1660320535305 Whatworkscmmsimprovesuptime2

The road to improved uptime is paved with asset management

Oct. 11, 2011
In this installment of What Works, CMMS helps a maintenance manager shrink downtime to less than 1%.

Boyd Helm does glass, lots and lots of glass. As the tempering maintenance manager for the Buford, Georgia, Cardinal CG plant, Helm manages more than 100 assets related to the fabrication of residential glass products. Despite a reduction in maintenance technicians from 12 to eight, he successfully reduced downtime from 15% in 2008 to an impressive 0.8% in 2011.

Helm is no superhero. He’s a regular guy who uses teamwork and every available tool to achieve results.

Founded in 1962 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Cardinal designs and fabricates residential glass products for windows and doors, creating products that reduce energy usage by up to 20%. Cardinal has 28 locations with 4,500 employees, all focused on providing superior-quality products, staying highly competitive in the marketplace and executing high-end customer service every day. The Cardinal CG plant in Buford specializes in coated and tempered glass products.

With more than 25 years in automotive and manufacturing under his belt, Helm brought extensive maintenance management experience to Cardinal CG. His new role included the maintenance management responsibility for 113 assets in the tempered division, including equipment such as furnaces and high-volume cutting machines specific to glass tempering.

Cardinal reduced downtime by 95% of equipment, such as the high-speed furnace used in its tempered division.

When he arrived in 2008, downtime was running at 15%. Work orders and most maintenance management were still done by word of mouth in a run-to-failure culture centered on reactive maintenance. Downtime reports were generated by the production department but were not circulated to the maintenance department; communication and teamwork were lacking. Helm needed better tools to deliver truly effective maintenance management and jumpstart improvements.

He started by implementing a CMMS program already in use at a sister division for scheduling and tracking PMs. He was able to initially reduce downtime through better scheduling and planning. But due to system inflexibility and a lack of provider support, he had difficulty extracting information from the system in a format that was usable to him and his team. After 15 months, downtime improvements flattened. Without reporting, Helm couldn’t analyze cumulative historical data, spot trends or produce key reports in desired formats to share with management and production teams.

Helm outlined his CMMS requirements and determined that, in addition to affordability and flexibility, he needed the tools to be able to track labor easily; generate preventive maintenance checklists, including daily inspections and walk-throughs; perform predictive maintenance; and track inventory of spare parts, including min/max levels for reordering. The ability to easily generate planned activity and work status reports for first line supervisors, production personnel and operations management was essential. With these tools, along with gaining the ability to easily communicate among departments to build teamwork, Helm was confident Cardinal could achieve a turnaround toward increased profitability.

Helm selected eMaint X3 CMMS. He chose a Web-based system due to lower upfront costs and the ability to deploy rapidly. He was able to import all information — assets, parts, PMs, work history — from the old system into eMaint with ease and began using the system to schedule and track all PMs, work requests, and repair orders and to track inventory for spare parts. Using eMaint’s reporting tools, Helm calculates the depreciation and cost to maintain assets to determine if they should be repaired or replaced. He manages labor resources with the scheduling feature and makes use of the Gantt chart tool for project planning and to maximize labor productivity.


Downtime was reduced by 95%, dropping from 15% in 2008 to 0.8% in 2011. Cardinal CG also experienced significant cost savings. In 2008, Cardinal CG’s downtime resulted in lost productivity each week. The continuous improvement in downtime that has been achieved since implementation has allowed Cardinal CG to reduce production shifts to 4/10 (four 10-hour shifts) representing a meaningful reduction in labor hours by 43%. Average daily production also increased more than 40% from 2008 to 2011, while overtime for tempering maintenance was reduced by 60%.

This resulted in Cardinal CG operating at a 45% profit after several consecutive unprofitable years. Even faced with an economic downturn, the Cardinal CG division has had no layoffs and is profitable due to its increased efficiency.

Beneath the top-line results, Helm knew that he couldn’t derive the full benefit from the system and achieve results without reporting and analysis, as measurements would present countless opportunities for improvements. When he joined Cardinal CG, maintenance was considered an expense to the company instead of a necessity. Using the reporting feature of his CMMS, Helm could now produce reports and data to justify expenditures and show the true cost of maintaining vs. replacing. Instead of continuing to repair piecemeal in a low-cost, short term manner, Helm could fix it right the first time and accomplish savings over the long term.

Similarly, Helm has helped shape the corporate mindset to embrace predictive maintenance. He began by applying vibration analysis and quality tests to the daily walk-through inspections. The quality tests included testing glass breakage patterns, weighing glass and pressure testing. This enabled Cardinal CG to detect problems before they occurred and then plan the appropriate maintenance for the least disruptive time.

The Cardinal CG plant in Georgia utilizes more than 100 assets to manufacture and handle the glass it produces.

Helm’s migration from preventive to predictive maintenance on high-temperature ovens is a result of the CMMS implementation. Since the plant used to run equipment to failure, it faced long periods of downtime that weren’t necessary. The high-temperature ovens require 48 hours of cool-down before any maintenance can be performed. Running to failure meant a minimum of three days of downtime. By implementing a preventive maintenance program, Helm reduced the oven cool-downs from monthly to quarterly. He was also able to record and analyze vibration readings and look into data trends. Based on an analysis of the data, Helm hasn’t had to perform the last two cool-downs, further reducing downtime and savings. Helm also schedules and triggers a monthly element survey. With predictive data, Cardinal can now plan a cool-down instead of waiting for a failure. It recently scheduled a cool-down over a holiday weekend when data indicated that a bearing might soon fail, minimizing production disruption.

Helm was able to make a difference using the eMaint CMMS tools, but communication was critical, and he knew that with the ability to disseminate information, he could make change happen. Before Helm arrived, downtime reports were being produced by production but weren’t being circulated to the maintenance team, and there was no formal communication between departments.

Thirty-minute meetings between maintenance and production were implemented to communicate concerns and plans. This facilitated a more uniform mindset and allowed the different departments to coordinate their schedules and plan for PMs and any scheduled maintenance. Improved planning has helped Helm’s maintenance team sustain an on-time PM completion rate in the high 90% range.

Improving safety is key, and the track record at Cardinal CG when Helm joined in October 2008 was troubling. Helm reduced the number of accidents by the tempering maintenance department, implementing daily safety meetings lasting no more than 15 minutes between shift changes, posting photos of potential safety hazards via email and on bulletin boards, adding safety inspections that included a 60-item checklist, implementing daily walk-throughs and posting visuals stating the number of days the plant has been accident-free. The last accident was March 12, 2009, and his department has now been accident-free for more than 800 days. The safety improvements are the result of planning, rigorous monitoring, and constant training and reinforcement.

Not one to rest on his laurels, Helm continues to use his CMMS toolbox to craft additional improvements. He consistently sets goals for improvements in KPIs and is integrating bar-coding and purchasing to track inventory costs. Helm plans to continually adjust his downtime goal, never settling but always striving for continuous improvement. Safety remains a priority, and Helm is committed to keeping the plant accident-free. He knows safety must be maintained and policed at all times.

He uses min/max inventory planning to trigger parts reordering to ensure the parts needed for PMs and repairs are available when the work is performed. He is in the process of launching eMaint’s purchasing feature to more accurately track costs of spare parts.

Helm also continues to perfect his craft and train his team utilizing eMaint’s Web-based training tools and encouraging his weekend and night employees to do so, as well. One man, with the support of a team and the right CMMS, can make a world of difference.

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