Archive | Management


8:32 pm
June 21, 2016
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CMMS Drives Culture


“Using Your CMMS to Influence Culture,” a webinar presented June 21, 2016, by Roy Rothwell, senior consultant, professional services at eMaint Enterprises, Marlton, NJ, focused on understanding your operation’s culture and how it can make or break CMMS success. Rothwell presented an engaging discussion about both sides of the CMMS/culture marriage and the impact success can have on overall reliability.

While the presentation was educational, the real highlight was the resources that Rothwell offered. Each of them, by themselves, is valuable, but the combination is a powerful toolkit for anyone trying to implement a CMMS, understand/change company culture, and make significant progress toward reliability. A survey of attendees revealed that most can benefit from those resources:

  • 13% of attendees have no CMMS in place
  • 34% are just getting started with a CMMS
  • 45% have a CMMS in place and are tracking data
  • 9% are actively track and measure data for continuous improvement.

The backbone of Rothwell’s presentation was the information found in Stephen Thomas’ book, The Workbook for Improving Maintenance and Reliability Through Cultural Change, April 2005, Industrial Press Inc., New York. The book is $30 and the link is to

One of the standout items in the book was Thomas’ discussion about the cultural infrastructure in companies. He describes it as the hidden hierarchy of people and communication processes that binds an organization together and the unofficial manner in which information (valid or invalid) flows throughout that organization.

A second source was a column written by our own Bob Williamson in the June 2013 issue of Maintenance Technology. That column, titled “Reliability is more about People than Machines,” talks about the success factors for reliability improvement:

  • Data
  • Focus
  • Process
  • Constraints
  • Causes
  • Mindset.

A third resource comes from the eMaint people. It’s titled “Ten Keys to CMMS Success.” The document is just a graphic, but they offer a webinar on the subject. See it here.

My favorite bullet point from the entire webinar came from the Champion Effect segment: “A born-again skeptic is your best ally.”

Click here to hear the recorded webinar.

Click here to download a pdf file of the presentation.

If you’re looking to implement a CMMS or have one an aren’t sure what to do with it, start with this webinar and the resources it offers. At minimum, you’ll build a good foundation.–Gary L. Parr, editorial director



9:19 pm
June 20, 2016
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White Paper | How To Design an Industrial Internet Architecture

Source: Industrial Internet Consortium

Source: Industrial Internet Consortium


Interoperability has been the “mantra” in manufacturing for some time, but management needs more resources for fully-realized IIoT. The industrial internet depends on interoperability and that’s why this reference paper on industrial architecture can be a valued asset in developing plant or process manufacturing strategies. The Industrial Internet Consortium recently released this Industrial Internet Reference Architecture white paper and it provides multiple points-of-view for the enterprise: connectivity, functional, implementation, safety, communication security, data distribution, secure storage and integrations best practices.

Chapter 13 discusses edge networking principles and recommends a blueprint for data reduction techniques, along with other best practices with storage. Contributors include a who’s who of technology and manufacturer suppliers, such as ABB, GE, SAP, IBM, RTI, Fujitsu, Intel, Micron, and AT&T, to name a few.

Download the White Paper >>


9:49 pm
June 13, 2016
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On The Floor: Some Panelists See True Benefits of CMMS Systems

By Jane Alexander, Managing Editor

The capabilities of computerized maintenance management software systems (CMMSs)—and how plants use them—are a hot topic across industry. This month, we encouraged our MT Reader Panelists to discuss the state of such systems and level of usage at their sites (or, if consultants or suppliers to industry, at their client/customer sites). We started with three questions:

  • Did the responding panelists’ organizations (or those of their clients/customers) use a CMMS and to what degree?
  • What benefits have the organizations seen from such systems?
  • Had the reasons or cost of these CMMS implementations been justified?
  • We received a number of very detailed answers and present them here (edited somewhat, as always, for brevity and clarity).

Industry Consultant, West…
All of my clients use a CMMS, at this time (SAP PM).  [The degree of deployment] ranges from one group using it for every maintenance activity, to another that uses it less than half of the time, i.e., limiting use to only activities that help metrics generated from work-order reporting. (More time is spent skewing the metrics than would normally be spent on actual maintenance, but the metrics do look awesome!)

According to my clients, one of the most notable benefits is the improved communication between operations and maintenance. Both sides find value in this. The CMMS users don’t usually see the justification of the cost and are vocal about that. But the company [client] bean counters insist there are significant cost benefits.

Maintenance Leader, Discrete Manufacturing, Midwest…
At our facility, we use a Maximo CMMS as part of our toolbox. When an operator has a problem, the job is put into the system. All PM [preventive maintenance] planning goes into it. The system is fully utilized to generate problem areas. We input as much information as possible.

We are currently building a database that includes what parts are used on which machines. This allows us to see part usage, which we can use for PM work. All of our uptime and downtime reports are taken from this information. This has also allowed us to adjust PM frequency changes.

One of the things I personally did when I worked on the floor was to include as much information as possible. I can’t tell you how many times I helped myself with this information. I put in parts used and even what I did to fix the problem. Like I said, I treated it [the CMMS] as a tool, in my toolbox. A lot of the people on the floor were reluctant to use it. I feel now that they are finally seeing how the system is an asset.

[In the past] my biggest complaint was always “garbage in is garbage out.” [But], we’ve seen a cultural change, and I am ecstatic that the system is finally being used properly.

Retired Industry Consultant, Northeast…
About 30% [of my former clients] used their CMMS properly, but in a limited manner: tracking and assigning work, parts, labor, patterns of failure, and costs. Several attempted to use just parts of the process, i.e. scheduling of maintenance and tracking costs of parts and time, and about 40% tried and dropped the process as being too complex, or not showing the expected returns. (Plants with fewer than four mechanics typically didn’t bother; those with 10 or more dabbled with several types.)

Only one major client identified real benefits per advertised claims, and saved time and money, but it [had] made significant changes to its communication infrastructure, i.e. adding PDAs (personal digital assistant devices] with bar-code readers, bar-coding all machine parts, having assignments downloaded (via wifi) to local machine-control centers, uploading [equipment] life info and wear activity to a central controller, and assigning work to mechanics’ PDAs. The rest of our clients claimed some benefits, but the CMMS system was not used fully, [meaning that it was] not much better than a simple scheduler.

Most users claimed the effort to enter initial data was too intensive. Very few CMMS programs allowed easy transfer of existing data sources, especially paper- or card-based methods. Also, few companies had a real tracking system, being inventory-of-parts-based rather than actual trouble or need based. Getting to a reliability-initiated process also requires a cognitive shift for most maintenance managers, who are still locked into failure mode.

Plant Engineer, Institutional Facilities, Midwest…
Our university has CMMS for about 70% to 80% of our buildings, and any time we remodel one, we try to add it to the system. We use it as much as we can, including for trend logs; tracking alarms; making adjustment; scheduling on/off times and occupied/unoccupied modes; troubleshooting equipment; monitoring labs that have limited access, yet are critical areas; and to save as much energy as possible.

The cost of our CMMS can vary with each project. The university has standards for each type of remodel, be it housing, labs, hospital, or classrooms. Most of the time, we don’t get all options a CMMS system could provide, but we learn to deal with whatever we do get.

Our major problems arise when a sensor fails, power is interrupted, etc. Since all of our computerized maintenance management isn’t part of the same system, our staff must learn several different CMMSs. Other issues that seem to take a lot of time are checking alarms in about 80 buildings and hundreds of pieces of equipment with limited access to computers.

Sr. Maintenance Engineer, Process Industries, Midwest…
We use an EAM (Maximo) and are on the latest version.  It is ingrained in all of our plants’ practices for maintenance, purchasing, inventory management, and workflow of business processes for approval of CAPEX, engineering requests, EHS reports, process improvement ideas, etc. We have been on the system since 2007. 

We’re now utilizing a third-party mobile software that integrates directly with Maximo, and are expanding to bar-coding and mobile work practices. Reporting has been the biggest hurdle, since the out-of-the-box reports leave something to be desired. In-house report developers help get customized reports written.

Typical expected benefits include tracking asset management, costs, etc.  They lead to sound business decisions for improving maintenance practices, inventory management, vendor leverage, and improved work efficiency. We’re always trying to get more from the CMMS, but we’ve definitely been able to use the data from all parts of the system to help drive business decisions.

Maintenance Supervisor, Process Industries, Canada…
We’re currently working with Synergen (an Oracle-based CMMS product). It’s used extensively in our pulp mills and, to some degree in the solid-woods side [of our business]. We use it for our maintenance planning and scheduling, accounting, and stores-inventory management.

There are huge benefits from having a coordinated system. It still needs to be developed (it’s a work in progress), but the BOMs [bill of materials], shutdown, and daily maintenance scheduling [capabilities] are invaluable. We don’t currently track our failure codes (not entered at the source), but work-order history and costs do allow for some analysis.

Costs are completely justified. We would be in the dark without it [our CMMS]. Having access to the purchase-order system, stores inventory, bill of materials, and work-order requests all work toward having a leaner system with the required information available to the right employees.

College Electrical Laboratory Manager/Instructor, West…
We have two CMMS systems: one old and one newer. They’re set up among five processes, each with its own maintenance team. Both systems are used, but not to their full extent. The main problem seems to be the time required for data input. Our maintenance staff’s hourly wage is approximately $30, and if each person takes one hour a day to input data, the cost becomes high.

For the use we get out of our CMMSs, the benefits are great: reduced downtime and parts costs, improved staff management, etc. A side benefit is associated with honesty in doing PMs and paperwork. I think the newer system takes too much administrative time compared to overall benefits.

I’m not sure about the cost justification. People filling out the information are mechanics, not secretaries. If you hire one extra person per shift to input data, the program cost increases. We really use the systems for tracking PMs, predictive maintenance, parts inventory, and developing equipment history. MT


9:42 pm
June 13, 2016
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ISO 55000: Here’s a Book Worth Reading


In addition to its contents, the extensive index makes this book a valuable resource for those working with ISO 55000.

By Bob Williamson, Contributing Editor

Scanning the Internet, as I so often do for news and views on asset management, including as it applies to ISO 55000, I recently came across a book titled Physical Asset Management, 2nd Edition, by Nicholas Anthony John Hastings (Springer Intl. Publishing AG, Basel, Switzerland.) As the article headline notes, it’s very much “a book worth reading.”

In it, the Melbourne, Australia-based author has leveraged his 50-yr. career in engineering-asset management to produce a 540-page volume that can serve as a textbook, a reference book, and a comprehensive introduction to ISO 55000. As its 29 chapters unfold, this asset-management body of knowledge weaves in crucial footnotes that reference specific ISO 55001 clauses. The final chapter provides a cross-referenced introduction to ISO 55000:2014.


Personnel at any level and at any point on an asset-management journey—be they new to the field, experienced end users, consultants, or suppliers to industry—will find value in this well-designed, easy-to-use reference. Geared to answer many common and not-so-common questions, the book’s major sections include:

  • General Introduction
  • Acquisition and Development of Assets
  • Managing In-Service Assets
  • General Management Considerations
  • Technical Areas
  • Financial Analysis
  • ISO 55000 Standard

But don’t be fooled about the quality and comprehensiveness—or possible lack thereof—of a technical book with only seven sections. Hastings’ amazingly thorough table of contents spans 23 pages. This, along with a finely detailed index, help make the book an outstanding resource for physical-asset-management aficionados of all stripes.

Individuals who are just embarking on asset-management journeys will find the author’s examples from a variety of industries to be quite useful. Each of the chapters ends with self-assessments and case exercises, based on a number of industrial settings, that support readers in refining their knowledge.

Remember, though, the subject of asset management is not new. Its already huge worldwide body of knowledge is growing rapidly. The first edition of Hastings’ book was published in 2010. As reviewed here, the second edition’s updating and cross-referencing to ISO 55001 clauses in 2014 benefits readers in two ways: specific footnote references and summary cross-reference figures and/or tables in the final chapter.

Among other things, a section outlining a Strategic Asset Management Plan (SAMP), as described in ISO 55001, clause 4.4, provides some particularly important insights. The Functional Gap Analysis in Chapter 29 offers a means for organizations to compare their current asset-management systems with those specified by the clauses in ISO 55001.

If you’re someone who wants to learn more about and keep abreast of issues related to ISO 55000, I highly recommend Physical Asset Management, 2nd Edition, by Nicholas Anthony John Hastings.

Whether you’re a top manger, department leader, practitioner, or student of the topic, consider this publication to be a must-have for your asset-management library. It’s available through most major online booksellers or by downloading directly from the publisher. For more information, visit MT

Bob Williamson, CMRP, CPMM and member of the Institute of Asset Management, is in his fourth decade of focusing on the “people side” of world-class maintenance and reliability in plants and facilities across North America. Contact him at


9:09 pm
June 13, 2016
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Leveraging Continuous Improvement

Pattern assemblies for exhaust manifolds are still in their molds.

For an EPS foam manufacturer, redundancy and consistency are crucial to creating a sustainable production process and a winning culture.

By Michelle Segrest, Contributing Editor

It’s made from 98% air, but it can provide support for a multi-level parking garage. It protects highly sensitive electronic equipment; insulates the foundation, walls, and roofs of skyscrapers; supports the infrastructure of railway systems; and can keep food and medications at just the right temperature.

Expanded polystyrene (EPS) is a lightweight, rigid, closed-cell material that withstands load and back-fill forces, minimizes water absorption, and is a sustainable product that can be recycled again and again.

For more than 40 years, ACH Foam Technologies has been a leading manufacturer of EPS for construction, geotechnical, packaging, and industrial applications. From its nine locations in eight cities across the United States, the family-owned-and-operated company has the capacity to produce 80-million pounds of foam annually.

“We like to say EPS foam is engineered air. This is the magic of our product,” said Todd Huempfner, vice president of operations at the ACH Foam Technologies’ Fond du Lac, WI, facilities.

The two locations in Fond du Lac utilize 170,000 sq. ft. of manufacturing space to produce a diverse line of products made primarily from engineered air, water, and steam.

Click here for more videos on ACH Foam Technologies.

Screen Shot 2016-06-13 at 3.48.45 PMA winning culture

In the mid-1960s, Huempfner’s father, Don, a 20-year veteran of the railroad industry, noticed a special kind of resin being shipped on one of the rail cars. He researched the intriguing product and envisioned potential for a better life for his wife and family, which eventually included 10 children. He took the plunge and opened an EPS manufacturing facility in northern Wisconsin. It quickly became the family business.

“My dad (now 88 years old) is inquisitive, from the school of hard knocks, and he is truly entrepreneurial in spirit, with tons of energy and enthusiasm,” Todd Huempfner said. “He had a lot of mouths to feed. He took a chance at 40 years of age and started the business. With 20 years in the railroad he could have been safe and just retired doing what he was doing. But he had a dream. It’s a great American story.”

Three companies (Advanced Foam Plastics, Contour Products, and Heartland EPS) merged in 2005 to form ACH Foam Technologies. Todd Huempfner’s older brother, Mike, is the chief executive officer and operates from Montana. Mike’s nephew, Jacob Huempfner, is the director of shape operations in the Fond du Lac facility.

With the equal partnership formation of the three companies, ACH faced the challenge of merging three different cultures.

“When you go through a merger like this, you must go through a cultural cleansing,” Huempfner said. “You have to marry three different systems. It’s not a revolution. It’s an evolution. At the grass roots level, it’s all about employee engagement and communication. We have done a good job over the years of having a culture of continuous improvement. At a fairly high level, we understand the systems that we have in place. We know how we want to continue to improve throughout the organization.”

For the Huempfners, a driving philosophy has remained at the forefront—an ideology from management guru Peter Drucker: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.”

“We focus a lot of our energy and effort around front-line employee engagement and empowerment,” Todd Huempfner said. “We understand the cornerstone of the roadmap to our future. Our biggest focus is building and maintaining a winning culture. This starts with continuous improvement, so we have made a significant investment in this.”

These assembled lost-foam foundry patterns are ready for packaging. The stripe in the patterns is the glue applied by assembly machines.

These assembled lost-foam foundry patterns are ready for packaging. The stripe in the patterns is the glue applied by assembly machines.

Driving continuous improvement

In November 2015, ACH created a new position, Director of Continuous Improvement, to enhance its core competency to always strive to make its product and processes better. Brad Zenko, P.E., brought more than 25 years of engineering, operational, and leadership experience to fill the role.

“Continuous improvement is not an activity, and it’s not a technique,” Brad Zenko stated. “It’s a result.”

The effort is never-ending, he said. “If you are in operations, every day is not just about what went wrong. It’s about how to keep that from happening again. The whole idea behind predictive and preventive maintenance is continuous improvement. From a broader perspective, if you look at maintaining a competitive advantage in business, you have to really embrace continuous improvement because someone is always trying to out-smart you, out-service you, out-something you. You have to be nimble.”

This can be a difficult task, he said. “When you finally master something, you want to stop and take a deep breath. You have about 10 minutes for that, and then you have to think about what’s next on the horizon. How do we make it even better? Even if you have had a really big achievement, you can’t rest on your laurels and say you are done. You never quite get there.”

Zenko works with a team of maintenance and operations professionals and fills the pipeline with everything from simple ideas to game changers. “My job is to find ways to make our processes better, faster, cheaper.”

Ideas for improvement are prioritized into three buckets, Zenko said—business, functional, and organizational. The business side is obvious and includes customer, sales, and market opportunities. Ideas for lean tools and return on investment represent the functioning aspect. On the organizational side, the human element takes precedence with regard to improvements in safety, ergonomics, and finding exceptional, experienced labor.

Full-sized expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam blocks are shown in storage. Heat curing accelerates the curing process of the freshly molded blocks and assures that the material is dimensionally stable.

Full-sized expanded polystyrene (EPS) foam blocks are shown in storage. Heat curing accelerates the curing process of the freshly molded blocks and assures that the material is dimensionally stable.

Zenko operates at a corporate level, so critical improvement implementations are shared across all nine ACH facilities.

“Redundancy is key,” he said. “We don’t want to reinvent the wheel. There is a sense of pride at each site, so sometimes we just look at an improvement from a different perspective. To really multiply the efforts you must put systems in place that do not have to be started from ground zero every time. It’s important to create consistency. Take Starbucks, for example. The taste profile of a Starbucks coffee is consistent from location to location. This is achieved through their quality procedures that outline time, temperature, and roast curves. Consistency of quality and culture is crucial. For ACH, building a culture to do better in all areas is a core goal.”

Zenko said he counts on the people who work on the manufacturing floor to provide the critical insight needed for substantial improvement.

“Improvement starts with asking people what will make their job easier,” he said. “Some people look at continuous improvement as projects, like getting a new machine with more automation that just goes faster. That is an improvement, but it’s the people who interact with the equipment every day. It’s the people who make the difference. Operators see millions of pounds of product go through those machines. We try to help create the standard work, keep people safe, and make sure they are part of the process. This is really powerful.”

Some of the current ACH continuous-improvement projects include initiatives to reduce mold change times, create visual workplaces, build standard systems, and develop 3D modeling to create molds. Some ideas are simple, but impactful.

“For example, we were meeting with some of the operators and talking about how difficult it is to wire down the steam traps,” Zenko said. “One guy who worked previously in construction said he had used pre-looped rebar ties with a spinner tool rather than cutting pieces of wire and spinning them like a bread bag. We bought some twist ties and tried it. Then someone else realized it would be better to have longer ties, so we found 8-inch ties rather than 6-inch ties. It was a team effort, and this is how simple ideas can make a big difference.”

According to Zenko, ACH believes in the Franklin Covey philosophy of being effective with people and efficient with processes. “We may come up with 2,000 things that produce incremental results, but the next idea could be a game changer.”

A coordinate-measuring machine (CMM) is used to confirm 3-D dimensions of lost-foam foundry part.

A coordinate-measuring machine (CMM) is used to confirm 3-D dimensions of lost-foam foundry part.

Product diversity

The two ACH Foam Technologies Fond du Lac facilities create three different types of EPS products—block, shape, and lost foam.

Block represents production of large 3-, 4-, and 16-ft. blocks of EPS produced in big molds to be stored as supply for the cutting lines. They are cut to custom sizes according to customer specifications. A big part of the block business is perimeter, under slab, slope-to-drain roofing systems, and other major construction applications. The company is a leader in manufacturing Foam-Control for Geofoam applications, used where there are unstable soil conditions or for lightweight underground fill. Some examples include a commuter rail in Salt Lake City, UT, where thousands of cubic yards of EPS are encapsulated under a concrete rail, creating a stable infrastructure that will not be compromised with shifting soil.

EPS is also a more time-sensitive solution than traditional soil fill, which requires months of waiting for the soil to settle after filling. Unlike soil fill, Foam-Control Geofoam doesn’t have the challenge of heaving from the earth shifting.

This pattern-assembly machine dips the top portion of this lost-foam part in glue and fits it to the bottom portion.

This pattern-assembly machine dips the top portion of this lost-foam part in glue and fits it to the bottom portion.

Chicago’s Millennium Park is one of ACH Foam Technologies’ high-profile projects.

“We have thousands of cubic yards of Geofoam product underneath that park,” Todd Huempfner said. “You notice that the landscape is beautiful, and it flows evenly. The advantage is the contractor can quickly install the product while avoiding the time required to complete earthwork, such as surcharging, pre-loading, or staging. Under the parking deck is lightweight Geofoam fill under the concrete. It has a tremendous strength-to-weight ratio.”

Shape represents specific custom molding and engineering tooling for a three-dimensional part. This could be DuraTherm PLUS+ qualified shippers for pharmaceutical products, DuraTherm temperature-controlled coolers for the food industry, and DuraTherm protective packaging for anything from wine bottles to electronics and appliances.

Lost foam is similar to shape products, but represents more challenging applications such as turbo housings.

Lost-foam mold tooling requires regular light maintenance for seals, fittings, vents, and other small items. This work is completed in-house.

Lost-foam mold tooling requires regular light maintenance for seals, fittings, vents, and other small items. This work is completed in-house.

“We are one of the most diversified EPS manufacturers in the U.S. market,” Huempfner said. We have high-profile customers in the automotive and RV industry. “When you see an RV on the highway, if you were to cut it in half and see the cross-section, it would be completely encapsulated in our EPS.”

The basic difference between lost foam and custom-shaped molded products is the material that’s used and the end-use application.

“The material in lost foam is very highly engineered and specific for a particular application to be utilized in the casting industry,” he said. “The other shaped products are made with a variety of materials for a variety of applications ranging from pharmaceutical shipping containers to protective packaging components for wine bottles or small appliances.”

In the pre-expansion process, steam is introduced to the resin while an agitator mixes the expanding beads. The heat in the steam causes pentane to be released from the beads. This process takes about 200 sec. to complete.

In the pre-expansion process, steam is introduced to the resin while an agitator mixes the expanding beads. The heat in the steam causes pentane to be released from the beads. This process takes about 200 sec. to complete.

Maintenance and manufacturing

The EPS manufacturing process requires a varied collection of equipment and a high level of maintenance.

Expanding and molding equipment are the key machines used in the process, but downstream secondary applications include lamination lines, sanding lines, cutting lines, pattern-assembly machines, and other equipment. Ninety percent of the company’s maintenance functions are performed in house, said Jacob Huempfner, director of shape operations.

“Air, water, and steam are the lifebloods of our business,” Jacob Huempfner said. “Those support systems must be managed properly at the base level to avoid problems downstream. For some things, such as water and chemical systems for boilers, we rely on outside vendors to ensure we are testing correctly. We do the work, but it is a collaboration to test the water every day, and to determine the appropriate water quality for each plant.”

The manufacturing process begins with pre-expansion, according to Jacob Huempfner. Raw material comes in at a bulk density of about 40 lb./ft.3 in bags that weigh approximately 2,200 lb. The tiny bead material (0.8 mm dia.) is put into a hopper and transferred to the pre-expansion equipment where steam and pressure are introduced. This builds an internal cell pressure, which causes it to soften and then expand.

Once the material reaches the desired bulk density range of between 0.7 and 3.1 lb./ft.3, it is put into the fluid bed dryer where it is stabilized for transferring to the silo system. The product is stored and stabilized for molding in the bead-conditioning room, which is temperature controlled at between 95 and 100 F. The heat stabilizes the material and provides consistency, Jacob Huempfner explained. The boiler room next to the bead-conditioning room provides the heat and steam.

The material then goes to the molding presses, then to the cutting line, and finally to the assembly line. Some of these presses are new and use the latest technology, while others are 20 to 25 years old, according to Todd Huempfner, so they must be well maintained.

There are 10 maintenance professionals located at the two Fond du Lac facilities and about 45 throughout all nine U.S. facilities.

“One of our core competencies is preventive maintenance,” Todd Huempfner said. “Understanding our equipment and what makes it work is crucial. We work with our vendors to ensure that our weekly, monthly, and quarterly preventive-maintenance steps are put in place early within our CMMS system.”

The Kansas City operation has a custom-equipment build shop for secondary application equipment for the lamination, printing, and sanding lines. For all operations, preventive maintenance is crucial.

ACH maintenance professionals are responsible for several mold tools.

ACH maintenance professionals are responsible for several mold tools.

“Our preventive maintenance is not by default. It is by design,” Todd Huempfner noted. “In the early days, there was not a lot of thought about what equipment we would purchase to do a certain operation or what systems we would use. Today, we are trying to standardize that. It gives us better reliability because we have that redundancy. It allows us to minimize our spare-parts list because now we have spare parts in one plant that can be used in three different plants.”

The company’s preventive maintenance includes annual mold equipment rebuild and repairs. This is critical since every product produced goes through the mold equipment. Also, some valves and other parts are replaced regularly.

“We are now replacing some of our older equipment,” Todd Huempfner explained. “We look at the useful life of particular molding equipment as being somewhere around 20 years. When it reaches the 20-year mark, we begin to look at replacement of that equipment, sometimes with one or two more pieces of equipment. Sometimes we can replace two with one because of the advances in technology.”

With preventive maintenance and continuous improvement at the core of operations, Huempfner said consistency and redundancy are the ultimate goals.

“We have done a lot of soul searching in the past few years to figure out how to best implement the continuous-improvement culture throughout our organization,” he added. “We have done a very good job with this at a high level and have moved it into the engagement piece at the front lines.” MT

Michelle Segrest has been a professional journalist for 27 years. She specializes in the industrial processing industries and has toured manufacturing facilities in 30 cities in six countries on three continents.


8:07 pm
June 13, 2016
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Final Thought: Become A Master of Your Time

Composition of gears, clock elements and dynamic swirly lines suitable as a backdrop for the projects on scheduling, temporal and time related processes, deadlines, progress, past, present and future

Cklaus01By Dr. Klaus M. Blache, Univ. of Tennessee, Reliability & Maintainability Center

Everything we do is made relevant by time. Despite that fact, “time” is difficult to explain. Most of the world uses it to organize activities, by clock, cell phone, or sun. It allows us to coordinate events and make decisions. Various authors and physicists, i.e., Ray Cummings and John Wheeler, refer to it as “what prevents everything from happening all at once.”

In the movies, Superman can go backward in time by flying at about 671 million miles per hour (the speed of light). According to NASA, this equates to circumnavigating the equator 7.5 times every second. In reality, time is one directional, which physicists believe is tied to “entropy,” a term engineers learn in thermodynamics class. It points to the fact that, over time, things get more disorderly and can’t be put back together again. (Scientists believe that time began with the big bang.)

Everybody and everything is moving and going somewhere—from the universe expanding around us, to the earth rotating about its axis, to the machinery turning in our factories. Of course, we’re only in control of what happens on this third planet from the sun. What we do or don’t do at those intersections of moving things and people (at that specific “time”) is what defines us. Furthermore, since time is the only thing that can’t be replaced or fixed, we should all become masters of how to use it.

Just how important is time? On a grand scale, space-time will bend due to variations in gravity and velocity. Astronauts age slightly slower while they’re in space (constant orbit speed). If, however, they were to travel at a speed closer to that of light, the effects of slower aging (relative to earth) would be much greater.

In 2003, Kenneth Blanchard and Spencer Johnson published The One Minute Manager to help readers master time and increase their productivity, i.e., learn how to work on what matters with a sense of urgency. From a reliability perspective, here are some items inked to time:

  • The main metric to measure reliability is mean time between failure (MTBF).
  • The P-F (Potential to Functional Failure) curve is based on using the correct technology to detect possible failure enabling a window of time for repair/replacement. The curve’s x-axis reflects time from failure start to machine failure.
  • Time-based maintenance should account for less than 20% of your total maintenance
  • Condition-based monitoring tracks parameters, i.e., pressure, run time, cycle time, and temperature) to allow maintenance to be scheduled on time, but not sooner.
  • Planning and scheduling coordinates maintenance and operational needs to provide the required time for both functions.
  • Predictive maintenance findings are typically compared to a baseline to view changes over time.

How much time are you investing in creating business excellence? As a general rule of thumb, creating a sports champion involves about 10,000 hours of training. Building an organizational culture of ongoing success shouldn’t be any less of an effort. In implementing your reliability and maintainability roadmap, you need to be willing to dedicate similar time for a successful outcome. (Example: Over a year’s time, five individuals learning to be business-excellence change champions, at a rate of 40 hours/week, would essentially log 10,400 cumulative training hours.)

Reliability is defined as “the probability that an item will perform a required function without failure under stated conditions for a stated period of time.” Best-practice reliability organizations don’t just happen. They’re made. And that takes time. MT

Based in Knoxville, Klaus M. Blache is director of the Reliability & Maintainability Center at the Univ. of Tennessee, and a research professor in the College of Engineering. Contact him at


7:36 pm
June 13, 2016
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Four Difference Makers

parrmugOne of my recent trips was to attend the annual Maintenance Excellence Roundtable conference, held May 25 to 27 in Puerto Rico. It was my first time for this event and, frankly, I can’t wait for the next one. I experienced three days of excellent, lively exchange of reliability and maintenance information among a small group of very talented people. Out of the flood of information provided, four statements stood out.

Exceed world-class performance.

I’m sure you had the same reaction I did to that statement. Why try to exceed what is considered to be the pinnacle of performance? My second question: How do you measure beyond world class? The presenter anticipated the question with an answer that got my wheels spinning: If you seek to exceed world class, you have an excellent chance of attaining world-class performance.

Bingo! How many times have you set a goal, only to come up a bit short and convince yourself that you’re satisfied with coming close, only to have things regress in the coming months? Work to exceed the goal and, when attained, you’ll work harder to maintain that level of performance.

Be visual.

This was mentioned on two occasions and unknowingly demonstrated at other times during the conference. Sharing visual updates about progress being made and placing those updates in high-traffic areas is a superb way of maintaining communication. Many people are using flat-screen monitors and some kind of dashboard presentation.

Another related item is to develop training videos, even for the simplest of tasks. A library of videos can be a powerful tool for training (obviously) but also for those instances when someone must deal with a problem/work with a piece of equipment that is outside his/her normal work area or expertise. In those cases, a quick video can get the problem solved and eliminate some downtime. The suggested program for training videos is TechSmith’s Camtasia Studio (

Hold regular one-to-one meetings.

My initial reaction to this one was that people in work environments talk to each other all of the time. Why call attention to this? The answer is that those passing-in-the-hall “meetings” don’t count.

What is effective is to hold regularly scheduled meetings in some kind of meeting room and to have purposes/agendas that lead to better understandings, decisions, and/or solutions. Shooting the breeze for a couple of minutes at the water cooler and mentioning in passing that there is a problem with a pump doesn’t get the job done. You need to have regular meetings that are focused on issues of the day/week and result in some kind of action. The tough part is maintaining the meeting schedule. Same time, same place without fail develops the long-term meeting habit that ultimately makes the difference.

Programs need two champions.

If you institute a new program/practice, there will be a much better chance of it succeeding and staying in place after you leave if there are two of you championing the effort. Otherwise, human nature takes over and “Joe’s idea” gets shoved to the side, no matter how good it is. That second champion will also play a major role in launching and sustaining the program.

Look back at initiatives that have come and gone in your operation, or never got off the ground. How many champions did they have? Did they have long-term managment support?

The related thing that I’m sure all of us have experienced is programs that get immediately replaced by the “new guy” who wants to make his mark on the operation. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen good people/programs/procedures tossed out because a new manager “has a better way.” I’ve always been a proponent of letting a current system function (unless it’s broken beyond repair) for a couple of cycles to identify what works and what doesn’t. Then start working with your people to analyze and modify the flawed parts. Most of the time, you’ll end up with a better operation and much more buy-in from the personnel who do the job every day.

These four things may already be woven into the fabric of your operation. If so, you’ve seen the benefits. If not, give them a try. They work for the Roundtable people I was with in Puerto Rico and I’m confident they will for you. MT


6:24 pm
June 13, 2016
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Seven Steps to Work Order Success

Tunneller sinker worker connecting equipment in tunnel of seweк collector at undergroung working

Tunneller sinker worker connecting equipment in tunnel of seweк collector at undergroung working

If these planning and scheduling guidelines aren’t SOP (standard operating procedure) around your maintenance department, they should be.

By Steve Mueller, Daniel Penn Associates

Want to help your maintenance team become more effective? While new computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS) are making everyone’s job easier, certain procedures are sacrosanct, regardless of technology. These guidelines should be part of every maintenance department’s operation.

1. Supervisors are responsible for execution of the current schedule. Planner/schedulers are responsible for creation of the future schedule.

Don’t ask supervisors to do their own planning and scheduling. Their value is in managing the execution of work; let them focus on that. Planners and schedulers pay for themselves if the organization is large enough (an old rule of thumb is one planner for every 20 workers). To adapt and adjust to changing priorities, the planner and the supervisor should communicate frequently about job plans.

In general, planners and schedulers should not be involved with current jobs. Supervisors will manage new jobs that invariably pop up and disrupt the current week’s schedule.

To maximize the shop’s capacity, the scheduler may have allocated tasks to specific workers. The actual assignment of work, however, is solely the responsibility of the supervisor. There should be no territorial disputes about this.

2. No work orders will be released without a “ready” status code from Dispatch or Planning.

“Ready” means ready. In other words, material, tools, work-site access, permits, and other items are all in order so that the job can begin. Once a work order is released, there should be nothing to prevent the job from starting. Adhere to this guideline and you’ll avoid that black hole of released but unworkable jobs that can linger in a supervisor’s backlog.

3. Every worker should start each shift with ready work.

Too often, the first 20 to 30 minutes of a shift are spent doing everything but working—sometimes because no one has been told what to do. Don’t let this happen in your shop. The schedule should have work orders ready to go first thing. If there aren’t any scheduled work orders, you should have some shop, 5S, or other work ready to go.

4. All planned work should include estimated hours, a status code (from the CMMS if available), and priority.

If there are no estimated hours, the job is not a planned job and not ready for work. The status code indicates that the job is ready for work. The priority helps everyone understand how important the job is in the event of a resource or schedule conflict.

5. The requester’s “priority” always yields to an agreed-upon order of importance.

For example, maintaining negative air pressure in an isolation room in a hospital is agreed upon as being more important than fixing a thermostat in the executive suite, regardless of the priority given by the requester. It’s wise to make sure that “agreed upon” levels of importance for requested work are really agreed upon by all involved so there’s no argument down the road. The scheduler assigns a priority such as “urgent,” ”important,” or “routine,” based on established criteria. For obvious reasons, emergency work is not scheduled and should be performed immediately.

Keep in mind that preventive maintenance will always be a top priority—and may even have a dedicated crew to assure that it is accomplished on schedule.

6. All work must be on a work order.

The paperwork may come afterwards, as in the case of urgent/emergency work, but all work must find its way to a work order and into the CMMS. No exceptions.

7. Work orders are to be closed out on the same day they are completed.

Closing out a work order on the same day that it’s completed keeps the data and the metrics current. Managing the backlog is critical to managing maintenance. This becomes very difficult if the backlog in the CMMS doesn’t reflect current reality.

Although this list could certainly be expanded for specific circumstances, these seven guidelines are key for most maintenance organizations. Above all, maintenance teams must communicate constantly to make sure all parties are in synch and all work orders are completed to spec and on schedule. MT

As director of Commercial Operations for the West Hartford, CT-based management-consulting firm Daniel Penn Associates (, Steve Mueller focuses on the needs of private-sector clients. His 30 years of consulting experience include working with all levels of management in a wide range of industries, and addressing virtually all business processes, from service to manufacturing.

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