Your plant can run for a while without you

Mike Bacidore says maintenance and reliability conferences offer great learning and networking opportunities.

By Mike Bacidore, editor in chief

I enjoy the time of year when winter slowly, agonizingly turns to spring. Not so much because of the change in weather. More so because of the string of formidable conference fare that takes place from February to May.

The ARC Advisory Group 2014 Forum kicked off the parade with bar-raising discussions about the Internet of Things (IoT) and the new workforce, two topics on the minds of every plant manager. More than 800 individuals from 25 countries networked and attended presentations on forward-looking topics.

One such presentation was given by  Aaron Beasecker, vice president of information technology at Lopez Foods in Oklahoma City, where the food processor was able to realize a significant decrease in mechanical downtime. Lopez Foods is a company you might not know, but whose products you very well might consume. “You know most of our customers — McDonald's, Burger King, and Walmart, for example,” said Beasecker. “We do about 1.2 million pounds of meat in a day, and we have five locations with three processing facilities.”

The success of Lopez Foods is data-driven, but they’ve been turning that data into usable information to make better business decisions for quite some time. “We've been collecting downtime information for more than 10 years,” explained Beasecker. “We have an internally developed application to assign category and reason codes, but we lacked structured data related to mechanical failures. Work orders tell us what failed and how much it cost to fix it. But what did it cost the facility from a production standpoint?”

Working with its EAM provider, Infor, Lopez Foods was able to create a solution that leverages EAM data structures and integrates with a current downtime collection application. “We integrated the assets,” he said. “We sat down with the maintenance and operations groups to determine the common failure reason codes. After that, we built out the infrastructure in EAM — for example, can this cause downtime and what failure codes should be associated with it?”

lead-Mike-Bacidore.jpgMike Bacidore is chief editor of Plant Services and has been an integral part of the Putman Media editorial team since 2007, when he was managing editor of Control Design magazine. Previously, he was editorial director at Hughes Communications and a portfolio manager of the human resources and labor law areas at Wolters Kluwer. Bacidore holds a BA from the University of Illinois and an MBA from Lake Forest Graduate School of Management. He is an award-winning columnist, earning a Gold Regional Award and a Silver National Award from the American Society of Business Publication Editors. He may be reached at 630-467-1300 ext. 444 or or check out his .

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That structure was then associated to the production lines. “When a downtime event occurs, then I’m presented with a list of possible failures,” said Beasecker. “We then load that data into our BI analytics tools. We can slice and dice it. We now track all of the reasons for a production line to shut down. We had a 20% decrease in mechanical downtime. Unplanned results included accuracy in labor reported to work orders, and we can easily compare labor between technicians. I can get a more truthful look at labor hours.”

This is why I love this time of year — presentations like that one and subsequent conversations with the presenters. You don’t get those types of opportunities sitting behind your desk.

Noria Reliable Plant takes place in San Antonio, Texas, April 22-24, and, this year, Ultrasound World is being co-located with a new conference, Reliable Asset World, in Clearwater, Florida, May 13-16. The Reliable Plant event is marking its 15th year, and it’s always full of excellent sessions with some of the smartest reliability experts around.

We will be providing electronic updates from the co-located conferences in Florida, but that is surely a conference well worth the trip, if you can make it in person. If you see me at any of the events over the next few months, be sure to step up and introduce yourself. That’s why we’re there.

Read Mike Bacidore's monthly column, From the Editor.