Maintenance Technology August 2015 - (Page 47)

A CONTRARIAN VIEW Making Silk Purses A s bubonic plague ravaged much of Europe, a wise man apparently shared a common-sense parable that involved man's inability to make a silk purse from a sow's ear. Shakespeare is said to have picked up on this idea and (possibly) mentioned it in one of his late 16th-century plays. As evidenced by two more recent examples from the real world, it's clear that industrial operations don't always understand the moral of this parable. In the first example, the reference to making a silk purse from a sow's ear should have been on at least one reliability professional's mind when, in the late 1980s, he attended a National Petrochemical and Refiners Association (NPRA) Reliability and Maintenance Conference. (This conference has been rebranded and now runs as an American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers [AFPM] event in San Antonio.) We'll call our conference attendee Maxwell-which, of course, is not his real name. What's real is that Maxwell was a dynamic, young reliability manager at a large petrochemical company who sat in on a conference session I conducted. During this presentation, I explained how and why my employer at the time-a worldscale ethylene plant similar to Maxwell's-had safely stretched its shutdown/turnaround intervals to seven years (Those intervals are now 10 years.) Evidently, Maxwell focused solely on the words "seven years," and may have been enjoying an extended coffee break as I discussed what our ethylene plant did to achieve its seven-year shutdown/turnaround intervals. Investing in lube-oil purification and up-front MQA (machinery quality assurance) were among my topics. Returning to his plant, Maxwell began to advocate the doubling of turnaround intervals. Unfortunately, a variety of calamitous events beset the facility as it tried to meet this goal. While foresight and a budget for true reliability engineering had allowed my employer to become "Best in Class," his employer struggled on its reliability journey. When upper management realized that few of Maxwell's lofty ideas materialized and that unscheduled shutdowns made the facility uncompetitive, he was terminated. My second real-world example begins with a letter I received. AUGUST 2015 "I'm temporarily located in a Middle East country as part of a team supporting project engineers in the EPC (engineering/procurement/construction) contractor's office," wrote a reliability engineer. "The scope of my involvement is a bit unclear. I'm supposed to keep an eye on the important items and make sure the rotating equipment for the project will be a) reliable, b) easy to maintain, c) within budgeted cost, and d) delivered on time. Still, our project engineers often express annoyance and view our team's work product as interference instead of value-adding. For example, because user experience was a main criterion on important pumps, I had recommended a particular feed pump. Focusing on applicable experiences, we should have placed the order with a well-qualified Italian manufacturer. But our EPC contractor is headquartered in a Pacific Rim country and wants to buy equipment from that part of the world. Invariably, the EPC's choice is lowest initial cost, which pleases the project manager although it usually satisfies only item (c) in my role statement." Heinz P. Bloch, P.E. His employer didn't realize that thoughtful bid evaluations must consider the value of maintenance and downtime cost avoidance. This reliability engineer's anguish is understandable. He had been hired after others made questionable decisions. His employer didn't realize that thoughtful bid evaluations must consider the value of maintenance and downtime cost avoidance. Granted, the value of such avoidance strategies is viewed differently from country to country. A timely review of various bidders for this site's feed pumps would have indicated that the Italian vendor had far more applicable experience than the others. Alas, as this and similar stories from industry so often go, it's too late to do what's right. Much money will flow into trying to make a silk purse from a sow's ear. Then, the plant will change owners. MT heinzbloch@gmail.com MAINTENANCETECHNOLOGY.COM | 47 http://www.MAINTENANCETECHNOLOGY.COM

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Maintenance Technology August 2015

My Take
Uptime
For On The Floor
Industry News
Ultrasound: Aural Intelligence
Excellence in Action
Cool Advice on Hot Motors
Step Up to Greater Electrical Awareness
Keep Hydraulic Fluids Contamination Free
Five Steps to Workplace Desirability
Put a Good Base Under Your Pumps
QR-Code POI System for Quick Problem Solving
Products
Marketplace
Contrarian View
Ad Index

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