A Sneak Peek Into The Advantages Of An Industrial Oven

Industrial ovens are large and heated chambers, which are used for heating, baking, curing, annealing and many other activities. When we think or talk about the oven so the first thing depicts the mind is baking, however, it has many other applications that you need to know. They are used in multiple applications including aging, bonding, curing, sterilization, pre heating, annealing, drying, tempering, etc. And thus, available in different design and size options.

Choosing the right industrial oven is a challenging task because of the number of specification available that confuses the buyers. Therefore, before you come to any decision, it is important to get familiarize with the product, so, you know what you are buying. So, what are you waiting for? Take a look at the short and snappy description that let you know about all its advantages.

Airflow Efficiency: One of the most important features of an industrial oven is its airflow efficiency that affects the working of the device. Generally, it helps to determine the efficiency of the device and temperature uniformity in all the areas. They must have solid airflow to guarantee the smooth performance.
Temperature Rise: Managing the right temperature level is important to make sure that it works well and provide uniform heat all over the chamber. Different types of industrial ovens take different time to reach the correct temperature rise, so, your application will never get hampered and work in all conditions. It is also important because the uneven heating affects the application and damages it drastically.
Heating Medium: Determining the source of heat is an important factor that makes a huge difference in the working of the different industrial ovens. Make sure the device you buy work as per your required heating medium.
Installation And Maintenance: The installation of an industrial oven is very simple and takes only a few minutes. Also, you can upgrade the system timely for better functioning.
Affordable Price: Even if you are low in budget, you can take the benefit of the device as it is available at the dirt cheap price that fits into your budget. Also, the price is the major factor that affects the buying decision, thus, you should buy it.

These are some of the features of the industrial ovens and also these factors affect the customers buying decision, so, make sure you consider all of them before coming to any decision. Also, to get the right device at the right price always consult a reliable company.

3D Printing: The Materials Used for 3D Printing

3D printing was developed back in the early 80s but it has seen much growth since the past 10 years. It has now become one of the biggest growth areas in the tech industry and is revolutionising manufacturing covering every industry possible. The 3D printing business is now multi-billion dollar industry and is likely to continue growing at an exponential rate.

3D printing is quite a simple process conceptually, the printers work by printing the chosen material in layers on top of each other, with each layer setting prior to the next pass of the printer.

3D printers have been used to print all sorts of materials from cheap and normal materials to things you would expect to read in a sci-fi book.

For the consumer market, plastics are used exclusively as the materials are cheap to buy, but more importantly, the technology required to print plastic is relatively simple and low cost.

Low-cost 3D printers using plastic tend to use Fused filament fabrication (FFF). This is basically a process where a cord of plastic is heated up to become pliable then fed through the machine layering the plastic. The machines generally use one of the following plastics

PLA (Polylactic Acid) – PLA is probably the easiest material to work with when you first start 3D printing. It is an environmentally friendly material that is very safe to use, as it is a biodegradable thermoplastic that has been derived from renewable resources such as corn starch and sugar canes. This is a similar plastic that is used in compostable bags which safely bio degrade compared to more traditional plastics used in Poly Bags.

ABS (Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) – ABS is considered to be the second easiest material to work with when you start 3D printing. It’s very safe and strong and widely used for things like car bumpers, and Lego (the kid’s toy).

PVA (Polyvinyl Alcohol Plastic) – PVA plastic which is quite different to PVA Glue (please don’t try putting PVA Glue into your 3D Printer, it definitely won’t work). The popular MakerBot Replicator 2 printers use PVA plastic.

Plastics are used extensively on all levels from consumer to businesses prototyping new products. However, in the business market, there is a huge demand for metal 3D printing. Some printers can use powdered material that is then heated to create a solid. This method is typically Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS) and this particular technique is why we don’t see consumer metal 3D printing. DMLS requires a huge amount of heat and giant expensive printers to sinter the material together, and while 3D printing a metal object might be expensive compared to mass production, it is incredibly cost efficient for complex and expensive projects. A good example of DMLS based 3D printing is GE Aviation using it to produce 35,000 fuel injectors for its LEAP jet engine.

Using boring materials such as metal is almost archaic in the world of 3D printing now; some companies now do 3D bioprinting which is the process of creating cell patterns in a confined space using 3D printing technologies, where cell function and viability are preserved within the printed construct. These 3D bioprinters have the capacity to print skin tissue, heart tissue, and blood vessels among other basic tissues that could be suitable for surgical therapy and transplantation.

A Brief Description Of An Isolation Transformer

Want to purchase an isolation transformer? Don’t have enough details about the device? Well, you are at the right place. Take a look and dig into the deep knowledge that answers all your questions and gives you the better understanding to make a wise decision. So, let’s get started.

What Is An Isolation Transformer?

An Isolation Transformer is made of two copper coils, which are wound around one another and supplied power by their own source. Almost all the transformers are isolation, but the only thing that distinguishes it from others is that it isolates a circuit from an alternating current by separating two different circuits with an induction loop.

What Is The Main Application Of An Isolation Transformer?

It’s main application is to give protection to the sensitive circuits that are not capable of handling the pressure of high voltage directly. They prevent the situation of the short-circuit, fire accident, and electric shock to the man and the material as well. It decreases the voltage level before it reaches the appliance and gives them great protection from any damage.

What Are The Application Areas Of An Isolation Transformer?

They are mainly used in the Hospitals for Medical Equipment, Telecommunication Equipment, Computers, CNC Machines, Analytical Instruments, Remote Control Instruments and many other applications whose circuits are sensitive and need extra protection from the heavy voltage current.

What Are The Advantages Of Installing An Isolation Transformer?

The device has a number of advantages to offer and to know them, in brief, take a look below:

Safety: The device improves the safety level as it prevents the condition of short-circuit and electric shock to the man and the material as well.
Reduce Surges: Another important advantage of installing this device is that it helps to reduce the surges, which further ensures the smooth working and lasting performance of the appliances.
Noise Reduction: Isolation Transformers are proven to reduce the noise created due to the vibration and grounding. This noise reduction helps to prevent any dicey situation and take care of your appliance as well.
Better Power Quality: Installing this solution is advantageous because they ensure better power quality and reduces the potential for current leakage.

5 Ways Dehumidifiers Can Improve Commercial Food Production

Although making food in your kitchen and making food on a commercial scale might seem much the same, the realities are that they are, in fact, almost completely different. Of course, whilst the end result of both endeavours is (hopefully) delicious food, the way those foodstuffs are produced it wildly different.

From industrial mixers to fully automated moulding and baking machines, the commercial food production industry barely resembles what you might do at home.

So, whilst you might not need a dehumidifier in your home kitchen, you certainly need one if you’re operating a commercial food production company. But why? Here’s five big reasons:

#1 – Improved production speed

If drying is part of the manufacturing process for your business, whether you’re stove drying or dry curing meat, you can waste days, weeks and even months waiting for the process to occur naturally in an uncontrolled environment.

By leaving ambient conditions in place, the natural inconsistency of air humidity will deliver an uneven and unpredictable results which can spoil or halt production. Alternatively, by introducing effective humidity control into an environment you can dramatically increase the speed of your drying procedures.

Indeed, one business was able to reduce their stove drying time from 5 days to 1.5 days, more than doubling the output of their existing stoves and delivering a more consistent end product. Increased drying times naturally lead to a higher level of output, which in turn means more profits.

#2 – Unified production rate

Winter conditions might well offer ideal humidity rates for food manufacturing, but the summer months aren’t as kind. High humidity can slow production to a crawl during the warmer months, so installing a commercial humidity control system is essential. It’ll help level out your production rates and equalise output levels.

#3 – Improved product quality

Humidity can cause a number of number of issues in quality control of food and drink manufacturing. Whether it’s causing dried fruit to clump, bread to become misshapen or plastic to bottles to become distorted in production, humidity can be a real nightmare for quality control.

It doesn’t take a genius to work out why quality control is important for your business, so don’t waste time producing inferior products.

#4 – Reduced costs

All machinery is affected by humidity, and by leaving it unchecked you’re opening the door to condensation on equipment, damp electrical panels and more. By operating a humidity controlled area, you can reduce your spending on vital repairs.

#5 – Superior hygiene

One of the major issues with high humidity is regards hygiene, because with high levels of humidity comes an increased risk of condensation. This, in turn, is followed closely by fungus and mould on both packaging and the product. This can spoil entire batches and result in a product which is unsafe to eat – something every food manufacturing business is keen to avoid.

Brief on Network Cabling

Identifying the Right Cable Type
There are several types of cables used in network cabling and each of them works in a different manner. The topology, size and protocol of the network will determine the choice of the cable. A few of the cables used are:

• Shielded/ Un-shielded Twisted Pair: Areas where this type of cable is used include wireless access points, VOIP phones, network cameras, building maintenance systems, access control etc. These cables offer a high degree of reliability and incidences of network failure are very low.
• Fiber Optic: These cables are equipped with great broadband capacities and are used to transmit huge loads of data at super fast speeds over large distances. Low power consumption is another feature of this cable.
• Coaxial: These cables are normally used by your cable television contractor.

All cables have to be protected from mechanical abuse and corrosion so that they can provide the best electrical insulating properties. A heat shrink boot is highly useful in this context as this forms a waterproof seal over the cables.

Understanding the Cabling Components
Several components play an important role in network cabling. Some of the components used are the patch panel, data jack, RJ 45 connector, supports, wireless access points, fire stop sleeves, wire managers and labels.

Installation of Network Cabling
The network cabling design should be done by qualified personnel. Several factors have to be considered here for an effective network cabling. Some of them are:
• Select the cabling solution: The customer has to select the type of cabling solution he wants to implement and also choose the cabling vendor.
• Decide the location of racks and network equipment: The room which will contain the equipment and the racks is called as the Main Distribution Frame Data Room. It has to be sufficiently large to house all items.
• Decide Trunk Pathways above the Ceilings: Many precautions have to be undertaken here such as steering away from electrical light fixtures, using accessible region of the ceiling and so on.

As most of the new cable installations are of the polymeric type, at some places, the old paper-insulated technology has to be connected with new technology. This is done by the transition joint which is playing an increasingly important role in this context.

Cable Terminations
A cutting and stripping tool should be used for cable terminations as that helps to obtain a smooth cut on the jacket of the cable. The pin-out has to be checked, the cable has to be uniformly and nicely dressed and the termination chart of the patch panels has to be well laid out.

Testing the Network Cabling
Cabling testing has to be done to ensure that all procedures have been done correctly. Several effective testers are available in the market and they give the test results in the form of cleaned up PDF files.

6 Boxes Your New Filtration Media Should Tick

Filtration equipment consists of several components. The machines often have a centrifuge or vacuum chamber, some kind of rotor, a storage sump, and an elimination bin. Certain sections of the equipment are lined with filtration fabrics to separate the recycled material from the disposed of contaminants. As you choose your filtration media, you should start with the fabric blend, to ensure it meets your needs. Here are a few more things to look out for:

Highly absorbent

The primary function of filtration media is to sift air or liquid and prevent contaminants from getting into the clean media sump. For this reason, your media needs to be absorbent enough to hold a large volume of contaminant material before requiring replacement. It also needs to be strong enough to hold all this liquid content without tearing to bits. Sometimes, filtration media is used to absorb spills and soak up leakage. High absorption rates are helpful here as well, especially for soaking up heavy liquids like oil and industrial solvents.

Stays strong when wet

Some materials are strong when dry but they get rather flimsy when they’re exposed to moisture. As you select your filtration media, make sure you spill a little liquid on it as a test. In fact, if your filtration media will be used in a wet set-up, then test it with a lot of liquid. The last thing you want is for your media to disintegrate right in the middle of your cleansing process. Air filters may not need to be as strong since they are not exposed to much moisture. Still, there is often some precipitation and liquid vapour inside air pumps, so make sure the air filters can withstand liquid in case of condensation and humidity.

Easy to cut or subdivide

There are different ways to use filters. Some are placed at the entrance or exit of a machine, while others are laid on mechanical conveyor belts. In addition to varying levels of viscosity, each machine requires a different length and width of filter fabric. Some machines use a layered sump, while others just need a thin film. For convenience and cost-effectiveness, filtration media is usually sold wholesale in massive rolls that can be up to 20 metres long. Make sure your filter is easy to cut into smaller portions. It makes your work easier and prevents wastage. It also helps with storage, because you can divide it into sizes that fit your warehouse shelves.

Capable of trapping particles

Different kinds of filters are used for different filtration functions. Air filters need to have finer gaps than liquid filters. They also need to be lighter in weight, so that they allow efficient air circulation. Liquid filters usually need the capacity to prevent particles of 5 to 150 microns. Air filters need to be finer, trapping contaminants as small as 3 microns. Once you’re done with your filters, you’ll need to dispose of them. Whenever possible, select green filtration media that can be disposed of in an environmentally friendly manner. You’ll find that manufacturing processes generate a lot of used filters, so it helps if they can be disposed of without becoming environmental hazards.

Able to withstand filtration temperatures

Filtration media is used in many applications, including coolant fluid, machining, or hot rolling. The air and liquids that pass through filters are often very hot or very cold. Your media needs to have the capacity to work at these temperatures. Some materials contract when chilled, so if your filtration fibres get tighter, they might restrict materials that are intended to get through the filter. This not only reduces the integrity of your filter, it can also cause clogs that stall manufacturing and damage equipment. Similarly, expanding fibres might let through particles that should be kept out of your filtered residue. Make sure your filter has passed both the hot and cold test.

Fits within your budget

When you’re using filters in industrial settings, you want to get the best quality you possibly can. Unfortunately, the ‘best’ sometimes comes with an unfriendly price tag. The manufacturing process is a large scale operation, so a difference of a single cent can quickly pile up. This is even more crucial with recurring expenses, and filtration media falls under this category. Shop around to see what filter options are available. Test them against each other and get recommendations. Then, get the best grade within your allocated budget. Over-spending might get you a better filter, but that increased value could eat into your profits by raising production costs beyond reason.

Benefits Of Silver Plating On Copper Wire

Silver is one of the important members of the copper family, which is known for its good conductivity and great flexibility. It offers you a number of benefits beyond its gleaming and lustrous appearance. However, the price of silver wire costs you the fortune and therefore, buying simple wire coated with silver are the inexpensive way that fits into everyone’s budget. One of the major questions that confuse every second person is why always silver is used for plating. If you also want to know the answer to this question, so, this article is for you. Here we share a number of reasons that you should know before investing in it. So, what are we waiting for? Let’s get started.

Top Benefits Of Silver Plating On Copper Wires That You Should Know:

Wear Resistance: The electrolytic process is used for the silver plating on copper wires, which make them wear resistance because it provides an extra shield of protection around it, which reduces the impact of friction. This may reduce any harm to the wires and keep them protected for a longer period.
Corrosion Resistance: Another benefit of silver plating on copper wire is that it resists rust-forming oxidations, which increases the life span of the wires. Also, it ensures better performance of the wires. Thus, you should pick such silver plated copper wires for your next electrical wiring applications.
Good Conductivity: Yes, silver plating on copper wire is also important for ensuring the good conductivity. Basically, the amalgamation of two different types of metals adds extra advantages to it, which increases their ability of electrical components to conduct electricity.
Heat Resistance: Undoubtedly, silver coating adds an extra layer of protection that prevents damage and prolongs their life. Also, it makes them ideal to work in even the melting temperature for a longer period without creating any sort of trouble.
Increase Hardness: Last but not the least reason why silver plating on copper wire is that it helps to increase the hardness of the wires. This may help the wires to withstand the intense pounding or any of the challenging conditions.

The need of every industry is different from one another and the major reason to use such wires in all applications is its flexible nature. From the above, now you are aware of almost all the benefits of plating silver on copper wires. Consult a reliable company that offers different types of wires without compromising the quality and buy them right away.

5 Energy-Saving Tips For Manufacturers

Are you worried about the current oil prices? If so, you should stop worrying as the price won’t last forever. Actually, OPEC has almost no influence on electricity or natural gas. The fact of the matter is that the old coal-based power plants increased electricity prices in 2016. However, the problem is that energy efficiency is really important for you should you want to stay ahead of the competition. If you are a plant manager and you want to save energy, we suggest that you follow the tips given below.

Process Heating

The US Department of Energy suggests that plant managers can cut down on the heating costs through the implementation of some energy-saving measures. As a matter of fact, process heating includes 30% of the energy consumed in this sector. Therefore, if you save energy in this area, you can make a significant impact.

Moreover, you can monitor and control your air-to-fuel ratio and exhaust gases in order to save a lot of energy. But if your plant requires lots of hot water, it’s a good idea to use a solar-water heating plant to preheat the process water. This is another great way of saving a lot of money.

Motors and Equipment

Machine drives accounts for over 22% of power consumption in the manufacturing sector. If you want to cut down on your operating costs, we suggest that you analyze the system and shaft losses. In addition, you can also consider upgrading to a system that is more efficient.

At times, you may have to replace the equipment to achieve your targets. But you don’t have to spend a huge sum for each upgrade. As a matter of fact, you can hone the mechanical performance of the plant through the alteration of the operational or maintenance procedures.

Lighting

Typically, building-performance experts consider lighting as the main source of energy consumption. For energy saving, you can opt for fluorescent bulbs, fixtures, LED tube lights, and skylights, just to name a few. However, you don’t have to replace all of your lighting systems in order to save energy.

Utilities

You may not want to overlook utilities as far as saving energy is concerned. What you need to do is review your usage plans and then get in touch with the service provider to find out if they can provide alternative procurement or other option that can help you save money.

Actually, some utilities offer attractive incentives for the installation of energy-saving improvements. It’s also a good idea to contact the competitors. You can also negotiate with them to get the best deal.

Employees

For energy efficiency, employee behavior also matters. You may want to let your employees know your goals and progress. Don’t forget to appreciate them for playing a role in the achievement of your goals. You will see that they have great insights. As a matter of fact, studies show that upgrades for energy efficiency help workers become more productive.

Long story short, when you are planning an energy-saving program, you may want to look for opportunities that can help you reduce cost. Next, as the operating costs come down, you can invest in an energy saving infrastructure like a solar energy system. Hopefully, the tips given above will help you save on energy costs.

Common Causes That Lead To Transformer Failure

A Transformer is the heart of power distribution system as its main function is to deliver the power without changing the voltage frequency. No doubt, it is available in different classifications and has the ability to bear the high voltage load, but they also have some operating limits and going beyond them may cause their failure. The damage not only limited to the device itself, but also to the overall system, application or man working over the device. In an order to limit these losses, you first have to understand their main causes. So, let’s get to know about them first.

Common Causes Of Transformer Failures Are As Follow:

Overloading: One of the main reasons behind the transformer failure is overloading problem. Each and every unit has a nameplate that displays the load it has the ability to bear and when any of your application exceeds that load, so, it may lead the device to failure due to overloading. In an order to give your device protection from the same, you have to operate it below the nameplate volt-rating or buy the device that has the capacity to bear the load of your application.
Oil Contamination: Contamination in oil can be the major reason behind the transformer failure as it results in sludging and humidity in the oil that further leads to the problem. Therefore, it is important to filter the oil after a while to ensure the smooth and long-lasting performance of the device.
Line Surge: Voltage Spikes, Line Surges, Line Faults are some of the common reasons that can cause the transformer failure. Therefore, it is important to pay proper attention to the surge protection as it helps to avoid such problem in no time.
Winding Failures: This can also be the reason behind the transformer failure and it basically occurs because of the turn-turn, open winding phase-phase or phase-ground fault. In an order to prevent the condition of the short circuit or winding failure, it is important to ensure all the windings or cores are properly connected to each other.

These are a few reasons that can cause the transformer failure and their easy solution to prevent the condition. So, keep them in your mind while installation, operating or maintaining the device for the very next time as your safety is in your own hands and compromising with it is like dicing with death, which nobody wants.

3 Keys to a Successful Preventive Maintenance Program

Preventive maintenance planning and practices influence most major maintenance department activities in a manufacturing environment. Here are some examples of this.

Equipment downtime is largely affected by preventive maintenance or the lack there of.
Repair work orders are subjected to the influences of the preventive maintenance program.
Purchasing and inventory are affected by preventive maintenance for routine replacement of expendable spares as well as repair parts required for unexpected downtime.

As evidenced by the points above, preventive maintenance should be “first base” for any maintenance department. Unfortunately sometimes routine preventive maintenance activities often do not get the attention or credit they are due. This is a mistake. So what are the keys to a successful preventive maintenance program?

1. Careful Planning of the Preventive Maintenance Program

Planning a preventive maintenance program involves the following:

Determine tasks and intervals needed to maintain the equipment.
Ensure that the appropriate resources are in place.
Schedule maintenance personnel for maximum preventive maintenance wrench time.
Understand how scheduled equipment downtime and maintenance personnel scheduling interface.
Manage spares effectively.
Select a scheduling and accountability system (preventive maintenance software, CMMS software or equivalent)

Determine Maintenance Tasks and Intervals

A good preventive maintenance (PM) task list contains the following components:

The equipment item.
The task(s).
The person the task is assigned to.
A task interval.
A start date and due date.
Optional: Detailed instructions and pictures if needed.
Optional: Task completion sequence.

Begin with your equipment list. Next gather appropriate tasks for preventive maintenance task lists from OEM manuals or online manuals when possible. This is a good place to start, especially with newer equipment. In some cases, the equipment warranty is dependent upon following the OEM recommendations. Another source of tasks is the maintenance manager’s experience and intuition. Yet another source is branch locations running similar equipment.

When developing a task list, consider the reusability of the task descriptions. Reusability refers to using the same task description on potentially multiple equipment items. The benefit is that there are fewer tasks, no duplicate task descriptions and better reporting and analysis of PMs. Consider these examples:

REUSABLE task description: Lubricate Roller Chain(s)

NOT REUSABLE: Lubricate Roller Chain(s) on Conveyor #1

In the first example this task, Lubricate Roller Chain(s), is appropriate for any equipment with a roller chain. In the second example, Lubricate Roller Chain on Conveyor #1, is only appropriate on the Conveyor #1 PM task list. Imagine how cumbersome your preventive maintenance software management efforts become if you are not using reusable tasks. Another example that may cause problems later is naming conventions such as 30 Day PMs or Weekly Tasks. This creates unneeded redundancy, as the interval (30 in this case) is included in the PM record already. Additionally there is no task description here that refers to the actual work performed.

How do you create reusable tasks? Begin with the most generic tasks you can think of and create these first. Examples could be Inspect, Clean, Lubricate, etc. After these task descriptions have been created, go to the next step and create tasks that are somewhat more specific. Here are some examples: Check Wiring, Replace Lubricant, Lube Chains. Continue with increasingly more specific tasks always trying to avoid including the equipment or equipment component in the task description. Eventually, for specialized tasks that are only performed on specific equipment, it may become necessary to include a component of the equipment in the task description. Keep the task description short and focused on the actual task. Obviously if the task description is short, it may not fully describe the job. This is where detailed instructions and pictures are used.

Next, determine what interval units are needed for your PM system. Calendar-based PMs usually will use a day interval. For example every 7 days Lubricate Roller Chain(s). Other tasks may be demand based or based upon the actual runtime of the equipment. In some cases, hours or minutes may be appropriate. As you gain experience with this set of PM tasks and intervals changes to the tasks and intervals may be warranted. Consequently choose a system that makes editing existing PMs simple and without historical data loss.

Ensure that Adequate Resources are in Place

Listed below are resources you need for a successful preventive maintenance program:

Trained and available personnel.
Adequate spares, expendables, lubricants, drive chain, bearings, etc.
Time in the production or equipment runtime schedule to perform PMs.
A motivated team of maintenance professionals.

Personnel must be trained and capable of safely performing the required work. Vigorously enforce proper lockout/tagout procedures. Stock on hand for expendables and other spares used for PMs has to be adequate. Inadequate spares not only prevents completion of the PMs, but also hurts motivation when personnel attempting to perform their job are hindered by a lack of spares. As such, the purchasing department has to have an ordering system that stays ahead of preventive maintenance spares requirements. Additionally an accountability system (CMMS) helps track spares use for restocking purposes. In summary, show your maintenance technicians how important you believe preventive maintenance is by providing the materials and training needed for these important tasks.

Time is a resource. Time must be available so that personnel can perform their work. This may require scheduling changes so that maintenance personnel are available during scheduled equipment downtime. Given the right resources, your maintenance team cannot help but be motivated to succeed with equipment maintenance.

Use a Maintenance Software Solution to Track and Manage Maintenance

Now that the tasks, intervals, personnel, training and scheduling are established it is time to load the data into a preventive maintenance software system. With so many CMMS choices, it is important to do your research carefully. Approximately fifty CMMS companies go out of business annually and fifty more replace these. Choose a well-established long-term CMMS company that has a proven record of accomplishment. Ask the following questions when choosing a CMMS:

How long has the CMMS company been in business?
How flexible is the preventive maintenance system?
Are there different task list formats available?
Is it possible to automate task list issuance?
Do technicians have the ability to close their own PMs while maintaining the integrity of the data?
Is it possible to close PMs without leaving the plant floor?
How easy (or hard) is it to adjust preventive maintenance task schedules?
Are labor and parts costs easily summarized and reported?
Is there an objective way to know how to optimize task lists or task intervals based upon downtime or reliability data?

When evaluating a CMMS it is best to run a demonstration copy of the proposed system with your own sample equipment and tasks. Use the system for at least 30 days. Issue preventive maintenance task lists to your personnel. Get their buy-in by demonstrating the usefulness of the system. Prove to yourself and your maintenance technicians that using the software makes both of your jobs easier. Most importantly confirm that this system has the potential to improve equipment availability and reliability.

Consider support and training as part of the initial investment. CMMS software training is well worth the investment as it brings the maintenance department up to speed quickly with the CMMS and instills confidence in its use. This leads to better compliance in entering and updating data.

Price is important, however the real cost benefit of CMMS comes not from the initial investment in CMMS but in the ongoing use and benefits derived from that use. Some CMMS software solutions are subscription-based. Others are a one-time investment with a perpetual license. While there are several factors to consider in CMMS selection, initial investment (price) should be a low priority when the budget allows. Ask yourself this question: “Do you want to trust millions of dollars in equipment assets to a cheap CMMS?”

2. Implement Your New Preventive Maintenance Program

Now it is time to start reaping the benefits of your new preventive maintenance program. Here are a few questions to consider when implementing your new PM program:

Should tasks lists be printed, emailed or simply viewed through a tablet or smart-phone?
How are tasks closed and what data should be included?
Who should close the preventive maintenance tasks as they are completed?
What will you use the system when maintenance personnel are absent?
Should spare parts lists be included on the task list?
If spares are included on the task list, should stock levels automatically draw down when the PM is completed?

The answers to these question come down to company policy, industry requirements, regulations and personal preference.

3. Assess and Adjust Your Equipment Maintenance Program

Constantly assessing your preventive maintenance program is an integral part of managing this system effectively. Equipment runtime schedules change, equipment demand changes, personnel change, maintenance technologies and procedures change. Your primary assessment tool is equipment maintenance data. The longer you use your CMMS system the more data it accumulates. Assuming that you chose a CMMS that provides extensive analysis and reporting, this data is now a valuable decision-making store. Use this data for OEE (overall equipment effectiveness) and reliability analysis. Choose a CMMS that uses MTBF (mean time between failures) to suggest preventive maintenance task intervals. Using real runtime data to set PM task intervals eliminates guesswork.

Being a proactive maintenance manager you should be adjusting to these changes as needed. Here are some things to look out for and some ideas on how to react. Keep in mind that sometimes there is no substitute for an experienced maintenance manager’s intuition.

Equipment Runtime Schedule Changes

In some situations, preventive maintenance can only be performed while equipment is in a scheduled shut down period. This creates a problem for maintenance scheduling. Here are some ways to manage this situation.

Non-maintenance machine operators can complete some simple maintenance procedures such as minor lubrication tasks.
Double-team certain equipment when it is down.
Adjust maintenance schedules.
Use automated maintenance devices, such as lubricators.
Implement preventive maintenance procedures during unscheduled downtime.

Equipment Demand Changes

Equipment demand relates to more than just runtime schedule changes. Demand reflects the actual time equipment is running and how much work it performs during the scheduled period. Obviously triggering PMs based upon calendar days would not be appropriate in these cases. It is best to trigger PMs in this case based upon runtime hours, cycles, cuts or whatever the appropriate meter unit is for that equipment. Consequently this equipment should have a counting device or be connected to the system that automatically triggers preventive maintenance work orders through an OPC compliant data connection.

Select a CMMS software solution that reads OPC data directly from the equipment then automatically responds with a preventive maintenance work order at exactly the right moment.

Personnel Changes

The best way to overcome this inevitable change is to have detailed listings of preventive maintenance tasks, intervals, spares requirements and history. Make sure this information is available to pass on to the new person. The more organized your system is the easier is to move seamlessly through this change. Once again, a good preventive maintenance software solution addresses this need.

Additionally, ongoing training and cross training in various maintenance processes can offset personnel change issues.

Changes in Maintenance Technologies and Procedures

An example of this type of change could be a new sensor that provides critical maintenance data to an OPC server. This data in turn indicates the correct PM interval. Another example could simply be running the equipment only when needed. This action saves energy resources and may reduce wear and tear on the equipment.

Software is constantly improving. Desired options with preventive maintenance software solutions are as follows:

Is there a role-based permission capability that allows the maintenance technicians to close their own PMs?
Is there a mechanism to validate PMs closed by technicians?
Does the ability to temporarily assign tasks to an alternate maintenance technician exist?
Is it possible to gather runtime data through an OPC compliant data network and issue work orders automatically.

Summary

Preventive maintenance is the one of the primary responsibilities of the maintenance manager in a manufacturing environment. Many maintenance department activities are affected by, and rely on a successful preventive maintenance program. More importantly, success of the manufacturing facility as a whole is directly proportional to the quality of the design, implementation and management of the preventive maintenance system.