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Clean Green & Reliable

I first became interested in manufacturing reliability nearly twenty years ago working as a maintenance mechanic who had a personal interest in improving the reliability of individual assets by searching through our maintenance history for areas where we were spending the most time and money with regard to emergency/demand work orders. Using the history we had in our database, we used the 80/20 approach to identify the 20% of our assets where we spent nearly 80% of our maintenance budget. Once we identified a system or asset to work on, we would use a cause-map or root-cause analysis to identify the potential causes of our equipment failures. Understanding these causes, we would then look to identify potential redesigns to eliminate or reduce the frequency of equipment failures.

Using the history we had in our database, we used the 80/20 approach to identify the 20% of our assets where we spent nearly 80% of our maintenance budget. Once we identified a system or asset to work on, we would use a cause-map or root-cause analysis to identify the potential causes of our equipment failures.

Clean, Green, & Reliable focuses on ten of the most common industrial systems and the equipment utilized in these systems to address specific reliability tasks and technologies that yield improved reliability and "bottom-line" energy savings.

In working on these problems and identifying solutions as a group, we also began to understand the power behind understanding the relationship between cause and effect, noting that a single cause could have several effects and that any given effect could also have several causes. We also noticed, in finding solutions to causes of many equipment failures, that the impact of these solutions reached far beyond the measures of equipment reliability.

While the benefits of equipment reliability are most noted for reducing the cost of maintenance, the benefits of reliable assets reach far beyond the cost of eliminating emergency and demand maintenance. In wrapping up each project, we highlighted the benefits and savings derived to drive home the point that equipment reliability would deliver more than a reduction in maintenance costs. For each project, we would report the following information.

  • Overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) in the months before the project and following implementation.
  • Number of maintenance man-hours dedicated to maintaining the asset 12 months prior to the start of the project and again in the months following implementation.
  • Parts costs before and after the project.
  • Energy usage/costs in the 12 months prior to the start of the project and usage in the months following implementation.

Nearly every time our teams reported this information in meetings to management I found it interesting that someone would comment that the savings and increase in productivity were significant but that the energy savings were insignificant. "As a company we generate our own utilities, so the 25% reduction in energy usage for this asset will not result in a cost savings to the company. Unless the savings were significant enough to warrant the shutdown of one of our boilers or turbines it would have no impact on the company bottom line."

"Thanks for the effort, but next time leave the energy piece out of the equation!"

Fast-forward fifteen years and things are a little different. Most of theMBAs I used to work for had to go find employment someplace else. It would seem that for most, all they learned in graduate school was to nod their head yes after our former CEO demanded they do something stupid.Simon says nod your head yes!

I believe one would now get a totally different response should they be able to reduce energy consumption at any manufacturing facility. Regardless of one's beliefs with regard to global warming, reducing energy consumption
is the right thing to do, especially when we can show that this reduction in energy consumption is a byproduct of improved equipment/manufacturing reliability. As reliability engineers and consultants, we find it exciting that nearly every major company in the world includes pages regarding energy efficiency and environmental responsibility on their corporate websites. We're excited because we know that reliable systems, reliable processes, and reliable assets are both energy efficient and environmentally responsible. The idea to write a book on this topic, Clean, Green, & Reliable, came out of some discussions I had with Terry O'Hanlon regarding my purchase of the domain name, an idea I had while writing the RCM Blitz book. Terry and I have both experienced how improved reliability can have a positive impact on energy efficiency, and it was Terry who had the idea for this book. While we both have experienced this relationship between manufacturing reliability and energy efficiency, the true experts who can answer the questions of what we need to do, why it works, and the results we should expect are key contributors to the book. With this information, and a few real-life case studies on how equipment reliability improved energy efficiency, we hope to enlighten the masses on how reliability delivers energy efficiency.

Chris and I started researching and reading about the various reliability tools and methods that made general claims regarding energy savings. While some of these claims have been substantiated, there are others where the claims are still in question. The most popular claim regarding energy savings is up to 20%. If you read that some device can deliver up to a 20% reduction in energy costs or a 20% improvement in energy efficiency, use a bit of common sense and ask for a case study or client testimonial. We're not saying it is impossible; we are simply saying validate the claims with data. If there is one thing I know about manufacturing managers, they will not release fudged numbers to the public.

We wanted this book to be different than the other books aimed at business regarding energy savings. I bet I can find at least 20 books that talk about reducing energy usage through upgrades to the building lighting, windows, and office thermostats. With plenty of this information available, we wanted to write about some common systems and technologies where, if they focused some time and effort, they would see a quick return on investment and an improvement in reliability.

Steam Leak Image

This steam leak is clearly suffering from improper insulation, as well as improper design. This leak is not only a waste of energy; it sooner or later will result in unscheduled equipment downtime and is an obvious safety hazard.

Clean, Green, & Reliable focuses on ten of the most common industrial systems and the equipment utilized in these systems to address specific reliability tasks and technologies that yield improved reliability and "bottom-line" energy savings. We take an in-depth look at systems, such as electrical power distribution, air handling, compressed air, steam systems, hydraulic systems, air/gas conveyance systems, and refrigeration systems, to name a few. While this effort has taken nearly two years to complete, we are pleased with the results and believe you will be as well.

There are certainly some big hitters on the systems we chose to write about, and a few of them may be well known, such as steam systems. Although we knew this topic had the possibility like no other to be huge and overdone, we made the decision to set clear boundaries on this topic by sticking to the theme and explaining how reliable steam and condensate systems are more energy efficient, along with some simple operating and maintenance tasks that we can do to maintain reliable and efficient steam and condensate systems.

In the world of manufacturing, we tend to use steam for an unlimited number of uses, from turning turbines to create steam to heating our buildings for comfort. Steam is often the choice because it is relatively simple and can be a somewhat reliable source of energy. If the words relatively simple and somewhat reliable seem cautious, it's because many of us tend to take steam for granted. There seems to be a mentality that concludes, "We have steam readily available in the area for use in our process, so why not take advantage of it being there and use it for as many things as possible."

This is where the trouble begins. In designing the steam header for your process equipment, one would hope that your engineers performed the proper calculations for the steam and condensate loop that included temperature, pressure, density, volume, heat, work, and energy. Performed properly, the calculation ensures we have the right amount of steam and energy available for manufacturing. Any additions to this system that demand steam will impact this system and may have an impact on its original intent. While this all would seem to be common sense, those of us who have worked with manufacturing companies around the world can all share stories of unreliable and inefficient steam systems.

The steam leak pictured on this page is just one example of the thousands of steam leaks we see at plants around the word. It is quite clear that this system is suffering from at least a few of the common mistakes we see with steam and condensate systems. It is clearly suffering from improper insulation, as well as improper design. This leak is not only a waste of energy; it sooner or later will result in unscheduled equipment downtime and is an obvious safety hazard.

How Energy Efficiency Image

We also took a look at some other, not so publicized, systems, such as refrigeration systems. Refrigeration systems are very similar to Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems, in that most cases are ripe for changes in design and maintenance practices that will have a direct impact on the reliability and energy efficiency of the asset. Likely because refrigeration systems are a key element in most HVAC systems, they are seen as a utility, and people as a rule want comfort and functionality over efficiency. We simply want utilities to work, and when they do we forget about them. Refrigeration systems are comprised of some form of combination of condensers, compressors, evaporators, valves, absorbers, pumps, and chillers, which presents many opportunities to optimize the efficiency of these components.

Contamination is one of the major defects of refrigeration systems. When a chiller operates with contaminated refrigerant, performance will decline, power use increases, and operating costs have the potential to increase exponentially. Contamination can be air, oil, moisture, dirt, or acid. If contamination is not detected and addressed, catastrophic damage can result.

The most common contaminant in refrigerants is oil. A recent ASHRAE research project (601-TRP) sampled refrigerant from 10 randomly selected chillers and concluded that most contained excess oil, even though three of them had recently had their refrigerant recycled. Of the ones that were recycled, the study showed oil content of 3% to 7% in the refrigerant. The other seven samples showed contamination levels ranging from 9% to more than 20%. The table above, presented in the article, Process Heating for Manufacturing Engineers, by Mark Key of Redi Controls, Inc., shows approximately how energy efficiency declines as excess oil builds within refrigerants.

Typically, little is done to identify and remove excess oil from chillers until it becomes a major problem. Why is this? Well, it is because oil on the refrigerant side typically does no damage to the system, gives little indication of its presence, and generally has significant costs associated with detection. It typically isn't until performance has significantly degraded that oil is suspected.

We hold a core belief that if doing something doesn't provide a return on investment then it is likely not worth doing and certainly will not be sustainable. Everyone knows the old management adage that says, "You can't manage what you don't measure." In other words, unless you measure something you will never know if it is getting better or worse. Savings can occur in the form of either repetitive, reoccurring savings or one-time savings. Recorded before and after measurements are critical to eliminate the possibility of misrepresented or even unnoticed savings.

Measurement systems should be put into place to collect data and express results as standard key performance indicator (KPI) metrics. These metrics will be compared to benchmark data to help the organization evaluate and measure progress toward its defined goals.

It is important to communicate these metrics and the success of the program both up and down the organization. People want to know how things are progressing and certainly like hearing the good news and how they are helping the organization become more efficient and environmentally responsible. With energy management metrics in place, your organization will begin to recognize the directly proportional relationship between equipment reliability and energy efficiency.

A great place to start selecting KPIs for your energy management should be from a scorecard that is used by your company to track energy costs (an example scorecard is shown on the next page). These types of scorecards should not only exist for the entire facility but also have the ability to drive down to specific areas, systems, and even the equipment level. Initially the thought might be that this information is hard to gather and requires substantial time. In reality, it couldn't be easier utilizing the technology readily available today. In fact, in most cases you probably already have most if not all of the data needed, and it would take little additional time for the few additional data points to be collected.

We understand the key elements in sustaining positive results. The major elements we have discovered over the years involve impacting the entire organization's beliefs and behaviors related to energy management.

Energy Management Scorecard

To maximize sustainable results, it is imperative that your organization assume ownership of any improvement initiative, process, or program. Like many initiatives, energy management isn't any different; behavioral changes are
required, which leads to culture change. To sustain this change, everyone must be an active participant in development and implementation.

Beliefs are vital to the ability to change and must be modified prior to any behavior change. Education and knowledge transfer are keys to changing beliefs. The most effective way to sustain change in your organization is to impact each and every level of the organization.

Energy Managment Best Practices

The moment you stop looking to improve is the moment you open yourself up to competitors making inroads as they find ways to improve quality or reduce costs. Perfection will never be achieved, and thus improvement is always possible.

The continuous improvement cycle is an effective team-involvement tool and forms the basis for a "lessons learned" database and best practices, which are continually reinforced at the leadership level and reflected in changed KPIs, updated business processes, and continual modeling and monitoring. Rigorous application of the continuous improvement cycle often realizes step change, while sharing lessons learned through a knowledge management system ensures that change is sustained, despite leadership changes or staff turnover issues.

Clean, Green, & Reliable is a book about common sense. It's about doing the right things for all the right reasons. It's about making more with less and each of us doing our part to make our manufacturing companies more reliable, energy efficient, cost effective, and competitive. It is also about being a steward to God's earth, knowing what we leave behind we leave to our children and to their children. Let's forget all the politics and all the people who get paid to stir the pot and fog the issues. Let's be smart, responsible, and successful. Douglas Plucknette

Doug Plucknette Image

Doug Plucknette is the World-Wide RCM Discipline leader for GPAllied, creator of the RCM Blitz(TM) Methodology, author of the book Reliability Centered Maintenance using the RCM Blitz Method, and co-Author of the book Clean, Green & Reliable. Doug has been a featured speaker at conferences around the world and enjoys training and mentoring peoople in reliability tools and methods.

Chris Colson

Chris Colson is the Director of Electrical Services for Allied Reliability and co-Author of Clean, Green & Reliable. Chris is a member of the Association of Energy Engineers and is a Certified Energy Manager. He also is an active member of SMRP and currently serves as a Pillar Lead for the M&RK committee. Chris is passionate about improving operational capacity through equipment reliability and has written and spoken widely in the reliability engineering field. You can follow Chris on twitter: colsonchris and learn more about the services Allied Reliability provides by visiting

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