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The Situation

In a highly competitive business environment, improving operational performance is a critical business strategy for ArcelorMittal Tubular Products. The company recognized that preventing equipment failure is a key enabler of this strategic focus.

Beginning with its Shelby, Ohio and Woodstock, Ontario facilities, ArcelorMittal Tubular Products embarked on an asset performance improvement initiative.

The Shelby, Ohio plant manufactures mechanical tubing for the fluid power industry and is comprised of two 750,000 square foot plants, employing 750 workers. With the dramatic growth in the mechanical tubing market, everything produced at Shelby is sold. In order to keep up with the increasing market demand, equipment was being pushed to its maximum capacity, with some productions lines running seven days a week, 24 hours a day.

"We realized that operating our equipment 24/7 was not sustainable," states Dane Smith, Shelby Plant Manager, ArcelorMittal Tubular Products. "With some aging equipment and minor failures beginning to occur, we could not risk losing a customer due to a catastrophic equipment failure. Our choice was to either add more equipment or simply get more out of what we have."

The Woodstock, Ontario plant manufactures automotive tubing and is comprised of a 688,000 square foot facility with 37 processing lines, employing 640. In contrast to the Shelby facility, Woodstock was experiencing a slowdown in the automotive tubing market. As a result, cost effectiveness and ensuring streamlined, efficient operations was critical. Assets had to be available when needed, with no room for downtime or waste.

"Because we're an automotive supplier, the big three auto manufacturers expect their orders with a week's notice, a day's notice and often at an hourly notice," comments Ian McLean, Woodstock Reliability Specialist, ArcelorMittal Tubular Products. "We have to get the parts to another plant within a 20 minute window, and if something goes down, we risk shutting down a major automotive supplier. Obviously, asset effectiveness is critical."

Shelby's goal was to increase plant capacity in order to meet market demand, while Woodstock's goal was to attain lean operations and reduce costs to address reduced demand. In light of their different challenges, both facilities adopted a common strategy - optimize asset performance and maintenance effectiveness.

The Challenge

While Shelby and Woodstock had different drivers for change, they shared several common challenges within their maintenance organizations.

Woodstock and Shelby were beginning to experience broad based performance issues and unplanned downtime on older assets. Both also operated in highly reactive maintenance environments with preventive maintenance (PM) taking a backseat to firefighting. Since many production lines operated 24 hours a day, seven days a week, the only opportunity to maintain the equipment was when it had already failed.

In addition, the preventive maintenance in place was time-based and not technically validated. "No one knew who originally built the PM program or why it was built. We'd do PM's and then a week later the machine would break down," says McLean. "Instead of fixing the problem, more PM's would be built. The workers had no faith in them and we needed to change."

Historically, the culture in both facilities was one in which maintenance had exclusive ownership of asset care. The knowledge of operators, who worked with the equipment everyday, was never leveraged. In addition, the company recognized that if the valuable equipment knowledge of their aging maintenance and operations workers was not captured before their retirement, it would be lost forever.

To fully embrace a new proactive approach to maintenance, both facilities had to secure internal buy-in for the new asset care program. Previous improvement initiatives had not produced the desired benefits, which resulted in a level skepticism that made employees resistant to change and management resistant to approve.

The Solution

To address these challenges and support its goal of operational excellence, ArcelorMittal Tubular Products selected Ivara EXP Enterprise asset performance management software. The Ivara solution combines advanced technology and reliability practices that support Ivara's renowned proactive asset reliability process. The process is put in place and sustained with the Ivara Work SmartTM methodology, which builds and implements asset reliability programs one asset at a time.

The initiative began with a business case and reliability assessment which was presented to senior management of both plants. The business case revealed reliability improvements would net significant hard and soft benefits and the assessment provided a clear understanding of the company's current maintenance state and the benefits of improving asset performance. Management approval was secured for the project.

Core Teams were assembled at both facilities. These teams were trained, coached and mentored on all aspects of the of the improvement initiative including the process, new practices as well as Ivara EXP Enterprise. McLean states, "It was important to the success of the project that the Core Team members were respected by their peers in the plant. It really helped get everyone on board to support the new reliability program."

To achieve rapid results, the team used EXP asset prioritization to determine which assets had the most significant consequences and were at highest risk to the company. These assets were targeted first for reliability improvement.

The team used Ivara's reliability strategy development practices, Ivara Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM2TM) and in parallel, Ivara Maintenance Task Analysis (MTA), an accelerated FMEA practice to analyze the assets. The results of the RCM2 and MTA analyses were then organized into a complete reliability program captured in EXP Enterprise. Daily, weekly, and monthly inspection routes for operations and maintenance were developed and implemented in their respective areas.

Early measures of success at Shelby include:

  • Core Teams identified approximately 2500 potential failure modes for the first 2 areas of implementation.
  • From these failure modes approximately 3000 data points (indicators of condition) are now being collected and analyzed in EXP.
  • From the initial collection of data in these two areas, there were 560 non-normal conditions, triggering an alarm indicating a potential failure
  • From the 560 non-normal condition 213 corrective work orders have been created, 7 were fixed during the inspection and the remaining are currently being monitored.

Proactive inspections are now being conducted. Leveraging EXP's asset health dashboard, alarms are acknowledged and the right maintenance work is identified for execution in the company's CMMS.

The Results

While the implementation continues, EXP Enterprise has realized significant benefits in asset performance at ArcelorMittal Tubular Products, including:

  • Mill #9 - 22% increase in availability
  • Mill #8 - 9% decrease in downtime
  • 500 Ton Press - 12% decrease in downtime
  • TTX railcars - 4% increase in availability
  • 12% increase in production ft/hr
  • 13% decrease in operating cost/hr
  • Between $600,000 and $800,000 savings in parts usage due to less reactive work.
  • Over $200,000 reduction in contract labor used to support capital projects due to a more effective and efficient internal work force.

Conclusion

With EXP Enterprise, both facilities have a cohesive and integrated approach to developing and executing on a strategy to improve equipment performance through proactive maintenance. Commenting on the software, McLean states, "EXP Enterprise enables the process and without it you can't get where you need to be. The software gives us a complete picture of asset health and allows us to capture all the inspection data easily, create maintenance work before the performance of the equipment degrades and drive the change from reactive to proactive maintenance."

With EXP Enterprise, the equipment knowledge of maintenance and operations workers is now captured, ensuring this valuable expertise is available for the long-term.

The Ivara Work Smart methodology facilitated collaboration between maintenance and operations in the development of the new asset care program. "Through the Core Team approach, both groups now feel a sense of ownership in the new program, since they helped create it," says Smith. "This supports the culture change needed to ensure our proactive maintenance focus is sustainable."

The combination of RCM 2 and MTA helped Woodstock and Shelby to develop technically sound maintenance programs across their entire asset base. Both methodologies provided them with a better understanding of why assets fail and why maintenance tasks are executed. Also, MTA helped both plants validate existing maintenance programs and ensure there was a technical basis for each task executed.

"To sustain a leadership position and provide a superior value proposition to our customers, operational excellence supported by optimized equipment performance has become the foundation of our competitive strategy," says Bill Chisholm, CEO, ArcelorMittal Tubular Products. "The Ivara system bridges the gap between our operational objectives and the asset performance reality on the shop floor. We anticipate even greater returns as we move forward in our implementation with the Ivara solution."

More information about Ivara at http://www.ivara.com

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