Predix Asset Performance Management
Located about five miles from Lake Michigan, GE Aviation’s Muskegon campus includes three facilities that manufacture high-pressure nozzles and shrouds for both commercial and military aircraft engines. With over 800 employees, covering three shifts, the products manufactured at these facilities are used in the hottest portion of a jet engine. This makes it essential for the products to be manufactured with precision—providing the best fuel burn for the airlines and military, as well as improving durability to fly more hours.
Combining lean manufacturing with digital technology
For years, the GE Aviation team at Muskegon has recognized the importance of combining lean manufacturing practices with digital technology, but in order to continue on a successful digital transformation journey site leadership knew they needed to begin leveraging more digital technology to keep up with higher demand and limited resources.
“The manufacturing process here has about a five-week cycle and we’re constantly looking for ways to improve that—it’s part of the lean process,” said Bennett Bassette, Brilliant Factory Leader, GE Aviation. “It’s especially important with increased demand.”
With an accelerated focus on supporting production of parts for the GE LEAP engine, the Muskegon facilities’ machine asset base grew by 32%, while only being able to increase its maintenance workforce by 12%. In order to remain a successful manufacturing shop, GE Aviation had to manage this demand while stabilizing the process for automation.
If we’re going to stay competitive, we need to use more of our assets, but we also need to stabilize those assets. The demand on our machine performance is ever increasing, our resources are not, so we’re having to use our subject matter expertise to try and leverage our learnings every day.
Paul Kuipers - Maintenance and Facilities Leader, GE Aviation
As part of their digital transformation journey, the Muskegon team worked to shift preventive maintenance from schedule-based to condition or machine use-based to ensure best application of key resources. In order to make this shift, however, the maintenance teams would need access to data and analytics that provide real-time visibility into machine health and enable them to predict possible machine failures before they occurred.
“We used to have all these paper logs taped to machines and before you could even sift through them and log issues into a spreadsheet more problems would arise,” said Roberta “Bobbi” Wozny, Technician, GE Aviation. “It was hard to get visibility into what had happened on a previous shift. It was like we were putting band-aids on problems, rather than truly fixing issues.”
Implement asset performance management for continuous improvement
GE Aviation partnered with GE Digital to implement its asset performance management (APM) solution on its LEAP production line to model machine data with maintenance history from 260 connected machines. This would enable the team to diagnose health conditions and provide predictive maintenance recommendations—a framework for continuous improvement.
“For two or three years, we had been trying to find a way to connect our machine data to the systems we have that generate actions on our shop floor,” said Kuipers. “GE Digital’s APM solution was the first, and best tool, we could find that had a policy builder which let us use logic and algorithms to leverage shop expertise and generate specific actions from our data.”
By using the asset health manager and policy designer, part of APM Health, the solution integrates machine data, alarm data, and maintenance history to recommend corrective action, and to help optimize machine reliability and availability.
The great thing about policy builder is you can integrate all types of data sources into the logic, which initiates actions with any tool that you have in your shop. There’s really no limit to it.
Paul Kuipers - Maintenance and Facilities Leader, GE Aviation
The APM solution is collecting data on machine statuses, utilization, and performance. From this, the Muskegon team is able to see machine faults that specifically identify where problems are happening. They can also analyze sensor data to look at pressures, temperatures, currents, and voltages to do trouble shooting and understand root causes, as needed.
“APM gives us the ability to see what’s happening on the floor even when we’re not around,” said Wozny. “With people working three different shifts and at three different facilities here at Muskegon, it really helps us with troubleshooting and communicating across teams.”
APM gives us the ability to see what’s happening on the floor even when we’re not around. With people working three different shifts and at three different facilities here at Muskegon, it really helps us with troubleshooting and communicating across teams.
Roberta “Bobbi” Wozny - Technician, GE Aviation
Being more proactive and aligning resources with APM
As a result of implementing GE Digital’s APM solution, GE Aviation’s Muskegon facilities have seen improvements in workflow, specifically the way work orders are generated. With APM, work orders are now generated off of machine conditions versus a scheduled calendar.
“Often time, APM allows us to alert the machine repair team to an issue before an operator on the floor even realizes there’s an issue,” said Kuipers. “This wouldn’t have happened before we implemented this digital technology.”
The APM solution has also helped the Muskegon team better align its resources. This has led to improved utilization of assets, as well as creating cross-functional teams to address issues directly.
“We know our issues can be complex,” said Kuipers. “So, by bringing together cross-functional teams—whether in a daily Scrum meeting or a weekly stakeholder meeting—we’re talking about issues in near real-time, backed by machine data, and walking away from those meetings with clear action items and a shared understanding of the problems to solve.”
By pooling our knowledge together and taking the learnings that we identify in the APM software, we’re able to identify what caused a specific issue, create a policy—in hopes of catching that issue before it happens again in the future.
Ian Geis - Manufacturing Analytics Specialist, GE Aviation
Besides the organization changes that the APM solution has helped drive, the Muskegon team has also seen a reduction in re-work on the LEAP production line.
“The APM tool has helped us support the work of the Operations and Technical teams to reduce re-work from 8-10% consistently to less than 1% in just the last few months,” said Kuipers.
Other results achieved:
- 25% of preventive maintenance activities shifted to condition-based from schedule-based
- 5% cycle time improvement
- APM supported teams to accelerate first time yield improvement and loss reduction
“Being able to predictively understand our machines is one of the best benefits of using the APM solution,” said Geis. “We’re now able to make data-driven decisions that dig into root causes and solve our problems more proactively.”
GE Aviation is looking forward to utilizing more of the APM capabilities in the future, including integrating more of databases to enable even more data-driven decision making and agile development processes.
For us, digital transformation is important because it’s a competitive advantage. If you don’t embrace it, the speed at which change is happening—you’ll be left in the dust.
Bennett Bassette - Brilliant Factory Leader, GE Aviation