With 2008 sales of $12 billion, Land O’Lakes Inc is a national, farmer-owned food and agricultural cooperative. It’s a leading marketer of a full line of dairy-based consumer, food service and ingredient products across the United States; serves its international customers with a variety of food and animal feed ingredients; and provides farmers and ranchers with agricultural services and supplies (feed, seed and crop protection products).
In 2008 the cooperative partnered with Phase 5 Group to implement TRACC, internally branded as the Land O’Lakes Production System Shop Floor Deployment, across the dairy foods division. The implementation site, located in Spencer, WI, makes processed cheese for restaurants and delicatessens and supplies leading snack food manufacturers.
During the initial opportunity analysis of the pilot line that produces 5-lb blocks of delicatessen cheese, the implementation task force identified equipment non-conformances at the pouch forming machine that caused significant downtime. In fact, senior
management had already requested an estimated $300,000 for a new machine.
As part of the pilot line’s Business Centred Maintenance implementation, a cross-functional team of operators and mechanics conducted a clean and tag exercise on the pouch former. They identified and corrected all non-conformances, thus returning the machine to a ‘like new’ condition while setting standards for operating and maintaining the machine correctly.
Sixty-six non-conformances were identified during the clean and tag exercise in three categories:
• Deterioration issues, including the machine’s structural condition and deterioration of clearances and tolerances
• Set-up issues, meaning that the current machine assembly was difficult to set up with precision
• Design issues, including the need for guard modifications to enhance workers’ ability to clean and inspect equipment
After completing the clean and tag, the maintenance department set out to fix outstanding work orders and write new PMs for the machine, while the production department created visual work instructions for machine set-up and operation. Today, maintenance and production jointly use structured problem-solving techniques to address outstanding issues on that machine, focusing particularly on eliminating film jams.
Due in large part to the success of the clean and tag exercise – at a cost of about $50,000 – senior management withdrew the $300,000 capital request for a new pouch forming machine with no plans to re-submit for years to come. In addition, maintenance and production have partnered to run a second clean and tag exercise on the filler machine and plan to do the same for each piece of equipment on that line.
Apart from improving equipment condition, the implementation task force reports that the clean and tag exercises have led to a greater understanding of the equipment – how it works and its trouble spots – by both operations and maintenance. What they do with that knowledge will be key to continuing the good work already done.