Reliability-centered maintenance optimizes production and increases safety

In this installment of What Works, plant-wide reliability training saves one hot strip mill $2 million.

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The ArcelorMittal USA Flat Roll Operations ( is comprised of 12 operating facilities employing more than 17,000 people. The World Class Equipment Reliability (WCER) team at the ArcelorMittal Burns Harbor Hot Strip Mill achieved dramatic results in a one-year period. Total savings in 2010 were $2,076,900. Other positive benefits include increased safety and a cleaner work environment.

During 2007, senior leadership determined that in addition to investing capital in production equipment replacement or upgrade, a complete and consistent reliability business process should be developed and implemented and coupled with world-class reliability practices and tools to reap the full benefits of any capital expenditure.

To launch its WCER effort, ArcelorMittal-USA (AM-USA) formed a central team with members from each U.S. site. They partnered with Ivara ( to learn and use the Ivara reliability process, practices, technology and methodology. Ivara consultants trained this central team, and the teams were deployed to their plant sites to launch the WCER initiative.

The objective of the training and coaching was to prepare the AM-USA central team members to be the internal WCER trainers and coaches for their operations. This development effort was completed in 2009, leaving each plant site with a central WCER team of internal reliability practitioners to drive and support future reliability improvements.

The Ivara EXP Enterprise software was the tool selected to support the AM-USA WCER implementation. The software was installed on corporate servers using a single database for all U.S. operations. A custom interface to the Tabware CMMS was designed, tested and implemented to manage the full scope of the WCER business process.

In 2009, the Burns Harbor Hot Strip Mill (HSM) operation was identified as a high-priority candidate for WCER implementation. It was experiencing an average delay rate of more than 22%. Significant improvements in production equipment reliability were necessary to achieve the 2010 business plan of 18% average delay rate. Through much of 2010, the mill wasn’t operating at full capacity. However, as economic conditions improved, the production requirements have increased. This opportunity was another reason to take action to reduce the high delay rate in a sustainable manner.

A team was assembled to focus exclusively on applying the WCER approach and methodologies to begin addressing the mill’s reliability problems. This began with implementing proactive asset management business processes. The initial area of focus was the finishing mill, which consistently experienced the highest delay rates at the mill.

Critical to program success was ensuring that the HSM WCER team, which represented 6% of the maintenance workforce, be able to focus exclusively on proactive activities and not be pulled away to deal with day-to-day duties. Area leadership demonstrated its support by assigning 10 people from the mill to the WCER effort full-time. This included seven from the HSM maintenance group, one from operations and two from the operations technology group. In addition, an outside asset coach was brought in to lead the effort.

The Burns Harbor Central Reliability Team provided WCER skills training and coaching to the HSM team members and ensured that the improvement effort was performed in accordance with the overall AM-USA WCER standards.

During 2007, senior leadership determined that a complete and consistent reliability business process should be developed and implemented and coupled with world-class reliability practices and tools to reap the full benefits of any capital expenditure.

In preparation for the effort, training profiles and collaterals were developed to support the key roles in the WCER organization. Where possible, computer-based training that incorporated knowledge testing was used to deliver the skills upgrades. This was supplemented with classroom training as needed to fulfill role requirements. Everyone on the team has a competency profile that identifies the training completed and the certifications attained. Providing comprehensive skills training followed by field coaching effectively prepared this team to deliver strong results while enabling them to educate others at the mill about the value of a proactive approach.

The HSM-WCER team was built to ensure the delivery of a world-class equipment reliability business process. One asset coach coordinated overall WCER development and implementation efforts. Two reliability practitioners facilitated the work identification activities. Two equipment specialists implemented the recommended action plans in the form of indicators, inspection routes and corrective tasks within the enterprise software. They also were responsible for alarm acknowledgement within the EXP software and the continuous reliability improvement of production assets within their area.

Three equipment inspectors performed the equipment inspections following the routes built in EXP and entered the equipment conditions in handheld inspection devices. They provided feedback to the equipment specialists to improve the quality of the indicators and routes. One lead planner/scheduler planned and scheduled proactive inspection and corrective activities to address abnormal equipment conditions. This role is critical to the weekly downturn planning/scheduling activities, which now incorporate much more proactive work.

Two planners handled detailed inspection and corrective maintenance job planning within the Tabware CMMS. This includes identifying parts, materials, manpower, procedures, safety information, permits and tools needed to perform corrective maintenance work efficiently, effectively and safely. One operator inspected equipment and provided input to the work identification analyses.

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