Biggest Ultrasound World Conference yet

May 21, 2012

The Ultrasound World VIII Conference in Clearwater Beach, Florida, was the largest gathering yet, and there were plenty of great reasons to be there. The presentations were excellent, and UE Systems ( brought together just the right mix of information and individuals. Here are some of the highlights.

The Ultrasound World VIII Conference in Clearwater Beach, Florida, was the largest gathering yet, and there were plenty of great reasons to be there. The presentations were excellent, and UE Systems ( brought together just the right mix of information and individuals. Here are some of the highlights.

CREATE the Environment for Success
Cliff Williams is operations maintenance manager at ERCO Worldwide (, a specialty chemicals company in Toronto, Canada. Most ERCO plants are located in North America, with one in Chile, and they run at 99% uptime, said Williams. “We have really good uptime in our plants,” he said. In his Ultrasound World keynote presentation, Williams shared his ideas on creating the environment for success — communicate, repeat, educate, authority, trust, and exercise (CREATE) — a system he devised when he previously worked for a pulp and paper mill.

Communication involves talking, listening, and responding. This means talking the same language and using the three is of communication (involvement, interest, and what’s in it for them). Respect means providing an environment in which people and their skills are appreciated. The education component is training people on what you need to know, explaining why you need information and what you’re going to do with it, and giving information, such as total work order costing.

Authority means giving employees the ability to do what you want. Recognize when people do things well. The Betari Box ( explains how one person’s attitudes or behaviors affect attitudes or behaviors of others, and it all ultimately comes full circle. Once you recognize that something is causing a negative attitude, it’s important to consciously break out of the cycle.

Trust is what you need so that employees will communicate honestly. Understand what they mean, not what they say. “I can’t do that PM because it’s too dirty in that area” might actually mean, “You changed my shift, and I didn’t like it.” Employees need to trust you and trust that you’ll support them. The final step is to evaluate performance. Start with a self-examination to find out what you’re doing right and what you should change. Exercise the environment, run trends, show improvement, allow more authority, and establish vision to maintain the environment. Change the environment to change attitudes and performance.

BAVA and Reliability
Todd Fraser, balance, alignment, and vibration analysis (BAVA) leader at Procter & Gamble (, also spoke at the conference, explaining how his group has used ultrasound technology to complement thermography, vibration and laser on bearings. His group’s first-ever air leak survey found 80 leaks at $1,000 in one day. While thermography and ultrasound are powerful together, Fraser recommended taking a baseline to be able to demonstrate change and then translate that into dollars.

Dave Zweigenbaum, a reliability technician at General Mills (, is level-1 certified in both ultrasound and thermography. He works on the Progresso Soup line and has trained almost 50 people on ultrasound at his plant. Zweigenbaum has been in maintenance for more than 30 years. He compared the past and present of maintenance practices. In the old days, if you didn’t see grease, the bearing wasn’t greased, and a screwdriver was what was used to listen to bearings, he explained. “Since we’ve been doing ultrasound on bearings, we’ve been running at 98% uptime,” he said. His group currently is using the UE Systems Ultraprobe 9000 and likes how he can record with it and download DMS files, but his organization is looking at the 15,000 so they can get spectrum analysis and take pictures to identify air leaks. Zweigenbaum explained the value of using ultrasound and thermography together. “Infrared is a visual sport,” he said, “because you can use the equipment at a distance, but ultrasound is a contact sport and involves audio and hearing.”

Condition-Based Lessons Learned
Osvaldo Velazquez Arredondo is an industrial electrical technician at Soltec (, a maintenance technology company. At a General Motors plant in Silao, Mexico, the power train assembly uses 254 torque spindles from Atlas Copco. Each spindle uses a 100-300 W motor to generate enough torque to put the screws in the motors. The OEM recommendation was for PM of about three to four hours with a frequency of every six months, at an annual cost of $85,000, not including the downtime considerations.

The machinery had a cycle time of 5-10 sec, low RPMs (60-100), rotation clockwise and counterclockwise (both directions), and precision bearings of less than 1 in. in diameter. They first looked at vibration testing but discarded it because it was too confusing and because of the low RPMs and short cycle times. Infrared was discounted because the spindle heated at the beginning and temperature variations weren’t enough to stand out. Ultrasound was used because the sensor was able to provide a quick answer and it saved $120,000 annually, explained Arredondo.

Ron Tangen, an electrical/industrial technician and a reliability specialist at Dakota Gasification (, headquartered in Beulah, North Dakota, offered tips for creating an effective ultrasound program and told stories of money-saving leak detection. He shared a list of lessons learned through implementation.
Management support will get you twice as far twice as fast.
Equipment without a program is still a plus.
Develop programs to the greatest extent.
Patience and persistence provides a payback.
Proficiency takes time.
Promote the program whenever you have the chance.
Expect to be baffled and frustrated sometimes.
Solicit feedback and share findings to gain and maintain support.
Plan for additional staffing.
Always improve follow-up procedures and documentation.
Expand the bearing monitoring program by looking to co-ops from local colleges.
Create analysis guidelines.

And all of this information was just from part of the presentations during the first day. Ultrasound World is an excellent opportunity to speak with the people who are on the front lines making it happen. I can’t wait for next year.

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