By Ron Scollay, Principal Engineer, machinemonitor®
To a layman or uninitiated vendor, specifications are boring, boring, boring.
Electrical machines are robust pieces of equipment. They have been around since Nicola Tesla first invented the induction motor in 1887. Reputable manufacturers have developed and optimised processes to manufacture machines to a reasonable level of quality with a nominal 25-year design life.
The manufacture of electrical machines is guided by international standards that define minimum requirements for design, and all reputable manufacturers and repair vendors endeavour to at least meet these requirements. But exceptions exist. Applications are different and the operating experiences of machine owners are very important reasons for specification beyond the standards for manufacture.
A successful outcome starts with specification
Specifications have standard contractual requirements governing aspects including:
- How the machine interfaces with the power supply and the driven equipment
- Standard references as minimum requirements
- Manufacturing plan, Gantt chart, quality assurance documents
- Inspection and test plans and reporting requirements
An opportunity to conduct a third-party inspection is defined. The opportunity to include technical details specific to the customers’ requirements aligned with reliability and operation are defined to mitigate the failures and challenges identified in the experience above.
Project management approach to specifications
Procurement of a new machine, or management of a repair, is a project management process that for a successful outcome starts with specification. The specification must:
- Define the requirements for the application and identify standards and references as minimum requirements for the machine
- Define specific aspects of required interest to achieve the required operational reliability
- Define how these criteria will be measured
- Provide the OEM or repair vendor the specific aspects to consider and ask for an objective analysis to demonstrate that these aspects have been considered
There are many examples of clauses that define more detailed assessments to achieve reliability based on the owners’ operating experience. The OEM or repairer focuses purely on the machine, not how it interfaces with the process. A $5M machine may drive a process that recovers $4.5M per day and requires 20 days to change out with a spare. Reliability is paramount.
At Machines2023, we will detail how a tight specification and robust project management process was successfully used to manage the procurement of an interchangeable new machine to drive a compressor at a processing plant. We will also discuss the specialised repair of a 60-year-old generator for a steel mill with design requirements outside of the capability of local Australian repairers.
Audit plans, with specific objective quality evidence requirements, are coordinated with the vendor’s quality assurance, inspection and test plan. Witness tests and progress are conducted and measured against the project Gantt chart.
Fit for purpose versus minimum requirements
An audit plan can be derived from a work scope from a repair vendor where no specification was supplied. The challenge with this approach is that there is no contractual requirement defined and the customer is limited to receiving the minimum standards that will be the vendor’s guideline.
The specification defines the customer’s requirements to the vendor. The implication of no specification is that you accept the minimum requirements of the standards and that the machine selected for application in the overall design will be fit for purpose. Experience shows that this is often not the case!
Hear from Ron Scollay sharing his insights on the 'Importance of the specifications and QA around procurement and repair management'.