Industryweek 4076 Signs Signs

Signs of Efficiency

April 4, 2013
Providing operating signs at the point of need ensures that correct procedures are followed and that machine operators do not drift into bad habits.

In Portland, Oregon, sustainability is our way of life. You’ll find this term tagged onto everything from the baker, to the butcher, from the bank, to the bus – even pet shops are using it. It’s like a skit from Portlandia.

In the industrial and environmental world, sustainability has more serious ramifications which affect profitability.

Operating and maintenance activities, performed properly, contribute to a company’s ability to sustain its work force (keep people busy, happy and productive) and eliminate waste (materials, time and resources).

Savvy companies are always on the lookout for ways to predict what might go wrong in their facility rather than having to scramble to fix a machine after it breaks – which could mean shutting down production for hours or days.

Think of it like this. If you had to ride a bicycle or a motorcycle or a scooter every day, you’d learn to literally get in tune with the bike’s sounds and smells. The same thing with a building. Just because it’s encased and seemingly sealed right doesn’t mean you can’t get to know the potential signs of impending failure – from cracks and peeling paint to leaks and squeaks.

Industrial energy efficiency audits are a great first step toward improving operational efficiency. Often, companies learn basics such as checking the dampers of air handling units when they change filters. Labels help by reminding technicians to make these types of fixes which are low cost and take less than two hours. Often, there’s considerably more outside air being drawn in than is required, leading to higher than necessary energy costs.

Labeling for Operational Efficiency

Operating equipment and machines according to the manufacturer's label reduces wear, increases efficiency, reduces energy consumption, extends the lifecycle of machines and reduces the need to purchase additional machines.

The result is a lessened environmental impact and decreased costs. Think of it like driving the speed limit to conserve gas.

Providing operating signs at the point of need ensures that correct procedures are followed and that machine operators do not drift into bad habits.

This is also true for machine and equipment maintenance. Examples include conveyors, pumps, drives, bearings, vehicles and diesel motors.

When regular preventative maintenance is performed as recommended by the manufacturer, machines run more efficiently, less energy is used, less waste is produced and the number of unplanned maintenance outages is reduced. 

Posting preventative maintenance instructions on machines provides important reminders. In addition, sharing information about the correct lubricant to be used at the points where lubrication is added reduces errors and waste – critical in all manufacturing industries.

The simple act of opening a wrong valve produces huge amounts of waste. Cutting into a wrong pipe can result in explosions and millions of dollars of damage. Such costly errors can be prevented with pipe markers indicating contents and flow direction.

Jack Rubinger is an industrial copywriter for Graphic Products, Inc.

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