Better maintenance planning is MillerCoors' silver bullet

Paul V. Arnold
MillerCoors Asset CARE planner Tim Davison

Planning isn’t sexy. Tom Clancy will not write an espionage thriller entitled “The Maintenance Planner.”

You won’t put your buddies on the edge of their bar stools recounting the time you took all the appropriate steps and ensured that the overhaul project would proceed smoothly. (“Dude, then what happened?!”)

There’s no glitz or flash or eye candy.

“When a maintenance department seeks improvement, there’s usually a big focus on showing wins and taking before-and-after pictures – ‘wow’ stuff,” says Dan Roberts, the Asset CARE director of reliability for Miller Coors in Golden, Colo.

“Predictive maintenance is sexy. With infrared thermography, you take a snapshot and say, ‘Look what I found.’ With vibration analysis, you hook it up, print out your readings and go, ‘Yep, I found a bad bearing.’ That’s all important and necessary, but there is good work going on at the core. It’s just not sexy. How do you show the results of effective planning and scheduling? You can’t do it with before-and-after photos.”

Quietly and covertly, MillerCoors’ maintenance and reliability organization is utilizing planning and scheduling as an improvement tool. It provides balance in an environment where imbalance has major consequences.

Maintaining the Chain
MillerCoors, America’s third-largest brewer, has targeted maintenance improvements for more than a decade, and for good reason. The Golden brewery runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to brew 217 million ounces of beer each day.

“There are maybe two days out of the year that we aren’t producing,” says Tim Davison, an Asset CARE planner in the brewery portion of the large, multiple-plant complex in Golden.

The beer-making process – from raw materials to packaged and shipped goods – runs in a tightly linked chain, and many process components feature non-redundant pieces of machinery. If a mechanical breakdown occurs, shifting work to a like piece of equipment may not be an option. In these cases, the process grinds to a halt.

“When there’s a breakdown, it’s typically a big issue,” says Ron Kerr, the Asset CARE manager for utilities. “It affects most everyone upstream and downstream.”

Press operator Craig Doebele works the controls along the production
line at Rocky Mountain Metal Container, the MillerCoors/Ball joint venture.

The objective is to have machinery run non-stop for months at a time, especially during the peak summer season, until a brief maintenance window can be scheduled.

The unique structure of the Golden business units adds stress to the chain. While MillerCoors owns the brewery, it is a joint partner in the can manufacturing (with Ball Corporation) and bottle manufacturing (Owens-Illinois) units. Getting everyone pulling in the same direction is necessary, but it requires patience.

The Missing Ingredient
The pace of maintenance improvement, slow and steady for years, quickened in the late 1990s after top-player Anheuser Busch announced price cuts. To stay competitive, MillerCoors sought to reinvest in the front end of the business.

“The cost of our goods had to go down by a large margin,” says Roberts. “We needed to go after a number of elements, operations being one of them. The opportunity and goal was to become the most reliable operation possible.”

Mike Zietlow, the senior specialist at the MillerCoors brewery forklift shop, bellies up to a bench vise to do some precision work. The forklift area has greatly increased its preventive maintenance completion rate over the past 18 months.

Asset CARE (an acronym for Capability, Availability, Reliability and Enhancement) became the rallying cry. Reliability-Centered Maintenance (RCM), root cause failure analysis (RCFA) and predictive maintenance (PdM) tools were employed. Even with these positive strides, something was missing.

Roberts cites the example of a fan that experienced three dynamic failures during an 18-month timeframe. After the first failure, RCFA identified lubrication as a root cause. An automatic lubrication system was installed. After the second failure, the auto lubers were deemed problematic. After the third failure, maintenance leaders took a step back.

“We now participate in cause mapping exercises that get us to explore multiple root causes,” says Roberts. “RCFA doesn’t say that there is one root cause, but it leads people in that direction.”

By going deeper, planning and scheduling emerged as a contributor to the problem.

A month prior to the third failure, vibration analysis had identified abnormalities. However, appropriate steps were not taken to schedule maintenance, and make it a priority, before failure occurred. The lesson: substantial gains are unlikely if basic planning and scheduling aren’t in place.

“Prior to our concentrated efforts, we weren’t planning and scheduling, per se,” says Roberts. “Planners examined work orders in the computer system, printed them out, gave them to a supervisor and waited for the supervisor to hand them out to the crew. There was little effort put into sitting down on a weekly basis with operations and reviewing what was coming up, determining priorities and identifying resources.”

The plants functioned in a reactive maintenance mode. Planners spent considerable time sourcing, storing and dispersing replacement parts.

“If our organization is forward-thinking, we’re finding the things that need correcting, writing the work order, planning the work order and getting the job done. If it is reactionary, we’re buying first-class seats on airplanes to ship a motor,” says Bobby McCall, maintenance manager for packaging operations.

Reactive work had its rewards – pats on the back and thank-you treats from production. A traveling trophy was presented each year to the planner responsible for the most overnight deliveries.

Then MillerCoors came up with a better way by identifying essential components of effective maintenance planning. These maximize resources, minimize cost and increase overall equipment reliability. The sections that follow outline several of these components.

Dan Roberts is the Asset CARE director of
reliability for MillerCoors Brewing Company in
Golden, Colo. While the company's plants
have made significant strides,
he admits that “we aren’t there yet.”

Truly Dedicated
As in any effort, dedication is the key to success. At MillerCoors, forward-thinking maintenance begins with dedicated planners and resources.

A planning organization needs the appropriate number of planners. Each planner must have an area of responsibility that is:

• reasonable in geographic size;

• reasonable in number of represented crafts personnel; or,

• reasonable in number of pieces of equipment.

Without such boundaries, how can the planner dedicate the right time and resources to effectively maintain that area?

Davison says that with too large an area, one planner can’t focus on the entire scope, only the bad actors and emergency situations that arise. When a planner focuses on bad actors and failures, it doesn’t allow for necessary predictive and proactive planning.

“Two people can’t plan for 4,000 pieces of equipment,” says Davison. “All they’ll have time for is ordering parts.”

Forklift mechanic Jerry Mitchell removes a wheel in
order to expose a bearing for preventive maintenance work.

In regard to planner-to-craft coverage, Roberts says his current goal is one planner for every 15 to 18 crafts people. The general rule is that as you progress toward world class, you can have more crafts people per planner. If you’re on the lower rungs of the ladder, a larger percentage of planners is appropriate.

The brewer’s goal is to specifically limit its planners to tasks that pertain to the reliability and maintenance of the defined area of responsibility. Otherwise, it’s easy for planners to get sidetracked by work that falls outside of their role and function.

“Production can look at the planner as a ‘go-fer’ or a Wal-Mart, there to service their every need and want,” says Brad Simpkins, an Asset CARE manager in charge of mobile equipment.

Plant and department management may also hamper planners with administrative, reporting and data input tasks.

“Without the ability to have real focus, planning becomes reactive,” adds Simpkins.

Just as important, these planners also require dedicated resources (time and manpower) to complete planned and scheduled work. This can be bitter pill for some maintenance and production workers.

“Some of the hourly mechanics said, ‘We like what we’re doing now.’ They like coming in on the white horse and saving the day,” says Jay Johnson, the maintenance manager for process operations. “But they saw that management was behind this 100 percent. This wasn’t going to go away.”

Production managers and operators were also leery about putting the white horse to pasture.

In MillerCoors’ packaging organization, the maintenance crew was equally split among three shifts. “Their purpose was to fix machines and get them running,” says Kerr.

Then, the first scheduling changes came. A sizeable percentage of crafts people working nights and weekends were switched to perform planned work on the day shift.

“Production told us, ‘You aren’t supporting our breakdowns!’” says Kerr. “You’re right. I’m not going to support your breakdowns. I’m going to support the proactive work. Getting them to accept that took a leap of faith.”

Among functional departments within MillerCoors, packaging is currently the trailblazer in pushing dedicated resources to proactive, planned work.

“We are going to plan 100 percent of the available hours for planned maintenance work,” says McCall. “We still hear, ‘You can’t do that; you have to plan for breakdowns.’ No, we’re not going to plan for breakdowns. We will plan to do planned work. We will deal with the breakdowns if they happen.”

At all levels, the organization must realize that operators and crafts personnel exist in a manufacturing facility because there is a process to operate and maintain. Planners exist to maximize the effectiveness of operators and maintainers. When all levels in the operation begin to work together as a team, for a common goal of improved operational reliability and performance, there no longer is a focus on “white horse wins” but on long-term sustainable gains.

Time Management
Another key to MillerCoors’ planning success is making the most out of time.

As noted in the previous section, production was a tad skeptical. If maintenance was to ease production’s pains, these “forward thinkers” were going to have to prove their worth. Remember, an off-line machine can have huge implications.

A challenge was getting production to see that taking a machine down for 40 minutes for preventive maintenance during a predetermined time and day was better than a three-hour outage following a breakdown at an unknown time and day. The additional challenge was getting production to believe that its valuable time would not be wasted.

“We had a poor track record with planning and scheduling. We had to prove that if you give us the time, we will get the planned, proactive work done,” says Davison. “They brought the line down. They are losing money. You have to make the most of that window.”

Time maximization occurs through effective planning and scheduling.

First, a maintenance window must be clearly defined (scheduled time, date, scope and duration) and agreed upon by maintenance planners and production leaders. From there, the planner orders any required parts and materials and ensures that the correct amount of resources are available to handle the job. The planner oversees that no surprises or, worse, cancellations occur when the window opens. Stranded or non-productive maintenance labor has a direct cost impact to the business.

Involvement doesn’t end there. During the window, the planner observes, assists and evaluates the work in order to gain full knowledge of the job. That knowledge is applied to better plan and schedule similar tasks in the future. He or she also earns a measure of respect and appreciation from the crafts people working on the job. This is vital when technical advice and questions arise at a later time.

While this is the conventional, plan-as-work-arises method at MillerCoors, specialized planning and scheduling methods also exist.

The can manufacturing plant, which must run constantly to satisfy the brewery’s needs (12 million cans per day), utilizes a 12-month downtime plan that is mutually developed by operations, maintenance, engineering, process control, quality, warehouse and scheduling leaders.

The 2005 plan lists the dates, locations, maintenance activities and project details for 1,655 hours of scheduled downtime. The 2006 plan was hammered out in September.

“We put 20 people in a room and figure it out as a team,” says David Miller, the director of technical services for Rocky Mountain Metal Container (the MillerCoors/Ball joint venture). “We put everything on the schedule and explore, what else can we do during that outage? How can we maximize that time? We can’t have surprises during the year. We have to be ahead of the game. Therefore, the downtime plan is our guiding document to ensure equipment reliability and aluminum can delivery to meet the brewery’s requirements.”

The bottle manufacturing plant, which produces 3 million bottles per day, uses forward thinking for scheduled single-machine and full-plant shutdowns.

“We used to run all year and then shut down at Christmas for preventive maintenance (PM) work,” says Tim Hood, the engineering services manager at Rocky Mountain Bottle Company (the MillerCoors/Owens-Illinois joint venture). “For the rest of the year, you’d deal with failures as they hit because we didn’t schedule any other downtime.”

Today, planners and maintenance and production leaders at this plant schedule downtime sessions called “maxi pit stops.” Similar to the can plant’s downtime plan, these stops for PMs and overhauls are laid out well in advance.

“We schedule different machines at different times,” says Hood. “That way, you don’t have all your equipment down at once. We move the resources around to compensate for the downtime.”

An annual plant shutdown, directed by a single planner, occurs in September.

“He is involved with the whole plan, trying to figure out what work needs to be done during the outage,” says Hood. “We do steam-cleaning on the machines and PM all electrical distribution equipment during this time. It’s a huge undertaking. When we finish one shutdown, the planner is already putting the plan together for the next one.”

The brewing process begins with the malting of barley.
Barley is steeped in water and encouraged to germinate.
After four to five days, the “malt” is heated to stop further
growth. The malt is then cracked by steel rollers to
expose its contents.

Useful Information
MillerCoors’ planning success also is tied to making the most out of information. It starts with something as basic as providing accurate information on available resources for a given shift.

“Who is here? How long are they here? How many resources do planners have to plan against? Before, like in any reactive organization, it was nebulous,” says McCall. “In SAP, we nail it down. Planners see that ‘I have an eight-hour window and 10 guys. I can plan 80 hours worth of work. Here are 80 hours worth of work to put to that plan.’”

Another former gray area was work orders. As in most plants, a work order is created when work is identified. But what information is included on that work order?

Learning from the past, MillerCoors maintenance leaders now say a work order must be capable of capturing the proper equipment charge code, all of the equipment history, labor and materials cost, and contract service requirements. To accurately track equipment failures, a detailed work description is entered when the order is created and an accurate description of what was done to correct the failure is entered upon completion of the work order. If this isn’t done, the history for a particular piece of equipment is distorted and may not accurately account for breakdowns or failures. Also, the proper equipment number is entered on the work order. Without this, vital history-tracking measures such as material used and labor hours charged are linked to the wrong piece of equipment or are missing entirely.

“In the past, bad decisions were made because we didn’t have accurate work order information,” says Davison.

When a work order is created at MillerCoors, notes are made to help identify:

• any parts, skills or outside resources needed to complete the work;

• any potentially necessary specialty tools, equipment or resources; and,

• any potential safety or environmental concerns.

With this up-front information, the planner sources the needed parts and materials, gathers the required resources, and accurately plans and schedules the work. This increases wrench time.

When the job is finished, a crafts person enters detailed information to properly close the work order. In the company’s SAP work order system, he or she accurately enters a cause code, failure code and object part on the final history portion of the notification. A detailed, long-text description of the work performed is documented along with any problems or discrepancies.

But all those steps are worthless if you don’t use the information.

Maintenance work is repetitious. What is learned about a machine today proves helpful when the same or a similar machine requires maintenance in the future. Histories identify trends and help build effective reliability strategies.

“If the data is not accurate for that piece of equipment, you aren’t getting the full picture and you will make mistakes in maintaining that equipment,” says Davison. “If it’s not recorded in the system, you don’t have any data to analyze. The planners need that to decide how to plan it the next time, do it better, and use it for root cause purposes.”

With properly entered work order information, MillerCoors personnel can access the work order and cost history for an individual piece of equipment, department, cost center or entire facility. With this data, planners determine PM completion percentages, work order turnaround time, mean time to repair and mean time between failure. They also access the percentage mix of PM, corrective, breakdown and project work orders for a given time period. These reports give them the tools to adjust PM frequencies according to orders generated and MTBF.

“On some equipment, we found our PM frequencies were too high,” says McCall. “Our planners look at PMs on a regular basis. They make sure that the right PM, with the right frequency, is in place. The idea is that the work we plan is the work that should be done. We want to best use our time and money and go after the right stuff.”

Asset CARE managers Bobby McCall (left) and Ron Kerr
discuss motors and gearboxes on the brewery’s packaging line.

Golden Results
Planning improvements and planning prowess have made an impact at MillerCoors.

“We have always had great people with a desire to do the right things,” says plant engineer Mike Fognani. “Planning and scheduling lets us combine those great people with the tools, materials and time required to be successful.”

Planned and scheduled work at many site areas now constitutes more than 60 percent of the maintenance workload; in the recent past, that figure was less than 30 percent.

Completed PM work has risen dramatically. In the forklift area, for example, Simpkins says the completion rate went from 31 percent to 82 percent in less than 18 months.

Equipment availability, productivity and uptime have all increased. All this has led to reduced maintenance costs.

“It used to be ‘maintenance can’t keep it running,’ ‘you’re not reliable’ and ‘you’re spending too much money,’” says McCall. “Since we got stabilized and more proactive, our maintenance costs have gone down.”

Plenty of opportunities still exist.

“In many areas, we are doing what we need to be doing and netting the results that we are seeking,” says Roberts. “We are on the right track, but we aren’t there yet. We still have pockets of opportunity with planning and scheduling, and are focusing on ways to make step changes, even in the wake of the great work already in play.”

Reduced costs. Increased reliability. Better decisions. Greater stability.

MillerCoors may have found a way to make planning sexy.

Just the Facts
Site: MillerCoors plants in Golden, Colo. (includes the brewery and related production support areas), and Rocky Mountain Metal Container and Rocky Mountain Bottle Company (two joint venture plants).

Employment: Nearly 2,000 employees in the Golden manufacturing plants.

Site size: Located primarily throughout a five-mile-long valley in Golden.

Products: Nearly a dozen beer brands, including Coors, Coors Light, George Killian’s Irish Red Lager, Aspen Edge and Keystone. Also, Zima brand malt beverages.

Production volume: More than 20 million barrels of beer brewed in Golden annually.
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