DEARBORN - With many manufacturing plants in North America running seven days a week to keep up with growing consumer demand for Ford vehicles, it is more critical than ever to keep machinery and operations maintained and running to their fullest potential.
That’s quite a daunting task if you stop and think about the sheer number and complexity of maintenance issues that arise on any given day – not just in North America but in Ford facilities throughout the world.
Two years ago, Ford set out to create and implement a global Maintenance Operating System (MOS) designed to standardize the way plant maintenance is managed, ultimately making the operation more efficient and cost-effective.
“A manufacturing plant is complex. There are thousands of operations and machines, and it’s literally impossible to perform maintenance on everything,” said Joe Lee, global director, MOS. “You have to have a process in place to deliver the right maintenance at the right time in the right operations in order to maximize productivity.”
Lee says prioritization is the key.
“We have introduced a MOS standard constraint management process to identify bottlenecks – which parts of the plant are causing production issues,” he said. “In the past we had a tendency to do maintenance based on our experience. Now we’re using actual data – production data and failure data – to help us set up a better system.”
The data is collected using production monitoring systems, which are in place at most facilities.
“Using this model we can now pinpoint exactly which problems are having the greatest impact on productivity,” said Lee. “Now we can train the right people on the right technology and have the spare parts ready so that if something does happen, we can go to work and get back to running production to potential.”
Prioritizing maintenance enables plants to make the most effective use of downtime – which is especially scarce in North American facilities.
“If you have two hours between shifts, where do you send your people for that time in a 5 million square-foot plant? Without this kind of process, they’re going to work hard, but they may not exactly contribute to productivity,” said Lee. “We want to utilize our skilled tradespeople to their fullest potential by giving them time to perform critical maintenance operating processes.”
Early performance improvements
Since the MOS constraint management process was introduced in 2011, improvements have been made in both the completion rate of preventive maintenance and production performance in North America.
From 2011 to 2012, the preventive maintenance completion rate in Ford’s North American facilities improved by 23 percent. During the same period of time, productivity increased in the Chassis and Body areas of Vehicle Operations by 1.7 percent and 4.4 percent, respectively; in the Engine Assembly and Transmission Assembly areas of Powertrain Operations by 5.4 percent and 3.9 percent, respectively; and in the Engine Machining and Transmission Machining areas of Powertrain Operations by 4.5 percent and 2.3 percent, respectively.
“We’re seeing these improvements because we now have a constraint management process that is zeroing in on areas that are in the most critical need of maintenance,” said Lee. “Nothing else has changed. We didn’t add more people or buy any more parts, so we know that it works and we’re now rolling the system out globally.”