Get ‘em on, get ‘em over, get ‘em in. In baseball, this is a run-scoring strategy that involves making the most of what you have. As opposed to hoping for the one-swing approach of the home run, this strategy relies on multiple batters doing their part to move a runner along the base path, ultimately bringing them home to score.

Could the same strategy apply to the way in which you manage assets for your business? Maintenance improvement can often involve the one-swing home run approach of installing a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) or focusing on ways to increase reliability. But much like waiting for a big swing of the bat, such concepts can unnerve even the most forward-looking managers.

One approach to demystifying or defusing the initial steps on the path to professional maintenance can be to relate it back to the strategy of ‘get ‘em on, get ‘em over, get ‘em in’.

Let’s call it a game of playing maintenance baseball. Are we saying that maintenance is a game? Well, not exactly. Rather, it’s the approach of better utilizing what you have in order to develop a more sustainable and repeatable approach to maintaining assets. 

Get ’em on!

Even before you get to bat, you need tools to track the maintenance work—a way to measure maintenance performance. Is it planned or unplanned? Is it something done frequently or not so often? This can be done many ways, but the preferred way would be to use a work order (WO) system tied to a CMMS. In its simplest form, it can be done manually with an email and a calendar coupled with a good memory. 

The goal of ‘get ’em on’ is to get good at unplanned (reactive) maintenance. In maintenance lingo that means to reduce the mean time to repair (MTTR)– the average time it takes to restore the equipment to operating condition. But to win the game, you must move past the unplanned reactive maintenance that comes with just getting a runner on first base.

Get ’em over!

Let’s use breakdown data and WO information from a CMMS to identify activities that will maximize the time the equipment is available for production; or, in other words, to increase its mean time between failure (MTBF). Early in the game, or when there is a change in the lineup (new installation), the goal of maintenance is to stabilize the MTBF to the point that failure is predictable. This gives us the opportunity to be proactive and make a correction before the equipment fails, rather than putting out a fire. The goal would be to make these repairs while the equipment is not scheduled for production. The ‘get ’em over’ approach should maximize uptime based on the current state of the machine, but that’s still not going to win the game.

Get ’em in!

Just like in baseball, to score using the ‘get ’em on, get ’em over, get ’em in’ strategy takes a little longer than just hitting home runs. Improving equipment consistently takes time – and good, accurate information. If we can track the impact of an equipment failure (downtime), determine the root cause of the failure, and record the corrective actions taken, we gain the ability to either prevent the failure or increase the time between the failures. In short, we make the equipment run longer. ‘Get ’em in’ employs problem-solving and engineering tools along with good old common sense to improve equipment performance.

Field Tested

‘Get ‘em on, get ‘em over, get ‘em in’ may seem like a good analogy, but does it work in manufacturing as well it works in baseball? At Ryerson, we use this approach to solve everyday challenges that are core to our business.

Let’s look at one of those challenges: How one facility addressed excess wear on machine parts due to an increase in volume, specifically, high levels of wear on shear blades as the result of taking on additional stainless leveling work.

Get ’em on’
It was observed that once a larger variety of materials were being processed by the cutting machine, the blade life on some pieces of equipment significantly reduced. Looking at the frequency of blade changes, it was discovered that they were being changed every 25,000 cuts - roughly every two weeks. This was also showing up in the computer system as part of maintenance downtime.

Get ’em over
Once the frequency of failure was established, the blade changes could be scheduled to be completed during the non-production time to eliminate production downtime. The repetition reduced the MTTR. Knowing to change the blades before they failed also stabilized the MTBF and moved the maintenance from reactive to proactive. This had a positive impact on maintenance downtime, but blade changes were still occurring about every two weeks.

Get ’em in
The blade supplier was able to recommend a different design that lasts eight-times longer. This increased the time between blade changes (MTBF) from two weeks to four months! The additional cost of the blades was minimal, and downtime was reduced by over 60%.

The goal of ‘get ‘em on, get ‘em over, get ‘em in’ to help move past the daily firefighting and to take a more proactive approach to maintain equipment. With plenty of opportunities ahead, it’s time to use this basic baseball principle and help win the game!

About the author 

H Chris Adkison, PE, is director of corporate maintenance with Ryerson. Chris has over 25 years of manufacturing experience in consumer products, metal processing, and manufacturing. Throughout his career, he filled roles in engineering, maintenance, operations management, and sales and marketing.