Category: Equipment/Equifactor®

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.

Electrical Equipment Troubleshooting – Don’t Be Scared!

May 31st, 2016 by

schematic

I found this article about troubleshooting electrical failures in heavy equipment. It discussed some pretty concise nuggets of info I thought were pretty interesting. In many cases, troubleshooting an electrical fault is more a case of figuring out “What is working?” as opposed to “What is broke?”.

Special 2-Day Equifactor® Equipment Troubleshooting + TapRooT® Root Cause Analysis

May 27th, 2016 by

In just two days (right before the 2016 Global TapRooT® Summit), learn how to troubleshoot equipment failures along with the essentials to conduct a TapRooT® root cause analysis incident investigation.  Then stay for the 3-day Summit!  LEARN MORE!

 

 

Equifactor® Equipment Troubleshooting Basics

May 25th, 2016 by

afterburner-inspection-897513_1280

Equifactor® is designed to be used to help your equipment maintenance and reliability people figure out the root causes of mechanical or electrical equipment failures.

I thought I’d take the opportunity to take us back to the basics for a moment. I’d like to describe how the Equifactor® Equipment Troubleshooting module of TapRooT® is designed to be used.

What is Equifactor®?

When performing a root cause analysis using TapRooT®, it is critical that you gather the right information for the problem at hand.  This can be safety information, environmental procedures, policies and work instructions for a particular task, etc.  It is usually pretty obvious what types of data you need for the type of investigation you’re performing.

Sometimes, additional TapRooT® data-gathering tools are required for specific types of problems.  Equifactor® is one of those tools.  It is designed to be used to help your equipment maintenance and reliability people figure out the root causes of mechanical or electrical equipment failures.

Why use Equifactor®?

During your investigation, you may find that one of your problems relates to an equipment malfunction.  For example, you might find that a compressor is vibrating above expectation.  You can put this fact into your SnapCharT®, but now what?  What do you do with this piece of information?  To get past this point in the SnapCharT®, you really need the answer from your troubleshooting team:  “Why is the compressor vibrating?”  Unfortunately, if you knew that, you wouldn’t need to put the question on your SnapCharT® in the first place!  You need to know the physical cause of the vibration in order to progress to a more detailed SnapCharT® with Causal Factors.

Equifactor® in detail

This is where Equifactor® comes in.  To help your equipment experts figure out the physical cause of the vibration, they will probably rely on their experience and local manuals for troubleshooting advice.  They’ll look at the possible causes they are familiar with, and hopefully find the problem.  However, we can’t rely on hope.  What happens when they check the items they are familiar with, and the problem is not found?  This is when they can turn to the Equifactor® troubleshooting tables for help.  The tables give a comprehensive list of possible causes of compressor vibration.  Your experts can review these tables to identify all the possible causes that apply to your compressor, and then use that list of possible causes to devise a detailed troubleshooting plan to identify the issue.  Theses tables give your maintenance team some great guidance on things to look at during their troubleshooting.  These items are quite often things that they have never seen before, and therefore did not think to look for.

Equifactor® – a TapRooT® Tool

Once your team finds the physical cause of the compressor vibration (for example, maybe the wrong coupling bolts were used, throwing off the balance of the machine), we’re not done.  Equifactor® is NOT a separate, independent tool.  It is designed to be used as a data-gathering tool for your TapRooT® investigation.  Therefore, the problem that was found (wrong coupling bolts) is now added to the original SnapCharT®, and we can now move forward with our normal TapRooT® investigation.  I’m pretty sure the bolts didn’t magically install themselves; a human was involved.  We can now discover the human performance issues that lead the mechanics to use the wrong bolts.  We continue adding information to our SnapCharT®, until we can run all of the Causal Factors (one of which will probably be, “Mechanics assembled the coupling using the wrong bolts”) through the Root Cause Tree®.  We can now apply effective corrective actions to the problem.  Instead of blaming the mechanic (“Counselled the mechanic on the importance of using the authorized repair parts during coupling assembly”), we can now target our corrective actions at the reason the mechanic used the wrong bolts (correct bolts not available, common use of “parts bins” to repair equipment, wrong part number on repair order, etc.).

Equifactor® is a terrific tool to assist your maintenance and reliability folks in finding the physical cause of a machinery problem.  It is a tool to assist you in performing your TapRooT® investigation when an equipment problem is part of that investigation.  Learn to use these tables to save you time and effort when troubleshooting your equipment issues.

LEARN MORE about Equifactor®.

CONTACT US about a course.

Common Wind Turbine Equipment Failure Modes

May 19th, 2016 by

Turbine failure

I found this article discussing some common failure modes for wind turbines. While not completely new, it does give you some things to consider when performing maintenance on turbine equipment.

Heavy Equipment Maintenance Tips

May 13th, 2016 by

3D-Repair-Men

I saw this entry today, highlighting some great ideas on maintaining your heavy equipment. I think what caught my eye was the very first tip: “Stay on top of large machinery operator training.” Any plan to keep your equipment operating at top performance must include the operators and maintenance personnel. It doesn’t matter if you have the very best maintenance plans and schedules if the operators don’t understand how to properly start, operate, and secure the equipment. And maintenance techs must also be properly trained; otherwise, the best preventative maintenance plan will be poorly implemented.
Training of your staff should ALWAYS be a top priority!

Rail Accidents: It’s the Entire System that Matters

May 2nd, 2016 by

amtrak

 

On April 3rd, an Amtrak passenger train collided with a backhoe that was being used by railroad employees for maintenance.  Two maintenance workers were killed, and about 20 passengers on the train were injured.  For those that are not familiar with the railroad industry, I wanted to discuss a system that was in place that was designed to help prevent these types of incidents.

Many trains are being back-fitted with equipment and software that is collectively known as positive train control (PTC).  These systems include sensors, software, and procedures that are designed to help the engineer safely operate the train.  It is designed to allow for:

  • Train separation and collision avoidance
  • Speed enforcement
  • Rail worker safety

For example, as the train approaches a curve that has a lower speed limit, a train with PTC would first alert the engineer that he must reduce speed, and then, if this doesn’t happen, automatically reduce the speed or stop the train as necessary to prevent exceeding tolerance.  Another example is that, if maintenance is known to be occurring on a particular section of track, the train “knows” it is not allowed to be on that particular section, and will slow / stop to avoid entering the restricted area.  The system can be pretty sophisticated, but this is the general idea.

Notice that I described the system as a series of sensors, software, and procedures that make up PTC.  While we can put all kinds of sensors and software in place, there are still procedures that people must follow for the system to operate properly.  For example, in in order to know about worker safety restrictions on a particular piece of track, there are several things that must happen:

  • The workers must tell the dispatcher they are on a specific section of track (there are very detailed procedures that cover this).
  • The dispatcher must correctly tell the system that the workers are present.
  • The software must correctly identify the section of track.
  • The communications hardware must properly communicate with the train.
  • The train must know where it is and where it is going.
  • The workers must be on the correct section of track.
  • The workers must be doing the correct maintenance (for example, not also working on an additional siding).
  • If being used, local temporary warning systems being used by the workers must be operating properly.  For example, there are devices that can be worn on the workers’ bodies that signal the train, and that receive a signal from the train.
  • Proper maintenance must be performed on all of the PTC hardware and software.

As you can see, just putting a great PTC system in place involves more than just installing a bunch of equipment.  Workers must understand the equipment, its interrelation with the train and dispatcher, how the system is properly initialized and secured, the limitations of the PTC system, etc.  People are still involved.

For the Washington Amtrak crash, we know that there was a PTC system in place.  However, I don’t know how it was being employed, if it was working properly, were all the procedures being followed, etc.  I am definitely not trying to apportion any blame, since I’m not involved in the investigation.  However, I did want to point out that, while implementation of PTC systems is long overdue, it is important to realize that these systems have many weak points that must be recognized and understood in order to have them operating properly.

Humans will almost always end up being the weak link, and it is critical that the entire system, including the human interactions with the system, be fully accounted for when designing and operating the system.  Proper audits will often catch these weak barriers, and proper investigations can help identify the human performance issues that are almost certainly in play when an accident occurs.  By finding the human performance issues, we can target more effective corrective actions than just blaming the individual.  Our investigations and audits have to take the entire system into account when looking for improvements.

Ken Reed Invites You to The Asset Optimization Track at the 2016 Global TapRooT® Summit

April 22nd, 2016 by

The Global TapRooT® Summit offers multiple focused learning tracks for performance improvement. This video introduces the Asset Optimization Track. Come to the Summit and maximize improvement at your company!


Starring Ken Reed. Produced by Benna Dortch.

Learn more about the Summit!

REGISTER NOW

Interested in the Safety Track?  Learn about it here!

Interested in the Investigator Track? Learn more about it here!

Heavy Equipment Maintenance Tips

April 21st, 2016 by

Detail

I ran across these tips for keeping your heavy equipment operating at peak performance. Some may seem obvious, but it is amazing how many times I’ve seen these simple maintenance actions ignored, especially at smaller companies. Larger companies often have staff dedicated to their maintenance programs, but smaller companies sometimes just don’t feel they have the resources.  I was working with a company just recently who had had a near miss due to a missing equipment guard.  As we dug a little deeper, we realized that there was no formalized maintenance system in place for there basic equipment.  They expected the operators to notice, report, and oftentimes actually fix any issues with their equipment on their own.  That was the extent of the maintenance program!

Please take a look at your equipment maintenance programs.  If you have planned maintenance in place for most of your equipment, take a hard look at your other, ancillary equipment.  You may find the big stuff has a good program, but the smaller (yet still critical) equipment is missing required maintenance and inspections.

Navy Ship Damaged During Startup – Root Cause is Human Error?

April 9th, 2016 by

Here’s the article …

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-04-07/damage-extensive-for-crippled-u-s-littoral-ship-in-singapore?cmpid=yhoo.headline

They have already fired the Commanding Officer … so don’t worry … they won’t start up gears without lube oil again. More video below.

Pump Maintenance Tips

April 7th, 2016 by

pump repair

Here’s an article describing some great tips to keep your pumps operating at peak performance. You can use these tips, in conjunction with the Equifactor® equipment troubleshooting tables, to ensure you’re getting the most out of your pumps.

Equipment Safety Alert: Counterfeit Crosby Shackles

March 28th, 2016 by

Crosby

The problem with fake Crosby shackles has actually been around for quite a while, but companies are still finding these shackles in their inventories. I thought I’d put this out there again and make sure we are still thinking about it.

Additionally, this might be a good time to verify your other lifting gear is meeting your specs.

– Are we using trusted suppliers?

– Are we researching the equipment and making sure there are no safety recalls issued?

– Do you have a program in place to periodically check for safety bulletins in your departments?

Go that extra step to make sure we are giving our teams the very best equipment, and helping them properly maintain it.

Worlds Easiest Equipment Troubleshooting Chart

March 21st, 2016 by

 

 

EngineeringFlowchart

I can’t tell you how many times I used this method in the Navy. Just substitute “EB Green” for “Duct Tape.”  Wasn’t a great permanent fix, though.

We use a slightly more comprehensive set of troubleshooting charts in our Equifactor® Equipment Troubleshooting courses!

Equipment Failure: Washington Metro Shutdown for Emergency Maintenance

March 18th, 2016 by

Metro

 

How much does an equipment failure cost? Washington Metro, after having a repeat failure on power distribution jumpers (2 in the past year, with one fatality), decided to shutdown the entire Metro system for a full day. Lost revenue (counting only lost fares) is estimated to be $2 million. This doesn’t count inspectors’ pay, cable replacements, etc.
Effective root cause analysis is critical to maintaining equipment reliability. It’s not good enough to have equipment fail, and then just replace the equipment. Your RCA must look at other possible human performance issues:

– Maintenance procedures
– Inspection periodicity
– Inspection requirements and procedures
– Inspector training
– Reasons for having a repeat of a supposedly corrected failure
– Generic cause analysis

These are the types of things that must go into an equipment failure analysis. Repeat failures cost money, convenience, and possibly lives.

Friday Joke: Equipment Troubleshooting Flowchart

March 11th, 2016 by

EngineeringFlowchart

This works great for me at home.

Air Compressor Maintenance Tips

March 10th, 2016 by

compressor

Here are some simple tips to protect your investment, whether it is an industrial machine or the compressor in your garage.  Simple maintenance can prevent costly failures and analyses in the future.

Centrifugal Pump Reliability – Heinz Bloch Tips

March 4th, 2016 by

Centrifugal

Here’s a great article by Heinz Bloch on centrifugal process pump reliability. His tips include purchasing strategies, operational considerations, installation ideas, and maintenance requirements. Always a pleasure to read his tips!

 

Monday Accident & Lessons Leaned: Sure Looks Like an Equipment Failure … But What is the Root Cause?

February 25th, 2016 by

Screen Shot 2016 02 25 at 11 27 20 AM

When you look up in the air and this is what you see … it sure looks like an equipment failure. Bit what is the root cause? 

That’s what DTE Energy will be looking into when they investigate this failure.

How do you go beyond “It broke!” and find how and why and equipment failure occurred? We recommend using techniques developed by equipment expert Heinz Bloch and embedded in the Equifactor® Module of the TapRooT® Software.

For more information about the software and training, see:

http://www.taproot.com/products-services/equipment-troubleshooting

Equipment vs. Human Performance Failures in Aircraft Accidents

February 23rd, 2016 by

sw airlines

Here’s a good discussion of the causes of airline accidents. As aircraft reliability and maintenance practices have improved over the years, the leading cause of aircraft accidents has shifted dramatically away from parts failures and toward human mistakes. Yet, polls have shown that most people think that aircraft accidents are usually caused by a mechanical breakdown.
It’s important to consider the human element whenever we assume a mechanical failure. Make sure you’re looking deeply enough into an equipment malfunction and make sure you understand, even when equipment does fail, how the human was involved.

Equipment Failure Risks Injuries

February 16th, 2016 by

Here’s another quick verdict of “crane failure.” I’m guessing the hoist was not designed to fail in this scenario! We probably need to look a little deeper at what allowed this hoist to fail. What safeguards do you think should have been in place here?

The “Force” was with HSE this time in Star Wars Accident

February 11th, 2016 by

“The actor, Harrison Ford, was struck by a hydraulic metal door on the Pinewood set of the Millennium Falcon in June 2014.”

“The Health And Safety Executive has brought four criminal charges against Foodles Production (UK) Ltd – a subsidiary of Disney.”

“Foodles Production said it was “disappointed” by the HSE’s decision.”

Read more here

 

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