PaperWeek 2019: reliability is more than just a buzzword

Christer Idhammar, founder and CEO of IDCON. © Paper Advance

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“Equipment doesn’t fail; components do!” said Christer Idhammar, founder and CEO of IDCON Inc. by way of opening his presentation entitled, “Reliability and Maintenance excellence” during a PAPTAC technical session.

According Idhammar, the approach to managing maintenance hasn’t changed significantly in the last 50 years or so. Rather, technology has improved and become more affordable than ever. So why do so many mills fail at it? “It’s because of what I call the new program fatigue syndrome. In today’s mills, maintenance is part of a whole complex system and is treated as an independent activity. On average, a mill will hire three maintenance managers over a 10-year period.”

When it comes to maintenance, while it can be easier to take a reactive as opposed to a proactive approach, avoiding maintenance can be costly. One can also fall into a pattern called the Circle of Despair: a component breaks down, you react, you repair, you return to production and then you repeat the same pattern, over and over again. And there is no way out of the circle of despair … unless you break the chain.

According to Idhammar, to break out of the cycle, one should instead implement a Preventive Maintenance and Work management program which can be described as:

a) Prevent – lubrication, precision alignment, how to operate, etc.
b) Inspect – and act upon what you see
c) Plan – what to do and how to do it
d) Schedule – when and who will be assigned
e) Execute

“Most mills do not follow that chain very well,” Idhammar acknowledged. “This is a surprising assessment when you know all the benefits of such a program.” At one of his client mills, IDCON has turned a stunning 42% wasted time score into a 6% downtime with preventive maintenance.

Assessments are critical, Idhammar argues. “It’s how you sustain your preventive maintenance program. On average it will take 2-7 years to fully implement, but then you reap the benefits, especially if your program is part of a holistic approach, such as Kaizen or 6 Sigma.

Frederic Tremblay, Technology Manager, DomtarNoting that examples tend to speak best for themselves, the Reliability session also featured the WINTEAM approach, implemented at Domtar Windsor by Jean-Pierre Courteau, E&I Supervisor and creator of WINTEAM. Frederic Tremblay, Technology Manager at the mill, presented what he described as a fully integrated daily management system. “The goal is to improve our performance by generating more engagement from our employees with an interactive dashboard,” he explained.

Maintenance in Windsor touches 200 workers, 12 workshops, 6 areas and over 150 executed work orders each week. The program, developed in-house on Access, required tens of thousands of hours to fine-tune. While the ‘start-up’ efforts may have been significant, the approach now allows for the viewing of work orders and improves both the quantity and quality of employee feedback.

“We created competitivity amongst the workers with the color dashboard and coding: green means the work is done and the order can be shut down; yellow means it is being done now and red indicates there is some issue to solve,” Tremblay detailed. Prefilled comments also allow for fast feedback from people on the mill floor; precisely the kind of feedback that makes preventive maintenance the most effective.

While the award-winning interactive tool* is currently deployed at the Windsor Mill only, once developed on a more rugged program, it could be implemented in other Domtar facilities “A mobile app would also be welcome, since we all work with our smart phones,” Tremblay concluded.

*The tool was awarded the Best Practice prize by Mouvement Québécois de la qualité (Quebec’s movement for Quality).

Jaclin Ouellet
Journalist, Paper Advance