Forbo Flooring Systems is a manufacturer and supplier of world class flooring, including Linoleum, Project Vinyl, entrance matting systems, Flotex and carpet tiles. The organisation is committed to sustainable development and responsible raw material procurement and manufacturing processes.
The Forbo factory in Ripley, Derbyshire employs 200 people and manufactures 3million square metres of flooring a year. The Forbo organization has 14 manufacturing sites in mainland Europe and the UK.
When Forbo brought in a new engineering manager at its manufacturing site in Ripley, he quickly realised the need to introduce a Computerised Maintenance Management System (CMMS). “I came from an aviation background,” said Steve Green, Engineering Manager at Forbo. “I was used to having detailed working records and asset management systems, and the paper-based system that I found was outdated and inadequate for our needs. If there were 100 paper-based work requests a month I would estimate that only about 70 percent of them were actually actioned. The paper system promoted poor communications between departments, and lacked tracking and therefore accountability.”
As part of a project to reduce the number of plant breakdowns from 90 per month to less than 20, Forbo needed a source of data to track improvements in maintenance and repair strategies. Knowing that there were software systems available that could do the job the Forbo team started to research the market. After investigating various CMMS they identified Agility, with its simple web-based user interface, as an interesting option.
Steve said, “I was trying to achieve visibility for the maintenance effort in the organisation. We had nothing to base our improvements on, no history. I needed a system that gave us data visibility and traceability, it needed to be easy to use and integrate into our processes, and we needed to see results quickly. Agility fit the bill very well, with the added advantage that it was adaptable and very competitively priced.”
Forbo’s key objectives in implementing its Agility CMMS were to improve reliability, productivity, product quality and plant availability. In addition, it needed to improve inter-departmental communications and the quality of data available.
To reduce the plant breakdowns Forbo first needed to record them appropriately using the CMMS. The data obtained needed to be arranged into useful reports which identified problems, highlighted improvement areas and were focused on enabling measurable improvements.
“We needed the system to enable the maintenance and engineering department to use hard data to identify and justify capital projects and modification programmes,” said Steve. “I wanted to prioritise maintenance work based on reliable data, removing the emotion around resource allocation. Before implementing Agility we had limited data to back up decisions so we couldn’t be sure we were making the right ones.”
After selecting Agility, the system implementation was a two-part process. It included general implementation guidance and then further specially tailored training.
The system is used on the plant floor by operators and engineering staff, and data can be easily extracted to create reports and evaluations. The organisation has approximately 15 engineers inputting data and managing the work and 120 operators (factory workers and warehouse staff) who can all enter work requests, each using a tailored introduction screen which reflects the user’s area of interest.
General implementation included identifying goals to ensure that the correct information was captured and appropriate metrics were put into place. The training element was carried out using Agility System Champions: Forbo technicians and engineers who received full training and then cascaded it down into the organisation. “Communicating how the information was going to be used and encouraging each technician to take ownership of the information that they input was key to the successful implementation,” Steve noted.
According to Steve, the Forbo team were initially suspicious of the change but useful interactive information was available on users’ desktops within weeks of implementation. “The fact that useful data built up so quickly meant that support soon followed. This was particularly the case from the operators’ perspective – as soon as the implementation began the benefits quickly became obvious.”
Forbo now uses Agility to identify and track the key performance indicators (KPIs) that measure performance and track improvement activities. It offers open visibility of task status to operators with visual indicators of work schedules, priority and detailed status /completion information, giving totally transparent engineering processes. The system also enables the team to track performance of individual components to optimise preventative and operator maintenance activities.
The report function tracks activities over varying timelines and provides consistent report functions for detailed analysis. It also allows engineering managers to assess proactive and reactive repair activities and provides a correlation between the two, making it valuable in assessing the maintenance strategies in place and identifying areas of weakness. The simple operator interface is also easy and quick to use at any computer terminal.
Added benefits include the ability to identify delinquent parts to enable replace/repair strategies to be optimised; to track equipment following third-party repair to assess supplier performance, and to obtain the data to develop optimal replacement and stock holding strategies.
Productivity is the most obvious benefit for Forbo. Since implementing the system the same team with the same resources completes over 200 percent more logged maintenance requests and actions. The organisation’s technical availability has increased massively, which in turn has reduced breakdowns and increased quality and plant availability. 18 months before the system was implemented plant availability was 89 percent. It has now increased to 97 percent.
Before implementation, our team would complete approximately 120 maintenance tasks a month. As soon as the system went live there was an enormous jump and the average over the last year is 383 maintenance tasks a month. Another KPI for me is reactive vs. proactive tasks and we have swung from 70 percent reactive to more like 70 percent proactive.Steve Green, Engineering Manager at Forbo
As with most complex IT systems, there is an ongoing improvement project correcting, simplifying and streamlining processes with the aim of facilitating another step improvement in Forbo’s maintenance performance. Forbo continues to work with SSG Insight to configure the system to their requirements.
Steve said, “SSG Insight is prepared to work with us to meet our requirements and requests. They don’t just sell you the software, they work with you to improve it and tailor it, which is a very important part of the partnership.”
“Agility is a now a key source of data used in tracking performance in maintenance and repair strategies in Forbo. Agility played a vital role in our project to reduce the number of plant breakdowns from 90 per month to less than 20. Without Agility, it really would not have been possible.”