Do you want to be involved in predictive maintenance?
My career in predictive maintenance (PdM) at Dofasco’s Hot Mill started late in 1995 - September to be exact. It started with a question: “Do you want to be involved in predictive maintenance?” I didn’t know what I was getting into, but it sounded a lot better than what was going on in my career at that time. My manager saw that the way to go for maintenance in the future would be the predictive maintenance one, so I was the lead in that direction with his support.
My PdM career actually started with Jack Nicholas, who was part of PdMA at the time. He was brought in to train all of the electricians at the time in motor theory. This is something that many electricians are not trained in very well during their apprenticeship programs. Jack was also consulting with us on our maintenance program. I saw the benefits and believed it would be a good idea to follow these classes closely and to listen to Jack about the direction PdM was going.
Jack was instrumental in my early PdM education, so under his tutelage I developed sound ideas on what I wanted to do in this program. My first introduction was using Excel to trend Meggar readings on our Runout table motors. The program is still in use today. We developed monitor, open, and inspect and change-out limits in our program, and it was very successful. We were able to reduce our delay time from more than 800 minutes a year to a consistent 90 to 100 minutes for all of the 410 motors in the mill. I presented my first paper at the SMRP conference in 1998 in Atlanta based on this program. I think it was 1998. I’m an older guy and can’t remember back that far.
So, it began. I moved out of the mill into the PdM offices. It turned out that we had bought a motor test unit - the silver case unit from PdMA. I found out two of my bosses had attended the training in Tampa, Fla. I was not to be so lucky. The tester was plopped on my desk without any manuals. Neither of my bosses could start up the tester, it had been so long since they attended the training. I did find an 800 number for PdMA’s tech help line, what a great benefit. I got to know Rudy very well over that phone line. They still have one of the best help lines I have ever come across. Kudos to PdMA for maintaining that.
So, my motor testing career started. We had done RCM studies at the time, so I utilized that and my cohorts’ knowledge to determine the most critical motors in the system. I then entered them into my Excel database and started my testing based on that. Today, we have both PdMA’s MCEmax, MCE offline and on-line testers, and the Framtome on-line test equipment.
My mandate was to develop an infrared program as well. There was money in the budget for an infrared camera, so we purchased one of the first cooled focal plane array cameras on the market, the Agema 550, with as many options as we could get, plus extra lenses and the like. That was and still is the best camera available. The resolution was incredible for its time. I started taking basic images, then took Level I courses, progressed to Level II courses - always getting better with the camera each time. I developed the program still in use today, using my cohorts’ knowledge, RCM data and data I picked from the brains of local experts. I used their ideas and methods, then developed my own. Again, all of that data was entered into my Excel sheets, which are still being used to this day.
I believe the groundwork for any program is key to a sustainable program. Whatever leg work you put into your program now pays off in spades in the future.
Today, I am part of the Central Predictive Technical Services team, applying everything I learned in the Hot Mill plant wide. It has been an incredible journey, during which I have met many people in the field who still keep in touch. I’m still on my journey.
This blog is the next step, I have many ideas based on experience. Some work well, some are OK. So if I can help send you in a direction that will save you time, money and frustration, then my talking to you is worth it.
- When speaking at conferences, you learn as much as you teach My career in predictive maintenance (PdM) has evolved since my...