Haven't you waited long enough?

Few things are worth a 20-year wait. A single-malt scotch, yes. French fries at the McDonald's drive-thru, no. Retirement pension, yes. Tickets to see Katy Perry, no. The SMRP annual conference, yes.

Well, technically only the first-time attendees actually waited that long to attend, but all 918 attendees at the 20th Annual SMRP Conference were not disappointed, no matter how long they waited. The organization and the event have seen significant growth over the past two decades, and for good reason. Since Al Weber, who chaired both the first and second conferences, and a small group of others pulled together the very first event in 1992 and gathered just over 200 maintenance professionals, the conference continues to pick up momentum and help to convey the importance of equipment reliability to plant profitability.

Cindy Boyd, CEO of CBM Enterprise Solutions and president of Sentigy (www.sentigy.com), explained the importance of working together the the IT department in one of the conference’s first sessions, expanding on her story on the same subject (http://www.plantservices.com/articles/2012/09-maintenance-IT-work-together.html). Boyd’s father was a plant manager as she was growing up. “I know what it’s like for your dad to get in the car and drive away and not return for 24 to 48 hours,” she said, applauding the industry’s journey from reactive to a more proactive state. The IT evolution has moved from mainframes to client-server networks and onward to enterprise computing. But a revolution is coming, and collaboration with IT is important to success.

“We have to move IT from being a forced internal vendor to being a strategic partner,” said Boyd, who cites IT drivers as industry, the regulatory environment, physical and information security, customer-base competitive landscape, the role of technology, and the organization’s ownership structure. “If you’re going to make business gains, you have to work with your IT department,” she advised.

Boyd Helm, tempering maintenance manager at the Cardinal CG plant in Buford, Georgia, and another of the conference’s presenters, shared his journey to reliability, which included a maintenance culture change, along with leveraging CMMS software.

The plant’s initial manning included 13 technicians when Helm took over in 2008. Daily production of glass was 35,000 squ ft/shift. A preventive maintenance program and some vibration monitoring was in place.

During the transition, Helm worked with ATS for two years and learned to talk about safety at the beginning of each day during a 9:00 AM meeting. Initially, the supply room was a mess. Helm would review data reports, which were solely vibration. He got a license and implemented CMMS software. If you’re interested in reading the original story about Helm’s CMMS implementation we have it covered at http://www.plantservices.com/articles/2011/10-What-Works-CMMS-improves-uptime.html.

“We started to collect data, review data, take action, communicate, and measure,” said Helm. “And then we started talking about uptime, instead of downtime.”

The plant was coming off of 90 days that included three lost-time incidents, so one of the initial goals was to improve safety measures. Also included were reaching at least 96% uptime, changing from a run-to-failure mentality, measuring and improving, and committing to ongoing training on topics such as how to enter data in CMMS and what data quality should look like.

Results took a while, but, wow, they look great. Downtime was reduced from 15% in 2008 to 0.8% in 2011, and it’s now 0.07% so far in 2012. There has been a 40% daily production increase from 2008 to 2012. Over the same period, labor hours were reduced by 43% and overtime fell by 60%.

In 2008, the cost of downtime was $26,400 with 13 employees. By 2011, that changed to $3,243 with only seven employees. The average technician salary is around $50,000.

By June 2012, the Cardinal plant had achieved 99.1% uptime and had gone 1,150 days without an OSHA recordable incident. “A successful reliability program includes cleaning components; lubrication; alignment and balancing; filtration; safety practices; vibration, ultrasound, and thermography; and operation practices,” said Helm.