As the forging industry’s most experienced maintenance staff and equipment operators retire, keeping legacy machines producing at full capacity is increasingly difficult. When new employees lack sufficient expertise and decades-old forging equipment breaks down the result can be very costly extended downtime.
“A seasoned team may know all the ins and outs of every forging machine in a facility, but when the workers leave or retire the preventative maintenance can suffer and equipment like hydraulic presses eventually will begin to break down,” says Jay Raygor, Service Supervisor at Ajax/CECO/Erie Press. “When that happens the cost of hourly downtime can be several thousand dollars an hour.”
In the forging industry is it not common for forgers to shut down operations to follow suggested routine maintenance guidelines, it is more common that the forgers will keep producing products until their equipment breaks down. While it is prosperous in the intermediate, it could be a troublesome method when equipment breaks down—leading to extended downtime and lost production.
The danger with this approach is that the lead time for some major component parts can be 20 to 60 weeks. As the industry-leading OEM for forging and forming equipment, we are now providing forgers with proactive health checks, followed by an ongoing preventative maintenance program designed to sustain the peak performance of equipment that may be decades old.
As forging equipment begins to age the need for more frequent health checks are required to catch minor issues before they become serious. Forging equipment, such as hydraulic presses, can range from decades-old, meaning decades of wear and tear hours are put on the machine.
“Some older forging machines have been in service since the 1950s and 60s so there are legacy parts that may be obsolete. On these older machines, operators may not know how to troubleshoot an issue or identify a worn or failing part. This increases the risk of a major breakdown,” says Raygor.
The challenge only intensifies when there is a variety of forging equipment types and brands on the same production floor. For this reason, Ajax/CECO/Erie Press offers forgers a comprehensive program for routine health checks on many major brands including AJAX, CECO (Chambersburg Equipment Company), ERIE Press, and L&F (formerly Sheridan-Gray).
How it works
To perform a health check, we utilize the full documentation of the equipment in our brand portfolio, along with extensive maintenance repair experience accumulated over many decades. Our company’s experienced technicians examine the equipment condition, running clearance, electrical system, pump performance, etc.
Based on the results of the health check as the OEM, we then suggest corrective actions to restore the equipment back to OEM specifications, along with a customized, ongoing, preventative maintenance program for hydraulic presses along with consumables like filters and oil sample analysis.
The extent of the PM program is based on factors such as the type of equipment, production, onsite support, and desired PM intervals. If can be scaled up or down to consider the maintenance team’s experience, availability, and turnover.
“We want to be able to fill in where the customer’s needs are,” said Raygor.
The program can serve as a teaching aid to help the forger build its maintenance team this can not only increase the team’s self-reliance it also minimizes extended downtime.
The customers’ maintenance team can shadow and assist us, and we will explain what we are doing why we are doing it and how to proceed. Over time, they will increasingly be able to maintain the equipment themselves.
Although PM is typically performed on-site some actions can be performed remotely. We can utilize advanced collaboration tools and real-time video communications to connect with technicians where both can see discuss annotate and resolve many situations at hand.
Read more on our Human Machine Interface (HMI) technology support options.
To ensure the highest production uptime for forging equipment and prevent lengthy unexpected downtime, Ajax/CCO/Erie Press offers a separate stocking program as an option.
Consumable items common to every forging machine, like friction plates and driving plates for presses and upsetters, or piston heads, rods, rings, and packings for hammers, are often stocked. However, it is even more important to stock key items such as main gears, eccentric shafts, and rams to avoid long lead times for replacement.
The stocking program is designed to alleviate the customers from a large upfront expenditure by invoicing the customer a percentage when the part is ordered and the remainder due upon receipt of the part. A custom stocking program with minimal up-front investment can eliminate months of downtime due to long lead time parts.
To ensure the performance, consistency, and reliability of forging equipment, routine inspection, and preventative maintenance have always been essential. When forgers find this increasingly taxing as their most experienced technicians retire, opting for periodic health checks and preventive maintenance with industry experts can be crucial to long-term productivity and quality.
For more information on our Preventative Maintenance program contact us!