Archive for December, 2011

Pipe Vibration & Practical Solutions — Revisting Reynold’s number.

December 16, 2011

Practical Problem:

Pipes vibrate and owing to such vibration the pipe fittings loosen and fluid leaks. For a process plant such leaks are substantial. So insight and understanding are needed to figure out as to how we might stop such unwarranted fluid leakage, which not only adds to the operating cost of the plant but also results in sudden breakdowns that affect productivity and profitability of a plant.

We start our investigation by revisiting he concept of Reynold’s number in an effort to gain insights into the underlying phenomenon.

Revisiting Reynold’s Number:

As we know Reynold’s number may be described as the ratio of Inertia Forces/Viscous Forces.

We also know that for Reynold’s number (Re) < 2000 the flow in a pipe carrying a fluid (liquid or gas) is laminar and all the fluid travels in a direction parallel to the pipe axis (being careful to neglect Brownian motion, which leads to a slight blurring of the streak lines of flow).This flow would normally create vibration in the pipe since the pipe selects the particular frequency of its choice (its natural frequency) from a range of frequencies imposed on it by the flow to naturally vibrate (high probability exists that the pipe finds its natural frequency from the range of frequencies imposed by flow of fluid). 

When Re > 2000 flow disturbances would probably grow, forming turbulent eddies, so that superimposed on the axial flow, there are circulating eddies of many sized with velocities up to about 1/10 of the axial velocity for a smooth pipe (assumption, which in reality might not be found). This is not very insignificant to cause additional vibration in the pipe, in all probability, perpendicular to the flow of the fluid. However, the effect of these turbulent eddies is to mix up the flow and to create a more uniform profile in the pipe. 

The importance of flow similarity is that, for two geometrically similar pipes, the flow behavior will be the same for equal values of Re in each pipe. For example, if we specify, therefore for calibration of a flowmeter, a certain value of Re and a certain pipe geometry, then we know, for sure, that this flow will be well defined.

For Laminar flow, Pressure drop is proportional to Velocity (v) and the resulting profile would be Parabolic.

For Turbulent flow, Pressure drop is proportional to square of Velocity (v) and the resulting profile would be flattened by turbulent mixing (higher entropy).

It is now Interesting to compare the similarity of the above two phenomena with the phenomenon of damping force experienced by objects moving in fluids. Where for low speed damping force is proportional to velocity and for high speeds damping force is proportional to the square of velocity. So, there is equivalent relationship between Pressure Drop and Damping Force. Hence we can conclude that higher the pressure drop (due to higher Re) higher would be the damping force that can significantly alter the vibration patterns of pipe vibrations.

The pressure drop or loss might then be referred to as the ‘velocity head’ that causes pipes to vibrate since absolutely ideal laminar flow is not found in practical applications. Hence turbulent flow exists as default mechanism of flow in pipes.

The pipes subjected to such vibrations (a combination of both low and high frequency vibrations) are stressed at their threaded joints, which automatically loosen up to allow fluid to leak past the open joints, 

Practical solutions:

1. Hangers that support the pipes might be placed in an axisymmetric manner thereby not allowing  the resultant vibration wave owing to fluid flow to travel by effectively breaking up the wave at its origin.

2. Increase the pipe schedule, if that is practically possible for the given conditions.

3. Change the fluid viscosity (generally increase), if practically possible.

4. Use longer length of threaded pipes (to increase the stiffness of the pipe joint).

5. Combine any of the above solutions in a manner found practical in the field.

Rapidinnovation — A case study in Organizational Development & Change

December 16, 2011

The Backdrop:

A ductile iron pipe factory operates in Kharagpur, West Bengal, India. It is a joint venture between the famous Tatas and Kobutu Pipes of Japan. This factory is run by Japanese managers and supervisors and even some Japanese operators. They provided the technology, set up the plant, run the operations on a day to day basis and guide the Indian workers, supervisors and managers too.

The problem:

Ever since the Japanese installed their plant, 3.5 years ago, productivity never went beyond 50% of the rated capacity and quality rejections hovered around 10%, which they wanted to bring down below 5% level.

The approach taken by the Japanese managers:

They took their usual approach to analyze problems one by one. For that they employed all of their famous quality tools plus a mix of TPM and TQM approach. Huge amount of data were collected, to which one executive jokingly commented that data collection has generated so much paper that it could possibly cover the whole of Kharagpur

They tried their methods for the last 3.5 years without any success. Neither productivity nor quality improved by even 1%.

That is when the Chairman of the company invited me over to show him some ‘magic’ (he always jokingly refers to me as a ‘magician’, since he experienced my method 7 years back as a MD of another company)

Application of Rapidinnovation

My approach to the issue, that is application of Rapidinnovation, ran something like this:

Step 1: create an internal team focused on improving reliability and resilience of the organization to face this challenge. The team was a mix of junior, middle and high level executives. Fortunately I found this combination has an advantage of accelerating change.

Step 2: was to initiate them in the new thinking process and solving problems. Taught them my all time favorite method of Improvement through design, named Rapidinnovation — a) make them see the connection between all problems. Obviously, not all problems are to be tackled one by one. Only the critical nodes are to be address to resolve the issue holistically b) Show them the unity of the opposites to take the “creative middle” c) Minimal invasion or change based on the principle that a small change creates the desired change in the system both quantitatively and qualitatively. d) How all processes and phenomena would naturally negate their present existence to go back to the previous one hence developing a method of spotting changes and adapting quickly in a given situation. The focus was to creatively strike a balance between ‘reliability’ and ‘resilience’.

Two significant ideas of the approach were.

a) The design changes appeared seemingly insignificant. Extremely small changes (pivot points or lever points — a lesson I learned from Judo). Now I call this Minimalist invasion surgery.

b) No specific attention was given either to improve productivity or quality. In fact not a single quality problem was addressed in the entire engagement. The changes had a holistic effect — i.e. small changes had their effect on the whole (principle of interdependence)

Step 3: was to work out a few problems directly for them to believe that the method of problem solving and improvement works. That is what I term as the Non-Process in problem solving i.e. — Examine things in isolation and then see them in their own environment (interdependence, interactions and the ‘struggle’). Objective is to help things continue their ‘struggle’ to be in the ‘creative middle’ of everything.

Step 4: was to encourage them to apply the method themselves and gain internal confidence and esteem. Here my role was that of a facilitator and a critic.

Step 5: make them think about quickly spotting changes to quickly adapt to improve resilience within the organization.

Step 6: walk the creative middle.

The Results

The results were astounding: Productivity increased by 100% to reach the 100% of rated capacity and quality rejections reduced and came down below the 5% level (i.e. by 100% from former levels) in just under 5 months and the results are consistent over the past 4 months at the time of writing this event. This innovative intervention left the organization with on going benefits for possibly years (that has been my intention in all my previous engagements, which were so far successfully achieved barring a negligible few, 2 out of 50 to be precise).

Appreciation & Comments

a) This is what the Chairman of the company commented:

“Thanks Dibyendu;

I am keeping track of the developments – and the results a lot of confidence that TMKPL would be ranked as one of the best performing cos. in DIP business in the world.

Thanks for accepting the challenge and carrying it forward well.

I had asked Somenath to get across to you about BF opn. ; did he get across to you?


(now he wants the magic for another plant focusing on operation)

b) This is what a senior team member had to comment. I loved it since they see the approach as something that changes ‘culture’. (His reference to Reliability Management is the name of my consulting firm RMCPL, solely engaged in problem solving.)


…RELIABILITY MANAGEMENT is not a problem solving tool, its more of OBSERVING THE PROBLEMS IN A DIFFERENT FASHION AND TOTALLY A DIFFERENT APPROACH TO SOLVE THESE PROBLEMS. It has changed the mind set and APPROACH towards solving problems amongst the team members. RELIABILITY MANAGEMENT IS A TOOL FOR CULTURAL CHANGE throughout the organization which is reflected not only in availability increase of the equipment but also in reduction in the percentage of Rejection and other improvements.

More success will come if we can deploy and involve more people across the organization into this approach.

G Dhar, Manager, TMKPL, Kharagpur


Lesson learned:

Organizational Development and Change Management must always be centred around the reality of problems, challenges and threats an organization suffers from. Then only changes to the way people work happen. Similarly, innovation is also centred around unexpected events that happen in an organization.

A Vision — The Creative Middle – A life of Non-Fear

December 13, 2011

On the evening of 10th of December 2011, I was suddenly presented with a rather unusual vision just after my regular meditative session that slowly and carefully unfolded before me.

At first it presented me with pictures of the present reality where a human being controls and captures another and everything he/she has by manipulation of minds. Once the captive’s mind is confused and muddled the captor constantly sucks out the life force from the generally helpless captives turned into willing slaves surrendering all they have to offer to serve the ulterior motives of their captors.

The usual attitude that helps such manipulative captors are any of the following:

‘I am holier than thou’

‘I can have you because of who I am and what I can pay’

‘I know more than you do’

‘What I am telling or asking you to do is for your good’

‘God wants this to happen to you’

And many more of such…

Though the words change, the underlying attitude of ‘captors’ remains the same. In some way a captor feels superior enough in some way compared to the captive and therefore reserves the unquestioned right to dominate, control, exploit and manipulate their captives forcing them to live a life of real and imagined ‘fears’.

We are also constantly confronted by theories of all kinds framed not only to inform us but guide and rule us even through moments of personal crisis. It happens all the time. Whether it is a decision on where to park your money or your car or what to do after marriage or what to eat or how to work, play, live or die or what to study, take care of one’s health or how to treat women in our society.

We are surrounded by theories, opinions, ideas of someone or a group of people forcing us to join this group or the other or forcing us to believe in this theory or that or forcing us to become capitalist or socialist or forcing us to be this or that. It is as if we have just surrendered our spirit and will to a conqueror. We have no time to feel, reason and experiment with what we are offered with before we accept it to be helpful or good to us. In most cases we are not presented with alternatives. It appears that we aren’t left with any choice of our own. And the truth is nothing has worked well for the majority so far. 

In brief, this is the age where a small set of people take on the responsibility to decide for the majority through their usually deft and disguised manipulative moves. People must be free to decide their own lives and how they want to live it in the way they like to live it owning the consequences of their actions themselves.

Why can’t we stay right in the middle of opposing tendencies and opposing currents of thoughts where possibilities of all creative movements unfold?

The vision had more on offer.

It revealed to me that the new age would be the age of the ‘personal educator‘. Learning anything from practical situations would be a matter of personal choice where deep learning that moves from essence to deeper essence would emerge to inform our mindful actions shaping our way of life.

If this is to be so, the teacher and the student would be the same. It means everyone must invoke the spirit of the ‘teacher’ and the ‘student’ in oneself. While such a journey might be helped by other educators or teachers who have walked the path authentically, their help and support would be restricted to sharing the learning process illustrated by their real live examples that incents and initiates similar feeling-thinking-learning process in others.

Understanding and imbibing the process of feeling-thinking-learning and using the process recursively to reach deeper and deeper essence of the interconnected but changing whole in order to find solutions for oneself would be more important than relying on the understanding and wisdom of others however lucrative or brilliant they might seem to be.

Soon this turns into a movement that leverages ones strength, which liberates oneself and others to live a live free of fear. How? The personal power of such ‘self educated’ men and women would attract similar men and women to walk the same path or make the same personal journey. And the process can be passed on from one to the other. 

Other than the process no more principles are to shared or information need to be passed on. Everything has to be learned ‘just in time’, ‘in its own environment’ and ‘holistically’. No generalizations. No old formulae. No blazing ideals. No constant guidance of enlightened gurus. That is what a liberated fearless self educator would do. Once done, a liberated non-fearing self educator would not hold anyone captive in his/her influence by any means. No domination by any physical/psychic/sub-conscious devices. Each live by his/her own perceptions along with the responsibility of facing the consequences such perceptions bring about. 

It would be a age of infinite collaboration based on mutual respect and trust, self organizing in nature where means of living are self designed based on learning and understanding of one’s own ‘moment to moment’ experience thus enriching the ever changing, connected and interdependent whole of humanity.

However, this would also need a disease free body, a trained mind and a healthy self esteem born out of mindful actions and helped by a learning process to discern the changing reality and acting upon it to live and enjoy a life of ‘non-fear’.

What a life that would be — a life contextually designed (life centric design) by an individual’s learning helping him/her to lead a life free of fears.

This is what the splendid vision was….The Creative Middle — A Life of Non-Fear!!

Is it time for action????


The Monkey’s Paw

December 7, 2011

Viewing & Understanding a Problem

December 4, 2011

Solution of a problem would depend to a great extent on the way we view or observe the problem and understand it.

For example, glucoma was defined as a ‘pressure build up’ behind the eye ball. So all treatments were geared towards relieving this pressure through cuts to allow the fluids that build up behind the eye to drain. But it did not yield great or desired results.

Only later it was understood that glucoma is a result of eating away of the optic nerve. Hence, two conditions were necessary to precipitate the problem — Pressure + Optic nerve

With the change of view and understanding glucoman could be treated in a better way with more success.

Sources of Failures

December 4, 2011

The Approximate distribution of the inherent causes of machinery failures in Industrial Plants. 

70% to 90% of the failures –> latent design errors (usually systemic errors)

50% to 75% of the failures –> Operational errors

50% to 70% of the failures –> Maintenance errors

10% to 30% of the failures –> Abnormal environmental stress

1% to 5%   of the failures  –> Wear Out

Though these figures represent the distribution of causes of machinery failures, I suspect the same distribution holds true for any other system like Organizations.

Atttention of a Kaleidoscopic Mind

December 2, 2011

In Greek a ‘Kaleidoscope Mind’ means an observer of beautiful forms.

What if we have a mind that is agile, flexible, self aware and informed by a diversity of experiences and constantly unlearning and learning?

What if we have a mind that is able to perceive at will any given situation from a multitude of perspectives; selecting from a rich repertoire of lenses and frameworks?

What if we have a mind that is playful with the ability to see patterns and no-patterns, connections and relationships?

What if we have a mind that can simultaneously think the causal and effectual point of view?

What if we have a mind that can rapidly switch from parts to whole and whole to parts again?

What if we have a mind that is robust and resilient at the same time, can solve problems of any kind, squarely face challenges without being overwhelmed and create new opportunities through designs by giving birth to new ideas?

What if we have a mind that can see through facades of falsehood to lucidly touch the reality, understand what must be done and then generate the will to do it?

What if we have a mind understands the unity of all things, changes constantly and free from the pains arising from the rigid attachment to all ideas, notions, construed imagination, opinions, concepts, theories and beliefs?

No doubt it would be truly wonderful. We would be then a liberated human becoming, free to flow in any frame of time and space and without.

But the question is whether it is possible to achieve such a state?

Think of a Kaleidoscope. The various arrangement of tiny pieces of colored glasses reflect and refract light into various forms and patterns that emerge suddenly from nowhere. As we slightly move or shift the tiny glass pieces rearrange themselves to generate new rapidly emerging patterns.

Is it then possible to move these tiny pieces of glass in a self organizing manner?

It is possible when the mind is still and clear like a mirror composed of tiny mirrors that allows ‘light of reality’ to reflect and refract on various self organized arrangements of tiny glasses for new patterns or solutions or answers to emerge on their own. The important thing is not to consciously search for an answer from an object of observation but to consciously allow answers to emerge from the reality exposed by our observations to be reflected and mirrored through a self organized mind for new understanding to emerge so that meaningful actions can be taken for better living. 

For this to happen the following practices are essential.

1. Practice of controlling the mind to one’s will without subjecting our will and spirit to be controlled by the mind.

2. Practice of self healing & evolving self esteem

3. Practice of inspired living by being with inspired persons

4. Practice of self study to reach the heart of understanding of present reality.

5. Practice of peer learning through observations, dialogs and collaborative exchanges

6. Practice of learning by doing and designing changes that adapts to present reality and beyond.

7. Practice of practical learning from all that happens to & around a person through mindful awareness of NEME an acronym that stands for Notice (observation of present reality through forms and feelings), Engage (see through and perceive reality and create mental constructs) Mull (over new understanding of reality and lessons learned through skillful actions), Exchange (of consciousness, maintaining balance without losing the ability to change again).

Such a body of practices surely gives rise to a self organizing and attentive Kaleidoscopic Mind leading to true liberation and evolution of the human spirit to face life boldy, think differently and live life effortlessly.


Ref: Rapidinnovation – The Non-Process


Be the Hen — A Metaphor for Mentors

December 1, 2011

For quite sometime I was trying to find an appropriate ‘metaphor’ for ‘mentoring’ till I found the cock, hen and a chick foraging for food at the backyard of a common marketplace.

The picture immediately struck me as the perfect ‘metaphor’ I was in search of.

The cock is busy pecking the ground for his own food and is quite unmindful of what is going around him; much less others.

But then I see the hen feeding herself in a very mindful manner. She is not only finds food for herself but also periodically scratches the ground to turn up food for her chick to feed on. Thereby she is busy creating opportunities for herself and others.

She was acting like all mentors do. Mentors are busy with their work in such a manner that it creates opportunities for others under their wings to learn, feed upon and grow.

Bosses are like the cock — always busy with themselves.

Mentors are like the hen — also very busy with themselves but with an eye for others too!