Reliability Engineering Snapshot TM

The Illustrated Newsletter For Failure Analysis, Non Destructive Evaluation, and Predictive Maintenance



Case Sudy No. 48:

Squeezing the maximum life out of equipment will eventually put one in a very uncomfortable situation, avoid it.

Just wait for that day when a regulatory agency comes in and tells you that you're operating equipment in an unsafe manner and issues a summons to "cease and desist." Makes a person's hair stand on end just thinking about it. Society is becoming more environmentally and ergonomically conscious. It has nothing to do with being lazy, we just want to work safer nowadays. What's more, we want to live longer too. The hard part is trying to overcome the high hurdle of past indiscretion, it's so expensive. Expensive enough to close plants down. Expensive enough to make people look the other way. Some people can legitimately claim that they "didn't know." That's why there are engineering groups within an organization, and consultants outside an organization, whose mission is to know what's safe and proper. It is important to have regular inspections of critical equipment to make sure that they are performing within their design limits and within regulatory limits. Your inspectors aren't the bad guys. They're the ones that will keep you from getting into trouble, use them. An example of where proactive inspection prevented catastrophic failure and replacement of a critical piece of equipment is illustrated in the November Corrosion article.

Improving maintenance performance means working safer is better.

What does working safer mean to a maintenance mechanic or electrician? It means being able to do the job easily without risking a person's well being. By old standards it's "being lazy." However, nobody should be proud of the way some things were done in the past. When an employee retires from work and can't even walk anymore, is it because he is old or is it because he carried 10 ft. lengths of 4" diameter pipe all day long because there wasn't any other means to transport the pipe. When mechanics have to stand on an electrical cable tray to remove equipment or a mechanic has to remove a 100 lb. apparatus perched off of an extension ladder instead of on a personnel platform, how easily can it be to remove the equipment? Removing equipment easily means removing it faster because auxiliary equipment used for extraction always makes the job go quicker, always. The quicker equipment can be replaced, the quicker the process can come back up and production can resume. Everybody wins.

Always buy matched sets of gearing, you'll save money in the long run.

When a gear unit goes out, sometimes the tempting question to ask is where can money be saved. Sometimes there is a gear or two in a multiple gear unit that still looks salvageble, while others of course cannot be saved. It can be tempting to use only those gears that are necessary to repair the unit. However, there is a good reason that gear manufacturers sell gearing in "matched sets." One of the reasons for having matched sets of gears is the proper matching of gear hardness. If one gear is too hard it can prematurely wear out the other gear(s). Matched sets of gears are also cut with the same tool, therefore the gear tooth profile will be exactly the same. An example of where the same pinion was used on three different ring gears is illustrated in the November Machine Design article. This $7,000 pinion wore out three $70,000 ring gears.

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