Fabricator exceeds 99% uptime

Feb. 21, 2013
In this installment of What Works, Midland Metal Products measures its way to ISO 9000 certification with CMMS.

It’s one thing to claim customer satisfaction in marketing literature and Web content. It’s another to achieve it by precisely measuring customer specifications and winning ISO 9000 certification.

Midland Metal Products (MMP, www.midlandmetalproducts.com), a family-owned fabricator in Chicago, opened its doors 90 years ago, long before standards for managing manufacturing processes were an industry requisite. It wasn’t until World War II when factory munitions were exploding on British plant floors that an international standards body formed to regulate processes and procedures. Today the ISO 9000 is a condition of doing business with quality-driven manufacturers, and MMP embarked on a course to obtain ISO certification on behalf of its customers.

MMP designs and fabricates permanent advertising display fixtures using sheet metal, wire, and tube for a vast array of consumer goods and products. As a fourth-generation supplier, many processes had simply grown with the business. While going through certification audits, it became clear MMP needed to modernize its maintenance management process. Part of that certification process was to implement CMMS.

Measurements count

Because MMP builds advertising displays for ad agencies that serve hundreds of consumer retail brands, it receives specifications from ad agencies to fabricate displays from scratch.

“Because we do custom displays we’re bringing to life fabrications that haven’t existed before,” says B.J. McDonald, MMP co-owner and facility director. “Erroneous measures can ruin the display. Therefore our measuring tools have to give precise measurements.” This is more than just taking careful measurements. “We need all our measuring devices to be precision-perfect and calibrated correctly,” notes McDonald.

To meet ISO standards, all 242 measuring tools, from tape measurers to micrometers, have to calibrate precisely to the customer’s measurement parameters. “The ISO 9001-2008 certification helped us look at our production system and come up with a precise process to do this one thing perfectly all the time, from the moment you get the customer order to the end product the customer receives,” explains McDonald.

Because of the close tolerances for its custom products, calibrating measurement devices regularly was a major issue. “As part of our certification, ISO auditors looked at whether our measurement devices could fail,” says McDonald. “Bigfoot CMMS helped us win ISO certification.”

Before MMP installed Bigfoot CMMS, the company had no way to adequately track or maintain any of its measurement devices. Today MMP schedules preventive maintenance (PM) for every measurement device used in the plant. The CMMS software tells MMP when maintenance needs to check tape measurers, micrometers, calipers, weight scales, scales on a crane, and all the rest of its devices. By using CMMS to issue daily PMs, MMP shows ISO auditors and customers that the company is working within the tolerances of its market. According to ISO standards, each device needs to have a certificate of calibration to get the designation. This is one area, says McDonald, where the company cannot miss a PM.

Maintenance matters

But Midland uses CMMS for more than measurement devices. The facility is 110,000 sq ft with 165 employees and 138 pieces of production machinery equipment, including turret presses, laser cutters, press brakes, and resistance welders, with only three people on its maintenance staff. MMP uses Bigfoot CMMS for the entire plant, including 2,100 assets from air and power tools to facility equipment, stationary power tools, personal protection equipment, material handling, and even janitorial supplies.

Before the implementation, McDonald describes the maintenance process as a verbal and casual method of maintenance, responding to the loudest shout.

“We had no time to put a preventive maintenance program in place,” says McDonald. “That also meant noncritical repairs sometimes got fixed before critical requests that were truly important to the operation, so downtime was a problem, too.”

McDonald admits that implementing the two programs seemed like a big task. “The ISO preparation can seem, at times, as if it’s adding complexity,” he says. “But the end result is a streamlined system with increased efficiency across the board. We get a similar result from our Bigfoot CMMS system. We had to asset-number every piece of equipment we use, down to tape measurers and air conditioning units.”

But the initial prep work was worth it. “Anything that needs maintenance, replacement, inspection, cleaning, and calibration now has maintenance scheduled,” says McDonald.

MMP uses the CMMS software for work orders, request for repairs, and PM scheduling. The team generates about 2,400 work orders for PMs a year. This has allowed them to reduce unforeseen repairs to about 20% of their previous workload.

PM efficiencies boost uptime

With 15 seats to serve each department and a hierarchy of requestors, MMP has eliminated interruptions from ad hoc requests. So the maintenance staff is more efficient. McDonald cites other efficiencies. “Once the PM calendar was set up, we were able to increase maintenance department productivity by being better able to distribute PMs more evenly,” he says.

The CMMS software prioritizes high-value machine PMs so Midland can stay ahead of breakdowns. That’s where McDonald sees the biggest improvement. “With our PM program, we now average 99.6% uptime on our production equipment,” he says.

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