MRO Magazine

Electronic eye peeks inside machines to detect wear and tear

Developed in southern England by KeyMed jointly with the Olympus Optical Company of Tokyo, the Olympus Series 6 endoscope produces high-resolution digital images of machinery or pipelines that can be ...


November 1, 2000
By MRO Magazine
MRO Magazine

Developed in southern England by KeyMed jointly with the Olympus Optical Company of Tokyo, the Olympus Series 6 endoscope produces high-resolution digital images of machinery or pipelines that can be enhanced, evaluated and stored for detailed analysis of problems.

The instrument is fitted with a tiny video camera at its working head that can zoom in to give close-up views of internal structures and components. Its true colour reproduction enables technicians to make rapid, accurate diagnoses of possible problems without the need for expensive and time-consuming dismantling of the machine to be inspected. Inside the combustion chamber of a jet engine, for example, the difference between a harmless carbon streak and a potentially dangerous crack now can be identified clearly and promptly.

In fact, the video images are so sharply detailed that technicians also can use them to provide precise measurements of internal parts, permitting a close watch to be kept on the effects of in-service wear and tear.

A remote-control mouse button on the scope handle allows technicians to adjust brightness, magnify and pan on zoomed images. A built-in microphone allows them to add speech to video recordings or stored images for inspection records or for future training purposes. The use of digital technology for information storage means that full-colour, high-resolution images and on-screen comments such as measurements can be stored and filed on computer and, if necessary, sent by e-mail for expert appraisal.

Faults in pipelines also can be spotted and assessed quickly using the system’s dual-view adapter. Pipeline welds, for example, can be inspected more efficiently using its simultaneous forward and lateral views. The endoscope also is well suited to use in safety-critical equipment such as high-performance aero engines, where an early indication of a possible problem can be crucial.

Further information may be obtained from KeyMed (Medical and Industrial Equipment) in the U.K.; tel. 011-44-1702-616333, fax 011-44-1702-465677; e-mail: keymed@compuserve.com.

BOOM TIMES MAY END NEXT YEAR

A downturn in the U.S. economy may be just around the corner. A prediction of the Conference Board shows a sharp decline in U.S. economic growth starting in summer 2001. This year real Gross Domestic Product is expected to peak at five percent growth, and this will shrink to an annual rate of two percent by mid-2001, according to the forecast.

The Conference Board’s Leading Economic Indicators and various measures of business profitability point to further Federal Reserve Board action and future economic weakness. Although signs of slowing in the economy have been more pronounced since the beginning of June, further U.S. Federal interest rate hikes are still likely, the board reports.

TRAINING PROJECT WILL INCREASE SKILLS OF MAINTENANCE TECHNICIANS THROUGH SIMULATION

Industry Canada has announced a $1.2-million Technology Partnerships Canada (TPC) investment in the research and development of advanced computer-based technologies designed to improve the training and skill level of aircraft maintenance technicians in the military.

TCP’s repayable investment in the Atlantis Systems International project will enable the company to add realistic simulation exercises to the computerized Simulation-Based Interactive Training System (SBITS).

Simulation technologies improve the speed and effectiveness of technical training, thereby reducing user costs and instruction time. In addition to military training, the SBITS system can be applied in technical and vocational schools and colleges. Once completed, it will allow for greater use of distance learning and could enable a technology transfer to a wider range of training applications. The research and development for this project will be carried out entirely in Canada.

Based in Brampton, Ont., Atlantis’ computer-based training systems are used by defence forces around the world, including the Canadian Air Force, the U.S. Air Force and Navy, the Royal Australian Air Force, Navy and Army, and the Royal Saudi Air Force.

For more information, contact Technology Partnerships Canada at (613) 941-6738.

OH&S BILL GIVES WORKERS THE RIGHT TO REFUSE DANGEROUS WORK

An Occupational Health & Safety bill, Bill C-12, was enacted on June 22, 2000, which changed the Federal Labour Code Part II. This legislation affects private and public sector workers in Public Service and Crown corporations, including international and inter-provincial industries such as air, rail, roads, pipelines, banking, broadcasting, shipping and ports, and telecommunications.

Part II establishes three fundamental employee rights: the right to know about hazards in the workplace; the right to participate in correcting those hazards; and the right to refuse dangerous work. It also sets out the role of health and safety committees, the roles and responsibilities of health and safety officers, and procedures determining whether a danger indeed exists when a refusal to work arises.

LITERATE JOB APPLICANTS IN U.S. ARE BECOMING AN ENDANGERED SPECIES

A 1999 survey by the American Management Association of U.S. corporations found that an alarming 38% of job applicants lacked ‘functional workplace literacy,’ that is, the ability to read instructions, write reports and perform arithmetic calculations at a level that would allow them to carry out everyday workplace tasks.

Similar surveys were carried out in 1998 (35%) and in 1997 (23%), with ongoing results indicating that the problem is getting worse. Employers are finding it harder to locate applicants who can read and write, and harder still to find high-tech workers.

Of the companies surveyed, only 13% offered courses in basic literacy skills to newly hired workers.

FORD OF CANADA SEEKS CANADIAN SUPPLIERS

Ford Motor Company of Canada, Oakville, Ont., has named a new purchasing manager and established two purchasing offices in order to locate and source a greater number of Canadian-made parts, components and supplies.

Working closely with Ford Motor Company’s purchasing function, Dennis Rowland, the new purchasing manager, will have as his goal the significant expansion of the $5 billion that Ford now spends on Canadian supplier products. Last year, Canadian-made components, supplies and products supported the manufacture of nearly 700,000 vehicles and 1.5 million engines by Ford of Canada, which currently works with about 90 Canadian suppliers in several provinces.

“The newly established Canadian purchasing offices provide a stronger link between Ford of Canada and the Canadian supply base, and make it easier for Canadian companies to compete for our global business,” Rowland said. The new purchasing offices are located at the company’s Oakville headquarters and in Windsor, Ont.

PERCEPTION OF WORKPLACE HEALTH AND SAFETY IS GROWING MORE COMPLEX

A national survey of labour leaders and management conducted recently by the Canadian Labour and Business Centre showed that indicators of a healthy workplace are expanding beyond traditional OH&S (occupational health and safety) issues to include factors such as stress and the balance of work and family.

In the survey, 75% of respondents agreed that good working relations and morale are the top two measures of workplace health. Of particular importance to labour were a balance between work and family pressures (52%), a safe workplace (51%) and manageable levels of stress (46%).

For management, healthy workplace indicators included the ability to attract and retain employees (60%), low absenteeism (59%) and high motivation levels.

The two groups disagreed on whether these indicators have improved or deteriorated over the past two years. Labour leaders consider that most key indicators have deteriorated, while management considers that they have improved, the survey found.