Tag Archives: maintenance

Time is money: Another case of pay-me-now-or-pay-me-later

This one is for you Mr. Plant Manager or CEO.? Especially if your company is publicly traded company you are very familiar with how tight money appears to be when it comes to funding projects that involve machinery and condition monitoring, which do not have a ? to a 1 year ROI it is virtually impossible to bring them alive.? I have seen projects not make it even though they would have saved the company tenths of thousands of Dollars in power savings, cooling water elimination, repair reduction etc.  You also know that little expense is spared when production is down because a machine broke that sometimes does not even need to have been a critical piece of equipment.? Bunches of money are then spent trying to expedite the repair or replacement.? Ironic, is it not?

I have lost track of how many maintenance managers I have spoken to that wanted to buy a much more reliable and efficient machine that had an average ROI of around 2 years in most cases.? Much like local anglers the manager is casted his line out into the big yearly budget pond in hope that his request would finally be granted.? Yet he gets few nibbles? and thus he is reduced to repeating the same spiel in the following year.?

Now I am not saying that every project is worth pursuing, however, I would implore plant managers and CFOs to look twice before sending your maintenance managers back to the pond:? The money that they could be saving you over time would pay great dividends in less than 2 years.  Imagine what you could do with that money then!? You would need to have faith and not get tied up in the 90 day turn thinking for a little while.? Or you could kick it up a notch and let your CFO run the number that you are currently spending in unnecessary downtime and repairs.? Do not trust existing numbers.? Go speak with you maintenance people that do the actual work and see if your impression now matched what your balance sheet is trying to tell you.? Do not be surprised finding out that your company has become complacent by accepting the current state of affairs as something that cannot change.? If you still cannot go through with the project it may be time sharing this blog with the main company board.? They also should go out and walk the plant floor sometime soon and see what short term thinking does to their folks, morale and most of all their cherished profits.? Perhaps the maintenance managers can finally go home with a big catch from the pond.?

Have an awesome day,

Ralf Weiser

Leaky Blower Safety Relief Valves in Pneumatic Conveying Systems

Do you have money to burn?? Of course not, yet chances are that you are doing just that within your pneumatic conveying system.? Have you ever noticed the hissing sound of such valves when you tour your plant? If so, you are wasting electric energy and maybe risking future maintenance issues.? I cannot tell you how many cement and food processing facilities I have been to, where not at least some valves leaked severely.? You may think the cause is the valve itself. Think again:? Most likely it is your system that does not need all the air and hence is blowing it off through the valve.? The fix is not necessarily a new valve, but either a new belt drive or motor speed slow-down by means of a variable speed drive.

You do not need to be a blower expert to be able to troubleshoot this issue.? Ask your plant operators and production personnel if any product quality or process problems exist in the area you are reviewing.? Guess what, you can turn down the blower speed, if your valves blow off air from conveying (or aeration) systems that are working fine.?The problem assessment step is the most important one; you can leave it to your system OEM, or the blower manufacturer to help you figure out how much to turn down the speed.

Recently?I was invited to review a 75HP vacuum blower system that we were able to slow down by 20%.? Based on 24/7 operating service and the local electricity rate the customer was able to save over $7,000 per package – they had a total of 8 (!).? This is not only more money in your pocket, but it is also easier on the blowers and drives.  Besides of increasing the total service life, this measure also helps reduce the overall CO2 envelope of your plant – you can help the environment by using less energy.

Especially positive pressure relief valve create another issue in plant areas where blowers are installed in building or sound enclosures:? The hot air escaping the valves literally super heats the area around the blowers.? This tends to cause long term reliability issues as the hotter than normal blower intake air lets the machine run even hotter.? Lube oil viscosity decreases, which can cause premature bearing failures.? And it usually reduces the oil service life too (mineral oil in particular).? Elastomeric (rubber) blower shaft seals tend to harden, which can cause oil leaks:? Catastrophic failures follow quickly.? I am sure you get the idea, it is even more money in your company’s budget.

Ralf Weiser

Mechanical Innovations

Dear Sir,

I read much of the Powder/Bulk Portal and the Bulk On-line is on my computer desktops. I commend your site as one of the best sites to gain contacts and information.

I do not have an engineering degree but was for many years the senior conveyor technologist supervisor with Ace Conveyor Services (Australian Conveyor Engineering), later (Continental Ace Services) (Continental Conveyor & Equipment) [Australia] and have worked in the mining industry since 1950s.

I have quite a number of conveyor and other mechanical innovations in my repertoire with the latest “patent application” throughout the PCT and remaining major countries of the world. The innovation is viewable on the company’s website, which is the company in which I hold a 25% shareholding.

The innovation has now been sold into major coal mines with other major Coal Mine operators arranging site measuring to retrofit into their existing systems. One Port Authority Services in Australia have purchased Stainless Steel units for their surge bins and further orders to be negotiated in the next financial year’s AFCs. Other Bulkcoal Port Authorities have been measured to retrofit into their Yard, Stacker/Reclaimers, Ship Loader and all Feeder conveyors. The Bulk handling Port Authorities of the Queensland Government and other private owners have expressed interest in using the products. Expressions of interest from major materials handling conveyors miners throughout the world and local in-country conveyor manufacturers attest to the quality of the innovation. The initial models have been in service since March 2006 flawlessly and many more are being installed to complete the conveyor system.

About the innovation. The design is the culmination of my desire to address the OH&S issues that plague the present conveyor systems with hazards involved in conveyor idler roll maintenance and also to ease and reduce the plant, equipment but mainly manpower required to maintain conveyor idler roll changeout/s. The ‘NO Bullshit’ spiel is available to any prospective clients but the technology is under Standard Patent Applications and as such is of a confidential nature.

I am also enquiring as to how one might sell the IP as this is the first that I have started commercially exploiting. Any comments or information would also be greatly appreciated.

I look forward to hearing replies from Bloggers.


Leslie (Les) D. Dunn
TECMATE Mine Services Pty Ltd
eMail: tecmate@bigpond.com
Ph/Fax: 07 4984 9122 Mobile: 0417 619 362