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Before General Cable Corp. began its lean journey about a decade ago, Mark Thackeray, senior vice president for North American operations, says the company's maintenance personnel were kind of like firefighters -- responding to equipment breakdowns as quickly as possible.
But now that the Highland Heights, Ky.-based manufacturer of wire and cable products has implemented lean strategies at many of its North American plants, Thackeray notes that the company has shifted from a "reactionary maintenance" mode to a "preventive and predictive maintenance" focus.
"[W]hat we've changed in our philosophy about maintenance in the lean environment is you have to be much more involved and proactive in ensuring the reliability of machines instead of running to the problem when they're broken down," Thackeray explains.
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