September 30, 2015 / bottlenecks, circular sawing, Cost Management, LIT, operator training, preventative maintenance, productivity, quality, supplier relationships
In ball and roller bearing manufacturing, circular sawing is just one of many steps in the production process. However, one maintenance hiccup in the middle of a long production run can throw off the entire schedule.
This is why preventative maintenance is so critical. When equipment and tooling is well maintained, it is more reliable, more predictable, and more productive—all of which adds up to a more efficient operation.
For example, a benchmark study from the LENOX Institute of Technology (LIT) revealed that 67 percent of industrial metal-cutting operations that follow all scheduled and planned maintenance on their machines also report that their job completion rate is trending upward year over year—a meaningful correlation. The implication is that less disruptive, unplanned downtime and more anticipated, planned downtime translates into more jobs being completed on time.
Being proactive—not reactive—when it comes to maintaining your manufacturing equipment can bring major benefits to your operation. This is especially true in high-speed, precision metal-cutting applications.
To help ball and roller bearing manufacturers implement an effective preventative maintenance (PM) program for their circular sawing operations, the LENOX Institute of Technology (LIT) offers the following best practices:
- Get Everyone Involved. Most continuous improvement initiatives need to be a team effort if they are going to be sustainable, and PM programs are no exception. To create a more team-centric PM program, a growing number of companies are using a lean tool called Total Productive Maintenance (TPM). According to leanproduction.com, TPM “blurs the distinction between the roles of production and maintenance by placing a strong emphasis on empowering operators to help maintain their equipment.” The goal of a TPM program is to create a shared responsibility for equipment maintenance to maximize the operational efficiency of equipment. Many companies have found this approach to be very effective in increasing up time, reducing cycle times, and eliminating defects.
- Schedule Daily and Quarterly Preventative Maintenance (PM) Checks. Although many managers avoid PM checks because of the time they take away from production, adhering to a PM schedule helps to reduce downtime in the long run. As described in LIT’s white paper, The Top Five Operating Challenges Ball and Roller Bearing Manufacturers Face in Industrial Metal-Cutting, PM programs should include daily operator checks as well as in-depth inspections performed by maintenance personnel. For daily PM, operators should follow a simple checklist that includes basic tasks such as refilling both coolant and hydraulic reservoirs, as well as blowing off chips and keeping blades clean. The maintenance staff should also perform quarterly PM checks. These typically include greasing, oil and filter changes, and replacement of any wearable parts. Many companies conduct these checks during the third shift so they don’t disrupt the overall production schedule.
- Designate a Planner. While most manufacturers have some form of PM program in place, many aren’t following through with them because no one is in charge of enforcing the schedule. One manufacturer, featured here in Reliable Plant magazine, decided to address this issue by assigning a maintenance planner at each of its factories. Candidates for the planner position were selected from the maintenance workforce based on seniority and skill set, and each planner received specialized training and aptitude testing. Although it took a while for the planner and employees to perfect its maintenance planning/scheduling processes, the company eventually saw positive results: Over a period of three years, the percentage of planned work improved from 83 to 85 percent, schedule compliance jumped from 29 to 63 percent, and downtime decreased from 4 to 3.3 percent. The company also ended up designating two or three planners per factory, depending on the size of the factory and maintenance workforce.
- Lean on Suppliers. Managers should also consider working closely with their circular saw equipment and blade manufacturers when creating their PM programs. No one knows your metal-cutting equipment better than the companies who made it. In fact, many suppliers provide complimentary annual or bi-annual PM check-ups, which can provide more in-depth equipment diagnostics and some much-needed support to maintenance personnel. This is a cost-effective way to ensure that machines and tools are truly running at their optimal levels.