Investment in excellence
Investment in operations
The maintenance investment has been especially important to help rein in costs over the past four years. “Baldor has made significant investment into our maintenance processes in forms of diagnostic equipment, spare parts management, and technician training,” said Randy Rampey, manufacturing services manager for Baldor Marion. “The return on that investment is tangible.”
It wasn’t always that way, Rampey notes. “In 1999, we were totally reactive maintenance,” he said. “We tried to refurbish the equipment, and finally got it to a decent level of maintenance, and then we were able to continue. But still, we would find something too soon and some things not soon enough.”
In the past five years, a strategic approach to maintenance at Marion has produced machine uptime averages of more than 98% a year. In 2012, it hit 99.2% uptime.
There are other metrics at play as well. “Our dependency on outside contractors has been reduced by 95% over that same time period,” Rampey said. “After an initial maintenance cost increase to bring our assets up to acceptable condition, the overall maintenance cost has been reduced to 0.8% of sales value produced.”
Beyond the physical plant, Baldor’s investment in maintenance, safety, and quality has produced the kind of metrics that make the investment in concrete and steel easier to make.
On the safety front, the facility has been recognized multiple times by the North Carolina Department of Labor for its safety record.
Rampey said employees, including front office staff, audit the safety programs to ensure a high emphasis on safety issues, including off-the-job safety. “There’s a lot of peer involvement,” Rampey said. “When there are close calls and injuries, we try to talk about it on the line.”
The employees have returned the commitment to the plant. During the 2009 recession, they supported Baldor’s plan of taking voluntary time off to prevent general layoffs. Now that the business is growing, management rarely has to schedule overtime because there are enough employees who volunteer to work extra shifts. In another show of support, the plant has had 100% participation in the Marion United Way campaign for the past 13 consecutive years.
Its commitment to maintenance excellence and its flexibility in its workforce designed to meet the evolving needs in Marion made it easy for Baldor and ABB management to make the additional investment into Marion.
Annual Salary Survey
After almost a decade of uncertainty, the confidence of plant floor managers is soaring. Even with a number of challenges and while implementing new technologies, there is a renewed sense of optimism among plant managers about their business and their future.
The respondents to the 2014 Plant Engineering Salary Survey come from throughout the U.S. and serve a variety of industries, but they are uniform in their optimism about manufacturing. This year’s survey found 79% consider manufacturing a secure career. That’s up from 75% in 2013 and significantly higher than the 63% figure when Plant Engineering first started asking that question a decade ago.