East Coast, U.S.
Engineering & Consulting Services
Background: A publishing company based on the east cost of the U.S., publishes multiple outlets, including two newspapers in the top 100 circulation in the U.S., as well as dozens of smaller publications. Combined daily circulation equals more than half a million. The client, moving through multiple restructurings and ownership groups, remains one of the longest active Synovos clients and benefits from a full-service integrated plant management program. As part of its program, the client also benefits from our asset services expertise.
The client operates a printing, packaging and distribution center in excess of 680,000 square feet with maintenance team of 30, including 15 electrical and 10 facilities, operating 24/7.
The Opportunity: Sometimes, just paying attention leads to significant savings opportunities. For this client, the opportunity arose after a beveled gear-set failed. The on-site storeroom management team met the immediate need and helped get the equipment back online and in production mode. However, in reordering a replacement gear-set, the team was surprised to learn the lead time on this critical spare had grown to in excess of 16 weeks.
The drive assembly, consisting of one large and one small gear that are manufactured as a match-set, drive a large printing impression cylinder. Any component failure on the three-story tall vertical printing unit is absolutely critical to production.
Alerted by the on-site Synovos team, the Asset Services engineers seized the opportunity to find a more reliable, less expensive source offering shorter lead times.
Challenges: That search quickly revealed that options were limited, with all suppliers having similar costs and lead times. There was no real benefit to making a change. Instead, Synovos reliability engineers and machinists designed a new set without using any formal design plans, instead referencing a well-worn sample.
Synovos identified the material hardness, type of gear, pitch of the teeth, dimensions, etc.
The process eventually took the Synovos team to Quebec, Canada, where a machine shop was willing to reverse engineer a new set of gears, both sizes, to the exact specifications required.
Consulting with the client’s head machinist, Synovos secured a test sample and shared with the client for inspection and approval.
Results Realized: In approaching the problem, Synovos engineers explored multiple options, including producing larger quantities of both gears. Although the smaller gear wore out more often, by replacing the larger gear at the same time, it was thought additional shutdowns would be avoided.
To maximize savings and eliminate downtime, Synovos recommended the production of the initial gear set – large and small – and a second smaller gear. Because of the way the two components interact, the smaller one wears more quickly. Producing a second matching smaller gear, means the more complex maintenance – changing both large and small – only needs to be done every other time.
The recommendation, which the machine shop was willing to accommodate, resulted in a cost savings as well as in reduced maintenance repair time and overall production downtime. At $400 per small gear, Synovos saved significant money but, more importantly, reduced the time necessary to install each new gear set. Replacing both gears requires the entire drive shaft to be disassembled. However, replacing just the smaller gear was a less intrusive project and took one-third less time and effectively doubled the life of the entire part.
The re-engineered gear sets have performed flawlessly since the change, cutting the overall cost by 50% and lowering the lead time from 16 weeks to four, significant results with 90 different sets in use at any given moment. Additional labor savings were realized as well with 65% less time used to replace the part. Downtime savings were also earned by cutting lost production time by a third.