Resolving Crane Pain
Outsourcing specialized maintenance tasks is a common practice, but as the Quebec aerospace company Messier-Dowty Group SNECMA discovered with its cranes and hoists, finding a contractor that can do t...
June 1, 2003 | By Carroll Mccormick
Outsourcing specialized maintenance tasks is a common practice, but as the Quebec aerospace company Messier-Dowty Group SNECMA discovered with its cranes and hoists, finding a contractor that can do the job properly can be a heavy-duty challenge.
After going through five contractors, only Konecranes Canada’s Crane Pro Services demonstrated the expertise and organizational skills necessary to implement a successful crane maintenance program for Messier-Dowty and eliminate production-stopping breakdowns.
“We tried several companies, but Konecranes was the only one that gave excellent, well-structured inspections and diagnoses. Also, they make it easy to see what components need work,” says Denis Maranda, plant engineer at Messier-Dowty, which manufactures aircraft landing gear, including assemblies for several Airbus aircraft programs.
“You need a service provider that is well-organized, skilled and that can give you precise, easy-to-access information so you can make the right decisions,” says Maranda.
Messier-Dowty’s 16,000 sq m manufacturing plant, built in 1991 near the Mirabel International Airport, makes extensive use of its nine 7.5-tonne cranes and 28 2-tonne hoists to move landing gear through several machining and plating steps. Yet by 1997, Messier’s cranes were experiencing numerous breakdowns requiring costly emergency repair visits and production slowdowns.
“Whenever we had a problem, we would call the company that manufactured the cranes and later on, we used other maintenance providers. The maintenance program was reactive and we could not find a company that would give us good service,” Maranda recalls.
In 1998, Messier-Dowty called in Burlington, Ont., based Konecranes because the existing maintenance provider, which also manufactured Messier Dowty’s cranes, could not solve a problem with one of its applications.
“We sent service technicians to repair the smaller problems. Then Messier-Dowty asked us to solve a larger issue with transfer switches and alignment of the hoists, where we discovered the problem was due to poor installation,” says Franois Masse, district sales manager for Konecranes in Montreal.
Subsequently, Messier-Dowty turned over its entire crane and hoist repair maintenance to Konecranes, starting with a 12-month contract signed in December 1998. “The initial contract was for an annual inspection, where we would spend six weeks in the plant doing mechanical and electrical inspections and load testing,” says Masse.
During the first inspection in February 1999, Konecranes prepared a detailed report on the condition of each crane. “They listed everything that they checked and they gave us a score from “one” to “10” on the condition of every part of every crane. For example, “one” meant the component was in very good condition; “eight” meant it needed to be replaced and; “10” meant “Attention, Do Not Use,” says Maranda.
“Konecranes began repairing the major problems: the “eights,” “nines” and “tens.” They also began doing the maintenance work that had not been done previously. By December 1999, we noticed there were fewer repair calls and the equipment was far more reliable.” Konecranes also provided maintenance checklists for the Messier-Dowty technicians to follow.
When the contract came up for renewal in 1999, Masse says, “We did a business review to determine what our previous 12 months of service had done for Messier-Dowty. It showed there was still a high level of emergency calls in response to breakdowns and high repair costs. We suggested increasing the visits to two a year and as a result, the number of emergency calls dropped dramatically, to just four in 2000.”
When Messier-Dowty renewed the Konecranes contract in late 2000, Masse explains, “We wanted to take the program a step further because we felt there were still too many emergency calls. We broke the two six-week inspections in half to give four, three-week inspections. Emergency calls dropped to near zero, as did the repairs.”
At the peak of Konecranes’ activity to return Messier-Dowty’s cranes and hoists to spec in 1999, the bill topped out at $80,000. By 2001, the company had caught up on and stabilized crane maintenance, resulting in an annual maintenance and repair bill of just $26,000. Masse points out that a good service provider should be committed to lowering maintenance and repair costs.
Konecranes now does twice-yearly inspections. It has also helped Messier-Dowty develop proactive crane maintenance strategies and showed its crane operators how to do routine maintenance and operate their equipment more effectively. “Breakdowns,” says Maranda, “are no longer commonplace.”MRO
Carroll McCormick is a senior contributing editor for Machinery & Equipment MRO Magazine and is based in Montreal.