Case Study: Software Gets Departments Talking

January 1, 2004
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U.S.Tsubaki's plant in Chicopee, MA, makes state-of-the-art power transmission products for such top tier suppliers as Toyota, Ford and GM.

U.S.Tsubaki's (Wheeling, IL) plant in Chicopee, MA, makes state-of-the-art power transmission products for such top tier suppliers as Toyota, Ford and GM. As such, U.S. Tsubaki operates by the KAIZEN culture of sustained continuous improvement, focusing on eliminating waste in all systems and processes of an organization.

One area of operations in which the company wanted to improve was its maintenance management. The company was using an outdated Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS), but problems including extensive file corruption had them looking for another solution.

The company approached software supplier FBO Systems (Atlanta, FBOS) when the decision was made to move from its current system to a package that would integrate with its existing enterprisewide resource planning (ERP) system and control supply cribs and tool control for all plant equipment. General Manager Mark Miller's short-term goal was to use the CMMS system in three ways: maintenance, tool control issues and inventory management, and supply crib issues and inventory management.

U.S. Tsubaki selected FBOS' MLS software product, which is an Enterprise Asset Management system (EAM). These systems are enterprise applications that deliver information on the costs and activities of assets throughout an enterprise.

The steps for FBOS' methodology for implementation left some in the company scratching their heads. "The consultants would say, ‘I need to talk to purchasing, your GM and your controller to better understand how MLS can and should be used at U.S. Tsubaki,'" says project coordinator, Stan Stucenski. "At first, I didn't understand how this related to helping the maintenance department with machine repair and managing their daily work request."

The goal was to have the MLS system tying multiple departments together, such as purchasing, inventory and maintenance. Prior to this, those departments shared no information.

After approximately four man-weeks of implementation, U.S. Tsubaki went live. MLS is now running on the floor in each major work center. Any supervisor, foreman or production person can write a service request that flows through a common business process for purchasing and maintenance, all integrated in the ERP. Even the general manager has MLS on his desktop and can look at a repair history on a piece of equipment without ever leaving his office.

The company sees itself as being more responsive to its customers, and is able to minimize bottlenecks and paperwork. For the first time, there is visibility in terms of inventory transactions in use so managers can make sure they have the right inventory available.

The company is looking to use MLS to analyze the reliability of their equipment. In the past, if the general manager asked the maintenance manager for six month's worth of background on a machine that went down for four hours, the maintenance manager would have spent days trying to retrieve information from the system. Even then, they would not have had access to this level of quantifiable history.

Now, MLS has become a key component in Tsubaki's daily operations. With an initial goal of satisfying the needs of the maintenance department, MLS' use has expanded to the maintenance department, supply and tooling inventory personnel, and the purchasing department, with real-time integration into their ERP purchasing and financial modules.

FBO Systems

(770) 723-1011

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Charles J. Hellier has been active in the technology of nondestructive testing and related quality and inspection fields since 1957. Here he talks with Quality's managing editor, Michelle Bangert, about the importance of training.
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