Monday, June 3, 2013

Sherlock Headphones and "The Case of the Un-Carbonated Cruise Ship"

I arrived early at the flat, and as I pulled up to the curb, I could hear the melancholy violin music coming from the open window. We had not had a case in several weeks, and Headphones was sinking into a boredom induced depression.

“Wastenot,” Sherlock greeted me as I entered the flat, with little excitement.

“Hello Headphones!” I said in a cheerier voice, hoping to change the mood. “I have a surprise for you!”

“Ahh… Wastenot,” he exclaimed, “thank you for booking the vacation on the luxury Cruise ship for us, but I don’t know if we should spend so much time out of the flat, what if a case comes up?”

So much for surprises, I should have known Headphones would deduce what I had planned, I didn't even want to know how, I just needed to convince him to go. I finally coaxed him into accompanying me on the cruise with the promise that we could take a behind the scenes tour of the engine room and all the other mechanical workings that kept a gigantic ship afloat. I had contacted the chief engineer of the ship, Fernando Floatingfrassled, and when he heard that the famous maintenance detective, Sherlock Headphones was coming aboard, he quickly agreed to the tour.

“All Aboard that’s coming aboard!!” the speaker blared as the last few passengers walked up the gangway and boarded the ship. Headphones and I were sharing a large cabin with a balcony, and I could tell the sea air and festive ship was starting to improve his mood. We were unpacking in our cabin, when there was a knock at the door. Fernando entered the room and warmly welcomed Headphones and me. Fernando explained the basic operation of the floating city, and said he would let us relax for a while and enjoy the ship. He scheduled our “special tour” for the next day.

The next morning our relaxation time was interrupted when Fernando appeared poolside with a strained look on his face. “Gentleman, we have had some slight issues come up, and would be grateful for your assistance.”

“Excellent! The game is afoot Wastenot!” Headphones excitedly exclaimed, as he leaped up from the lounge chair. We met Fernando a few minutes later after changing out of our swim trunks. Fernando explained that the ship had eight restaurants and another 10 “kiosk” type outlets where passengers could get a range of food and beverages. The carbonated beverages, soda, beer, etc. dispensers at the restaurants are hooked up to a central Co2 system and the kiosks use local cylinders to pressurize the beverage dispensers.
 
“We have been going through a lot of Co2 cylinders for the kiosk outlets, and we are afraid we will not have enough to last the entire cruise,” said Fernando. “Based on consumption numbers for the carbonated beverages, something is wrong. If we run out, and can’t serve soda and beer, there might be a mutiny!”

Headphones had brought his trusty UP 3000 with him, and told Fernando to take him to the first kiosk that was going through cylinders at such an alarming rate. Headphones began scanning the connections between the cylinders and beverage dispensing unit. “These fittings seem to be tight,” said Headphones as we observed him using the gross to fine method, (scanning in all directions while adjusting the sensitivity down to follow the loudest sound, as he moved closer to the source of the sound he continued to adjust the sensitivity.) “However, I have found a leak on the cylinder, observe how the dB level and meter display go up as I point the scanning module at the top of the cylinder where the connection/fill valve is.”

Headphones asked Fernando to take us to the storage area where the Co2 cylinders were stored after they were loaded on the ship. After scanning several pallets of cylinders with the UP 3000, Headphones proclaimed to Fernando and me that he had solved the mystery of why the kiosks were going through so much Co2. More than half of the cylinders were leaking right in the storage area!

Fernando was on his mobile radio, calling in some of his mechanics to come up with a creative solution to seal the cylinders and conserve as much Co2 as they could, hopefully enough could be saved to get the ship to the next port where more could be procured.

“I don’t know how this happened,” Fernando mused. “We have a PM task written to receive the cylinders from the supplier and ensure they are in good condition.”

“I know how it happened,” Headphones said in his usual self important tone. Headphones asked Fernando to show him the PM task. It read, “Inspect Cylinders upon receiving on board.”

“Aha! Just as I suspected!” Headphones excitedly exclaimed. He went on to explain that many PM tasks are not written to enough detail, and therefore are non-value added tasks. This should be a condition monitoring task and the PM should read, “Inspect each pallet of cylinders using an Ultrasonic detector as they are received in from the supplier, rejecting any cylinders that are leaking.” Headphones went on to explain that a procedure should be written on the proper technique to do so, and maintenance personnel should be properly trained in the use of the Ultrasonic detector for leak detection.
 
“Brilliant Headphones!” Fernando and I said at the same time.

“Identifying and solving the problem is only the first step,” Headphones explained. He went on to explain to Fernando that one of the things he took away from a presentation on Reliability Leadership, by Tim Goshert of Allied Reliability Group, was that by carefully choosing the correct supplier, and working with, and educating them on what you need, the products or services they offer will better fit your needs, and both customer and supplier win.  In this case Headphones recommended that the supplier should be employing the same procedure for leak checking the cylinders before they leave their filling facility. The supplier will then not have the concern of deliveries being rejected by the customer, and can make their delivery process more efficient, resulting in no return trips to replace leaking cylinders and higher customer satisfaction!

Fernando was grateful for our help, and promised us that he and his team would begin reviewing their PM’s and eliminate or re-write the non-value added ones. He also told us he would review the other presentations available on www.uesystems.com from this year’s Ultrasound World conference. He was confident there was other valuable information to be gained from the various reliability and ultrasound presentations.

As we left the ship after a relaxing week of sun AND delicious carbonated beverages, I gathered my courage and asked Headphones how he knew about my secret plan to take the cruise.

“Elementary Wastenot! I observed on the calendar we share that you had not booked  any appointments for this past week. I also detected a faint smell of fish mingled with the smell of diesel fuel emanating from your shoes that told me you had recently been to the port. I also observed a bag from the pharmacy on your desk, yet I knew you were not taking any medications. I know you enjoy the sea air, but also know you can occasionally suffer “Sea Sickness” evidenced by your green pallor and frequent trips to the loo on our one and only fishing trip last year. I then deduced that the bag must contain Dramamine, and hence you were going to bring me out of my depression with a cruise!"

“Amazing Headphones…………And by the way YOU’RE WELCOME!”
  
Doug Waetjen, CMRP
dougw@uesystems.com

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