Eastman Chemical

Eastman Chemicals has been using The Manufacturing Game® since the Summer of 1996. What has been interesting at Eastman is to watch how even a recognized leader (Eastman has won the Malcolm Baldridge Award) can benefit from a common vision about reliability and an action oriented approach. The first area to use the game and to create action teams was the Power and Services Division. The Power and Services group has taken the ideas in The Manufacturing Game®to heart and they have been eliminating the defects in their operation and improving their costs dramatically over the last 12 months.

The Power and Services Group identified over 80 defects after the first couple of workshops and set out to eliminate the top 10. They have now completed over 15 projects and they have already seen the workload and cost begin to decrease. One of the projects completed involved some metering pumps that had been a chronic problem. The Power and Services group was spending 20 hours a week on these pumps. An action team eliminated the defects in the pumps in under 90 days and for virtually no cost. These pumps have not had a single failure since the project was completed which has not only improved reliability and reduced costs by $26,000 per year, it has freed up time for the division to pursue other more value added opportunities.

Eastman has found that, in addition to the action teams, the change in mentality and approach toward everyday work can have an impact on performance. Mickey Logan of Eastman Chemical’s Power & Services Division describes this change in culture as “It starts out as a series of projects but it has become the way we do business now.” The experience that they have had with their turbine generators is a perfect example.

Eliminating Turbine Generator Defects

Soon after the first Manufacturing Game® workshop in Power & Services, one of the turbo generators had to come down because of vibration problems. The mechanics determined that the bearing had been wiped, the surface was no longer smooth, and was causing the vibration but they could not determine the root cause of the bearing getting wiped. The generator was critical to operations so they had to get it back up. The wiped bearing was replaced and the generator restarted. On start-up, the vibration spiked up and then dropped off to an acceptable but higher than normal level. The generator ran over the weekend but once the operating team saw the data on Monday morning, they did something that was very counter cultural – they took it back down. Normally, a critical piece of equipment that is running in the acceptable range would not be taken down but the team knew they still had a defect. The bearing was slightly wiped again when they examined it and again no root cause could be determined. They replaced the bearing and started it up again. When the vibration spiked on start-up again they immediately took it down. Instead of giving up and letting the generator run with a known defect, the team was determined not to allow this defect into their equipment. When they examined the generator, they found what looked like a photographic image of the bearing on the shaft. After consulting several experts, they determined that the shaft was not properly grounded and an electrolytic effect was causing the damage to the bearing. The brushes that were supposed to ground the shaft were not making good contact anymore and this was causing the bearing to form a pitted surface that caused it to get wiped very quickly. The fix was easy. They cleaned the contact brushes, replaced the springs that held the brushes against the shaft and implemented a PM program to make sure that these were maintained. The cost of this solution was negligible. The team also determined that this same problem had been the cause of several previous generator failures over the last few years and they came up with a new design to eliminate this problem in the future across all of their generators. The savings from this change in approach is well in excess of half a million dollars per year and as important, will save over 128 man hours per generator per year.

* The preceding information is based on materials to be published at the 1997 ASME Joint Conference on Power Generation.