Reliability reigns in Chattanooga


Oct 02, 2006

More than 600 attendees ranging from PdM technicians to company presidents attended the co-located PdM-2006 and LubricationWorld events September 12-15 in Chattanooga, Tenn., to take advantage of workshops, sessions and vendor displays focused on reliability-centered industrial maintenance and lubrication.

Keynote presenter Bob DiStefano of Maintenance Reliability Group ( discussed the effects of reliability in today’s lean manufacturing environment. “Squeezing the supply chain puts pressure on reliability,” DiSefano says. A reactive maintenance environment not only costs lost production, it increases the need for spare parts inventory to minimize repair time. Improving maintenance productivity cuts maintenance costs and, according to his rule of thumb, “The plant productivity improvement is three- to seven-times the maintenance improvement.”

DiStefano described in detail how best practitioners use more PdM and less time-based PM to get their maintenance spending below 2% to 3% of replacement asset value (RAV) and their MRO stock below 1% of RAV. “If the rest of industry could raise its performance level to that of the top one-fourth of facilities,” DiStefano says, “U.S. companies would spend $185 billion less on maintenance and realize productivity gains worth $553 billion. That’s a total $738 billion annual reliability benefit.”

Workshops and sessions ran the gamut from fundamental to exotic. For example, in the short course “How to Inspect Your Machine,” Joe Strader of Dynamic Solutions described how a combination of simple techniques such as using a penlight to focus your attention, listening critically and, when it’s safe, laying your hands on running equipment can give the clues you need to locate potential alignment and bearing problems. “Gravity is your friend,” Strader says. “When parts fall off, they tend to fall down. Look at the floor.”

“The Future of Condition Monitoring,” a session by Elsa Anzalone, Azima, and Jack Nicholas Jr., Maintenance Quality Systems, discussed alternatives to today’s methods of condition and performance monitoring. Smarter and simpler sensors, wireless and fiber optic communications, long-range transmission and remote analysis and reporting via intranets and the Internet, the workload shifting from data collection to analysis, and productivity improvements in PdM technologies are contributing to lower costs and reduced requirements for on-site expertise.

“The Biggest PdM Challenges Interactive,” a novel and well-received general session, brought the knowledge of participants to bear on specific problems posed by individual attendees. For example, a maintenance manager faced with eliminating several lubrication personnel in her facility received suggestions to question and eliminate unnecessary time-based preventive lubrications; simplify and streamline remaining operations with better lubrication management practices; and consider having machine operators take on routine lubrication.

At the conference, Uptime magazine announced its inaugural Predictive Maintenance Program of the Year awards, with top honors going to Duke Energy’s McGuire Nuclear Station. The awards program recognizes maintenance best practices and spreads awareness of the benefits of effective physical asset management. Other award winners are Johns Manville, Best Infrared Program; PBR Automotive, Best Lubrication Program; TransAlta Utilities, Best Motor Testing Program; Westar Energy, Best Oil Analysis Program; National Institutes of Health, Best Precision Maintenance Program; Minnkota Power, Best Ultrasound Program and Dofasco Steel, Best Vibration Analysis Program. Chugach Electric and Sidor won Special Awards of Merit.

ReliabilityWeb Publisher and show organizer Terrence O’Hanlon announced plans for an April, 2007 summit to explain proactive maintenance and its economic drivers to upper-level management. For information this and other future events, visit