KCF Technologies Blog

“The Most Dangerous Stairway I've Ever Climbed and Why it Never Needs to be Climbed Again”

Picture this past years’ Polar Vortex and the toll that it took on mankind as well as our world's creatures.  My respect for those that had to endure working in those conditions is immense.  Like all companies out there, I believe that safety is paramount for your valued employees and you must protect them.  That is why I enjoy my job as I have the chance to improve many working environments.

I recently had a great opportunity to work with a paper facility and coach them on how to improve some of their maintenance and reliability practices.  It entailed a memorable flight of stairs with over 260 steps that took me to the top of the kamyr digester tower.  Now please keep in mind that it was a sunny 70 degree day and I enjoyed every moment of the ascension into the sky.  But, it got me thinking,,,How many times this trip has been taken throughout the year?….and how many times in terrible conditions?

My point is that almost every plant employs a walk around PdM program that requires monthly or quarterly routes that put employees at risk of injuries when having to access remote or enclosed applications.  Why not completely eliminate that risk by greatly reducing the number of times that your team member is exposed to those unnecessary conditions?  That is exactly what we set out to accomplish by deploying a wireless vibration monitoring solution. 

It took a total of 40 minutes (including the hike up and back down the staircase) to accomplish the installation and have it immediately reporting quality data to their secure cloud account.  With minimal investment, this plant has made the reliability team (one specific gentleman) extremely happy and appreciative that the company had the foresight to greatly reduce an unnecessary risk.

With winter coming quickly, the reliability team is more than happy to have vibration monitoring instead of dreading the next climb up those stairs in the snow.

What has your company done to help remove some of those risks that might be similar to what I just described? We'd love to hear your feedback about other locations where our wireless system might be of help!


Matt Cowen is a National Account Manager for KCF Technologies and works with several industries including the pulp and paper industry. Find more information on our pulp and paper applications here or contact Matt at mcowen@kcftech.com.

Mike on Maintenance: Overgreasing

CAUTION: The following BLOG may contain strong content with words like OVER-GREASING, BEARING FAILURE, SEAL DAMAGE. If these words offend you please read on.

I am by no means an expert on machine lubrication, just a tech in the real world that “turned the wrenches”.

“The more grease I put in the bearings the better it will work” and "putting in more grease now I will not have to lubricate as often" are common thoughts most techs have about lubrication. WRONG.

Let’s cut to the chase. Over-greasing can lead to high operating temperatures and in the case of electric motors can cause energy loss and collapse the bearing shields. The excess grease can cause heat to build up in the bearing and the grease to churn and possibly cause your rolling elements to skid. This can cause oil bled (the separation of oil from the thickener).

Consider that some grease guns can produce as much as 6000 PSI and higher. The seals don't have a chance with that much pressure. Consider that lip seals usually fail around 500 PSI and when you are lubricating pump bearings, and compromising the seals can lead to leaking and contaminants like water and dirt entering the seal.

This short and simple calculation will get you in the ball park with how much grease to apply:
G = 0.114 x D x B

Where G = the amount of grease in ounces
             D = the bore diameter in inches
             B = the bearing width in inches

We will continue to discuss our over-greasing shortfalls and some preventative measures in my next blog.

Mike on Maintenance: Pump Grouting Tips

When installing base-mounted pumps, pay special attention to manufacturers’ installation instructions. A little more time now will save you a big $$$ in the future.
As much as 65% of pump life cycle costs are determined during design, procurement, and installation.

I don’t want to bore you with statistical costs, but here are a few pointers you can bank on:
        It is always best to pipe to your installed pump.
         The foundation must be able to absorb any type of vibration and form a permanent, rigid support for the unit.
        Before grouting always perform rough shaft alignment. This way if you are bolt bound on the motor you now can move the pump [static] with little effort [not piped in] as part of your alignment solution.
        Raise pump base from pad it is setting on ½” minimum so grout has a chance to run under and make full contact with base rail. Grouting helps to isolate vibration that comes from the pump and maintains proper pump alignment.
        Always use non-shrinkable grout and use a grout bag [cutoff paint strainer] to reach those nooks and crannies when pouring grout. You don't want any air pockets.
        Some pump manufacturers take into consideration grout weight when designing inertia spring load.
        Check to make sure driver/driven key way shafts are at 180 degrees [12:00 and 6:00 o’clock] as opposed to being close or keys being aligned. In some cases, this can cause or add to excessive vibration levels.
        Use a Grout Float, it helps force the grout into those nooks and crannies and fills any potential voids. If the voids are not filled with grout they can create air pockets that crack over time and leave holes in the grout surface.
        After grout has cured it is time to tighten anchor bolts. Use a torque wrench so as to apply the same pressure to all pump rail anchor points.
        Sound the grout to check for any voids [air pockets].

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