Well-maintained and Profitable

Increasing productivity and profitability with preventive machine maintenance
October 20, 2015
Glass plate cleaning with a Bystronic glass washing machine. Photo courtesy of Bystronic Glass.

Glass fabricators want one thing when it comes to their machinery: no down time.

“It is the same for all: profit. Machine down time means no product is being made. Therefore you want to limit the amount of time the machine is not producing product,” says Dan deGorter, vice president, operations, DeGorter Inc., degorter.com.

Because fabricators want uninterrupted productivity, regular machinery maintenance that guarantees down time is often neglected. But, 20 minutes of down time for preventive maintenance creates a more productive and profitable plant, while 3-5 days of down time to fix a broken machine is catastrophic, sources say.

“Machines are a fabricator’s lifeblood. The machines must run, be kept in running order, and therefore must be turned over to the maintenance team at the end of each shift for attention,” says Mike Willard, CEO and owner of Salem Distributing, salemdist.com.

Mike Synon, president of HHH Tempering Resources Inc., hhhtempering. com, says, “The key person in the plant is the maintenance man or woman. [Fabricators] have to have this person and a preventive maintenance program in place.”


But often, the maintenance personnel’s function is overlooked. “The biggest complaint I hear when I talk to the fabricator’s in-house maintenance team is they don’t get the required down time to follow the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule,” says Alec McNamara, vice president of customer relations for Bystronic Glass Inc., bystronicusa.com.

Sources suggest scheduling regular maintenance during second shift, on a Saturday, or at the end of a shift. The working hours of each piece of machinery should be taken into account, which varies depending on glass shop size. “Schedule weekly or bi-weekly checks to ensure the machine is operating at maximum efficiency,” says deGorter.

Beyond having a maintenance team in house, the support system of the OEM or distributor is key for maintaining fabrication machinery.

“The [machinery] distributor must have trained technicians who only work on, and have become specialists on, the machinery,” says McNamara. “Day-to-day maintenance is handled locally by the fabricators, and distributors are the go-to guys for technical advice, spare parts, major (six month) preventive services and major trouble shooting.”

Distributors can greatly alleviate down time for their clients by keeping an inventory of common, wearable items for immediate shipping and informing operators how to properly service their equipment, according to Pete deGorter, inventory manager, DeGorter Inc. However, it is important for the fabricator to have critical spare parts in-house to minimize down time.

After building a close relationship with a high-quality machinery supplier, what should fabricators do to ensure well-maintained machinery? Preventive maintenance is the key. “Oil and grease are two of the cheapest items in a customers’ shop. Daily application of same is essential,” says Willard.

Sources say regular maintenance and inspection will allow time for needed spare parts to be ordered and installed at the next scheduled maintenance. For a truly well-maintained, well-functioning and profitable factory, no area should be neglected. General housekeeping and inspection of out-of-sight areas—such as wiring connections, blowers and ductwork—goes a long way in minimizing down time.

“The story of a technician’s life at best is 50 percent cleaning and 50 percent actually repairing,” says Steve Uveges, lead technician, DeGorter Inc. “Sometimes I think it may even be 70 percent cleaning to 30 percent actual doing the repair work.”

Attached File:
Maintenance Checklist.pdf

  • Four Ways to Improve Maintenance and Increase Profitability

    1. Buy from a machinery supplier with local parts and service. Ensure U.S.-based after-sales service technicians for emergency breakdown situations, technical hotline support, and U.S.-held spare parts with 24-hour delivery are available from the distributor.

    2. Take advantage of the resources available from the original equipment manufacturer. They can help with the location, layout and options required to meet current needs and future goals, and provide assistance from local service technicians.

    3. Develop a team to shoulder the responsibility of maintenance, and make it possible for them to take 10 to 15 minutes a day to check each machine.

    4. Train employees to be students of glass. Understanding the product goes a long way in knowing how to properly care for the machine fabricating it.