US Sugar operates the world's largest fully integrated cane sugar raw milling and refining factory, one of world's most efficient citrus processing facilities, and the nation's largest private agricultural/industrial railroads--supported by 187,000 acres of its own sugarcane land and citrus groves.
US Sugar has always had a goal to outperform competitors - however the company was 70 years old and had a 70 year old culture.
With a 140 day season - uptime and availability are critical for financial success. During that 140 days - maintenance was 100% reactive. The other 225 days had 0% planning. Each year the factories were taken apart - down to the last bolt and reassembled prior to the start of the next season.
Then came NAFTA and the tariffs that had provided price protection from foreign imports dissolved like a spoonful of sugar in a glass of iced tea! (not a bad metaphor if I do say so myself)
U.S. Sugar had two options--change or die.
At the heart of this cultural transformation was Reliability Excellence. Personnel were decreased from 2400 to 1500. Pieces of equipment were reduced from 4000 to 2100. This required constant reliability as tolerance for downtime was removed, and there were neither sufficient people nor machines to afford redundancy.
The results to date:
Low cost sugar producer in the United States
Lower cost than Mexican sugar producers
Refining capacity sufficient to process all internal raw sugar and to import 60,000 tons (9%) of Mexican sugar for processing into refined sugar
99.5% fueled by renewable biomass energy
Extremely high customer quality satisfaction
By 2007, US Sugar had completed a dramatic three-year, $500 million transformation of its 75-year old sugar processing operations as part of its company-wide continuous process improvement.
The Company now operated the world's largest fully integrated cane sugar raw milling and refining factory, one of world's most efficient citrus processing facilities, and the nation's largest private agricultural/industrial railroads--supported by 187,000 acres of its own sugarcane land and citrus groves.
U.S. Sugar's new business model is based around highly automated processes, maximum utilization of machine and human assets, reliable equipment and low cost of production.
Today Reliability Excellence remains a critical tactic in U.S. Sugar's mission to out-perform its competitors. This recap will provide a blueprint that may be adopted or adapted by other businesses and organizations.
Reliabilityweb.com is very proud and excited that Robert H. Buker Jr., CEO, US Sugar will present their company story at Solutions 2.0. It is a rare treat to get high level executives that understand the benefits of world class maintenance reliability and appreciate the adverse effects when done poorly.