Nut Plant Maintenance Resource Center
M-News Edition 5
Join Now
FREE registration allows you to support this site and receive our regular M-News newsletter.

bkused120x60.gif - 3168 Bytes

M-News - the Maintenance Newsletter

Edition 5, February 2000

Welcome to the fifth edition of M-News, a free newsletter on topics of interest to Maintenance professionals, brought to you by the Plant Maintenance Resource Center.

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 - An Impartial View of CMMS Functions, Selection and Implementation
2000 Maintenance Salary Survey
Feature Article - From Trouble Maker to Trainer
Book Review - Air Disaster
On the Lighter Side - Engineering Humor

Feature Article - An Impartial View of CMMS Functions, Selection and Implementation

This edition's feature article, written by Bryan Weir, a Senior Engineer with Polaroid in the UK, is aimed at those contemplating buying and implementing their first Computerised Maintenance Management system, although those of us who already have a CMMS would also benefit from reading this article, as it forces us to reconsider the reasons for having a CMMS, and reflect on how well we have achieved what we set out to achieve.

The full article can be read

2000 Maintenance Salary Survey

The current survey at the Plant Maintenance Resource Center is on Maintenance Salaries, and closes on March 15, 2000. Complete the survey now, and tell all your friends - the more votes we get, the higher the quality of the results. You can register your vote, or view the results to date here.

From Trouble Maker to Trainer

This anecdote from Mike Thomas illustrates how, when implementing TPM, the "trouble maker" can often turn out to be a highly valuable resource. Read about "Charlie" and his transition from hostile, non-participant to TPM trainer here.

Book Review - Air Disaster

A bit of a change of focus this month, as we review a series of books that, while not directly related to plant maintenance, is a "must read" for anybody interested in failure analysis and forensic engineering. The airline industry frequently leads the world in the application of maintenance engineering techniques - Reliability Centered Maintenance principles originated there, for example - and there is a lot that we can learn from their approach to failure investigation, even if our failures aren't quite so spectacular, or so public, as theirs. These books are light, easy reading, but provide sufficient detail to satisfy even the most inquisitive engineer. They are hard to put down once you have started reading!

The Air Disaster series of books - there are currently three in the series - focus on describing and analysing significant civil aviation air crashes of recent times. Each of the volumes has a slightly different emphasis, but each of them contains an immense amount of detail describing the accidents, describing the investigations that followed, and then analysing the causes. The books draw chiefly on the findings of official investigations, but are complemented by additional research from various sources. The text is complemented by plenty of photographs and diagrams (provided by Matthew Tesch) which are fascinating in their own right, but which bring the descriptive text to life, and make it very easy to understand the sequence of events that led to these tragedies.

The first of these books - Volume 1, concentrates on 18 serious crashes in the first 25 years of the jet age, and includes incidents such as the early Comet disasters, where engineers grappled with the problems of metal structures, pressurisation and fatigue for the first time. It also covers the problems encountered in several spectacular DC-10 crashes, due to problems with the cockpit door. The world's worst air disaster, the collision between a PanAm 747 and a KLM 747 at Teneriffe is also described and anlysed in detail. While each of the disasters described has its own unique causes, the general feeling that arises from reading this book is that these early crashes were largely caused by engineering design issues - particularly related to aircraft structures.

The second volume covers 13 accidents from 1977 to 1991, and includes three specific accidents where the causes can be put down to inadequate, or unsafe maintenance practices. The first is the 1989 crash of United Airlines flight 232 at Sioux City, where a catastrophic engine failure led to complete loss of hydraulic fluid from the aircraft, and almost complete loss of control of the aircraft. The second is the crash of a Japan Airlines 747 in Japan, due to faulty repair on a rear pressure bulkhead. The third is the loss of a Lauda Air 767 over Thailand, due to corrosion on an undercarriage actuator switch. This volume is probably the most interesting for those interested in mechanical equipment failures - the feeling arising from this volume is that a significant proportion of accidents during this time were due to failures of mechanical componentry.

The third volume covers more recent accidents between 1988 and 1994. With few exceptions, the 13 accidents covered here are mostly the result of "pilot error" - or more accurately due to a breakdown in the man-machine interface. A large number of the accidents outlined here could have been avoided if the pilots had properly understood their aircraft systems - particularly if they had understood how their auto-pilots worked. This raises an interest question for systems design - are we now designing equipment that is too complex for humans - even highly trained pilots - to safely operate? What are the implications for those people that are designing highly automated oil refineries, or nuclear power stations? Specific accidents covered here include the Aeroflot A310 which crashed enroute to Hong Kong, with the pilot's son occupying the pilot seat. This is something of a coup, as the facts (as distinct from what was reported in the popular press) of this accident were not available outside Russia before the publication of this book. The one accident in the book that was caused by component failure is the 1989 crash of a United Airlines 747 bound from Honolulu to Auckland, which suffered major in-flight decompression due to a faulty switch or wiring in a cargo door control system. It is now coming to light that more and more incidents are being caused by electrical system failure, in particular, failure of the insulation on wiring. This is being exacerbated by the fact that aircraft are flying for longer than was originally intended when they were designed. An electrical wiring failure is a possible, although as yet unproven, cause of the crash of TWA 800 during the 1996 Olympics. Is this a portent of things to come in our aging industrial plants?

Overall, I recommend reading all three volumes in the series - you will get something valuable out of each one, and they are easy reading. If you are interested in purchasing these books, they may be purchased through the Plant Maintenance Resource Center, in association with At the time of writing, is offering 20% off the list price of these books.
For more details on Volume 1, visit here. For Volume 2, visit here. For Volume 3, visit here.

On the Lighter Side - Engineering Humor

Four engineers were sitting around one day trying to figure out who designed the human body. The first says "I think it was a Mechanical Engineer because of all the joints and muscle and sense of balance." The other three nod their heads and say "Yeah, could be."

The second says "I think it was an Electrical Engineer because of the nervous system and neural network." The other three nod their heads and say "Yeah, could be."

The third says "I think it was a Chemical Engineer because of hormonal balances and metabolism." The other three nod their heads and say "Yeah, could be."

The fourth snaps his fingers and shouts out "I know, it HAD to be a Civil engineer!" The other three ask "Why?" "Well," he says, "who else would put a sewage treatment plant through a recreational area!"

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

Back to M-News Index

Copyright 1996-2009, The Plant Maintenance Resource Center . All Rights Reserved.
Revised: Thursday, 08-Oct-2015 12:29:59 AEDT
Privacy Policy