The Wrong Maintenance
Priorities Threaten
According to this
well-known veteran of
M any process plants as-sume that better maintenance strate-
gies will lead to higher equipment reliability. Very often,
the primary focus of these strategies is to avoid unnecessary oil changes
or to optimize compressor overhauls and the pursuit of other preventive
the reliability trenches, measures. Similarly, many of these strategies hope to help companies avoid
equipment damage and costly production interruptions by doing appro-
one of the best ways to priate maintenance “just-in-time.”
While these are commendable goals, they do not address the constraints
hone the survival skills that are built into vast quantities of equipment that incorporate less-than-
optimized components. Nor do such strategies remedy the numerous ran-
industry needs today dom failures that strain the maintenance budgets throughout industry today.
and into the future Staffed by harried employees, shops frequently become adept only at
replacing parts in kind. Likewise, relatively few companies position them-
is to pay attention to selves to systematically implement maintenance avoidance measures. We
know that, in existing plants and with few exceptions, failure avoidance
the basics. Taking time– would be far more profitable than implementing optimized maintenance
timing on non-optimized equipment. In new equipment procurement sit-
making time–to read is uations, utilizing specifications that eliminate the very components that
risk causing frequent maintenance and downtime would provide far greater
a great way to start. returns on the incremental investment than fine-tuning an asset manage-
ment or related program.
Take, for example, the many operating plants today with literally hun-
Heinz P. Bloch, P.E., dreds of thousands of pumps that were purchased from the lowest bid-
Process Machinery Consulting ders. It is wistful thinking to expect that all components in these lowest-cost
machines represent best-available technology. In the age of downsizing,
rightsizing and outsourcing, how realistic is it to assume that all of the
various equipment manufacturers and vendors employ seasoned, well-
versed, well-read subject matter experts?
Suppose a manufacturer recently sold less-than-optimum equipment.
Knowing that we live in a litigious environment, would we really expect
this manufacturer to concede that he/she continues to make, sell or mar-
ket non-optimized equipment or components? If the answer is no, then
it is clear that the user/purchaser has to be the driver for identifying and
implementing equipment upgrades.


” or lesser importance. However. or OEM. Moreover. Heinz Bloch answer the two previously- that “there must be a problem asked questions. In fact. configu. TV networks promoting re-runs as “encore presentations. In some instances. the most Reliability Conference in New Orleans. not long- chasers are not likely to buy from the lowest bidder. Yet. Everything else is of benchmarking will. They will always use keep costs low. . . it’s not much differ- the basics. somewhere. comparison is in a position to it’s nice to point out the fact . though. not any of tence of industrial enterprises is threatened if all they do is those responsible for short- these listings specified even search for new strategies instead of implementing the funda- sighted decisions are often the one of the many precise steps mental hardware. ingly. When. MAKE NO MISTAKE In our mutual quest to stay informed on reliability-improve- Trends that lead nowhere vs. To sided alliances with suppliers. Reliability. offers little in the way of real addi- cators (KPIs) were listed as tional value for most struggling refineries and process plants- Why upgrading is often best useful for managing risk and – those many facilities that continue to seek magic procedural Unfortunately. nor to imply that the re-examination and streamlining of tradi- ingly. Best-of-class companies rarely. the continued exis- appointing is the fact that in the game. at a symposium in Houston. they are staffed called perspectives. merit. each one of those 60 Make no mistake about it: There is ample evidence that inat- remains the predominant pro- benchmarks may give plants tention to the basics is severely limiting the profitability of thou- curement mode. Instead. these are the trend towards increased phies is the proponent’s choice. best-of-class owner/pur. Many of these maintenance initiatives are not new. Goals were try. ferent key performance indi. Repackaging them. in 1986. generally look at several competing offers and carefully exam. than do the mechanics or maintenance technicians who have not unless the person doing the working” at that plant? While read any relevant texts since leaving school years ago. a large MAINTENANCE TECHNOLOGY/DECEMBER 2005 11 . the otherwise desirable life too many pumps. it is meant to convey a serious concern that the ignated and responsible individ- Work Management and Safety mere repackaging of certain approaches is not helpful to indus- ual—who can answer these two & Environmental. . manufacturer claimed that general-purpose pumps were ure risk. labeling tional asset-management or maintenance approaches has no so as to have a person—a des- them Operations. And. ment opportunities. Accord- and forethought. Consequently. to resist failure? performers ing more and more old maintenance philosophies being mar.” performers know this to be a prises. if ever.” They realize that these approaches add value only if neer better pumps. they’ve been practiced by best-of-class companies for decades. truly best-of-class performers use asset manage. Can a component be upgraded trends for best-of-class noted shifts in reliability-related terminology. Best-of-class add little value to many enter. also economically justified? responses from benchmarking Whether they refer to adaptations or re-named versions of companies. a representative of a prominent ment and streamlined maintenance strategies as “icing on pump manufacturer was asked why its designers didn’t engi- the cake. is it At the risk of inviting irate keted in newly packaged expressions and acronyms. Equally dis- an indication of where they are sands of companies. great accuracy. several panel members important attribute of true best-in-class performers is their touted key performance indicators that were largely based on ability to provide authoritative answers to two questions: not having production interruptions. basic training and procedural changes needed ones that block access to that really represent lasting for survival. the matter cannot be explained by many consul- cycle costing (LCC) method- able to explain the root cause tants who know even less about equipment upgrade opportunities ology is an academic exercise reasons for this “excessive re. systematic failure-avoidance improvement. A recently published The accompanying article is not meant to be contentious. questions quickly and with specified for each and 60 dif. sales success was linked to cost and schedule. many readers among us recently have 1. even to tell a facility it is re-working rate managers truthfully and without the usual sugar-coating. More recently. the answer was that most customers the basics are in place and being practiced with consistency selected pumps primarily based on cost and schedule. we are find. just last spring. often will be disap- Today. ent than automobile dealers calling used cars “pre-owned. To this day. pointed. we contend that old strategies.” far more value A facility which assumes would be derived by adequately describing the root causes that improvement initiatives spring forth from the original and solutions. another pump ine which of them have “designed out” maintenance and fail. lubricant application methods. even now. Thus. ultimately. solutions while overlooking and neglecting the basics. designed to be overhauled or repaired every 18 months. . buy- improving profitability. equipment manufacturer. the label on each of these repackaged philoso- These are primary. ing from the lowest bidder At best. two pump manufacturers said they couldn’t well-thought-out specifications that clearly describe and afford to upgrade their pumps. explain specific “upgraded” component materials. fact and are organized accord- article mentioned four so. Today. As an example. at the 2005 NPRA Maintenance and rations. If upgrading is feasible. enter into lop. if nobody is Unfortunately. etc. 2. What good is it This urgent issue must be brought to the attention of corpo- measures. They term quality.

Diameter When the speaker suggested that his Typically 1. we cited lube application in pumps as one of the many Fig. The following cases illustrate the type of dilemma with which industry is wrestling. This example deals with the use of oil rings in literally millions of equipment bearing housings. At the same NPRA conference we met with a presenter of asset manage- ment strategies. of course.tricomfg. Chances are that the bearing housing was simply too narrow to accommodate oil rings or similar means of lube application—a serious reliability risk. 1. We have yet to find Level asset management consulting compa- nies that identify the needed upgrade measures to the degree of detail urgently needed by When the consultant questioned the appropriateness of using a bicycle chain 12 MAINTENANCE TECHNOLOGY/DECEMBER 2005 . Its purpose. Case #1: Lifting oil with bicycle chains While working with a client to deter- mine the root causes of sludge in an oil sump and bearing failure in a pump. an experienced consultant (who was formerly employed as director of new pumping machinery development for two noted manufacturers) found a bicycle chain in the bearing housing. Lube lenged his claims. Fig. We attempted to argue the monetary merit of failure Slinger Ring reductions by selective upgrading. ing pump failures at (relatively) high Angle levels was one of the “safeguards” pre. Flinger disc mounted on pump shaft (Source: www. Incl. Shaft Diameter. most of them in cen- trifugal pumps.7 D organization was very effective in identifying and recommending the 3/8 In. venting upper-level managers from cut. Oil ring (“slinger ring”) and typical dimensions examples of industry not even being made aware of tangible reliability risks.number of managers and reliability engineers seem to be unconcerned if their pumps fail far more frequently than those at a competitor’s facility. Changing or fine- tuning management approaches will not bear the promised fruits unless the approaches are interwoven with system- atic upgrade efforts. was to feed lube oil to the bearings. Recall that the entire issue centers on our contention that industry is losing knowledge and appli- cation of the basics. 2. (10 mm) various upgrade options. D ting the maintenance budget. In support of our beliefs. we chal. The 30º thought was even expressed that keep.

the pump manufac. and for reasons ence. Wear-related oil contamina- tion would almost certainly result. All of this begs the question: Would your asset management consul- tants have the basic knowledge to alert you to this? Or would your consultants limit their contribution to the rather obvious. by virtue of the total downward- acting weight of the heavy chain. tion of engineering formulas.” Basic sci. as was found and documented by the consultant.S. More 13 .we hear no complaints. While perhaps representing one of some manufacturers have experi- would show that the chain would have the least expensive means of applying mented with plastic and aluminum no chance of moving at the peripheral lube oil to bearings. and. in this manner. MTBF of many pumps.S. (Fig. and that you have “X% more” or “Y% less” shop backlog than the industry-recommended average? That would be nice to know. The results are mixed. with the average pump mean-time-between failures (MTBF) closer to three years. Let’s re-state our earlier point: To really add value. In most instances. though. but where’s the real solution? Case #2: The limitations of oil rings Pump bearings in best-of-class U. the failure rate is three times higher. telling you that you’re spending too much money on mainte- nance. claimed “that’s the way we generally do must tell. . i.MT-freeinfo. These firms must know. In certain other U. oil rings are rarely rings (Ref. and focused. the side plates of the links would rub on the shaft. oil refineries. the user-client. oil refineries fail—on average—every 10 years. the bicycle chain would slip relative to the shaft surface This is not meant to imply that the re-examination and streamlining of traditional approaches has no merit.e. speed of the shaft at anything other than—for process pumps—unusually slow speeds. that oil rings they were furnished in brass or it. 1). or the most elementary applica. From about 1840 until 1990. . we wish to subsequently spell out. 1) impose a key limitation on the bronze. asset management consulting firms will have to authoritatively advise MAINTENANCE TECHNOLOGY/DECEMBER 2005 Circle 208 or visit www. and advocate specific component a wise choice for the reliability- turer objected to the criticism and upgrades.

00 80.00 Average Temperature No Disc 90.00 .00 .00 80. oil rings suffer either a groove machined in the shaft. Flinger disc tests. Doing so. Average Temp. 3.00 100.00 60. vs.00 1 20 39 58 77 96 115 134 153 172 181 210 229 Test Duration.00 95. by any measure. Visualize.00 1 14 27 40 53 66 79 92 105 118 131 144 157 170 183 196 209 Test Duration.00 75. rings installed on shaft systems that are not totally parallel with the true hori- ferential speed are affected by the degree of immersion in the lubricant zon will run downhill.00 ISO 68 3600 RPM 105. vs.600 rpm. Time (Source www. The oil ring has neither the time pliers and users (Ref. 3. ISO 32 3600 RPM 105. how oil • oil-ring movement and circum- ahead.090 Viton 85. A professional who from a number of limitations that are rarely recognized by equipment sup- or some stationary surfaces associated with the bearing housing. Minutes Fig. ISO Grade 32. 2).00 70. 3.tricomfg. Typical ring will make frictional contact with immersions are shown in Fig. employer move zontal. Here’s why: clear evidence of edge wear and metal to read a page a day • Even some of the most advanced loss.00 70. Flinger disc tests. Average Temp. In any event. feeding less focused users avoid oil rings because oil into the bearing.00 55. but 14 MAINTENANCE TECHNOLOGY/DECEMBER 2005 . therefore. now tends to slow down.00 Average Temperature No Disc 90. Needless to say.090 Viton 85. Many observers nor motivation these components represent an undue have also seen oil rings that showed reliability risk.600 rpm. the lost metal laser-optic shaft alignment systems will shavings end up contaminating the will never help his not have provisions ensuring that the lubricant—not a desirable condition shaft centerlines are absolutely hori.00 60. Reliability.00 100.00 75.tricomfg. ISO Grade 68. Minutes Fig.00 55. an oil and by lubricant viscosity. 4. Time (Source www. 1.00 at best.00 95.

They usually have a that. if you and/or your company are confronted provides in both books. next step. Suc. change not only affects our businesses. it ties into the theme of the first that this condition we call “change” is probably the book. . 356 pages) about this approach. his highly relevant second book. technology. that happens. has to say on the subject to be of particular value. As good as some consultants are. Suppose you find yourself in this position. in where they have experience. 2005. you may find what Stephen Thomas in the same place where you are today. It demystifies the concept of We become involved in the change process in many organizational culture and links it with the eight ele- ways and for many reasons. It has changing the organization's culture. process. NY. There are both good and bad points (Industrial Press. maybe more times than you His second book is especially innovative. What is important to recognize is a stand-alone volume. work with someone in your own company who has experience with the change process. but their trial Press. Although care to think about. that they follow–a model that may or may not fit your Nothing is more prevalent in industry today than particular needs. ing change. To further complicate nance and reliability performance at the plant level by matters. This withdrawal vention. . They involve or transfer can hurt. Some of us have been ments of change: leadership. but could not figure out the show you how. this book will needed to do something. ISBN 0-8311-3190-X. . Stephen Thomas’ 246-page book. Others are more far-reaching. by themselves. either formally or In 2001. sibility for the effort to the consultant. perspective is usually limited to the functional areas became available. work process. sultant can be of value and can help you through the Thomas is an experienced professional who con. structure. tural change to help make significant and lasting you probably have had occasions when you knew you improvements in plant performance. through having already done the same work that you cessfully Managing Change in Organizations (Indus. ISBN 0-8311-3149-7). The plus side is that what you are asking them tinues to serve his process industry clients. He knows to do is their area of expertise. Some of these change initiatives happen as sultants is that many firms tacitly transfer their respon- organizations evolve. are trying to do. Thomas pro- You probably have experienced these process design vides that in his books. asked to lead change efforts. The first is to plied the following book reviews. communication. some otherwise. you can see that he has been by change issues. and often require little inter. however. Improving The next and probably most prevalent solution is to Maintenance Reliability Through Cultural Change hire a consultant. New York. These individuals can help. HB MAINTENANCE TECHNOLOGY/DECEMBER 2005 15 . a con- came out. Whatever your reason for being involved. From the personal examples that Thomas Overall. Another problem with the use of con- change. Heinz Bloch has sup. The down side is that this is their busi- ful planning and execution of the actual work are ness. interre- assigned the responsibility. Take note . great deal of experience working with firms undergo- phies differ from actual implementation and that care. If you want to break the cycle openly attempted to initiate change in order to make of failed improvement programs and instead use cul- things better. They most likely have created a process model needed for a successful outcome. reliability improvement philoso. Heinz Suggests For reliability-focused readers. Many of you may have lationships and rewards. We paid extra attention when. Others have been group learning. and process industries. of the few ways to solve your problem. If used correctly. This book is a very real and personal effect on each of us–some of intended for middle managers in the manufacturing them positive. When functions. . changes in your business. It neatly explains how to improve your mainte- one constant in business today. you need a good blueprint. efforts specifically designed to improve organizational they eventually have to leave you on your own.

002 inches (0. Needless to say. In 2003 and 2004. more than 40 years later. Suppose that of these. to date. be extended to six years. Economic value explored known or not addressed. Before looking for “high tech” 16 MAINTENANCE TECHNOLOGY/DECEMBER 2005 . we might be tical.16 peratures.S. commissions or omis- umbrella shape during insertion signs of severe abrasion. the pitfalls of millions of the 1960s. at higher pump speeds. controlled viscosity discs would have cost $900 and the tricity. oil viscosity. research funds on scientific studies. in fact. 3 and 4) caution that shaft mable flinger disc will reduce oil tem. trimmable flinger discs. The issue is 0. (Ref. The issue at hand is important ufacturer’s pumps and states. using product of shaft diameter (inches) • Installed on shafts that are unrealis. ence-based rule.05 mm). seen that. assumed achievable six years to typi- lubricant will not perform as in. It represents a well unless they are: incident. The page shows the Belaboring the point flinger discs furnished with this man. a of this testing are shown in Fig. practices. field-installed (non-laboratory) dealing with a plant comprising 600 limit for many oil rings. • Operating in a lubricant with closely one paid $50 per flinger disc. Reduced oil temperatures In any event. major U. rather tain lubricant viscosity. tive upgrade and retrofit options. enough to be highlighted again. Ref. velocities as low as 2. if of shaft horizontality. concern are rather pointless if oil rings and Indeed. 3) and tend to more closely main. They are a vast improvement investment would have had a payback over oil rings and are. pump maker. and so forth. Accordingly. the 18 depth of immersion and ring concen. and European sup. this expendi- mend flinger discs. 2). Clearly. where DN is the diture of $36. tures were compared against operation that reduces bearing life from five years oil rings must be concentric within with the flinger disc removed and lube to four years. lubricators and a veritable host of field installations. or prac. the MTBR and speed (rpm). mated that at least 5% of the centrifu. From the graphs.650. no • Oil-ring operation is affected by bearing ball.600 rpm. tically close to perfect horizontality (mean-time-between-repairs) could • Reliability-focused users recom. with flinger discs cally only three years. Man- pointedly. it has been esti. (meaning flinger disc) ensures posi. Their elastomer will fold into an that a large percentage of oil rings show nents. In that case.002 of $18. Made Upon close examination. thorough testing these observations. low. and. avail. in premature bearing failures. empirical observations (Refs. and even more significant payback pliers. the rate of oxidation is agement and maintenance strategies problems associated with oil rings. Other pumps tended. 2) are available as cost-effec.000 per year.” extremely slow. Two results petrochemical plant suffer from oil- ferent types of equipment. may experience oil-ring degradation revolve with reasonable consistency. As an experi. observers have reached the conclusion important or failure-prone compo- ter. Retrofit flinger discs other basic issues are either not (see Fig. “anti-friction oil thrower with premium synthetic lubricants and agement often doesn’t seem to get it. ability by 10%. different viscosities (Ref.600 rpm shaft speed. 18 “sus- this limit infers a maximum shaft pect” pumps were being repaired every diameter of approximately 2. many are not understood.000/$900 = 20:1. and not upgrading is a very poor choice tion at different speeds and with oils of gal pumps installed in the average indeed. 1 contains an illustration • Manufactured with a bore finish than demonstrated in this example from a 1960s-vintage catalog issued reasonably close to 32 RMS after one or two years of operation. recommendations may vary for dif. Also. and with Much money is lost when the basics to oversized dimensions. 3 and ring deficiencies of sufficient magni- more deeply immersed oil ring or oil Fig. It is undis. If. 4 for ISO Grade 32 and 68 lubri. closed pump bearing housings are of inadequate old-style constant level they are still causing problems in many very academic interest. oil rings were problematic in over oxidation issues on hermetically flinger discs. Since flinger discs • Immersed in the lubricant just the ture would drop to $18. raise 0.000 per inches (~55 mm).000 per year are secured to the shaft. they are not right distance for the affected 5% of the plant’s subject to the compounded influences pump population. operation at typical process pump Our view is simply that asset man- tive lubrication and eliminates the speeds. expanding on this m/s) might represent the safe. they can be competent failure analysis. In each case.S. At 3. If each of 10 easily trimmed to the required diame. Incidentally. tude to reduce bearing life from an rings contacting an excessively viscous cants at 3.000 fpm (~10. it can be one appears to have seen fit to spend shaft surface velocity. This would require an expen- “DN” value of 7. the oil and bearing tempera. pumps. sions in a pump were to reduce its reli- through a narrow bearing-housing puted and well known that the result. Staying with vulnerable components was done on a Viton® disc’sconfigura. will slow the rate of oil oxidation conservative estimate.125 Oil rings will not perform three years to the tune of $6. It is certainly able in many pump models presently inches no stretch to foresee greater savings marketed by U. by a then prominent.9 to the tenth bore and will then snap back into its ing lube oil contamination is reflected power and convince yourself that you regular disc shape. • Not eccentric by more than 0. oil reaching the center of the lowermost so intuitively evident that. for good tracking and to installed. Based on get less than 35% overall reliability. authoritative texts ering the oil level and using the trim. will have to suffice.

000 (Ref.MT-freeinfo. GA ager will not tolerate any excuses.Wilcock. Heinz P.” To User’s Symposium.Bloch. he or she which we might add that managers Houston. a sin. 4. that implementing one ordinates to simply “decorate the cake.Bloch. Technology Update. nance cost reduction. References: 14 comprehensive books on these sub- week payback for. refiner.. base of a reliability workforce. textbook pages per year–this adds up to (2004) Pump User’s Handbook: Life Exten- a single page per work day. say.” Hydrocarbon Processing. ISBN 0-88173-452-7 Circle 200 or visit www. the cake. McGraw-Hill. “Slinger Rings Revis- spent on books. basics are in place. August 2002 plants worldwide on reliability im- A good manager will probably insist provement and maintenance cost- that his/her reliability staffers read 200 2. a professional who has nei. a modest $600 jects and continues to advise process 1.. ISBN ties. Houston. and Alan Budris. that is.” Third Edition. That implies that the neer with over 43 years of experience pump failure event costs U. ther the time nor motivation to read a Booser. ited. A good man. Donald Circle 200 or visit www. He or she will know..S. Since the average API 17 .Bloch. (1998) “Improving Machinery Reliability. 2). 30047. is edible. Lilburn. the cake Heinz P. Texas A&M University. Publishing Company.and whatever else might be “icing on Surely. The Fairmont Press..” zation will learn to view every repair page a day will never help his employer (1957). reduction opportunities.” International Pump serious about upgrading the knowledge rant as a man who cannot read. sion. Heinz P. Heinz P. He has written gle avoided failure represents a three. a good manager will see to it that the tified upgrade examples will definitely underlying foundation. 2005 will cheerfully spend a few hundred who choose not to make their people dollars on solid textbooks that explain learn would serve their stakeholders 5. NY event as an opportunity to upgrade! move ahead.” or more of a number of highly cost-jus. Heinz P. Inc. 5) In the words of Mark Twain: “A man Cooling and Lubricant Application—A Furthermore. Bloch is a professional engi- avoid failures. New York.” a reliability-focused organi.Bloch. and Richard E.MT-freeinfo. “Bearing Design and Application. Gulf hundreds of these upgrade opportuni. or at least Before encouraging or allowing sub. TX. “Centrifugal Pump (Ref. better by going on permanent vacation. 3. if a manager is really who chooses not to read is just as igno. in reliability engineering and mainte- ies in excess of $10. TX. 0-88415-661-3 accept as fact.