MRO Magazine

Eliminating Unnecessary Repair Costs

By Cliff Williams   

This article is part of an ongoing series. The introduction appeared in Machinery & Equipment MRO's February 2005 issue and the series has run in every issue since. Previous instalments are archiv...

This article is part of an ongoing series. The introduction appeared in Machinery & Equipment MRO’s February 2005 issue and the series has run in every issue since. Previous instalments are archived online In this issue, we pick up where we left off in the June 2008 edition, as maintenance manager Bob Edwards starts to see his dream come true.

Joe, our plant manager, came back from his meeting with the corporate office with some good news. “We’ve got the go-ahead for getting firm prices for the online monitoring. Based on your preliminary numbers, there will be no problem getting the money, and regarding Carol becoming our reliability manager, the sooner it happens, the better.”

“Well that’s great news,” I said. “I’ll get on the firm quotes right away but I’d like you to be the one to tell Carol — I think she deserves it.”

“No problem, Bob. The other thing you should get on right away is a visit to the mill in the States. Apparently their reputation as a reliable, cost-effective paper supplier is growing quickly. Corporate had heard about them and were impressed that we had already been in contact.”


I asked Carol to schedule a meeting for the group in the next couple of days and told her the agenda would simply be a ‘Predictive Update.’

“Can I take it from the agenda that we are continuing?” she asked.

“Yes you can — it’s all systems go. We’ve got a busy time ahead of us. Oh, by the way, Joe would like to talk with you this afternoon.”

I swear I saw a tear in Carol’s eye as we left Joe’s office that afternoon.

“So now you can apply even more of what you learn at college,” I suggested.

“I was thinking about that, Bob. One of the cheapest and easiest predictive technologies to use is oil analysis and it would work great with our roll lubrication system. I’ll get the costs if you want.”

“You don’t need my permission to get the numbers, Reliability Manager. You just need it to spend the money!”

Over the next couple of days I was able to set up appointments with John, our vibration consultant, to come in and look at exactly what we wanted monitored and give us a price for a full-blown vibration analysis system.

“I’ve found a company that has taken predictive even further,” John told me. “They have developed a system that allows direct communication with your CMMS and a work order gets originated.”

“Hang on, John, I still want alarms going off if there’s a problem!”

“They will, don’t worry. But what we’re talking about is ensuring everything gets into the system so you have the history, and we will typically set up the notification threshold so that it allows for an inspection to see if there is anything obviously wrong.”

When we started the meeting with the guys, Carol seemed a little sheepish and her face turned bright red when I introduced her as “the new reliability manager.” This announcement brought spontaneous cheering and clapping and it was great to see that there was genuine happiness and support from the guys. I felt this needed to be recognized.

“I’m sure Carol won’t mind me making this comment, but none of this could have happened without everyone’s effort and involvement. There could only be one reliability manager but I can assure you that corporate, Joe, Carol and I all recognize that this was a team effort and if we are going to succeed, it still needs to be a team effort.”

We then discussed the proposal to have online monitoring on the major rolls on the wet end of the paper machine and how we had arrived at the priority list. When we said that this was just the first phase and that we would include the pulper gearboxes we had looked at with John in the second phase, the guys from the stock prep area seemed quite happy, as it indicated that we were thinking as a team. This made me feel confident we could achieve world-class maintenance. Then everyone fell silent as Stan, the millwright from stock prep, started to speak. I overheard someone comment: “Here we go again — negativity.”

“That’s all fine and dandy Bob,” said Stan, “but how many major breakdowns have we had on the wet end rolls and on the pulper gearbox?”

“I’ve told you Stan, this is the way we’re headed.”

“I understand, but I think you’ve become too caught up in the big stuff. If we don’t have many breakdowns on the major equipment and we still have downtime at 6%, then something else is causing it.

“I know Ivan worked with Carol on developing a new PM route based on vibration, but have we implemented it? I know we looked at the PMs on the paper machine and decided that they should be quantifiable instead of just checklists, but have we implemented them? Have we done the same prioritization on those — I think it’s called Pareto analysis — to make sure we’re looking at the right things?”

You could have heard a pin drop in the room.

“Those are excellent points, Stan. We need to look at this from a bigger picture, and capture what we’ve done so far and what we’ve planned to do. Then we need to confirm that we are actually dealing with our problems and not just being theoretical. Carol, I think you need to develop some kind of game plan that gets us to where we need to be. You’ll also need to to pull together some teams to achieve this.”

“I’d like to be on the team that looks at implementing the vibration PMs,” said Stan. “I’ve got some ideas I want to run by Ivan.”

The cheering started again and people were patting Stan on the back. It seemed we had another convert!

John was able to get the price for installing monitoring on the rolls around the same time that Carol brought forward the cost for oil analysis.

“It seems that if we can eliminate one roll change we will have paid for the program,” I said to Carol.

“Not really. We’ll still have to shut down to do some of our traditional PMs, so we’ll have to look at why and how often we do them to gain the full benefit. Even so, considering we change a different roll every month, the payback shouldn’t be very long — three months maybe.”

“That should be good enough for corporate. I’ll take this information up to Joe.

“Hang on, Bob. I’ve got something I want to run by you around the pump costs we talked about. I’ve looked at pump rebuilds. You know they’re on a PM for rebuild and we do 25 rebuilds a month. Well, we use 25 shafts a month. I can’t believe they were all worn, so I’m not sure what’s happening.”

“I’ll talk with guys when I come down from Joe’s office and see if I can get more information. Does it indicate anything on the work orders?”

“No, we’re not even getting everyone to fill in the parts used yet. I got the details about the shafts from the stores.”

As I expected, Joe was happy with the numbers when I presented them to him. “I’ll just get this confirmed by corporate, as they are going to provide the money, but I’m sure there won’t be a problem. I should get the confirmation by phone.”

I headed down to the shop to find out more about the pump shafts and luckily some of the guys were overhauling the pumps, so I watched as they stripped the pumps. It was obvious that the routine was to just throw away the shaft’s seals, bearings and sleeves, and replace them with new.

“I couldn’t help notice that you use all new parts on the rotating element. Is there any particular reason?” I asked.

“It’s what we’ve always done, Bob. I think a shaft failed on a rebuilt pump a few years ago and it caused a lot of downtime, so ever since then, we’ve changed the shaft on every rebuild.”

“Do you guys know that the shaft costs $1,750 and when we add the sleeve it’s another $250? Do we ever check them against manufacturer’s specifications to see if they are okay?”

“No, we’ve never done that. In fact, we don’t have the specifications in the shop. Another crazy thing is that we sometimes rebuild pumps that were changed only a short time before because of a breakdown.”

“Wow, that bring
s it to two problems — our PM system is flawed if we don’t identify that a pump has been recently changed, and we’re throwing away good parts. I’ll get Carol to look into this to figure out what we can do about the PM situation.

“You should start a library of drawings for all the different pumps,” I told Ted. “If you can highlight all of the important dimensions, we can start to compare and re-use those components that are within spec.”

When I talked with Carol about the PMs, she felt she could reconfigure the CMMS so that rebuilds took into consideration emergency change-outs. She suggested that we could put the important dimensions for the shaft on the work order so it would save getting out the drawings.

“There’s another advantage to this, Bob. Another world-class measure is inventory turns in the stores. In North America we average two turns. That means we spend twice the value of our average spares inventory value annually.

“We spend almost $5 million per year and we hold inventory of almost $3 million, so we’re a little worse than world-class, which is somewhere between 3.5 to 4.0 turns. I checked and we have $250,000 in spare shafts and sleeves because of this PM.”

“So good maintenance practices tie into each other and we have a win-win situation,” I commented.

As I wondered how the paper mill in the States did in this area, I realized I hadn’t arranged the visit. It was another thing to put on my to-do list.

Cliff Williams is the corporate maintenance manager at Erco Worldwide in Toronto, Ont., and a consultant with TMS — Total Maintenance Solutions Inc., Markham, Ont. He can be reached


Key Points

• Celebrate together

• Persistence will win people over

• Challenge the status quo


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