE
Gary Jacott has spent 30
years as an electrical engineer,
including 20 years specializing
in the industrial automation
niche. A graduate of the University of Minnesota, Gary
currently works with Motion
Industr ies Process Pumps
& E quipme nt div i sion in
Omaha, Neb.

Considerations when using

VFDs with standard motors
By Mike Howell
EASA Technical Support Specialist

otors that meet the requirements of NEMA Std.

MG 1, Part 31, are designed for use with variable frequency drives (VFDs).
Additionally, motors that meet
the requirements of NEMA
Std. MG 1, Part 30, may be
suitable for inverter duty if appropriate measures are taken (e.g., line conditioning).
End users desiring speed and/or torque
control often procure and install VFDs to
modify existing applications where a standard induction motor is in place. And, frequently, they try to control costs by using
the existing motor. Lets briefly cover a few
areas of concern with such misapplication
of a standard induction motor.

Speed-torque characteristics

Motors meeting the requirements of NEMA Std. MG 1,

Figure 1: Speed-torque characteristics. All

images courtesy: EASA

plant engineering

December 2016 33

BestPractices: VFD e FFiciency

Figure 2: A typical speed-torque
curve for an induction motor.

shaft currents that damage the

bearings and lubricant. Motors
designed for this type of operation are often constructed with
insulated bearings and shaft
grounding brushes. These modifications can often be made to
standard motors.
Standard induction motor
st ator w indings usu a l ly are
not insulated for use in VFD
applications. Most machines
designed for inverter duty use
a modified magnet wire. The
ground insulation may also be
enhanced, and more robust coil
bracing is common.


Part 31, have defined speed-torque characteristics such

as shown in Figure 1. Figure 2 shows a typical speedtorque curve for an induction motor with some fixed
voltage applied to the machine terminals that results in
acceleration according to the machine dynamics. Point
3 in Figure 2 represents the speed at rated or full-load
torque and corresponds to Point 3 in Figure 1. Using a
standard induction motor with a VFD without proper
evaluation to determine Points 1, 2 and 4 from Figure
1 introduces the potential for overheating in the lower
speed range (below Point 3), and mechanical damage
from over speeding (beyond Point 3).

Shaft currents

Shaft currents are another

major concern. The high
switching frequency associated with inverter operation produces a capacitive
coupling between the rotor
and stator that can lead to
Figure 3: Stranded lowimpedance cable made specifically for VFD applications.

34 December 2016

plant engineering

Addit iona l ly, considerat ion

must be given to other installation details for VFD applic at i on s . For e x a mp l e , its
important to establish a lowimpedance, common ground
between the motor, drive and
electrical system. Cable manufacturers have products specifically for this purpose (see
Figure 3).
Service centers can often modify existing machines
to address potential issues with bearing insulation and
stator winding insulation. However, defining a speedtorque curve to a standard motor as shown in Figure
1 isnt an easy task. Variable-torque loads such as fans
and centrifugal pumps are less risky candidates, providing the maximum operating speed doesnt exceed the
motors base speed. Constant-torque loads like conveyor
belts would be more susceptible to overheating in the
low speed range. The most conservative approach is to
procure an inverter duty motor thats appropriate for the
application. And, if the goal is just to limit
starting current, a much simpler option is
to use a variable-voltage, fixed-frequency
soft starter. PE
Mike Howell is a technical support specialist at the Electrical Apparatus Service
Association (EASA), St. Louis, MO; 314993-2220 EASA is a CFE
Media content partner, and an international
trade association of nearly 1,800 electromechanical sales and service firms in 63

BestPractices: E lEctrical t Esting

Six ways to avoid

electrical testing issues
By David Manny
L&S Electric

n any large-scale industrial facility, one of the critical

times where problems occur is starting up electrical
systems and restarting them after routine maintenance
has taken place. In either case, it is important to do
so both safely and securely to reduce any problems
that could occur. Those problems may be associated
with a reduced equipment lifespan. Alternatively, with
the safety of those who work in the area.
When it is time to start the electrical systems at your
facility, use technicians who have specialized training.
This includes any electrical testing and troubleshooting
required for the startup to occur without problems. Any
issues occurring during this time may result in a loss of
productivity due to unnecessary delays. Perform several
tests before startup to ensure that everything goes off
without a hitch.
Consider these six kinds of electrical testing to avoid
potential problems:

3. Contact resistance: Also referred to as the ductor

test. The contact resistance test checks the resistance

of electrical connections, including the connectors,
joints, and terminations. It is one way to detect
specific problems, such as eroded contact surfaces,
loose connections, and corroded contacts.

4. Primary injection testing: This type of testing is

typically associated with high-voltage power distribution systems. It injects a test current into the
primary side of the system to see how it behaves with
that level of current. Secondary injection testing
may also be of value. However, it applies the test current to the trip relay directly on the secondary side.

5. Power factor: This test is typically performed on

large transformers. It ensures the integrity of the

insulation is still intact.

1. Partial discharge testing: Partial discharges occur

6. Gas sampling: Sometimes referred to as dissolved

within the insulation of high-or medium-voltage
gas analysis, it looks at the gases in transformer
electrical equipment. They
oil. Testing the oil in this manare tiny electrical sparks
ner determines the level of equipand occur as a result of an
breakdown since insulating
By testing the equipment ment
air pocket breaking down
materials liberate gases as they
within the insulation. Over
break down.
regularly and doing any
time, they could erode the
insulation and eventually,
Along with running these tests
repairs that are necessary
may lead to the failure of
as part of a routine preventative
the insulation. Partial disprogram, there may
before they become a major maintenance
charge testing can be part of
be some other factors to consider
an ongoing predictive mainproblem, it can help to save as well. By testing the equipment
tenance program.
regularly and doing any repairs
your business money and pre- that are necessar y before they
Insulation resistance testbecome a major problem, it can
ing: This test, sometimes
vent costly and inconvenient help to save your business money
known as the Megger, applies
and prevent costly and inconvedowntime.
dc voltage to a particular spot
nient downtime. PE
within the insulation to test
David Manney is a marketing
for resistance. The measure
of the resistance can determine the condition of the administrator at L&S Electric. This article originally
appeared on L&S Electric Watts New Blog. L&S Electric
Inc. is a CFE Media content partner.


plant engineering

December 2016 35

BestPractices: r eliable b olted j oints

Seven ways to assure

a reliable bolted joint
By Randy Riddell

olted joints are many times ignored when it comes

to ensuring long-term reliability of equipment.
With most fastened joints, maintenance practices can be sloppy when the original design
is good with little impact to overall equipment
reliability. This can lead to complacency when
executing details of joint assembly and maintenance. While
the immediate reliability impact may not be noticed, the
insurance that a properly assembled bolted joint can provide
should not be overlooked. Bolted joints are an integral part
of equipment and component reliability as they connect
a majority of our process equipment by coupling shafts
together, holding down equipment or holding together the
critical components.
Just like any reliable system, there are many details to
get correct, and like any failure there are many details to
overlook when it comes to maintaining a reliable bolted
joint. While there are elaborate solutions to some joint
issues, most reliable joints come down to getting the basics
right. As with most equipment and component reliability, there are several key areas to focus on such as design,
installation, maintenance and operation. While design is
a foundation for equipment reliability, the scope of this
article will concentrate on installation and maintenance
of the bolted joint for best reliability.
Installation and assembly for a reliable bolted joint has
some fundamental elements. Here are seven key installation areas to pay attention to assure a reliable bolted joint.

1. Check that the two mating surfaces are flat. This

will result in even loading on the joint with consistent
compression and ensure that the bolt load is perpendicular
to the joint. In addition, some joints may also be subject
to leaks if the surfaces are not flat.
2. Check bolts, nuts and washers to make sure they
are correct for the assembly. Are the bolts the correct
grade (SAE 2, 5, 8, metric 8.8, 10.9, etc.)? Are the bolts
the correct metallurgy such as carbon steel, stainless steel
or B7 for high temperature? Is the bolt length correct and
threaded length correct? Some joints are designed to keep
threaded portions out of shear plane of joint. Before tightening, verify that any shank portion of a screw does not
bottom out in the hole as in Figure 1 and Figure 2. This
36 December 2016

plant engineering

will not only lead to damaged threads but will lead to a

loose joint as no preload or clamp force will go to the joint
even though you will see plenty of torque during assembly.
Neighboring bolts will also now shoulder that joint stress
and increase the probability of failure.

3. Ensure proper thread engagement at assembly. Since

a majority of the bolt stress is taken on the first few threads,
inspect the condition of the first several threads being
engaged. For full engagement, make sure the bolt sticks
a couple threads through the nut to fully engage bolt and
nut to avoid short bolting condition. The lead threads are
not full so the nut should not be flush with the end of the
bolt but stuck through a few threads.
4. Dont adjust assembly while it is tight as this will
put uneven loads on the bolt and can eventually lead to
bolts loosening up during machine operation. Loosen
bolts if any machine or flange movements need to be
made such as for alignment while the machine is down
and locked out.
5. Choose correct torque tools and methods. Different
methods have different associated errors. Torque methods include by feel, torque wrench (dial, clicker, digital,
hydraulic), turn of nut (used many times on very large
bolted connections) and ultrasonic bolt elongation. Dont
use an impact wrench to preload bolts. Overload and large
variations of bolt preload typically result. Also use smooth
motions when using a torque wrench. Jerking the wrench
can also cause large preload errors.
6. Choose the correct bolt torque amplitude to achieve
proper bolt preload. Bolt torque can be calculated by the
equation below once the friction factor, K, and target bolt
preload, F, are determined.
Torque (in-lbs)= K * d* F
K = Nut friction factor (dimensionless)
D = Nominal bolt diameter (inches)
F = Bolt preload (lbs); use 75% proof load for joints that
will be disassembled; use 90% proof load for joints that are
permanent like structural members.

The calculated torque is only as good as the

variables used in the equation. Know your nut
friction factor which is influenced by installation condition (dry, lubricated, corroded,
etc.). Use lubrication on bolts if possible at
assembly (oil, anti-seize, Loctite, etc.). Most
will lubricate the threads of a bolt but miss
lubricating under the head of the bolt. Typically over 60% of bolt torque is lost by friction
under the bolt head. Using lube will reduce
bolt preload scatter, protect threads and make
disassembly easier later. If dry torque is used
then make sure the correct magnitude is used.
Bolt coatings can also greatly affect friction
factor. Use lubricated torque to increase the
life of the nut particularly when the bolt is
threaded into the machine-screw application.

7. Follow bolt torque sequence using a

crisscross pattern. Also use torque bolts with
ramped torque amplitudes of 30%, 60% and
100% torque to assure even joint preload. While
executing this is preferred on all bolted joints, it
can be more critical on some large joints where
the assembly can get cocked or easily have large
preload scatter such as on tapered hub type
Once a good joint is designed and assembled,
proper maintenance of the bolted joint will
become critical to keep it together without
failure. Retighten bolts after machine warm
up especially on critical applications. Thermal
growth and other factors can move the joint
which can loosen. For extra insurance other methods may
be employed to ensure long-term bolt preload. These may
include Loctite, special lock washers or nuts, tie wire bolt
heads or tack weld bolt heads so backing out will not
occur. A torque wrench should be checked annually to
verify that it is still producing consistent accurate results.
A torque wrench should also be stored at the lowest
possible setting. Use new fasteners as much as possible.
This is cheap insurance for most joints. Declining and
less consistent, repeatable bolt preload results with each
reuse of bolts and nuts.
When key design, assembly, or maintenance elements
are not carefully attended, bolt failure can result. Some
common bolt failure modes are fatigue, overload, stripped
threads, shear or corrosion. Fatigue and overload are two
of the more common failure modes. Many bolt failures
occur at the first engaged thread of the bolt as that is
the point of the highest stress. Failures under the head
or first thread are also common areas of bolt failure as
shown in Figure 3. As long as a bolt is not over torqued
on installation then the most likely source for overload
is an extreme external load on the joint.

Figures 1 (top) and 2: Its important to check bolts, nuts and

washers to make sure they are correct for the assembly.
Before tightening, verify that any shank portion of a screw
does not bottom out in the hole. All images courtesy: SCA

plant engineering

December 2016 37


nal force may be
seen directly on
the bolt. Consequently a bolt with
higher preload
will result in the
j oint abs orbing
more of the external cyclic load and
insulate the bolt
from fatigue.

Figure 3: Fatigue
and overload are
two of the more
common failure
modes. Many bolt
failures occur at
the first engaged
thread of the bolt,
as that is the point
of the highest

Fatigue can be a more subtle and challenging failure mechanism to keep in

check but can be improved with the
right precautions. Here are three
key actions to improve the fatigue
strength of the bolted joint.

1. For the bolts, use bolts that were

made with rolled threads instead of cut
threads as fatigue strength is greater with
roller threads. Most standard bolts are made
with rolled threads, but special machine design applications
that use special-made bolts may not be. Using a higher grade
material will also increase fatigue strength as endurance
limit is increased.
2. In the assembly, assure that the head angularity is
less than 1 deg. Fatigue increases sharply beyond 1 deg
head angularity. Counter bore to true bolt head angularity
is a common fix for some applications such as motor feet.

During assembly
ensure that bolt preload
is sufficient as previously
discussed. This will minimize the cyclic load that
the bolt will see which will
increase the resistance to
bolt fatigue. As seen on
the joint diagram on Figure 4, once the external
force on the joint exceeds
a low-bolt preload, the
joint compression can
quickly be compromised
and then all the exter-

While most bolted joints have a significant enough

design that errors in details of installation and
maintenance may be overlooked without noticeable impact to overall reliability, there are
many challenging applications where precision assembly must be followed to avoid equipment failures. For the others, following bolted
joint best practices just builds in extra insurance
for the unknown things that can happen to our
equipment. Complex applications with rotating
bending stresses, reversing loads, thermal stresses
and screw (blind drilled) machine designs can offer real
challenges to achieve a reliable bolted joint. Designs for
these applications need to be especially robust to counter
these external factors. Bolted joints are simple on the
surface, but it takes doing all the little things right to
ensure a reliable bolted joint of any design. If you have a
bolted joint that is all of a sudden having failures, review
the fundamentals for joint assembly to improve bolted
joint reliability. PE
Randy Riddell is reliability manager at SCA.

Figure 4: Once the external

force on the joint exceeds
a low-bolt preload, the joint
compression can quickly
be compromised.

38 December 2016


BestPractices: q ualtiy and t hroughput

Throughput is mindset based

on passion and process
By Gary Winslow
Ghafari Associates

ne person with passion is better than 40 people

merely interested, wrote English Novelist E. M.
Forster. Getting your team to share the passion and
understand the process, makes anything possible
and throughput a given.
A top personal vehicle manufacturer constructed
a new facility to manufacture its flagship product.
However, when it came time to meet the production requirements, the plant had a hard time delivering as expected. What
had gone wrong?
There were a couple obvious reasons why:
Severe weather during the installation greatly affected the
completion, thereby delaying the launch of the new system.
Delayed completion affected the duration of the launch, not
allowing the team to become familiar with the new system
After those two issues were addressed, two unanticipated factors were discovered that had the greatest impact. Customers
loved the product and were willing to pay a little more for a more

custom paint finish. The more complex paint finishing process

changed the original model mix and required more process time.
Second, the flexibility of the coating process originally defined
by the paint supplier did not meet the workability required for
the process.
To tackle throughput issues related to the quality of a painted
finish of a vehicle requires a careful and systematic analysis.
The following examples and recommendations cover supply
chain quality requirements and define the costs of inventory waste,
motion waste, waiting waste, overproduction, over processing,
and defect waste. If the issues require a quality control deep dive,
when should one be done? Furthermore, over the course of a
years-long project, technology makes advances, and as a result,
expectations and measurement standards can become more
Long-angle view of the line showing the cleanliness and organization indicative of careful management and employee buyin. Image courtesy: Ghafari Associates

plant engineering

December 2016 39


An example of a model of an industrial paint shop shows

the necessity of 3-D modeling to seamlessly coordinate the
trades, supplies, and services throughout the design process.
Image courtesy: Ghafari Associates

demanding. What factors must be considered when scheduling

time to launch? Factors ranging from inadequate training or color
changes can result in significant loss of production efficiency.
In the case of the personal vehicle project, the metrics established to measure throughput and quality did not fully address
how far the industry had gone from initial concept to launch.
Model mixes that predicted what the customers wanted, did
not comprehend the volume of higher-end products. Coatings from the paint supplier did not deliver the workability
required. Quality measurements continued to advance during
construction. The plant paint shop management did not grasp
the complexity of the system and, as a result, did not implement
the necessary training.

ated with Lean Manufacturing: transport, inventory, motion,

waiting, overproduction, resources, over processing and defects
are all factors in a paint shop not meeting their quality metrics.
Transport is wasted in moving parts to repair facilities or
stations. Inventory waste means maintaining more raw materials for additional parts. Motion waste, in this industry, means
additional sanding, painting and finessing parts to meet quality.
Waiting waste means waiting to repair bad parts and assembly
lines waiting for good parts. Overproduction means having
to process more parts because of scrap from quality. Waste is
also seen when resources are not fully utilized or are focused in
the wrong areas. The over processing of parts to meet quality
creates several forms of waste. Often the repairing of parts by
itself can cause defects.
Validate system performance and quantify the first parts produced to meet the quality metrics established in the project
charter. If quality does not meet the metrics established in the
charter, a quality control deep dive may be required.


Here are a few insights to consider:

Be sure everyone in the supply chain can meet the quality
requirements. As with international nuclear treaties, trust but
verify. Subject matter expert (SME) for quality and materials
should go to the parts suppliers to validate processes and quality. Perform lab testing on all proposed coatings and define the
process to validate quality once received. Quality is a closedloop process.
Without quality, throughput does not exist. That is why
poor quality drives the several forms of waste commonly associ-

40 December 2016


12 issues to consider

Here are 12 considerations:

1. It is not necessary to change. Survival is not mandatory.
~W. Edwards Deming. Often the very survival of a project or a
company depends on improving quality. At times it requires a
deep dive into the basic processes and procedures that are at the
core of your business. During those times, leadership is most
critical. When an honest dialog can be established, amazing
things can happen.

2. Break the process down into steps. Painting is a very complex process. Are the raw materials of the right quality? Leaders
have to be open to change and recommendationswhen leaders
set aside preconceived notionseven longstanding assumptionsat the start of a project, new opportunities to achieve
the next level take center stage. When you coat a product, the
orientation of the part is important.
3. Throughput is more than a number, it is a mindset based
on passion and process. The old adage that cleanliness is next
to godliness must have come from a paint shop leader. Nothing affects quality like dirt and unfortunately most of the dirt
defects are from paint shop personnel (see defect graphic below).

Understanding the causes of dirt defects and the processes to

prevent them are key factors in reducing them. Being passionate about cleanliness and part preparation prior to coating can
greatly improve quality. Understanding the processes that drive
quality combined with having the passion to learn the system
and lead the team will have a direct impact on quality. Getting the quality right from the beginning sets the tone for the
department and shows that quality is the driver to throughput.
It takes time to get the quality right and then increase production. But if you try to get production then improve quality, it
is a very hard road: costs skyrocket from poor quality, and the
need for speed increases waste and repair costs so management
cuts back on spending. If a leader is focused on building quality
and still cant make rate, look for what changed.

4. Changes can be singular or a variety or combination of

several things. Go back to the project charter and design criteria to validate that the basic assumptions were correct. If they
have changed, you need to baseline the original criteria. Then,
through change management, redefine the new requirements.

Sometimes model mixes that predicted customers wants did

not comprehend the volume of higher end products. This results
in additional process times and routes impacting throughput.

5. Its a possibility the coatings from the paint supplier

did not deliver the workability required. When you consider
all the different exterior factors that can affect a paint coating,
it is easy to see how a predicted coating made three years in
advance may not have coverage, film build, repair ability, cohesion, orange peel, distinction of image and other metrics that
are required to approve the coating. Almost all clients have a
defined procedure to validate a coating through testing that
cannot be compromised.
6. Another variable is that quality measurements may
have continued to advance during construction. On a recent
project, the team sent the first painted part to their central
office for review and was told by their executive that the team
had created a major problem. The quality of the coating was
better on the first part than expected for the final validated
part. The team had to improve on appearance by a certain
percentage that they typically experienced in a launch even
though it was better than expected. The complexity of the
system and necessary training may not be fully comprehended
by the client.
One of the most common mistakes made when building a
new system is that the client does not realize how the change
in technology would require a significant change in thinking.
It has long been understood that effecting change requires
a significant emotional event. Building a new system with
new technology creates that significant event, and clients do
not realize the extensive need for training. All processes and
standardized work will most likely need to be rewritten.
This is the time to give the critical thinking and problem
solving classes. Even something as simple as a clean room
policy that may have never been given a thought may need
to be established. This is the time to change the attitude of
Ive always done it this way. Why should I have to change?
All the new technology needs to be taught, including new
predictive/preventive maintenance training. The new ways to
process and repair parts all need to be taught. We have given
several workshops on training people, and when management
tries to get it all done in two weeks to save money, it backfires.
Training takes time and must be used to be retained. The old
adage, use it or lose it, is never more evident than in training.
7. Take the time to launch it right. It is much easier to get
the quality right and then improve speed than to launch too
quickly and improve quality later. If quality is at a 2016 level
and the customers change during that time, that quality metric
changes and the project charter should change to build best in
class quality. Best in class is a snapshot of a point in time. Sometimes the clients competitor may launch a new system prior
to your launch that is better than the expected quality of your
product. So your client does not want to be shown launching
a new system at a lower quality than their competitor, so you
have to find ways to get better results.
plant engineering

December 2016 41

BestPractices: q ualtiy and t hroughput

8. Paint applicators are the last piece the paint sees before
getting on the part. It is imperative that applicators get cleaned
at a regular frequency during production to maintain quality. If
the next part being painted is the same color, it is a simple cleaning. If you are changing colors, it is more extensive because you
must purge all the remaining colors in the paint lines feeding
the applicators to prevent cross contamination of colors. (Ive
seen pink cars because the red paint was not fully removed from
the paint lines for the white car being painted.) This is a major
reason for color batching the same color in production schedule.
The Crystal Cap cleaners are the last step in the paint process
as they clean the applicators. They are also used for solvent
recovery and reducing volatile organic compounds from being
released to the environment, so keeping them clean is critical.
Image courtesy: Crystal Cap Cleaners

9. These color changes between color batches may seem

insignificant, but when a paint shop does not make rate,
you need to come back to the basics to find what impacted
throughput. We discovered that the time programmed to perform color changes, as well as the frequency, often exceeded
those identified by the customer at the start of the project.
The plant had just assumed how long it would take without
actual testing, so when they experienced some quality issues,
they assumed it was dirty applicators, and they kept increasing the color change time. When we timed the color changes
and the frequency and added all the lost time together, it
equaled over 16 hours a week of lost production.
10. Factors that go into efficient production can be subject to Pareto analysis. For example, before painting a part,
it must be clean. While waiting to be painted, it must not
be contaminated. Leaders prioritize the defects and resolve
them one at a time, performing the Pareto analysis
after each resolution.
11. Benchmarking is crucial because you
must have the data. There are, of course, always
human factors, always changes. But when leaders
do everything by the book and the result is wrong,
leaders have to look at the questions they are asking. What data was not present? When isolating
the cause of the delay, they followed the famous
logic of Sherlock Holmes: when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however
improbable, must be the truth.
12. Getting quality and throughput takes
passion and leadership. Gary Convis, president
of Toyota Motor Manufacturing in Kentucky,
stated, Management has no more critical role
than motivating and engaging large numbers of
people to work together toward a common goal.
Defining and explaining what that goal is, sharing a path to achieving it, motivating people to
take the journey with you, and assisting them
by removing obstaclesthese are managements
reason for being.
A passionate mindset

Because of the number of variables in the development of a complex process, data capture and
benchmarking are essential features in planning
throughput and maintaining quality standards.
Rapid changes in the market and in technology
require managers to continuously troubleshoot
the logic of process steps and to look for delays
that can result in costly downtime on the production line, as throughput is a mindset based on
passion and process. PE
Gary Winslow is group manager for Ghafari

42 December 2016

plant engineering

BestPractices: A ir C Asters

7 reasons to take a fresh look

at an existing technology
By John Massenburg

n any facility, there are a number of ways to move

heavy equipment. Riggers and plant personnel may
turn to the equipment theyve used beforecranes,
roller equipment or lift trucksto transport and inch
massive machines and oversized loads into place. But
more and more, crews are embracing the ease of use and
safety advantages of air casters for these challenging tasks.
Although air caster technology was originally developed
in the mid-1950s, recent changes in the industrial landscape
are making them a modern means to consider for moving
machinery, equipment, product and cargo.
Today, the layout of the typical plant floor has become
dynamic and requires adjustment as production needs arise.
Manufacturing equipment simply doesnt stay in one place
like it used to. As technology advances, and management
looks to increase the productivity of each machine, teams
are being asked to rearrange equipment on the plant floor
to increase throughput.
Its not just machinery and processing equipment that are
on the move either. In some operations, large assemblies
need to be gently inched through tight quarters as they
make their way through the process. These applications
are ideal for air casters.

Air casters: The basics

Compressed air inflates a donut-shaped tube beneath the

square air caster aluminum plate that is under the load
being moved. When the tube completely inflates, it creates
a pocket of pressurized air beneath the plate. Air leaks out
from under the tube, creating a 0.003-to 0.005-in. layer of
Like a hovercraft, the load floats on this nearly frictionless layer and can be moved in any direction. Depending
on the size of the air caster, it can lift the load up to 3.5
inches. The size and weight of the load will determine the
number and size of air casters needed.
The requirements for compressed air depend on the
weight of the load, the size and number of air casters and
whether a standard or heavy-duty system is used. Most
plant air systems operate at sufficient pressure to support
a typical air caster system, operating at 25 psi (1.75 kg/cm2)
or 50 psi (3.51 kg/cm 2) for the heavy-duty system.
As an example, a 28,000 lb/12700 kg air caster rigging
system on a normal smooth sealed concrete floor uses as

little as 48 scfm at 25 psig. A representative from an air

caster company can determine the airflow requirements for
the system that best fits your needs.
Recent improvements to this technology include caster
designs that can handle higher pressures to move heavier
loads. Here are seven ways they can provide productivity
and safety benefits:

1. Maneuverability: Loads carried on air casters are much

easier to navigate in place than those moved on traditional
wheeled casters. On most floors, a 5,000-lb load on air casters
can be moved with only 5 to 25 lb of force. Better be prepared
to exert more with wheeled casters taking 300 lb of force to
move the same load.
Changing course with air casters is as simple as applying
force in the direction you want to go, thanks to their omnidirectional travel. With wheeled casters and rollers, changing
directions may require multiple redirects to position the
wheels to move in the right direction.
Even those wheeled casters touted as heavy duty with
low friction and little start-up resistance or equipped with
vibration damping are difficult to maneuver when loaded.
In fact, often the load has to be lifted to turn the wheeled
casters. Air casters, on the other hand, enable the load to
be precisely positioned and aligned, regardless of its size
or weight.
2. Sensitive loads: Air casters glide along on any smooth,
nonporous surface, including vinyl, linoleum, raised tiles,
and smooth concrete, like that found in most factories. They
will also work on porous surfaces, provided a sheet metal or
plastic overlay is laid down first.
For floors with gaps, steps, machine tool bases with slots
and wood-planked floors, a specially designed air caster with
a membrane enclosure to meter the rate of airflow will accommodate the unevenness.
Some loads are sensitive to vibration and jarring. The
inflated balloon (or caster bag) is flexible and conforms to
imperfections in the floor, providing a compliant suspension.
Caster wheels are much less flexible and transfer every bump
in the floor to the load.
Air casters can even carry loads across wet floors and sheets
of water, as long as the liquid doesnt degrade any air-caster components. There are also air casters that use water or
machine-tool coolant as the working fluid in the air caster.
Should the air supply suddenly shut off, all the air inside
the air caster takes time to bleed out. Thus, the load is not
plant engineering

December 2016 43

BestPractices: A ir C Asters

Recent improvements to air caster technology include caster

designs that can handle higher pressures to move heavier
loads. Image courtesy: AeroGo

subject to shock from a sudden drop in pressure. Keep

in mind that once the air has escaped the air caster and
the load is resting on landing pads, the load is no longer

3. Moving in tight spaces: Air casters can fit where

forklifts, cranes and overhead lifts cannot. Because the air
cushions can easily change direction, they can be used in
certain material handling operations, such as paper reformers involving large rolls and other applications where large
products make their way through the operation.
For example, a major manufacturer of agricultural equipment uses air casters to move the chassis and the axle along
the assembly line of what will eventually be an 81 HP
machine. Here, the floor space is too tight to enable other
means of material handling. In addition, the absence of
traditional material handling equipment provides greater
safety for the workers.
The axle subassemblies ride on air casters, and the
assembly employee controls their movement. Once the
assembly operations are completed, the axle is mounted
onto the chassis.
4. Ergonomics and safety: Air casters enable a single
person to safely move and control a load weighing up to
5,000 lbswhich is more than the weight of an average
car. For heavier loads, power traction drives are available
for extra steering and force.
44 December 2016

plant engineering

The force required to

move a load is calculated by multiplying the
load weight by a surface
factor between 0.001 to
0.005. Surface factor is
determined by evaluating surface levelness and
smoothness. A perfect
surface would use 0.001.
Most surfaces require a
factor of 0.005.
There is a potential
issue, however; one that
air casters share with
traditional wheeled casters, and that is traversing
slanted or sloped floors.
The rule of thumb for
safety is that a person
can move 5,000 lbs on a
shop floor with a 0.25in. slope over 10 ft. Conceivably, one person on
an air caster system can move a heavier load, but because of
the risk poised by the load size, that would not be advisable.

5. No Damage to flooring: Because loads supported by

air casters ride on a cushion of air, there is no floor contact
when loads are being moved. Air casters also spread the load
out over a larger area so theres less risk of structural damage
to floors. Moving heavy loads on wheeled casters or rollers,
either routinely as part of production, can damage floors.
Wheeled casters can wear grooves in concrete and ruin expensive epoxy floors.
6. Minimal maintenance: Air casters are remarkably easy to
maintain. They have no moving parts, require no lubrication
and have no maintenance schedule. If they get dirty, they can be
cleaned with mild soap and water. If a substance accumulates
on the air caster fabric, simply wipe it off using a rag dabbed
with acetone. Once cleaned, make sure that the air caster
completely dries before any air or load pressure is applied.
7. Cleanroom applications: Wheeled casters can break
through the raised flooring found in many clean rooms and
in data centers that have large servers. In contrast to wheeled
casters, air casters distribute the loads weight over a larger
surface area to reduce stress on these floors.
Though air casters are by no means a complex technology, air caster representatives can advise you on the number
of air casters you will need, how to position them and what
kind of support systems youll need. If youre looking for high
maneuverability, safety and ease of use, when it is time to move
heavy loads, take a look at air casters. PE
John Massenburg is CEO of AeroGo.

BestPractices: p erformance r eviews

Realign your employee

performance reviews
By Cheryl Jekiel

mployees can sometimes be discouraged after

receiving a performance review, especially and
when they are told of areas they need to improve
Most employees put their hearts and souls into
their work and being rated average or less than
average leaves them feeling deflated and hurt. Sometimes
it can led them into looking for another job, one in which
they feel they would be appreciated.
Since the majority of traditional performance management systems utilize a variation of the bell curve ranking
system, it leaves 80% to 90% of people being told they
are average or need improvement. What impact does this
have on their motivation and engagement? The intent of
reviews and their actual impact is vastly different. This
conflict can be wasteful of employee engagement and can
impact turnover.
However, when it comes to applying Lean principles to
an organization, performance management reviews are
often the last areas to be considered in terms of their
impact on the team. Rarely do managers consider how
it does or does not drive an improvement-based culture.
This can be surprising since it is an area that affects the
motivation and mindset of all employees, which in turn
impacts the effectiveness of lean initiatives.
Three key steps to realign a performance management
There are three key steps to take when considering making revisions to a performance management mystem, and
how it aligns with improvement efforts.
1. Evaluate the system againstLean.
As with all forms of improvement, evaluation should be
the first course of action. This step is often done better as
a team. Here are a few examples to consider:
What should be the key elements of a culture: root
cause problem solving, team work, customer focus,
business skills, etc.?
Does it inspire employees to do more? Should engagement be expanded in the business?
Does the system help reinforce key ideas or does it
send conflicting messages?
If lean principles encourage an open/no-blame environment where employees are free to bring up issues
without fear of retribution, does the performance man-

agement system recognize errors as an opportunity or

an area for judgment on the individual?
Include feedback from team members (voice of the customer). In order to facilitate change, there needs to be a
foundation that confirms that change is needed. Survey
the workforce to get their opinions on the current system
and solicit ideas for improvement.

2. Create discussion and consider options.

Reach out to benchmark other organizations for best
practices. Seek out written articles and books written
on the topic of performance management. Dr. Deming
is an example of a resource for material for one end of
the spectrum. There are many others that have differing
viewpoints such as forced ranking. Having conversations
help people think deeply about the impact of performance
management and potential, unintended consequences of
some approaches.
Based on areas of agreement, brainstorm ways to make
improvements such as increasing the amount and quality
feedback. If this information is presented to others, make
suggestions on what would be an improvement, and why it
will drive better results. Make sure that the argument is one
that offers a solution and doesnt just identify a problem.
3. Take change in steps and consider the timing of
Similar to other aspects of improvement, experiments
can help to see what difference new approaches make on
employee morale and motivation. Since the performance
management system is woven into the fabric of the organization, it can take time to make a change. It might be
beneficial to consider timing.
Review systems are best changed well before they are in
effect. As the end of this calendar year approaches, its not
too late to change the approach for 2018 and potentially
impact 2017. By aligning these areas of the organization
to work together instead of against each other, a Lean
culture will continue to grow and thrive. PE
Cheryl Jekiel is an author for AME and a 2017 AME Boston
Conference Chair. This article originally appeared on AME
Target Online Magazine. AME is a CFE Media content partner.
plant engineering

December 2016 45

BestPractices: p ower p lant o perations

Smooth power plant operators

The real dollar value of skilled power plant personnel
By Brian Wodka, PE, CEM, LEED AP
RMF Engineering, Inc.

ver the years, electronics, software and technology in general have become less expensive for
power plants, but operators wages continue to
riseespecially as the labor pool diminishes.
As equipment is becoming engineered for more
reliability and controllability, power plants are
becoming more automated. This has become the justification
for fewer power plant operators on staff, with some facilities
attempting to become or successfully becoming completely
While this seems to make sense on a financial report, the
reality is that technology is not advanced enough for complete
automation of essential occupationsand for critical facilities,
it can never fully be automated.


Reliability is essential to the successful operation of a power

plant. By definition, a power plant generates some form or
forms of needed power (heating, cooling, electricity, etc.). The
idea of reliability has a pretty standard definition and is a
part of common vernacular.
With reliability being a top priority, maintenance needs to
be regularly performed to sustain the reliability of the power
plant equipment. In order for equipment to remain reliable, the
proper maintenance has to be performed, and plant operators
have to be fully prepared for the unexpected.
For example, the worst time to have a heating plant outage
would be the coldest day of the year. However, on that day,
the power plant equipment will be operating at its greatest
capacity, potentially higher than ever before. The coldest day
of the year is also the day of the highest natural gas demand,
so plant owners can expect to be curtailed and have to run on
back-up fuel oil. The equipment that typically runs less than
one week a year is now supporting the entire plant at full load
and needs to sustain the entire campus. If the power plant is
designed to operate in an automated state for the majority of
its life, what do you think happens in these critical, high-risk
situations? More than likely, the plant (or some portion of the
plant) failsand thats when you realize the value of having
skilled plant operators on staff.
In situations like these, reliability engineering and statistics
are paramount. Knowing that with enough time, regardless of
the design, a failure is inevitable; owners should assume that
a failure (or failures) will occur and prepare accordingly. By
assuming that a failure will definitely occur, the element of

46 December 2016

plant engineering

probability is removed. With probability removed and certainty

present, owners can evaluate the impact of emergency plant
loss situations. You will find that as facilities become more
automated, they are intrinsically accepting much more risk
than they realize; not from the loss of reliability, but from the
loss of maintainability.


Maintainability can be defined as the probability that the

maintenance can be fully performed in the allocated time
period. In other words, what are the chances that the maintenance can be completed on time?
Considering the forecast of technology in the foreseeable
future, the following axiom holds a very powerful argument:
Proper maintenance and repair of a power plant cannot
be fully automated.
This includes maintaining the operations of the plant during
a high-risk scenario. Automated systems all too often default
to shutdown when something minor could be done to prevent
it. Few people will argue with the ability of an automated system to instantaneously identify an issue or alarm, and then
proceed to carefully and systematically shut the system or the
entire plant down.
However, plants are also automatically shut down during
cases of false alarms.
Due to this fact, properly trained, human, power plant operators will continue to be one of the most valuable and costeffective assets of a power plant simply due to their ability to
best evaluate and resolve an emergency situation consisting
of multiple system complications or failures.
In addition, as power plant equipment becomes more automated, the controls and complexity tend to increase. Reparability tends to decrease as issues with electronics, software
and custom/proprietary components require outsourcing the
work to specialists or replacing the entire component. There
is a direct correlation between more automation and reduced
maintainability. This means that not if, but when a system fails
in a highly automated plant, it typically takes longer to repair.
As equipment-automation increases, the importance of minimizing downtime increases. If increasing the automation of a
power plant causes the duration of downtime (maintainability)
to increase more than the increase in uptime (reliability), then
the net availability of the power plant actually goes down.

Planned outages

A planned outage is a controlled, scheduled shutdown of

the power plant. Depending upon the size, complexity and
criticality of the power plant, the amount of effort associated

with a planned outage can vary tremendously. For a facility

that only has one planned outage every 18 months, the process
of planning starts months in advance.
If the outage is only for one month, there tends to be
a tremendous amount of coordination, material and labor
procurement and a detailed examination of logistics. It is a
fixed timeline with exhaustive preparation. Operators have
30 days to make sure that the power plant operates at maximum availability for the next 540 days. If the outage is not
planned properly and extends beyond the allocated time,
there is usually a direct calculable value associated with the
extended outage.
The same planning importance is applicable with smaller
facilities with shorter planned outages, since the relative
proportions tend to be the same. The outages and costs may
be smaller, but owners are working with a tighter budget.
Either way, the necessity of properly planning an outage improves the chances of ensuring that all the necessary
work is performed within the allocated time frame (effective
maintainability). Planning outages can be greatly assisted by
the use of software, but this is another process that cannot
be fully automated.

Unplanned outages

An unplanned outage is an unscheduled shutdown of

a power plant. Something went wrong, and you lost the
plant. People are fired over unplanned outages as they can
easily cost millions of dollars in damages, liabilities and
premium fees for emergency work. Other than an explosion,
an unplanned outage can be one of the most stressful events
in a power plant.
With safety, millions of dollars of equipment and jobs
all on the line, operators are scrambling and stressed out,
knowing that upper management will scrutinize everything
they doand dont do. These are the instances that can get
coverage in the local, national or even international news.
With operators acting frantically, the potential for error
increases along with the probability of practicing unsafe
procedures. Those types of mistakes could easily delay the
plant recovery or even make matters worse.
Unplanned outages can be triggered by relatively small
issues due to human error or computer error. Those small
issues can compound and result in the plant being shut down.
Computers are excellent at monitoring, computing and processing algorithms, but they are also prone to unexplained
glitches and freezing, and they are only as good as the
communication signals on which they operate and the quality of their (human) programming. Even though humans
make mistakes, humans can also compensate with physical,
in-the-field action.
Humans are also able to assess conditions to which a
computer is blind. This is a critical advantage of humans
versus automation, especially during an unplanned outage.
Weve seen that the number of unplanned outages and the
duration of those outages are not necessarily reduced with
increased automation. In fact, in many instances automation
can increase outage issues.

Prepared outages

If minimizing scheduled downtime is the practice of maintainability, then the art of maintainability is achieved when
plant operators proactively prepare for unplanned outages.
By definition, you cannot plan an unplanned outage, but you
can prepare for common unplanned outages. This can be done
by first anticipating the most likely modes of an unplanned
There are certain techniques that can be done that have
proven effective in preparing for unplanned outages:
1. Hold a lessons-learned meeting after each outage to
get all operators views and opinions on what could have
been done to prevent the event and what could be done
to prevent future repeat events.
2. Ensure proper depth of inventory and supply chain
management. Operators should make sure you have
backup inventory should any equipment fail.
3. Practice emergency procedures. Owners should quiz
operators on What do you do if ? situations. It is a
great exercise to make sure everyone knows the proper
procedures, in order to avoid disagreements or confusion during a crisis.
4. Owners should make sure they have the right tools
on-hand to address common repairs to critical components. This can save time and ensure the repair is more
than just temporary.
As owners practice maintainability, it helps to envision how
multiple complications can hit you all at once and anticipate
these problems. These exercises provide valuable training and
build operator confidence. Plant operators are an owners biggest resourcethey are often very familiar with handling highrisk situations and can provide foresight and advice during
similar situations.
In an industry that is enamored by reliability, it is easy
to underestimate and underappreciate the value of skilled
plant operators and the value of maintainability. There is true
elegance in the ability of a seasoned power plant operator to
acknowledge, identify, assess, adapt and resolve a perfect storm
from being a multi-million dollar publicized excursion into
only a minor blip on the trending historian of the power plant
parameters. This is something that cannot be automated; it is
something that is not necessarily intuitive; it is an expertise
that power plant operators hone over years.
During a critical situation, a power plant operators skill is
judged by their speed of resolution. While the power plant is
in crisis, owners are not concerned about operators ability to
maximize uptime, but by their ability to minimize downtime.
With an infinite number of ways things can go wrong, calm,
level-headed, decision-making in time of crisis, along with
proper preparation, are skills only available from an experienced operatorwhich can never be fully automated. PE
Brian Wodka is a mechanical engineer and partner at RMF
Engineering. He leads the power plant assessment and reliability team at RMF Engineering and has performed power
plant assessments and boiler inspections for the past 15 years.
plant engineering

December 2016 47

BestPractices: d igital p lant

The future of
the digital plant
By Corey Foster
Valin Corp.

t is all about connectivity. Now more than ever the industrial

plant model has become heavily reliant upon the connectivity possibilities between equipment and the automation that
it can provide. The future digital plant revolves around the
idea of connecting machines to work faster, more efficiently
and in collaboration with one another.
There are a few new components of the digital plant that have
helped to launch this new idea of an Industrial Internet of Things
(IIoT) that encompasses where the future plant is headed. It is
important to understand the Internet of Things (IoT) before
looking at the way it is integrated into the industrial plant model.

Internet of Things

IoT can be defined as the way that physical components are

connected and networked together through the use of an
Internet connection. The components that are connected
together over the use of wired or wireless Internet connections
are then able to utilize software that is specifically written for
the products.
Typically, the IoT concerns consumer products like wearable
technology and smart home devices. These devices are created
with a distinct purpose in mind. For example, a smart thermostat is made and programmed with a purpose that has already
been established by the manufacturer, and the consumer sees
the need for the connectivity within his or her home.
All of the programming has been completed with products
that operate within the IoT, and it is done with the end consumer
in mind. After these devices are purchased, there is nothing left
for the consumer to do except install and power it.

Machine-to-machine communication

The IIoT is focused heavily on improving plant efficiency and

productivity. Machines that are connected together in the Industrial Internet of Things are able to collect large amounts of data
and provide an analysis of the output so that changes can be
made to ensure the machines are working more efficiently and
are more easily monitored.
While the primary driving point of the IoT is that it allows
consumers to connect things, the IIoT allows plants to connect
machinery in order to provide data that is more accurate and
useful when optimizing system output. This is critical because
adoption of the IIoT is becoming more readily available due to
the affordability of processors and sensors that help to facilitate,
capture and access information in real time.
Through the structured connectivity within the IIoT, machines
are able to communicate with one another and even work together.

48 December 2016

plant engineering

For the last 20 years, automation manufacturers have had the ability to connect controllers to each other which effectively means
machines are talking to each other. This concept of machines
sharing information and working together is commonly referred
to as machine-to-machine (M2M) communication.
With M2M communication, sensors can be added to machines
so that they are then able to send alerts when machines are not
running optimally. The IIoT allows machines to communicate
on a more precise and productive manner.

Benefits of the IIoT and M2M

The IIoT has provided the production business benefits that have
not been previously available. One of the most prominent benefits that the IoT provides is the ability to improve the efficiency
of the plant production.
Plants that had previously taken a less stringent maintenance
schedule are now able to prevent large maintenance problems
because the machines within the IIoT are connected and providing
constant, real-time feedback on production. The more connectivity between machines that a plant implements, the more it will
save thanks to scheduled and predictive maintenance.
The IIoT has also changed the way that we look at information.
The technology within plant manufacturing has not significantly
changed, but the fact that the machines are able to connect with
one another and provide larger amounts of data is where the IIoT
and M2M allows the manufacturing world to make advancements. Companies are now able to take the large amounts of
data that M2M communication provides and analyze it. After
analyzing the data, engineers can make the necessary changes
to the production line and machinery in order to optimize the
efficiency and output of the system as a whole.

Looking ahead

The IIoT has helped to pave the way for Industrie 4.0, which
refers to the next wave of the industrial revolution. Industrie 4.0
has allowed companies to conceptualize and even implement
systems that are then used in a factory that is completely run
through connectivity and considered to be lights out.
By adding sensors to specific areas of already highly connected
factories, the information is available in real-time and also, in
some instances, self-correcting. There are a handful of companies
that have implemented these strategies and seen the benefits of a
lights-out factory, but the concept is far from perfected.
The IoT will allow for further research to be done and advancements to be made towards creating factories that will optimize
the connectivity options that are available. PE
Corey Foster is application engineering manager for Valin


Send new product releases to:

Order picker truck

The Crown MPC 3000 Series order picker is designed to combine the
versatility of a counterbalance forklift and a pallet truck. The MPC Series
is designed with a high-lift mast to allow operators to order pick, stack,
replenish, and transport pallets with the use of one lift truck. Operators
can raise and lower the forks as they build pallets at a comfortable height
while an overhead guard design improves overhead visibility. Sensors
monitor steer wheel angle, fork height, and load weight to adjust speed
and acceleration.
Crown Equipment Corp.
Input #200 at

Single-stage flowmeter regulator

Multi-tasking machine
The QTU-200MY Turning Center is a multi-tasking machine
that is designed for part processing. The headstock incorporates a built-in spindle/motor design, and is a full-function
CNC programmable axis that accurately positions parts for
complex machining and 3-D contouring. The turning center
has a 12-position,
integral motor turret
that uses a roller gear
cam drive system for
digital indexing. The
main turning spindle
is designed for heavyduty metal removal,
and the turrets
rotary tool spindle is
designed to perform
milling, drilling and
tapping operations.
The QTU-200MY uses high-gain servo control turret/feed-axis
motion. The double-slide configuration delivers high speed precise positioning and smooth axis acceleration/deceleration.

The 20 Series single-stage flowmeter regulators are

designed to provide efficient and accurate regulation
along with high argon flow capacity up to 55 standard
cubic feet per hour. The regulators are designed for use
with a variety of shielding gases to cover
most MIG and TIG welding applications. The
heavy-duty industrial-grade regulators from
include self-centering flowball technology to
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December 2016 49


Send new product releases to:

Digitizers for wideband applications

The M4x.22xx series is designed with modules that offer one, two, or four fully synchronous channels. Each channel is equipped with its own analog-to-digital converter (ADC)
with real-time signal sampling and scope-like signal conditioning circuitry. The digitizers are designed for automated testing applications where wideband electronic signals
from DC to the GHz range need to be acquired and analyzed. Trigger events can
be time stamped to know exactly when they occurred. All the M4x.22xx series
digitizers are packaged in a dual-width 3U module, which incorporates a fourlane PCI-Express Generation 2 interface.
Input #203 at

Digital I/O carrier board

The digital I/O carrier board for the Raspberry Pi single-board computer enables the Pi to sense or
switch up to 16 individually selectable electrical loads with solid-state power and
reliability. The OPTO-P1-40P adds the ability to connect, monitor, control, and
automate billions of existing devices that were previously beyond the Pis
built-in sensing and control capabilities. The digital I/O carrier board can
be attached to their Pi by connecting the included interface cable to their
Pis 40-pin GPIO connector and snapping the board onto a compatible
I/O module mounting rack. The racks power supply can be used to power the
Pi, and then a Pi-supported programming language can be used to read and write to up
to 16 individually selectable digital input and/or output points.
Opto 22
Input #204 at

Scalable multi-core platform

The i.MX 6 COMBO Series is a scalable multi-core platform that is
designed for applications that require high performance in low power or
a thermally constrained environment. The I.MX 6 has power-efficient processing capabilities with bleeding edge 3D and 2D graphics, as well as
high definition video. The projective capacitive touch screen has an antiscratch surface with 7H hardness protection, and the 10-point multi-touch
supports a full set of gestures such as zooming in/out, panning, or rotating.
Input #205 at

50 December 2016


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December 2016 53

For more information on how to advertise in Plant Engineerings

Internet Connection, call Jim Langhenry at 630-571-4070 x2203

Allied Electronics is a small order, high service level distributor of electronic components and electromechanical
products with over 50 sales offices across the United
States and Canada.
Allied Electronics

Modular work platforms and aluminum stairs pre-engineered for unlimited configurations. Platforms and metal
steps bolts together with no fabrication required and are
easily repurposeable.

Newell Rubbermaid is a global marketer of consumer

and commercial products with a strong portfolio of leading brands.
Newell Rubbermaid

Orival is a leading manufacturer of self-cleaning water

filters, automatic water filters and strainers, for use as
industrial water filters, irrigation filters, cooling tower filters, and more.
Orival Inc.

Atlas Copco produces and markets compressed air equipment and generators, construction and mining equipment,
industrial tools, assembly systems, services and rentals.
Atlas Copco

AutomationDirect offers over 16,000+ industrial automation products through their free catalog and online superstore including PLCs, operator interfaces, drives, enclosures, sensors and more.

For almost 50 years, AVO has been helping organizations

create safe and reliable electrical systems.
AVO Training Institute

Baldor Electric designs, manufacturers, and markets a

broad line of industrial energy-efficient electric motors,
mechanical power transmission products, and more.
Baldor Electric Co.

Camfil Air Pollution Control (APC) is a leading global

manufacturer of industrial dust, fume and mist collection
equipment and is part of Camfil, the worlds largest air filtration company.
Camfil APC

Flexicon designs and manufactures bulk handling equipment and custom-engineered and integrated plant-wide
Flexicon Corp.

Fluke is the world leader in the manufacture, distribution,

and service of electronic test tools and software.
Fluke Corp.

FORCAM GmbH is a technology and consulting company

with headquarters in Ravensburg at the Bodensee.

Goodway Technologies is a global manufacturer and marketer of industrial maintenance solutions for commercial
HVAC, facility management, manufacturing, power generation, maritime, and other industrial applications.
Goodway Technologies

GTI Spindle Technology provides the highest quality and

most extensive range of machine tool spindle repair services.
GTI Spindle Technology

Harvard Corp. develops, manufactures, and markets filter

and filtration systems.
Harvard Corp.

Manufacturer of air system products, including rotary

screw compressors, portable compressors, rotary lobe
blowers, vacuum packages, refrigerated and desiccant
dryers, filters, and condensate management systems.
Kaeser Compressors Inc.

Century Spring has been supplying quality stock and custom springs, metal stampings, and wire forms for MRO
and OEM applications since 1927.
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and designers of conveyor equipment worldwide since
Conveyor Equipment Manufacturers Assoc.

Compressed air purifications solutions, compressed air

filters, dryers and process water chillers.
Donaldson Company Inc.

Dynatect designs and manufactures a complete line of

components to protect equipment and people.

EST specializes in mitigating static charges, induced voltages and random discharges on rotating shafts, moving
surfaces, and all types of manufacturing equipment.
Electro Static Technology

54 December 2016

plant engineering

Lubriplate manufactures more than 200 high quality lubricants, including high performance synthetic lubricants and
NSF-H1 lubricants for food processing and beverage.
Lubriplate Lubricants Co.

MAPCON Maintenance Software protects plant assets

from unscheduled downtime and costly maintenance
MAPCON Technologies Inc.

One of the largest global suppliers of drive technology,

SEW-EURODRIVE specializes in gear reducers, motors
and electronic motor controls.

SPECO provides premium replacement parts and oils for

all major air compressor manufacturers.
Southern Parts & Engineering

SPM offers a wide product range from high-tech portable

instruments to online systems and comprehensive software.

Industry leader in synthetic lubricant technology with a line

of over 200 products that can service almost any industrial
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U.S. Tsubaki is a leading manufacturer and supplier of

power transmission and motion control products and is the
worlds market share leader in roller chains.
U.S. Tsubaki Inc.

VAC-U-MAX specializes in design and manufacture of

pneumatic systems and support equipment for conveying,
weighing and batching of dry materials.

Whitmore creates component protection technology

through the manufacturing of specialized lubricants, rail
equipment, coatings, sealants, and contamination control
Whitmore Manufacturing Co.

Yaskawa is the worlds largest manufacturer of ac inverter

drives, servo and motion control, and robotics automation
Yaskawa America Inc.

The MovinCool division of DENSO has been responsible

for pioneering the use of portable air conditioning solutions
for a wide variety of U.S. markets since 1982.

Place next to your computer as a reference or go online to for hot links to these companies.

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December 2016 55

Keep focus on manufacturing
improvement, not bonuses
By Bob Argyle

For example, if a

onus plans and incentives have

been placed under a microscope
since news broke of the Wells
Fargo employees who secretly
opened unauthorized accounts to hit
sales targets and receive bonuses,
according to Richard Cordray, director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
In manufacturing, there are clever
ways of justifying and calculating metrics in order to meet bonus numbers,
reach key performance indicators, or
goals. In many cases, its about hitting some designated number for the
plant to be considered world-class. For
instance, a plant can appear to have
operational availability (OA) at 90% or
above. However, when accurate information is entered, the OA may actually
be closer to 50% to 60%. With this in
mind, how effective would it be to get
clever about what should or shouldnt
be included in that percentage?
For example, if a machine is taken
out of production for scheduled preventive maintenance (PM), that time
frame needs to be considered downtime. Since downtime counts against
the plants OA goals, preventive maintenance time is often not properly
accounted for.
The same tracking philosophy often
occurs when production lines are
stopped for required employee training or meetings. Failure to track start
up times can be considered an example
of manipulating the system, all in the
quest for meeting the goal to secure any
employee incentives tied to that goal.
Plants dont often use theoretical
capacity for production goals. Instead,

56 December 2016


machine is taken
out of production for
scheduled preventive maintenance
(PM), that time frame
needs to be considered downtime.

goals are set at what has been done

already to make sure the production
throughput, or overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) number, is achieved.
In an effort to drive continuous
improvement through transparency, a
plants dirty laundry should be exposed.
Plants should acknowledge the reality
or the truth of the situation. Unfortunately, many bonus plans conflict with
this approach, leaving plants reluctant
to expose the truth.
Here are three methods to focus on
the right targets:

1. Focus on a rate of improvement

In order to be world-class, teams need

to stop focusing on hitting a number.
Rewards should be given to production lines that continually identify
and eliminate problems. Employees
should be empowered to research
ways to increase production on their
individual plant lines. Cooperation
is needed to encourage teams to
find solutions versus just identifying
problems. When everyone focuses on
improvements, the entire plant wins.

2. Keep bonus plans focused

on problem solving

Transparency creates accountability within a company. Everyone from

managers to coworkers knows whether each employee is doing their job
or not. Transparency also allows for
more commendations, too. When an
employee excels, it is visible to their
managers and peers. Real-time technology that allows for continual visibility and transparency can be a key
component in creating this kind of

3. Embrace truth in your reporting

When acknowledging the truth of the

situation is truly celebrated as part of
company culture, reporting will be
more accurate. This makes the information more reliable for decision-making.
With accurate data, plant managers,
technicians, and line workers will be
able to make decisions quicker, solve
problems more efficiently, and even
justify capital purchases for the plant.
Ultimately, the company becomes
much more effective.
When a team is focused on the right
objectives, there will be no room for
slight-of-hand accounting, diminished opportunities to fudge the numbers, and less desire to only report
good data. Despite how painful it may
seem at first, establishing a company
culture of honesty and accuracy helps
the plant and employees see accelerated improvement and success. PE
Bob Argyle is the chief customer officer for Leading2Lean, a Nevada-based
manufacturing tech solution provider.
Leading2Lean is a CFE Media content


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