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When it comes to a production operation, energy, process, reliability, and waste stream aren’t stand-alone elements. And they really don’t differ much from one another. In fact, the results associated with improving or ignoring each of these areas are quickly observed in each of the others. For example, a loss in reliability reduces the efficiency of the system, which increases energy costs; slows the process and production; and often results in rework or disposal of in-process work, which increases waste stream. In some cases, the impact of those relationships is deliberate action, as we found in the late 1990s during a study of a food processor that had excessive downtime. 

A contractor at the plant had built a random-number generator into a PLC system that would trip production offline. These events would lead to calls for maintenance and, afterwards, celebratory congratulations. The result was a popular food product for humans (still available today) made of the materials that were still able to be processed, while other material was sent out as animal food. Luckily this type of situation is the exception, rather than the rule. It definitely left an impression, however.

As mentioned in Part 4 of this series (April 22, 2021, see link below), the objective of our study was to provide plant personnel with information to boost their improvement efforts. This type of approach provides feedback and assistance in implementing improvement programs and helps an organization know where to start. It also helps an operation avoid throwing money at outside resources that could be challenged in finding additional potential in a system. As noted in Part 4, there are readily-available resources to support such initiatives, including software programs that allow the testing and modeling of improvements before they are implemented.

This week, the focus is on a broader topic related to the areas of productivity and reliability and their relationship to energy and waste stream, as well as free resources that can be leveraged in the quest for improvements. The best resources for getting a program started are available through the Rutgers University Industrial Assessment Centers. They include:

  • Industrial Productivity Training Manual, by Michael Muller and Don Kasten;
  • Self-Assessment Workbook, by Michael Muller and Kyriaki Papadaratsakis; and,
  • Essentials of Industrial Assessments, by Michael Muller, Michael Simek, Jennifer Mak, and Bojan Mitrovic

Those documents and related materials can be accessed directly through this link: IAC: IAC Technical Documents   These manuals are the go-to that are used to train students in the Industrial Assessment Centers (IAC’s) that were described in Part 4.  They are simple tools that provide guidance and checklists for completing assessments in commercial and industrial facilities, with an emphasis on industrial and manufacturing operations. Moreover, they are just as applicable in small sites as they are in large facilities for identifying opportunities with immediate payback.

During my time at the University of Illinois Energy Resources Center (UIC-ERC), which later also became an Industrial Assessment Center (IAC), our research focused on the topic of Energy, Waste Stream, Process, and Reliability, resulting in the manual, “Industrial Assessments,” which is available at this link: final (motordoc.com). While the UIC-ERC project focused specifically on food processors, based upon state funding,  the research was applied across all types of facilities and anchored in the work developed through the the U.S. Department of Energy (USDOE) Challenge Programs. Later combined into supporting initiatives such as “Save Energy Now,”  those programs are now offered through USDOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy | Department of Energy), which provides resources to commercial buildings and manufacturing operations (and have been expanded to include renewable energy).

In the next article, we will return to the application of these and other previously cited tools with a discussion on steam- system assessments. It will not only address ways and means for performing these assessments, but also explore the simple payback potential they offer as we return our facilities to service post-pandemic.TRR



Click The Following Links To Read The Previous Four Parts Of This Reliability & Maintenance Opportunities Series

“Compressed Air System Efficiency” (Part 1)

“Belted Equipment” (Part 2)

“The Benefits From A Holistic Approach” (Part 3)

“Leveraging USDOE’s Energy Assessment Tools” (Part 4)



Howard Penrose, Ph.D., CMRP, is Founder and President of Motor Doc LLC, Lombard, IL and, among other things, a Past Chair of the Society for Reliability and Maintenance Professionals, Atlanta (smrp.org). Email him at howard@motordoc.com, or info@motordoc.com, and/or visit motordoc.com.



reliability, availability, maintenance, RAM, energy efficiency, energy management, productivity, waste stream, USDOE, Rutgers University, Industrial Assessment Centers, IACs