Lucite International’s (LI) Fite Road facility in the US has recently enlisted the help of three interns to support its new computer maintenance management software (CMMS) system, which will improve data accuracy on the plant. Reliability Engineer, Victor Foster proposed the idea of hiring interns who could dedicate their time to this project. He explains how valuable they have been to the whole team.

Who were the interns and where are they studying?

VF: The three interns came to us over a 12-week period. Jared Prater was a Mechanical Engineering student from the University of Tennessee, Byron Janke was studying Mechanical Engieering at Utah State University and Riley Carter was at Brigham Young University, Provo in Utah taking a BSc in Manufacturing Engineering Technology.

Why did you think interns could provide you the support you needed?

VF: We knew that we did not have the manpower to get what we needed to be done before the new CMMS software was installed. There were lots of field verifications to do, criticality updates to complete – these alone took 2-4 hours a day – and I really just needed the interns to focus completely on this important data foundation work in order for me to continue with the daily job of ensuring the reliability of our plant.

What is CMMS data and why it is so important?

VF: CMMS data is used to inform the decisions we make to maintain our equipment. We spend over $100m in maintenance and capital each year at our plants. With this level of expenditure, it is important that the data is correct and detailed enough for us to be sure we are getting a return on the investment we are making into the various pieces of equipment.

Give an example of the kind of things the interns did for you?

VF: One of the tasks was oil/grease consolidation; simply documenting what oil or grease goes into the different pieces of equipment. We now have this fully documented in our CMMS, which has helped us eliminate plant failure due to the wrong oil being introduced. Another example of their work involved ‘Asset Operator Rounds’, whereby the interns documented the equipment number next to each task carried out by the operators. This allowed me to upload the operator rounds by equipment number and I can now see all the checks done per piece of equipment in my CMMS, which means we can avoid unnecessary work.

You refer to Riley, Jared and Byron as Reliability Interns – is that a new role?

VF: At LI, we believe wholeheartedly in the critical need for plant reliability and the essential role it plays in enabling us to deliver consistently for our customers. As the Fite Road Reliability Engineer, I’m continually looking for ways to lead in the area of proactive reliability planning and management. Having the input of the three interns last year was a definite boost for us and it’s something that we will certainly reconsider in the future. The results of their dedicated efforts in making lasting improvements at the plant clearly demonstrated how critical it is for us to get out of the day-to-day battles that can distract us from our long-term goals.

To find out more about careers at LI, visit here.