Presstan Industries, an Activplant Success StoryPresstran Industries is a division of the Cosma group, part of Magna International, one of the world’s largest tier 1 auto suppliers. Located in St. Thomas, Ontario, Presstran’s 300,000 square foot facility employs a staff of 800 in both its press and assembly departments. Presstran specializes in heavy steel stamping and robotic spot and mig welded assemblies. The facility ships over 200,000 chassis parts per day to various Magna operations, and to automakers in North America and Europe including DaimlerChrysler, Ford, General Motors and Jaguar.
In the past, Presstran used a paper-based data collection system. The system was slow and inflexible. Two primary flaws in this system were immediately evident. The first drawback was the lag time between quality data being recorded and the data being reviewed by the quality engineers. Sometimes these records were reviewed after a problem had become apparent at the customer’s location. As well, the paper-based system created unnecessary work in the updating of current production paperwork to match upcoming engineering changes. The paperwork needed to be generated in the quality department, photocopied and distributed throughout the plant, where again it was copied and placed into working files. Often the working files in the press shop or assembly department became contaminated because out-of-date paperwork was distributed.
This system led to the development of a custom software application built in-house by Presstran’s controls group. This data collection program was created on dbase 4 and accessible through the company’s intranet. While far better than the paper-based system it replaced, this too was less than ideal. It could not capture all machines and necessary information, and it required too many costly, time-consuming in-house resources.
This system was in place for six years before Presstran began its search for a more manageable, robust solution. Presstran needed an off-the-shelf production monitoring and data collection system.
Of primary importance was the need to meet quantity targets. To do so, the performance of all plant floor assets would need to be optimized. To improve operational equipment effectiveness (OEE), all sources of plant downtime, uptime, faults and jobs per hour needed to be analyzed both historically and in real-time. Comprehensive data was required for virtually every machine to improve production efficiency, throughput and profitability.
ActivplantTM was introduced to Presstran in late 2001 by Formet Industries, another Magna facility. Activplant was chosen over other applications following a final demonstration, in which the software was installed and collecting data on an asset in only minutes.
Activplant was installed in October 2001 on the plant’s 78 robots, PLCs, and other miscellaneous control hardware. The software was configured to collect the number of good parts, cycle times, machine state information, machine fault codes, die number, tool name, total strokes, run time, part codes, and much more.
Activplant was quickly and easily installed by Presstran’s IT department to the company’s existing architecture. According to Presstran’s Cindy Wilson, the cost of ownership and development costs of Activplant were immediately recognized as “extremely cost effective and a big step forward from the old system.”
Presstran’s top priority for Activplant is OEE. As a result, downtime reporting, uptime and jobs-per-hour data is accessible to nearly 100 plant floor personnel and managers. During a typical shift, 60 team members will configure the information they need from Activplant to assist every group in the plant including controls, maintenance, logistics, materials, production, and business development.
“The management team loves Activplant,” says Wilson. “It’s the first thing they pull up in the morning to see how well the plant is running. Presstran’s general manager and assistant general managers (AGMs) are among the most frequent users of Activplant”.
“In fact, when one of our AGMs was off sick recently he would regularly log onto Activplant from his home office. It gave him a sense of comfort and control to be able to visualize what was happening in the plant”, says Wilson.”
Activplant quickly gained acceptance throughout Presstran, spreading from the executive offices to every corner of the plant floor. The ability to save views and flag these to superiors caught on quickly with most staff. “Every time someone in the plant uses Activplant, we find yet another use for it,” says Wilson. “We have no secrets from our operators on the floor they can see all the data and we post it daily.”
Presstran’s continuous improvement team also uses Activplant daily. This team selects one machine at a time for in-depth analysis to determine how to optimize its performance. The detailed data collection from Activplant is used to analyze downtime, faults, and various other events to prioritize problem areas, eliminate them and then measure the extent of the improvement. This procedure is then repeated until every asset has been scrutinized. Maintenance now has a detailed one-year performance history for each machine. Presstran posts these performance charts in the plant each week.
The facility also analyzes entire production lines. To optimize a line, Presstran’s maintenance group runs Activplant reports every morning revealing top causes of faults and downtime.
These reports help determine the priorities to improve performance across the entire line.
Production supervisors and their team members frequently configure Activplant screens in the press area to determine which die is in a given press. The data also indicates the stroke rate (or jobs per hour) of the die as well as the target rate, actual rate and the variance between the two. Armed with this information, the press operator can make the appropriate adjustments to meet capacity targets. By analyzing and solving the causes for the variance, Presstran can also establish a higher optimum number of jobs per hour and achieve greater throughput consistency.
Activplant is also used in the business development area to assist with capacity planning and projections and monitored by maintenance to focus proactively on the top downtime sources in each department.
“Activplant is part of our lifestyle now,” says Wilson. “We can’t live without it.” And the reasons for this endorsement are easy to understand. Activplant verifies to what extent an initiative is saving the company money, time and resources. Presstran is now able to accomplish far more accurate and timely capacity studies—a task which in the past was accomplished by manual data entry and its machines are running more efficiently. “Now we can’t imagine working any other way,” says Wilson.
According to Wilson, Activplant has made a big difference. “We’re able to plan better as well. Without tracking faults, we used to rely on maintenance work orders to see trends. Now that’s being captured along with how many times faults happen in a shift. Prior to Activplant, many faults would be overlooked or accepted because they could not be visualized or put in context. The instant feedback of numbers and additional clarity has opened up more available production time.”
Activplant also helped prevent an emerging costly problem common to the presses. The software proved the existence of a condition in the presses that was beginning to slow production and, worse, could lead to damage parts and equipment. This information quantified a need to take preventative action. “The capturing of fault information and the ability to report on it, which we never had in the past, meant that our presses could once again run at peak productivity,” says Wilson.
Presstran has also discovered an unconventional use for Activplant. The facility is using it to monitor humid-x readings in the plant, issuing heat warnings to employees as part of the company’s heat stress policy.
In short, Activplant has helped reduce the resources required to accurately collect data, generated flexible reports for each department, increased productivity, pinpointed production bottlenecks, and significantly increased OEE.
Activplant has also helped Presstran reduce its overtime. The company is now seeing greater throughput, while reaching its goal of moving back to a five-day week from the current six. Also, the increased throughput has meant added capacity. Work that had recently been outsourced has now been brought back in-house for additional cost savings.
The bottom line:
Activplant delivered a return on investment in its first six months and in 15 months has saved Presstran well in excess of $1 million.
Activplant’s application is expanding at Presstran. The eight remaining assets are scheduled to be connected to Activplant and the company is adding a paging function to the software in February 2003. This will greatly increase response times for alerting lead hands to a problem rather than searching the plant floor when an issue arises. Also, by paging fork trucks, the movement of inventory and parts can be dramatically increased.
As part of the shared learning across all Magna facilities, the Deco facility is learning from Presstran’s experiences with downtime reporting and equipment efficiency with Activplant. Conversely, Presstran is now looking closely at how Deco has been using a Activplant interface for logistics. According to Wilson, “Deco is using this to better understand whether they are meeting targets for scheduled parts.
For example, if a target is 200 parts per hour on a machine, and Deco is currently making 180, they know that they will need to correct this immediately or risk falling short of production in X number of hours. Deco or Presstran could also use a paging system to issue an alert to correct this.”
Over the past 2-and-a-half years, Magna International has installed Activplant at many of it plants in Canada, the US and Mexico. Magna has endorsed Activplant at the highest levels in the corporation and is using Activplant for production monitoring, productivity and labour and inventory tracking. In several cases Magna facilities have integrated (are in the process of integrating) Activplant with their business systems including SAP and BrainNA’s Trans4M to provide a real-time connection to the plant floor for production, inventory, labour tracking and maintenance functions.
Analysis showing every incident of down time, how long it lasted, what was the issue and what part was running. The Pareto chart shows the largest cause of downtime. This analysis arms the user with the knowledge of what needs to improve.