Status symbol

Traditional maintenance methods may fade away as computer-based systems provide convincing arguments for their replacement

From the design department to the factory floor, few areas of the modern manufacturing operation have resisted the march of computers.

One of the exceptions to this rule has been maintenance scheduling, with the traditional wall-mounted cardboard ticket system holding its own against a host of digital pretenders.

However, with computerised maintenance management (CMM) systems boasting increasing levels of sophistication the argument for their adoption is growing all the time.

A compelling case is provided by gas sensor manufacturer City Technology, which, since deploying Logical Fish’s Effishon CMM system last year, has enjoyed some remarkable efficiency improvements.

Part of the Honeywell Group, City Technology’s existing methods of capturing data from its maintenance activities were inaccurate, difficult to use and provided little in the way of objective, useable information. The company set itself the challenging task of reducing process downtime by 50 per cent in only a one-year period. To do this, it determined that it needed to find a way to provide clear visualisation and standardisation in terms of work and personnel deployment, combined with accurate data collection and reporting of its processes.

With this in mind, City Technology became interested in utilising a CMM system. With CMM systems, businesses can measure the performance of their assets, identify business weaknesses, measure workflow, service response time, and much more besides. The best CMM systems allow for concise and accurate data gathering as well as strong maintenance management in terms of personnel deployment and reaction. What’s more, the very latest systems are also able to make proactive suggestions on how to achieve better outcomes, providing an alert whenever necessary to ensure that every process is operating to its maximum efficiency.

The first objective for City Technology was to begin to understand its true downtime, something that is often either unknown to companies or is alternatively skewed by subjectivity. With the accurate information provided by Effishon, the aim was to be able to more clearly determine when and where maintenance cover and corrective action was most required.

With Effishon set up to monitor its processes, the firm could instantly see that between the hours of 08:00 and 09:00 it received the most number of maintenance calls. As a result, it was immediately able to ensure that cover was maximised during this busy period.

With this accurate measurement in place and without adding personnel to its maintenance team, the company was able to achieve a reduction in the response times of 62 per cent over a 10-month period.

The next task was to significantly reduce the time lost due to equipment and process failures and non-conformances. Again, a number of Effishon’s advanced analytical tools were used to determine exactly where the major losses were occurring. By using this data, staff were able to cherry pick the maintenance tasks that would yield the most savings in both cost and downtime.

This process of continuous improvement results in an endless reduction of downtime and provides clear communication to both management and staff regarding the progress and status of City Technology’s business. Following Effishon’s success, City Technology chose to also use the Total Productive Maintenance feature to further eat away at the downtime of its processes. As a result it has achieved its target of a 50 per cent reduction in downtime ahead of schedule. Barry Martin, maintenance manager at City Technology, said: ‘Using a CMM system such as Effishon has transformed the way we work and how we view our business processes. We are now planning to add calibration and PAT testing tasks to Effishon. Based on its success, Effishon has now been migrated to another Honeywell site, which is already enjoying the same benefits.’