Georgia-Pacific’s road to reducing unplanned events leverages Industry 4.0 technologies and talent to optimize reliability. The company has grown to be a world leader in the pulp and paper industry primarily through acquisition, resulting in a wide variation in technology and solution sets across its 150 manufacturing sites. Speaking in the Get Better Maintenance Using Asset Health session at the recent ARC Industry Forum in Orlando, Florida, VP of Automation Innovation, Scott Carter, shared some of GP’s challenges to optimize reliability in such an environment. One of the company’s biggest challenges is making itself more proactive. Its strategy involves skilled talent and utilizing data to plan and schedule maintenance activities according to highest value opportunities, such that the manufacturing process remains under control.
Talent and Technology Costs Invert
Georgia-Pacific began its digital transformation about six years ago looking at two things: talent and technology. From the talent perspective, GP gave itself a failing grade, noting the number of experienced workers who were retiring and taking their knowledge with them. At the same time, the company was experiencing significant employee turnover. As noted above, GP’s growth by acquisition has resulted in little technology standardization across 150 plants and turnover exacerbated the issue.
Mr. Carter observed that the relationship between talent and technology has inverted over time. Carter shared that early in his career, talent was considered cheap and that any kind of technology solution was expensive. This has changed recently with talent becoming expensive while many solutions are cheap due in large part to decreasing sensor prices. He also stressed that these sensors are real, they work, and are affordable. GP adopted a strategy to embrace technology, including automation, sensors, and Big Data to increase productivity and improve its competitive position.
Reducing Unplanned Events
ARC research indicates that unplanned events are the nemesis of productivity. Equipment failure, operator error, and nuisance trips frequently cause unexpected stoppages. An unplanned event could result in equipment damage, environmental harm, worker safety, and missed production. The overall impact on performance is decreased efficiency and reduced profitability, lowering KPIs.
As a former maintenance manager and project engineer, Mr. Carter is a self-described “world-class firefighter.” However, in his current role as vice president of automation innovation, unplanned events have Carter’s attention. He acknowledged that GP currently spans the spectrum represented in the chart. Despite the lack of standardization, GP’s goal is to move the organization from reactive to more proactive and predictive maintenance. Moving to higher levels of maintenance involves technology. Mr. Carter’s advice is to implement more sensors, generate more data, and apply analytics to provide insight into the data and how it is impacting the process. The next step is to use the data to focus the talent on what creates the greatest opportunity for the organization. Mr. Carter believes that technology and talent can work together to provide stable, capable, and predictable operations to achieve proactive reliability.
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Keywords:Unplanned Events, Optimize, Reliability, Industry 4.0, Georgia-Pacific, ARC Advisory Group.