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Our idea is that as a community, maintenance and reliability professionals can make a significant business impact (profitable behaviors) and environmental impact (carbon footprint).

We want to open up the discussion without boxing it in Corporate Social Responsibility or Sustainability or even Energy Conservation.

What are all the ways reliability can lead us to become more profitable while leaving less of a carbon footprint?

Terry O
The United States is a geographic region not to be confused with the United States Government or the United States people.

The reason for not signing the Kyoto Protocol stated by the US Government was that it allowed developing nations (China and India) to belch out pollution without limit and this could be construed as a competitive advantage. Kind of an uneven playing field.

China and India said - well you guys had your industrial revolution and polluted far beyond your share so we get to catch up.

Although logical in some ways - what current business owner in any country would choose to be at a disadvantage?

It is one planet at the end of the day.

I am pretty sure Green will not catch on in a big way until it clearly pays - then look out.

You have to see that even though oil prices dropped back - they cannot stay down forever.

I see for $200 or higher for a barrel of light sweet in the future. The only good news is that it will drive some of the innovation we are supposed to be famous for here in the US!

The US population drove some billion miles less since oil spiked but I wonder how long our "use less" position will last.

Maybe China was causing the rise by buying all the diesel to ensure supply for the Olympics.

Man - I just can't stop!

We still have not addressed the size of the potential impact the maintenance and reliability professional community can have on energy use.

Someone else jump in please.

Terry O
Sorry Terry, this is my specialty.

In any case. I actually see oil coming down more during the first quarter of 2009.

A big part of the reason the treaty was not signed is that it put US businesses, who already have the most stringent environmental requirements in the world, at a very distinct disadvantage. Emerging economies and third world economies would be allowed to build those economies without any restrictions on emissions. In effect, developing a faulty infrastructure that would lead to a worse problem.

The link I provided earlier in these posts relates to an article that I had written at the request of the US Department of Energy. I have been a proponent of RMEE(tm) for my entire career and grew up in the environment - my father (now retired) was in charge of environmental research for the fisheries department of Newfoundland, Canada, through 1979 and then a department head for the department of environment at Argonne National Labs. Our entire family was active in energy and environment through that period and all of my research has been built around the relationship between reliability, maintenance, energy and environment.

In 1993, while assisting the US DOE in the development of their programs, including motor challenge, I first published the concept of RME&E.

We are presently implementing the concepts at General Motors as part of a joint management and UAW program. The impact has been huge.

The ideas are very simple and straight forward.

Terry, Howard and others,

I am somewhat intrigued by this thread. To me, ALL reliability improvements are green, because,
1. High reliability means few failures. That means we don't start and stop unnecessarily, so less losses, in production, maintenance materials, logistic support etc. All these losses are un-green.
2. Fewer trips and breakdowns means that steady (tramline) operation is possible, leading to higher efficiency, meaning greener.
3. High reliability equates to lower costs. These costs are in resource usage and efficiency loss.

When you do your job well, it does not get noticed (mostly); when yo do it badly, and then have 'program' to improve, e.g. by doing RCM, you can become a hero. Using the 'green' prospects can help polish this image!

The other problem I have with this thread is the invasion of politics. I velieve it is best to stick to what we know and do best, and let others handle all the other issues.

You are right on one of your earlier statements. It is a very political issue.

However, it is a very popular political issue. That means that you can use the issue to help develop your program whether or not you believe the hype. The conversions of energy to emissions is a given.

When presenting at an energy conference last week in Hamilton, Ontario, I found it very interesting how quickly these greenhouse gas credit companies have sprung up. I guess the way it works is that if you feel guilty about the emissions from your company, vehicle, travel, etc., you can pay away your guilt.

On the other hand, because companies are sensitive to the marketing aspects of 'going green,' many of our maintenance programs - from simply proper belt tensioning and alignment, greasing, etc. - has a direct impact on the efficiency of the system. We have been monitoring the emissions per unit of production as one way of demonstrating how maintenance helps companies 'go green.'

For instance: If I correct a belt alignment and tensioning on a 50 hp fan and I determine that it is operating 6000 hours per year, and I take before and after load measurements, I can determine the impact of the improvement. For instance, if I have over-tensioned belts with a high rate of failure of components, you and I know that we have a problem with belt, sheave, and bearing wear. However, all people see is that it doesn't seem to take as long to re-install the machine and get it running (immediate perception) - they don't necessarily see the larger picture. So, we have to address the WIIFM.

The national USA average is 0.606 Tonnes CO2 per MWH. We will also select a cost of $0.08/kWh usage.

After the belt tensioning we determine we have reduced the demand (kW) by 1.5kW.

Energy Cost: 1.5kW * 6,000hrs *$0.08.kWh = $720 per year

Carbon Emission Reduction: 1.5kW/1000kW/MWh * 6,000 hrs * 0.606 = 5.5 Tonnes per year.

now, the actual consumption from the machine that is in operation at 75% load would be:

50hp * 0.746kW/hp * 0.75 * 6,000hrs * 1/1000kWh/MWh * 0.606 T/MWh = 102 Tonnes CO2 per year.

So, the belt tensioning and alignment improvement can be shown to improve energy and emissions immediately through simple before and after measurements. Depending on the WIIFM of the company and mangers, this may be more palatable than 'cost avoidance.'

Note that the emissions calculations are determined based upon the generation makeup for the region.

Many thanks for the insight into the various losses andgreen impacts. That is very useful.
My comment on the political side was partly because I saw Gov. Sarah Palin describing Natural Gas as 'Green' during the VP debate (I am in the US on holiday).
I think the forum is a great place to share data of the kind you have offered, but I am not sure we should be discussing carbon credits and similar subjects here, because I do not think our membership can collectively influence them in any way.
My 2c

I think the idea is that Natural Gas is a local resource versus one that we have to import. All sides of the political campaigns presently in progress agree that we have to reduce our dependence upon energy, in particular from countries that are not friendly with the USA.

However, the equivalent emissions work along the lines of 121 lbs/MMBtu Natural Gas (not CNG, which has a lower emission) versus gasoline which is an average of 155 lbs/MMBtu (19.4 lbs/US gallon). I believe the idea is that CNG would be a stopgap between fuel, E-85 and hydrogen. As long as fuel prices are up, there will be an effort in all of these areas. As they are presently falling (below $3/gallon right now), already less attention is on alternative fuels.

So far as the carbon credits - it absolutely has something to do with us. While not as prevalent in the USA, although emission caps are being discussed, the issue is stronger in the rest of the world. We do, as reliability and maintenance people, have an impact on the carbon credits that our companies have to pay.

The whole concept of RME&E is the relation between proper maintenance, reliability and its impact on energy and emissions. In effect, through the cumulative impact of proper practices, we can reduce the emissions within our respective companies. If buying and trading carbon credits is part of your company's operating environment, you have another business impact through proper maintenance practices.

For instance, if you are having to pay $10/Tonne of CO2 and you are able to reduce emissions by replacing a standard efficient motor with a premium efficient motor by 110 Tonnes/year, that is an additional $1100 that should be considered in the payback. That is also $990 in carbon credits that can be traded or avoided. When you start taking the reduction across improvements throughout your facility, the numbers jump much, much higher, giving your company an additional business advantage over a competitor who is not paying attention to R&M. In fact, they may have to buy those 99 credits from your company to feed their inefficient electric motor.


What you state is indisputable; I agree entirely.
But I am not sure if we are addressing the right question. The gap between achieved reliability and intrinsic reliability is about 30% in most companies. That means we have 30% more breakdowns and trips than we should, therein lies the problem, because
- each trip/breakdown results in downtime, prodn loss and maint.cost
- decreases reliability further,as every start causes avoidable wear
- each stop/start costs energy loss
This 30% will, I suggest be an order of magnitude higher than the Co2 costs corresponding to CNG vs heavier oils.

Of course CNG is better than heavy oils, and should be preferred, WHERE possible, and National is preferable to Imported. Even better is less consumption, but I guess much harder to accept. My argument is that while 121 lb is better than 151 lb, much bigger savings are possible with changes in attitudes. For example, replacing (billions of) incandescent light can reduce power demand and Co2 emissions in Millions of tons. $ for $, it will be easier and cheaper to replace light bulbs than, say, motors.
More importantly, CNG is less versatile in its applications, but there is nothing to stop us from using it where possible. In the long run, we have to learn to use less more efficiently; substitution can only buy us some time to adjust. If we waste that time, the problem will no longer be one of cost alone.

Success can numb our senses, it hides our fallibility. Great Economies cannot afford to rest on their laurels.
If we build the pipeline from Alaska (best bet for added energy production from U.S.), it will go through Canada. A foreign company (Canadian) may build it.

Or at least part of it. But, then again, Canada is still fairly friendly with us and it would have to go through Canada on the way here.


I don't think we disagree at all. The challenge we have all had to face is getting the companies we work for to take action! At this point, our industry is having a challenge addressing that point with management, much less politically (although I am finding I am being invited to speak more and more often on the RME&E perspective). The problem on the political front is that candidates, let alone sitting politicians, are going to focus on those areas where their constituents are concerned. The idea of helping large companies become more competitive is a bit of a challenge right now, seeing as business in the USA is being aimed at as the 'bad guy.'

This also leads to another issue. We are also seeing the guy who turns the wrench being affected by all of this. They are under stress that they may be out of work - especially in the automotive industry (I also understand the steel industry, etc.). When discussing potential improvements that would increase the profitability of their companies - and the present social, economic and political environment has an effect - we have been hearing more often, recently, why should they make those improvements if they are not being backed up or secure in their jobs? The company makes more money, but they may be out of work.

It is also socially acceptable, and politically correct, to address the environmental part of the equation. We have been sold on, and most people have bought into, helping the environment is good. High energy prices are also at the top of everyone's mind. Reducing consumption is good for the country. Use the tools at our disposal to move RME&E forward, the work is being done for us (for a change).

The idea that we are not influenced by the political environment (going back to an earlier part of the discussion) is not an accurate statement. We absolutely are! We also tend to forget that those at the top of the ladder are also not influenced by money or profit alone. There is a whole socio-economic arena that influences the decisions of the leaders of our companies, as well as ourselves.

Let's take for instance a hybrid vehicle. Last month I purchased a 2008 Hybrid Tahoe. The price tag was about $60k (less incentives, a trade-in, and my GM certificate as a vendor). I am getting fantastic mileage out of a full-sized truck ( ) but not near enough to justify the difference in cost. Money was not the main consideration - my work with GM on the hybrid program, supporting my client and fellow UAW brothers and sisters (it was built in Arlington and the transmission in Baltimore - way to go guys! - or is that 'dudes' Wink), and my investment into improving energy consumption and the environment. Yes, I could have gotten a smaller vehicle, but I just don't see sitting cramped in a Prius for my average 4-8 hour drives. (mind you, I could have chosen a Saturn Vue, Yukon, Malibu, Escalade, and several other GM models!)

To re-cap: There are a great many ways to address energy and environment. One of those ways that supports our work (the R&M industry) is that we can have a direct impact on this issue. We can also use it to support/promote and communicate the importance of our industry to management that is taking the topic very seriously and it doesn't always have to do with profit, cost avoidance, or the budget.

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