Putting Reliability Back Into Equipment Performance

Many companies have invested heavily in recent years in new plant and equipment. Much of this equipment is running at higher speeds and is operating for longer periods than before, often 24/7. Yet, despite this investment in state-of-the-art equipment, plant efficiencies are not reaching target levels.

To understand why plant performance is poor, one needs to look at the underlying causes. In many companies, most ‘performance losses’ are classed as downtime which, in turn, is equated with breakdowns. Breakdowns are seen as maintenance issues, i.e. an engineering problem. However, the reality is often very different. Most equipment in the food and drink industry will run virtually for ever if no product or packaging materials are put through it. The vast majority of losses centre around the machine/material interfaces, and there are many hundreds of these on a high speed packaging line.

Most of these losses are likely to be caused by one or more of the following:

• Poor setting at changeovers or start-ups

• Raw material or packaging material variations

• Poor line control philosophy

• Inappropriate cleaning

• Incorrect operating procedures

• Process control or process capability issues

• Equipment design or specification issues.

Working closely with a number of household-name companies in the food and drink sector, GGR Associates have developed a very structured approach to address these problems. It includes elements of Reliability Centred Maintenance (RCM) from the US airlines, Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) from the Japanese car industry, FMECA and SMED (Quick Changeovers).

The analysis is undertaken by a small team that knows the equipment well working under the guidance of a facilitator, and involves both operators and technicians as well as relevant specialists. The focus is on improving overall plant performance.

Its application has led to dramatic improvements in performance levels in a wide range of companies, including many in the food and drink sector. For examples of successful projects, go to our website: www.ggrassociates.co.uk, or email us at: info@ggrassociates.co.uk.