Category: Equipment/Equifactor®

‘Equipment Failure’ is the cause?

February 22nd, 2018 by
Fire, equipment. failure

Drone view of tank farm fire Photo: West Fargo Fire Department

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On Sunday, there was a diesel fuel oil fire at a tank farm in West Fargo, ND. About 1200 barrels of diesel leaked from the tank.  The fire appears to have burned for about 9 hours or so.  They had help from fire dapartments from the local airport and local railway company, and drone support from the National Guard.  There were evacuations of nearby residents.  Soil remediation is in progress, and operations at the facility have resumed.  Read more about the story here.

The fire chief said it looks like there was a failure of the piping and pumping system for the tank. He said that the owners of the tank are investigating. However, one item caught my attention. He said, “In the world of petroleum fires, it wasn’t very big at all. It might not get a full investigation.”

This is a troublesome statement.  Since it wasn’t a big, major fire, and no one was seriously hurt, it doesn’t warrent an investigation.  However, just think of all the terrific lessons learned that could be discovered and learned from.  How major a fire must it be in order to get a “full investigation?”

I often see people minimize issues that were just “equipment failures.”  There isn’t anyone to blame, no bad people to fire, it was just bad equipment.  We’ll just chalk this one up to “equipment failure” and move on.  In this case, that mindset can cause people to ignore the entire accident, and that determining it was equipment failure is as deep as we need to go.

Don’t get caught in this trap.  While I’m sure the tank owner is going to go deeper, I encourage the response teams to do their own root cause analyses to determine if their response was adequate, if notifications correct, if they had reliable lines of communications with external aganecies, etc.  It’s a great opportunity to improve, even if it was only “equipment failure,” and even if you are “only” the response team.

Tips on Preventing Vibration in Rotating Equipment

February 13th, 2018 by

Pump

Improper installation of rotating equipment, either for the first time or after maintenance, can quickly lead to excessive vibration and premature failure. Here are some tips on the proper use of shims and alignment equipment.

Root Cause Analysis Tip: Do you perform an incident investigation like you watch the news?

January 31st, 2018 by

If you are like me, you flip channels to see how each news station or news website reports the same issue of interest. Heck, I even look at how different countries discuss the same issue of interest. Take the “Deep Water Horizon Spill of 2010” or was it the “BP Oil Spill of 2010” or was it the “Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill of 2010”? It depends on where you were or what you watched when it was reported. At the end of the day we all often develop Bias Criteria of Trust… often without any true ability to determine which perspective is closer to the truth.

Now there are fancier terms of bias from confirmation bias to hindsight bias, but let’s take a look at some of our news source Bias Criteria of Trust.


So here is the question to stop and ask….. do you do the same thing when you start an investigation, perform root cause analysis or troubleshoot equipment? It is very easy to say YES! We tend to trust interviews and reports using the same criteria above before we actually have the evidence. We also tend to not trust interviews and reports purely because of who and where they came from, without evidence as well!

Knowing this…..

Stop the urge to not trust or to overly trust. Go Out And Look (GOAL) and collect the evidence.

Got your interest? Want to learn more? Feel free to contact me or any of our TapRooT® Instructors at info@taproot.com or call 865.539.2139.

Where Do You Get Ideas To Improve Root Cause Analysis?

4 Signs You Need to Improve Your Investigations

Equipment Troubleshooting in the Future

January 5th, 2018 by

Equipment Troubleshooting in the Future
By Natalie Tabler and Ken Reed

If you haven’t read the article by Udo Gollub on the Fourth Industrial Revolution, take some time to open this link. This article can actually be found at many links on the internet, so attribution is not 100% certain, but Mr. Gollub appears to be the probable author.

The article is interesting. It discusses a viewpoint that, in the current stage of our technological development, disruptive technologies are able to very quickly change our everyday technological expectations into “yesterday’s news.” What we consider normal today can be quickly overtaken and supplanted by new technology and paradigms. While this is an interesting viewpoint, one of the things I don’t see discussed is one of the most common problems with automating our society: equipment failure. If our world will largely depend on software controlling machinery, then we need to take a long hard look at avoiding failure not only in the manufacturing process, but also in the software development process.

The industrial revolution that brought us from an agricultural society to an industrial one also brought numerous problems along with the benefits. Changing how the work is done (computerization vs. manual labor) does not change human nature. The rush to be first to come out with a product (whether it be new software or a physical product) will remain inherent in the business equation, and with it the danger of not adequately testing, or overly optimistic expectations of benefit and refusal to admit weaknesses.

If we are talking about gaming software – no big deal. So, getting to the next level of The Legend of Zelda – Breath of the Wind had some glitches; that can be changed with the next update. But what if we are talking about self-driving cars or medical diagnostic equipment? With no human interaction with the machine (or software running it) the results could be catastrophic. And what about companies tempted to cut some corners in order to bolster profits (remember the Ford Pinto, Takata airbags, and the thousands of other recalls that cost lives)? Even ethical companies can produce defective products because of lack of knowledge or foresight. Imagine if there were little or no controls in production or end use.

Additionally, as the systems get more complex, the probability of unexpected or unrecognized error modes will also increase at a rapid rate. The Air France Flight 447 crash is a great example of this.

So what can be done to minimize these errors that will undoubtedly occur? There are really 2 options:

1. Preventative, proactive analysis safety and equipment failure prevention training will be essential as these new technologies evolve. This must also be extended to software development, since it will be the driving force in new technologies production. If you wonder how much failure prevention training is being used in this industry, just count the number of updates your computer and phone software sends out each year. And yes, failure prevention should include vigilance on security breaches. A firm understanding of human error, especially in the software and equipment design phase, is essential to understanding why an error might be introduced, and what systems we will need in place to catch or mitigate the consequences of these errors.  This obviously requires effective root cause analysis early in the process.

2. The second option is to fully analyze the results of any errors after they crop up. Since failures are harder to detect as stated in #1, it becomes even more critical that, when an error does cause a problem, we dig deep enough to fix the root cause of the failure. It will not be enough to say, “Yes, that line of code caused this issue. Corrective action: Update the line of code.” We must look more deeply into how we allowed the errant line of code to exist, and then do a rigorous generic cause analysis to see of we have this same issue elsewhere in our system.

With the potential for rapidly-evolving hardware and software systems causing errors, it will be incumbent on companies to have rigorous, effective failure analysis to prevent or minimize the effects of these errors.

Want to learn more about equipment troubleshooting? Attend our Special 2-Day Equifactor® Equipment Troubleshooting and Root Cause Analysis training February 26 and 27, 2018 in Knoxville, Tennessee and plan to stay for the 2018 Global TapRooT® Summit, February 28 to March 2, 2018.

Asset Optimization Track at the Summit – Are you in?

January 2nd, 2018 by

If you are a typical procrastinator, you probably haven’t signed up for the Global TapRooT® Summit yet. Well, it’s now 2018, and procrastination is over! Don’t miss the chance to get in on one of the best opportunities to improve your company.

I wanted to give you a little more information about one of the most exciting tracks at the Summit: the Asset Optimization Track (doesn’t that sound so much better than “Equipment Fixing Track”?) We’ll be providing some great sessions to get your reliability and maintenance processes moving in the right direction in 2018. Besides the Summit Keynote addresses common to all tracks, here are a few of the sessions that make the Asset Optimization track right for you:

  • Multiple Failures Without Learning:  Tired of repeat failures?  Chris Vallee will give you some examples of why the “break it – Fix it” mentality is no longer the way to go.
  • Improved maintenance Troubleshooting using Equifactor®:  I’ll be leading a session on how Equifactor® Equipment Troubleshooting module of the TapRooT® VI software service works, including some of the new features available in the software.  For some reason, I think this is the best session of all!
  • The Business End of Equipment Reliability:  OK, maybe my session is NOT the best!  Heinz Bloch will be with us again this year, giving us his unique insight into the business case behind reliably operating your equipment.
  • The Psychology of Failing Fixes:  Kevin McManus will be sharing his unique view on how root cause analysis is the key to a truly reliable operation.  Don’t miss the opportunity to soak up some of Kevin’s enthusiasm!

We’re going to have a great Summit this year, in our hometown for the first time ever.  Please plan on signing up for the Summit.  Don’t tell yourself, “Oh, yeah, I need to do that sometime.”  The time is now; the Summit is next month! REGISTER NOW for the Asset Optimization Track!

The Georgia State Public Services Commission Demands Root Cause Analysis of Atlanta Airport Blackout

December 21st, 2017 by

ATL

Read about the story in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution: http://www.ajc.com/news/georgia-regulators-demand-answers-about-atlanta-airport-blackout/nDwICT5QFrUyXOvFnZbroM/

It’s hard to believe there wasn’t a redundant transmission line and transformers to such a vital resource.

Root Cause Tip: Equipment difficulty… did the equipment break or wear out?

August 28th, 2017 by

Teaching TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis and Equifactor® for the last 10 years, I often get this question…

“The tool/component broke while we were using it. Why can’t we just select Equipment Difficulty on the TapRooT® Root Cause Tree®?”

Simple, you have to pass the test below first

NOTE: If the failure was caused by:

  – improper operation;

  – improper maintenance;

  – installation errors;

  – failure to perform scheduled preventive maintenance;

  – programming errors;

  – use for a purpose far beyond the intention of the design; or

  – a design that causes a human performance difficulty

then the failure is NOT an Equipment Difficulty, but rather the failure is a Human Performance Difficulty

Trust me! If a tool, piece of equipment or product breaks, you know the manufacturer, vendor and supplier are going to push back to see if it was used properly and meets the warranty. Shouldn’t you ask first? We say yes!

During my 18 years in aviation in fuel systems troubleshooting and executive jet assembly, we used to have a phrase…

“Our mechanics or assemblers that grew up on the farm are our best and worst mechanics. They can get anything mechanical to work.”

Now there are signs that tools might not be the right ones for the job or that the job was not designed with good Human Engineering in mind. First test… look into the toolboxes in the field.

✔Are the tools modified
✔Are the tools old and worn
✔Are there tools from home

Okay, so tools are easier to see being misused, like a screw driver being used as a scraper or a pry bar, but what about equipment/components being used like a…

✔ Compressor
✔ Switch
✔ Valve
✔ Bottle

Now we must dig a little deeper in our TapRooT® Root Cause and Equifactor® Analysis. We start by mapping out our SnapCharT® (Sequence of Events with supporting Conditions) using system schematics to ensure we know what occurred with the equipment, people and system being operated. A knowledgeable system operator can elaborate on events and conditions such as:

✔ Energized open, mechanically closed
✔ Dynamic or static energy
✔ System work arounds and deficiencies

Why you may ask is this knowledge vital? If an operator knows how the light turns on when you flip a light switch on, then when system does fail, it is easier to start and understand the SnapCharT®.

To pass the first two tests while facilitating TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis, whether for a low to moderate level issue or a major incident, bring along that knowledgeable operator or engineer that can answer the following…

improper operation;
improper maintenance;
installation errors;
failure to perform scheduled preventive maintenance;
programming errors;
use for a purpose far beyond the intention of the design; or
a design that causes a human performance difficulty

Good luck and be safe! Please get rid of those unsafe tools and processes.

LEARN MORE in our 2-day TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis Training.

Enhance Your Equifactor® Skills in Houston

October 20th, 2016 by

Equipment problems can be difficult, but fixing them is vital for safety in the workplace and efficiency in production. Where do you start? Find the root cause of the failure. But how? Come to a TapRooT® Equifactor® public course to learn how to find that root cause, develop effective solutions and implement them successfully. Our systematic process is reliable, and your equipment should be, too.

Well, good news! TapRooT® is offering this course in Houston on November 3. You can learn how to optimize your equipment and enjoy a city with a big personality. Houston lives up to the western character that many assume they’ll find, but that’s not all it is. You’ll find cuisine of all kinds, sophisticated downtown shops and industrial powerhouses of all kinds. Visit and see for yourself!

Join TapRooT® in Houston for this local public course.

Inquire about an Equifactor® onsite course for your company.

Equipment Reliability: What Happens as Pumps Wear Out?

October 11th, 2016 by

Equipment reliability - Pump wear

When we are faced with the prospect of installing a new pump, we have to take a look at several factors to decide what the best course of action will be. For example, we have to look at:
– Fit for purpose
– Initial cost
– Life-cycle maintenance costs
– Electrical efficiency
– Ease of maintenance
– etc.

An additional consideration is how the characteristics of the pump vary over time.  It is fairly straight forward to calculate flow rates and pressures using the specs of a new pump.  However, how do these specs vary over time?  As the pump wears, how will the characteristics of the pump change, and how will this affect the overall fitness of the pump for the service environment?

Here is a nice article that describes how pump nameplate characteristics will change as the pump wears, and what to expect as the components wear.

Equipment Failure: Mechanical Seal Basics

October 3rd, 2016 by

Mechanical seal

 

Modern pump systems are moving more and more away from traditional pump packing, and more towards mechanical seals.  There are many advantages to using a mechanical seal instead of pump packing.  However, using these seals brings along some additional potential problems.

Before we can look at these additional issues, we first need to make sure we understand exactly what we mean by a “mechanical seal.”  Here is a quick refresher on how these seals work.  Next week, we’ll look a little more deeply into the advantages and disadvantages of these systems.

Equipment Failure: Crane Gearbox Failure

September 30th, 2016 by

Equipment Failure - Broken Gear

While performing a lift using a tower crane, a failure of the gearbox cause about 1.000 lbs of hook and rigging gear to fall to the ground, narrowly missing workers in the area. Here is the report.

The investigation revealed several issues, most relating to proper inspections of the gearboxes to identify defective gears.  While again this appears to be a straight equipment failure, we would also want to know:

  • How did the deficient gear end up in the gearbox (it was the wrong material)?
  • Are we looking for repeat failures (this had happened before)?
  • How close were the workers in the vicinity?
  • What was the preventative maintenance plan for this gearbox?  Was it required be the vendor?

Lots of other directions a good investigation will lead you.

 

Equipment Failure? Delta Airlines “Computer” Failure

September 6th, 2016 by

equipment failure 2

Last month, Delta Airlines experienced an equipment failure that caused their reservation system to shut down, Media reports indicate close to 2,000 flights were canceled. This is only a few weeks after Southwest Airlines experienced a similar computer failure, causing numerous flight delays and cancellations.

Reports continue to indicate that this was an equipment failure, due to a small fire in a power supply in there server room.  Here is their description:

“Monday morning (August 8) an uninterrupted power source switch experienced a small fire which resulted in a massive failure at Delta’s Technology Command Center. This caused the power control module to malfunction, sending a surge to a transformer outside of Delta, resulting in the loss of power. The power was stabilized and power was restored quickly. But when this happened, critical systems and network equipment didn’t switch over to backups. Around 300 of about 7,000 data center components were discovered to not have been configured appropriately to avail backup power. In addition to restoring Delta’s systems to normal operations, Delta teams this week have been working to ensure reliable redundancies of electrical power as well as network connectivity and applications are in place.”

Keep in mind that the “uninterrupted power supply switch” is actually known as an “uninterruptible” power supply (UPS).  This normally swaps you over to another power source if your primary source fails.  You may have a simple UPS on your computer systems at the office, providing battery backup while power is restored.  In Delta’s case, their UPS system attempted to switch over, but configuration issues prevented a significant number of their devices from actually shifting over.

Additionally, other reports indicate that the reservation system is an extremely antiquated system, linked into other airlines’ (also extremely antiquated) systems.  They have all patched together and upgraded their individuals systems to the point that it is almost impossible to upgrade; it really requires a complete replacement, which would be EXTREMELY difficult and expensive to replace while still being used for current reservations.

So while this is discussed by the airlines as an equipment failure, I think there are more than likely multiple causal factors, of which only one (the initiating problem) was a burned up component.  Without knowing the details, we can see several Causal Factors:

  • A UPS caught fire
  • This small fire caused a large surge and widespread power loss
  • Other equipment was not properly configured to shift to backup power
  • There is no backup in the event of a loss of the primary reservation system
  • The reservation computer system has not been upgraded to modern standards

I always question when a failure is classed as “equipment failure.”  Unless the equipment failure is an allowed event (Tolerable Failure), it is much more likely that humans were much more involved in the failure, with the broken equipment as only a result.

Optimize Your Equipment Reliability with an Equifactor® Course!

September 1st, 2016 by

gears

Equipment problems can be difficult, but fixing them is vital for safety in the workplace and efficiency in production. Where do you start? Find the root cause of the failure. But how? Come to a TapRooT® Equifactor® public course to learn how to find that root cause, develop effective solutions and implement them successfully. Our systematic process is reliable, and your equipment should be, too.

Knoxville is not only the home of the Tennessee Vols but also headquarters of Tennessee Valley Authority and lifestyle media company, Scripps Network. This large city right in the heart of Appalachia is surrounded by the Great Smoky Mountains giving you an astounding view anywhere you go, especially in the Autumn.

Take a trip to Knoxville and join TapRooT® for this local public course.

Food: 

Stock and Barrel: This rustic, fun restaurant offers the best burgers in the area. Voted by locals.

Calhoun’s on the River: Enjoy eating with a great view? Calhoun’s serves great barbecue right on the Tennessee River.

Litton’s: A Knoxville favorite! One of the best hometown restaurants serving homestyle burgers, fries and dessert with friendly service.

Attractions: 

Market Square: Full of restaurants, bars and boutiques, there’s no better place to enjoy a night out in Knoxville.

Maple Hall Bowling Alley: The trendiest bowling alley you’ve ever seen that is located underground. It doesn’t get much cooler than that.

World’s Fair Park: Located next to University of Tennessee’s campus, this famous park was built for the 1984 World’s Fair. Fun area for the kids!

Old City: This area of Knoxville has been brought back to life and is better than ever. Located near Market Square, you can get a feel for all Knoxville has to offer in one place.

Ready to register for this Knoxville Equifactor® course? Click Here

WANTED: New Equifactor® Equipment Troubleshooting Tables

August 29th, 2016 by

equipment troubleshooting table

We’re pretty excited about the new TapRooT® VI software service that we released this year. It has some terrific features that are a definite upgrade to the older Version 5 software.

As part of the conversion over to TapRooT® VI, we did an in-depth review of the Equifactor® equipment troubleshooting tables. We found we were able to streamline those tables to make them even easier to use. We dropped some redundant items, standardized some of the terminology, and generally mde them easier to use. Additionally, TapRooT® VI allows you to take the items from the Equifactor® table and drop them right onto your SnapCharT®. It’s a feature we’ve been asked about for quite a while, and the TapRooT® VI architecture finally let us add this enhancement.

I am currently looking for new ideas for tables you would be interested in seeing added to Equifactor®. What general categories of equipment would you like to see developed and added to the system? Some we might be able to do; some aren’t really very conducive to putting into a table format. For example, I was asked to develop tables to troubleshoot PLC problems. While this would be great, there are unfortunately hundreds of different models and types of PLC’s out there, and a simple set of tables would be really tough to do.

Another idea was for hydraulic system troubleshooting. Again, this might be to broad a category. However, I am researching the possibility of doing more specific tables on things like hydraulic cylinders and motors. These might be specific and generic enough that we can put together a useful set of tables.

So what would you like to see? Let me know, and I’ll be happy to take a look.

Severe Pump Damage Due To Inadequate Analysis

August 22nd, 2016 by

Cavitation

Here is a great example of damage to large pumps resulting from a poor understanding of the operating environment. When coupled with inferior manufacturing techniques, rapid failure of critical equipment can occur.

Pump Life Cycle Cost Analysis – Numbers Matter!

August 15th, 2016 by

LCC Graphic

When designing spacecraft, there is a humorous (yet amazingly accurate) list of laws to keep in mind to ensure you are not going down the wrong path when developing spacecraft and their associated systems. Akin’s Laws of Spacecraft Design are a set of well-known nuggets that can be adapted to everyday life. But the one that I want to mention here is Akin’s Law #1:

1. Engineering is done with numbers. Analysis without numbers is only an opinion.

When you are looking at your pumping systems, and trying to decide on the best maintenance or repair strategy for a particular pump failure, you may have several options. For example:

– Should I just replace the failed pump with another identical pump?
– Should I replace it with a more efficient design?
– Is the current pump optimized for the system design?
– What other options are available for this repair?
– Why did it fail in the first place?

Iceberg

Life Cycle Cost analysis can be done after almost any failure to help you decide on the best repair strategy.  This analysis includes things like the costs of the initial purchase, installation and commissioning costs, energy and operation costs, and maintenance costs.  You can perform a relatively accurate cost comparison for various repair / replacement options so that you can make an educated decision on the best course of action.  Pump Life Cycle Costs: A Guide to LCC Analysis for Pumping Systems is the result of a collaboration between the Hydraulic Institute, Europump, and the US Department of Energy’s Office of Industrial Technologies (OIT).  It is definitely worth a few minutes to read through this and get a basic understanding of how to calculate the LCC of a particular installation or repair.

There were a couple of take-aways for me, neither of which was particularly surprising, yet both of which are important to keep in mind:

  1.  Energy consumption is often one of the larger cost elements and may dominate the LCC, especially if pumps are run more than 2000 hours per year
  2.  The cost of unexpected downtime and lost production is a very significant item in the total LCC and can rival the energy costs and replacement parts costs in its impact.

Pie Chart

Which drives home the importance of a good root cause analysis to ensure that your failures (and therefore your downtime) are minimized, as the costs of these failures can rapid skew the entire LCC analysis.  Don’t live with repeat or avoidable failures.

 

Tips for Maintaining your Air Compressor

August 9th, 2016 by

Compressor Maintenance

A new air compressor can be a significant investment at your facility. While most people assume that they are performing adequate maintenance on their equipment, I am often surprised by how many companies are not performing or tracking even the most basic maintenance.
Here are some fairly simple yet important tips on maintaining your air compressors, courtesy of Ingersoll Rand. Bounce these tips against your preventative maintenance plan and see if you’re fully covered.

Bearing Failures: Keep Them Clean!

August 1st, 2016 by

Contaminated Bearing

According to the chart below, almost half of all pump bearing failures are due to lubricant contamination.  In the chart, you can probably add the “Corrosion” cause to this, since bearing corrosion is most likely due to a poorly sealed bearing.

Failure Chart

Credit: SKF

Heinz Bloch has written a great article on the importance of keeping up with bearing seal technology. He notes that only 10% of rolling-element bearings ever reach their expected end of life. While we seem to put a lot of effort into ensuring we have the right bearings with the proper lubrication, we then do a poor job of maintain those bearings. Imagine if your bearings actually lasted until the calculated end of life!

Heinz Bloch will be leading 2 sessions at our Global TapRooT® Summit in San Antonio this week. I always look forward to his talks!!

Tappan Zee Crane Collapse: What We Know

July 25th, 2016 by

Crane boom collapse

Last week’s collapse of the 235 foot boom on a crane building the new Tappan Zee bridge is still under investigation. There are apparently 3 separate investigations in progress, and as expected, not much information has been released.

The boom came down across all lanes of traffic on the old (still active) portion of the bridge. Amazingly enough, there were only 4 minor injuries, and it cause direct damage to a single vehicle. If you’ve ever driven across that bridge (I was on it just 30 days before the incident), you understand how lucky we were not to have any fatalities.

What we know so far:

– There was almost no wind, and this has been eliminated as a cause.
– The crane was being used to drive piles into the river bottom using a 60 ton vibratory hammer.
– There is a “black box” on the crane which will supply data on the boom angle, weight, etc.
– The operator says he knows what caused it (it wasn’t him).
– This is a new model crane with several safety features designed to eliminate human error.
– This is the only crane of this model being used on the project.
– The crane operator is licensed, with over 30 years of experience.

Tappan Zee Before

This seems to be a good start to an investigation. And as expected, there are a lot of questions (and “expert” opinions) about what happened.  Some of the questions that might be asked:

  • Was the crane properly inspected and certified?
  • What was the condition of the vibratory hammer?
  • Was there any sense of urgency that may have caused someone to make a mistake?  The contract specified $120,000 per day fine of the project finished late.
  • Was there an adequate review and approval of the safe zone around the crane operation?

It’s important not to just ask the hard questions, but also to give the hard answers.  For example, one option that could have been in place (20/20 hindsight) would be to close the operating section of the bridge during construction.  While this would definitely have been 100% safer, does it actually make sense to do this?  Were there adequate safeguards in place to allow continued use of the old span?  The answers here might be yes, and it was perfectly appropriate to operate the old bridge during contruction.  I’ve seen hundreds of construction projects that have cranes in near proximity to the public.  In fact, almost every downtown construction project has the potential to cause injury to the public if a crane collapses.  Some of the criticism I’ve seen written about this accident (“Why wasn’t the old span closed during this constructiuon project?”) is too simplistic for the real world.  The real question should be, “Were there adequate safeguards put in place for the level of risk imposed by this projct?”  We don’t know the answers yet, but just asking these questions in an unbiased investigation can provide useful information.

Crane Collapse

It appears that there is plenty of information available to the investigators. I’m very interested to see the results after the investigations are complete.

Water Hammer – What is it, and how we can prevent equipment damage?

July 20th, 2016 by

water_hammer

If you’ve ever heard your pipes rattle in your house after flushing the toilet, you’ve experienced water hammer. While this is just a noisy occurrence in your home, it can cause major damage in industrial situations.
We talk about water hammer during our 5-Day TapRooT® course as a great root cause analysis example. It’s a fairly easy concept on the surface, but it’s actually a fascinating phenomenon. I found this great article that discusses the causes of water hammer and describes some ideas to keep in mind that can prevent or at least mitigate the consequences.

Equipment Failure? No, the Sloth Did It!!

July 6th, 2016 by

Worker: But boss, I swear I didn’t shut that valve!

Boss:   Well, who do you think shut it? Aliens? Gremlins?

Apparently, it was just a sloth!


Gear Coupling Troubleshooting and Reliability

June 28th, 2016 by

Coupling

Gear couplings have been around for a long time. And yet there are still frequent equipment failures due to improper selection, use, and maintenance of couplings.
Keep in mind that a coupling problem can manifest itself in subtle ways. A broken coupling is pretty obvious. However, you could see symptoms such as:
– Increased vibration readings in the equipment
– Overheating of shaft bearings
– Unusual resonances in your vibration data
– Overload and overheating of motors

The Equifactor® module of the TapRooT® VI software service has some great troubleshooting tables, one of which is focused on gear couplings. Once you determine that you have a coupling issue, you can look up the symptoms you are seeing and determine what could be causing that symptom.

Coupling

I also found a nice article describing problems you might have with a coupling, and how to maintain the reliable operation of a gear coupling. Take a look and let me know what you think.

Which Pump is Best? Evaluating Pump Curves

June 13th, 2016 by

PumpCurve

There are quite a few variables that must be taken into account when selecting the correct pump for a particular application. For centrifugal pumps, the pump curves for a specific pump contain a lot of data. Here are some ideas to help you decide which pump would be best for a particular application, based on the pump curve for various pumps.

Equifactor® for the Win!

June 10th, 2016 by

We love how this client recognizes the value of equipment troubleshooting training!  Don’t miss our Equifactor® 2-day course, a Pre-Summit Course scheduled for August 1-2, 2016 in San Antonio, Texas!

Equipment Maintenance and Troubleshooting – Calculating pump run time and duty cycle

June 9th, 2016 by

image

When discussing pump maintenance, we often forget about the electrical side of the equation. Mechanics think about the mechanical side, and we’ll let the electricians worry about the power side. However, it is critical that we take a more holistic view of the entire pump system to make sure we’re not exceeding manufacturer specs when we are using our equipment.

There are several measures we need to keep in mind when we look at equipment lifetime calculations. For example:
– # start/stop cycles in a given period
– Run time after starting
– Overall duty cycle

I read this interesting article about why these items are important.  The author also had a calculator spreadsheet that helps you figure out appropriate run times for pumping out a sump or tank.  That calculator is here.

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Chris ValleeChris Vallee

Human Factors

Dan VerlindeDan Verlinde

VP, Software

Dave JanneyDave Janney

Safety & Quality

Garrett BoydGarrett Boyd

Technical Support

Ken ReedKen Reed

VP, Equifactor®

Linda UngerLinda Unger

Co-Founder

Mark ParadiesMark Paradies

Creator of TapRooT®

Per OhstromPer Ohstrom

VP, Sales

Shaun BakerShaun Baker

Technical Support

Steve RaycraftSteve Raycraft

Technical Support

Wayne BrownWayne Brown

Technical Support

Success Stories

Prior to implementing TapRooT in 1993, we performed incident investigations but we often stopped…

ExxonMobil

In March of 1994, two of our investigators were sent to the TapRooT 5-day Incident Investigator Team…

Fluor Fernald, Inc.
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