Craig Carlyle, MESNZ column
Manufacturing and engineering operations tend to be relatively generic in the New Zealand situation, so when the opportunity arises to check out a company who think and act on a different plane, engineers and industry participants are quick to respond. Global exporter Fisher & Paykel Healthcare were delighted to showcase their Highbrook facility to society and public attendees as part of the Maintenance Engineering Society Network Session.
A limited group of 40 attendees were treated to a bonnet-up look at the Highbrook OSA (Obstructive Sleep Apnea) plant in April.
A lay description of the facility would be a moulding and assembly line manufacturing sleep apnea machines, but beyond this simple description is a world of difference that sets Fisher & Paykel Healthcare apart on a true world's best footing.
Working under uber-strict US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) rules for healthcare products, a mini city of 3000 staff work in a sterilised, static-earthed environment that challenged most attendees' perception of manufacturing environments. All pervading cleanliness extended even to the maintenance workshop and attendees struggled to find any signs of the normal detritus of engineering and plant reliability.
Working in this strict environment, the maintenance team at the firm maintain 2000 documented assets, with 100 per cent maintenance strategies.
The 14-strong team action 10,000 work orders a year, maintaining a lean 0.2 percent overdue rate and an average overdue span of less than 24 hrs.
The strict FDA traceability requirements dictate a paper trail totalling 84,000 A4 sheets (reaching 9.4m high); needless to say the team is currently transferring to a totally paperless documentation. Aside from the bewildering technicality of the operation, attendees identified with the achievements of the team.
The Fisher & Paykel roots are evident in this offshoot company; a focus on quality, cleanliness, people and research and development. It is no small wonder that the future is so bright for this star performer.
The Maintenance Engineering Society is active across New Zealand, providing opportunities for maintenance engineers and manufacturing operations to network and share innovations and experiences; both at a national level at their annual conference or at these regional events.
Further network evenings are planned for DB Breweries (May) and SupaGas (August) in Auckland. The 2014 SKF National Maintenance Engineering Conference will be held at Hamilton in November.