Main Background




Columbia Forest Products

The Problem

CFP’s Old Fort facility began a lean manufacturing journey in 2005. The objectives were to improve production and maintenance workflow and drive out non-value-added costs. That need for change is best describe by Gouge: “Prior to lean, we were a fire-fighting system.”

Yet, despite three successful years of lean maintenance and achieving significant process-efficiency improvements and cost reductions, continued equipment failures were keeping the site from meeting its production targets. To reduce failures and improve uptime, CFP realized lean process improvements were only one step in its journey; it also needed to confront the reliability frontier. The organization was familiar with the concept of Total Productive Maintenance (TPM), but needed to ensure that this tool was the right one to counter poor equipment reliability. Rather than try to get where it wanted by itself, CFP chose to work with Marshall Institute (see below).

The Solution

Factors for Success

CFP’s key objectives include reducing downtime, improving response time, PM compliance, overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) and work order completion, and developing better OEE measures and solving problems to predict maintenance equipment failures and behaviors. In addition, the company wanted to gain improvements in other key performance measures such as maintenance labor and supplier costs. It further planned to improve storeroom efficiency and revamp the entire PM system.

Wakefield and Spouse admit that if they had not implemented TPM and begun focusing on reliability improvement, they would have had more stoppages in process flow and more downtime – not to mention less ownership by personnel in seeing that the process runs as effectively as possible.

Assessing, Structuring, Training

After acknowledging that TPM was the right tool, CFP’s maintenance systems and practices were assessed for strengths, weaknesses and improvement areas. Wakefield, Sprouse and plant superintendent Randy Marsh, along with hourly and salaried maintenance and production staff, met to create their vision, mission and expectations, thus shaping how TPM fit into the overall company strategy and philosophy.

Following the assessment, a TPM Steering Committee was formed. The cross-functional team is responsible for driving TPM – the success of which relies heavily on their ability to lead and stay the course.

The Outcome

Although CFP is still in the process of reaching targets, it has seen significant behavior and reliability changes. It points to Marshall Institute’s support as a key to that success – by helping accelerate the CFP learning curve and making planning and implementation more concise. Today, all levels of the organization are aware that reaching the desired destination in this reliability journey is expected to take five years. CFP, though, is committed to continuous improvement, and believes that the journey is never-ending. The company knows that it still has improvement opportunities ahead, but when it looks at where it was a year ago, it sees great gain.

CFP is realistic about goals. That’s because of its previous experience with lean improvements – and with prioritizing and implementing the right strategy to achieve those goals. Says Wakefield, “First in, first out… we pace change to know it’s sustainable.” In other words, the company bases what it does on what makes sense for CFP’s culture and strategic goals, laying a deep foundation and achieving critical mass in the process.

As for the tough economy, CFP is more than just surviving by staying focused on these principles. “If we didn’t implement TPM we’d be struggling to survive,” notes Wakefield. Major successes have been achieved, and major changes for sustained improvement have been made, including culture change, maintenance-system improvements, stronger inter-department relationships and leadership committment. Still, Columbia Forest Products realizes these are milestones on a much longer journey. It remains firmly committed to continuous improvement – and has all the factors in place for continued success. Watch this space!

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