Pirtek Onsite Service Sets the Bar at Chicago Steelworks

Wed October 28, 2009 - Midwest Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

Pirtek’s onsite hose service brings repairs directly to the customer.
Pirtek’s onsite hose service brings repairs directly to the customer.

Scheduled maintenance downtime is advantageous. Machinery maintenance is improved, unnecessary machine downtime is prevented and productivity is increased. The downside is that repairs and replacements have to be done in a very short timeframe to get equipment and production personnel up and running again on schedule.

Universal Metal Service Corporation of South Holland, Ill., has turned to Pirtek to take any hitch or headache out of preventative maintenance procedures. When the Chicago-area producer of steel bar products needed to rehose its bar processing equipment, it called on Pirtek’s onsite hose service just 1 mi. away.

Sizing Up the Job

Pirtek mobile service technicians had called on Albert Gomez, Universal Metal’s maintenance manager, several times earlier to acquaint him with Pirtek’s strengths in providing onsite hose replacements, as well as its hydraulic system know-how. They explained to him how their vans were well stocked with hose, connectors and assembly equipment to manufacture hose assemblies right at the job site.

During a tour of the three-building operation, Gomez explained to Ed Kwiatkowski, operations manager at Pirtek South Holland, that preventative maintenance is an enabler for Universal Metal to maximize its production capacity.

“Unplanned hose failures, especially when there’s hydraulic fluid leaks, cause unplanned downtime,” Gomez said. “We are a firm believer in preventative maintenance shutdowns to take care of any potential problems, such as aging hose assemblies, before they fail and interrupt production flow.”

Because many of the operation’s hose assemblies were approaching their retirement years, Universal Metal decided to be proactive in its preventative maintenance work by replacing all of them, a section at a time as budgets would allow.

Gomez pointed out that the shop was set up with a mix of machinery made by U.S., German, French and Japanese manufacturers, some requiring standard connections, some metric connections. Adding to the equipment mismatch was the fact that some of the connections on individual machines had been converted from original metric connections to standard connections and some had not, meaning that Pirtek personnel would need to take an up-close look at each and every fitting to verify its origin.

Upfront Needs Survey

Kwiatkowski went back to his shop and put together a proposal for the project that included surveying equipment needs well before each maintenance shutdown — a Pirtek ritual.

“With only one day, or maybe two, to get the job done, we needed to know exactly what was required,” Kwiatkowski said. “We explained to Albert that our mobile service technician would go in and identify and measure all the hose and connectors needed in each section. Once we established a bill of material, we would make sure all the hose and accompanying connectors were in stock and ready to go.”

Impressed with the responsiveness to his needs and attention to details, Gomez gave Pirtek South Holland his stamp of approval.

Doors Wide Open

On shutdown days, Pirtek’s hose shop on wheels was onsite with doors wide open and ready to go. A Pirtek technician pulled off each hose one by one, remeasured it to make sure survey specs were on target, made a replacement hose assembly, and installed it.

Because of the magnitude of the project and its proximity to Universal Metal, Pirtek South Holland made sure the doors of its hose service center were wide open, too, to provide additional production support for the 3,600-psi (250 bar) and 5,000-psi (350 bar) hose assemblies, as well as for any additional assemblies that the customer decided to replace along the way.

Over the course of the three-year project, Pirtek South Holland has changed out hundreds of hose assemblies at Universal Metal, with more in the making as the last two areas in the steelworks are readied for hose replacements.

“We use Pirtek exclusively now for our hose assembly needs,” Gomez said. “Pirtek won us over with its onsite hose replacement capability, 24/7 service, and nearby service center. We don’t need to call anywhere else.”