The Plant Services Best Practices Awards recognize management techniques, work processes, and product and service implementations that exemplify the definition of a Best Practice according to the Society of Maintenance and Reliability Professionals (SMRP): “A process, technique or innovative use of resources that has a proven record of success in providing significant improvement in cost, schedule, quality, performance, safety, environment or other measurable factors that impact the health of an organization.”
Entries must demonstrate how to implement a best practice, show the potential payoffs in both qualitative and quantitative terms, and provide inspiration for those who must overcome cultural inertia and make effective changes. Entries may be submitted by plant personnel, vendors, engineering firms, consultants or anyone who is familiar with the application and has permission to make it public knowledge. Our categories also include Equipment, Reliability and Energy Efficiency, but this round’s focus is on Management.
Every contender offered an impressive management practice that can increase productivity, improve efficiency or reduce costs. Judging criteria included percentage reductions or cost savings, return on investment and broadness of applicability, with recognition given for innovation and creativity.
The winning practice was submitted by Matthew Preston, director, Byrne Group PLC, and Kate James, marketing manager, 4H Solutions, together with support from COINS. The concept of using RFID to track assets, tools and materials is no longer new, but Byrne overcame significant challenges by implementing it on a wide variety of items, many of which are mobile, over a large geographical area. Add in the fact that they tagged virtually everything and everyone, and the challenge of a long history of doing things the old-fashioned way, and Byrne Group’s successful implementation won the votes of our judges to become this round’s Best Practice in Management.
Winner: RFID empowers mobile asset management
Taming tools and materials promises five-year cash flow of $350,000
With more than 1,300 items of plant, tooling and equipment, UK construction services company Byrne Group set about addressing deficiencies in its processes to improve both profitability and customer service. Working in collaboration with 4hSolutions (www.4hsolutions.com) and COINS (www.coins-global.com), it developed a way to address the management and control of Byrne’s assets.
The Byrne Group had already established a consolidation center in Mitcham, South London, and was one of the first in the industry to do so. The seven-acre facility is a hub that provides plant and materials, and warehouse and distribution facilities to most of its construction sites. With more than 1,300 pieces of equipment, the asset management function was less than stellar. Asset tracking for portable appliance testing (PAT) and other maintenance processes was performed manually and was labor-intensive. Each year, more than 3,200 individual job cards were processed at a cost of about £33 ($50) each. There was no effective theft deterrent, resulting in about £100,000 ($153,000) worth of tools lost or stolen each year. In addition, the Mitcham site lacked a robust method for tracking tools once stores issued them. There was no accurate way to know what was where, and when or if it had been returned.
The situation with requisitions wasn’t much better. It was paper-based via fax and telephone, which in requisitions being misplaced or misinterpreted. Every engineer and foreman had their own way of describing what item they needed, which then required an interpretation back at the consolidation center. And consumables — timber, fuel and stock items such as personal protective equipment and signs — showed no record of ever having been requisitioned.
Tagged assets can be instantly scanned and identified using handheld computers.
Combining the COINS Plant Manager module to automate the issue and return of Byrne Group’s plant, stock and equipment with Assettagz’s radio frequency identification (RFID) technology made it easy to manage, track and get visibility of these assets.
Byrne approached the project in two phases, the first of which was to get visibility and take control of its assets by building an asset register. Byrne required one full year to tag its plant, tools and equipment to populate and maintain an accurate asset register using Assettagz.
A variety of RFID tags were used. Bins containing stock items were labeled with plastic credit-card-sized tags. Tools got glass tags. Lifting gear had molded plastic tags attached with steel cable. On August 1, 2008, Byrne issued Assettagz RFID-enabled ID cards for every staff member at Mitcham. These ID cards are used in conjunction with handheld computers to track any equipment issued to the staff.