A road map to reliability
How Premier Silica's Brady operation used evaluation to improve plant performance.
When Perry Finco began as the maintenance manager at Premier Silica’s Brady operation in spring 2012, he set a goal of bringing the 35-year-old facility up to 90% efficiency. However, because he and his team had to deal with constant unplanned downtime, they didn’t have the time to get organized. Their task was made even more difficult because they had no idea what products were installed at the quarry, two wet plants, three dry plants, two bagging facilities, and two load out facilities.
Over the years, the Brady operation had been purchased and sold many times, and bills of material and other relevant historical product records had been lost by the time Premier Silica acquired the operation in April 2012.
“How can you put a preventive maintenance or inventory strategy in place when you don’t know what products you have running in your plant?” said Finco. “We didn’t even know what products were stocked in our warehouse. Not having this information meant we were operating by the seat of our pants, chasing down parts trying to keep the plant running.”
While Finco knew where he wanted to end up, he understood that without knowing what products he had running in the plant and sitting on the shelf, he had no way to get there. But Finco did have experience with plant surveys at previous facilities, and when he found an Installed Base Evaluation (IBE) service offered by Baldor, he was very interested.
A team surveyed the electrical and mechanical products installed and inventoried at the Brady operation, capturing detailed nameplate information, application information, and plant location—all the information Finco was missing.
“Because of the fact that we are in such a remote area and a somewhat small project, I was worried about finding a firm to come in and conduct a survey,” said Finco. “The IBE team fit our needs perfectly.”
After the on-site survey was finished, the team went to work analyzing the data and preparing a report. When the results of the IBE were presented, Finco immediately saw product standardization opportunities, a critical step in his strategy to manage inventory better.
With the survey data uploaded to the Brady operation’s CMMS system, the maintenance team has created its own database, which Finco said is now the framework for a preventive maintenance strategy for both mechanical and motor products across the entire Premier Silica operation.
“We’re using some of the information from the IBE report to write the scope for our new preventive maintenance program,” said Finco. “Now that we know what we have, we are outlining what’s needed for each product, setting up lubrication schedules, as well as other preventive procedures. And because we are now better organized with all the correct parts on hand, we are prepared to support planned maintenance shutdowns.”
The effort has already had a tremendous impact on preventing the constant bearing failures that had been shutting down production. Finco said by knowing exactly what kind of bearings were running in the plant, the team was able to upgrade product where necessary but also research the best way to maintain the bearings kept in service.
“What we found out is that we were using the wrong grease,” said Finco. “By conducting the right preventive maintenance with the correct grease and the correct lubrication schedule, bearings are no longer causing shutdowns as they had in the past. And because we know what kind of bearings we have, we are also carrying the right quantity of bearings in the warehouse.”
With strategic plans in place and work well underway, Finco is happy to report that plant performance has improved tremendously since the time the IBE was conducted. He said his team has changed from being reactive to proactive and getting closer to the 90% efficiency goal.
“This tool helped us refocus our energies to work on all the strategies that will bring this plant back to the reliability levels we know are possible,” said Finco. “The IBE was just the beginning of our journey. Now we have to stay committed and follow through. However, we could not have begun this work without this survey to get us started.”
The Installed Base Evaluation team surveyed products at Premier Silica’s Brady operation quarry, two wet plants, three dry plants, two bagging facilities, and two load out facilities. The team not only provided an accurate count of electrical and power transmission equipment but also captured detailed nameplate information, as well as the application and plant location.
Information provided by Baldor Electric.