Automation CMMS Maintenance Management Robotics

CMMS Drives Maintenance Efficiency

Michelle Segrest | October 13, 2016

A rack of tested ring and pinion gear sets. These are now unique, perfectly matched sets that will always fit together.A vehicle’s drivetrain translates the power of an engine into the mechanical force of the wheels. Likewise, the maintenance program at the Fort Wayne, IN, manufacturing facility of Dana Inc. is translating the power of effective data collection into equipment assets.“As a global automotive supplier, we are operating within an increasingly competitive industry sector,” said Mark Howard, plant manager. “As a result, we must continually seek ways to improve our manufacturing efficiency and reduce production costs while maintaining the highest standards for safety and product quality. Through better data utilization, we have recognized opportunities offered in our maintenance program and processes.”

Robust data and extensive CMMS use put vehicle-parts manufacturing company in the reliability driver’s seat.

The company’s “four-panel maintenance programs,” inspired by the strategic use of its CMMS system, have reduced costly equipment downtime and expensive repairs that are avoided by preventive-maintenance planning—all of which can be quantified by maintenance data.

“The role of the maintenance group is to keep the machines running, and as efficiently as possible” stated maintenance supervisor Bob McKenna. “We have made a concentrated effort to gather data, compile it, understand it, and have been successful in strategically utilizing it to make better maintenance decisions. ”

Most useful, according to McKenna, has been the ability to track maintenance efficiency. “In all my years in maintenance, I had never seen a system for successfully tracking and quantifying an efficiency rate for maintenance activities,” he said. “However, we have been able to accomplish this by comparing the number of work orders that are written each day and each week with actual completion to calculate our efficiency rating. Our initial goal was 70% efficiency, which is really good for maintenance in this type of environment. We are now up to 81%.”

Dana’s maintenance transformation in Fort Wayne began in 2014 when the company incorporated a CMMS program from eMaint (eMaint, Marlton, NJ, and began collecting and tracking data to help streamline its maintenance practices. Two years into the program, the positive results speak for themselves. 

A partially assembled carrier showing ring wear and case assembly.

A partially assembled carrier showing ring wear and case assembly.

“We have been able to gather more precise data that is maintenance related, which has enabled us to make better maintenance decisions,” McKenna said. “We can quantify actual cost/savings relating to maintenance activities to our management, which fosters an increased understanding and support of maintenance programs.  We are in an extremely competitive business climate, so anything we can do to keep costs down is beneficial.”

The company is also tracking open PMs. “I am a firm believer in reliability techniques and training, so we track PMs every day,” McKenna continued. “Sometimes we simply cannot shut a machine down. So we coordinate this in our daily morning meetings. We recently had an outside firm track some of our machines. They reported the equipment was in amazing condition, and this is due to our PM program, the dedication of our maintenance team, and cooperation we have received throughout the plant.”

The company is a supplier of highly engineered drivetrain, sealing, and thermal-management technologies that improve the efficiency and performance of vehicles with conventional and alternative-energy powertrains. Dana serves three primary markets-passenger vehicle, commercial truck, and off-highway equipment. It provides the world’s original-equipment manufacturers and the aftermarket with local product and service support through a network of nearly 100 engineering, manufacturing, and distribution facilities. Founded in 1904 and based in Maumee, OH, the company employs more than 23,000 people in 25 countries on six continents.

There are more than 20 plants and technical centers in the U.S. The almost 1 million-sq.-ft. Fort Wayne plant produces, among other products, gear sets and axle components, predominately for light-vehicle markets, which include passenger cars and light trucks.

A pallet of completed ring gears.

A pallet of completed ring gears.

Autonomous maintenance program

screen-shot-2016-10-10-at-10-01-12-amMcKenna has been the Fort Wayne facility’s maintenance supervisor for three years. Jon Weber has served 22 years as the maintenance manager. They agree that the heartbeat of their 86-member maintenance program involves an autonomous atmosphere in which the department is divided into trades and led by team leaders.

“The team leaders who report to me actually run the floor and the programs,” McKenna explained. “In the mornings we meet and determine a direction of flow we want for the day. When emergencies come up, I contact them and they address the issue directly.”

With more than 1,800 assets in the Fort Wayne facility and about 150 PMs issued each week, the maintenance professionals stay busy, working three shifts a day, seven days a week. Each professional on the maintenance team is responsible for a variety of machines, including CNCs, conveyors, hoists, fork trucks, electric-milling machines, lift stations, double-lift stations, and washers. They use electrical, mechanical, multi-craft, mill, pipe-fitting, and machine-repair groups.

The maintenance program combines tried-and-true technology, some of which is decades old, with new technology that incorporates the latest in electronic control systems. In addition, the company is dealing with scores of upgrades each day. “A bolt is still a bolt,” McKenna said. “But all the drives, robotics, and technical aspects of things are changing rapidly. We have to stay on top of both the old and the new.”

The Fort Wayne facility has a robust training program. For example, nearly half of the electricians on staff each have at least 30 years of experience. An apprenticeship program ensures that knowledge is transferred to the next generation of team members. 

“In addition to the apprenticeship program, we have onboard training whenever new equipment is brought in,” Weber said. “We send the apprentices to work with the machine builders for one or more weeks of training. We want people to specialize on specific types of machines. We do a lot of in-house training and some cross training on different types of equipment and have some employees who are specialists, for example, with the cutting machines. We also have precision grinding equipment that requires specialized training.”

These grinding wheels are used to grind the pinion wheels to size.

These grinding wheels are used to grind the pinion wheels to size.

Mechanical problems are more common than electrical issues, according to McKenna. “We often will differentiate work orders between mechanical and electrical. We now have a lot of CNC equipment, including vertical- and horizontal-milling machines and gear-cutting machines. These are paramount to our operations.” Weber added that some of the new equipment has diagnostic screens that help electricians readily identify problems.

“There is still a bit of equipment in this facility that was installed in 1946 when the plant was built,” Weber explained. “Eventually, we will have to replace some of these machines. But on the mechanical side, we love some of this old stuff. It is easy to repair and easy to make parts for them and they were definitely built to last a long time.”

Fork-truck mechanic Rafael Martinez performs maintenance on equipment at the Dana facility in Fort Wayne, IN.

Fork-truck mechanic Rafael Martinez performs maintenance on equipment at the Dana facility in Fort Wayne, IN.

Using data to solve problems

Preventive maintenance has become a priority. “We have seen some real progress,” Weber continued. “As we focus on preventive maintenance, we can easily see the number of emergency work orders drop. We are focusing on keeping the machines clean, taking the time necessary to do the regular maintenance, performing overhauls when needed, and effectively using data to make wise long-term maintenance decisions.”

Weber and McKenna agreed that the goal for the facility is to have 100% preventive maintenance. They are convinced that the data generated from the CMMS system will help them accomplish this goal.

“Once we had data that showed how our program was progressing, I shared it with the rest of our maintenance teams in group presentations. They were impressed,” McKenna said. “I think it has helped everyone understand what we are talking about and what we are driving toward. The data we compile helps the maintenance team and the production workers understand that, as we do more of these corrective PMs, it will keep the machines from breaking down. That helps contain costs in the long run.”

McKenna noted that, since the onset of the program, they have been able to quantify six-figure savings for the plant, which has helped win support at all levels of management, maintenance, and production.

It is critical that the forklifts operate smoothly. The maintenance teams keeps these crucial machines functioning reliably.

It is critical that the forklifts operate smoothly. The maintenance teams keeps these crucial machines functioning reliably.

“It’s one thing to talk about an idea we can implement to save money,” he said, “but it leaves quite an impression when you can see the impact on the bottom line.”

McKenna uses four-panel programs for cost-savings projects. As the name indicates, this involves four key steps:

— Show the problem.

— Show what you did to solve it.

— Show the tools and people used to solve it.

— Show the benefits.

“Our eMaint program helps to drive the four-panel tool,” McKenna explained. “We consider key questions like: What is your problem statement? What are some of the tools you use to test it out and to prove it out? What are the variables—the ‘fishbones?’ There are different types of programs you can use to problem solve. Once you get down to the root cause, what should you do to correct that? What are the effects from the corrective actions? It’s basically a template for us to walk through and identify those savings.”

The information is tracked, along with related expenses. “What I showed our teams for the first time recently is that when each person orders parts from store rooms, they should understand the cost to the business and be accountable,” McKenna said. “[It’s costly to order] 10 filters and [put] them on the back of your maintenance cart and maybe you drive around and three of them fall off and get dirty and you just throw them away. They need to understand the cost to the business and we break it down like that. Now they understand and can help us pay attention to the details.”

Percentages of purchases can also be applied specifically to maintenance. “Tracking maintenance has become an operations management exercise and very high tech,” he said.

“You can usually attach a dollar figure to each panel,” McKenna said. “Sometimes it’s a safety advantage. We’ve been doing this for a couple years and by compiling this data, we can also share it with other Dana facilities. It’s a great way to show what we’ve been doing, what’s working, and put it out there where everyone can see it.”

Dana's maintenance programs are robust and reliable, thanks to (from left) Mark Howard, Jon Weber, Bob McKenna, and Craig Linthicum.

Dana’s maintenance programs are robust and reliable, thanks to (from left) Mark Howard, Jon Weber, Bob McKenna, and Craig Linthicum.

Between maintenance and production, there are approximately 600 people working at the Fort Wayne facility. “We can show the savings from maintenance ideas, and cost of shutting down a machine to clean it out or make a change in the process line,” McKenna said. “We track all of this. For example, we realized a large savings with all this new equipment coming in. We needed to buy adapters that bring our power from the overhead system down to the machine. We considered new adapters and had vendors bring some reconditioned ones for testing, which ended up saving us two-thirds on cost.”

The savings in that project calculated to more than $100,000, he said. “It was great that it came from our team leader. He did the research, brought in the people, and made it happen.”

Another great example involved machines that were having dirty coolant-fluid issues. Several engineering groups were brought in, but they couldn’t get it solved. Two Fort Wayne mechanics presented a simple idea to make a few physical changes on the machines, and it saved $40,000 on each machine. McKenna created a PowerPoint presentation that showed the changes and tracked the savings through data gathered in the CMMS. “The data drove the ideas for the solution, and we were able to dig deeper and find the root cause,” he explained.

Labor hours and costs for parts are charged directly to each machine through the eMaint system so every asset is tracked.

For each of the 1,800 assets, the data are entered into the CMMS and attached to a department. Every asset has a specific location on the floor. All work orders are tracked by department, and labor and repair hours are tracked to the specific asset. There is a work-order history, so all mechanic or electrician comments are also trackable, as well as depreciation.

“At any time, we can run a report and tell which machines need general maintenance,” McKenna said. “The production manager can see which machines are down and costing money. We are creating charts on a monthly basis so we can see which machines are causing the most problems. Then the discussion is about PMs that will keep these machines from having so many labor hours on them. We   can determine if there are parts we need to change. We look at this and will get together with engineers to identify and solve the problems. We also track PM performance.”

Weber emphasized that building charts and graphs is one thing, but understanding what the data tell you is the key to improving maintenance programs and saving money. “One thing I learned from reading Efficient Plant years ago, is that an emergency repair costs you seven times more than a planned repair,” Weber said. “You take the cost of the downtime against having parts kitted and planned work scheduled, and you can begin to put cost savings to maintenance. I am here to tell you, the guys who perform the labor are interested in the business side. It’s important that they understand that everything they do affects the end user. Every decision that we make as maintenance professionals affects the cost of doing business. These guys are out looking for ways to improve all the time. And when you can track the data and use it to incorporate better programs, that’s when the knowledge really becomes powerful.”




Michelle Segrest

Michelle Segrest

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