Reducing overall production costs and improving margins are the goals of most company managers. Using the right strategy is crucial and may include a number of initiatives that help to achieve the improved bottom line. Understanding the real cost of plant and equipment is a key requirement to improving both efficiency and reliability. NSK European Key Account Manager, Tim Cains, explains:
In the modern world, margins are tight for everyone and this includes the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) whose main purpose is to sell equipment at the most cost effective price. Most manufacturers face considerable competition and an attractive purchase price is always a good selling point, but a short-sighted view on the part of the customer may become more costly than expected.
The concept of Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) has been with us for several years but it remains, surprisingly, unrealised in many areas of industry. By collecting sufficient data on initial purchase costs, maintenance costs and costs due to lost production, a much greater understanding of this concept can be appreciated, which in turn allows actions to be taken to reduce these costs.
An equipment failure within a production process has the potential to incur huge costs in lost production and these can dwarf the maintenance costs required to repair the equipment. By appreciating these costs, it may often be beneficial to increase the initial outlay in replacement parts in order to improve the quality and durability of the component, which, in the longer term, will provide a better TCO.
Specifying the most cost effective bearing solution, for example, isn't straight forward. Direct comparison between initial unit purchase prices may be easy, but very often the cheapest bearing will also be the one which takes longest to install, requires additional maintenance and fails prematurely leading to downtime and additional replacement costs.
Specifying bearings which will operate reliably for as long as possible, means that maintenance and repair work can be minimised, as can unplanned downtime. Although the decision regarding the initial bearing installation is made by the OEM, all the subsequent choices can be influenced by the end user who should be in a position to make an informed decision.
In order to help with identification of problems, and their root causes, NSK Europe has developed the Added Value Programme, AIP, which aims to improve efficiency, reduce downtime and so improve profitability. The Programme combines the knowledge of the NSK Engineering team and that of the customer's employees to produce a comprehensive review of operations and processes. The result is a list of recommendations for improvement which can reduce maintenance costs and improve productivity.
As part of AIP, NSK has launched the Cost Saving Calculator App which allows engineers and production managers to make quick comparisons between the costs associated with different bearings. By considering the indirect costs associated with a bearing failure, the App calculates the whole life cost of alternative bearings and allows an informed choice to be made as to the most cost effective solution.
As a means of illustrating the benefits of AIP, a second Solutions App has also been launched, which shows real world examples from a wide range of industries, where improved bearing solutions have saved considerable sums of money. Both Apps are available for Apple, Android and Windows based mobile devices and can be downloaded from the NSK website.
NSK produces more than 35,000 different types of ball bearings and roller bearings and continues to work on new developments and improvements, to ensure its products stay one step ahead of the field. By combining the knowledge of its designers and field engineers, with that of the customer, NSK can deliver unrivalled knowledge which can be used to implement improvements and deliver long lasting cost savings, often by replacing original OE components with better replacements.