I always thought that gauge audits were commonplace. I've seen everything from antistatic mats all the way to HVAC systems being audited. There have even been times when production was shut down or had to rent gauges to get through a current audit
As a one time maintenance manager I recall spending considerable time and money to fix or replace a bunch of gauges. Although these were water pressure, air pressure, HVAC, and hydraulic pressure gauges, the effort was to ensure all gauges worked in our plant. One week after completion, I did a quick audit and found several damaged. I never found the person named "I don't know" but he sure had a habit of damaging gauges. It seems that many of the gauges are useful foot steps, hangers for tools or clothes, and grab handles for reaching over piping. So it does not surprise me that many plants, including chemical, have broken or non-functioning gauges.
But if the gauge were that important, I doubt it would be permitted to degrade as much as those shown in the images.
One solution is for Wika to build more robust gauges. Most gauges use their port as the structural mount. The process medium (compressed air, chlorine gas) could easily vent if the damage to the gauge includes that port. Beefing up the port can help some of what Wika shows.
One solution is to network and instrument the guages. Today this a very inexpensive proposition. In addition to helping with monitoring the plant, it would help to characterize the guages and systems they measure over time. Just throwing out a measurement instrument in a plant today seems a little archaic. Think about the instrumented composite wings Ann talked about recently.
Rob, I agree with getting rid of gauges that are not used. But the usefulness of many gauges are not apparent until you have to diagnose and fix an issue with a piece of equipment or plant resource. This is also the time that maintneance guys find out that the gauges are broken or not working correctly.
Part of my strategy was to remove the gauges and place a quick-connect fitting in its place. Then when the need to view a gauge arose, pop one onto the fitting. However, I could see that in some enviroments (like chemical gases/liquids) this may not be appropriate. Also, it is really hard to install a hydraulic gauge onto a fitting under high pressure!
25% seems like a relatively huge number, considering what kinds of warnings these gauges provide. That percentage might be high, seeing that it's from a company that makes gauges. OTOH, from what I've read many times, including in the comment sections to various DN articles, gauges in fact don't get monitored often enough, if at all. The BP Horizon example is perhaps the most dramatic recent one.
In a line of ultra-futuristic projects, DARPA is developing a brain microchip that will help heal the bodies and minds of soldiers. A final product is far off, but preliminary chips are already being tested.
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