An Experienced Maintenance Engineer is Invaluable
Maintenance Management Podcast
Matt: [00:00:30] Hi everyone. And welcome to this week’s show. We have a very special guest, Ryan Bachelor.
Ryan started his career with the British Army, doing his training at the Royal School of Signals before spending 4 years serving as a Communications System Engineer. On leaving the Army, he moved into engineering in the civilian sector, working on primary heat exchangers for aircraft engines for Aerospace company Meggitt and then automation for Salts Healthcare. It’s from here he started to move into Maintenance, starting at a luxury automotive company before spending 5 years as a shift engineer and finally a junior engineering manager at Arla Foods, taking lead on their processing technologies. He then moved up to being the Maintenance Manager at Gu Puddings, most recently settling into a role with Britvic, where he continues to be their Maintenance Manager.
Hi, Ryan, welcome to the show. How are you and how’s business been during this insane time?
Ryan: [00:01:35] Hello. Yeah, I’m good. Thank you. Thanks for having me on the show. Business has been very interesting as we’re a food or FMCG supplier for retail, where I work at Becton, obviously the retail sales, we sort of went through the roof curing COVID. So we’ve been flat out. We’ve been very, very busy with the factory of 190 staff members who was pretty high demand on them. During the time we had a lot of people off with potential coronavirus cases, symptoms, etc. So I think at the peak of it, we were running with 50 people off. So yeah, it was quite a challenging time, but I’m also very proud to be of a team that went through that time and hit all our targets and made sure that we carried on supplying the consumer.
Matt: [00:02:25] Yeah. I mean, it’s a crazy time, isn’t it? I mean, some companies are benefiting massively where others are falling down and interesting to hear that you had so many people off as well. I mean, yeah. Really puts into perspective the seriousness of everything.
Ryan: [00:02:41] Yeah. So, as a site, because we supply a lot of the country’s favourite drinks, all Pepsi products, drop in some squash, our white’s lemonade tango, 7up, products like that. I think it’s been quite positive for myself. And I know as a team, we’ve discussed this, that we’ve been able to provide people with these little tastes of normality during this time. So they still know, although it wasn’t always easy going to the shop, at least they knew they could go there and still get their favourite brand of squash so that I could still have a drink, especially with the Robinson’s Squash, I believe. There sales actually went up for large PET or plastic bottle squash products because obviously, all the children went home as well. So I think it was quite good to be able to continue to supply that to the public.
Matt: [00:03:38] Sure. And so moving on from that then, can you tell us a little bit more about what you do specifically in your role?
Ryan: [00:03:44] Yeah, sure. So I run the maintenance strategy on a state of the art PAT bottling line. So I was brought in in January. So the line was four years old when I got there. It had been bedded in for those four years, but it still needed a lot of work to be done to get it up to a world-class standard. So that’s why they brought me in. So we have a process plant specifically just for this line and all the actual bottling machinery, which is everything from a blow molder, which blows the bottles into the shape. They are the filler all the way down to putting it into a pallet is all crown’s machinery. So it’s like state of the art, there’s by the Rolls Royce and the filling machines in the world. And my job is to make sure that that runs a really efficient level when it is running.
Matt: [00:04:37] Okay. So then how would you set a good maintenance culture within the business in your work?
Ryan: [00:04:44] I think the best way to set a culture is information communication. You might have the best engineers in the world, but if they don’t know where you are, what targets you’re trying to hit, what your figures are, then they don’t know where they need to focus their time. What would be best for them to be doing at any given time, because I can’t constantly be managing our engineers, but I can set them out to us for them to focus on. So yeah, we just make sure that everyone’s on board as the factory manager likes to call it we’re all on the bus. So we’re all in it together. So that’s why we are trying to breed that culture and make sure everyone’s involved.
Matt: [00:05:26] Okay. Sounds fantastic. And then, so moving on from that, how would you go about planning, maintenance activities?
Ryan: [00:05:33] I’m quite lucky and the site I work at is 24 5. So we only run 24 hours Monday to Friday. At the weekends, we shut down for planned maintenance activities. So are we have an engineering coordinator or a planner, some people call them, so the planner or the PMs are generated for that person. And then they would plan them in over the weekend. Sorry, PMs being preventative maintenance activities. So part of my first task when we I got there was to make the PM structure a bit more robust. So we’ve had expert engineers rewriting them, making them a bit more niche and for those machines, to make sure that all the right call, the correct tasks are being done over the weekends. So when we start up on the Monday, we’ve got smooth sailing for the week. As well as I’m also fortunate as well that Britvic do an annual maintenance program. So every year, we shut the line down for two weeks, get the experts in from Crown’s and Tetra Pak who run the process equipment. And we do a full two week shut down maintenance plan. So changing the majority of wear parts, servicing all the big machines and making sure that we’re going to be good for the coming year.
Matt: [00:06:55] Okay. And so that leads nicely onto how would you implement an effective maintenance plan?
Ryan: [00:07:01] There’s a few different ways that you can implement one. So, using a CMMS is really, really important. Extracting data from that software and using it correctly is the most effective way to plan maintenance. So you might have breakdowns, everyone has breakdowns. It’s part and parcel of working in manufacturing, but going into the details of shortstops, which is anything under two minutes and then long stop, which is two minutes to 10 minutes and interrogating that data and using that data and to plan a maintenance strategy is very, very important because that’s where you lose the majority of the time.
Matt: [00:07:42] Yeah. Okay. And so you may have spoken slightly about this, but how do you think software tools or do you think software tools are useful for managing maintenance activities?
Ryan: [00:07:54] So software tools, especially having a history of everything has gone wrong. So an experienced engineer who’s worked at a company for 10 years is invaluable. He’s probably seen PLCs, sorry. They’ve probably seen a multitude of different problems and more than once, and they will remember the problem and then be able to fix it. The problem is that that particular expertise is onsite all the time. So they might be on holiday. They might be on nights, for example, working shifts. So keeping a record of everything that’s gone wrong, that you can interrogate to find out how they got over it last time, if in a hundred years this wasn’t put in place, which is really important as well. So having that amount of software, you could populate a spreadsheet, but it might be missed putting in work orders, putting in a detail on the work orders and closing those work orders off a more valuable and populating spreadsheet in my opinion because you’re less likely to miss any detail.
Matt: [00:08:59] And so what’s your take on using spreadsheets or have you used spreadsheets for maintenance management?
Ryan: [00:09:06] I would say that the use of spreadsheets for myself as only been when I’ve extracted the data from the software to populate a spreadsheet and then possibly made some graphs, time charts, gunshots, things like that to show where the losses are. That’s the beautiful thing about Excel is that you can easily interrogate the data and make something more visible that the other people can look at and you can report back to people as well. So I can, every month or every week I make a bar chart with all the long stops and shortstops, the line and it will show where we’ve lost the most of the time and we know where we really need to focus on for the coming time.
Matt: [00:09:48] And so then moving on from that, how would you use maintenance as a competitive advantage in business?
Ryan: [00:09:57] I don’t know if I could call it competitive where we’re all in the same team or on the bus.
Matt: [00:10:05] The business as a whole.
Ryan: [00:10:06] Yeah. I think if I’ve had a bad day where nothing’s worked, and it’s a problem that’s happened before then I don’t feel proud of my day’s work. If it’s a completely new problem, that’s probably out of my hands most of the time. But using maintenance competitive advantage, if that’s to make sure that you put those a hundred-year fixes in to make sure that problems that have arise don’t come back and then I know I’m doing my job correctly.
Matt: [00:10:41] Okay. And so what would be for our listeners, your top three tips on effective maintenance?
Ryan: [00:10:49] Make time to analyze the data. It’s very easy to have a very busy time. And then you forget to do the extra work, doing the root cause analysis, putting the data in and analyzing that data. So you’re not going to counter that issue again. You’ve also got to ensure that you’ve got an effective team. Some people will only hire electrical engineers because there’s more electrical stuff now than they used to be in the past. Some people only hire seasoned veterans you could call them or people who have been in the game for a long time and they’re very experienced engineers. I’d like to have a really strong mix of all the guys, younger guys, mechanical guys, PLC guys, electrical. I like to have to make sure that we have a really strong, effective team with skills in every area.
I’ve worked places before where there hasn’t been many, many mechanical guys and mechanical jobs would take a long time to complete. Not because they weren’t good engineers, but they just weren’t skilled in those areas, so it would take them longer.
The big one for me, which is no budget, no temporary fix is that everyone forgets about. It’s quite a common thing. Yeah, exactly. I’m just putting that temporary fix in and then they go two weeks and then everyone forgets about it and it will come back to bite you in the end. So if you do have to fix something, not 100% correct, you don’t have the right parts. You don’t have the right skills on site necessarily. You need to make sure that your record isn’t temporary, repair logs are very important to me.
Matt: [00:12:32] Okay. And so finally, what’s your favourite saying, or quote on maintenance?
Ryan: [00:12:39] I’m a bit of a nerd. So I always use the Star Wars quote, which is “Do or do not, there is no try.”
Matt: [00:12:50] Okay, care to elaborate on that?
Ryan: [00:12:56] You can even do the job where you can’t. And you shouldn’t let that beat you up or affect your mentality. Because there’s always a way and you can do.
Matt: [00:13:12] Marvelous. Well, Ryan, thank you very much for being a guest this week and dropping some fantastic knowledge for our listeners and that’s been great having you on.
Ryan: [00:13:21] Thanks for having me.
Matt: [00:13:22] Okay. Marvellous. Thanks for listening. And we’ll see you guys again on the next show. Thanks.
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