Case Study: Boral Cement
When you are the biggest supplier of cement and cement products into the booming construction industry in Australia, you can’t afford your machinery to stop for a minute.
Boral Cement’s challenge is simple: get the product into the silos and out into the market as the market demands it. To achieve this, the maintenance department must make sure the machinery is running in peak condition, to ensure reliability and availability to guarantee that those products make it to market.
The maintenance department’s problem was that the storeman running the centralised store only worked five days a week, 7-4 each day. As it is a 24/7 site, however, access to parts was still required after hours.
When Boral discussed the problem with Blackwoods, given the requirements existing on site, Blackwoods recommended vending machines. Part of Blackwoods’ recognised Inventory Solutions service portfolio, this included the hire of a number of vending machines and the physical restocking of the items that were taken out of the machine each week. This was a very attractive proposition for Boral as the company didn’t have to do anything with the vending machines, and they were there for all workers to access 24/7.
Boral chose the WeighStation solution as that option best fitted its needs. With the WeighStation, as the product is taken out, the machine checks the weight removed against the item recorded by the employee, and ensures that it is correct.
The machines are very unobtrusive. They’re not very big machines, and they’re very streamlined, so that users can fit them almost anywhere. The products are easily accessed through wide opening doors.
As part of its evaluation of the service, Boral ensured it met four essential criteria: improved productivity, faultless security, impeccable accountability, and tight cost control.
“Our first priority was improved productivity,” said Boral Refactory and Services Engineer Raif Hilmi. “What we have found is that workers can now come to the vending machines, access the part using an approved work order number, and they can leave the machine in under two minutes.
“Security is also very important. We need people to be able to access items in the store outside of those hours, but we had no way of placing the items outside the store to access during the late shifts. The vending machines provided us with a very good solution.
“The third point we wanted answered was that of accountability. A report is written every week for us to see who has taken what out of the machines, so everybody knows that the report comes to management, and they are now very accountable for what they take out of those machines.
“The last point we wanted answered was that of controlling costs. We have actually split the inventory items between the store and the vending machines, so that we always have a back-up of the items in the store still. So half of our inventory items go into the machine, and half stay in the store. What we’re doing now is that we’re trialling this method, and what we’re finding is that we’re requiring less inside the main store, which is a big cost saving for us.”
It was very important for Boral to position these machines right where the work activities were taking place. This way, it only takes the men a maximum of 30 to 60 seconds to get to the machines from where they’re working.
“The setup was very easy,” Mr Hilmi said. “We had a representative from Blackwoods Inventory Solutions come by, he positioned the machine, he put each of the items into the bins, and calibrated the weigh scales, and all of this was done in less than a day. He wasn’t in the way, he cooperated with us very well, and I commend him for that.
“The training was very simple, too. Blackwoods Inventory Solutions trained all of our people within half a day. Very, very simple indeed.
“I think they’re a real asset to our industry,” Mr Hilmi concluded. “At the end of the day we’re getting a very good product from a company that is looking after the machines for us.”
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