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As we conduct lean assessments at manufacturing facilities throughout the region, I have noticed organizations increasingly embracing lean concepts. But one key area that often falls by the wayside is equipment maintenance. I repeatedly see facilities in which there is a complacent attitude about equipment maintenance and reliability. “Equipment is expected to fail.” Maintenance is primarily reactive. Where they exist, preventive maintenance plans are sketchy, often ignored, and not used because “we’re experienced.” Large inventories of spare parts are stored in conditions that significantly reduce their useful life. Operators ignore the early warning signs of pending failure. Furthermore, I always hear at least 10 reasons why “we can’t change the way we do things around here.”
What if other industries took the same path as these organizations? Take, for example, the aircraft maintenance industry. There is a high degree of discipline from the certifications of those who perform the maintenance to the suppliers of parts and materials used on the job. Procedures are very specific, and every process and step is documented. Consequently, with more than 27,000 takeoffs and landings every day in the United States, aircraft crashes due to equipment failure rarely happen. Another good example is NASCAR Winston Cup racing. The best-of-the-best in stock car racing depend on reliable equipment to do their job; every race car must meet rigid safety guidelines and has to be reliable. The old saying in the pits is: “If you can’t finish, you can’t win.” Achieving 100 percent reliability takes discipline and teamwork. Organizations that want to compete and become “world class” need to successfully implement Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) programs.
TPM requires effective leadership from the start. That is part of the meaning of “total” in Total Productive Maintenance. Without effective leadership that links TPM efforts to the business and holds people accountable for performing highly specified work, equipment performance and reliability will continue to decline and TPM initiatives will be short-lived. Many of today’s business leaders have risen through the ranks when maintenance was only responsible for “fixing things” – not for preventing problems. Viewing maintenance as a non-value-adding support function, they often subject the maintenance department to severe cost-cutting; this usually results in higher costs due to decreased equipment effectiveness.
Companies that have been successful usually follow an implementation plan that includes the following 12 steps:
Step 1:Announcement of TPM. Top management needs to create an environment that will support the introduction of TPM. Without the support of management, skepticism and resistance will kill the initiative.
Step 2:Launch a formal education program. This program will inform and educate everyone in the organization about TPM activities, benefits and the importance of contribution from everyone.
Step 3:Create an organizational support structure. This group will promote and sustain TPM activities once they begin. Team-based activities are essential to a TPM effort. This group needs to include members from every level of the organization – from management to the shop floor. This structure will promote communication and will guarantee everyone is working toward the same goals.
Step 4:Establish basic TPM policies and quantifiable goals. Analyze the existing conditions and set goals that are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-based.
Step 5:Outline a detailed master deployment plan. This plan will identify what resources will be needed and when for training, equipment restoration and improvements, maintenance management systems and new technologies.
Step 6: TPM kick-off. Implementation will begin at this stage.
Step 7: Improve the effectiveness of each piece of equipment. Project teams will analyze each piece of equipment and make the necessary improvements.
Step 8 :Develop an autonomous maintenance program for operators. Operators’ routine cleaning and inspection will help stabilize conditions and stop accelerated deterioration.
Step 9:Develop a planned or preventive maintenance program. Create a schedule for preventive maintenance on each piece of equipment.
Step 10:Conduct training to improve operation and maintenance skills. The maintenance department will take on the role of teachers and guides to provide training, advice and equipment information to the teams.
Step 11:Develop an early equipment management program. Apply preventive maintenance principles during the design process of equipment.
Step 12:Continuous improvement. As in any lean initiative, the organization needs to develop a continuous improvement mind-set.
Maintenance and reliability as a core business strategy is key to a successful TPM implementation. Without the support of top management, TPM will be just another “flavor of the month.” Implementing TPM using the above 12 steps will start you on the road to “zero breakdowns” and “zero defects.”
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About the author:
David McBride is co-founder of EMS Consulting Group ( http://www.emsstrategies.com), a Carlsbad, Calif.-based engineering and management consulting firm. David has a bachelors of science degree in mechanical engineering from Ohio State University. He has a successful track record in the development and implementation of Failure Modes and Effects Analysis and Design for Manufacturability programs at several organizations and has greatly reduced manufacturing costs through the utilization of lean manufacturing, kaizen events and manufacturing system analysis. He has also been highly successful at developing and executing new product introduction processes, and staffing and capital equipment plans. To contact David about this article, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.