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M-News Edition 4
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M-News - the Maintenance Newsletter
Edition 4, December 1999

Welcome to the fourth edition of M-News, a free newsletter on topics of interest to Maintenance professionals, brought to you by the Plant Maintenance Resource Center. Happy New Year to you all!

We aim to bring you the latest news and views on what is happening in the world of Maintenance. If you wish to receive notification of future copies of this newsletter by email, please register here. If you have any feedback on the newsletter, or have something to contribute, please send me an e-mail.


In this edition...
Feature Article - Condition Based Maintenance and Performance
Condition Monitoring Survey
2000 Maintenance Salary Survey
Plantmaint Maintenance Discussion Group
How do you determine the frequency of Condition Monitoring tasks?
Selected Web Sites related to Condition Based Maintenance
Book Review - Handbook of Condition Monitoring
On the Lighter Side - Post-Christmas Engineering Humour

Feature Article - Condition Based Maintenance and Performance

In the current business environment, where all costs are under scrutiny and subject to cost cutting, maintenance programs that were once responsible for cost reductions and productivity improvements are now subject to the same cost cutting. This includes Condition Based Maintenance programs.

In this edition's feature article, Manou Hosseini, a Maintenance and Reliability Optimization Specialist with Global Management Science Services in Canada, discusses some performance related issues in the development of CBM strategies and the determination of CBM financial metrics. That means special attention is paid to the prime question of "how much CM is justified for an operating system?" This includes the analysis and prediction of the impact of CM programs on tangible performance metrics at a global level rather than only on equipment parts.

The full article can be read

Condition Monitoring Survey

The current survey at the Plant Maintenance Resource Center is on Condition Monitoring. Hurry to register your vote, because it closes soon. Register your vote, or view the results to date here.

2000 Maintenance Salary Survey

Following the conclusion of the Condition Monitoring Survey in early January, the next survey will be the 2000 Maintenance Salary Survey. The 1999 survey was highly popular, and we hope to register considerably more votes this year. Tell all your friends, and send an e-mail to if you want notification via e-mail as soon as the voting opens.

Plantmaint Maintenance Discussion Group

A reminder that the Plant Maintenance Resource Center hosts the plantmaint Maintenance Discussion Group. This is a discussion mailing list that allows the sharing and discussion of any issues relating to maintenance management and technology. You must subscribe to the list in order to receive and contribute to the discussions - this is an effective deterrent against list members receiving unwanted spam e-mails. The e-mail addresses of all those who are subscribed to the list are kept confidential - again limiting the possibility of receiving unwanted spam. Finally, because the discussion takes place via e-mail only (messages are not posted to a web-based bulletin board) you need not have web access to contribute, and again, your e-mail address is secure from the spam merchants whose spiders trawl the web-based discussion boards looking for e-mail addresses to add to their databases.

The list is reasonably low volume, and has generated, on average, 5-6 e-mails per week over the last 12 months.

Why not subscribe now, and contribute to the discussion. More details on how the list works and how to subscribe are here.

How do you determine the frequency of Condition Monitoring tasks?

Related to the previous topic, one recent discussion thread on the plantmaint mailing list related to how to determine the frequency with which Condition Based Maintenance inspections should be performed. To read an edited version of this thread (with contributor e-mail addresses removed for anti-spam reasons), click here.

Selected Web Sites related to Condition Based Maintenance

This is not intended to be a definitive list of the "best" Condition Based Maintenance sites on the web, but does represent some of the sites that I have found to be interesting and worth visiting in recent times.
  • SVD Inc. ( This web site offers free introductory training in Vibration Analysis techniques. A few classes that are available are; Intro to Mechanical Vibration, Intro to Machinery Signals, Diagnostic Methods, Integration and Differentiation. The courses require the Shockwave plug-in (which is available for free - just click on the link on the SVD site). I found the courses somewhat rudimentary, and the content sometimes debatable, but it's free - what more do you expect!
  • ( These people are offering an interesting vibration analysis service - fully on-line vibration monitoring using wireless technology, with periodic analysis and reports generated remotely by the people at machinerywatch without the need to visit your site.
  • SKF Condition Monitoring It is worth visiting this site for the large array of articles available relating to bearings and bearing condition monitoring that is available at These are all in .pdf format and require you to have installed the (free) Adobe Acrobat browser plug-in in order to read them.
  • Computational Systems, Inc. (CSI) ( If you are using CSI equipment for your condition monitoring, it is worth visiting their website. It even includes a discussion board so that you can discuss CSI equipment-related issues. This board doesn't appear to be moderated or censored, judging from the uncomplimentary comments about CSI's new RBMware software that were posted on the board the last time I visited!
  • DLI Engineering ( This Condition Monitoring equipment manufacturer's site has some useful articles relating to Condition Monitoring. Some require the (free) Adobe Acrobat browser plug-in in order to read them.
  • FLIR Systems ( Some useful articles on infrared thermography at this Thermal Imaging equipment manufacturer's site.
  • by Noria ( This is an excellent site for information relating to Oil Analysis and tribology, including articles from Noria's Practicing Oil Analysis magazine, discussion boards and more.
  • Reliability Magazine Condition Monitoring Discussion Boards Heaps of useful discussion and answers to Condition Monitoring problems at these discussion boards. The two most related to Condition Monitoring are the Alignment/Balancing/Vibration forum ,and the Infrared Thermography/Lubrication Forum (visit

Book Review - Handbook of Condition Monitoring

To me, any book that calls itself a "handbook" is intended to be used as an occasional (or frequent) reference book, to be used whenever guidance is sought on a particular topic. It with this in mind that I read the Handbook of Condition Monitoring, edited by BKN Rao.

The book weighs in at a hefty 603 pages, with 24 chapters on a wide range of topics, ranging from the general (such as Vibration Monitoring, and Temperature Monitoring), to the specialised and eclectic (such as the highly theoretical chapter on Articial Neural Networks in Condition Monitoring and the very detailed chapter on Condition Monitoring of Machine Tools). All the major Condition Monitoring technologies are covered, including Vibration Analysis, Oil Analysis and Thermography, although the book does have a quite heavy bias towards Vibration Analysis, and hardly covers NDT approaches, such as Ultrasonics, at all.

The challenge in writing a book on such a technology-driven subject as Condition Monitoring, is ensuring that the book is up-to-date and includes the latest technologies. This book was published in 1996, and most of it remains relevant today, although you won't find any information on leading-edge technologies such as Ultrasonic assessment of bearing condition (except for a small reference to SKF's SEE technology), or variable speed vibration analysis. The first chapter bravely includes a list of Maintenance Software and their vendors which is now hopelessly out of date - but it also includes some very useful tables outlining Condition Monitoring methods that are available, and where they are best used. The second chapter discusses Condition Monitoring - The Way Forward, and this is still highly relevant, and offers considerable food for thought.

Where the book excels, I believe, is in giving numerous examples, and quoting a variety of industry studies that demonstrate the huge benefits that can be achieved from establishing an effective Predictive Maintenance program. This will be of value to Condition Monitoring practitioners, as well as to those who are considering embarking on a Predictive Maintenance program. The chapter on the Cost Effective Benefits of Condition Monitoring, which includes a useful methodology for estimating the benefits that may be obtained in your own site is particularly useful.

As is often the case with handbooks of this nature, each chapter is (for the most part) written by a different author. There are some well-credentialled authors and organizations represented here - including representatives from Entek, SKF, as well as leading academics from colleges and universities in the USA and the UK. The chapters that they have written tend to fall into one of two categories - they either cover a particular area of Condition Monitoring technology, or they cover the application of relevant CM technologies in a particular situation. Here is where the book starts to have some difficulties as a reference manual. The same topic can be covered (albeit with different emphasis) in many chapters in the book. If you want to learn about Oil Debris Analysis, for example, you will find useful information in four chapters - Oil Debris Monitoring, Gearbox Diagnostic Technology, Condition Monitoring of Hydraulic Systems, and Condition Monitoring of Power Plants. This, in itself, wouldn't be a major problem, except that the book's index only refers you to two of those four chapters.

In addition, there are four chapters that are not directly related to Condition Monitoring at all, that appear to be after-thoughts and are located towards the back of the book. These cover Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM), Total Productive Maintenance (TPM), Cost Effective Maintenance, and Maintenance Management Systems. It is becoming increasingly clear in most organizations that there is a need to ensure that the Condition Monitoring program is fully integrated with the organization's overall maintenance strategy. RCM, TPM, Cost Effective Maintenance and Maintenance Management Systems are clearly important parts of any organisation's Maintenance Strategy, but the linkage between these programs and Condition Monitoring is not well discussed in these later chapters. I believe that the book would have been better served by having one chapter dealing with the implications of these programs for Condition Monitoring, and by having this chapter at the start of the book (setting the scene and dealing with the big picture first).

Nevertheless, there is much to like about this book as a useful reference. If you are interested in purchasing this book, it may be purchased through the Plant Maintenance Resource Center, in association with
Click here for details.

On the Lighter Side - Post-Christmas Engineering Humour

This edition's dose of humor is an oldy, but a goody. It's not, strictly speaking, engineering humor, but I'll bet most engineers will recognise the thought processes involved!

As a result of an overwhelming lack of requests, and with research help from that renowned scientific journal SPY magazine (January, 1990), I am pleased to present the annual scientific inquiry into Santa Claus.

  1. NO KNOWN SPECIES OF REINDEER CAN FLY. BUT there are 300,000 species of living organisms yet to be classified, and while most of these are insects and germs, this does not COMPLETELY rule out flying reindeer which only Santa has ever seen.
  2. THERE ARE 2 BILLION CHILDREN (persons under 18) IN THE WORLD. BUT since Santa doesn't (appear to) handle the Muslim, Hindu, Jewish & Buddhist children, that reduces the workload to 15% of the total - 378 million according to Population Reference Bureau. At an average (census)rate of 3.5 children per household, that's 91.8 million homes. One presumes there's at least one good child in each.
  3. SANTA HAS 31 HOURS OF CHRISTMAS TO WORK WITH. This is due to the different time zones and the rotation of the earth, assuming he travels east to west (which seems logical). This works out to 822.6 visits/second. This is to say that for each Christian household with good children, Santa has .001 second to park, hop out of the sleigh, jump down the chimney, fill the stockings, distribute the remaining presents under the tree, eat whatever snacks have been left, get back up the chimney, get back into the sleigh and move on to the next house. Assuming that each of these 91.8 million stops are evenly distributed around the earth (which, of course, we know to be false but for the purposes of our calculations we will accept), we are now talking about .78 miles/household, a total trip of 75.5 million miles; not counting stops to do what most of us must do at least once every 31 hours, plus feeding & etc. So Santa's sleigh must be moving at 650 miles/second, 3,000 times the speed of sound. For purposes of comparison the fastest man-made vehicle on earth, the Ulysses space probe, moves at a poky 27.4 miles/second. A conventional reindeer can run, tops, 15 miles/hour.
  4. THE PAYLOAD ON THE SLEIGH ADDS ANOTHER INTERESTING ELEMENT. Assuming that each child gets nothing more than a medium-sized lego set (2 lb.), the sleigh is carrying 321,300 tons, not counting Santa, who is invariably described as overweight. On land, conventional reindeer can pull no more than 300 lb. Even granting that "flying reindeer" (see #1) could pull 10 TIMES the normal amount, we cannot do the job with 8, or even 9 reindeer. We need 214,200. This increases the payload - not counting the weight of the sleigh - to 353,430 tons. This is four times the weight of the ocean-liner Queen Elizabeth.
  5. 353,000 TONS TRAVELING AT 650 MILES/SECOND CREATES ENORMOUS AIR RESISTANCE. This will heat the reindeer up in the same fashion as a spacecraft reentering the earth's atmosphere. The lead pair of reindeer will absorb 14.3 QUINTILLION joules of energy. Per second. Each. In short, they will burst into flame almost instantaneously, exposing the reindeer behind them, and creating deafening sonic booms in their wake. The entire reindeer team will be vaporized within .00426 of a second. Meanwhile, Santa, will be subjected to centrifugal forces 17,500.06 times greater than gravity. A 250-lb. Santa (seems ludicrously slim) would be pinned to the back of his sleigh by 4,315,015 lb. of force.
If Santa ever DID deliver presents on Christmas Eve, he's dead now.

I hope you have enjoyed this newsletter. All feedback, comments and contributions to future editions are very welcome (as are enquiries about sponsorship of this newsletter).

Alexander (Sandy) Dunn
Plant Maintenance Resource Center

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