BSW Timber

How a UK sawmill manufacturer gave their workforce the power to make data to drive decisions and mobilized a team of engineers

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Robert Wojcik headshot

Robert Wojcik, Engineer

BSW Timber, K2 Fort William

Robert oversees all aspects of maintenance work within the engineering department, including planning, preventive, corrective, and proactive tasks for a team of 47 skilled engineers. His expertise shines in efficiently managing maintenance to minimize site downtime, playing an important role in contractor supervision during maintenance shutdowns, and providing technical support during breakdowns.

Beyond maintenance, Robert is involved in designing, planning, installing and troubleshooting new installations on site, all managed with the Fiix CMMS.

The BSW, Fort William Sawmill

The BSW, Fort William Sawmill lies 5 miles to the west of Fort William and Ben Nevis on a 67 ha site. Each year, the sawmill processes 450,000 cubic meters of roundwood and produces 250,000 cubic meters of sawn timber.

Starting from scratch with a homegrown system

Before finding Fiix, Robert worked on the shop floor at BSW’s Fort William site. Maintenance was done using A3 sheets and spreadsheets to track the progress of completed work. Like many others using these methods, the Fort William site was no stranger to the frustrations that could be caused by poorly managed downtime, communication, and parts purchasing.

“Any downtime costs us money. An accidental double order of parts cost us money. On top of that, we weren’t communicating well enough between the teams for shift changeovers. We couldn't reduce the downtime because we couldn't control the preventive maintenance,” says Robert.

“We obviously raised our concerns to our management team, and we needed to change,” says Robert, “Then the IT department got involved and created kind of like a homemade maintenance system including the store management.”

It was good enough to get work done, but it still wasn’t what they were expecting and was lacking the easy-to-use functionality they were craving. “There were still a few struggles to maintain equipment and communicate properly. The worst was preventive maintenance. It was very difficult to plan work,” says Robert.

On top of their struggles to plan proper maintenance, they were having difficulty tracking and managing the parts they were consuming on work orders. And there was even more difficulty to understand what parts and inventory were currently in stock. If the person in charge of stocking and replacing inventory was off sick, then nothing would be updated, leading to all sorts of confusion.

Choosing a CMMS that supports a diverse workforce

When it was time to start looking for a better maintenance solution Robert had already been very vocal about improving things at the Fort William site. As a team they started to investigate what new maintenance technology was out there and wanted to explore the possibility of adopting a more advanced system, specifically a CMMS.

Robert and his manager knew that the solution they chose needed to be suitable for all the different ages, generations and different levels of experience that made up the workforce at Fort William.

“Making everyone happy was going to be very difficult, to make everyone want to use the new system would be very difficult too, but then we came across Fiix,” says Robert.

When we started using Fiix, it was really, really nice. It was really user-friendly, and the team started actually liking it.

Getting the right footing with Fiix

Once Robert and the team at Fort William got started playing around with the CMMS, they discovered very early on that Fiix had lots of potential to solve the issues that their home-grown solution couldn’t.

It was eye-opening for our maintenance team.

The results of the initial implementation were so positive that the management team at BSW Timber started asking why the Fort William site was so successful in managing their maintenance. After showing them how the site was using Fiix, management decided that the whole BSW group needed to be implementing a solution like Fiix.

Having implemented the initial homemade system, Robert had some experience, but he also knew that without the assistance of a professional they would never truly unlock the full potential of the software.

In came Chris Lee and the professional services team at Fiix.

“It’s kinda like going to the gym for the first time. It’s very difficult and if you don't know what you're doing you can hurt yourself. And that's why you need to ask for guidance from a personal trainer,” says Robert with a smile on his face.

That kind of guidance from the professional services team helped set Robert and the Fort William site up for success with the Fiix CMMS. They discovered how to effectively manage parts and inventory, and even use the mobile app and QR codes to make work requests even easier to complete.

Benefits, value, and ROI

With Fiix, planning maintenance became a lot easier, and that planning has allowed the BSW team to see improvements in their overall downtime. “With help of Fiix, we can actually control asset performance with scheduled maintenance,” says Robert.

One of the key benefits of using Fiix for Robert was the ability to increase visibility and communication amongst team members. “We can communicate between the shifts, see what job's been done, what machines have been service, what work needs to get done. And I can get a report every morning letting me know what work was completed.”

And on top of the increased communication, there’s the benefit of sharing and accessing machine information easily through the mobile app, from anywhere in the facility. With a facility full of different technologies and different machines, having instant access to things like repair manuals and technical drawings speeds up repair times and ensures that repairs are done correctly, and most importantly, safely.

The technical drawings have to be available for everyone. We use the mobile app, so every one of our engineers has the mobile app and access to a mobile phone, so everything is available and just basically one click away for my engineers.

Better data for better decision making

With all this new data being collected, the BSW Timber team could start to use that data to make better, more informed decisions about things like spend, and maintenance frequency. The way they approached this was by utilizing the analytics feature in the Fiix CMMS. “Analytics was quite a game changer for us,” says Robert.

Before Fiix, machine performance was checked manually to assess and report on any repairs that may be needed, but not having a concrete place to check and store that data made it hard to justify spend on investing in better repairs, or new machines.

“To prove to my directors why we need to invest money to maintain machines, and how that would improve uptime. Or why do we need so many skilled engineers in the team? What is the workload?” Robert says. “These are the types of questions I get on a daily basis, and I really would struggle to prove it.“

Analytics made it so much easier for Robert and the team to answer those questions and with real data to back them up.

My directors are happy with the analytics. I can provide them the right information in one click.

Welcoming a change that is here to stay

In the discussion about future expansion and integration over the next six months to a year, Robert envisions implementing more preventive and condition-based maintenance measures with Fiix. They currently operate on different systems such as SCADA and various condition monitoring systems for hydraulics and particle scanning in oils. The goal is to consolidate all machine information into a unified Fiix portal for easier access and proactive management.

Robert says, "condition-based monitoring with Fiix is the way forward. It’s my goal for the upcoming years to get that information into Fiix so we can have access to everything in one place. Then you don't have to look everywhere for the same information. Integration will be crucial for our efficiency and proactivity."

Inspiring change across the organization

In terms of advice for those starting out or struggling on their CMMS journey, Robert emphasizes the importance of believing in the process and fighting for positive change. He acknowledges that implementing a CMMS system may seem daunting initially but emphasizes its effectiveness and user-friendliness. He mentions that all his success with the CMMS can be traced back to the team's commitment and willingness to listen to Fiix administrators and implementation experts.

I like it [Fiix], everyone on our team likes it, it’s easy to use. So why not try it? I've been in touch with some of the engineer managers. They asked me for advice on how I feel about Fiix, and I told them exactly what I told you guys today. I think they will definitely will enjoy it.
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