Plant & Works Engineering

improvement programme delivers reduced operating costs

Published:  27 August, 2007

NSK says its asset improvement programme (AIP) is delivering benefits to the operating costs, efficiency and profitability of UK manufacturers. In one recent application of the value added programme, NSK says annualised savings of £800,000 were achieved, representing a 40% improvement in bearing life for a wire drawing company.

AIP is the recognition that today's end-user bearing customers are looking for more than just the supply of a product. Rather, they are looking for a value-added service that actually helps them to reduce operating costs, improve efficiency and profitability. These objectives are achieved by improving tangible assets, such as equipment and machinery, and also intangible assets such as knowledge and training.

 "Manufacturers are becoming more aware of the benefits of value added services, as they start to realise the limits of shopping around for cheaper, lower quality, unsupported parts”, explained Richard Pickles, European aftermarket director for NSK. “We are changing the perceptions of how and where operating costs are driven and how they can be reduced; we finding that most of our end users are shocked by our results a lot of the time.”

Brian Picker, NSK UK"s aftermarket manager, explains how AIP works. “We break it down into stages in order for people to understand the programme. This makes it logical for end users to buy into and understand the process; and it shows them how we can add value to their businesses. We often start off with a site survey, which is very detailed. We go into a customer’s premises, talk to them; get to understand what their difficulty is and work out what we can do to support them.

 “We look at all aspects of their operations, including systems, stock, specific problem applications, lubrication, and even training issues. A lot of the time is spent questioning, understanding and listening - if you don’t get that right then anything that follows won’t work.

 “We then look at the data we have acquired: this leads us to make recommendations for improvements. In practise, our recommendations could relate to training: about how to examine or look after bearings; how to spot failure modes; and how to handle bearings correctly - as that is one of the biggest causes of premature failure. We might need to look at the lubrication of bearings, or we might be able to recommend a different part that would work more effectively. Our aim is to get to a stage where we can document the value that we have delivered by proving how much money they have saved as a result of adopting the solution proposed by NSK. This allows us to go back to management with firm figures that give them reassurance they have saved money and improved profitability by working with us.”

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