MRO Magazine

The Grand Prix of Maintenance

s the headquarters location for General Motors of Canada, Oshawa, Ont., has a high percentage of the company's manufacturing capacity and workforce. The Oshawa Car Assembly Plants have had the exclusi...


April 1, 2003
By Bill Roebuck

s the headquarters location for General Motors of Canada, Oshawa, Ont., has a high percentage of the company’s manufacturing capacity and workforce. The Oshawa Car Assembly Plants have had the exclusive GM product mandate to assemble the Chevrolet Impala and Monte Carlo in Plant #1 and the Buick Regal and Century at Plant #2. The Oshawa Truck Assembly Centre, next door in a separate facility, produces the extended cab, full-size Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra pickup trucks.

The latest significant news at Oshawa is that Car Assembly Plant #2 began production in February of the 2004 Pontiac Grand Prix, a completely redesigned version of the sporty sedan.

Last year, the facility was rated as the top quality plant in North and South America in the 2002 J.D. Power & Associates Initial Quality Study, which helped it get the mandate to produce the Grand Prix, an important model in the GM line-up.

“GM’s Oshawa Car Assembly Plant is setting the standard for quality in this industry. With achievements like this and Pontiac’s performance heritage, the new Grand Prix is destined for success,” says Simon Boag, plant manager.

Interestingly, Plants 1 and 2 are interconnected in such a way that it’s nearly impossible for a visitor to determine where one ends and the other begins. Boag and other employees seemed to know exactly when the line was crossed, though, and could make sense of the complex configuration. The combined plants cover six million sq ft.

“There are around 600 maintenance employees for both plants,” says Boag. Generally they work around the clock on three shifts. Assistant plant manager Dan Hermes has been in charge of the facility’s maintenance operations for the past year and a half.

“We’re all trained to use the Maximo software system,” says Hermes. Maximo is an advanced enterprise asset management (EAM) program from MRO Software of Bedford, MA. GM has used the software since 1994.

Maximo serves as the company’s North American EAM standard. It enables it to automate and track preventive maintenance routines, work order schedules, maintenance resources and indirect materials inventory.

Planned maintenance program

Hermes is particularly pleased that the Oshawa facility was honoured with the Planned Maintenance Phase III Award from the UAW-GM Quality Network last year. The Quality Network brings together UAW members and salaried GM employees to improve work processes, products and services. The award is given to plants who reach “Best-in- Class” status in improving plant maintenance processes and operations.

To receive the Planned Maintenance Award, plants must pass through three phases, trying to achieve a total of 1,500 quality points. The first phase, Process Implemented, requires plants to increase awareness of planned maintenance processes. They do that by establishing a planned maintenance team, finding champions and educating the plant about the important role planned maintenance plays in improving equipment uptime and throughput. They also must analyze the maintenance habits across shifts and begin to focus on needed improvements.

Once the plant carries out the commitment to improving its maintenance processes, it moves to Phase II, Continuous Improvement. In this phase, the planned maintenance team seeks to score at least 1,200 points. Scoring this many points assures that the plant has a wall-to-wall quality planned maintenance process in place, but there is still room for improvement. The plant then undertakes a gap analysis and makes improvements to reach the third and final phase.

The final phase, Best-in-Class, is awarded once a plant scores at least 1,450 points. At this stage, it has truly maximized its equipment efficiency, allowing for high quality and quantity production. Plants who earn Best in Class status have achieved a world-class level. It is required that plants maintain this position to retain this award, and, as such, they are reassessed every two years.

“Plant #2 is one of only a very small number to receive the award,” says Hermes.

Bill Roebuck is the editor of Machinery & Equipment MRO.