Adrian Pirraglia
Panel World Magazine

Easing your way through startup: A roadmap for Maintenance

By Adrian Pirraglia | July 2020

Starting production on a new or largely upgraded facility is guaranteed to be stressful. This is a period in which many players are involved in multiple disciplines and activities, with a wide array of goals and visions. Construction and engineering teams are looking to finish the job in time and on budget; equipment suppliers want to commission and test the equipment as early as possible; hordes of potential vendors, contractors, visitors, and corporate stakeholders are constantly onsite; and myriad support groups such as sales, HR, and procurement want to set up systems, staff the site, procure goods, and fulfill the needs of the plant swiftly.

This article discusses the challenges that maintenance departments commonly face in new and upgraded wood-processing facilities, and provide a guideline to help your maintenance team be less reactive to the changes taking place and more prepared for every milestone of the project and the team’s increased involvement in the startup of the plant.

By strict definition, a “new” mill/plant is a brand new facility constructed on a greenfield site. For our purposes, we’ll include assets currently installed and running that are undergoing significant physical and/or process expansion, plants that were shut down and are now being repurposed (for example, pulp mills repurposed to biodiesel or ethanol facilities, particleboard plants repurposed to molding and painting lines or MDF, etc.), and plants that are being restarted as-is.

ISSUES UP FRONT

There are three common problems Maintenance faces from early on:

1) Maintenance tasks are reactive, leaving very little room for strategic planning.
The Maintenance Department is initially dragged into the frenetic activity and varied interests taking place onsite. This results in many actions from the team coming as reactive responses to conditions and developments happening and changing on a daily basis, rather than as strategic moves.

2) Maintenance lacks its own identity, primary goals and role.
It’s no surprise that Maintenance’s primary goal is to keep the equipment running safely, with minimal disruption, and at the lowest cost. However, with the plant still not in operation, equipment not broken down, and no immediate need for repairs, reliability routes, or checks, the Maintenance Department members can easily lose sight of the primary role they were hired for. Yet this is probably one of the busiest times Maintenance will ever see, with the added complexity of performing activities that are rarely repeated, with few routines to follow or structures to adhere to.

3) The culture needs to shift from repairing equipment to planning and preparing tasks that prevent breakdowns.
The peril of having a standby Maintenance Team, still learning their roles and in constant training sessions, is that many experienced technicians and managers become accustomed to a constant “firefighting” mode. They’re constantly scrambling to repair the most critical piece of equipment that just broke down, procure parts, and get the plant back up and running. Very few will have the strategic mindset to take the times during which these events are “not” likely to occur to plan and develop the tasks and procedures to minimize these occurrences, especially when there are very few corporate guidelines on mill startup tasks.

Business is rarely static, and the real condition of a plant is in constant change. Although the optimal maintenance strategies described here are much more critical during startup phases, they’re useful at any time, and can give some companies an edge over so-called “world class performers.”

A successful maintenance operation indicates that your company outperforms its competitors, and can achieve three benefits:

• An advantage on which to capitalize. You’ll gain more allies in suppliers, services, rentals, and contractors. Everybody wants to work (and performs better) with a well-organized, well-structured organization; it makes the job easy for everyone involved, and your company can reap the benefits of better pricing, more availability for scheduling jobs, and long-term partnerships.

• More available time for projects. Without a constant “firefighting” trigger, the Maintenance Team has the time to proactively look into improvement projects for long-term implementation, including equipment upgrades, modifications, additional capacity, personnel training, etc.

• Better shutdown planning and long-term strategies. A smooth operation leaves more time for Maintenance to better schedule and plan jobs for extended shutdown days. There are many jobs in a facility that require weeks, if not months, of careful planning. With more efficient uptime, you free up more time for planning each phase of these jobs. Extending the time between these shutdowns allows for better contractor time scheduling, receiving the necessary parts, adding jobs and resources, etc.

There’s no magic formula to achieve the three benefits mentioned above; however, there are definitely easier paths than others. Think about maintenance as a service provider or “internal contractor” for a facility, rather than just a handyman service coming in to repair equipment that just broke down. The first step along this path is to instill in all the Maintenance Department members a wildly important goal (maximizing profit), a long-term vision (continuously improving the goal’s target), and a shared execution philosophy (delivering flawless service through projects that maximize profits in the long term).

You can achieve this cultural shift much more easily by focusing efforts during startup in five main areas of implementation:

– Team structure
– Systems and documentation
– Storeroom and parts management
– Hierarchy and equipment criticality
– Key Performance Indicators

TEAM STRUCTURE

• Progressive hiring: Throughout startup, the role and active involvement of the Maintenance Department will gradually increase as the project progresses. Albert Einstein wisely said that “we cannot solve our problems with the same level of thinking we used when we created them.” To address and solve more complex challenges, we need different skills at different times – meaning that at different stages of the startup, different people and roles will be needed. You’ll need to fill roles progressively, in the order of skills and tasks needed to successfully accomplish milestones.

A well-structured management hierarchy allows team members to understand their responsibilities, the reporting system, and how to seek support from the right resource at the right time. This provides empowerment and accountability for the department.

• Department structure and hiring order: Different companies have different guidelines and structures in place to follow, and your team’s structure will also depend on the size and complexity of the process. Below is a very generic timeline on how to build your team around the needs of the project:

1. Maintenance Manager – sets team philosophy, high-level strategic choices, work style, and future hires. This role needs to be involved in all the high-level updates and changes, and should add his/her philosophy and work style to the team early on. He/she will be actively involved in all future hires, ensuring that the right people are placed in the right positions at the right time. In addition, the Maintenance Manager can directly request status updates, changes, and further documentation and information from vendors and contractors.

2. Planner/Scheduler – determines equipment hierarchy and establishes work order system. Depending on the size of your operation, this role can be performed by one person or divided among two or more. He/she works closely with the Maintenance Manager and initiates two critical activities that will influence the performance of the team for years to come: 1) creating the hierarchical structure for the equipment, and subsequently, the downtime (more on this in the Hierarchy section); and 2) establishing the reliability routes, routine tasks, and work order system.

3. Electrical, Mechanical, and Reliability Supervisors – interact directly with commissioning teams and vendors, and recruit technicians. These will be your most valuable resources in interfacing with commissioning teams and vendors onsite. They should also be active in recruiting efforts for their respective areas, to ensure consistency in the hiring process.

4. Electrical, Mechanical, and Reliability Technicians – provide the right amount of resources at the right time. A well-staffed Maintenance Team has qualified technicians in these three areas. Some staffing hierarchies include Automation groups as part of Maintenance, while others refer that group to Information and Communication Technology (IT). Whichever structure is selected, the plant needs to properly estimate the time and resources that will be needed, and hire an adequate number of technicians to fulfill those needs. Models and formulas to estimate resources can be based on staffing history and planning (Delphi Technique), General Organization Structure (often mandated by corporate guidelines), or ratio methods and statistical analysis. We recommend estimating resources based on time and tasks needed (ratio method), and scale to adjust for budget or corporate guidelines if necessary.

• Training: Before startup is the ideal time to develop your Maintenance training schedule and strategies, and have individuals attain the skills needed for when the plant is fully operational. A properly set up training system with certifications can help solve potential conflicts within a pay-per-skill system in the early stages of the project.

Schedule live training and troubleshooting with the equipment manufacturer and on-site contractors. This is the best opportunity to have your team become trained and knowledgeable in every operational aspect of the new facility or process. Team members who’ve been through a startup will become your most knowledgeable resources in the plant: They will experience every assembly step of the equipment with the providers, work on commissioning procedures, get a first look at drawings, sketches, and changes, and troubleshoot all the initial issues. This is invaluable knowledge of the plant that can’t be easily replaced, and would take years of solving incidents to acquire otherwise.

• Create a culture of reporting issues. In every manufacturing facility, there are common maintenance issues. We’re all human, and we miscalculate steps, distances, instructions, and actions many times a day. Breaking, stumbling into, or knocking off sensors and parts, entering the wrong parameters for a process, or forgetting steps to be performed are common occurrences in a manufacturing environment. The natural human reaction to these mistakes is embarrassment, and this often leads to personnel not reporting the issue. The downtime or resource utilization these errors cause is worsened several times when the incidents are not reported, which leads to an exponential increase in time and expenses used to solve the problems. It’s critical to create and nurture a culture in which reporting these incidents is encouraged and rewarded, in order to promptly troubleshoot the errors.

Another cultural issue predominant in maintenance departments is a phenomenon called “Hero Syndrome.” Often, when a component has a common and repeated failure, technicians will stock and store replacement parts in places other than the proper designated inventory locations. This is especially true when a part is difficult to procure, has a long lead time, or the storeroom and inventory system is not properly set up, causing frustration when the part is needed and not readily available.

In those instances, when the time comes for a needed replacement on a busy day, technicians are ready to sweep in and save the day with the part on hand. However, this only worsens the underlying root issue. By replacing the part from “extra” stock and not noting in the inventory that it will need to be reordered, you lose the documentation and additional information needed to understand why the part is failing. Addressing the root cause at the inventory system level, to regain the trust of technicians and assure them that the parts will be in stock and available, is key to creating a cultural shift for this recurring issue.

• Form strategic partnerships with local colleges and technical schools. Take advantage of partnerships with technical schools and maintenance programs from accredited colleges, especially local institutions. Most technical schools and colleges will be eager to work with a newly-arrived source of job opportunities, and may set up training resources and space, and even provide potential candidates to join the workforce in the near future. This will be both a great source of future talent for the team and a unique opportunity for training your current staff.

• Increase integral process control understanding. Training a Maintenance Team should focus not only on proper techniques and tools to perform repairs and the functionality of different pieces of equipment, but also on process control and tracking. Maintenance technicians should be able to stop by the control consoles of a machine center to interact with the operators and understand the live data being collected and displayed from every sensor installed. Typically, these tools are employed by operators and managers to analyze process trends, many times after an incident stops or takes the process out of control; but specific trends and data points can be built and designed to help Maintenance with early detection of potential issues. With technicians trained on how to read, check, and analyze these functions, the Maintenance Department will have a powerful tool to reduce unexpected downtime.

DOCUMENTATION

At startup, there’s usually little to no historical data on the expected life of components, aside from manufacturers’ specifications on equipment and previous experiences; and there are no indicators yet in place to evaluate personnel performance and equipment on a daily basis.

It’s imperative to have a well-structured set of systems and documentation guidelines in place for performing tasks and projects on time and reducing the incidences of downtime and resource utilization on unplanned items. The following paragraphs explain some of the basic systems and documentation strategies that should be in place at startup to ensure a solid performance baseline and smooth operation that will have an enormous impact on the performance of the team for many years.

• Organize your Bills of Materials. It’s critical to have the most detailed list possible of parts, assemblies, and consumables. This is in most cases a titanic task that’s more difficult than it looks. Information is very often scarce, nonexistent, or buried in layer after layer of folders, emails, drawings, and other forms of internal communication. There will likely be far too many stakeholders involved in each area of the mill, with each one of them adding, modifying, copying, and moving files around. And, in addition to compiling the initial list of parts and materials, you’ll have to keep it up-to-date when existing parts become obsolete and are replaced with more technologically advanced spares, or when the process and equipment is modified and more and different parts are added. Having a thorough document management system is crucial in order to find the information needed and keep it available at all times.

• Require consistent documentation formats, templates, and data from vendors. As the project advances, and construction, modifications, and assemblies are approved and added, it becomes critical to standardize drawings, parts lists, and recommended spares in the right formats from each vendor. The majority of vendors, regardless that you might be purchasing a multimillion-dollar piece of equipment, use their own standards when providing information on parts and assembly details. They strive to get their machines installed, commissioned, and in production as quickly and efficiently as possible, but they often fail to provide comprehensive information that will help Maintenance care for and understand the equipment. Upon a breakdown, this leaves the mill in a situation where you have to scramble to obtain information on the types of parts needed and where to procure them from, how to install them, etc. Requesting this information in a standard format used throughout the plant is critical to managing the associated maintenance costs and requirements of the new equipment.

• Create a work order system focused on ease of use. A work order system that closely follows the equipment and downtime hierarchy, and is easy to use and understand by the technicians, is key to promptly executing tasks that could otherwise creep on time spent performing. Following the equipment hierarchy makes it easy to identify location assemblies, areas, or individual parts that need service, and a proper Bill of Materials allows parts kits to be prepared in advance. This lets you have the parts ready for the moment in which the job is scheduled to take place and eliminates the need to look for additional parts and tools once the job has started. When a task not previously scheduled needs to be performed, a well-structured system helps managers gather the information that may not have been captured in the field by the technicians in their haste, such as which parts were replaced or repaired and their specific locations.

In addition, an easy-to-use system that can be accessed on the spot allows technicians to look at data, drawings, and information relevant to the task at hand, and lets them close work orders much faster. This translates into leaner performance and more accurate indicators on time performance, work orders performed, resource utilization, etc.

• Develop a data collection and analysis system. Just as with quality and process throughput, parameters for measuring maintenance indicators are critical. Typical data collection systems take information from sensors and other electronic devices installed across the plant and translate those inputs into readable numbers, representing different variables of interest. This is usually represented in graphs as time series. Identifying and setting up the variables of interest to be tracked for all critical parts and equipment is paramount for identifying maintenance issues well before they become stoppages, for performing root cause and failure mode analyses, and for understanding how and why a certain part failed, allowing your team to develop strategies to prevent failures from happening again or to extend the useful life of that part in the near future.

PARTS MANAGEMENT

The main focus of storeroom management must be having the right parts, and having them readily available. This requires an accurate parts tracking and inventory system, a comprehensive and easy-to-identify storeroom shelving nomenclature, and personnel trained on how to properly find, check out, and note changes in parts stock.

• Set up a healthy storeroom environment. If the team members, managers, and Key Performance Indicators are the brains of your maintenance system, the storeroom represents the heart, pumping parts and consumables when needed to all areas of the plant, carrying not only replacement elements but information across the network of stakeholders and systems involved, and keeping a healthy balance that will maintain a smooth-running production system with very few interruptions. The distribution, physical space, budgeting, and management systems (including storeroom administrators and schedulers) are key elements of a well-managed storeroom.

Parts classification, detailed location and availability, proper inventory practices, and ease of access to the parts will heavily influence the ability of team members to promptly act on maintenance tasks and requirements, and will create a great environment for team members in which to work.

• Create synergy and partnerships with vendors, suppliers, and subcontractors. Determine agreements for rental machinery and tools, consumables, and machine-vending setup and replenishment. Research all your options for local and regional subcontracted labor that you’ll need onsite during construction, commissioning, startup and for extended down days and shutdowns. Taking these steps before startup will ensure that you understand your suppliers from a very early stage so you can create synergy and work out any differences in work policies or ethics, making long-lasting partnerships possible.

• Take advantage of time, distance, and availability from your suppliers. Leverage additional services and add-ons in partnerships with suppliers. Include additional facilities your company may have in regional or nationwide contracts with vendors, thus lowering prices and increasing additional services.

• Establish parts management agreements. It’s becoming widespread practice to establish a parts management agreement with at least one major supplier, in which critical parts are stored on hand at the supplier’s closest warehouse (or even in a section of your own storeroom), but are only physically checked out and paid for at the moment the plant needs to use them. This is a very convenient agreement for the plant when parts are expensive, difficult to procure, the warranty risks expiration on the shelf, or when failure rates and modes are difficult to estimate (electronic components, for example).

In this type of agreement it’s critical to include all parts that would be counterproductive to purchase directly. Include clauses to add more parts as equipment is modified and new parts are needed. Establish a location and cycle count with the local service agent in charge of the account, and make provisions for replacing and exchanging parts that have become obsolete on the shelves.

• Set good inventory practices. Maintenance procedures become prohibitively expensive when the inventory and parts management agreements are poorly set up, or when storeroom budgets aren’t properly dimensioned for the size and requirements of the plant, which can lead to an excess – or much more often, a deficit – of the critical parts needed. Additionally, parts unavailability due to budget restrictions can cause severe delays, prolonged shutdowns, or loss of quality. In these cases, frustration among team members can rapidly increase, even leading to failure to properly secure equipment or follow safety procedures.

Downtime also affects and influences the lack of parts, acts as a factor in negotiating the budget for the Maintenance Department, and raises the cost of opportunity lost (due to lost sales, inability to fulfill orders, delays in processing existing orders, etc.). Maintenance departments need to closely work with their companies’ Accounting Teams to understand the precise cost of lost time (downtime) and lost opportunity, and to demonstrate the real numbers that justify having a more extensive maintenance budget and better inventory setup.

EQUIPMENT ID

Determining a system that labels and identifies every area, machine center, and piece of equipment can lead to proactive improvements in performing preventative maintenance routes, monitoring, and parts replacement.

• Create a thorough equipment hierarchy, plant zoning and area management system. Properly identifying and labeling each piece of equipment with location, area, manufacturer, and a thorough description helps narrow down the list of routine maintenance tasks to be performed. It also helps identify the specific locations for tasks, and assists with reporting issues and analyzing indicators for failures or further attention required. Once this system’s in place, it’s easier to label equipment and assign barcodes. Currently, many options are available that make use of handheld devices (tablets, cell phones, etc.) to identify a specific part on a component, right in the field. This allows the technician to bring up a wide array of information such as parts of the sub-assembly, historical data, current trends on measured variables for the part (from your data collection system), part hierarchy, storeroom availability, lead time, replacement time, etc.

• Develop a downtime hierarchy closely tied to equipment hierarchy. You can use downtime data to perform root cause analysis or identify areas in which issues are recurrent and need more attention by coding downtime events to a specific part or piece of equipment. Many times, a recurrent failure is the consequence of another incident or process out of control in an area upstream of the affected machine center, and this clustered hierarchy will aid in identifying problematic areas, letting you focus on redistributing resources to these areas and more efficiently assigning tasks for Maintenance Team members.

• Evaluate “Process Symmetry” to understand interchangeability of parts within areas. Many pieces of equipment and processes tend to be symmetric around an axis – bottom to top, left to right, duplicate lines, or mirror images of a manufacturing cell or area. This is a concept that most technicians and maintenance managers subconsciously know and apply every day, but isn’t formally described. Process symmetry can be extremely helpful in identifying parts and subassemblies that are interchangeable within different areas, with few or no modifications required. Motors and subassemblies used on two mirror lines parallel to each other might be interchangeable, reducing the number of replacement parts needed to stock for that area; spares could be disassembled from one line and used in the other, reducing downtime and providing temporary relief for the area while more permanent solutions are being procured.

KPIs

Performance indicators are the Holy Grail of Process Control, and of business management in general. The old adage that “you cannot improve what you cannot measure and control” stands true also for Maintenance. Establishing Key Performance Indicators that are relevant to personnel and the process itself is of critical importance in attaining the main goals of a maintenance department. They also demonstrate efficiency and attract more resources for future improvements. For these reasons, the Maintenance Team needs to have well-developed and understood Key Performance Indicators at the time of startup. KPIs help managers and team members understand the goals and targets set forth, and allow them to be an active part of the progress of these indicators, increasing the targets and recommending changes.

• The important few vs. the trivial many. If a department only has one or two main goals, why would that department measure 100 different elements? Maintenance is best monitored and tracked by selecting a few indicators that reflect its vision and goals.

The Pareto Principle is a useful rule: Select the 20% of all possible indicators that help explain 80% or more of your behavioral data. This will reveal your top issues to address. Too many indicators, and you lose sight of the main goals within a sea of information; too few and you risk missing critical parameters for improvement. This is colloquially called “the important few vs. the trivial many.”

• Survey critical locations and types of sensors required to measure KPIs. Work closely with production and automation teams to determine the proper setup of live production monitoring. Software used for collecting information from sensors is key for understanding problematic areas, issues with equipment, current capacities, and for measuring and tracking increased capabilities and status after repairs and modifications. Installing the correct type of sensors in the proper locations ensures that the data collected is useful in monitoring the real current status of the equipment and process.

• Invest in technology for maintenance routes and repairs. Many organizations still don’t firmly believe that portable devices such as tablets, laptops, etc., can make routine tasks far easier for the Maintenance Team; or there’s the assumption that such items will “walk away” from the site. This culture often turns out to be very short-sighted. Yes, hardware items such as tablets might get misplaced; they’ll suffer abuse and damage and will need replacement; but they’re undoubtedly a key element in helping Maintenance accomplish daily routines.

It all boils down to this question: How much will an hour or even a minute of downtime cost your company? Can your maintenance supervisor look up the replacement part on the spot, check it out of the storeroom in advance, and know exactly where the part is located? Or does he or she need to log in to a PC in the storeroom, look around for the part, and manually sign it out, increasing the repair time by two to five times the original estimate? In most cases, the cost of one of these portable devices can be easily regained within one single downtime event.

• Combine devices for more comprehensive diagnoses. Some portable devices now have the capability of adding augmented reality, thermal imaging, or sound and vibration analysis, all within one device. Traditionally, maintenance routes such as thermal imaging had to be performed with a standalone camera, and then vibration analysis would have to be carried out and collected with a different device. Now all these tasks can be accomplished with one single device, simultaneously, which can store more data than ever before. This exponentially increases the analysis power available at hand and allows technicians to optimize plans of action. In addition, photos of the equipment being repaired, detailed notes, and even drawings and exploded diagrams can be pulled up on the spot, providing valuable information that was not readily accessible before.

Augmented reality will be a key feature in the near future for training new team members, and diagnosing and troubleshooting issues. This technology will soon allow technicians to “see” the exact location for a compounding issue, determine the best strategies for fixing it, and bring up detailed instructions and even safety warnings mounted on live camera images, all helping minimize downtime.

• Add Artificial Intelligence and machine learning to your daily tasks. In addition to being able to gather a wide array of data, advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) will very soon allow these devices to learn from repetitive routes and tasks, estimating better times of repair and providing insight on potential issues. This will result in much more accurate live monitoring of equipment, increasing the availability of resources for better planning and scheduling of tasks and more promptly identifying potential for failures.

• Work with your suppliers for technology investments. The switch from the traditional view of maintenance to embracing these new tools is definitely not easy. You may lack buy-in from experienced managers, and the initial investment may deter a company from pursuing these tools. A key feature that would help push this initiative through is to include the use of these devices and proprietary software as part of long-term contracts with suppliers of parts and systems.

• Incorporate Continuous Improvement philosophy in performance indicators. A successful maintenance strategy is constantly evolving and shifting to different areas as the plant ages and equipment fails or reaches end of life. That’s the essence of Continuous Improvement. Many companies make the mistake of stalling on one or two indicators where they’re already achieving and surpassing targets consistently, and they either don’t increase the targets to push the indicators upward, or they don’t replace these indicators with more meaningful ones. This is a key mistake that can jeopardize a well-established maintenance system.

The five areas discussed here represent a roadmap for Maintenance teams to successfully establish a program that will not only create a culture of efficient troubleshooting and well-set procedures, but will also aid other departments in the quest for higher productivity and better quality. Here are some final thoughts, including a couple of pitfalls to avoid:

CHALLENGES

– Recurrent maintenance will become more challenging as the plant ages and is updated.
Soon after a plant becomes operational, more changes and initial issues will become apparent. The Technical and Maintenance departments will discover many items that could use improvements, and solutions that initially looked good might need to be revisited. With time, machines will become faster, and requirements and tolerances more stringent for higher productivity, reliability and safety. This brings the added challenges of:

• More pressure to perform similar maintenance tasks in a shorter time
• More automation – sensors, programming, and predictive tools
• Training and keeping up with the pace of development of these tools
• Finding qualified associates with working knowledge on these upgraded features

– Company policies may stand in the way of your strategies.
Sometimes established systems and policies developed by your company will work against your overall objectives. It’s counterintuitive, but many of the Maintenance systems may have been designed with purchasing, sales, or quality departments in mind, or were put in place as the result of one particular event that triggered the policy’s initial development. This can present roadblocks for accomplishing administrative Maintenance tasks.

– Keeping basic strategies in focus from the beginning ensures a solid long-term program.
Having the aforementioned strategies well in place before production pressures start to mount up will ensure your team is on a path to success in maintaining your equipment and areas in top shape. Although these strategies seem very straightforward, their implementation becomes extremely difficult as the project advances.

With more tasks to develop and follow through, managers can easily lose sight of the main goal. Let this article serve as a reminder and a milestone-setting guide for the basic strategies that will ensure a solid foundation for your Maintenance program in the long term.

– Operators are the most vital part of the evolving strategy.
By far one of the simplest yet most powerful measures you can take is to listen to what your team members have to say. Operators work with the equipment every day, 24 hours a day. They know the pitfalls of the current system, and they share the frustrations of poor practices. If a poorly set-up maintenance system is part of a root cause, the opinions and comments of your operators and technicians are the symptoms that should prompt you to investigate deeper into the elements your current system is lacking. Making your operators part of the solution is the first and most basic step to take before starting to implement changes.

Adrian Pirraglia is project manager at Evergreen Engineering.
Pirraglia earned his M.S. in Integrated Manufacturing Systems and Engineering and his Ph.D. in Forest Biomaterials Science and Engineering from North Carolina State University. He is an expert in Lean Manufacturing and Continuous Improvement. Prior to joining Evergreen, he worked more than six years with Arauco as continuous improvement manager, operational excellence coordinator, quality improvement coordinator, and process engineer. Email: APirraglia@evergreenengineering.com