Archive | Work Processes

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8:23 pm
April 11, 2016
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On The Floor: Maintenance-Scheduling Triggers — Part 1

What drives your maintenance scheduling?

What drives your maintenance scheduling?

By Jane Alexander, Managing Editor

When it rains, it pours. At least that’s what happened with April’s Reader Panel questions. They triggered an outpouring of responses—including several extremely detailed ones. In fact, we received so many thoughtful replies that, to fit them in, we’ll need to run them over two months. The questions we asked were:

What triggers our panelists’ maintenance scheduling, or if they are consultants or industry suppliers, that of their client(s) or customer(s)? Sensors? OEM recommendations? Daily walks/PdM tool data? Word of mouth? A combination?

Which approaches work best for them, and why, and vice versa?

Would panelists (or their clients or customers) want to change their current maintenance-scheduling process(es), and could they? If so, what would they do?

As always, we’ve edited this first wave of responses for brevity and clarity.

Maintenance Supervisor, Process Industries, Canada…

We use a combination of approaches. We have maintenance [personnel] and operators that use handheld devices with routes for regular inspections. Data is uploaded and emails are automatically sent out. Benchmark work orders in our CMMS are set to generate area-shut/routine work. We also have completed most of the areas on RCM. There’s still work to do to get PM work orders in the system, but that’s a continuous work in progress.

The handhelds are great if the operators/maintenance guys give us the correct information. The downside is the handhelds typically add to the huge list of emails that not everyone can read and some things fall through the cracks, i.e., minimum manning/new planners, and supervisors’ inexperience. [Other things that work well include] identifying critical assets, looking at types of failures most likely to happen, determining inspection frequency, and then “training the guys out in the field on what to look for.” Training on the sense and meaning of what can go wrong and what that looks like is critical for getting good data to act on.

Currently, work orders that are being generated are “go look at stuff”—they don’t identify or convey what should be getting done. A review of basic PMs needs to be done, as should a site/area audit to look at what is actually being inspected.

[I would recommend] providing some instruction for the operators and maintenance staff on the sense and meaning behind the PM program and ensuring there is feedback with follow-up discussions when reports coming in.

Maintenance Leader, Discrete Manufacturing, Midwest…

Our main scheduling is actually handled by our PM coordinators—who do an outstanding job handling several hundred machines per plant. Each one of our plants has a PM coordinator. If I had to choose a main trigger, it would be sensors. Our Maximo system also sets off triggers if we find an abnormality on a machine. Scheduling is generally [based on] an annual, semi-annual, or quarterly check on the machines. In our departments, we have multiple sets of machines, so we’re really doing one PM after another from cell to cell.

I really can’t say that our system has one approach that works better than the other. The biggest obstacles we run into are machines not being released from production to do the work.

The only thing that will correct that problem in our plants would be to have maintenance departments treated as a separate business and be given priorities when PMs are scheduled. Until then, we will still struggle to hit 100% compliance consistently.

Industry Consultant, Northeast…

To me, a combination of [maintenance-scheduling] triggers is best, but that requires a very dedicated planner who really understands how the world works. The most intelligent approach probably combines some fixed-time replacements, i.e., re-lamping an area or cleaning air handlers in late fall, with data supplied by predictive tools like vibration and infrared scanning.

Vendor recommendations can be a gamble. I know of a large OEM that suggests replacing bearings before they reach their design life, and the company designs around the L10! While reliability pros recognize that type of replacement practice actually reduces the reliability of the product, many of the OEM’s customers think the vendor is always right. (Along those lines, [reliability icon] Charles Latino used to say, “Never have a vendor do your failure analysis unless you have an experienced professional looking over the vendor’s shoulders.”)

There are many very competent vendors, but unless they know exactly how you are using their equipment, how can they do a good job suggesting maintenance procedures.

Sr. Maintenance Mechanic, Process Industries, South…

We use most of these [sensors, OEM recommendations, daily walks/PdM tool data, word of mouth] to some extent. We rely most heavily on PdM tool data for planned repairs with daily walks becoming a distant second. We use OEM recommendations for our newer equipment, but still verify the intervals with PdM tools. I don’t believe you can ever entirely eliminate walk-arounds. The senses that most of us possess, coupled with the desire for zero unplanned shutdowns, are still some of the best diagnostic tools available.

I think any of these methods can be very good, depending on the individual that uses them. PdM tools, in my opinion, are the best trigger available, provided they are in the hands of a trained person with the desire to learn and continue to improve their skills.  Daily walks are also great if done by the right personnel. OEM “recommendations” are just that—and should be used with the backdrop of experience your company has with similar machines.  As I alluded to earlier, I find OEM recommendations are very helpful with our new equipment, with which our experience is very limited.

I think ours [approach to maintenance scheduling] is heading in the right direction: away from time-based and more to condition based with the proper tools and training. I hope we continue to proceed this way.

The only downside I can see is the maintenance of the actual PdM tools. Training for employees, calibration, and repairs of the tools can be expensive and a great temptation to forgo during a tight budget cycle. Once this is done with no immediate consequences, it is very easy to repeat, sending your maintenance program a giant leap backwards. Sometimes “bean counters” don’t understand the value of trending data.

Industry Consultant, West…

Most of my clients use time-based maintenance plans, generated from experience combined with known best practices from other facilities within their companies. One of these clients has attempted to use counters within SAP, but at this point, that has not worked well for them.

All [of my] clients are using predictive techniques, with some success, and most count on the tribal knowledge of the facilities. Most of the technicians with that knowledge are close to retirement, and the knowledge is not being shared well. MT

Editor’s Note: Part 2 in the May issue.

About the MT Reader Panel

The Maintenance Technology Reader Panel includes approximately 100 working industrial-maintenance practitioners and consultants who have volunteered to answer monthly questions prepared by our editorial staff. Panelist identities are not revealed and their responses are not necessarily projectable. Note that our panel welcomes new members. To be considered, email your name and contact information to jalexander@maintenancetechnology.com with “Reader Panel” in the subject line. All panelists are automatically included in an annual cash-prize drawing after one year of active participation.

616

5:24 am
April 11, 2016
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Culture Changed At This Indiana Refinery

The CountryMark refinery, one of only two refineries in the state of Indiana, processes 28,000 barrels of crude oil daily. All images courtesy of CountryMark.

The CountryMark refinery, one of only two refineries in the state of Indiana,
processes 28,000 barrels of crude oil daily. All images courtesy of CountryMark.

A WorkPlace Excellence Program redefines the way CountryMark operates every day and makes maintenance take a back seat to reliability.

By Michelle Segrest, Contributing Editor

The CountryMark distillate hydrotreater was built in 2006 to meet EPA Utra Low Sulfur Diesel fuel requirements.

The CountryMark distillate hydrotreater was built in 2006 to meet EPA Utra Low Sulfur Diesel fuel requirements.

For 73 years, the Countrymark maintenance team operated in a reactionary mode—and they were good at it.

In a crucially competitive market, the Mount Vernon, IN, oil-refinery leadership team realized the operation needed a complete overhaul to streamline processes, get control of inventory, and optimize workflow. Through a carefully conceived and well-executed plan, it is making a 180-degree switch to a predictive and preventive structure that has already increased production, decreased equipment failure, and saved costs.

Pat Ward, CountryMark’s vice president of Operations, is the corporate sponsor of the company’s WorkPlace Excellence Program, an idea that was born in 2008 and put into action in early 2013. Ward said he knew that one day CountryMark would have an interesting before-and-after story to tell.

“I would describe the ‘before’ maintenance program as classic reactionary—something would break and we would fix it,” Ward said. “Our craft people are very skilled and very knowledgeable about our equipment so, in this reactive structure, it is a testimony to them that we were as productive as we were. You can be very good at fixing things, but working in a reactive way comes at a very high cost.”

CountryMark operates one of only two refineries in Indiana and processes 28,000 barrels of crude oil every day while producing 450 million gal. of high-quality gasoline and diesel fuel each year. On the logistics side, trucks pick up crude from tank farms and deliver it to the refinery or to another tank on the pipeline system that gathers the crude from a three-state area. On the finished-product side, a distribution system includes a pipeline that connects terminals in Indiana where the finished product is sold.

A vital benchmark in the oil and gas industry is availability. CountryMark ranks high in this category worldwide as one of the most available facilities from an equipment standpoint.

“This is important to the manufacturer because it means you can capture most of the margin available,” Ward explained. “That’s how you win or lose in our business. If you have availability in your equipment and your process, then you can succeed. But we were doing this in a very reactive and expensive way.”

The goal was to maintain the high availability while driving down the cost and managing the risks effectively. However, arbitrarily cutting cost and putting the availability at risk could never be the answer. “We had to find a way to work differently. It was a question of committing the people, the funding, and the changes in our system so we could implement something better.”

Developing the program

CountryMark’s leadership fully invested in the WorkPlace Excellence Program. Proactive and preventive maintenance training began several years ago with consulting firm Life Cycle Engineering (LCE), Charleston, SC. Coaches were brought in to train leaders in four focus areas:

  • operations improvement
  • work management
  • reliability engineering
  • materials management.

Two systems were targeted for replacement or an upgrade. The CMMS system needed to be replaced and the financial-management system upgraded. The enterprise system existed, but it needed an upgrade to accommodate the new maintenance-management system software interface and inventory module.

The first step was preparing the organization for the change, with extensive training and multiple teams defining the work process in the four focus areas. In addition to key skills training, the teams included a combination of planners, craftsmen, frontline supervisors, maintenance managers, warehouse workers, and operators who were all involved in mapping out more than 30 new work processes.

Ward put EAM manager Mike Willman in charge. The LCE coaches for each of the four focus teams began working full force in February 2014.

Left. The CountryMark refinery, as seen from a plane that flies over the company's pipeline system every two weeks, checking for any potential problems in the company's pipeline system.

The CountryMark refinery, as seen from a plane that flies over the company’s pipeline system every two weeks, checking for any potential problems in the company’s pipeline system.

Putting the plan in motion

EAM coordinator Leslie Alton became the guardian of the program and the champion of change.

“We had used Excel spreadsheets for years,” Alton said. “But we had outgrown that program. We started working on gathering all the documentation and taking pictures of each of the objects (assets) and gathering their specifications. We now have close to 45,000 documents for all the assets. It is a fantastic equipment library that required 10 to12 people several years to compile.”

CountryMark graduated to a progressive software system. “It allows us to break everything down to the asset level, but we can roll it up based on equipment types or units,” she said. “This gives us granularity of how much an asset is costing us.”

The company’s assets include pumps, seals, motors—whatever is required to process crude into sellable products. However, 45,000 documents does not equal 45,000 assets. There are about 10,000 assets identified currently.

Alton’s role is to guide the program, identify roadblocks and opportunities, and make them visible so the best solution can be created.

Focus teams

The four focus teams are cross-functional, self-directed, and responsible for executing the master plan. They include site workers with diverse skills and abilities. The teams evaluate processes to identify opportunities for improvement and train in best practices.

Below. CountryMark employees work to optimize refinery operations while ensuring the health and safety of all workers.

CountryMark employees work to optimize refinery operations while ensuring the health and safety of all workers.

Operations improvement

The key component of this focus is making sure operations is inspecting equipment and identifying issues before failure occurs. Equipment-care rounds happen four times during a 12-hr.  shift.

There is a crucial relationship between operations and maintenance. Operators write most of the work requests because they are working with the equipment 24 hr./day, 365 days/year.

“When the equipment isn’t performing as well as it should, operators write a work request that has to be clear and succinct. In the new system they can sort through it to be sure someone else hasn’t already submitted it,” Ward said. “We didn’t have this previously. Operators also set the work priority. If it is an emergency, such as an equipment breakdown, this becomes a number-one priority. We break into the schedule in this case. If there are too many emergencies, then you are not doing very well in terms of cost management and efficiency.”

Operators are the first line of defense in terms of equipment care, so they sometimes perform maintenance tasks. They can also monitor the equipment and provide insight to prevent future issues. 

Work management

The work-management team ensures that all maintenance work is identified, planned, scheduled, and completed in a way that optimizes resources. Once the work is planned, materials are kitted and made ready for the craftsmen. Maintenance includes four planners (one for each craft), a scheduler, 36 craftsmen, and maintenance manager Randy Yeida, who has been with CountryMark since 1990.

Craftsmen are divided into four specialties—pipe fitters and certified welders, electrical and instrument shop, rotating equipment, and the craft shop (carpenters, insulators, general maintenance). Yeida meets with the maintenance supervisors every morning to discuss the schedule. The craftsmen are then assigned to work orders.

“We continue to try to be more preventive than reactive,” Yeida said. “Before, we were doing 30% to 35% emergency work. It’s been a culture change to go the other way. The goal now is to be less than 10% emergency work. Right now we are at about 20%.”

Planning the work makes the difference. Maintenance planners plan the jobs and ensure the parts are available before each job is assigned. Material-management kits the parts. “When the craftsmen go to work on a job, the tools are ready, the parts are ready, and the job is ready to be performed,” Yeida said. “This makes them more efficient.”

The maintenance team is responsible for more than 10,000 pieces of equipment, including pumps, motors, instrumentation, automation, transmitters, control valves, and other components. They work a regular 8-hr., Monday through Friday schedule, but analyzer technicians are on 12-hr. shifts with operators.

CountryMark pipeline welders help maintain the integrity of the company's pipeline systems in the tri-state area. This ensures that the necessary crude oil reaches the refinery and finished products travel safely to terminals to be picked up by CountryMark member owners.

CountryMark pipeline welders help maintain the integrity of the company’s pipeline systems in the tri-state area. This ensures that the necessary crude oil reaches the refinery and finished products travel safely to terminals to be picked up by CountryMark member owners.

Reliability engineering

This reliability engineering area of focus involves reducing failures. Fewer failures mean less repairs and reduced downtime. Equipment is assigned a criticality and ranking that drives preventive/predictive maintenance and spare-part inventory decisions.

Repeat failures are investigated to find ways to engineer out the cause. Maintenance tries to prevent the failure.

“First, you plan and schedule and get efficient in the maintenance work, which raises the cost effectiveness of your crafts and reduces the backlog of work,” Ward said. “But the big win is when you can eliminate defects or failures completely. In planning and scheduling, the craftsmen capture the reasons for failure and record the work they did to repair it. This generates a rich history of equipment performance from failures, which is then available to reliability engineers who identify ways to eliminate the failures.”

Materials management

The materials-management team ensures that the right materials are in the right place at the right time with acceptable quality and at the optimal cost to support planned and unplanned maintenance work. It involves purchasing, kitting, and consolidating storage locations. Since the program began, storage locations have decreased from 48 to five. More than 600 pumps and thousands of other components were entered into the new CMMS system, organized, and relocated.

This program streamlined the massive inventory. With the help of the planners and kitting process, the craftsmen and foremen can now focus on critical maintenance work. The turnaround time for jobs has significantly decreased. The team created a system where all purchase orders are processed and monitored for future use. Now there is a visibility of repairs and job histories.

Read more about the refinery’s materials-management program here.

CountryMark employs more than 500 highly skilled maintenance and reliability professionals.

CountryMark employs more than 500 highly skilled maintenance and reliability professionals.

The transition

The company understands that developing and implementing this program is a multi-year effort if they want it to be sustainable. There is confidence that the broad group of professionals with different work skills can map it out in a way that is comprehensive and understandable.

“The maintenance work we are doing today is what we did in the past,” Ward said. “We just used to do it in our heads, and we did it 50 different ways—and often after the fact. Now we have one process. It works more smoothly and all the different players do their part. The enabling part was to take some people out of the craft line and teach them to be good planners. This was a 100% culture change.”

The process is precise, but it is also fluid. Feedback and positive change is constantly encouraged.   

“If you have 35 work processes to follow every day, it’s really important that you stay disciplined with following it,” Ward said. “Leslie audits the system. She actually goes out into the field to see how we are planning and executing all the pieces. She makes sure everything is actually flowing the way it should. If it’s not, we improve the process. We get input from people from the field, bring it back, make the change in the process, then go back and implement the change.”

A refinery-management team meets on a regular basis to review recommended changes that will lead to improvement.

The after picture

Deep into the WorkPlace Excellence Program, a typical day at the CountryMark refinery now begins with operations performing care rounds. If something small and manageable needs repair (something that won’t shut down production or cause a health or safety risk) the job is assigned a 3, 4, or 5 priority so the job can be planned. Then it goes through work approval.

The planners then take over and create the needed work orders. They identify the crafts involved and determine the amount of time it will take. If parts are needed, they make sure they are available or parts are ordered. When all tools and parts are kitted, the job is scheduled with careful coordination between operations and maintenance.

The planned work schedule for the following week is posted on Friday and all kits are delivered before the Monday workweek begins. Then the craftsmen perform the jobs and enter the details into the system (including fault and failure codes), creating a useful work history. The planner checks the work order and closes it. Reliability professionals can then analyze key details such as mean time between failures.

If it is an emergency job—priority 1 or 2—the schedule must be interrupted to make the necessary repairs.

“In the world we live in today, after a year of implementation, everyone can write a work request,” Ward said. “If approved, operations sets priorities, and the work is planned. If there is a pump that we have to tear down and replace the bearings, for instance, the planner will walk down the job and then electronically step out each task. They determine the type of labor, the manpower, and the materials needed for each task. Only when the plan is completed and materials are on hand do we put the work on the schedule.”

Many key performance indicators are measured in the new system, Yeida said. These include metrics on schedule compliance, PM compliance, planned work vs. actual work, emergency work, priority percentages, scheduled vs. available, available craftsmen, and ready-to schedule jobs.

The culture change

With every change, training is required. People must be trained on processes, but it is also important that they can understand why the change has happened and buy in.

Alton said she remembers a specific moment when she could see a shift in attitude. The pump shop previously had hundreds of bins for the 600-plus pumps. Many of the materials were redundant, and no one knew what was in stock or where it was located. The pump-shop planners had been using the bin system for decades and they were accustomed to using them.

One pump-shop planner, Jeff Goad, was resistant to embrace the new system, Alton remembered. However, he worked with the materials-management team to ensure that all the pump parts were identified. “He came in one day and was just amazed that he could finally identify the parts he needed, and know where they were stored because now there was visibility,” Alton said. “He said, ‘This is so much better than those grey bins we used to have.’ He is now leading the charge for maintenance procedures for rotating equipment. He now understands and recognizes that we must have the PMs inside the system to ensure we are improving the reliability. The system is working.”

Ward saw the shift in culture change when warehouseman Larry Conyers bought into the new system. He had worked in the warehouse for 30 years. “We got into the reorganization and migrating to the new computer system. When they made the change to his warehouse, Larry literally went on vacation because he couldn’t watch the change. We were changing the way he had done things for three decades. Often, people in a situation like this will not survive, but Larry is a survivor and is now one of the leaders of the entire system. With time, the light bulb went off and he realized the system works. This realization helped him to become the champion he is today.”

At first, the planners were a bit overwhelmed, Ward said. “They knew how to plan work because they were good craftsmen. But it took time to adjust to sitting at a computer and planning a job for a fellow craftsman. In the beginning, we were planning just a handful of jobs a week. The thought of planning all the work seemed daunting. They learned quickly that even the smallest plan can be a journey. It takes several years to really perfect it. They thought they were wasting time to do this. But in the end, they saved time. Now we create 300 to 400 plans per month.”

Yeida has also seen the shift in culture among his maintenance team. “We must work on this on an ongoing basis, and it takes a while to see results,” Yeida said. “I had one guy who was kind of a naysayer, but he got called in in the middle of the night to work on a job. He said, ‘Man, we should have done this years ago. I got here and all the parts were ready, and I was ready to do the job. It didn’t take long to complete it, and I was able to go home early. The system is working.’ This is cool, because then they tell their buddies.”

Ward agreed that word of mouth can be powerful. “The energy it takes to move the organization forward is huge,” he said. “It must be sustained because there will be setbacks. Some individuals never get to that epiphany, but for most, they do. And when they do, they bring others with them.”

The key to sustainability, according to Ward, is actively managing the work process, finding better ways to work, and training, and to frequently review the suite of metrics to chart the progress.

“We still are in implementation,” he said. “We still have some people who are just now catching on. It’s kind of like a marathon—some people are already finished while some are just starting. But this is becoming how we work. It’s new. It’s different. But we have burned the ships, and we are not going back.” MT

Michelle Segrest has been a professional journalist for 27 years. She has covered the industrial processing industries for nine years. If you would like Michelle to tell your maintenance and reliability story, contact her at michelle@navigatecontent.com.

Co-Op System—Local Ownership, Local Impact

CountryMark has been a farmer-owned cooperative since 1919 and is the 12th largest agricultural co-op in the U.S. It is owned and controlled by member cooperatives that are owned and controlled by farmers or local agricultural producers. The cooperative’s products and services are available to the public, and co-op members are also customers.

Patronage profits are returned to members, distributed in proportion to business volume. CountryMark profits remain in local communities to support local economies.

The company supplies fuel to member cooperatives in Indiana that distribute the premium-quality fuels through a network of more than 100 retail fuel stations, as well as more than 200 petroleum tank-wagon and transport routes. CountryMark Advantage Lubricants are distributed to member cooperatives in Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, and Kentucky.

CountryMark products fuel an estimated 65% of Indiana farmers and power about 50% of the buses that deliver children to school each day within the CountryMark trade area.

The CountryMark Process

CountryMark is an American-owned oil exploration, production, refining, and marketing company. It is the largest buyer of Illinois Basin crude oil, which is sourced from the oil fields of Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky. The oil is then refined to the highest specifications at the CountryMark refinery in Mount Vernon, IN.

Fuel quality is protected as it travels north along a 238-mile private pipeline. State-of-the-art blending technology at each CountryMark fuel terminal ensures that biodiesel and ethanol blended fuels are formulated for optimal driving performance and winter operability.

CountryMark also produces a complete line of high-quality lubricants, and it carries API-certified TerraCair diesel exhaust fluid (DEF). CountryMark fuels, lubricants, and DEF are delivered daily to farms, fleets, and families across the Midwest, and are available at more than 100 CountryMark-branded fueling stations. More than 65% of Indiana farmers and 50% of Indiana school corporations are powered by CountryMark fuels.

CountryMark’s upstream business includes a team of petroleum-exploration professionals, geologists, production engineers, drilling specialists, and reservoir managers. CountryMark’s oil-exploration and production group manage 1,400 oil wells in six states producing 3,500 barrels of oil each day. 

252

4:58 am
March 18, 2016
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People Culture and Change

“I love researching solutions to problems, evaluating the best path forward, and implementing improvements. Reliability has an endless supply of opportunity.” —Robert Bishop

“I love researching solutions to problems, evaluating the best path forward, and implementing improvements. Reliability has an endless supply of opportunity.”
—Robert Bishop

Robert Bishop combines technical expertise with leadership to improve reliability at Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.

By Michelle Segrest, Contributing Editor

A passion for people and equipment allowed Robert Bishop the opportunity to find his dream job at the intersection of reliability and systems improvement. “I enjoy dealing with the equipment side of things, but I also love to deal with people,” the Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. (BMS) maintenance engineer said. “I realized early on that this is part of who I need to be professionally.

With a degree in mechanical engineering from the Univ. of Rochester and a master’s of science in bioengineering from Syracuse Univ., Bishop had many career options. He worked in validation for 12 years and then had to make a decision to either be a lifer or diversify.

“I knew that if I didn’t do something soon, the decision would be made for me,” he said. “The opportunity came for the role I’m currently in, so I took the leap. From the first day I sat in this chair, I’ve never regretted it. If I could sit down and create the perfect job for myself, I couldn’t come up with a better fit.”

Three and a half years later, Bishop has balanced his technical skills with strong management skills to launch and implement many successful reliability programs for BMS.

“The best thing about my responsibilities is the ability to enhance and improve our systems,” he said. “No matter where you are on the continuum there is opportunity to improve. Technology is always changing and people are always joining the team. I love researching solutions to problems, evaluating the best path forward, and implementing improvements. Reliability has an endless supply of opportunity.”

0316f1credentials

Maintenance and reliability philosophy

Bishop said he believes strongly that action is more impactful than ideas.

“My overall reliability philosophy is to create robust systems, to educate your team, and then get out of the way and let them be successful,” he said. “People are more important than knowledge. I try to remind myself that it’s great to have a lot of ideas, but if we don’t actually do anything, we are never going to go anywhere. You can’t just drag your feet forever. You can force people to do what you want, but if you don’t invest in the people and acknowledge that they are the ones that makes things happen, you’re not going to see that benefit for the long run.”

Bishop works with 550 other employees at the BMS biological site in Syracuse, NY. The equipment is similar to what is typically used in a brewery, but with more filtration and chromatography steps. His team of 10 maintenance professionals works on tanks, filters, pumps, gearboxes, skid-based equipment, centrifuges, chromatography, and filtration skids. The larger team involves about 100 people at the site responsible for facilities and engineering. Bishop serves as a maintenance engineer but also is the acting maintenance manager, so he is responsible for maintaining the equipment, as well as the asset-management department and the CMMS system. The non-process equipment is handled through an outsourced maintenance company and there is also a facilities-management group.

Bishop’s connection with people extends to mentoring others to reach their goals and succeed.

He remembers an example when a young woman within a different organization at the site had an interest in reliability but didn’t have any background in it. “Over the course of about a year we had some meetings, lunch-and-learns, and many discussions on the topic,” Bishop said. “I provided her with reading material and links to webinars that would help her to learn. She recently sat for her Certified Reliability Leader exam and passed. I’m very proud of her and know that someday she will have a more formal role in the field of maintenance and reliability.”

Although Bishop spends each day in strategy meetings, but also solves day-to-day issues. He drives root-cause analysis, launches new systems, and is involved in upgrades to the CMMS system. One of his most successful best-maintenance practices is reporting by exception. “I don’t need to know when everything is going well. I need to know when things are not going as planned so I can communicate to the larger organization,” Bishop said. “I try to look for what isn’t supposed to be there.  For example, when you look at the integrity of the data in our CMMS system, you can create all the reports you want. Sometimes, it is beneficial to go look for things you don’t expect to find. For example, I don’t expect to find a blank priority field. But if I write a query for that and pull up all work orders that have blank priority fields I can ask ‘Why?’ I share an office with our reliability engineer and we report to different reporting structures within our larger facilities but we work closely together and there are a lot of topics that flow back and forth.”

Bishop focuses on high-value work. “We all could spend 90 hours a week working and still not get everything done. We have to identify where to put our effort.”

His commitment to people and processes does not go unnoticed by his peers.

“Robert is a well-respected member of the reliability community both internally at Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, and externally,” said George Williams, BMS associate director of asset management, Global Facilities Services. “Robert was awarded the BMS Reliability Excellence Leader of the Year award for 2015. Additionally, he was a finalist for the SMRP Rising Star award and leads their Biologics and Pharmaceuticals VSIG. He is a contributing author and presenter at multiple conferences annually. Rob consistently looks to contribute, collaborate, and improve what we do every day. His ideas have turned into standardized approaches for BMS shared throughout our network and helping to drive us to reliability sustainability.”

“With all of the achievements and accolades, most notable is that Rob is a leader. He is humble, gracious, and looks to develop others, which creates an environment where everyone contributes and feels welcomed. He has a rare combination of skills and knowledge, combined with drive, motivation, and impeccable soft skills to navigate the difficult terrain of a global company.”

Programs that make a difference

0316f1-tipsBishop is proud of several programs he has driven. He implemented one for paperless work orders that saved the company 120,000 pages of paper/year and also saved four full-time equivalent (FTE) efforts. However, he repurposed the people and no one lost their job. The program made valuable data available in real time while improving the quality of work.

He also drove a year-long PM-optimization program and implemented a lubrication-enhancement program that allowed closed systems, consolidated lubricants, and visual-management improvements.

The lubrication program focused on a BMS site that’s been around since 1943. It was originally a facility that produced penicillin during WWII, and had gone through a lot of evolutions through the decades. Many  of the lubricants on site were not needed. In fact, some of the drums of oil were 10 to12 years old.

“There were lubricants with slow turn, and it just wasn’t ideal,” Bishop recalled. “We didn’t know where everything went. A maintenance technician, who was here for 30 years, had a cheat sheet and knew which oil went in which gearbox. It worked great, but was not a very robust system. When I came into my role here, I took it upon myself to pull together a team that analyzed where everything was being used, and then we brought in one of our vendors who helped us consolidate.”

The program allowed the site to downgrade from 46 lubricants to just eight oils and four greases.

“We closed up the systems provided by the manufacturer on our gearboxes and level indicators. In most cases we used a sight-glass tube,” Bishop explained. “We closed the systems on the larger ones and installed Quick Connect so we could use a filter cart. We installed sample ports with dip tubes and we started doing oil sampling near where it is being used in the gears and not just in the bottom of the gearbox. We started the oil-sampling program to drive increased reliability. We weren’t necessarily having a lot of failures because of poor lubrication, but we had a lot of practices that weren’t ideal.”

The program included taking steps to do things through visual management. Now, gearboxes have a tag that indicates what is inside. It also identifies the viscosity and the manufacturer, and the same tag is on the oil container that is brought out to the field. An identical tag is on the oil-filtration skid.

It took about a year to transform into a closed system so no moisture or particles find their way into the gearboxes. “It was definitely worth the effort,” Bishop said. “We now have one of the better lubrication programs that I’ve ever seen. Nothing’s perfect, but we now have a very robust system.”

Challenges with change

0316f1-quoteBishop said he has always enjoyed change and the positive impact it can have on reliability systems. But sometimes it is difficult to convince others that change is a good thing.

“The biggest challenge is convincing people that improving systems and reducing workload will not result in reduced headcount,” Bishop said. “I point to my track record, and it speaks for itself. My goal is never to get rid of people. The people I work with know they can trust me. I wouldn’t say something and then do something else. For people who don’t know me, I am very proactive about addressing this.”

Bishop relies on tools such as a Best In Class (BIC) weekly meeting where all crew supervisors get together with a common goal to continuously improve and help each other. They use other tools such as ARMED software, which can identify KPI and reliability data such as a top-10 bad-actor list. Bishop also uses his more than 10 years of experience in the field of equipment qualification and validation—experience that has provided him with a robust understanding of documentation, quality systems, and equipment.

The greatest tool that Bishop uses is his ability to connect people with culture and change. “I always want to improve,” he said. “I always appreciate the people involved, and I know what it takes to change culture. It isn’t always easy, but it is always possible. It doesn’t have to be a huge project. It can be small, incremental things. But I’m a supporter of change. We must always strive to improve.” MT

Michelle Segrest has been a professional journalist for 27 years. She has covered the industrial processing industries for nine years. If you know of a maintenance and/or reliability expert who is making a difference at their facility, please drop her an email at michelle@navigatecontent.com.

142

9:22 pm
February 8, 2016
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KISSing Is Good For Reliability

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As catchy phrases go, ‘Keep It Simple Stupid’ has legs when it comes to managing equipment health.

The KISS principle is one of the first rules of good engineering practice. An acronym for “Keep It Simple Stupid,” it refers to the fact that most things function best if kept simple. According to Trent Phillips, global reliability leader for Novelis Inc., Atlanta (novelis.com), the principle has maintenance and reliability significance.

As he wrote in a 2014 blog post on the Ludeca Inc. (Doral, FL) website (ludeca.com), end users often believe that costly, complex activities/functions are required to improve equipment reliability. While that may be the case in certain situations, you can make it the exception and not the rule in your facility. The point is not to focus excessively on expensive, complicated reliability functions you cannot complete and overlook the fundamentals in keeping equipment reliable.

What types of simple reliability improvements can you make? Phillips emphasizes these equipment basics:

  • Align shafts and other components.
  • Balance rotating components such as fan blades, impellers, and rotors.
  • Tighten appropriately; eliminate looseness and excessive vibration.
  • Lubricate correctly; not too much or too little.
  • Inspect.
  • Apply condition monitoring.
  • Understand where your efforts should be focused.

Also, don’t wait until equipment is installed and operating. According to Phillips, “Failure to address these vital aspects from the beginning through operation of your equipment will lead to higher maintenance costs and reduced equipment reliability.”

Unfortunately, important reliability-improvement efforts in plants often fall victim to lack of resources, understanding, time, and funding. To counter this situation in a facility, Phillips urges the reliability team to ensure that the site’s engineering, maintenance, production, purchasing, and management teams all understand, and routinely employ, fundamental KISS practices. MT

Indicators That Keep Things Simple

Trent Phillips, global reliability leader with Novelis Inc., Atlanta (novelis.com), believes questions such as “Can we make our production schedule?” and other crystal-ball-type probing from plant personnel often put maintenance and reliability professionals in a tough position. In a December 2015 blog post on ludeca.com/blog, he called out four future indicators that organizations can leverage to help answer such questions:

Preventive maintenance (PM) completion rate. Low PM completion rates directly correlate with increased future equipment-maintenance work. High PM completion rates mean that needed equipment maintenance is being completed and future maintenance issues will be avoided.

Ready-to-work backlog. This is an indicator of preparedness and efficiency to complete maintenance work.

Outage-schedule compliance. This important-to-track metric is an indicator of future maintenance work. Not adhering to outage schedules creates deferred equipment maintenance. This results in increased risks and likelihood that equipment performance will decrease at a future time, leading to lower capacity, increased downtime, and greater operating costs.

Equipment-asset-health reporting. Condition-monitoring tools, such as vibration analysis, infrared thermography, oil analysis, and ultrasound, can assure that impending failures are identified and corrected before they result in equipment downtime or other unwanted consequences. Tracking indicators from these technologies together can provide insights into future asset health. The “red” assets they identify can lead to unwanted equipment maintenance and downtime if corrective action isn’t taken. Additionally, if an effective critical-equipment ranking system is in place, asset-health-reporting can help prioritize maintenance efforts.

For more information on equipment-health-related strategies and techniques, including blog posts by Trent Phillips and other experts in maintenance and reliability, visit ludeca.com/blog.

140

4:10 pm
February 8, 2016
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Drive On-Time LPG Deliveries

Above. Thanks to the efforts of innovative product-transfer solution providers such as UK-based Meller Flow Trans Ltd., LPG-delivery company Flogas now has a next-generation, fit-and-forget solution for keeping its LPG-delivery vehicles on the road in the form of a product-transfer and metering system that incorporates Blackmer LGL series sliding-vane pumps and Flowcom 2000 flow meters.

Above. Thanks to the efforts of innovative product-transfer solution providers such as UK-based Meller Flow Trans Ltd., LPG-delivery company Flogas now has a next-generation, fit-and-forget solution for keeping its LPG-delivery vehicles on the road in the form of a product-transfer and metering system that incorporates Blackmer LGL series sliding-vane pumps and Flowcom 2000 flow meters.

Reliable sliding-vane pumps and non-mechanical flow meters are keeping liquid-propane gas suppliers on schedule and their customers happy.

Fleet operators in any industry have one driving principle: to keep their vehicles on the road lest delivery schedules—and customer satisfaction—be compromised. With package handlers and suppliers of inventory to grocery or clothing stores, for example, that requirement can be pretty straightforward, i.e., just make it to the customer’s site and unload the cargo. For other types of suppliers, however, the task is often easier said than done.

Take liquid propane gas (LPG). Providing this product to customers is not just a simple case of arriving at the desired address and leaving a box on the front porch. While a truck is a critical and indispensable component in the LPG supply chain, actual delivery can only be accomplished if the vehicle is outfitted with a series of working pumps, meters, hoses, controllers, and monitors that enable transfer of the LPG into a storage vessel. Unfortunately, since the abuse of daily over-the-road travel can hamper the performance of sensitive transfer equipment, the need for reliable components is a critical concern for LPG delivery companies.

“Vehicles are notoriously damaging and require robust operation,” explained Mark Allcock, managing director for Meller Flow Trans Ltd., located in Bradford, United Kingdom. “We don’t want sensitive equipment on the vehicle that will not stand the test of time and the rigors of daily road use.”

Opposite page. Since 1984, Flogas has operated a fleet of LPG tankers that make deliveries to bulk customers while also offering cylinder-filling services at its network of LPG depot terminals.

Opposite page. Since 1984, Flogas has operated a fleet of LPG tankers that make deliveries to bulk customers while also offering cylinder-filling services at its network of LPG depot terminals.

A systematic solution

Founded in 1960, Meller Flow Trans began as an industrial-engineering firm. In the years since, it has evolved to focus on and specialize in creation of product-transfer solutions for the United Kingdom’s transport industry, including development of cutting-edge LPG-delivery systems. Traditionally, these systems featured a mechanical metering component that governed LPG transfer from the storage tank to the delivery vehicle, and from the delivery vehicle to the customer’s storage vessel.

While mechanical positive-displacement oscillating piston-type meters have, over time, performed well in such applications, the fact that they require moving parts to operate makes them susceptible to damage that can put them out of commission and hamper on-time deliveries.

According to Allcock, although mechanical meters are reliable in their own way, things can go wrong with moving parts. “What we’re trying to do as a systems provider,” he said, “is bring together the most reliable pieces of equipment that we can find to give our end users, our customer base, a fit-and-forget metering and delivery system.”

In the search for a solution, eight years ago Allcock and Meller Flow Trans came upon the Flowcom 2000 flow meter, produced by Flow Instruments & Engineering GmbH, a European company based in Solingen, Germany. What sets the Flowcom 2000 apart from traditional meters is that it facilitates fluid transfer through venturi-based pressure-differential metering principles, rather than mechanical moving parts.

“These were the first people I knew of to use pressure-differential metering on trucks,” said Allcock. “The Flowcom 2000 is highly machined, a very, very accurate piece of equipment. It lends itself perfectly to the road-transport industry because there are no moving parts.”

The Flowcom 2000 turned out to be the final piece in Meller Flow Trans’ delivery-system puzzle that, over four decades, had included LGL series sliding-vane pumps from Blackmer, Grand Rapids, MI. (Blackmer is a product brand of the Dover Company’s Pump Solutions Group [PSG] based in Oakbrook Terrace, IL.) Working with the vast majority of LPG-truck fabricators in the UK, Meller Flow Trans has outfitted hundreds of vehicles with the Blackmer/Flowcom 2000 delivery system.

“We’ve been selling Blackmer cargo pumps in the UK for more than 40 years,” recalled Allcock. “It really is a fit-and-forget piece of equipment, very reliable, very easy to maintain when required, which is minimal to say the least.” As a result, he estimates that these pumps are used in 90% to 95% of the UK’s mini-bulk or bobtail LPG delivery trucks, and for good reason (see sidebar, previous page).

Operation of the Blackmer/Flowcom 2000 delivery system begins when the driver initiates it from a control box at the back of the vehicle. At that time, the prop-shaft-driven pump moves the LPG through a delivery line to a gas-bubble sensor that checks for pockets of air in the LPG. From there, it moves through a temperature probe that, if necessary, converts the temperature of the LPG to 59 F (15 C). Then it’s on to the flow meter, which creates a restriction in the line that builds pressure—high before the venturi and low after the venturi. A differential pressure transmitter converts the pressure into a 4-to-20-mA signal that’s sent back to the control box where the driver can read the measured flow in volume or mass.

After searching for a dependable LPG-transfer solution for more than eight years, Mark Allcock, right, managing director for Meller Flow Trans, was able to supply the Flogas team, including mini-bulk delivery-truck driver Paul Ward, left, and depot manager Gary Rolfe, center, with a reliable metering system featuring the Flowcom 2000 flow meter and Blackmer sliding-vane cargo pump.

After searching for a dependable LPG-transfer solution for more than eight years, Mark Allcock, right, managing director for Meller Flow Trans, was able to supply the Flogas team, including mini-bulk delivery-truck driver Paul Ward, left, and depot manager Gary Rolfe, center, with a reliable metering system featuring the Flowcom 2000 flow meter and Blackmer sliding-vane cargo pump.

Guaranteeing satisfaction

Another of Meller Flow Trans’ long-standing relationships in the UK LPG industry is with Flogas, Leicester, United Kingdom, which has been a customer for more than 30 years. Flogas entered the UK’s LPG market in 1984 with the acquisition of Portagas, and has grown to the point that it now has LPG-delivery operations in Ireland, Northern Ireland, Sweden, Norway, Belgium, and The Netherlands. In the UK, Flogas operates a fleet of LPG tankers that makes deliveries to bulk customers, while also offering cylinder-filling services at its network of depot terminals.

“At the Flogas site in Leicester, we have a wide variety of customers, cylinders, bulk, we do commercial bulk customers, a lot of dealers that do a lot of business for us,” noted Gary Rolfe, depot manager at Flogas’ Leicester LPG terminal. “We have more than 100 mini-bulk trucks in the company, and have been putting on a stronger, better metering system on the trucks. The Flowcom 2000 meters are certainly reliable, faster, and a lot easier for our drivers to use.” Moreover, as he characterized it, the whole process is simpler for all parties involved.

As a mini-bulk delivery driver for Flogas, Paul Ward is on the LPG industry’s front lines every day. His opinion of the Blackmer/Flowcom 2000 solution’s inherent reliability is clear. “It’s good to know,” he emphasized, “when I set off on my deliveries in the morning, that the pump isn’t going to cause me any problems, and that I can make my deliveries efficiently and safely.” MT

Application Specifics

sidebar1602fpump04Equipped with a Blackmer LGLD2E pump (2-in./51 mm), Flogas’ mini-bulk trucks perform hose-reel deliveries through 130 ft. (40 meters) of hose at a flow rate of 53 gpm (200 l/min). On its larger bulk-delivery semi-trailers, the company uses LGLD4B pumps (4 in./102 mm) that are capable of achieving flow rates as high as 185 gpm (700 l/min).

Featuring a cavitation-suppression liner that reduces the type of noise, vibration, and wear caused by entrained vapors, these pumps are well suited—and UL-listed—for LPG service. Their sliding-vane design also gives them significant self-priming and dry-run capabilities.

For more information, visit blackmer.com or psgdover.com.

397

7:49 pm
January 12, 2016
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Operational Excellence Is A Competitive Necessity

refinery

Here’s a master plan framework for success throughout all plant areas and functions, regardless of industry sector.

By John S. Mitchell

Operational Excellence (OE) describes the ideal state of an operating enterprise. It has great cachet at the highest executive levels and is being incorporated into their working culture by organizations committed to being the very best in all business, mission, and operating activities.

Whether yours is among those high-performing enterprises dedicated to remaining great, a good performer aspiring to become great, or one of the large number that know improvements are essential for continuing success and prosperity, an effective OE program is a must. The benefits are significant.

This article highlights a number of issues related to implementation. Keep in mind that there are many more details than can be covered here.

Requirements

Operational Excellence includes and touches everyone in an enterprise. Beginning with visibly committed, success-oriented executives conveying ambitious, clearly stated organizational objectives to drive the initiative, it provides coordinating linkages and a laser focus on safely increasing business value/mission compliance, and risk reduction. Implementation of OE:

  • demands robust, reliable, and effective control, management, and administrative systems (compliance with ISO55000, Asset Management, is essential)
  • broadens horizons, consolidates, builds on, and enhances performance and effectiveness
  • requires complete, accurate, efficient, and fully coordinated practices and procedures. It is based on and demands a working culture of honesty, integrity, commitment, initiative, ownership, and responsibility throughout the enterprise.

Operational Excellence also demands constant learning from activities, ongoing training, and a commitment to continuous improvement and sustainable success, i.e., how can tomorrow be made better than today? It may include step change when there are immediate, large opportunities for improvement.

Many functions within an operating enterprise conventionally focus on status quo: When challenges arise and problems occur, efforts are directed toward restoration and correction rather than elimination and improvement. An OE culture, however, identifies and eliminates cause, improves the process, practice, procedure, system, or asset and, thereby, increases delivered value. (Challenges, problems, inefficiencies, and waste are all viewed as opportunities for improvement.)

The importance, necessity, and benefits of OE—along with organizational and individual responsibilities—must be detailed, communicated, and totally understood by everybody in a plant. Success requires ownership for excellence at all levels in the organization.

The importance, necessity, and benefits of Operational Excellence, along with organizational and individual responsibilities, must be detailed, communicated, and totally understood by everyone in a plant. Success requires ownership for excellence at all levels in the organization.

The importance, necessity, and benefits of Operational Excellence, along with organizational and individual responsibilities, must be detailed, communicated, and totally understood by everyone in a plant. Success requires ownership for excellence at all levels in the organization.

OE cornerstones

Value (and, by association, creating/increasing value that’s delivered) is the basis for Operational Excellence. Most continuous industries, and many discrete ones, operate within a reasonably predictable environment (many in commodity markets). Differentiation is achieved by mission compliance, efficient operations, and excellence in areas such as quality, response, delivery, and service support. Virtually all levers of control and improvement to efficiency/effectiveness, availability, reliability, throughput, quality, and cost control, reside at operating levels and are part of OE.

There is another important consideration: concentrating on efficiency/effectiveness and bottom-line profitability produces solid results in good and bad economic conditions. When times are good, cash flow produces resources that can be invested in strategic initiatives, including capital improvements and expansion. When times are less than optimal, efficiency and effectiveness assure profitability and survival.

Safety avoids hazards and minimizes risk. Built on thoroughly defined practices and procedures, it demands a committed working culture, constant effort, vigilance, thought, and reminders to assure all activities are performed safely. Deviations aren’t tolerated. Awareness begins at employment with extensive training. Conformance is continually reinforced with reminders. There is learning from activities and mistakes, including follow-up training, to assure everyone clearly understands and takes ownership for their role and responsibilities. Compliance is imperative and continuous improvement a necessity.

Within any operating enterprise everyone recognizes that safety is much more than a program, much more than a system in terms of the working culture and organizational and individual commitment to compliance—similar to OE. In fact, OE is very much the operating equivalent to safety.

Reliability is the third cornerstone of OE. To many in an operating environment, reliability will be thought of in terms of process and production systems and equipment. Within Operational Excellence, reliability has a much broader meaning that is applied to:

  • Performance—safely meeting requirements, and seeing predictable, minimal variation from best performance. The latter point is especially important in establishing objectives and identifying opportunities.
  • Organization—roles and responsibilities completely defined and understood; consistent decision process.
  • Working Culture—commitment to and ownership for excellence, highest-quality performance, and continuous improvement by empowered employees who accept responsibility and accountability for results.
  • Processes, Practices, and Procedures—completely defined and accurately documented; totally repeatable, high-quality, consistent results; methods for maintaining currency and implementing, and documenting improvements.
  • Systems and Equipment—fully capable of meeting all operational requirements safely, cost-effectively, and with minimal variation.
  • Skills—requirements and qualifications totally defined and up to date; effective training and follow-up to assure proficiency.
  • Data, Information, Documentation—accurate, secure, up to date, and accessible.

Risk, the fourth OE cornerstone, is fully utilized in the value equation that directs improvement initiatives, i.e., what are the probability and consequences of a yet-to-happen event that will initiate and justify actions and investment for early detection, avoidance, reduction, and mitigation?

Probability has a second, equally important application within OE: assurance that a given improvement activity or task will achieve expected results.

Maintenance and OE

Within a typical production/operations mindset, the basic idea of maintenance has remained unchanged since the industrial revolution: The physical plant is expected to perform; maintenance occurs when it doesn’t. In this model, maintenance is considered as a service—a budgeted cost to be controlled rather than an integral part of enterprise profitability/mission value delivery. Availability is typically treated as an evenly spread annual average rather than a potentially sudden, unexpected event that can (and often does) have an impact on production delivery in the worst possible way.

The most enlightened enterprises consider maintenance an essential component of the core business value-producing process, i.e., a fully empowered, equal partner of production operations. Operational Excellence solidifies this important relationship, adds support functions, and moves the enterprise working culture into an optimally effective partnership.

OE programs

Operational Excellence is the master-improvement program that provides a single integrated charter to assure improvement efforts are optimally coordinated, build upon one another, and develop maximum results. OE programs identify and prioritize improvement opportunities and convert opportunities to actionable plans. Identification, prioritization, planning, and execution
are accomplished by working-level, multi-function action teams populated by people best able to recognize opportunities and develop the most effective improvement plans.

Everyone is aware of what everyone else is doing within the overall objective of safely and sustainably increasing value. Anticipated requirements within and across functional boundaries are identified early rather than becoming late-breaking surprises. Potential contributions and conflicts become quickly visible for discussion and cooperative resolution.

All of this requires time and a major commitment by personnel across the enterprise. A work culture concentrated on safety, value, excellence, ownership, integrity, and continuous improvement is crucial.

Every enterprise embarking on OE will have a different starting point, set of conditions, and objectives, strategy, and opportunities for improvement. At a high level, the most important element is to define business/mission objectives and scope of the journey. With those points determined, instilling a culture of excellence and continuous improvement, empowering people with decision rights, and providing all necessary information are the initial steps in the process. Ensuring alignment of business/mission and program strategies across objectives, actions, and metrics are major factors.

Program scope

As an enterprise-wide program that includes every function from operations to administration, Operational Excellence can seem quite complex—even overwhelming. (A summary of elements involved in successfully categorizing and addressing all aspects of an OE program is contained in the sidebar on p. 20.).

An OE steering team is central to achieving the cooperative working relationship that is essential for efficiently creating greatest value. This team is composed of senior managers. All must be committed to success with the insight and power to oversee and coordinate improvement activities.

The steering team establishes overall objectives and sets the positive, supportive example for the program. It approves improvement initiatives and monitors results for compliance with objectives. Members must act to eliminate the friction that inevitably exists at the interfaces within a functional organization. The team normally functions best when chaired by a senior operations/production superintendent/manager. (Other arrangements will work depending on the commitment and strength of the individuals involved.)

Like all complex efforts, success demands dividing desired results into manageable segments. In the case of OE, segments that will be comfortable participating in an organization typically divide on functional lines. Multi-function improvement-action teams are necessary to bring diverse functions together to identify, address, and implement opportunities for improvement.

While all functional divisions in a plant will have their own champions and improvement initiatives, it is important to stress that within OE they will operate under a unified charter and objectives—in conformance with a common administrative management-and-control system coordinated by a steering team. This is the only way to assure that activities are mutually reinforcing and gain the benefits of cross-function participation and cooperation.

It’s clear that OE requires close cooperation between operations/production and maintenance. Developing and providing accurate, timely reports of gains and losses in business value, however, calls for participation and cooperation from additional functions—primarily IT and finance. Since IT and finance have supporting roles in essentially all functional areas in a plant, they must be heavily involved in activities requiring data and information from which opportunities for improvement can be identified and value-prioritized. The same applies to engineering and human-resource functions. MT

John Mitchell has served in a variety of leadership roles during his 40+ years in the maintenance and reliability field. Founder and past president of the Machinery Information Management Open Systems Alliance (MIMOSA), Tuscaloosa, AL, he’s the author of several books and a frequent speaker on asset-management topics. This article is based on information in his book Operational Excellence (© 2015 by John Wiley & Sons Inc., Hoboken, NJ). Mitchell is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy. Contact him directly at johnsmitchell2@gmail.com.


Quick Look: The Benefits of Operational Excellence

  • Operational Excellence and a fully executed OE program are competitive essentials with multiple benefits, including:
  • Improved SHE/EHS (safety, health, environment/environment, health, safety) performance
  • Reduced risk
  • Improved production/mission operational effectiveness
  • Improved reliability
  • Improved capital effectiveness
  • Greater predictability—reduced variation

10 Operational Excellence Program Elements

Operational Excellence (OE) is divided into logical elements—as is the OE program itself. Each element covers an array of requirements and best practices to provide a clear understanding of what’s required to gain maximum effectiveness, value, and success. Best practices include metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) where applicable—preferably results metrics, as contrasted to activity metrics.

Not that the elements are designed to apply across varied operating enterprises. Best practices and results, however, can and should be modified to fit the specific enterprise, operating environment, and terminology.

Properly constructed and taken together, program elements ensure nothing is overlooked. Further, they assure full visibility throughout the enterprise and greatest integration of resources, effort, and contribution to mission/business value. These elements and their corresponding best practices drive formulation, organization, and implementation of the program; are mutually reinforcing; and form the basis for the improvement-oriented working culture that’s crucial to success.

The following summary of 10 logical elements reflects a methodology for categorizing and addressing aspects of an effective OE program:

  • Program Performance, Results, Effectiveness—Compilation of top-level program objectives for “world class” performance, including SHE/EHS (safety, health, environment/environment, health, safety); overall operating performance, i.e., OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness); and outage hours/losses. All should be demonstrated by performance to KPIs.
  • Leadership, Vision, Organization, and Administration—Visible, committed, and named executive leadership. Detailed, written executive vision, necessity, and benefits of OE. Defined, effective organizational structure and decision process. Detailed program organization to include steering, leadership and improvement action teams with responsible, accountable, support, consult, inform (RASCIs) for each. Mid- and working-level managers committed to success of the Operational Excellence program.
  • Program Legal, Statutory, Regulatory, and Overall Enterprise Requirements—Comprehensive, auditable listing of all governing requirements: legal, statutory, regulatory and insurance; SHE/EHS; applicable international and national standards, local regulations, inspection, test, and calibration requirements by national and local governmental bodies and insurance carriers. Quality and organizational standards such as ISO9000, ISO55000 and others referenced as applicable.
  • Risk Identification, Assessment, and Control—Enterprise risk identification, analysis, and mitigation methodology to include an application procedure detailing requirements for classifying systems, assets, instrumentation, and work requirements by risk.
  • Business Model—An agreed-upon methodology for calculating the value of improvements in terms of business/mission value for prioritization and determining value contribution.
  • Reliability Improvement Processes—Reliability-assurance programs applied to the broad definition discussed earlier to include detailed practices and procedures:
    • Design in (including conducting reliability modeling) for all new construction.
    • Asset Integrity, expanded within Operational Excellence to include all requirements for assured safely meeting all operating requirements.
    • Reliability-improvement programs, i.e., Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM), Failure Modes and Effects Analysis (FMEA), and Preventive, Condition Based, and Proactive Maintenance (PM, CBM).
  • Failure and Incident Analysis—Provisions for identifying deviations from expectations; a procedure for reporting and documenting incidents, failures, and near misses; and action requirements to eliminate repetition and follow up.
  • Program Charter—The program plan to include business and program strategy, program objectives, and improvement plans, each to include description, value return, prioritization, detailed implementing plan, schedule, risk, and a control (sustaining) plan.
  • Sustainability, Continuous Improvement—Requirements for sustaining results and assuring continuous improvement.
  • Information and Data Management—Includes security, accessibility, document management and control, and management of change.
  • Personnel—Working culture requirements, skills management to include skills matrix, organization improvement, and transformation.
  • Periodic Assessments, Audits—Comprehensive performance assessments establish initial conditions and performance at program initiation and as part of the improvement opportunity identification process. Conducted at regular periodic intervals to validate and document performance, identify additional opportunities for improvement, and assure gains are being sustained. Applicable elements repeated as improvement programs are implemented to assess interim progress and assure that improvements meet objectives. Include periodic reviews of the program mission, strategy, and performance of individual elements to assure that there is full alignment with the business/mission vision, objectives, and strategy, and maximum program performance and value. Detailed checklists or scorecards help assure consistency in making what are often subjective judgments.

learnmore
“Operational Excellence Basics”

“Operational Excellence: A Holistic Pursuit”

Shingo Prize for Operational Excellence

1103

7:54 pm
August 6, 2015
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Excellence In Action At Johnsonville Sausage

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Sausage making is art at Johnsonville. Corporate-wide maintenance excellence, fueled by strong management buy-in and a unique company culture, helps ensure this manufacturing success.

By Jane Alexander, Managing Editor

Embarking on a journey to maintenance excellence isn’t for the faint of heart, especially when multiple sites, diverse product lines, fast-paced processes, extreme environments, and stringent regulatory compliance are involved. To help ensure the success of its growing production operations, Johnsonville Sausage (Sheboygan Falls, WI) began moving toward corporate-wide maintenance excellence in 2009. Today, Johnsonville continues to embrace and nurture maintenance excellence—and appears to recognize its performance-improvement potential as a  value-added part of the company’s business model.

Most equipment and production areas at Johnsonville undergo rigorous sanitizing procedures every 24 hours (events that, in some cases, can span approximately six hours). The processes and high-pressure hot water used in these washdown environments can be a death knell for critical systems and, in turn, an especially difficult factor in their maintenance.

Most equipment and production areas at Johnsonville undergo rigorous sanitizing procedures every 24 hours (events that, in some cases, can span approximately six hours). The processes and high-pressure hot water used in these washdown environments can be a death knell for critical systems and, in turn, an especially difficult factor in their maintenance.

Privately owned Johnsonville Sausage manufactures a wide range of fresh, smoked, and fully cooked meat products for sale throughout the U.S. and in 40 countries around the world. To meet demand, the company employs approximately 1,600 individuals, known as “members,” in its operations, and typically runs three shifts per day in most of its five plants (four in Wisconsin and one in Kansas).

On its own, maintenance associated with so many different workplaces, equipment systems, and production schedules would seem daunting for any manufacturer. But Johnsonville’s plant-maintenance teams—comprised of multi-craft personnel at each facility—also routinely contend with other factors that can affect reliable operations, including:

  • human and equipment assets expected to continuously perform well in often hostile environments, i.e., from 40 F or so on several production lines down to –40 F in at least one area)
  • rigid sanitation measures and personnel-, process-, and product-safety requirements
  • varying packaging preferences, demands, and languages reflected in a global customer base, i.e., U.S., international, retail, wholesale, commercial, and institutional.

To an outsider, the breadth of what must be maintained at Johnsonville, and the conditions under which it must be done, seems overwhelming—from ovens to freezers to automated production lines and the many components and consumables required to keep them up and running (pumps, motors, drives, compressors, controls, electrical gear, seals, bearings, and lubricants). Most equipment and production areas are subjected to rigorous sanitizing procedures every 24 hours (events that, in some cases, take approximately six hours). The sanitation processes and high-pressure hot water used in these washdown environments can be a death knell for critical systems, particularly electrical components. In addition to each facility having its own maintenance team, tools and other gear used in one plant can’t be used in another.

These ongoing challenges might constitute a maintenance nightmare for other companies, but not at Johnsonville. Its maintenance-excellence efforts make sure of that. Keys to this success include:

A remarkable level of management support and a unique company culture (see sidebar) play vital roles in driving maintenance excellence throughout Johnsonville. How many companies, for example, would be willing to not only fund offsite technical-certification training for a single plant maintenance professional, but to also fund the same training and certification activities for the site’s maintenance planner?

Johnsonville’s teams also understand the underlying principles of maintenance excellence—it’s not a program to be “implemented,” but rather a level of performance to be “achieved,” and that best practices developed by one plant or team are to be shared freely among others within the corporation.

These days, it’s not difficult to find individuals from all levels of the organization who are eager to discuss the company’s maintenance-excellence journey and recount their personal experiences with it. John Wolf, a maintenance technician at the Meadowside plant, is among them (see sidebar). So are Kim Bassuener, the company’s engineering and maintenance reliability analyst, and Jason Yancy, its reliability and energy engineer. Bassuener and Yancy, in fact, were involved with the corporation’s maintenance-excellence journey from its beginning.

Bassuener joined the company in 2003 as a member of the packaging line at the Riverside facility. Yancy started in 2006 as a maintenance coordinator. In 2009, former engineering director Dale Arnold (now retired) tapped them, along with Dana Presley, who was then serving as global maintenance coordinator, to be part of a new Corporate Maintenance and Reliability Team. While their task sounded straightforward—bringing together five independent teams and moving maintenance excellence throughout the corporation—nobody expected it to be easy.

“How,” Bassuener worried, “were we to go about standardizing five separate teams that had been working independently for many years?“ They did it, though, and, in the process, helped draw a map the company still follows.

Other attempts at getting individual plant maintenance teams to work with each other had been made over the years—without much success. Bassuener noted such efforts require extensive time and dedication. Prior to establishment of the Corporate Maintenance and Reliability Team, these commitments were hard to come by in Johnsonville’s rapidly growing, increasingly busy production facilities. Plus, each maintenance team was accustomed to working its own respective strategy.

Privately owned Johnsonville Sausage manufactures a wide range of fresh, smoked, and fully cooked meat products for sale throughout the U.S. and in 40 countries around the world. The breadth of the equipment and processes that must be maintained in the company’s five plants, and the conditions under which it is done present special challenges. Here, smoked product cools prior to packaging.

Privately owned Johnsonville Sausage manufactures a wide range of fresh, smoked, and fully cooked meat products for sale throughout the U.S. and in 40 countries around the world. The breadth of the equipment and processes that must be maintained in the company’s five plants, and the conditions under which it is done present special challenges. Here, smoked product cools prior to packaging.

Planning the journey

The new team began its work by trying to improve maintenance strategy, which first required performing individual maintenance assessments of the five plants. Those findings established a baseline for each facility and helped identify which functions offered the most opportunity for improvement. Johnsonville’s Maintenance Excellence Team—which included the maintenance coordinator (manager) and plant engineer from each of the five facilities and members of the Corporate Maintenance and Reliability Team—was created shortly thereafter.

All team members helped develop Johnsonville’s maintenance-excellence vision and mission. Bassuener said this was the first time the company had a maintenance vision.  Having that common goal was crucial in standardizing maintenance practices and defining responsibilities. Critical tasks and benefits were documented, along with metrics that could be used to evaluate improvements in key areas. As the business has grown over the past five years, some responsibilities have been re-evaluated and assigned to other team members.

Prioritizing improvements

The baseline maintenance assessment—incorporating 20 areas of focus with 300 data points—reflected feedback from every maintenance-team leader and member, and many operations-team leaders and members, “If maintenance and operations are going to be partners, working closely together,” Bassuener cautioned, “it’s necessary to get input from operations when evaluating maintenance performance.”

Reviews of the assessment data identified the following nine key improvement areas:

  • Planning and Scheduling
  • Preventive Maintenance and Lubrication
  • CMMS and Business System
  • Craft Skills Development/Training
  • Maintenance Strategy
  • Teamwork
  • Maintenance Performance Management
  • Predictive Maintenance
  • Operator-Based Maintenance.
Given the company’s vast product lineup, even something as seemingly simple as the application of package labels is considered a critical process in Johnsonville plants. Keeping these and other high-performance automated systems up and running as required is an important issue for maintenance team members.

Given the company’s vast product lineup, even something as seemingly simple as the application of package labels is considered a critical process in Johnsonville plants. Keeping these and other high-performance automated systems up and running as required is an important issue for maintenance team members.

Next steps

With priorities assigned based on assessment scores and potential benefit to the company, the Maintenance Excellence Team chose to concentrate on Planning and Scheduling, Preventive Maintenance (PM), and CMMS (computerized maintenance management system). “By focusing on these areas, Bassuener said, ”we would also see benefit in teamwork and maintenance strategy.” She shared these details of actions and results:

Planning and Scheduling. The maintenance planner/scheduler position was created to help maintenance teams become more efficient. The goal was to increase technician wrench time and quality of work performed.  Prior to establishing an official planner position, several plants had their own method of planning/scheduling work. Most had been using some type of Excel-based schedule exported from the company’s CMMS. An expectation was set for all new planners to receive planning/scheduling training through a specific third party, thus ensuring that they would all have the same knowledge base.

For planning and scheduling to be successful, everyone on a maintenance team needed to understand their responsibilities. One of the challenges Johnsonville faced when starting maintenance planning was resistance from technicians. According to Bassuener, they had been accustomed to planning their own work, ordering their own parts, and scheduling the work for when they wanted to do it. “Now they were being asked to give up that control and let someone else plan and schedule their work.”

Yancy said, while planning and scheduling has been “one of the biggest struggles,” it’s moving in the right direction. He recalled meeting several years ago with what, at the time, were the 12 or so members on the Riverside plant-maintenance team.  “A guy on third shift,” he said, “departed shortly after the maintenance-excellence journey began, leaving us with the choice to put another wrench on the shift or turn someone into a planner/scheduler.” Presented with those options, the team unanimously decided that creating a planner/scheduler position was the way to go, versus replacing the mechanic on the floor.

“Even one of the most senior guys on the team, someone who had not yet bought into the maintenance-excellence concept, agreed that this was a way to work smarter and, accordingly, make everyone’s job easier when it came to ensuring uptime.” More of that attitude, Yancy said, can be seen in today’s plants.

Although Bassuener and Yancy admit that the Maintenance Excellence Team still has some work to do on the planning and scheduling front, notable best-practice results from one Johnsonville plant will make it easier to implement at other sites. Andy Scheutte, first-shift maintenance lead at the Riverside facility, was happy to discuss this success.

According to Scheutte, the pictorial job plan forms developed by Riverside’s planner/scheduler Chad Pennings are saving substantial time and effort for the plant’s maintenance team. Pennings provides details on the job plans, along with pictures to ensure that technicians, whether experienced or new to the job, can perform the required task. This approach helps newer technicians complete work orders on their own without needing an experienced technician to walk him/her through the task. Scheutte also explained that these types of job plans are beneficial for experienced technicians as they highlight critical or easily missed steps in a task.

Johnsonville’s Maintenance Excellence Team identified PM (preventive maintenance) optimization as one of its key improvement opportunities. An early series of formal PM-optimization events in the plants quickly led to notable returns in terms of reduced PM hours. Today’s events are shorter versions of those earlier multi-day sessions. That’s because maintenance personnel now look for ways to improve PMs as they perform them.

Johnsonville’s Maintenance Excellence Team identified PM (preventive maintenance) optimization as one of its key improvement opportunities. An early series of formal PM-optimization events in the plants quickly led to notable returns in terms of reduced PM hours. Today’s events are shorter versions of those earlier multi-day sessions. That’s because maintenance personnel now look for ways to improve PMs as they perform them.

Preventive Maintenance. Planning and scheduling helped improve Johnsonville’s preventive maintenance (PM) by ensuring that work is scheduled and completed as needed. The next opportunity, according to Bassuener, was in how PM instructions had traditionally been written: very basic, without enough information for technicians to understand what was expected of them. Moreover, many non-value-added tasks were often included in these instructions. “The solution,” she said, “was PM optimization.”

PM optimization involves input from maintenance personnel, machine operators, and other technical experts. At Johnsonville, these individuals now meet to review each task on a PM instruction and determine the value of doing it. “After the first event at each plant, which was led by an outside facilitator,” she said, “we averaged a greater than 10% reduction in estimated annual PM hours.”

Bassuener observed that personnel involved in the company’s first PM-optimization activities are now facilitators for ongoing events at Johnsonville. A rotating schedule for which equipment undergoes such optimizations is in place, and participants look into the PMs of any equipment that has unusually high downtime. “These events also help identify modifications we can make to the machines to prevent future failures” Bassuener said.

It’s important to note that today’s PM-optimization events at Johnsonville are shorter versions of the first multi-day sessions. That’s because maintenance personnel now look for opportunities to improve PMs as they perform them. This approach is becoming increasingly apparent across the Sheboygan Falls campus.

A prime example is what happened after Yancy learned formal lubrication procedures weren’t in place for critical gearboxes on a Countryside production line. A pilot program of regular lubrication-PM “walks” has since been launched, incorporating the use of best-practice procedures with standardized lubrication carts. The plant expects the return on this modest investment to be considerable.

PM optimization also involves other elements associated with maintenance operations. For Johnsonville’s facilities, that includes streamlining inventories of parts and equipment. In a gearbox standardization move, for example, the Countryside plant managed to reduce the number of gearbox types it uses and stocks for certain equipment from 16 to four. Angela Gibson, Countryside’s inventory-control specialist, also worked with the site’s maintenance team to develop a standardized kitting program for a wide range of equipment PM jobs.

Maintenance-excellence efforts at Johnsonville call for sharing best practices or solutions developed or applied at one plant with others across the corporation. An example is using predictive technologies such as ultrasonics (shown here) to assess equipment and component health and identify problems before they occur. Strong management support has been a key driver in the plants’ adoption of these types of technologies and approaches.

Maintenance-excellence efforts at Johnsonville call for sharing best practices or solutions developed or applied at one plant with others across the corporation. An example is using predictive technologies such as ultrasonics (shown here) to assess equipment and component health and identify problems before they occur. Strong management support has been a key driver in the plants’ adoption of these types of technologies and approaches.

CMMS. Bassuener explained that tremendous effort during the past five years has gone into implementation of a new CMMS at Johnsonville, since capabilities and use of the company’s legacy system varied greatly among the five plants. Based on evaluation of available systems and the company’s particular requirements, SAP turned out to the best fit, given the fact that it would allow integration of other business information.

The CMMS implementation team consisted of an IT lead, a business lead, and three others. Additional resources (ABAP programmers or BW specialists) were brought in as needed. Because of the implementation team’s small size, the new system went into service in phases—launching in one plant at a time and providing two weeks of training with all affected members and two weeks of 24/7 on-site support services. “Maintenance technicians,” Bassuener said, “helped test the system and provided feedback that served as the basis for adjustments.

Today, with every Johnsonville facility operating on the same CMMS, Bassuener and Yancy said it’s easier to run KPI reports and compare the reliability of like equipment between plants. Among other things, a common CMMS has also given Johnsonville’s plants the ability to share materials and parts, thus allowing the company to reduce inventory levels.

Despite the challenges that Johnsonville’s manufacturing processes and environments pose, the company’s Maintenance Excellence efforts have  produced notable results thus far. But the journey is not over. According to Bassuener, Johnsonville’s 2015 Maintenance Excellence efforts focused primarily on technician training, operator inspections, and predictive maintenance. The company has purchased a computer-based training program for technicians, and the five plant maintenance coordinators are working to develop individualized training plans for their respective personnel.

Bassuener noted that several Johnsonville plants are now using SAP to track completion of operator inspections. “We’ve also started using ultrasound and thermal imaging technologies on some of our equipment, “ she said “Our plants have invested in sending members to training and are realizing the benefits of these technologies.”

Jason Yancy agrees with Bassuener regarding the journey thus far and moving forward. He adds that Johnsonville Sausage is the number one company in its market for a reason: “We invest in what it takes to do things right,” he said. That clearly includes maintenance excellence. MT

Johnsonville’s Company Culture: Growing Success

The role of Johnsonville’s unique culture in the company’s successful journey to maintenance excellence can’t be overstated. There are no employees at this company, much less bosses (or people to be bossed). All personnel are referred to as “members,” and managers are typically referred to as “coaches.”

Every member, regardless of his or her role or responsibility, is encouraged to offer ideas for improvement—and those ideas will be seriously considered and frequently implemented.

Johnsonville’s philosophy is simple: It grows members to grow the company. Not vice versa.

Driving Predictive-Maintenance Excellence

Johnsonville members John Wolf (left), a maintenance technician at the Meadowside Plant, and Fred Schneider, the site’s maintenance planner/scheduler, have helped champion the use of predictive technologies.

Johnsonville members John Wolf (left), a maintenance technician at the Meadowside Plant, and Fred Schneider, the site’s maintenance planner/scheduler, have helped champion the use of predictive technologies.

John Wolf likes to highlight his own positive experience on Johnsonville’s Maintenance Excellence journey and the support that company management has provided for it.

A millwright by trade (40+ years), Wolf is a maintenance technician at the Meadowside plant, where his enthusiasm for predictive maintenance led him to champion the use of ultrasonic technology. Johnsonville, in turn, funded training not just for Wolf to receive his Level 1 Certification, but for Meadowside’s planner/scheduler Fred Schneider as well. The rationale was that a maintenance planner should know what tools the technicians use in their work and how they use them.

Leveraging his ultrasound equipment and training to monitor motor bearings on Meadowside’s ovens, Wolf began to predict failures in these components before they occurred.

Later, having determined the root cause of certain impending failures to be associated with recently added variable-frequency drives, he helped a supplier identify the installation of grounding rings as a way to prevent future failure events.

Today, Wolf uses ultrasound to establish when to lubricate oven bearings and to prevent over- and under-greasing. These improved approaches are providing significant payback in terms of equipment and process reliability.

In the meantime, Wolf continues to laud the use of ultrasonics and other predictive technologies at Meadowside. And the company continues to invest in training on such technologies for others on the team.

Maintenance Done Right

As one of the original members of Johnsonville’s Maintenance Excellence Team, reliability and energy engineer Jason Yancy, has a deep appreciation for the challenges his company has faced on its journey. Asked about the current multi-crafts-profile of the plants’ maintenance teams (with experts generally found only in the refrigeration areas), he acknowledged the model could be difficult to maintain as the company grows and technology advances.

“Trying to build the perfect maintenance person is tough,” he said.  “Everyone needs to know a certain level about everything, meaning the basics of hydraulics, pneumatics, PLCs, controls, vision systems, electrical, machining, metal detection, and x-ray systems. But we can’t expect everyone to be a mile wide and a mile deep in all of these technologies. Some of our members will be going deeper in some areas in the future.”

Yancy gives enormous credit to Johnsonville’s management and culture for the success of maintenance excellence across the organization. That includes encouraging individual members to step forward with improvement ideas, keeping them in the loop as those ideas are nurtured and often implemented—or letting them know why some aren’t. “This,” he observed, “helps educate members and elevate the understanding across the organization of what it takes to implement new ideas.”

As Yancy described it, Johnsonville’s company culture helps drive improvements in other interesting ways, citing the fact that it’s easy for everyone on a maintenance team to view their department’s budget at any time. Staying on budget, he said, could translate into improved uptime. “Knowing that they are coming in ahead of their respective budgets, however, reminds our teams that they’ll have more money to implement even better solutions going forward.”

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June 12, 2015
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Improved Culture Cuts Downtime

Dow’s Deer Park, TX,  operations employ nearly 700 people within eight production areas that run as separate ‘plants within a plant.’ Specialty chemicals manufactured here go into a wide range of consumer products, including paints, detergents, floor-care solutions, adhesives and sealants, coatings, plastics, personal-care items, and water-purification chemicals.

Dow’s Deer Park, TX,
operations employ nearly 700 people within eight production areas that run as separate ‘plants within a plant.’ Specialty chemicals manufactured here go into a wide range of consumer products, including paints, detergents, floor-care solutions, adhesives and sealants, coatings, plastics, personal-care items, and water-purification chemicals.

By Shadrach A. Stephens, The Dow Chemical Co.

Infusing cultural improvements into reliability strategies helped Dow’s Deer Park, TX, operations realize an 85% improvement in unplanned instrument-related downtime.

As management philosopher Peter Drucker once described it, “Company culture is like country culture: Never try to change it. Instead, work with what you have.” That’s what we’ve done at Dow Deer Park.

Instead of an emphasis on making changes with respect to our site’s instrument-reliability program, we focus on delivering improvements. In turn, the results of our team effort have led to an 85% reduction in instrument-related unplanned downtime. What we’ve learned along the way could help others on their own reliability journeys.

Empowering our reliability team to meet expectations was the start of our journey toward a goal of zero instrument-related unplanned downtime. From 2008 to 2011, we averaged 50 unplanned events annually. As a result of our program, the team concluded 2014 with just eight unplanned events. Through the first quarter of 2015, we only had one.

The following examples reflect several of our specific improvements over the past four years:

  • Among the many instrumented technologies in a plant, control valves are the most likely to suffer wear and cycle damage. In the past, Deer Park had been dealing with an annual average of 17 unplanned downtime events associated with these issues. To reduce these problems, we developed a three-pronged approach:
    • prioritize our most critical valves
    • adhere to sound spare-parts-management practices
    • implement effective overhaul and condition-based maintenance strategies, including the use of HART-based technology to monitor valve conditions and identify problems before they could result in downtime.

As a result, unplanned downtime events plummeted from an average of 17/year to just two. Our team’s achievement—a remarkable reduction in unplanned downtime over a three-year period that, combined with several other improvement initiatives, yielded substantial financial savings, including millions of dollars in EBIT (earnings before interest and tax)—led to Dow Deer Park’s selection as the 2013 HART Plant of the Year by the HART Communication Foundation, Austin, TX (see sidebar below).

  • Working with Deer Park’s process-automation team, the instrument-reliability team implemented two software packages to track real-time instrument and control-valve performance: one we developed through our data historian and the other purchased from an OEM.
    These tools now communicate equipment deficiencies to the site’s subject-matter experts and indicate when failures occur or are about to occur. Over time, this proactive approach has helped our operations avoid many unplanned events, as well as the significant production losses they could have caused.
  • Our top-opportunity list included two technologies that suffered repeat failures, leading to considerable production losses over a multi-year period: D/P-level transmitters with liquid-filled impulse lines would fail due to heat tracing, tubing leaks, and loss of fill. Firebox temperature sensors in thermal oxidizers would fail due to thermocouple burnout and element damage.

The instrument-reliability team’s solution was to identify new technologies that could replace the existing installations and leverage them across all applicable production units at Deer Park. This type of front-end-loading process, developed with the facility’s capital-project team, helped expedite improvements. As a result, mean time between failure (MTBF) rates in the referenced production units improved, and no unplanned events have occurred since the installation of the new technologies.

Dow Chemical acquired Rohm  and Haas in 2009. The Rohm and Haas Co. had been operating in Deer Park, TX, since 1947. Today, Dow’s expansive Deer Park operation manufactures a variety of specialty chemicals in eight production areas spread across 900 acres along the busy Houston Ship Channel.

Dow Chemical acquired Rohm and Haas in 2009. The Rohm and Haas Co. had been operating in Deer Park, TX, since 1947. Today, Dow’s expansive Deer Park operation manufactures a variety of specialty chemicals in eight production areas spread across 900 acres along the busy Houston Ship Channel.

The customer’s voice

It’s been said before: Reliability is a team sport that requires support from multi-disciplined professionals who are focused on short- and long-term improvements. Understanding the challenges of the customer is a key component in defining tailored solutions. The reliability team’s success is determined by meeting the needs of our customers from the operations side of the organization.

To facilitate listening, instrument-reliability engineers conducted a series of brainstorming sessions with facility leadership and instrument technical-service representatives. The team used the Kaizen approach to manage discussions and engage maintenance staff.

This dialogue not only inspired the instrument-reliability team to create new strategies, it also generated confidence in the group among facility leaders because they were consulted from the outset. This level of leadership acceptance gave our team the flexibility it needed to create custom solutions and later request additional resources, i.e., human and equipment capital.

Buy-in was established at the leadership level and improvement opportunities were discussed from both sides of the table as a result of understanding the needs of the customer. These sessions led to the team’s comprehensive reliability strategy, which was translated from the need of short-term and long-term solutions.

Short-term projects typically looked at reactive and proactive activities that addressed day-to-day challenges. This also provided opportunities to investigate and collect data on long-term improvements. Strategies for these projects included:

  • Unplanned-event investigations—conduct informal and formal instrument root-cause investigations.
  • Real-time equipment monitoring—use diagnostics for live status updates on critical instruments and control valves.
  • Instrument assessments—complete visual inspections of all existing installations.
  • Accounting, compliance, and custody transfer—perform preventive/predictive maintenance (P/PM) on critical instruments.

Long-term projects addressed more challenging opportunities using reliability strategies. This also involved shifts in thinking toward a reliability-centered culture and the front-end loading of instrument-engineering projects. Strategies for these projects included:

  • Equipment-maintenance strategies—identify critical equipment, spare parts inventory, and P/PM.
  • Top 10 list—address repeat offenders, bad actors, and high-priority failures.
  • Technology upgrades—establish synergies with design engineering for high-priority instrument projects.
  • Facility-condition assessment—look ahead to future instrument projects and situations where those can improve production.
Supported by a strong, innovative reliability culture, the successful Instrument Reliability Program at Dow’s Deer Park operations in Texas has led to an 85% reduction  in unplanned instrument-related downtime in the past few years.

Supported by a strong, innovative reliability culture, the successful Instrument Reliability Program at Dow’s Deer Park operations in Texas has led to an 85% reduction in unplanned instrument-related downtime in the past few years.

Generate innovation

Sustained by the execution process, the innovation engine is a basic element in delivering a strategy. One striking aspect of maintenance and reliability is the many innovations that are available to help improve equipment performance. Facilities, however, still struggle to realize the benefits of these technologies. The crux of this challenge seems to be more aligned with cultural behaviors than the lack of technology.

Upon completion of our customer sessions, the next step included developing internal processes and assigning responsibility to individuals who would maintain them. The instrument-reliability engineers gathered information on the “who, what, when, where, and how” for each of these services. This information came from small pilot studies performed in our production units.

Research findings were then used to create simple process maps that allowed our group to assign sequential steps aimed at accomplishing the set goals. This operating discipline was the foundation for automating how activities were to be executed.

Buy-in was established at the leadership level, and improvement opportunities were discussed from both sides of the table as a result of understanding the needs of the customer. The comprehensive reliability strategy was translated from the need for short-term and long-term solutions.

Click to enlarge. Buy-in was established at the leadership level, and improvement opportunities were discussed from both sides of the table as a result of understanding the needs of the customer. The comprehensive reliability strategy was translated from the need for short-term and long-term solutions.

Sharpened focus

The “4 Disciplines of Execution (4DX)” proposed by McChesney, Covey, and Huling (Free Press, New York, 2012), highlights the two ingredients that leaders can use to deliver their goals: strategy and the execution. Most leaders struggle with the execution process. In fact, according to management-consultant Ram Charan (Charan Associates, Dallas), “70% of strategic failures are due to poor execution of leaders rather than a lack of smarts or vision.” Consequently, execution plans must focus on the most crucial aspects of accomplishing the team’s goals. Such plans should separate urgent activities from those of lesser priority.

When driving innovation among teams, sites must also be aware of a familiar trap that shifts leaders off target: the law of diminishing returns. There will always be more good ideas than you have the capacity to execute. For this reason, establishing goals centered on leading and lagging metrics is important for razor-sharp execution.

According to 4DX principles, goals should be structured according to, “From X to Y by When,” and should also align with the team’s scoreboard. The leading metrics are an actual measure of goals and the lagging metrics are predictive activities that the team can influence daily with a direct relationship to the corresponding leading metric.

Our instrument-reliability program used this sharpened approach to evaluate the status and success of the improvement strategy. Each service, created from the short- and long-term elements, contained a lagging measurement, and the team members performed weekly “cadence of accountability” review sessions to monitor the metric completion. Our razor-sharp focus allowed team members to make quick adjustments to the strategy as unplanned events occurred. It also accelerated activities wherein success was being realized.

The cadence and scoreboard elements also transformed goal perceptions into a competitive, winning culture that increased employee morale.

Team members have come to feel as though they are a part of something larger than themselves. Moreover, the weekly interactions with scoreboard updates help keep the robust momentum going. MT

Shadrach Stephens brings 11 years of engineering and management experience to his role as maintenance group leader, Instrument & Electrical Technical Services, for the Dow Chemical Co., Texas Operations, in Deer Park, TX. His current responsibilities include providing maintenance, reliability, and work-process leadership for a technically aligned team of subject-matter experts within the company. Stephens holds a B.S. degree in electrical engineering from Southern Univ. and A&M College, Baton Rouge, LA, and is a certified Six Sigma and Lean/Kaizen practitioner. He can be reached at SAStephens@dow.com.

Members of the Dow Deer Park Instrument Reliability Team and Plant Leadership, with article author Shadrach A. Stephens (center, holding plaque), accept the 2013 Plant of the Year Award from the HART Foundation.

Members of the Dow Deer Park Instrument Reliability Team and Plant Leadership, with article author Shadrach A. Stephens (center, holding plaque), accept the 2013 Plant of the Year Award from the HART Foundation.

The HART Award: Recognizing Ingenuity

The HART Plant of the Year Award that Dow’s Deer Park operations received (for 2013) is presented annually by the HART Communication Foundation, Austin, TX, to recognize people, companies, and plant sites that use advanced HART capabilities in real-time applications to improve operations, reduce costs, and increase availability.

The HART Communications Foundation is an international, not-for-profit, membership organization supported by more than 300 companies worldwide. Founded in 1993, it is the technology owner, standards-setting body, and central authority on the HART Protocol and provides global support for application of the technology.

According to the HART Foundation, more than 40 million HART-enabled measurement-and-control field devices and systems are installed in facilities around the world.

Previous HART Plant of the Year Award recipients include Monsanto (USA); Shell (Canada); MOL (Hungary); Mitsubishi Chemical (Japan); PVSDA (Venezuela); Statoil (Norway); Sasol Solvents (South Africa); BP (USA);  Clariant (Germany); and Dupont (USA). To learn more about the award program, visit hartcomm.org.

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