Maintenance Technology October 2016 - 3


EDITORIAL

High Five to the Ugly Side

M

y morning bike rides start at roughly
5:30 a.m. These days, that means I
mostly ride in the dark and, with each
passing day, wear more layers to ward
off the wind and cold. Though I prefer the road,
I also find myself riding on the nearby bike trail.
That way I don't have to worry about traffic and
the trees block the wind.
The bike trail goes through sand/gravel-mining
property. As I travel north, I first encounter a large
facility where the mined material is separated into
sand and various grades of gravel. That operation
is fed by a long conveyor system, a
good portion of which parallels the
bike trail.
Work starts early at the gravel pit
and that conveyor system is always
moving dirt. I've often wondered
what a conveying system of that size
requires in terms of maintenance,
given the fact that it's exposed to the
elements and moving parts and dirt
usually don't get along. It's not unusual
to hear a roller that is having trouble.
As I rode by the site one lateSeptember morning, things seemed
too quiet. Something wasn't right.
When I got north of the separating
facility, I could hear that the conveyor wasn't
operating. Further north is a hub in the system
that changes conveyor-belt direction. It involves
dirt falling from one belt to another through
a metal chute/funnel. The hub structure also
contains motors and drive mechanisms that
are constantly getting coated with dirt/dust. It
was here that my question about the "silenced"
conveyor was answered: It was surrounded by
trucks and men in hard hats and reflective vests.
Something was broken.
Since it was too dark for photos, I rode on.
When I reached that point on my return trip, it
was light enough to see, so I stopped to take some
shots through/over the chain-link/barbed-wire
fence. While I was creating "magnificent images"
with my cell phone, I caught the eye of one of the
workers and asked him what was going on. He
said that a sensor had malfunctioned and shut
down the conveyor.
OCTOBER 2016

For many operations, a non-moving conveyor
would be cause for panic, since it could be
interrupting assembly-line operations and causing
monetary losses to mount by the minute. As you
can see by the photo below, that wasn't the case
here. The site already had plenty of processed dirt
and trucks were being loaded at a steady rate.
The conveyor's maintenance team had a
different problem. As I watched, personnel
finished replacing the sensor, called ahead to the
"tower" to let the operator know dirt would be
moving again, and hit the switch. The conveyor

Gary L. Parr
Editorial Director

Left. There's plenty of dirt
for the truck drivers, but
no new product falling
from the conveyor at
the top of the tower.
Below. The tower wasn't
being fed because a sensor
malfunctioned, or was that the
root cause of the problem?

started, then stopped. The team
tried again. Same result. Shoulders
sagged as team members realized
the root cause may not have been
a malfunctioning sensor and that
changing it out wasn't necessarily the
entire solution.
I had to go, so I don't know how
long it took to fix the problem. As I
rode home, all I could think about
was the ugly side of maintenance.
No matter how hard you try, things
fail, and often at inconvenient times.
In this instance, it was outdoors, in the dark, with
a chilly temperature and a stiff wind blowing out
of the north. I hope the repair happened shortly
after I left so they could share high fives and move
on to their daily routine of making sure things
operate properly. MT

gparr@maintenancetechnology.com
MAINTENANCETECHNOLOGY.COM | 3


http://www.MAINTENANCETECHNOLOGY.COM

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Maintenance Technology October 2016

Maintenance Technology October 2016 - 1
Maintenance Technology October 2016 - Cover1
Maintenance Technology October 2016 - Cover2
Maintenance Technology October 2016 - 1
Maintenance Technology October 2016 - 2
Maintenance Technology October 2016 - 3
Maintenance Technology October 2016 - 4
Maintenance Technology October 2016 - 5
Maintenance Technology October 2016 - 6
Maintenance Technology October 2016 - 7
Maintenance Technology October 2016 - 8
Maintenance Technology October 2016 - 9
Maintenance Technology October 2016 - 10
Maintenance Technology October 2016 - 11
Maintenance Technology October 2016 - 12
Maintenance Technology October 2016 - 13
Maintenance Technology October 2016 - 14
Maintenance Technology October 2016 - 15
Maintenance Technology October 2016 - 16
Maintenance Technology October 2016 - 17
Maintenance Technology October 2016 - 18
Maintenance Technology October 2016 - 19
Maintenance Technology October 2016 - 20
Maintenance Technology October 2016 - 21
Maintenance Technology October 2016 - 22
Maintenance Technology October 2016 - 23
Maintenance Technology October 2016 - 24
Maintenance Technology October 2016 - 25
Maintenance Technology October 2016 - 26
Maintenance Technology October 2016 - 27
Maintenance Technology October 2016 - 28
Maintenance Technology October 2016 - 29
Maintenance Technology October 2016 - 30
Maintenance Technology October 2016 - 31
Maintenance Technology October 2016 - 32
Maintenance Technology October 2016 - 33
Maintenance Technology October 2016 - 34
Maintenance Technology October 2016 - 35
Maintenance Technology October 2016 - 36
Maintenance Technology October 2016 - 37
Maintenance Technology October 2016 - 38
Maintenance Technology October 2016 - 39
Maintenance Technology October 2016 - 40
Maintenance Technology October 2016 - 41
Maintenance Technology October 2016 - 42
Maintenance Technology October 2016 - 43
Maintenance Technology October 2016 - 44
Maintenance Technology October 2016 - 45
Maintenance Technology October 2016 - 46
Maintenance Technology October 2016 - 47
Maintenance Technology October 2016 - 48
Maintenance Technology October 2016 - Cover3
Maintenance Technology October 2016 - Cover4
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