Gutchess Lumber Builds on 100 Years of Success with MaintiMizer™ Web Edition
For more than 100 years, Gutchess Lumber Company in Cortland, New York, has built a reputation for delivering consistent, high-quality Northern hardwoods used in furniture, flooring, cabinetry, and architectural millwork. Part of that reputation has rested on Gutchess’s commitment to keeping its facilities and equipment clean, organized, and well-functioning, far beyond the industry standard.
Ben Stuart, Gutchess’s environmental compliance officer and plant engineer, has seen that commitment challenged as the company has grown. When there were only two locations, the “word-of-mouth” system used to manage maintenance functions—where someone with a maintenance request would literally ask a maintenance employee to complete the work—was manageable. However, since the company has grown to five locations across New York and Pennsylvania, that approach is no longer effective. As Ben put it, “The maintenance staff was being pulled in all different directions. We were travelling everywhere trying to keep everything together and constantly putting out fires. Often we didn’t have the parts we needed to complete a repair. We needed to find a way to get ourselves and our workload organized without adding any new staff. Really, we needed help with everything—work orders, inventory, tracking, you name it.”
Ben’s ultimate goal was to grow the maintenance function into an organized, proactive program. He started by searching online for computerized maintenance management systems and soon found MaintiMizer Web Edition. He arranged for a demo and was immediately drawn to the simple, straightforward user interface that made the system usable for even those employees with little or no computer experience.
Once Gutchess had installed MaintiMizer, Ben, along with the company’s plant and maintenance managers, started building in the data needed to use the system to its fullest, including an asset inventory, a parts library, and preventive maintenance schedules. As Ben described it, “We took the time needed to get this done right. We’re serious about standardization, particularly since we’re working across multiple business units.”
Right away, Ben and his team noticed that the process for getting work done was much more efficient using MaintiMizer: “The old inefficient word-of-mouth system is gone. Today, every supervisor and maintenance person at every location gets their work orders through MaintiMizer. The process is very straightforward. Whoever needs work done contacts a supervisor who then creates a work request in the system. That request is forwarded to the maintenance manager for approval and then the work is allocated. Because all of these steps are documented in the system, everyone knows where we are in the process.”
Since installing MaintiMizer, Ben has noticed a number of benefits: “Our inventory levels are much more stable, and parts are available when we need them. Preventive maintenance is getting done and uptime has improved. In fact, it’s been more than two years since we’ve had a downtime event because of a missing part. Before MaintiMizer, it was almost a weekly occurrence.”
Ben continued, “MaintiMizer gives us the data we need to save money and be more efficient. For example, we’ve saved a significant amount this year through bulk buying and bargaining with vendors because we know exactly how much we buy, how often, and at what cost. With MaintiMizer, we discovered that we made more than 160 purchases from a single vendor! By consolidating those purchases, we’ve saved time and money.”
Gutchess’s use of MaintiMizer has grown to where Ben hoped it would—and beyond: “We bought MaintiMizer for the maintenance staff, but it’s grown to a point where everyone wants it integrated throughout the company. We use it as a tool in board meetings and budget reviews because it has all the information we need. In fact, by next year the reports we produce in MaintiMizer will be our main source of data for making capital operating decisions.”
By January 1, 2017, all work orders, preventive maintenance requests, and purchase orders companywide will be handled by MaintiMizer. In the future, Ben plans to expand the use of the system to track labor and other costs against assets in order to justify investments in equipment upgrades. He also plans to implement a bar code scanner system to keep track of smaller parts.
While Ben notes that “at first, it was hard to get some people to buy in, once they saw what MaintiMizer could do they were completely on board. It’s a good system and a great tool, and it gives us all the data we need to continue to be successful.”
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