Why a Reliability Office?In 2012, the site was operating on a reactive maintenance basis. Equipment was in continuous failure mode. The mill repaired the equipment on the premise of getting it running as soon as possible, and subsequent failures of the same equipment were not considered. The years of reactive maintenance caused the mill to become the worst performer in the fleet, which in turn lowered the morale of the mill and raised the cost of operation. As part of the mill revitalization effort, the movement from reactive maintenance to condition-based maintenance was identified as an important step. It is from this movement the reliability office was created. The reliability office is a team of personnel trained in condition-monitoring techniques and technologies whose work is dedicated to searching for equipment faults and pending failures. This team recommends corrective actions for their findings and performs root cause analysis of failures. The original team consisted of an engineer, two mechanics, two electricians and a lubrication attendant. The focus of the reliability office was the tissue manufacturing department. As the team experienced success and reduced delays with assets in tissue manufacturing, it expanded its area of responsibility to other areas of the mill. The expanded responsibilities caused the team to grow. Today, the reliability office consists of a team leader, a mechanical engineer, three mechanics, two electricians and two lubrication attendants.
Defining the Vision and MissionThe broad assignment for the reliability office was to improve equipment reliability in tissue manufacturing. We felt, as a team, that we needed to have a common vision of the end state we were attempting to achieve. Our vision was to drive the Fullerton Mill from a reactive/preventative maintenance culture to a proactive/root cause elimination maintenance culture through condition-based maintenance. Once we had our vision, we had to define how and what we would do to make our vision a reality. We created a mission statement that would define our actions and connected it to our mill’s objective. Our mission was to increase the reliability of the Fullerton Mill assets and deliver business results through the creation of sustainable best-in-class condition-monitoring programs.
How and Where to Begin Condition-Based MaintenanceSimply having a vision and mission statement would not be enough. We had to start the mission. With a daunting mission and a wide range of tactics and strategies, it could have been overwhelming. The idea of implementing all the various condition-monitoring technologies (vibration, lubrication, ultrasound, motor current analysis, etc.) at once did not appear to be the best strategy. We knew we wanted to focus on two or three technologies at the start, become very proficient and then add another strategy each year. Whichever technology was selected, we knew that a sustainable condition-based maintenance program would require the proper equipment, training, systems development and documentation. The Fullerton Mill had a similar condition-monitoring program in the past, but it was abandoned by mill leadership in a cost-cutting effort. Thus, we did not need to create everything new. Perhaps we could build on what may have existed or still exists at the mill. We began with three questions: 1. What equipment did we already have? Answer: Four laser alignment tools, four hand-held vibration analyzers and two infrared cameras. 2. What previous training or experience did we already have? Answer: One or two people were trained and experienced with vibration analysis, two to four people with laser alignment and one with an infrared camera. 3. Were there any systems currently in place? Answer: No formal condition-monitoring programs existed, but we did have SAP. Within SAP, there existed routes for lubrication, oil sampling, vibration and infrared at various intervals. Based on the answers to these questions, we decided to begin with lubrication, vibration and infrared. We had a base knowledge, equipment and some routes in SAP for vibration and infrared, which made these two technologies a good choice. We chose lubrication over laser alignment because it is the key to equipment health. Lubrication affects almost all equipment and can be practiced every day. Laser alignment is a higher skill that can be taught but only practiced with limited opportunities. Lubrication is the foundation upon which all other condition-monitoring technology programs are built. Without proper lubrication, it would not matter what other condition-based maintenance programs were created, as all the equipment would be in the constant state of failure.
LubricationBefore the reliability office, lubrication of the equipment was the responsibility of the operators. The operators had little to no lubrication training, and there were no checks in place to confirm the lubrication activities were completed. The mill would regularly experience equipment failures due to lack of or improper lubrication. Some failures were minor, while others were catastrophic to the equipment and/or asset. We began our lubrication program with a third-party audit and assessment of the mill’s lubrication program, along with training all team members to International Council for Machinery Lubrication. A combination of the information in the assessment and the knowledge from the MLT Level I training became the basis of the lubrication program. The team reviewed all the lubrication routes that existed in SAP. Equipment that was no longer in service was removed from the routes documentation. Routes were consolidated for ease of application and collection by the lubrication attendant. The mill’s lubricants were consolidated where possible. The benefits of the lubricant reduction were numerous, including less inventory, lower costs and reduced risk of applying the improper lubricant. To implement visual management in the lubrication program, color-coding of lubricants and labeling of equipment was performed across the department. The color codes for the mill’s oils are shown below. Devices were installed on equipment for ease of daily inspections. These included 3-D bull’s-eye sight glasses, bottom sediment and water bowls, desiccant breathers and sight glasses. To control contaminants on larger equipment, disconnects were installed to fill and drain the units. Sample ports were also installed on most equipment for consistent sampling and contamination control. Sampling equipment and procedures were then developed for consistency and prevention of cross-contamination. The procedures were documented, and the lubrication attendants were trained on the procedures.
Gearbox with contamination control devicesThe mill had a lab for oil analysis under contract. The test slate was very generic and did not fit the application of the mill’s oils. The standard response time from sample collection to receipt of results was 10-14 days. A new test slate was devised from the application for MLT Level I training. This test slate was the basis for a request for bids from a number of oil analysis laboratories near the mill. A laboratory was selected, tested and then placed under contract. The time from sample collection to receipt of results was reduced to three to five days, and the cost per sample was reduced by 63 percent, which was equivalent to $26,000 in annual savings. When the equipment’s sample rate was reviewed, the interval rate was found to be variable. The sample rate for critical equipment was set to monthly, while the sample rate for most other equipment was set to bi-monthly. Sampling routes were created to meet the intervals defined and for ease of collection. The routes were leveled to have approximately the same number of samples taken each month. Leveling ensured that the sampling technique was used regularly and performed consistently. This also allowed ease of adding samples to routes for follow-up sampling or additional monitoring of particular equipment as needed. The sampling procedure was formalized and documented. The sampling procedure ensures each lubrication attendant is trained in the same manner and provides consistent samples. The daily rounds and oil analysis results drove corrective actions. Corrective actions were as simple as lubricant leaks and as complex as large bearing changes. To reduce the frequency of oil changes, two oil purifiers were purchased. The purifiers were moved from equipment to equipment to perform kidney filtering of the oil while the equipment continued to operate. An added benefit of the lubrication attendant rounds was all the other corrective actions found, from water leaks to unusual equipment vibration or temperatures. One of the biggest advantages of the condition-based maintenance and lubrication program, other than equipment uptime, is the reduction of oil loss in the department. There were some leaks that required significant time for repair or procurement of replacement parts that affected the timing for correcting the leaks. During 2012 and 2013, only the oil loss in the five large recirculating oil tanks was tracked. Beginning in 2014, the oil loss in the entire department was tracked, no matter which piece of equipment oil was added. This metric helped to measure the effectiveness of the corrective actions and the sustainability of the lubrication program. Over the past three years, oil loss was reduced from 65 gallons per week to 45 gallons per week, a 30-percent reduction. That is equivalent to 988 gallons of oil per year with a cost savings of $10,000 annually. The oil loss reduction not only impacts the cost of operation but also the safety of the mill. Oil on the floor and equipment presents slip, environmental and fire hazards. The program’s long-term sustainability has been improved by the recent construction of a world-class centralized lubrication room and the development of formal procedures for the receipt of lubricants, initial testing of oils, subsequent handling, filtering and dispensing. All of these procedures have been captured in written documentation for regular auditing of the process and for future training.
Previous Lubricant Storage
The New Centralized Lubrication Room
VibrationBefore the reliability office and condition-based maintenance, a single mechanic would perform vibration rounds sporadically. The findings from the vibration analysis would often go ignored. Equipment would fail even when there were indications that failure was eminent, but no action would be taken. The reliability office revitalized the vibration program by first going back to basics. The mill changed the vibration operating system to the corporate standard equipment and software. This allowed sharing of information and techniques among the mills. Routes were standardized on four-week intervals and reconfigured for ease of data collection. All vibration technicians were trained and certified to ISO Level II. In the following months, an online vibration monitoring system was installed, and critical equipment within the asset was wired to the online system. Data was collected once every 24 hours and reviewed each day. The vibration measurement points that were not easily accessible or could not be collected without violating safety rules had permanent mounted sensors and were wired to a local switch box. All wiring for the online system and the local switch boxes were documented in the corporate drawing system, and all boxes were labeled. Other manually collected points had targets installed to facilitate consistent sensor placement for manual routes.
Remote Vibration Connection BoxThe vibration program was more complex than the lubrication program, primarily due to the equipment and software required. The vibration technicians received additional training on the equipment and software directly from the manufacturer. A full system and program description was written to document the flow of data and the function of each piece of hardware and software. Procedures and documentation for all vibration data collection were formalized. Included in the documentation were the special vibration test techniques, such as phase analysis and synchronous time averaging. The use of the advanced vibration analysis techniques aided in the identification of equipment faults, including unbalance, misalignment and soft foot. The sector created a condition-based maintenance network in which the mill actively participates. The network has monthly calls with other mills that focuses on the application of technologies. The technicians share their findings, root cause analysis results, application of techniques and equipment, and any issues they may be having with their tools. The initial focus of the network was vibration and ultrasound but now includes infrared and precision alignment. Through continued training on vibration equipment and software, we have learned of other applications where the equipment can be utilized. Use of the vibration system has been expanded to perform minor motor current analysis and infrared monitoring. These other applications have been set up in the database and regularly scheduled routes.
Infrared ThermographyBefore the reliability office, the infrared thermography program consisted of a yearly survey of all motor control centers which was driven by corporate insurance requirements focused on power distribution. This work was always outsourced, and every year several critical and severe issues were found. After the team completed thermography training, routes were created to perform surveys of all the motor control centers, critical drives and PLC panels on a semi-annual basis. These routes and surveys were more thorough than the yearly insurance surveys and were focused on reliability. The routes were configured based on cabinet locations as opposed to which equipment was being powered. This increased the efficiency of the inspections and reduced waste. The routes were leveled so technicians perform thermography routes each month. When the infrared routes began, a large number of reliability issues were found in many panels. Some of the issues were loose wires, unlubricated switches, broken fuse holders and unbalanced loads. In the beginning of the program, many of the faults were deemed critical or severe. After the first 18 months, the number of reliability issues within the panels decreased significantly. Now, the rate at which issues are found in panels are one to three a quarter. When the 2015 annual survey for the insurance company was performed by the reliability office, none of the findings was deemed critical or severe. Working with open power cabinets exposes technicians to arc flash hazards. To eliminate this safety risk, infrared windows were installed on cabinet doors to allow the inspections to occur without opening the cabinet doors.
Infrared windows on motor control cabinet to mitigate arc flashThermography surveys were not limited to electrical inspections. Rounds were set up to inspect the mill’s steam traps on a bi-monthly basis. The first year of inspections yielded the repair or replacement of almost all of the steam traps. Many bypass circuits and valves were found to be faulty or in the incorrect position. Ultrasound was introduced about six months into the steam trap survey program, and both tools were utilized in the steam trap surveys. The ultrasound would confirm steam trap faults and reveal faults that went undetected with thermography. Thermography was further expanded to mechanical inspections of the asset. Condition-based maintenance routes were established to the asset’s survey areas. These routes identified numerous faults, including bad bearings, failed check valves and air leaks. This technology was also employed in tissue machine hood surveys. Leaks could be detected from a safe distance, limiting the technician’s exposure to the heat from the hoods.