Truly Serving Your Customer with a Lighting Upgrade

Reducing energy waste is a common reason for lighting upgrades. The typical such upgrade is technology focused, for example replacing an older type of fluorescent lamp/ ballast with a newer type.

While this kind of upgrade certainly will save energy and certainly can provide profitable work for you, it leaves much on the table. Both in terms of reducing the energy bill and in terms of distinguishing yourself from your competitors. Even if you execute the project perfectly, have you given your customer a compelling reason to prefer you for other projects? In fact, you have commoditized your firm with this project.

Often, the lighting layout is wrong for the current conditions. Maybe it never was right. If you upgrade the lighting but of all the employees only the plant controller can tell the difference, how does this affect your reputation?

If you conduct a lighting level survey and assess the lighting needs based on the activities performed in the area, you can develop a customized lighting system that gets noticed. When employees comment on how much easier it is to see and how much they like the new lighting, guess who also shines? Not just the plant engineer, but the electrical firm he engaged for the upgrade.

Try to expand the project into a power distribution upgrade with a separate transformer and panel for lighting.

Source: Mark Lamendola | Mindconnection

Are You Really Saving Money?

Many plants have some odd ways of saving money on maintenance. Consider these:

  • “Deferring” scheduled maintenance. Reality: This merely accelerates equipment failure and the corresponding costs of downtime.
  • Buying the entry level model of test equipment rather than the one needed for the particular circumstances. Reality: Intervention that would have prevented downtime doesn’t occur, but the preventable downtime does.
  • Not replacing that old, beat-up label maker. Reality: Wiring gets labeled by hand, if at all; legibility and durability suffer and so do the people trying to figure out what goes where.
  • Cutting the tool replacement program. Reality: Worn tools cost more in efficiency loss alone, not to mention damaged equipment and the safety risks.
  • Rationing out hearing protection and safety glasses. Reality: This PPE isn’t very costly to begin with, but a single incident can cost plenty. Yes, make sure people don’t waste the PPE but don’t discourage them from using it.
  • Canceling training to meet the quarterly budget target. Reality: There is perhaps no better way to insult and demotivate maintenance people than to cancel training. But worse for the company is the dollars that training would have saved in future quarters won’t be saved.
  • Running an ultra-tight spare parts program. Reality: Yes, inventory is overhead. But time waiting for a part to arrive while critical equipment is down costs much more.

Chasing the cheapest vendor. Reality: A good relationship is a wise investment.

Source: Mark Lamendola | Mindconnection

Working on Platforms

Electricians, especially those working in industrial environments, often work from platforms. These include mobile ones like scissor lifts and stationary ones like mezzanines.

One danger that arises is people walking below can be injured by something that falls off the platform. It’s easy enough to drop something (which is why you bring spares, right?). But the platform also has limited space, so you could accidentally kick something off of it (it will certainly be something for which you did not bring a spare).

Your first line of defense is to prevent unnecessary personnel from being in the work area. Rope it off. What about your helper below? In addition to wearing a hardhat, this person needs to remain outside the area until specifically needed. You should stop work when your helper goes across the work area boundary.

Your second line of defense is to follow the housekeeping rules. Remove any clutter or debris before starting work. Keep platforms free of tools and materials you don’t need for the task you are performing. Raise and lower tools to your helper using a rope and bucket.

Keep the tools and supplies you are using in high-sided container (such as that bucket). Use multiple containers if that makes things easier. The container does no good if it tips over, so consider placing something heavy in the bottom to keep it upright.

Source: Mark Lamendola | Mindconnection

SAE vs. Metric

Mike took a job as the Field Services Manager for a small industrial services firm. The firm provided a variety of services, but anything done in the field was Mike’s responsibility.

He made a point of visiting every active job and watching people work. Something he noticed repeatedly is that even the mechanics were constantly rummaging through their tool trays for the right socket.

Several of the workers knew socket sizes without having to read the markings, but most did not. So they spend considerable time with flashlights and reading glasses trying to identify the correct size. Worse, several plants on which they regularly called had a mix of metric and SAE fasteners.

Mike noticed the socket set trays were all red. He had the metric ones painted blue. Then he had a helper use a Sharpie marker to write the size on the metric sockets. This was straightforward, as metric sockets are all in mm. So 4, 5, 6, and so on.

On SAE sockets the helper wrote just the first number. So 5/16 was 5, 3/8 was 3, 7/16 was 7, and so on. It wasn’t necessary to write the denominator (e.g., 16th) because you can’t possibly confuse a 5/16 socket with a 5/8 or a 1/4 with a 1 inch. The markings eliminated confusing a 5/16 with a 1/4 or a 3/8 with a 7/16.

The helper did the same thing with wrenches, and wrapped a strip of blue tape around the middle of each one.

Mike also arranged with the repeat clients a system of putting blue marks on all metric fasteners wherever possible. This helped reduce the chronic time-wasting problem of rounding off metric nut heads by using an SAE tool.

Source: Mark Lamendola | Mindconnection

The New Klein Tools® Flashlight with Worklight

The new Klein Tools® Flashlight with Worklight is a better alternative than a large, heavy flashlight when working in low light areas. This light is both a bright, focused flashlight and a broadcasting flood light in one small package. Just secure the light on a metal surface with the strong magnet for convenient hands-free function.

Product Features

  • Bright, focused flashlight and broadcasting work light in one tool
  • Strong magnet for secure, hands-free illumination
  • Glow ring tip charges while the light is on and allows for easy retrieval in the dark
  • Waterproof and dustproof
  • Aluminum body with cushion-grip handle
  • Pocket clip for easy, convenient access

Klein Flashlight Spec Sheet