Case Study: PetStar's Road to Reliability Success

Christer Idhammar, IDCON INC

After so many years of preaching, teaching and implementing better processes and execution in RM, it is greatly rewarding to see the one of the plants we have worked with reach maintenance excellence. It’s proof that what we believe in and teach at IDCON works and generates great results if implemented. In the many Current Best Practices audits we have done over the years, with the average score ranging from 1-100, it’s extremely unusual for a maintenance organization to score 75 or higher. The CBP, which thoroughly rates how well more than 200 elements of “right things to do,” is executed. It is an objective and fair assessment to help a plant, mill, factory, or mine get to a stage where they perform at top level.

In most cases where we have worked, the organizations have improved several areas and reached impressive results, but only two of the hundreds have been awarded Reliability and Maintenance World Class certificates from IDCON.

One of these organizations is PetStar, in Toluca Mexico, the biggest food-grade PET recycling plant in the world (2019), and part of the Coca-Cola companies. And, it’s in these situations I am reminded once again that I do what I do because I love working with people in the industry.

Working with PetStar felt positive from the start, just in that the company had a very clear vision and mission and they lived by it. I also have to admit that it was also a feel-good client since they are concerned with benefitting the environment and social consciousness. Their vision: “To be a reference of excellence worldwide through inclusive recycling of the PET container, offering their clients social and environmental responsibility, by contributing as a solution for climate change.”

We did the first CBP audit at a PetStar that has 300 employees, 42 of whom were in maintenance, and developed the first improvement plan in 2016. They scored 52.2 CBP points. As per our assessment, they embarked on implementing their improvement plan and upped their score to 65 CBP, already within one year. The next step was developing an improvement plan including education and on-the-job coaching for the maintenance organization. By late October 2018, they reached a whopping score of 78.8 CBP points, the highest score IDCON has ever awarded. The improvements they did increased quality production throughput by 2%. I have to admit that it is remarkable that this was achieved in a little more than three years. It also filled me with optimism. In our job of helping our clients improve reliability and maintenance performance, we in general deal with organizations that need a lot of help and it can, sometimes, feel like climbing a very tall mountain, especially those times when you feel there is blow back from unidentifiable Mildreds, or worse, higher-ups. I carry a negative connotation, being the person who comes in and advises on what can be improved and how to implement those improvements. In some ways, PetStar felt like that perfect example I’d waited on for a very long time—a healthy organization that had the foundation to achieve maintenance excellence.

They had the four cornerstones of successful reliability and maintenance: strong visible and engaged leadership, competent employees willing to improve, well-defined processes, a partnership between operations and maintenance, and they were ready to work hard on their continuous improvement.

It doesn’t matter how you look at, twist or turn it, but you’ll come back to the same principles. And in extending myself into particular examples, here’s one I really like. Maintenance is really like healthy living:


#1 Take care of your body, eat right and exercise -> PM

#2 Regular checkups -> Inspections. Early detection can save your life.

#3 Assertion/diagnosis -> root cause analysis

#4 Planning -> what should you do to get well/stay healthy

#5 Scheduling -> when/how often should you do it

#6 Execution -> Do it and you’ll live longer/your health will improve.



The key to PetStar’s success started at the top. CEO Jaime Cámara and Director of Operations Bernardo Salazar were both visibly engaged and interested in following up on implementation and provided any needed support. They understood the importance of consistent long-term engagement, and this is a detail where I’ve seen so many others fail.

As a result of this strong leadership, PetStar was an attractive place to work, so it was easy to employ competent people to execute the improvement plan. Add to it that they had well-defined processes, and where they didn’t all employees were enthusiastic in executing the best practices documented in the improvement plan. Maintenance and operations worked closely together in that partnership I speak of so often, and everyone was interested in continuous improvement. Some visual examples of what they accomplished include:


  • Equipment modified and designed for maintainability such as ability to inspect and safe access for lifting of equipment.
  • Motors, gears, pumps and other rotating equipment kept as spares in store are rotated on set intervals.
  • Delivery and staging of parts and tools for planned and scheduled work in designated areas.
  • Using applicable tools for condition monitoring.  
  • Root Cause Problem Elimination executed with well-defined triggers.


The next step for PetStar? They plan on doubling their capacity with one more production line. The efficient maintenance organization they now have will allow them to do that with only 20 percent more maintenance employees.


What you will see in a plant with world-class maintenance: