Remove Risk from Full-Scale Projects

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Pilot plants demonstrate the feasibility of proposed process technologies for real-world operations.

By Michelle Segrest, Navigate Content, Inc. - Reporting for Efficient Plant Magazine

De-risking has always been the driving force behind pilot plants and that force is as strong, if not stronger, in today’s environment of ever-shorter product life cycles. For example, when a company’s research and development group has an idea for a new process technology, testing may be performed at a “glass scale.“

“This can mean making only one liter of a certain chemical, similar to the type of tests you do in a high school chemistry class,” according to John Schott P.E., president of EPIC Systems Inc., St. Louis (epicsysinc.com), a manufacturing and service company that designs, integrates, and builds pilot-plant solutions for manufacturers worldwide. “Let’s say all goes well. The tests show the technology works at that scale. But are they convinced enough to take the risk to build a plant for $150 million that produces 10,000 pounds of the material each day? In most cases, it’s just too big a jump to spend that kind of money and hope a plant works.” A pilot plant is meant to show that a process technology can be made at a smaller industrial scale, or perhaps two evolutions of that scale, before a larger, full-scale production plant is built. Click here to reqd full article.

Manufacturers Leverage IIoT Data

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As companies make digital transformations using IIoT data, they see immediate results that save time and money.

By Michelle Segrest, Navigate Content, Inc. - Reporting for Efficient Plant Magazine

A plastics manufacturer had a major piece of equipment that was frequently breaking down with no warning. It was a $40-million problem every time it happened. By incorporating a digital-transformation strategy, the company was able to predict the problem five days in advance.  “This is the power of the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT),” said Robert Golightly, senior manager, Product Manufacturing at AspenTech, Bedford, MA (aspentech.com), a supplier of software that optimizes asset performance. “When a machine fails, companies generally wait until the machine is fixed, and when the process is running again, they go back to work. They are forced to do this because there is not enough time to do anything else. But when you have a few more days or even weeks to think about it, suddenly there are all kinds of options. You can use the time to build inventory or reschedule production. There are half-dozen smart business decisions we could make if we had enough time.” 

IIoT is having a profound effect on the way companies collect, manage, and analyze data. Click here to read the full article.

Augmented Reality Accelerates Manufacturing Efficiency

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Connecting humans and machines through augmented reality is changing the face of industrial manufacturing. 

By Michelle Segrest, Navigate Content, Inc. - Reporting for Efficient Plant Magazine

When digital content is overlaid on a piece of machinery, the equipment comes to life. Detailed instructions pop into focus to guide the operator, helping him/her to identify and fix any problems. Animated 3D renderings, in exact proportion, explode into view and visually show the operator how to repair and maintain the machinery through step-by-step visual aides. Like something from “The Terminator” or “Minority Report” movies, the operator can instantly see the digital content directly in front of him. This is one example of how augmented reality (AR) is revolutionizing the efficiency of industrial operations. Thanks to this technology, paper manuals will soon be as ancient and obsolete as a rotary phone mounted on a wall. No longer will operators need to search and research to find answers to technical questions. With AR technology, solutions to their problems literally appear before their eyes.  Follow this link for the full story!

Additive Technology Can Improve Performance

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Companies can produce more reliable and efficient components faster and with fewer resources using 3D-printing technology. 

By Michelle Segrest, Navigate Content, Inc. - Reporting for Efficient Plant Magazine

Ryan Hooley vividly remembers when General Electric’s (GE) aviation department manufactured a fuel-nozzle component using 3D-printing technology. Traditionally, the component was made of many smaller components. It required welding and assembly—processes that needed time, energy, and materials. But GE found a way to produce a fuel nozzle using additive manufacturing—specifically, 3D printing.  “They were able to make it in one shot, one part,” said Hooley, general manager of product management for GE’s Power Services business in the B/E class fleets. “But additive manufacturing is not just looking at the value propositions like assembly, cost, and cycle. Now we can look at actually improving performance. When people hear 3D printing, I wonder if they realize how it’s being used today. It seems very futuristic. This upgrade is evidence that additive manufacturing is here today. It’s relevant, and it delivers value. Additive manufacturing is fundamentally changing what we can do. It’s not 10 years away. It’s here.” Follow this link to read the full story.

Automation Accelerates Beer Production

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Automation and a focus on reliable processes are at the core of a craft-beer business that grew from a hobby to a full-time pursuit in less than 10 years.

By Michelle Segrest, Navigate Content, Inc. - Reporting for Efficient Plant Magazine

Jason Roeper grew up watching and learning from his uncle, a hobbyist home brewer. The day he turned 21, Roeper went to his uncle’s house and brewed his first batch of beer. He honed his craft and, in 2007, submitted his unblended Elderberry Lambic, “Straight Up,” to the Sam Adams Longshot Competition. He was named a finalist, which inspired him to pursue his dream of becoming a craft-beer brewer. In 2009, after being laid off from a corporate job, Roeper translated his longtime vision into a business plan and began the Rivertown Brewing Company in Lockland, OH. In 2017, he expanded to a larger space in Monroe, OH, and rebranded the business Rivertown Brewery & Barrel House (rivertownbrewery.com), which now covers 31,000 sq. ft., including the manufacturing facility and a barbeque restaurant and pub. With a 417-barrel fleet, the company produces 28,000 barrels of beer in 28 flavor varieties annually, and distributes in 37 U.S. states. Follow this link to read the full story. 

The Importance of Training

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Interview with Adolfo Gomez, Pump & Seal Trainer and Instructor

By Michelle Segrest, Navigate Content, Inc. - Reporting for Pump Engineer, Valve World, and Valve World Americas

Adolfo Gomez began his career working with agricultural irrigation. This led to hands-on work for chemical processing plants and oil refineries. His diverse experience developed into a passion for teaching and training young end users and sharing his more than three decades of knowledge and experience. Read the full story by following this link. 

Tomorrow's Plant in Action Today

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Using 3D laser scanning and rapid prototyping, Festo created its Scharnhausen Technology Plant with Industry 4.0 and complete communication at its core.

By Michelle Segrest, Navigate Content, Inc. - Reporting for Efficient Plant Magazine

Thanks to progressive and innovative methods and a focus on Industry 4.0, Festo (festo.com) has designed and built a facility in which employees safely interact with a flexible robot that takes over assembly tasks ergonomically disadvantageous for humans. An energy transparency system allows all energy flow and consumption to be tracked in the future. Tablets, with interactive apps, have become the primary working tool to detect and rectify machine faults quickly and directly on site. The Scharnhausen Technology Plant in Ostfildern/Stuttgart, Germany, is at the forefront of automation’s future. To read the full story, please follow this link. 

Motor Repair Anywhere, Anytime

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A family-owned motor repair and service company uses a never-say-no attitude to tackle challenging projects of any size. 

By Michelle Segrest, Navigate Content, Inc. - Reporting for Efficient Plant Magazine

Instinct and guts drove Higinio “Tico” Rodriguez to leave Cuba when Fidel Castro came to power in 1959. “He wasn’t sure why at the time, but he just knew he had to get out of there,” said his son, Victor Rodriguez. “He knew that something just wasn’t quite right.” With five dollars in his pocket and an 8th-grade education, Tico Rodriguez left his homeland and never looked back. Two decades later, in 1978, it was the same instinct and guts that drove him to start his own motor-repair shop in Pensacola, FL. To read the full story, please follow this link. 

Solution Seeking vs. Problem Solving

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For four decades, Stephen Matthews has been helping facility personnel improve reliability with a “boots on the ground” approach.

By Michelle Segrest - Reporting for Efficient Plant Magazine

You won’t find Stephen Matthews sitting in an office, and you won’t see him wearing a coat and tie. “I am totally embedded on the shop floor—100% of the time,” the veteran reliability consultant said. “Whether it’s in operations or in maintenance, I firmly believe that the shop floor is where everything happens. I also work on all shifts, and that is where you really see what is going on. I look like one of the guys, and I ask questions.” Matthews uses his 39 years of engineering, maintenance, operations, and reliability experience to work with companies on various projects in many types of asset-intensive industries. He is based in Montréal, but works with companies all over Canada, the United States, and even travels as far as Siberia, Russia, to help companies with various reliability-improvement programs. He evaluates work management, supply-chain management, and reliability engineering practices, in addition to identifying performance gaps and recommending short-, medium-, and long-term solutions. To read the full story, please follow this link. 

PdM Keeps Coating Company Operating

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Weekly planned maintenance and continuous improvement drive reliability for a finishing company that works on an extraordinarily tight schedule.

By Michelle Segrest, Navigate Content, Inc., - Reporting for Efficient Plant Magazine

Situated in the middle of the production process for its customers, Linetec, based in Wausau, WI, relies on critical processes, complex scheduling, and all systems working in sync to get products in and out of its finishing facility at lightning speed. To make this happen, production keeps moving at all times. The clock only stops one line at a time—in 12-hour weekly increments—for critical preventive maintenance. “The important story that we have to tell is one of reliability,” said Andy Joswiak, Linetec’s vice president of engineering and technical services and a 28-year company veteran. “We are right in the center of our customers’ business. We need to be reliable, and we need to be up. We have a maintenance staff that runs all the time with multiple and creative schedules.” Read the full article. 

Designing to Meet Fluid Flow Challenges

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Special-project engineer Edward Hazinski has helped his Plast-O-Matic Valve customers solve reliability and efficiency issues for almost four decades.

By Michelle Segrest, Navigate Content, Inc. - Reporting for Efficient Plant Magazine

Edward Hazinski vividly remembers the first time he walked into a manufacturing facility. “It was the late 1970s and it impressed me that there were dozens of operators turning handles, assembling parts, and cranking knobs on all the machinery,” he said. Now, after nearly four decades working in manufacturing as a design engineer, the general manufacturing plant looks much different. “Now you see a few guys sitting in a control room that looks something like a space ship,” he explained. “Everything is automated. Robotics are everywhere. Now, practically anything that is manufactured is controlled by computers.” To read the full story, please follow this link. 

Integrating Automation into Manufacturing

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Draper Inc. experiences a century-long evolution of product diversity and manufacturing transitions while holding firm to its family-owned foundation. 

By Michelle Segrest, Navigate Content - Reporting for Efficient Plant Magazine

A few things have changed in the 115 years since fifth-generation, family-owned Draper Inc. opened its doors for business in the small town of Spiceland, IN, in 1902. There were no phones, no cars, and no computers. Less than 20 years ago, operators still used bulky, 5-lb. scissors to hand cut fabric shades and projection screens, and a seamstress would sit at a table and operate a traditional sewing machine with a foot pedal. Today, following a focus on lean manufacturing that began in 2000, automated machines do the cutting and sewing and much of the other manufacturing for the company that is located just 40 miles east of Indianapolis. Read the full story. 

Reliability Changes Lives

Using skilled technicians and advanced technology, Eli Lilly and Company creates life-saving medicines and devices worldwide. 

By Michelle Segrest, Navigate Content, Inc., Reporting for Maintenance Technology Magazine

At Eli Lillythe motivation to improve production reliability is not just something that is tracked on graphs and charts for upper management to review. In fact, for maintenance and reliability engineer Carrie Krodel, it’s personal. Krodel, who is responsible for maintenance strategies at the Eli Lilly Indianapolis facility’s division that handles Parenteral Device Assembly and Packaging (PDAP), has a family member who uses the company’s insulin. “I come to work every day to save his life,” she said. To read the full story, please follow this link.

The Next Generation of Manufacturing Leaders

Festo Didactic’s Mechatronics Apprenticeship program connects theory, training, and opportunity.

By Michelle Segrest, Navigate Content - Reporting for Maintenance Technology magazine

Carolin McCaffrey believes that the renaissance of manufacturing in the United States requires a sustainable talent pipeline.  “Apprenticeships will make manufacturing shine again. Our program is all about closing the skills gap,” the head of Festo Didactic Inc.'s Learning Center Midwest said. For the past three years, McCaffrey has driven the NJ-headquartered company’s mission to bring educators and employers closer together to develop today’s idea of advanced, skills-driven manufacturing. To read the full story, please follow this link.

Reliability on a Global Scale

Petrochemical plant in India commits to superior maintenance to build a world-class program.

By Michelle Segrest, Navigate Content - Reporting for Maintenance Technology Magazine

Enter the gates of the Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) Hazira manufacturing division site in Gujarat, India, to find perfectly manicured landscaping with plush trees, bright-green lawns, and flower beds containing thousands of daisies, basoras, exora, petunia, and other varieties decorating the entire 1,000-acre campus. Though visitors may feel as if they are at an exclusive vacation resort, deep within the beauty of the grounds, serious manufacturing is at work—27 individual chemical and petrochemical plants that operate above capacity and with superior maintenance, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Read the full story to discover the truly unique programs being implemented by this world-class manufacturing facility. 

The Path to Reliability

Maintenance programs take center stage as manufacturing facilities use key trends to improve reliability.

By Michelle Segrest, Navigate Content, Inc., Reporting for Maintenance Technology Magazine

In 2016, Maintenance Technology traveled from West Palm Beach, FL, to Delano, CA, covering successful reliability and maintenance programs at diverse manufacturing facilities throughout the United States. Whether manufacturing snack foods, EPS foam products, drivetrains, construction tools, air-movement equipment, pumps, energy-efficient windows, electrical wiring, oil refining, or maintaining zoo operations, the best practices for maintenance programs have evolved to include advanced technology and critical strategy.  For an overview of some of the best practices we discovered in 2016, click this link. 

A Lesson in Reliability

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Reliability expert focuses on multiplying excellence through teaching, training, learning, and developing leaders. 

By Michelle Segrest, Navigate Content, Inc., Reporting for Maintenance Technology Magazine

Through 20 years of experience in reliability and maintenance, one ideal has remained at the forefront for Joe Anderson. “I want to be remembered as someone who cares about people,” the reliability manager for The Schwan Food Company’s global supply chain said. “Becoming an effective leader is the ultimate story of my life.” For Joe's best advice, tips, and more, read the full article by clicking this link. 

Obsessed with Change

A transformation in management and culture, combined with an investment for future growth, revitalizes a 97-year-old tool-manufacturing company.

By Michelle Segrest, Reporting for Maintenance Technology Magazine

For Empire Level, giving new life to a company that was family-owned for five generations is more than an investment. It is an obsession. “There is a big difference between passion and obsession, and we are truly obsessed,” said Richard Gray, the senior vice president and general manager of Empire Level, Mukwonago, WI, a division of Milwaukee Tool Corp., Brookfield, WI. “Anyone can be passionate, but we go beyond that. We are obsessed about our brand being the best, obsessed about the quality of our manufacturing, obsessed about how clean our plant is, how happy our people are, and how well they are trained. We are obsessed about how much fun we have watching the company grow every day. This obsession really drives us.” To read the full story, please click here. 

Old-School Approach to New-World Technology

Colorado window and door manufacturer creates sophisticated, energy-efficient products with tried-and-true maintenance and operations best practices.

By Michelle Segrest, Reporting for Maintenance Technology Magazine

Even in an ultra-modern world where technology is king, a small window and door manufacturer nestled in a valley of the majestic Colorado mountains still relies on proven old-school techniques to keep its machines running. To read the full story full of best maintenance practices and insightful tips, and to view exclusive videos, please click here

Tiered Empowerment Drives PEX Reliability

The proactive efforts of the Uponor maintenance team power a strategy that keeps the machines running and maintains optimum PEX-piping quality.

By Michelle Segrest, Reporting for Maintenance Technology

APPLE VALLY, Minnesota (September 22, 2015) - Experience, communication, constant improvement, and sustainable manufacturing practices are the building blocks of the maintenance strategy at Uponor North America. Empowerment is the core component. “Empowerment is given at every level to ensure that the problems are fixed early. This is how the whole four-tier system is designed,” maintenance manager Ron Berg explained. “Even at the lowest level, everyone gets involved, everyone has buy in, and everyone is empowered to make decisions. This keeps the entire team involved. It gives them ownership with the ability to contribute to the success of the maintenance goals.” Read the full story.