We’ve always said that what differentiates Tension from all the other envelope companies is our People, our Processes and our Technology.
So why spend time talking about Machine Maintenance?
Maintenance work isn’t glamorous, and we aren’t producing envelopes when we’re doing it.
Yet a poorly maintained envelope folding machine will generate more waste, have longer change times and will have lower productivity because of unscheduled breakdowns. Ultimately, envelopes produced on a poorly maintained folding machine cost more. No matter what industry you’re in, if your costs are higher, you’re not competitive.
Most importantly, a poorly maintained folding machine will produce lower-quality envelopes. Folding machines that are in a cycle of running and stopping will always produce defective envelopes. Those defects must be culled so that they aren’t accidentally shipped to our customers. We have a robust Quality Inspection Process, but we increase the likelihood of defects getting to our customers when we haven’t maintained our folding machines. Finally, a clean, well-maintained folding machine is also a SAFER machine to work on.
What does Tension do to make sure our folding machines are well maintained?
- Build planned maintenance into our Production Schedule. This is tough to do when backlogs are full and On Time Deliveries are tight, but we must build maintenance time into our production schedules so that we can perform preventive maintenance.
- Every plant uses software to auto-generate the maintenance tasks that need to be accomplished. Some maintenance tasks have a daily frequency while some are weekly, monthly or quarterly. These tasks not only relate to our folding machines, but also to our other machinery and support systems.
- Develop better, proprietary maintenance Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) that follow our standardized Lean methodology. We develop and document SOPs for maintenance-related issues on our folding machines (e.g. for extrusion systems that distribute adhesives onto our envelopes).
- Use proprietary lubrication systems. A large reason for machine and component failure is lack of lubrication. We developed a lubrication system that is far superior to the original design that came with our folding equipment. This new system ensures that our bearings, shafts and bushings are provided with the right amount of lubrication, in the correct frequency.
- Use the right tools. Our former, long-time Vice President of Manufacturing used to have a shadow box in his office that contained the “three tools that should never be used on our machines”. Those three tools were pliers, Vise-Grips and Crescent wrenches because he knew those three tools would round off and scar up fasteners, making them unusable for the right tools.
- We regularly hold maintenance training classes at our headquarters. These provide detailed training to Envelope Adjusters on more complex and infrequent maintenance tasks.
When we consistently follow these Maintenance processes, we’re more productive, safer, generate less waste and actually increase our On Time Deliveries and Envelope Quality!