Putting on a better performance

For key suppliers to the maintenance and asset management industries eager to improve their operations, next month’s Maintec 2007 could help provide some answers. Julia Pierce reports.

Between 20 and 22 March, the NEC will host Maintec 2007. This annual event features key suppliers to the maintenance industry, all eager to discuss their latest ideas and products for improving operational performance.

The event will, as usual, feature a full programme of free technical workshops throughout the show. Topics range from how to cut the cost of lighting to assessing whether GPRS-enabled, site-based information over the internet could revolutionise company operation. Led by industry specialists, who will provide overviews of their area of expertise, the seminars will encourage debate through question and answer sessions.

In the main exhibition hall a range of companies will showcase the latest in maintenance products and services. While firms may be keen to improve their maintenance and asset management operations, there is often confusion over issues such as who to approach for advice, which suppliers to contact and which strategy might be best to adopt. With more than 150 companies exhibiting alongside professional bodies such as the Society of Diagnostic Engineers, finding the right solution to suit anyone’s needs should not be hard.

Among the products and services on offer will be everything from tools to condition monitoring and predictive maintenance systems, energy management and combustion technologies, oil and lubrication services and property maintenance. Following its popularity last year, the Combustion Alley area will once again be a feature of the exhibition space. Sponsored by the Combustion Engineering Association (CEA), this dedicated area will offer a range of exhibits and advice aimed at increasing energy efficiency and reducing electricity bills — including the latest energy-saving boilers, burners and ancillary equipment to help firms cut their soaring energy bills.

Included in the area will be Powermaster, a market leader in specialist energy-saving technology. The company provides expert consultation on ways in which businesses can save energy, reduce costs and minimise their carbon footprint through a complete site audit. Its variable speed drives can be fitted to equipment ranging from pool pump motors, air handling units, compressors, injection moulders and extractor fans to circulation pumps.

Also with a view on saving customers money, the Shell Lubricants stand will highlight the company’s range of technically-advanced metalworking oils, fluids, hydraulic lubricants and support services that can help customers reduce operating, maintenance and service costs. The company’s dedicated metalworking specialists will be on hand to share their industry knowledge and apply their problem-solving abilities, to help customers chose the right fluid and application decision for each operation.

‘By working in partnership with our customers we can help to optimise the production process, improve surface finish and mechanical tolerances, and reduce overall operating and maintenance costs,’ said Andrew Gibson, marketing manager, UK and Ireland, for Shell Lubricants. ‘Coupled with our wide range of metalworking products, we have advanced lubricants such as the Shell Tellus range that enable us to contribute to the whole production process for customers in every field, from general products manufacturing to the automotive industry.’

Elsewhere on the exhibition floor will be T-Cards Direct, which will display its planned and previous maintenance scheduling system. With clients including Wrigleys, Coca-Cola and Eaton Automotive it has plenty of experience in keeping even the largest operation running smoothly. ‘The system allows companies keep track of everything throughout the year on a daily basis,’ said T-Cards sales manager, Philip Heine. ‘Using the product you can see what is overdue and set up a very simple system to co-ordinate production, engineering, and everything that is required for the task.’

On the equipment side, LAND will be exhibiting its range of portable thermometers and thermal imaging cameras, including the new ThermoPro TP8 high-resolution thermal camera. Snap-on Tools will also demonstrate its range of hand and power tools, tool storage and torque equipment, together with a range of tool control systems ranging from the basic Shadow concept to a fully-advanced electronic asset tracking management system.

Also on show will be the Snap-On Level 5 tool control system, a complete management solution that includes a keyless entry system featuring an employee badge reader that can provide information about the whereabouts of a company’s tools and the people who are using them.

Wear and tear caused by vibration is a long-standing problem which ultimately causes loosening. Nord-Lock washers will be presenting a unique fully re-useable bolt securing system using tension instead of friction, providing the ideal solution for anyone wanting to combat loosening through vibration or dynamic load.

Meanwhile, Monitran will be showing its newly-launched g-mac accelerometer signal conditioning module, a versatile, cost-effective alternative to traditional vibration monitoring instrumentation.

The g-mac module features signal conditioning and filtering circuitry that allows it to identify the small amplitude, high-frequency elements present within most machinery vibrations. These provide early indication of wear in parts such as bearings and gears. The technology can also be integrated into wired and wireless networks to allow remote monitoring of vibrations in a wide range of industrial applications.

Among the other innovations on show, Danish firm IceTech will debut its light system for the dry ice blasting gun. Aimed at working in dark places such as ducts and tunnels, as well as precision cleaning of items such as moulds, the gun is modular and so can be easily adapted to suit any task.

While the low temperature of the dry ice pellets cools down impurities, shrinking and loosening them, pellets hitting a surface are immediately transformed into gas, tearing away loose or brittle contaminants.

With such a range of products and services on show, there should be something for everyone, no matter what their needs.