Maintenance Team Training Increase Uptime For Manufacturer

With the addition of the new equipment, William H. Harvey Manufacturing Co. had several different printer models on the plant floor. The maintenance team had varying degrees of knowledge regarding operation and maintenance of all the equipment. Eventually, the company started to see an increase in downtime related to simple issues like preventive maintenance and troubleshooting of the printers.

In 1944 Master Plumber William H. Harvey Sr. came up with the idea of a pre-formed wax gasket for setting toilet bowls. Nearly 70 years later, William H. Harvey Manufacturing Co. operates as a subsidiary of Oatey Company with more than 3,500 Harvey-brand plumbing specialty products sold throughout North and South America. Based in Omaha, Nebraska, the company manufactures products such as cements, primers, cleaners, sealants, tapes, lubricants and commercial drainage materials. 

In 2007 the company upgraded its coding system to one that would provide a more robust method of lot traceability. “We were looking for a quick and easy solution for date coding our products so that we could track when they were manufactured,” says Matt Willburn, Plant Manager for William H. Harvey. “This was especially important for our cements product group, which was experiencing a tremendous amount of growth.” The company already had several Videojet printers, so they again turned to Videojet to purchase large character ink jet printers for case printing. Then in 2011 the company purchased new Videojet 1620 continuous ink jet printers for small character marking.

With the addition of the new equipment, the company had several different printer models on the plant floor. The maintenance team had varying degrees of knowledge regarding operation and maintenance of all the equipment. Eventually, Willburn started to see an increase in downtime related to simple issues like preventive maintenance and troubleshooting of the printers. “It was hard for our maintenance technicians to be skilled on all of the different printers, and we found ourselves making an increasing number of service calls for obstacles we should have been able to overcome ourselves.” 

Training Sessions Empower Maintenance Technicians

Companies have several choices when it comes to the maintenance of their Videojet coding equipment, including service contracts and operator/maintenance technician training and certification. “From my past experience, I knew the equipment would be very reliable, but there would be times when we would need to make adjustments or perform maintenance. I wanted to have the control in our hands,” says Willburn. So he chose to have his team trained by Videojet’s professional trainers at a Videojet Training Center in Atlanta. Coursework included multiple levels of instruction, hands-on learning and formal testing. “The training at Videojet’s Atlanta training facility was beneficial because it gave our team exposure to a variety of technologies and allowed them to interact with professionals from other companies to see how they run their packaging lines.”  

Another reason for choosing Videojet training was Harvey’s goal of maximizing uptime in order to improve the company’s Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE). OEE, which measures a production line’s actual performance against its theoretical performance, is a valuable tool for measuring both planned and unplanned downtime. “When our maintenance technicians attended the training in Atlanta, we found they came back with a much deeper understanding of the equipment, which enabled them to reduce downtime in their departments,” explains Willburn. He estimates that this initial Videojet training program resulted in a five percent increase in the performance of the production line where the printers were in use. Month after month, Harvey’s management could see a tangible return on their investment in Videojet training.

More recently, the maintenance team benefited from a three-day Videojet training course held at Harvey’s Omaha facility. The course was tailored to the company’s specific types of printers, applications and challenges encountered by their technicians. “William H. Harvey has a unique situation in that they print upside-down,” says Ken McGarry, Videojet Technical Instructor. “By conducting the training at their facility we were able to customize the program to be application-specific and tailored to how they use our equipment.” For onsite instruction, Videojet can provide all of the necessary materials, tools and equipment  including the same model printers used at the facility. At Harvey, this meant that production did not have to be halted for the training.

During the session, McGarry lead an informative hands-on troubleshooting session, followed by class time on the factory floor to reinforce what was learned.  At the conclusion of the program, McGarry administered a written exam and provided observations and suggestions for operational improvement.

Videojet instructors like McGarry are full time, degreed professionals with a dedication to driving operational results through the building of technical capabilities. “Over 50 percent of Videojet training customers are repeat students who see the tremendous value technical training brings over the long-term. Videojet training helps maintenance teams reduce unnecessary parts swaps and become more efficient at troubleshooting, and, it can help companies achieve substantial savings in downtime and service costs,” says McGarry.

Willburn adds, “The goal with the training was to give all of our maintenance technicians the same level of knowledge and skill with the Videojet printers. Now, our maintenance team is very comfortable cleaning the printers, conducting preventive maintenance, changing the batch codes and carrying out the day-to-day adjustments that need to be made.”

Increased Equipment Effectiveness Brings Results

The results of the training have been extremely positive with William H. Harvey realizing a higher degree of uptime on the equipment and a quicker resolution when there is a problem. “Before we participated in the initial training session in Atlanta, we definitely hit a few snags that negatively impacted our production capabilities,” says Willburn. “As a result, we made a conscious decision to be very proactive about putting our team through training, which has helped us avoid another production dip.”

The impact on the maintenance team’s morale has also been beneficial. “Because of the training, I feel a lot more confident in tackling a problem on the printer without relying on the Videojet service department. I’m much more efficient in troubleshooting, getting to the root of the matter and tracing it to its end,” says Justin Beck, Maintenance Mechanic for William H. Harvey. 

Today, the company experiences such a negligible amount of either planned or unplanned printer downtime that there’s virtually no room for additional improvement. “You can’t get any better. You can’t go over 100 percent,” concludes Willburn.


Videojet Training Courses


Videojet has been developing high-quality learning programs for its customers for over 20 years. Experienced trainers specialize in delivering formal instruction at basic, intermediate and advanced levels, depending on a business’s need. Courses are held at customer facilities and at Videojet Training Centers in Chicago and Atlanta.


A course curriculum typically includes:


  • Safety
  • Printer operation
  • Printer theory and diagnostics
  • Programming; use of the software interface
  • Keys to successful self-maintenance
    • Attaining and maintaining high-quality print
    • Printer optimization; maximizing uptime
    • Troubleshooting and corrective maintenance
    • Preventive maintenance
    • Production area review and assessment (when training is onsite at a company’s location)


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