Anaren Microwave is a high-tech manufacturer and supplier of custom microwave and RF technology for various industries around the world including US space and defence. Bill Imperiale has been with Anaren for 35 years at the Syracuse office, 14 of which as the materials manager. In his current position as business analyst, Bill is tasked with improving operations by optimizing systems and processes throughout the five manufacturing facilities.
Knowing your needs is the key to success
Like many organizations, Anaren had a homegrown work order application that had basic asset management functionality. “It was menu driven, so quite cumbersome,” explained Bill, “reporting was limited and it still relied heavily on paper transactions and records. We looked at our business needs going forward and decided this was one area that could be modernized.”
On launching the Manufacturing CMMS project, Bill identified three major areas for improvement:
- Improve efficiency by eliminating paper. Anaren removed paper from other areas throughout the organization so this was one of the last areas that needed to be addressed. “Every time paper is handled there is a cost associated with printing, distribution and filing”, explained Bill. “As a growing business, the more assets we bring online, the more paper we handle, the greater the cost.”
- Improve the control of preventive maintenance. As Mark Zuckerberg famously said, you cannot improve what you cannot measure. “The old system tracked our work orders but it didn’t have the metrics in place to see how many PMs we completed on time versus late, how many hours we spent on reactive maintenance, what our availability was last month etc”.
- Improve inventory management. “We knew we had parts located throughout the facility that weren’t tracked very well so it was difficult, at best, to determine how much money was tied up in spare parts inventory.”
A recommended CMMS by someone trusted
“We learned about Fiix from one of our subsidiaries, and when we tried it we liked it immediately,” recalls Bill. “We wanted an application that could work across all our facilities and Fiix seemed to fit all our requirements. Training staff was easy primarily due to the inline videos on each screen. I gave a class with a brief overview; we then watched the support videos followed by a Q&A session. It worked very well. The guys then went away and spent a few days experimenting with the new CMMS on their iPads.”
A clearly defined roll-out plan
One of the biggest challenges was migrating the data over from the older system. Anaren has a wide assortment of equipment in their manufacturing facility from handling robots to chemical processing that need to be serviced on a regular basis. The maintenance team also manages facility related assets like the HVAC and air venting. Bill decided to migrate the data manually so they could start with clean data.
“Since going live, it has been well received and the feedback has been very positive,” says Bill. “Technicians are accessing the CMMS on the production floor via iPads and wireless [internet]. We’re even finding new ways of using it that were not part of our original plan. We are now using it to service test equipment.”
How did Fiix stack up to expectations?
So how does Fiix stack up against the three original objectives after six months?
- “We’re recording more maintenance related data in the CMMS,” explains Bill. “Any findings out of the ordinary recorded during the PMs are now logged into the system so they can be addressed quickly. We must comply with government regulations so there’s a big focus on health and safety at Anaren. Fiix has helped us track information effortlessly to prepare us for those audits.”
- “Most of our parts have been uploaded and we now have better visibility on this material. We know exactly what we have and where it is stored in the facility. We can put a value on our inventory so we can manage it and then optimize it using the tools in Fiix,” explains Bill.
Anaren chose Fiix for the additional features and functionality needed to help turn Anaren into an efficient asset management organization. “We’ve collected baseline data over the last six months so we can start identifying those areas that can be improved,” says Bill, be that better PM compliance, a reduction in spare parts on hand, more preventive maintenance etc.
In the future Anaren will leverage the metrics to calculate costs associated with maintaining equipment, so informed decisions such as repair or replace can be made easily. “We plan on rolling out Fiix to our New Hampshire facility next,” says Bill. “There is so much long term potential and we haven’t even scratched the surface yet”.