Maintenance, Service, Industrial, Contractor, Mechanical, Renfrow Industrial, Spartanburg, Charleston, South Carolina

Advances Have Long-Term Benefits

Advances in Paints and Coatings Have Long-Term Benefits

Specifying to meet facility sustainability needs means staying abreast of changes in products and applications

The new generation of paints and coatings is offering maintenance managers a range of potential benefits that were unavailable only a few years ago. In order to meet user demands related to ease of application, appearance, durability, and sustainability, manufacturers have reformulated existing products and introduced new ones.

These advances put an even higher priority on two challenges facing managers who specify these products for their institutional and commercial facilities: staying abreast of advances in paint and coating formulations and matching new-generation products to the specific needs of their buildings.

Focus on formulations

Social responsibility has become an increasing concern among both managers and manufacturers as they seek to continuously minimize harm to the environment and improve their image. Many of the enhancements in new paint and coating formulations involve reducing volatile organic compounds (VOC).

Earlier efforts by manufacturers had focused on VOCs in liquids that are released as paints dry. Over the past 30 years, 90 percent of VOCs have been eliminated from paints and coatings, aided by state VOC emissions standards, some of which are more stringent than federal standards.

Now scrutiny has expanded to include enhanced additives that yield long-term absorption from the air of harmful compounds. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is considering tightening the ozone level standard from 75 parts per billion (ppb) to 65-70 ppb. As this decision nears, manufacturers are formulating new products to comply with the most stringent rules. One side benefit for managers is formulas with even lower VOC levels. LEED, the green building certification rating system, includes points for meeting low VOC standards.

Additional advances in new zero-VOC latex paints include using baking-soda-like technology to reduce indoor odors. No silica is added, so it also can withstand frequent washings without losing its odor-reducing properties. It also has antimicrobial properties, so it resists mildew formation, and it offers easier application and better durability and hides characteristics.

Comprised of a primer with high-adhesion properties and a topcoat, it is environmentally friendly and is low VOC and free of hazardous pollutants. It also helps meet stringent regulatory demands, and it resists strong acids and strong bases. It is unaffected by solvents up to 300 degrees, and workers can apply it in a range of thicknesses with standard spray-painting equipment.

Water-based formulations with natural additives now exceed the sustainability performance of their oil-based counterparts. As a result of this growing trend, water-based paints now represent about 80 percent of the market, while oil-based paints represent 20 percent.

Sustainability demands also are driving the development of other new waterborne paints, which are 80 percent water with other solvents, such as ethyl glycol. These paints are broadening applications to prevent metal corrosion as an option to more expensive metal alloys.


By Thomas A. Westerkamp


If you would like to discuss how Renfrow Industrial can help you, call us at 1-800-260-8412 or email  info@renfrowindustrial.com.

Electrical Wiring, Maintenance, Industrial, Service, Mechanical, Contractor, Renfrow Industrial, Spartanburg, Charleston, South Carolina

Safety Standards Evolve, Do You

Electrical safety standards are evolving. Are you up to speed?

Are you doing everything you can to keep your workers safe?

In 2018, Plant Services conducted its first electrical safety survey, and the results were head-turning.  Close to one-quarter of survey respondents said that they had been involved in an arc flash event, and 60% reported knowing someone who had been involved in such an event. These frightening incidents not only pose a risk to worker health and safety, but also they can disrupt business, damage equipment, create legal liability issues, increase insurance premiums, damage a company’s reputation, and result in regulatory fines. As industrial technologies and regulations continue to evolve, what’s the best way to keep your high-efficiency electrical equipment maintained while still keeping your workers safe?

Here are three pieces of guidance from industry experts to help you better navigate electrical safety issues.

Performing risk assessments

Risk assessments are critical to evaluating a PDS’s reliability and are most effective when facility managers are conducting them proactively. However, the unfortunate reality is that many assessments are conducted reactively, with managers commissioning inspections of their electrical infrastructure only after an event that has seriously affected personnel or operations has occurred. Such an event may be an arc-flash incident, a ground fault occurrence, an electrical fire, a shock event, or an unexpected power outage.

To avoid negative and unsafe events, electrical power engineers recommend conducting comprehensive assessments of electrical systems every five years. Because most electrical equipment has an average life span of 20 years, it is good practice to assess the entire PDS every five years to determine the present state and deterioration rate of each piece of equipment. Also, because electrical equipment deteriorates at different rates, the inspections and risk assessments provide facility managers a firm understanding concerning the present state of their PDS and information as to where or when they may need to replace or modernize a piece of equipment or enhance equipment maintenance. Understanding a PDS’s maintenance or upgrade requirements will give a better picture of the system’s reliability and risks.

Work to eliminate or mitigate risks

A notable change in NFPA 70E 2018 is a heightened focus on hazard elimination. In fact, the hierarchy of risk control methods has now moved from an informational note to part of the standard’s mandatory language. When it comes to implementing safety-related work practices, the standard clearly states that hazard elimination shall be the first priority. This means that taking steps just to mitigate a hazard may not be enough to protect your employees and plant and reduce your liability.

The risk control methods essentially break down into six areas: elimination, substitution, engineering controls, warnings, administrative controls, and PPE.

If elimination isn’t an option, then substitution is the next best thing. This could mean opting to use less-dangerous equipment, such as nonelectrical or battery-operated tools. Engineering controls are next in the hierarchy and can be as simple as ensuring ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protection or as advanced as changing the relay logic in your power distribution system.

An estimate of the likelihood of occurrence of an arc flash incident

One important change to NFPA 70E was the addition of Table 130.5(C), which states that on electrical equipment in any condition (normal or abnormal), performing infrared thermography and other non-contact inspections outside the restricted approach boundary does not increase the likelihood of occurrence of an arcing fault and arc flash incident, so additional PPE is not required. However, the table further clarifies that this does not include opening equipment doors or covers that expose bare energized conductors or circuit parts – which specifically does increase the likelihood of occurrence of an arcing fault and arc flash.

Although not specifically mentioned in Table 130.5(C), opening an EMSD cover like that on an infrared viewing pane does not expose bare conductors or circuit parts. One can thus interpret that in this instance, no PPE would be required. In this manner, the use of an EMSD and changing the work process to keep the equipment in a closed and guarded condition while performing the CBM task seems to follow substitution stage guidelines of the hierarchy of control.


Learn More Here


If you would like to discuss how Renfrow Industrial can help you call us at 1-800-260-8412 or email  info@renfrowindustrial.com.

Maintenance, Service, Electrical, Mechanical, Industrial, Renfrow Industrial, Spartanburg, Charleston, South Carolina

Simple Errors to Costly Mistakes

New Houston airport building opens, but with $600K mistake


Dive Brief:

  • George Bush Intercontinental Airport officials in Houston are welcoming employees to the first completed project of the facility’s $1.2 billion overhaul this week, but a construction blunder has left the $18 million administration building without water service and the airport facing a fix that will cost $600,000, KTRK ABC 13 reported.
  • When the new project management building opened six months behind schedule, crews discovered that the water line they planned to use was dry. A $100,000 system of temporary tanks and pipes will provide water to the building for the next six to nine months until a new $500,000 permanent pipe can be installed.
  • Airport spokesman Bill Begley told KTRK that a lengthy city permitting process could have delayed discovery of the dry line but that all parties likely contributed to the error.


Dive Insight:

The massive capital project underway at the airport has drawn criticism as the project management building is the first sign of progress despite the airport having already spent $80 million, with $51 million of that going to planning consultants.

As far as the water service mistake, the airport construction project is proof that no matter the amount of planning — or how much it costs — things don’t always go as expected.

When the new $2 billion Rocky Mountain Regional Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Aurora, Colorado, opened last year — $1 billion over budget and five years behind schedule — VA officials discovered that although the building was twice the size of the hospital it was replacing, design errors meant that the new facility could not accommodate all planned services. Even though construction cost twice as much as originally planned, the VA will have to shell out for renovations to the original hospital so that it can continue to provide patient care while the VA looks for an ancillary building near the new hospital — another extra expense.

When construction of the $2 billion Miami Intermodal Center began in 2011, designers overlooked one major detail: The platform built specifically to accommodate long-distance Amtrak trains was 200 feet too short. The most obvious fix — extending the platform — is out of the question because that would place the structure and train traffic into a busy intersection.

In September, Capital Rail Constructors, the general contractor for the $5.8 billion Washington, D.C., rail extension revealed that approximately 400 concrete rail ties were 1/2 inch higher in the center than on the sides, which could cause the train tracks to tilt outwards. CRC and manufacturer Rocla Concrete Tie, which maintains the ties meet project specifications, are still working on a solution. However, rail officials now have decided that they want the ties replaced, according to WTOP.


If you would like to discuss how Renfrow Industrial can help you call us at 1-800-260-8412 or email  info@renfrowindustrial.com.

Mechanical, Electrical, Industrial, Maintenance, Service, Renfrow Industrial, Spartanburg, Charleston, South Carolina

World-Class Manufacturing Maintenance Practices

10 steps to achieve world-class manufacturing maintenance practices

Lean out your maintenance process and deliver cost savings and greater efficiency.World-Class Manufacturing Maintenance Practices

Manufacturers worldwide know that Lean maintenance practices cut costs and improve production by minimizing downtime. But the reality is that for many U.S. manufacturers, up to 90% of the maintenance they perform is conducted on a reactive rather than proactive basis. Some blame the age of their equipment, the absence of spare parts and the rapid pace of manufacturing.

But it is possible to implement production maintenance best practices, and doing so will save time and money while increasing production in the long run. Here are 10 steps you can follow to establish Lean maintenance best practices at your manufacturing operation:

Step 1: Gather data and calculate downtime costs. Before you can successfully transition to maintenance best practices, you’ll need to gather data to identify the scale of the challenge. Assemble information on machine downtime, meantime between machine failures, expenditures on parts, technology usage, technician response time and the percentage of on-time deliveries. This will enable you to calculate the average cost of one hour of downtime.

Step 2: Determine the dollar value of maintenance. With an average per-hour downtime cost estimate in hand, you can project how much money maintenance improvements would save. You can make reasonable assumptions by applying the per-hour cost of downtime to machine availability, determining how much value an increase in availability will add to the organization. You’ll likely find that even a small increase, such as 5%, translates into a huge improvement.

Step 3: Analyze operational variables. When determining projected productivity increases resulting from improved machine availability, it’s also important to factor in the savings your maintenance operation can realize by addressing operational variables. For example, take a look at how a better plan to handle critical spares, introduction of a work order system and faster technician response time could impact availability.

Step 4: Invest in a technology solution. As you’ll see in step 3, controlling variables adds significant value, and a technology solution can make it easy to improve the handling of variables across the board. A Computerized Maintenance Monitoring System (CMMS) provides work order information and improves technician response time, also lowering the mean time to repair and reducing downtime overall.

Step 5: Start scheduling preventive maintenance. With a CMMS that enables you to process work orders, you can easily monitor all manufacturing assets in your operation and track critical parts and spares. This means you’re ready to schedule preventive maintenance and generate checklists to manage maintenance tasks.

Step 6: Deploy a scheduler planning function. As you transition from reactive maintenance to a more proactive stance, you’ll need to schedule technicians’ time for preventive maintenance and ensure that the right parts are available when needed. A scheduler planning function is a critical tool for reducing downtime and maximizing the value of preventive maintenance.

Step 7: Introduce predictive tools. Preventive maintenance reduces downtime, and a predictive maintenance checklist can improve machine availability even more. The type of predictive tools you’ll need will depend on the equipment your team maintains. Electrical equipment can be hampered by overheating, so a thermography tool can prevent trouble before it results in downtime. Rotating equipment requires vibration analysis, and aircraft need ultrasound scanning for leaks.

World-Class Manufacturing Maintenance Practices

Step 8: Move toward Total Productive Maintenance (TPM). After the predictive maintenance plan is in place, the next step is to get operators involved in TPM. To leverage operators’ familiarity with manufacturing assets, find simple solutions that enlist operators in maintenance, such as keeping assets clean and freshly painted to aid in visual inspection or installing sight gauges that enable operators to monitor fluid levels.

Step 9: Implement a Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM) strategy. Once you have practices, technology and monitoring tools in place, you can begin practicing RCM to drive downtime to even lower levels. With a clearer view of machine capabilities and status, you no longer have to take equipment offline for preventive maintenance until your data indicates imminent failure. You can maximize value with a cost-benefit analysis of maintenance vs. productivity needs.

Step 10: Bring in third-party technicians as needed. Achieving world-class maintenance involves a cultural transformation, and with a shortage of skilled technicians, it may be necessary to bring in third-party resources to establish metrics and define processes. If you are looking outside your company to achieve the cultural shift you require, make sure you get references from existing customers to ensure the right fit with your organization.

Deploying Lean maintenance practices takes analysis, planning and skill. Above all, it requires a commitment to move from a reactive to a proactive state of mind. By following these 10 steps, you can implement world-class maintenance practices at your manufacturing operation and significantly improve productivity.


If you would like to discuss how Renfrow Industrial can help you call us at 1-800-260-8412 or email  info@renfrowindustrial.com.


Maintenance, Service, Industrial, Contractor, Renfrow Industrial, Spartanburg, Charleston, South Carolina

Outsourcing and the Bottom Line

Outsourcing and the Bottom Line


Whether a manufacturer is doing it to stay “lean and mean” or their hand is being forced by the emerging skills gap, outsourcing can keep a firm’s bottom line on the up and up.

Alongside Deloitte, the Manufacturing Institute’s most recent data shows the skills gap is widening and will leave more than 2.4 million open positions by 2028. The study included an online survey of more than 400 US manufacturers, interviews with executives from manufacturing organizations, extensive analysis of secondary data and economic projections.

Of the manufacturers surveyed, 42 percent indicated a strong affinity toward outsourcing as a solution to the current skilled worker shortage.

In addition, staying lean and padding the bottom line on outsourcing things like maintenance have always been part of the standard protocol, especially for the smaller companies that can’t afford to retain specialists on their staff.

“That’s why we’re in business”, Paul Kumler said, SC Aerospace board member and President of KTM Solutions.

“In-house engineering is expensive, particularly if not fully utilized,” he said. “It’s much more cost effective to purchase what you need when you need it.”

Because a manufacturer’s true merit is based on production and the delivery of goods, reducing cost at all positions is mandatory. As a result, a firm’s greatest advantage is standing around them.

By utilizing an outside firm to manage maintenance on equipment and buildings, John Brasher, VP of Operations at Renfrow Industrial, said “it will prolong the life of the larger assets.”

“Capital expenditures are not always approved, so manufacturers must take care of these assets,” he said. In addition, “they can reduce their cost and only use labor when it is fully needed. Also, a manufacturer can avoid the extra W2, wages, taxes and insurances.”

The bulk of South Carolina’s manufacturing firms are small companies competing for a spot along one of the larger OEM’s supply chains. Production, efficiency and cost-effective services are paramount here.

CEO of Manufacturing, said outsourcing services can increase responsiveness, especially at smaller companies without multiple dedicated resources.

“Maintenance is usually shared, and let’s face it, issues are placed on the back burner and deferred maintenance becomes the new standard,” he said. “Third-party vendors have the expertise, skills and resources necessary to drive traditional management services costs down. As a result, companies end up paying less for outsourced services than the costs of operating an in-house maintenance team.”

Whether a firm is plugged into the state’s automotive sector or the emerging aerospace industry, operating lean and finding the most cost-effective method of producing and delivering components to the BMW’s, Michelin’s and Boeing’s of the world will remain.

Supply chain management and logistics are very important in an industry that fine-tuned the concept of “just-in-sequence” Thomas Koehler said, General Manager of Berrang.

A missing component could bring down a whole assembly line of a manufacturer, he said.

In this industry, it is simple. Build quality and cost-effective goods and deliver them on time to customers.

After all, “the cost of downtime is immeasurable,”

“Outsourcing maintenance increases responsiveness and ensures timely service to customers.”


By: Joe Toppe


If you would like to discuss how Renfrow Industrial can help you call us at: 1-800-260-8412 or via email at: info@renfrowindustrial.com.




Maintenance, Service, Contractor, Industrial, Mechanical, Renfrow Industrial, Spartanburg, Charleston, South Carolina

Reasons, Results and Lessons

All Win – A Maintenance Partnership in Three Pulp Mills: Reasons, Results and Lessons


Virtually everyone has heard of and will express an opinion on outsourcing. There are clear global trends toward outsourcing and most are experiencing the joys in one form or another. In the maintenance world outsourcing extends from specialized services, contract labor and consigned spare parts all the way to a full, shared risk-reward, incentive-based partnership.

Some of the benefits cited in favor of outsourcing include:

  • Ability to focus scarce resources on highest value core business activities
  • Access to process and technical expertise that can’t be justified by the requirements of a single facility
  • Move an improvement process and cultural change necessary for prosperity faster and farther than possible from within
  • Benchmark and realign processes over a larger base
  • Gain greatest commitment to success

Even with these benefits why would an operating company elect to form a maintenance partnership? What factors must be considered? What concerns? Most important – what are the results achieved and lessons learned after a full year of actual operation?


Over the last ten to fifteen years’ maintenance has become increasingly technical and central to the profitability of a manufacturing enterprise. Equipment availability must be at or close to world class values in order to compete in a commodity market. Reliability improvements to eliminate the need for maintenance are essential and the only way to permanently reduce cost. Preventive, condition based and proactive maintenance must replace reactive maintenance on failure. Effective work planning and scheduling is mandatory.

The preceding are all easy statements but statistically only 25% of the facilities in a given industry can be in the top quartile. What about those who find themselves in the third or fourth quartile, well below the median and losing ground to top performers? That was the question faced by three pulp mills in British Columbia. Survival meant finding answers and implementing improvements – quickly!

A word about change, It is easy for someone on high to mandate reduced costs or increased availability. Some go so far as restricting work and work force on the assumption that there is sufficient slack in the system to assure continuity of production. This approach might produce some results short-term. However, there is a high price to pay – an unsustainable long-term!


A benchmarking survey conducted in 1998 by a pulp producer to identify comparative performance of three British Columbia mills revealed a number of deficiencies compared to world class:

  • Maintenance costs significantly above the world class average and in the fourth quartile relative to Canada.
  • Downtime due to maintenance about three times the world class average
  • Latest maintenance systems and methods lacking
  • Insufficient progress toward improvement utilizing internal resources, current levels of training and development allowing the gap to widen

At the conclusion of the benchmark survey, it was apparent that improved maintenance would make a strong contribution to operational excellence. Significant benefits were available by sharing knowledge and applying consistent “best practice” between the three mills. Substantial improvements needed to be introduced and implemented quickly. Question was how to accomplish this vital objective?

The Options:

Three options for implementing improvements were identified:

  • Continue with internal resources
  • Utilize the services of one or more consultants to accelerate development
  • Partner with a proven provider

In view of the findings from the benchmark survey the first option, continuing with internal resources, was eliminated as unlikely to produce the desired results.

By introducing a change agent, the second and third options offer a means to move faster and farther than with internal resources alone. A change agent can introduce major changes with fewer restrictions from claims that “it has always been done another way.”

Consultants offer expertise, knowledge and a process for improvement. Concerns included cost, the likelihood of a short-term focus, questionable commitment to long-term business results and probable difficulty of gaining the buy-in necessary for success with a process developed largely by outsiders.

Partnering with a proven provider seemed to offer the greatest advantages. It is consistent with global trends toward mutually beneficial win-win partnerships. A partnership offers the long-term relationship considered necessary for success. A partnership provides access to world-class knowledge and resources. The idea of a partnership extended to the workforce eliminates (hopefully) the us versus them mentality that can impede the development and deployment of beneficial change. Most important, constructing the partnership on a business basis with shared risk and rewards applies financial incentives to all involved parties for success.

The partnership alternative was selected as having the greatest potential to achieve the results and success required.

Partnership Objectives:

Primary objectives are to move into the top quartile of Canadian pulp producers in three years by reducing maintenance cost by 20% and increasing production output by an average of 6 ½% across all three mills.

Secondary objectives include leveraging the partner’s strengths into a “Pulp and Paper Center Of Excellence” and leveraging scale and growth opportunities to provide added shareholder benefits.

The objectives are to be gained by:

  • Utilizing internal and partner resources to develop common best practices across the three mills
  • Developing a flexible, multi-skilled organization with internal experts
  • Re-aligning people to assure best utilization of talents and skills, better sharing of area resources
  • Focusing on improved reliability, improving the preventive to corrective work ratio
  • Improving work prioritization, planning and scheduling
  • Improving the process for mill stores and material management
  • More training and development for all mill personnel; 4% to 6% of hours worked
  • Incentive compensation in which all employees share financially in success achieved

Specific objectives include:

  • A reduction in the OSHA reportable rate in maintenance
  • Performing tasks correctly the first time measured by rework orders
  • 20% of hours expended on improvements
  • Partner and employee satisfaction 70% good and above measured by a formal survey

It is important to note that formal partner and employee surveys, some conducted by an independent third party, are vital for quality assurance of service delivery, identifying areas that require attention and measuring progress.

The partnership agreement reached to meet mutual objectives has a five-year term and includes:

  • Approximately 300 hourly and 75 staff employees
  • Management from both partners
  • Flattened organization
  • Specifies sharing of cost and production benefits between partners

The partnership between Fletcher Challenge Pulp Operations and ABB was launched in November 1999. Employees were transferred in March 2000.

A mission statement was developed to establish the basis for and demonstrate commitment to objectives and mutual success:

“To provide our partners the services to create maximum value and make them the best”

The mission statement is constructed on an “Open, Fair and Honest” statement of values.

From the beginning it was recognized that partnership success would require:

  • Partner satisfaction and loyalty
  • Profitable growth for both partners
  • Motivated people

All had to succeed for the partnership to succeed.

A detailed evaluation of benefits, what is currently being done well, requirements from the operating partner, improvements necessary to provide highest quality service, opportunities, behaviors that are to be continued, started and stopped and issues to be addressed were all listed to assure everyone began “on the same page.”

As in any endeavor, there were concerns. All three mills are unionized and there had been problems in the past. Some employees viewed the partnership as outsourcing and a threat to job security rather than the positive enhancement it was meant to be. The latter to be achieved by opportunities to increase skills, competence, responsibility and hence individual value.

All of the concerns had to be addressed and worked through. Communications was the key. The partnership communicated current conditions, necessity for change, specific objectives, benefits to partner and employee alike and KPI’s to all employees in a “kickoff” presentation. Questions were encouraged. An upbeat newsletter was published in two versions to introduce the concept and players in a very “friendly” way. A three-day training course was conducted for maintenance team leaders. The course included application and deployment of best practices for local conditions and a three-stage workshop for participants. The workshop was designed to demonstrate methods to identify priority areas for improvement, gain consensus and develop detailed action plans. The course will be repeated for maintenance and production team leaders.


The organization was basically flattened into two parallel levels. At each mill, a site manager is responsible for strategic direction, business success (measured by specific KPI’s) and coaching area maintenance teams. Area maintenance teams focus on equipment reliability, Preventive and Proactive Maintenance, provide day-to-day maintenance and work closely with production crews. The whole idea is to combine initiative and opportunity with incentives to push responsibility down in the organization.

A Central Support Team provides team and project support to the mill teams in areas such as reliability engineering, planning, scheduling and material management as well as shutdown preparation.

Benefits to Company and Employees:

Benefits to the company are compliance with the objectives that initiated the partnership agreement.

  • Increase availability and production output
  • Achieve world-class maintenance
  • Reduce maintenance costs

Employees have increased opportunities for career enhancement gained by developing skills and a more secure future with a competitively stronger company. There is greater satisfaction derived through increased responsibility and control over work performance. Perhaps most important, employees share financially in the fruits of their efforts and success with a portion of compensation based on results.

Partnership Development:

As the partnership formed the following specific actions were implemented to assure satisfaction and success:

  • Mill partnership master plans
  • Monthly partnership meetings
  • Monthly partnership rating
  • Joint problem solving and shutdown teams
  • Loss tracking
    • daily review
    • weekly report of availability, lost production and utilization compared to targets
    • Pareto analysis to identify opportunities for improvement


In any endeavor there are always challenges including plans that are more difficult than anticipated to implement and unanticipated resistance. Specific challenges that arose during the first year of the partnership included:

  • Communications – is everyone on the same page and in agreement with conditions, objectives and priorities?
  • Upgrading skills – where do you begin, with the best people or with potentially best?
  • Sustaining improvements – how to maintain improvements while continuing the change process.

Results in the first year:

Stated briefly, all targets for the first year were exceeded. The mills achieved record production at reduced costs. It is recognized that most of the “low hanging fruit” has been identified and harvested. Focusing on systems and human capabilities are now required to build on the strong start. The shared risk reward compensation produced the most money employees have ever made. The partnership is considered so successful that it is now an integral part of the production company strategy. Further, the recent purchaser of the production company views the processes and practice developed by the partnership so strong that they will be considered for introduction to other worldwide mills owned by the new parent.

Article Provided By: Maintenance World

Maintenance, Service, Industrial, Contractor, Mechanical, Renfrow Industrial, Spartanburg, Charleston, South Carolina

Reduce Reactive Maintenance

10 Ways to Reduce Reactive Maintenance


For purposes of this article, reactive maintenance is any planned or unplanned work with a priority designation of emergency or urgent, therefore requiring immediate attention. Plus, there could be work of any priority that is “worked on” outside of the weekly schedule, which this author calls “self-inflicted reactive maintenance.”

Problem Statement

Organizations that are predominantly reactive typically do not believe it is possible to perform work any other way. Overall, they are frustrated, which in turn impacts morale. Maybe it is a training issue or maybe it is a leadership issue. Either way, it is affecting worker productivity due to the majority of work being unplanned. Unscheduled work also affects job safety. When workers feel rushed, bad things happen. Lastly, those organizations with poor reliability typically waste 10 percent of their revenue.

Renfrow Induistrial
Figure 1: Impact of reactive maintenance

Ten Actions Worth Considering

This article provides 10 distinct actions you can take to become more proactive. As you will see, the asset management system (AMS) plays a major role. Typically, users struggle to leverage the AMS in support of asset reliability, but the reason for this simply may be because you need a more encompassing set of instructions. So, here they are.

  1. Establish a solid preventive maintenance (PM) and/or predictive maintenance (PdM) program. Where possible, establish maintenance strategies using formal reliability centered maintenance (RCM) analysis. Otherwise, rely on manuals from the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and staff experience. Place emphasis on condition monitoring technologies, such as PdM, which makes it easier to recognize defects. With early identification, the staff can prevent unplanned breakdowns and collateral damage. By proactively planning needed repairs, the organization saves cost. In support of your PM/PdM program, you should ensure that some maintenance staff members have certifications in PdM technologies (e.g., vibration, ultrasound, infrared, tribology), as well as knowledge in precision maintenance skills.Tip: Link PM/PdM to failure modes and store this relationship inside the AMS in the failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA) register where they are easily referenced.
  2. Establish a reliability team. It helps to have more than one person focused on asset reliability and plant availability. This group would rely heavily on the AMS system for failure analysis, as well as decisions pertaining to root cause analysis, RCM and localized FMEA.
  3. Perform root cause analysis (RCA) on worst events to identify the true cause based on the trigger point.
  4. Perform a localized FMEA where needed, for instance to evaluate a specific system or asset to isolate a problem and validate failure modes by comparing AMS failure history (failure modes) to the FMEA register.
  5. Utilize defect elimination techniques, such as brainstorming, quality circles and kaizen events, all of which involve working level and cross-functional groups. Conduct system walk-downs and record problems as a group. Summarize findings and propose solutions.
  6. Establish a core team to manage the complete AMS system. Train the staff, establish business rules, build standard operating procedures (SOPs), set up mandatory fields and choice lists, run error checks, survey the users for problems and conduct periodic audits. Most importantly, set up the AMS with the endgame in mind (e.g., failure analysis). The core team should maintain a five-year plan for direction/guidance in support of operational excellence.
  7. Perform formal job planning to provide sequenced steps, material/craft requirements, safety/hazard precautions, as well as reference materials and permits. This is being “fully planned.” Job instructions help keep workers safe, organized and informed. Job plans also help the craft follow standardized actions to ensure asset performance. The planner role is multifaceted, but key points include a job plan library, backlog management, foundation data accuracy and a maintenance of asset-to-spares library.
  8. Create a formal weekly schedule process by selecting the fully planned work that can be relied on by operations, maintenance, warehouse/purchasing, and health, safety and the environment (HSE). Some schedulers also attempt to bundle like work from the backlog, or they may perform plant system window scheduling. Tip:If the organization is mostly reactive, it may be good to create a reactive maintenance team and let the others focus on proactive work. Oddly enough, this action will help management emphasize the weekly schedule with “no excuses not to perform.” Lastly, train maintenance to not perform self-inflicted reactive maintenance whereby they purposely decide to do unscheduled, low priority work.
  9. Trend percent reactive to manage reactive work. Be sure you can extract reactive maintenanceusing structured query language (SQL). This can be an important metric for trending and comparison. Reactive work is usually Priority 1 (emergency), Priority 2 (urgent) and any other work order that breaks into the schedule. Otherwise, if you are repairing an asset, such as a condition based maintenance discovery, you should have time to properly plan and schedule this work. Therefore, it is not reactive.
  10. Capture good failure data, specifically failure modes. Use this failure data in failure analysis (e.g., asset offender report) to determine worst offenders. Properly stored failure data (e.g., validated fields) can reduce failure analysis time by up to 90 percent if it is actionable (e.g., retrievable via SQL) as opposed to pure text. Inaccurate/incomplete data, however, can severely limit the ability to extract meaningful reports (e.g., failure analytics). By combining the failed component, component problem and cause code, you can create the failure mode that is used to identify optimum maintenance strategy.Tip: Failure data should also include work order feedback (e.g., suggestions from the maintenance technicians), such as issues pertaining to ergonomics, maintainability, safety and design flaws.

Precision Maintenance Needs Precision Data

In Figure 2, you see an ideal design for setting up an AMS with emphasis on failure analysis. Also note the unique design for building the failure mode, which is the combination of (1) failed component, (2) component problem and (3) possibly the cause code, depending on how you stored this data in the FMEA register. Other key elements of this process include the trigger points for RCA, work order feedback, a reliability team and the asset offender report, such as the mean time between failures (MTBF) analytic. With the asset offender report, you can focus on“bad actors” and manage by exception.

Renfrow Industrial
Figure 2: Asset management system workflow

According to RCM expert Jack Nicholas, “The single most important thing to assure reliability is to rely on procedures, staff feedback with follow-up and reinforcement. Good procedures help ensure precision.”

Work order feedback can capture suggestions for improvement. Although not shown in Figure 2’s diagram, there also needs to be process audits, data error checks and business analyst (working level) surveys.


Reducing reactive maintenance is not an impossible task. The trick, however, is to start small. Perhaps you’ll focus on the critical assets first. The AMS software may need to be configured and training will be required. Asset reliability and job safety is everyone’s job. All that is needed is a roadmap to get there.


Reduce Reactive Maintenance By: John Reeve

Automotive machine, Mechanical, Aerospace, Maintenance

Industrial Maintenance Break Down

Industrial Maintenance Break Down | The 70/30 Phenomenon

When you ask front line supervisors or team leaders if all people in their teams are performing to the same standards or if some are doing more work and achieving more results than others, you will often get the same answer. All over the world, the most common answer, after some analysis, verifies that about 30% of the people do 70% of the work. This is not only true for front line people like mechanics and electricians, but also for planners, engineers, and other salaried employees. However, our focus in this column is on the front line of maintenance.

When I am involved in assessing maintenance performance for a customer, I always make an effort to talk one-on-one with individuals, but I also talk with a group of three to eight individuals. When you talk with people one-on-one, they are in most cases very open and honest about what they say. When you talk with a group of more than three, there will often be a change in attitudes.

In a good work system with a homogenous group of strong performers, there is not much difference in talking with people in a group or on an individual basis. However, in a typical work situation, it is common to see a big difference.

What I call “the griping level” is very high in a typical group. For example, in a group of nine, it is likely that three people will talk and complain about all the bad aspects of working in their mill, three people will show signs of support for the gripers, and three will say very little and remain passive.

I have discovered that the silent few are often very good craftspeople that belong to the group of good performers, the ones doing 70% of the work. They are also sick and tired of hearing the gripers’ constant complaints about everything that is wrong, especially when these gripers never do anything to improve the situation. As a manager, you should remember to listen to the good performers and to downplay comments from the gripers. You should give much more time and attention to the best performers; otherwise, you risk losing them.

When presenting observations and recommendations to a large, mixed group of people, I have often brought up the griping level as an improvement opportunity. After addressing this problem, I have had numerous craftspeople thank me for bringing it up. “If we could just get the 70% you talked about-and I believe you are correct with that figure in our organization — to pull their weight, we would do very well here,” is a comment I have heard many times from individual crafts people.

I have also had human resource, production, and maintenance managers thank me for addressing the griping level. The fact is that people’s attitudes change quickly after such an open discussion, especially after talking about the group they belong to. It is not positive to be branded as a griper, so the griping decreases and people start talking about more productive and positive issues. Then, when they hear others say that they do not have enough resources for a task, their reaction becomes “we must each do our own part of the work before we complain about not having enough people.”

To really change the situation, supervisors or teams must start assigning work in such a way that all employees will have a chance to improve their performances. In a team environment, especially if teams are supposed to be self-directed, this can be difficult. In the pile of work orders that must be done, there are always jobs at the bottom of the stack that nobody wants.

As a supervisor, it is understandably tempting to hand work to your best performers, because you know it will get done and you won’t need to worry about it anymore. However, to bring the whole team up to a high-performance level, you must make the effort to match the best performers with others when you assign work. It might take a little longer, but it pays off in the long run.

The same principal is vital when a proposed flexible work system transfers from the negotiated contract to reality. Unfortunately, it is common to see that after long negotiations, strikes, and increased pay, the flexibility agreement is not implemented. Remember that you only get the flexibility you have trained people for through their work assignments.


By: Christer Idhammar

Maintenance, Service, Industrial, Contractor, Mechanical, Renfrow Industrial, Spartanburg, Charleston, South Carolina

Little Things Make a Big Difference

Preventative maintenance can have far-reaching effects, so take the necessary steps. Don’t let something as small as a hydraulic hose failure cost your factory a sizable sum.

Manufacturing is a vibrant economic force in the United States, adding trillions of dollars to the economy every year. U.S.-manufactured goods have quadrupled in the last 25 years, according to the National Association of Manufacturers.

But in this burgeoning industry, much depends on the little things – for example, the soundness of a hose.

Imagine an assembly line flanked by robotic arms with their jerky, coordinated movements, welding and painting pieces that move through the process. It’s a technologically impressive system, often involving artificial intelligence. But one hydraulic hose failure can suddenly put a brake on the entire operation. The “smart” factory of the future isn’t so smart when it’s at a standstill.

This can be an expensive accident. Often, it’s entirely preventable.


Check out your hoses and joints

Being proactive in this regard can save a factory a lot of time and money. That means checking your hydraulic and pneumatic hoses, making it a scheduled maintenance activity.

A visual check can catch problems before they immobilize your operation. It’s a simple process: First, make a checklist and tick off each item on the list. Begin your inspection by examining the exterior of each hose. Look for cuts in the hose’s cover, along with other telltale signs of wear. One obvious sign is when the wire reinforcement is showing. Some hoses also kink with age. When any of these “red flags” is evident, be sure to schedule a hose replacement during the equipment’s downtime.

Note, too, that you can shield your hoses from the ravages of wear by covering them with protective sleeves. These come in metal coils, textile, plastic and other materials. They can be worth the investment, extending the life span of your hoses.


Problems on the inside

If you don’t find problems on the external surfaces of your hoses and joints, that’s a relief. But it doesn’t necessarily mean all is well. Sometimes there’s damage inside a hose, even when the outside shows no evidence.

Such damage is usually the result of contaminants in the fluid. Erosion dislodges particles from valves and pumps over time. These contaminants tear up the inside surface of a hose as they course through the system, acting like tiny blades.

Unfortunately, your visual inspection is unlikely to uncover such issues going on inside your hoses. That’s why it’s so important to make sure your oil and other fluids are changed on a regular basis. Equally important is replacing filters at scheduled intervals to ensure that any loose particles are effectively screened out.


Check the fittings

Once you’ve checked the hoses, make sure they’re compatible with the fittings. While it’s ideal when hoses and fittings all come from the same manufacturer, this is often not the case. If your hoses and fittings are mixed brands, check them out to make sure they’re in sync with one another. The manufacturer’s information should be visible. A good hose vendor will tag the hoses after replacing them, allowing you to check easily for hose-to-fittings compatibility.

You should also look over your fittings for potential problems. There should be no oxidation, rust or moisture at the joints. If you see any of this, consider replacement.


Preventing trouble

Preventative maintenance can have far-reaching effects, so take the necessary steps. Don’t let something as small as a hydraulic hose failure cost your factory a sizable sum. Schedule regular checks and follow up with any issues you find. You’ll be glad you did.

The robots may even thank you.


By: Craig Heitkamp

Maintenance, Service, Industrial, Contractor, Electrical, Renfrow Industrial, Spartanburg, Charleston, South Carolina

Maintenance Makes You Profitable

Care and Maintenance of Hydraulic Cranes


How to properly care and maintain, to keep them running in good shape.

It goes without saying that cranes are a useful resource in the construction industry. What would we do without them to lift, pull, and haul heavy materials such as precast concrete and iron?

Now in the 21st century, their usability has extended to other industries such as mining, manufacturing, and a host of others. Cranes are generally categorized by their uses and mechanism of operation, and one such type is the hydraulic crane. Hydraulic equipment uses a combination of pistons and confined liquids (mostly oil) to transmit pressure from one point to another with a much greater force.

Therefore, a hydraulic crane is powered by a fluid-filled hydraulic system. Hydraulic cranes, specifically, are powerful and used in transporting very heavy objects that electric or fossil fuel powered cranes fall short of.

As with all other heavy equipment, hydraulic cranes require specialized training and certification before they can be operated. They also require adequate care and maintenance for efficient operations and for avoiding operational hazards.

Here are some tips for keeping your hydraulic cranes in good shape. Operational training and certification

The primary and most important aspect of caring for hydraulic cranes is to ensure professional training and certification of operators. Hydraulic cranes are large and powerful, which means accidents can be fatal. Operational failures are routine experience with cranes and could put operators and those close by at risk of falling objects.

Improperly assembled cranes can also tip over, thereby causing large-scale damage. Professional training and certification give operators the required skills and safety procedures in crane operations. Including, but not limited to, the following:
• Preoperational checks;
• Availability of fire extinguishers; and
• Operational checks of systems like brakes, lights, steering, alarms, etc.

Comprehensive repair and support plan
Hydraulic cranes require a strict preventative maintenance plan, so breakdowns at the worst possible moment are avoided. A scheduled plan anticipates and prevents problems before they occur. Services like this are recommended and offered by hydraulic repair experts.

A preventative maintenance strategy will give your cranes a healthy safety margin, (i.e., replacement of worn components before they break). This decreases costs in the long run.

Damage offset and general wear
Cranes are generally susceptible to dirt and hazards because of the environment they operate in. Crane vibration moves parts such as screws and fasteners out of specified range settings, upsetting rigging and loosening formerly secure assemblies. Though dirt (or other elements) on hydraulic crane exteriors isn’t necessarily harmful, it can do harm when it gets into the hydraulic system.

A strong maintenance program ensures the hydraulic system and fluids are free of external elements, moving parts are retightened and fresh lubrication is applied at regular intervals.

Proper inventory management
Another important aspect of hydraulic crane maintenance is proper inventory management. This simply means ensuring spare parts are promptly and readily available as, and when, needed.

Hydraulic cranes, as with all equipment, need to be repaired regularly. So if you replace components and keep an accurate and up-to-date inventory of materials for your crane, you can be sure that components will never be overworked due to lack of replacements.


By : Ben Howard 

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