Free web resources for best practices

July 20, 2006
That you should be using only best practices is easy to say, but with technology, regulations and the macroeconomy changing at a furious pace, it’s going to be more difficult than that, says Executive Editor Russ Kratowicz, P.E., CMRP, in his monthly column. He offers up these free Web resources for best practices in maintenance.

It’s been said that there are two ways to do things: The right way and the Army way. I’d vote that neither option is correct when you’re looking for true continuous improvement in the way things are done around here.

That you should be using only best practices is easy to say, but with technology, regulations and the macroeconomy changing at a furious pace, it’s going to be more difficult than that. What’s best today might not be so tomorrow. If you’re diligent about the whole business, I think you’ll find that seeking out best practices for use on the home front is a never-ending job, an eternal journey.

In the interest of getting you pointed in the right direction, I’d like to invite you to join me for another hop into that digital morass we call the Web in search of practical, zero-cost, noncommercial, registration-free resources that can lead you to some best practices related to the maintenance arena. Remember, we search the Web so you don't have to.

Rocks and oil

It’s one thing to store and use lubricants in a warm, clean, dry plant, protected from the elements and quite another to store your barrels of oil in the open at a rock quarry or near a rock crusher. You can imagine the rugged, hostile characteristics of the latter venues, which explains why John Shephard and John Sutherland want you to know about the six key practices that can extend lube life in such nasty environments. Their article, “Best Practices for Lubricants Handling,” appeared in the February 2005 issue of Aggregates Manager Magazine. Perhaps too much of the piece describes common sense measures one should take when lubes must be stored outdoors in dusty, wet locations, but the review wouldn’t hurt your own indoor operations. Check it out at

A building is a building

The business owner has a grand plan, the architect has a grand vision and the construction crews get a grand paycheck. A magnificent building rises, all its elements designed for a specific function. Ten years later, the owner goes bankrupt, the building sits empty and now waits for a purchaser. Then, after a flurry of build-out activity, the building has a completely new function. What was once a grocery store now serves as a veterinary clinic. A theater turns into a social services center. Yes, a building is a building is a building.

Thanks to Minnesota’s Office of The Legislative Auditor’s intense interest in buildings of the government variety, it published a 137-page best practices document covering that class of asset at Rather than trying to slog through the whole enchilada, use the four-page summary to determine which elements of the full content might be worthy of further consideration. At the left side of the screen, click on the “Introduction” link below the “Program Evaluation” header. When the page loads, click on “Best Practices in Local Government.” When that page loads, click on “Preventive Maintenance for Local Government Buildings.” The links to the surveys provide benchmarking data that might be relevant to the immediate realities at your plant.

Our tax money at work

Did you know that our federal government is the largest single energy consumer in the United States? Maybe we really do need some sort of a national energy policy. While we’re waiting for that document to come into being, the good folks at the Federal Energy Management Program say that you can save 5% to 20% on energy bills without making a significant capital investment. We may have heard this sort of statement before, but this time they offer a manual with 215 pages of information about O&M management, predictive maintenance technologies, energy efficiency and cost-reduction measures. It covers boilers, steam traps, chillers, cooling towers, building automation systems, pumps, fans, motors, air compressors, lighting and more. For each technology, it discusses applicable types, key components, safety, cost and energy efficiency, maintenance and diagnostic tools. Check it out at Click on "Federal Energy Management" at the left. When the new page loads, scroll down and click on “Operations & Maintenance.” When that page loads, click on “Operations and Maintenance Best Practices Guide” under “Related Publications” at the right side of the screen. I think our hired hands in Washington hit a home run with this document that would make a dandy training manual for people just entering the field of industrial maintenance.

An irony

The Energy Facility Contractors Group, formed in 1991, is made up of volunteers from DOE contractors and member contractors who work together to improve the cost effectiveness of DOE operations. One of the ways they accomplish their mission is by publishing a series of 42 approved best practices documents. These one-page quick hits cover a variety of categories and some fit into multiple areas. The maintenance topic, for example, has 12 entries. What makes me wonder about the value here is that it includes a best practice for “expedited / fix it now work.” Make up your own mind, though, by visiting

More from the gov

Take a moment to drop in at and key in the phrase “maintenance reports” in the search box at the upper right. When the page loads, scroll down and click on “Operation & Maintenance (O&M) Reports.” This returns links to five best practices documents written by staff members of Portland Energy Conservation, Inc. Each of them has something to say.

Take, for example, the entry titled “Putting the ‘O’ Back in O&M” by Roger Mosier. If too many people have access to your HVAC system controls, there’s a probability they’ll be adjusted when people remain in the building after normal working hours. Mosier reminds you to reset those controls periodically and avoid changing equipment schedules in ways that degrade comfort, safety, convenience and productivity. If your goal is energy conservation, maximize the odds by matching equipment schedules to actual occupant requirements. Used in the context of this article, the term tracking refers to establishing a baseline and measuring equipment performance over time. This article also gives you a detailed sample preventive maintenance plan for a typical air-handling unit. Near the end you’ll find an algorithm for estimating the savings derived from fine tuning the operating schedule with the occupancy pattern. Thus armed, you can go forth and save money with no cash expenditure.

Masochistic maintenance

In the real world, it’s apparently difficult to find a maintenance crew that follows best practices consistently over the long term. In fact, an astonishing percentage of mechanical failures are self-induced events. So says Ricky Smith in “Best Maintenance Repair Practices.” He lays the blame for these unnecessary failures directly on the maintenance staff. On the other hand, Smith also says that if a plant can reduce the incidence of self-induced failure, productive capacity can rise by as much as 20%. He offers examples of what would constitute best practices for those who lube a bearing, align a coupling, adjust a V-belt or maintain hydraulic systems. If your plant doesn’t work this way, you might be the cause of your own problems. Smith then offers a three-step process for getting past a culture of self-induced badness. It’s easy enough to say, but those three steps are going to keep you engaged for a while. If you’re sufficiently daring, aim your browser at

We need your two cents worth

The Society for Maintenance & Reliability Professionals is an organization that seeks to professionalize the practices and practitioners in the industrial maintenance field. You might have noticed that two of the editors at this magazine append the acronym CMRP to their names. We earned that right by scoring sufficiently high on a written examination to qualify as Certified Maintenance and Repair Professionals. You folks might want to investigate achieving this additional credential and the credibility it confers. But I digress.

One of SMRP’s initiatives involves producing a collection of best practices specifically for maintenance professionals. A committee has been developing concise two-page standards for aggregation into a much larger work, the SMRP Body of Knowledge. SMRP is seeking input regarding these proposed best practice standards through an online survey. At press time, the site had 17 best practices available for your review. Take a few minutes to review these documents and make your comments known. For the sake of the general good of the maintenance profession, work you way to for the “SMRP Best Practice Metrics Evaluation.”

Your lucky number

Pace yourself and walk that desk rodent over to  to read “Best Practices in Maintenance.” Written by Bruce C. Hiatt, facilities engineer at Anesta Corp., a Salt Lake City pharmaceutical products company, this article proposes a 13-step program you can use as a roadmap for evolving to a world-class maintenance organization. It’s a big-picture view of what the author calls a totally integrated maintenance department that accommodates and blends in operations, the warehouse and any other entity that interacts with it. It’s worth a read, especially the part where he suggests indicators for reporting on your organizational structure, stores management, routine maintenance, equipment performance and executive overview.

When the heat’s on

Thermography is a well-established part of the predictive technology arsenal. When used properly, the images reveal useful but otherwise invisible clues about an asset’s condition. The nature of infrared radiation can sometimes make capturing clean, technically sound thermal images difficult. As you might expect, there’s at least one place on the big bad Web where you can find a set of best practices for capturing high-quality thermographic images. Thanks to Jason Wilbur from Raytek, you can read “Part III -- Thermal Imaging Applications,” which reveals nine best practices your technicians ought to be following. Point your hot little mouse at and click on the “Editorial Series” link you’ll see on the right side. The article in question is listed under “Predictive Maintenance Notebook.” When it loads, scroll to the final rather longish paragraph for the tips.

Without comment

E-mail Executive Editor Russ Kratowicz, P.E., at [email protected].

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