In an effort to address the production efficiency in its older, high-cost U.S. facilities, our client’s Human Resources group sponsored a survey, in which 120 managers were asked to rate the company’s performance against its “Seven Principles.” Of the seven principles, “Excellence” was identified as one that had room for improvement. Further clarification identified two key issues: manufacturing reliability and the cost of poor quality. While this survey encompassed all of the company’s businesses, one unit in particular was identified as the initial pilot for a concentrated improvement effort.

Subsequently, Advisian asked to assist in identifying specific areas for improvement. We began by conducting an Analysis and Design phase focused on Operational Excellence. The discovery process we utilized was designed to gain a deeper understanding of the improvement potential within the host unit and to develop a game plan to significantly improve operations and financial performance.

The pilot plant (Silica manufacturing) had three production lines and approximately 140 production employees in a facility that was over 40 years old. While there had been some investment made in the past, our client recognized that there was still significant opportunity to improve operations and maintenance performance. Our primary objective was to identify barriers to production efficiency and effectiveness, determine how those barriers impacted bottom-line economics, and to draft a plan directed at maximizing Operations Excellence by optimizing both physical and human assets.

Assessment Findings

Our assessment identified the following opportunities for improvement:


  • 55 percent of maintenance work was reactive
  • 30 percent of work orders were unscheduled
  • Backlog was aged and unplanned
  • Time-on-tools (craft productivity) was only 35 percent
  • The CMMS was not effectively used
  • Opportunistic maintenance was not effectively utilized to improve reliability
  • Root Cause Analysis was not being applied
  • Weekly planning was in its infancy
  • Communications between Maintenance and Operations were poor


  • Supervisors spent most of their time on administrative tasks, rather than supervising their teams
  • There was a high number of changeovers, and changeover cycle time was longer than necessary
  • There was no formal review of planned vs. actual performance
  • While Roles and Responsibilities were identified, accountability was lacking
  • Autonomous maintenance was nonexistent
  • Control Room performance was reactive and lacked the ability to correct rate losses in a timely manner
  • Product runs consistently missed budget performance


As a result of the assessment findings, we proposed an implementation project with the following primary objectives:
  • To increase the OEE of all three production lines in order to optimize production capacity
  • To assist the engineered materials division in capturing the benefits of increased OEE and higher production flexibility, including the possible consolidation of products from similar plants
  • To capture and leverage the tacit knowledge and capabilities of the organization’s human assets