Reliability Web tells the story of Alcoa Warrick Smelter.
Realization began back in 1997:
The Alcoa team agreed that they were focused on improvements in the maintenance organization and were missing opportunities for improvement by not considering operation’s impact on equipment reliability. Their efforts at that time were being driven by the maintenance and engineering managers at each plant site with little involvement from operations. In addition a high management turnover rate was hindering a long-term focus on reliability, and was making continual training and retraining of key leaders necessary.
The company decided to assign ownership for various responsibilities and that the owners would “invest” in their business:
The ground rules for the return on investment was that it would not, and should not, come from deferring maintenance. Savings were to come from the Repair and Maintenance (R&M) budget of the facilities, with an understanding that the production gains, through improved stability, would increase throughput and eliminate waste. This was estimated to be much greater than the maintenance savings.
The US Smelting industry is a difficult one to maintain equipment. the amount of money spent repairing and replacing equipment is staggering when taken as a whole. So, how does Alcoa stand now?
The asset health of the 50-year-old smelter is greatly improved from 2003 when REX was started. Mark Keneipp points out, “Remember all those $10,000 to $25,000 major components like motors, gear boxes, and pumps that use to fail unexpectedly at odd hours? It rarely happens now, and when it does we perform root cause analysis to reduce the chances of it happening again.” The financial results are impressive.
Maintenance costs per ton have been reduced by 38%, and 2010’s current OEE gain is $5.8 million over the 2003 REX base. Progress reports are generated quarterly so that comparisons can be made with other Alcoa plants and best practices are shared globally.
The authors talk about changing the ‘stupid’ approach into intelligent decisions. It takes time and a dedicated staff to turn things around and it’s not too often we’re able to read success stories such as this one.