Allied Mills is part of Associated British Foods, one of the largest food groups in Europe, and operates six modern mills in 3 locations across the UK.
To increase the efficiency of production at its three manufacturing sites, Allied Mills wanted to implement a smarter asset management solution to support the proactive maintenance of its buildings and equipment.
Working with Cohesive, an IBM Platinum Business Partner, Allied Mills upgraded to the latest version of the IBM Maximo Asset Management solution and created workflows that manage the asset lifecycle from end to end. Engineers can interact with the solution while working on-site, using mobile devices and real-time dashboards to provide at-a-glance insight into business operations.
Making it work
The Allied Mills team was impressed with the capabilities of the latest version of IBM Maximo and decided to perform an upgrade.
Allied Mills Group Engineering Manager, Duncan Lawson sets the scene: “Since our original implementation, IBM had rebuilt Maximo as a web-based system that was much more mature and flexible; a lot of the functionalities that we would previously have had to build from scratch were now available out of the box. If we could find the right partner, we were hopeful that we could achieve a rapid vanilla implementation of the software and achieve most of our objectives through simple configuration, rather than expensive development work.”
Allied Mills decided to engage with Cohesive, an IBM Platinum Business Partner with broad experience in IBM Maximo implementations across a wide range of industry sectors. Cohesive has more IBM Maximo-certified professionals than any other UK Business Partner, so Allied Mills was confident that it had chosen the best team for the job.
“I can’t speak highly enough of Cohesive’s contribution to the project,” says Duncan Lawson. “They instantly understood the main point, that asset management implementations are more about people than about the technology itself. They advised us to let the workflows be designed by the people who would be using them and worked closely with our engineers to build a solution that is easy to use, while also providing the deep insight into asset data that the business requires.”
A rapid implementation
Within six weeks, Cohesive helped Allied Mills complete the implementation and train the end users. A seven-level parent-child relationship between different asset classes was established and every significant asset, from the mill buildings themselves to the production-line equipment, to the inventory of spare parts, was listed in the central repository.
The team also integrated a solution that enables engineers to interact with the IBM Maximo system directly from their mobile devices while they are working on-site, giving them convenient access to information, and allowing them to submit reports without returning to their desks.
- With a real-time view of asset data across the organisation, Allied Mills is better able to diagnose root causes and resolve potential problems before they affect production
- Corrective and emergency maintenance, which previously comprised 39% of the total maintenance workload, has been reduced to just 9%
- Insight into complete asset lifecycle costs supports improved financial planning and control of operational costs.
Predictive and Proactive
“The solution is a huge step-change for the business,” says Duncan Lawson. “Whenever someone notices a problem – even a slight niggle – the facility is available to report directly into the Maximo system and a work order is raised. Every work order is tracked through its entire lifecycle and by querying the data and understanding the dependencies, we can recognise patterns, identify root causes, and often take preventative action.
“For example, if we find that a certain piece of equipment is prone to developing a certain type of problem, we can investigate ways to avoid that problem – whether by training the production line staff how to identify and fix the problem themselves, or by rethinking the type and frequency of maintenance that is carried out, or even by finding a replacement that doesn’t have the same failure mode and re-engineering the solution.
“The result is that small problems get solved before they become big problems, which keeps our production lines running smoothly. In the two years since the new version of Maximo went live, we’ve seen significant reductions in the proportion of unplanned maintenance that our engineers need to carry out. Previously, 39% of all workload was corrective or emergency maintenance, which had the potential to interrupt production. Now, this has fallen to just 9%. The implementation of the system has provided enhanced visibility of our assets’ performance at both the individual site and group levels. The result is improved reliability, increased production line efficiency, and better asset utilisation.”
Improved financial control
A further advantage is increased financial control. With a complete record of the maintenance history of each asset, Allied Mills can generate reports on true lifecycle costs – helping to plan future purchases more effectively and make more efficient use of capital. This also applies to the management of spare parts inventory: the company has a much more accurate idea of the types and quantities of spares it needs to stock at any given time – which helps to reduce overstocking while also decreasing the risk of running out of critical parts.
Real time insight
Finally, the solution has helped Allied Mills move from static periodic reporting to a model where enterprise-wide information is available in real time. IBM Maximo provides personalised web-based dashboards for each user, delivering simple graphical representations of selected key performance indicators designed to allow engineers and managers to find the information they need immediately.
“We can break down the figures in different ways to suit different users – for example, an engineer might be interested only in the Tilbury site, while a senior manager might want an overview of all three mills,” explains Duncan Lawson. “We can flag up work orders that may have a bearing on safety or prioritise them according to their potential severity and impact on production. Next year we’re also planning to introduce the Visual Planner add-on from CiM Maintenance, which should help us organise operational workloads with greater accuracy, schedule planned shutdowns to suit the needs of the business and ensure we get the maximum benefit from available downtime.”
Steve Barton, Managing Director of Allied Mills, concludes: “By working closely together, Cohesive and our in-house team have built a solution that is fundamentally changing the way we manage our assets. IBM Maximo gives us the tools we need to gain real-time insight into our maintenance processes and work proactively to address potential problems before they arise, helping our production lines run seamlessly and efficiently – and ultimately delivering greater operational control.”