Ultrasound World XIII: Day 2 Recap

May 15th, 2017

The first full day of presentations at the 13th annual Ultrasound World conference in Clearwater Beach, Florida, was a tough act to follow. But Day 2 also featured talks from more of the best reliable maintenance practitioners around. Take a look at what they had to say:

Keynote: "The Future is Here – What Now?"

Dr. Klaus Blache, PhD, CMRP, University of  Tennessee

The second day's keynote belonged to Dr. Klaus Blache, who made the point that our modern times sound like a science fiction novel of 40 years ago. Automation, the Internet of Things, 3-D printing, driverless cars – these are technologies we could only dream about not long ago. Klaus also read from an excerpt about the ideal life for a maintenance professional. It involved perfect uptime, extreme efficiency, computerized processes and other best-case scenarios.

But as it turns out, those aren't impossible – they're practices that happen at the top facilities across the world. The trick for maintenance and reliability professionals is to find ways to adopt those best practices in their own plants. There are two main challenges:

  1. Data is rich, but information is poor – how do we extract value when there is more and more raw data out there?
  2. The individuals who hold the skill and knowledge necessary to implement PdM are aging – how do we retain and pass on that knowledge?

In addition, Klaus noted that these advance won't slow down. At some point, there will be more robots than humans, and manufacturing techniques will continue to evolve. As a result, plant maintenance professionals need to adopt a program of continuous improvement and predictive management to anticipate and resolve problems before the emerge.

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"How to Set Up an Ultrasound Program"

Joe Anderson, CMRP, Schwann Foods

After providing some entertainment with his stand-up routine during the Beach BBQ on Wednesday evening, Joe Anderson, CMRP, doubled as a presenter on Thursday. His topic was a simple, yet crucially important one: If you don't have dedicated equipment or people, what do you do? How do you get started?

Joe has experience with doing exactly that in his role with Schwann Foods, and previously with Smuckers. You have to have a plan broken down into five components:

  • Visions
  • Goals
  • Objectives
  • Tasks
  • Values

By starting with a basic approach and breaking it down, what seems like an insurmountable task becomes attainable.

For Joe, the goal was to build a world-class PdM program. The first objective was to establish a world-class ultrasound program. The tasks consisted of the steps necessary to roll out ultrasound – find employees dedicated to ultrasound full-time, establish routes and workflows, and obtain the necessary equipment. 

"Electrical Inspections: Sounding Bad Never Sounded So Good!"

Joe Gierlach,Tegg Services

When something sounds broken, it must be broken, right? Not necessarily! Joe Gierlach's presentation laid out numerous examples where simply listening in using ultrasound isn't enough. Fortunately, when you consult the data from an ultrasound file, you can better identify potential issues.

Even something that sounds really bad might not be so bad! Joe recommends trusting the data, not your ears. He provided a few examples:

  1. In one substation transformer, ultrasound revealed a noisy sound reminiscent of an electrical fault. The FFT display didn't show any fault harmonics, but that's not enough to go on alone. The time series showed there was no electrical fault.
  2. Another substation was similarly noisy, but the data was inconclusive. However, when compared to a sister substation, the team found it may have been in the beginning stages of faulting. They conducted a de-energized shutdown for further testing.

Both examples could have gone either way, based only on the audio. But using all of ultrasound's testing capabilities, Joe managed to get to the bottom of it.

"Combining Ultrasound and Debottlenecking to Deliver High Profit Margins"

Steve Toth, CMRP, Delta Focused Improvement

The Debottlenecking Method is a process that provides the user with a clear understanding of the tactics that can be used to improve the performance of a line, and the benefits and drawbacks of each tactic. When combined with ultrasound, maintenance and reliability professionals can extract significant ROI and improved throughput.

Tha'ts what Steve Toth, CMRP, discussed during his presentation. The biggest challenge? Influencing a reworking of business strategy to reduce O&M costs, increase asset life, integrate data, reduce costs all around and streamline operations.

As John Maynard Keynes said, "The greatest difficulty in the world is not for people to accept new ideas, but to make them forget about old ideas."

With that in mind, Steve noted a few ways to create a justifiable case for change:

  • What are the costs associated with failures?
  • What are the costs to implement the change?
  • What is the ROI recovery period? 

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"Ultrasound – Where to Start?"

Lorna Hall, CMRP, Jacobs

With 13 years at the Kennedy Space Center and now at Jacobs, Lorna Hall, CMRP, has some experience dealing with high-tech assets. But as she tells it, at the component level, it's all the same – bearings, motors, gears and other items. What's more important is the people. That's the key to PdM program success.

When starting out with an ultrasound program, recognize that people have been behaving the same way for years – you have to involve them and motivate them. What gets measured gets done, but what gets rewarded gets repeated.

Similarly, you have to show off early victories and demonstrate ROI wherever possible. When management and practitioners can see that this works, they'll be more inclined to push forward and buy in.

Finally, Lorna emphasized communication as the real key. The Rule of Seven states that people on average need to hear something seven times before it sinks in. Lorna advises:

  • Communicate often.
  • Be patient.
  • Listen and adjust as necessary.

"Journey to Precision Lubrication: Changing Culture"

Malcolm Osenton, The Mosaic Company

The Mosaic Company helps the world grow the food it needs by offering a single source of crop fertilizer. Malcolm Osenton came into the company in 2004 as a leader of the reliability engineers and drives PdM change across 10 facilities. What he's found is that precision lubrication is essential. But getting there required a culture change.

For one thing, the environment was bad for lubrication – hot, humid, dusty and dirty. For another, the culture didn't help either. Employees weren't trained on PdM lubrication practices, didn't believe in it, and most importantly, didn't think it was possible.

Finally, one maintenance manager told Malcolm, "I'm tired of hearing about this stuff – prove it!"

Using a comprehensive lubrication standard his team developed, Malcolm demonstrated how lubricant cleanliness and quality could be maintained – though they learned things and made changes along the way.

Ultimately, precision lubrication was worth at least $13 million a year to The Mosaic Company. It required a challenging cultural change, but everyone was better off for it.

That wraps up another successful Ultrasound World conference! Be sure to stay up to speed on UESystems.com for ongoing coverage, expert interviews and more!

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