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Maintenance service keeps the glass moving

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GLASS manufacturer Pilkington has achieved very low levels of downtime in the crucial despatch department at its major manufacturing site in Victoria following the signing of a comprehensive crane maintenance agreement with Konecranes .

Pilkington (Australia) has some 60 hoists, cranes and other lifting equipment at its site in Dandenong, with ten of these cranes in production areas and about a dozen in despatch.

"We are hugely dependent on our lifting equipment," said Dandenong site despatch manager Mark Forbes.

"We freight about 110,000 tonnes of glass a year and if we lose a crane, despatch stops. We simply can't afford downtime. And in fact it's now quite rare to have any."

Pilkington makes many types of glass products at Dandenong, including auto glass, laminated safety glass, mirrors, annealed glass for windows, and glass panels for sliding doors.

The plant manufactures around the clock, every day of the year, although downstream functions such as warehousing and despatch work to more normal hours, operating a morning shift and an evening shift.

The despatch department at Dandenong has one 25-tonne crane, with the remainder ranging in capacity from 7 tonnes down to 3.2 tonnes. Most are overhead hoists that track across the ceiling of the warehouse, remotely controlled by radio.

"Our servicing has not only reduced downtime, but more importantly has identified areas where Pilkington's equipment could be upgraded to improve its performance," said Brad Leckie, Victoria and Tasmania branch manager for Konecranes, which manages the three-year-old crane maintenance contract at the site.

"For example, we have installed two new hoists as well as production cranes. We also installed accessories such as radio controls that replaced manual pendants, a Dynahoist to enable matching speeds on hoists, and travel inverters to improve crane performance and handling.

"As well, we created exclusion zones for the cranes, to automatically lock them out of production or warehousing areas that they shouldn't travel into," he said.

Before Konecranes' contract with Pilkington, the glassmakers outsourced some crane maintenance work and did some in-house, but found advantages in outsourcing to specialists.

"Our arrangement with Konecranes means we now need to spend less resources on maintenance planning and management. They do all that for us. We also require fewer engineers on site. In fact, most manufacturing companies of our size will outsource their maintenance work for these reasons," Mr Forbes said.

"Konecranes inspect and maintain to the Australian Standard, prioritising work that needs doing and reporting to us regularly. They'll make suggestions if we have any problems and are very good at providing quotes for repairs or upgrades. They also attend to any breakdowns and can be here on site within an hour. There are no 'issues' in our contract with Konecranes," he said.

Konecranes' inspection and assessment procedures are based on the premise that systematic and regular preventive inspections of equipment are the key to safe, reliable and cost-effective performance.

"We are continually addressing the potential downtime issues for clients through our regular assessments and servicing," said Mr Leckie of Konecranes.

"The programmes applied to Pilkington's Dandenong site are designed to go beyond preventive and predictive maintenance, to a top-tier solution of reliability-based maintenance management.

“The service agreement integrates Konecranes' expertise with Pilkington's own, to achieve the best blend of on-site and outsourced knowledge."

Konecranes has more than 100 specialists in commissioning and maintenance at 24 locations throughout Australia and New Zealand.

Its maintenance service covers all activities necessary for trouble-free crane operation, from initial commissioning to the end of the crane's economical life.

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