The Big Interview

Easing the task of integrating AE technology into third party monitoring systems - by Trevor Holroyd

It is common knowledge that a range of Condition Monitoring (CM) techniques are available such as Vibration Analysis, Oil & Wear Debris Analysis, Thermography and Acoustic Emission. Each of these techniques has its own particular areas of strength and in this regard the Acoustic Emission (AE) technique has the noted advantage of giving real time information with early sensitivity to faults and applicability to a wide range of rotational speeds including slowly rotating (source : ISO 22096).

It follows that on-line monitoring systems should be capable of integrating the required mix of CM technologies for each particular spread of machine types in an installation. However the use of AE for machinery condition monitoring has historically been viewed as a separate specialist field and it has not been easy to integrate it into third party or industry standard monitoring and control systems. To address this issue Holroyd Instruments has developed a range of smart AE sensors, which have finally opened the door to the wider use of AE for continuous monitoring alongside, say, vibration, and temperature sensors.

Stuart Collins, Senior Thermal Imaging Engineer

Stuart CollinsThermal Imaging Engineer, Stuart Collins, uses this high-tech equipment to monitor and assess buildings, machinery and installations - saving companies time and money and preventing heat-related disasters. His cuppa: English Breakfast, milk and one sugar.

When starting out as an apprentice fitter and turner in the paper industry, this Sittingbourne lad was introduced to vibration monitoring and thermal imaging. He continued to use this technology for the next 19 years working as an engineer for the private sector. Stuart eventually joined an engineering company as an Area Manager with a team of 10 carrying out thermal imaging surveys across a wide range of industries.

When thermal imaging equipment became available at a good price, Stuart’s entrepreneurial desires kicked into full force, making the dream of owning his own company a reality. Now armed with Fluke’s Ti20 Thermal Imager, Stuart’s Vibration Monitoring Services Ltd was launched in 2005. “It’s been a long haul and quite tough, I must admit,” said Stuart. “But I’m doing it myself.” Stuart is also sure to credit his wife, who looks after the office administration and accounts area of Vibration Monitoring Services. 

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Cutting down electrical service time, the thermal imager allows Stuart to detect problems and defects (such as loose or corroded connections and overloaded cables) before faults occur. Using infrared energy, a thermal image is taken and is displayed on a temperature scale. Stuart then flags the item of concern and electricians are called in to focus solely on the faults.

Stuart has a roster of companies that have him inspect their premises and installations monthly. “There are large cost savings from using thermal imagery and finding problems before the loss of production and downtime,” said Stuart. “People can then save their equipment and installations before it causes them grief.”

Stuart uses his thermal imaging engineering skills over a wide range of applications. Along with cable and wiring faults, he can look for heat loss in building structures and check underfloor heating for leaks. Stuart even used his equipment to sort out a rabbit infestation problem during an electrical thermal imaging survey at a water pumping station. “The neighbours were complaining because of an increase in rabbits,” said Stuart. “And when I switched on the thermal imager I saw a good 30 of them.”

And if running Vibration Monitoring Services wasn’t enough to keep him busy, Stuart is also a trained locksmith and runs another business, Collins’ Locksmiths.

When Stuart finds a chance to break free from business, he likes “tinkering” with cars. “I like taking things apart and putting them back together,” said Stuart. He has also just recently welcomed two new additions to the Collins household - Lillie and Daisy, adorable six-month-old King Charles Spaniels.

me available at a good price, Stuart

Dr Julie Madigan - The Manufacturing Institute

Julie MadiganAfter working both in academic research and the Pharmaceuticals industry, and having gained an MBA, I was able to put all my experience into effect when I joined the Manufacturing Institute, in June 1995, as Director of Education and New Product Development. I was subsequently appointed Chief Executive in March 1996. In this role, my aim is to deliver real results for manufacturers and show that there is a better way for UK businesses to compete than on cost."

"Founded in 1994 by companies including Airbus UK, Siemens, ICI, Fujitsu, Alstom, Great Lakes Chemicals and the four Greater Manchester Universities, the Manufacturing Institute is an independent, non-profit making organisation run by manufacturers for manufacturers."
"Although based in Manchester, it is a national organisation, dedicated over the past ten years to accelerating transformation and improving manufacturing competitiveness through its range of education, skills development and practical support programmes and services. Our customer base of under ten companies in 1996 has grown to 11 000 manufacturers in 2003 and there is still plenty of 'headroom' out there to expand further. In 2002, the Institute was appointed the North West Regional Centre for Manufacturing Excellence by the Northwest Development Agency, delivering the DTTs Manufacturing Advisory Service."

"Yes, manufacturing in the UK has had a tough time, but let's put this into context. Manufacturing is still big business. Employing four million people directly and many more indirectly, it creates a fifth of our national output and supports a wide range of service sector jobs. Moreover, while indicators claim that UK manufacturing has a substantial productivity gap when compared with overseas competitors, productivity is still 25% higher in manufacturing than in the rest of the UK economy. So the idea that manufacturing is going down the pan, or that we'll live in a service sector world, is both unfair and unrealistic."
"It's also true that manufacturing is often associated with bad news and has a poor image -plant closures, redundancies, efforts to move production overseas. The Manufacturing Institute strongly believes this image is unfair and out of date and is passionate about accelerating the transformation in manufacturing to help UK manufacturers become leaner, fitter and world class."

"Shining examples of manufacturing excellence in the UK too often go un-noticed. The Manufacturing Institute promotes these in various ways. For example, this year we launch 'The Manufacturing Institute's Accelerating the Transformation Awards', to recognise the contribution, commitment and achievement that smaller manufacturers in our region are making to improve and grow their businesses. Our Factory Network Series profiles and showcases superb examples of manufacturing practice in smaller firms that have bitten the improvement bullet, proving what can be achieved to boost the bottom-line performance of your business in a matter of weeks."

"Continuous and extensive dialogue with our customer base and members ensures that the Institute's training programme content is highly relevant and practical. The Institute actively targets the 'consciously incompetent' set. This is not a derogatory phrase by any means - in fact, it's a real compliment! We target those who know they need to improve."
"Training courses include: The Accelerated Route to Lean Manufacturing

Simon - Maintenance technician for a frozen food manufacturer

Frozen Food ManufacturerSimon works for a large manufacturer of frozen food .

What's the main function of your job?

I work in the engineering team, carrying out routine maintenance and dealing with breakdowns. The production lines here run twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. A breakdown can hold up the entire line of production, and that can cost the company a great deal of money.

What happens if the line breaks down?

An operator will tell us if there's a problem on the line and we go straight to the job to assess what's wrong and either repair or replace the faulty part. On some equipment we can plug a laptop computer into a unit called a 'programmable logic controller' and get a read-out on the screen of all the electronic switches in the equipment, which makes it easier to find the fault. We also use working drawings, electrical measurement equipment, such as oscilloscopes, and hand tools like wrenches and screwdrivers.

More often though, we carry out routine maintenance to prevent breakdowns. A typical job could be overhauling a fryer. That can involve stripping out the bearings, cleaning them up, and lubricating all the chain drives, pumps, motors and hydraulic packs. After each job, we fill out a work card to show the job has been done.

How important is hygiene in the work place?

Because we work with food products, hygiene is really important. We wear white trousers and overalls, hairnets and white shoes. If we move to do a job in another part of the factory we change into clean kit, so there's no chance of cross-contamination. Whenever we do a job, we have to be careful to clean up the work area. We use electric and pneumatic drills and have to contain all the tiny metal fragments to make sure none end up in the food.

What do you do if you're not certain about a task?

I work in a team of engineers so there's always someone to ask if I'm not sure about something. Now I'm nearing the end of my training, I can do most jobs without supervision - it's really satisfying when you solve a problem using the skills you've learned.

Are you enjoying the training?

Yes, I'm doing a Modern Apprenticeship in engineering. That involves working for NVQ Level 3 in Maintenance Engineering and an HNC in Mechatronics at the same time. My training started with a two-week induction in the factory, then I went to a training centre in Norwich full time for a year, where I was exposed to a range of things, including electronics, pneumatics, hydraulics and welding machinery. After that, I came back to work in the factory to get lots of hands-on experience and attend college on a day-release basis for the theory.

Why did you choose technician, rather than graduate entry?

I had intended to do a degree and I did the first year of A-levels in chemistry, physics and biology, but halfway through I decided I wanted something more practical. The technician entry route is fairly common in maintenance engineering; it takes longer to qualify, but ultimately I can still achieve professional engineering status, so I don't feel I'm missing out.

What's for the future?

I intend to go on to do a degree in engineering and achieve incorporated engineer (IEng) status. As a professional engineer, there are opportunities to work on projects such as designing better ways of automating the production process, and that really appeals to me.

Q&A with Paul Borawski, ASQ

Paul BorawskiAs executive director and chief strategic officer, Paul Borawski is accountable for the operations of ASQ headquarters, and is responsible for the organization's progress in reaching its vision. He provides for the ongoing exploration of ASQ's living strategy and assures the alignment of the organization resources with the strategies and goals ASQ's board of directors approves. Borawski actively promotes the application of quality management in associations and not-for-profit organizations and has given several keynote addresses, workshops, and presentations on the topic here and abroad.

Q: A name like the American Society for Quality can be perceived as quite general. From a manufacturing perspective, what does ASQ strive for? What are the organization's goals?

A: Quality is a complex topic with powerful tools. Quality can be used at the enterprise level to manage the enterprise, and quality can be used for specific needs of the organization. It can be used to increase revenue, decrease cost, improve satisfaction and speed to market, eliminate waste, and improve morale. ASQ strives to help organizations understand the value of quality and then equip people with the concepts, techniques, and tools to realize the improvements and goals they set.
Paul Borawski

Q: In working with a company, like Cummins for example, how does the process initially get started? Do companies contact you, or do you reach out to them?

A: ASQ is a 60 year old organization with 100,000 members. Most large organizations like Cummins have ASQ members on their professional staffs. Larger involvement of ASQ with a company can come from within, or from our efforts to reach out. Often the offerings of ASQ fit perfectly in the strategic plans of organizations, and we can help them accelerate their schedules and get results sooner.

Q: Again, quality is a rather expansive term, what exactly do you focus on when working with manufacturers? Products? Processes? Training? Is there a generic starting point?

A: We start where the company wants benefits. Every organization differs in needs and abilities. Some organizations are just discovering modern quality, others are mature sophisticated practitioners. Some companies just want to fix a problem; others want to move their entire company to a higher level of performance. There's no common starting point, and there's no finish line. Organizations are complex, the world is complex and constantly changing. What represents world-class performance in 2000 is antiquated by 2007. Quality is that systematic pursuit of excellence, year after year.

Q: We're all familiar with some of the common problems currently facing manufacturers, whether it's rising energy costs, off-shore competition or escalating health care premiums. What are some of the problems you've seen that might get overlooked? How were they addressed?

A: The list of problems organizations face is long: a shrinking workforce, collapsing product life cycles, a geometric rate of change, and rising customer expectations among some.

How are these addressed? Through the sleepless nights of dedicated and smart managers and executives. Through ingenuity, genius, determination, and unfailing dogged pursuit of quality. We should understand by now that there are no silver-bullet solutions. There are a lot of issues vying for the attention of business leaders in the 21st century, most notably a focus towards clear vision, sound strategy, enterprise level quality excellence, and a commitment to the customer. The challenge is to increase the rate of adoption of known solutions. That's where we, ASQ, come in. We're able to match problems with solutions and create environments in which new solutions can be germinated.

Q: It seems that terms like lean manufacturing, Six Sigma, Kaizen, etc. get thrown around a lot. Has the industry become de-sensitized to the possible impact stemming from their implementation?

A: In a word, yes


Marty OsbornMarty Osborn, senior director of industry product marketing, enterprise asset management, Infor, reveals the steps facility management companies need to take to optimise maintenance operations for their clients

In business terms, enterprise asset management (EAM) solutions are critical to the success of facilities management (FM) companies in maintaining and servicing their clients

CMMS & Preventative Maintenance

Christer IdhammerA very important part of a cost-effective preventive maintenance program is what I call the route-based activity. These are activities that are easiest to do, and to administer, if they are presented in a list. This list can be presented in electronic format or in a paper format and includes such activities as lubrication and inspections by maintenance craftspeople and equipment operators. There are two major things that surprise me regarding these basic preventive maintenance activities:

With the very good return on investment (ROI) you get from these programs, I am surprised at how many plants lack these programs or perform them very poorly.
All major computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS) lack the capability to administer these routes in an efficient manner.
RETURN ON INVESTMENT. We use cost avoidance analysis as a tool to measure the return on investment (ROI) from route-based activity programs (exclusive of lubrication). In the last year we have verified the ROI to be between five to 10 times the initial investment and, after that, 10 to 30 times the cost to run the program. Even if such a good ROI can be verified, the inspection program is very poor in most plants and, if one exists, it is not executed with the highest priority.

Computerized Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS) SHORTCOMINGS. All CMMS providers we talk with say their systems can produce inspection lists to support inspection and lubrication routes. We must understand that, in the computer world, the answer is always, "Yes, our system can do that.

VisIR Ti 200 Infrared Camera - More than just an image...

Richard Salisbury (MD)Thermoteknix Systems Ltd
Thermoteknix Systems produce a portable infrared camera with some truly unique features.  We chatted with Thermoteknix Managing Director, Dr Richard Salisbury as he demonstrated the camera, its innovative software capabilities and the possibilities this system opens up for thermographers

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