MRO Magazine

Payback Time

The maintenance team at SDS Kerr-Beavers Dental in Morrisburg, Ont., has a lot to be proud of: proactive maintenance, less-costly machine rebuilds, accurate downtime and repair time tracking, and a ne...


Health & Safety

November 1, 2003
By Carroll McCormick

The maintenance team at SDS Kerr-Beavers Dental in Morrisburg, Ont., has a lot to be proud of: proactive maintenance, less-costly machine rebuilds, accurate downtime and repair time tracking, and a new lubrication and vibration analysis (VA) program.

It’s a long list of accomplishments that have been achieved since Beavers decided in 1997 to introduce preventive maintenance under a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS).

Beavers is one of the largest manufacturers of dental drill bits in the world, with 54 million bits scheduled for production in 2003 in its 60,000 sq ft Morrisburg plant. The company is part of Orange, Calif.-based Sybron Dental Specialties, in turn part of Sybron International of Milwaukee, Wisc.

Like so many manufacturers, and many of the most successful among them, Beavers had been used to performing reactive maintenance. There were many maintenance unknowns in the plant. For example, there was no way to track downtime, and the parts department was not computerized. Importantly, there wasn’t enough personnel time to repair the old equipment while building new machines at the rate needed. (Beavers has always custom-designed and built its own fluting machines, which grind slots in the cutting ends of the dental drill bits.)

By 1999 though, Beavers had Datastream’s MP2 4.6 CMMS software in place, with the machine shop, building and stockroom data entered in the computer system. Maintenance had begun an aggressive program of rebuilding the Fisher 300 series fluting machines, which date back to the late 1940s. “Maintenance scheduling is just starting to take off,” reported Ed Rice, Beavers’ maintenance superintendent in 1999.

Many improvements have flowed from the new PM program. The rebuild program is more successful now because MP2 allows better allocation of maintenance team resources. PM also has supported the business case for hiring three new maintenance team members and is at least partially responsible for reducing demand repair time from a high of 8,359 hours in 2000 to just 3,300 hours between October 2002 and June 2003.

“It is cheaper now to rebuild a machine than it was five years ago. They are in better condition and we need fewer parts,” says team leader Tim Cryderman.

The installation of more new-generation fluting machines makes a big difference in repair hours. “In the early days we had months when 35 per cent of our hours were spent on demand repairs. Now we are down to 16 per cent,” says Cryderman. “The fissure floor was our big floor when we started the maintenance program. This year we have spent 2,500 hours so far, with one-quarter of the fiscal year left. The time spent has trended down.”

The old Fisher machines, with 400 or so parts, are amazing mechanical contraptions to watch but the new fluting machines, designated LTC (Long Time Coming), and first put to use in 1997, are under computer control and have just 200 parts. In fact, about 2,200 hours have been budgeted this year for new machine builds.

“We have diversified our skills so we can diversify our operations, so the build/rebuild program is no longer an issue,” explains group leader Larry Cooper.

All of this has reduced the demand for spare parts, which Beavers makes in its 6,700 sq ft machine shop. “We peaked at 6,500 hours but we were down to 5,600 hours last year. We sent about $250,000 worth of the spare parts we make to materials stores. It has improved because all of the machines have been updated — we are using fewer spare parts because of our PM,” says Cryderman.

The company recently upgraded its MP2 program to the Ver. 6.0 Enterprise Sequel Server Edition. It now tracks the 1,224 pieces of equipment entered into the system, almost twice the 670 that was in the computer in 1999. “All the equipment in the plant is in the MP2 program,” says Cryderman. “All of it is audited by interested agencies like ISO, the FDA and our insurance companies.

“As we finished implementing our PM, our internal safety commission started us doing safety inspections. Safety became very much intertwined with MP2. If there is an accident during a maintenance task, we do an internal audit to identify and modify our maintenance procedures in MP2.”

Maintenance introduced lubrication and vibration analysis programs in 2002, which currently covers half the plant, and will ultimately be plant-wide. “It is still in its infancy somewhat, but it has been very successful,” explains Cryderman.

“We have implemented grease filtering and changed some other procedures. Our staff visited the GMN plant in Hartford (Conn.) to observe their process on how they rebuild spindles and to see how they tested them using vibration analysis.”

GMN is not part of the Beavers Dental corporate family, but was used to benchmark Beavers’ operations because it used similar processes. “We have been looking at the lubrication and VA procedures at GMN, a spindle-making machining plant. Before, we didn’t have benchmarking. We eyeballed lubrication requirements and did not have VA.

“The VA program helps us identify other problems. For example, a guard that had been removed years ago in a design change meant that a cutting arm would bump a spindle that diamond wheels are mounted on,” says Cryderman.

In the stockroom, says Cooper, “MP2 has allowed us to prepare better business cases for justifying stock levels. MP2 allows for real-time numbers. Tomorrow we will know about today’s parts transactions. Our stores will generate the request for parts replenishment to our maintenance planner.”

“In 2001, we brought a maintenance planner on board,” adds Cryderman. Part of the job responsibility was to set up a “hot file” system where work orders are placed in folders on the wall. Darlene Marcellus issues the work orders to the hot file system. “After the job is done, she logs the hours and files the completed work orders.”

Cooper adds, “The work orders with parts lists is a mature product. This is a real time-saver.”

Parts pre-packaging was implemented last year and, says Cryderman “This has been a huge relief for everybody. It would have been typical before for a machinist to make 20 trips to the stockroom.”

Typically, selling a maintenance program to management and then implementing it takes years and an unwavering focus on the big goals. In 1999, then plant manufacturing engineering manager Stefan Kohnen confessed, “It’s been really difficult, but we’ve not lost our sense of humour.”

Now, Cooper says, “If you look at the numbers, we are servicing twice the amount of equipment with the same amount of overhead.”

“From our vantage point, we know what it costs the company for repairs,” adds Cryderman. “I can tell you that we don’t have a problem selling our maintenance programs. As long as there is a business case, management has been very responsive.”

As for where his people will go with MP2 in the future, Cooper says, “As long as we keep an open mind with the new technologies and opportunities, it is never-ending.”

Montreal-based Carroll McCormick is a senior contributing editor for Machinery & Equipment MRO.