The long road to maintenance parts-management success

When Dennis Marcucci arrived at Gonnella Frozen Products in 1997 to head the company's information system department, he already knew the company and its mission. He also knew that the breadmaker needed a fresh approach to its maintenance inventory management system. "I was familiar with what was going on, and in seeing what needed to be done, I knew the road to success was not going to be qui...


When Dennis Marcucci arrived at Gonnella Frozen Products in 1997 to head the company's information system department, he already knew the company and its mission. He also knew that the breadmaker needed a fresh approach to its maintenance inventory management system.

"I was familiar with what was going on, and in seeing what needed to be done, I knew the road to success was not going to be quick or easy," Marcucci told a seminar at the 2005 Computerized Maintenance Management Summit in Indianapolis in July. "Reducing downtime was the most important issue we faced. We knew we had a parts issue, and there were several attempts at a solution."

The long road Marcucci led to finding a solution that reduced downtime and preserved productivity for Schaumburg, IL-based Gonnella points to a fundamental lesson about CMMS — it's a lot more than just a software purchase. When Marcucci and his team ultimately succeeded, it was because the CMMS software combined with sound procedures and that human touch to produce a system that had cut downtime in half and brought order to a disordered system.

The Gonnella facility had 4,500 individual maintenance parts to organize and label. The $1.1 million parts inventory was not being effectively used because no one could be sure where each part was. "We'd have equipment down for two days, there was an emergency part on order — and the part was on our shelf all the time," Marcucci said.

"There were a number of issues we had to deal with, but number one was downtime. We had 15 to 20 hours a week of downtime, and that was causing a lot of other issues."

Even after the CMMS software was purchased, Marcucci turned his first major effort toward getting people working on the same system. A records clerk was hired to standardized data, and training was conducted. "We started to have everyone on the same page," Marcucci said.

The next challenge was to organize the maintenance inventory. "There's this beast that lurks in the parts room. We started to tame the beast," he said. A rack system was created that brought further organization to the parts process, and by 2002, a parts clerk had been hired to manage the inflow and outflow of parts inventory.

There were still issues to overcome, though. A barcode system wasn't working properly, requisitions for parts still hadn't been automated, and worst of all, there had still never been a physical inventory of parts. Without that data, Marcucci still couldn't measure the time between parts order and parts delivery, or help maintenance staff fully utilize the tools that were available. At that point, Marcucci turned to Chicago-based CMMS data group to get the final pieces of the inventory management process clicking.

"Data can be a beautiful thing," said Ruth Olszewski, president of CMMS data group, "but Gonnella's picture still wasn't very pretty." With a proprietary data collection device for bar codes, an action plan to complete the physical inventory, and an upgraded training for workers to understand and use the CMMS system to its fullest potential, the system was finally moving forward. By the end of 2004, Gonnella Frozen products had completed the inventory, got the barcode solution on line and had automated purchase requisitions.

"It was amazing," Marcucci said. "We'd been collecting data over the years, and by controlling the inventory parts process, it helped us to reduce that downtime."

Even without a full system in place, Gonnella's attention to the things it could control paid quick dividends. Downtime fell from 16 hours a week in 2000 to 8.4 hours a week by 2003. The full implementation of that system shaved another hour off that time by the first quarter of 2005 — down to 7.5 hours a week, or a 53% improvement.

Gonnella's success story started with an end in mind. "We wanted parts readily available to everyone at a minimal cost," Marcucci said. Because management understood that goal as well, and provided the tools and support needed, the end was achieved.

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