A good plant maintenance department, in some respects, is like a good professional football referee. In that quote, "nobody" is truly somebody. For Batesville, it is the customer - a family who has ordered the final resting place for a loved one. The customer expects the Batesville casket, which has been manufactured and personalized specifically for the departed, to arrive at the funeral home on time and defect free.

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A good plant maintenance department, in some respects, is like a good professional football referee. In that quote, "nobody" is truly somebody. For Batesville, it is the customer - a family who has ordered the final resting place for a loved one. The customer expects the Batesville casket, which has been manufactured and personalized specifically for the departed, to arrive at the funeral home on time and defect free.

That is a challenging task considering the order was placed the previously day. You don't buy a casket "off the rack" - not in this age when Americans cherish individuality and seek memorialization. People want to be remembered for who they were and what they stood for. Seventy-five percent of all Batesville products are personalized based on a list of standard and non-standard customer requests exterior color, exterior etchings, handles, interior color, fabrics, embroidery, etc.

A family can honor granddad, a graduate and supporter of the University of Texas, by ordering a casket with a burnt orange-colored metal exterior, the school logo etched into silver corner panels and "Hook 'em, Horns" embroidered into the fabric on the interior lid. It will be created on a single production line where every casket is different than the one in front of it and the one behind it and delivered in 24 hours. Assembly superintendent Joe Dwenger believes in the power of maintenance.

Not meeting expectations means the pressure got the best of plant systems. Equipment failed. Downtime led to late delivery. Equipment performed improperly or out of specifications.

That led to a quality problem. If caught on the plant floor, a quality issue means rework and perhaps late delivery. A problem caught at the funeral home means customer dissatisfaction. When you fail, the customer knows who you are - maybe not by name, but surely by function. Just ask the football ref who faces catcalls and iceballs after blowing a ruling on a decisive play. At this Batesville facility, which houses nearly 1, primary production assets, Doll's department of multi-craft professionals keeps the pressure in check.

Uptime on the ,square-foot plant floor is exceptionally high. As a result, quality and first-pass yield are high. Lost cycles and returns are very low. The Batesville maintenance organization is transparent to the customer. They have no clue who George Doll, Butch Flaspohler or any of the 32 other department associates is, and that's good. However, co-workers in the plant and the year-old corporation are aware of the team's contributions to system reliability, product flow, daily continuous improvement, lean operations and a glowing reputation within industry.

And, that's good. Maintenance and reliability excellence was a factor in the site winning an IndustryWeek Best Plants award in and a regional title in the Association for Manufacturing Excellence's competition for top-performing plants. Mike Wroblewski left , Batesville Casket Company's lean sensei, pores over some production data with an operator on the stamping line.

The company pins its success to an environment built on continuous improvement. It's in our DNA," says Dennis. Whether it relates to equipment, processes, products or logistics, the company can't stop tinkering.

But what isn't working well? Why break it? We really want to get better every year. It takes that kind of attitude. Sometimes it is painful, but it is what makes us special. The reason is simple: You can be proactive and see the opportunities that reside in change, or be reactive and be forced into change as the result of internal or external pressures. It's a matter of control. Control the plant assets, or they will control you. Change and continuous improvement are formalized in the company's lean manufacturing and reliability enhancement initiatives.

Woven together nearly two decades ago, the bonds grow stronger every year. If you have unplanned downtime or breakdowns, it interrupts the flow. That then affects your quality, productivity, everything. You really need to control your breakdown frequency and the amount of time that you are forced to go into a down or standby mode.

You could say productivity continuity is the most important part of a good lean organization. You're fighting to become stable. Lean is really built on stability. Plant manager Todd Dennis says, "Change has been a part of Batesville's culture for years. It's in our DNA. The facility in Indiana manufactures bronze, copper, stainless steel and steel caskets. Photos by Bill Krider, Krider Photography.

Uptime: Critical areas of the plant's production process boast 99 percent uptime. In less-critical areas, the figure is 96 percent. Lost cycles: Takt time is the heartbeat of the assembly line. On a normal day, the line advances every Missing The product is behind schedule. Here, it's percent. There is no daily allowance for not making percent. We hold maintenance to that very firmly. They respond well to it.

We don't pay as much attention to small stuff that can be handled with a quick change. Quality: "Quality prevents us from having good flow. I have as many quality-related lost cycles as I do any equipment downtime. I don't want to pass any bad product through the plant," says Dennis. Quotable: "Every single day, a team leader or a backup team leader should come up with an improvement," says assembly superintendent Joe Dwenger.

It could be a very simple idea. The form that these people will use to capture and share this 'before and after' improvement is the DITCA form.

He had an NFL coaching record of Perhaps its most effective method is unleashing the brainpower of its team members.

Hourly and salary associates are encouraged to think:. Individuals and small groups use five-why analysis sheets and root cause analysis RCA principles to get to the root of a problem. The finish system went down, causing a loss of 70 cycles. What happened? Use the five-why analysis to figure it out. Team members say the five-why approach must be employed whenever an issue leads to a loss of five or more cycles. Reliability engineer Noel heads up the investigation, as Doll says, "if there is even a hint that this will be a repeated breakdown.

The plant performed a formal criticality analysis to determine the most important and costly equipment and processes. Cost plays a mighty role in the degrees of severity. Lost cycles are very costly from the paint transfer point through the end of the assembly process. Fifteen dollars, however, is the price tag for a lost cycle in the fabrication department.

The facts and figures - the interplay of cost and asset performance - dictate the maintenance battle plan. You can then direct reliability work on it. Tied to that, maintenance has also performed criticality analyses for manpower.

You only have so many man-hours in a day. How are you going to use them? The process established parameters and led to a better understanding of value-added work vs. You get more return from your dollar investment. You can improve quality and product flow. Another analysis, this one targeting preventive maintenance PM , affected manpower and asset care strategy.

The department had prided itself as a "heavy supplier" of PM activities. Formal studies determined that many pieces of equipment were receiving too much attention through PMs. Instead of performing a task every six weeks, facts might point to a week schedule as more appropriate.

I don't think so," says Doll. The previous way was bogging us down. On a daily basis, operations employees ask Doll's team to engineer neat solutions to quality, productivity, safety and ergonomic issues. Smaller components are inserted into the casket in the wrong direction.


Batesville Casket, union ratify four-year labor deal

Batesville is the leading name in metal and wood caskets. They make some of the finest quality caskets on the market, and the Batesville name is one of the most highly respected in the entire funeral industry. In response to consumer interest, the company has also begun making cremation urns and other memorials as well. About its own business, Batesville says, "Exceptional beauty and superior quality are our hallmarks. Batesville originated in , producing hand-hewn wooden coffins under the name of the Batesville Coffin Company. In the early 's, the company was bought out of insolvency by John A. Hillebrand and he renamed it the Batesville Casket Company the company is still considered 'a Hillebrand Company' today.


Batesville Casket: Case closed

Batesville Casket Company manufactures caskets and cremation urns. The company is a subsidiary of Hillenbrand, Inc. The company traces its roots to , when John Hillenbrand began producing handmade wooden caskets. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article has multiple issues.

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