Total productive maintenance, or TPM is a program that can help a facility to keep their machines in operation as much as possible. It is generally considered a part of the LEAN methodologies as it greatly reduces downtime, which is a form of waste.
While the goal is simple (improved machine production) it is actually one of the more difficult strategies to successfully implement. This is because it involves a significant adjustment to the way things are done in regards to the maintenance of a machine, and also it shifts some of the roles and responsibilities of people in the facility.
When done properly, however, TPM lean production can bring machine downtime down to nearly zero, which can dramatically improve the overall production levels of a facility. The following is a brief introduction of the TPM production method, and how it should be implemented.
The system is ‘supported’ by five main pillars, each of which is essential to the successful implementation of this strategy. Learning about each pillar will also help to more fully understand the benefits of this strategy.
When learning about this concept it is important to note that it must be implemented on a solid foundation of safety, environment, education and training. If a facility is lacking in these areas, they must be put in place before addressing any of the following five pillars of TPM lean production.
When attempting to reduce downtime of a machine, it is important to invest in improvements that will make the machine operate more reliably. Each facility and each machine is going to be unique in what is required, but making adjustments to the way a machine works can help to reduce downtime.
Examples may include implementing upgrades, adding automation, replacing older components or in some extreme cases, replacing a machine entirely. Just dealing with a part that is constantly breaking down is just going to keep the down-time high, which is not acceptable under the TPM concepts.
This is one of the most dramatic changes from the way things are normally done. Autonomous maintenance means that the employees who are actually operating a machine should be the ones to do the general maintenance of machines. Things like keeping track of lubrication, cleaning, inspection and other work is all normal maintenance, and doesn’t require the expertise of a dedicated maintenance personnel.
This will free up the professional mechanical technicians to focus more on larger issues. If a machine breaks down and stops working entirely, the dedicated maintenance team will respond quickly because they are not busy with ‘routine’ work.
There are going to be some types of maintenance activities that are outside of the skill level of the normal front line employee. These types of maintenances should be done by the dedicated staff, but they should always be planned well in advance. Rather than reacting when a machine breaks down, the maintenance team should keep a schedule of what types of work is going to be needed, and get it done prior to it causing a problem.
The goal of the TPM lean production system should be to have approximately 90% of all the maintenance on a machine done proactively. The other 10% will be reacting to unplanned outages, which are sometimes unavoidable. Most current facilities that don’t use TPM find they are doing about 90% of the maintenance reactively and just 10% proactively, so it is easy to see how this is a major shift.
Process Quality Management
One of the things that the maintenance team will be spending their time on now that the machine operators are handling basic maintenance is called process quality management. This is a process by which efforts are made to ensure all the parts a machine is producing are of the needed quality.
If a machine has a worn cutting edge, for example, that may cause it to fail to make a clean cut for every part. Rather than just dealing with that and fixing the parts as needed, process quality management would have the maintenance team sharpen or replace the cutting edge. There are many examples of how addressing quality issues can help improve the overall production of a machine.
New Equipment Management
Finally, TPM requires that all new equipment is only purchased if it is the right option for the needed job. There are typically multiple options to complete similar tasks in a facility, and there are many factors to consider before buying a piece of machinery. When following the TPM lean production methodology, however, it is essential that the main thing that is considered is the quality of the machine.
Purchasing only the right machines for the job will help to further minimize the future downtime of the machines. In addition, when a new machine is purchased, the maintenance team needs to create a detailed maintenance guide to help ensure the new machine remains in pristine condition for as long as possible.
Smooth Implementation of TPM
When implementing the TPM lean production method it is important to have a good plan on what needs to be done, and how it will be completed. This is a significant change from the way most facilities operate, so taking the time to plan, train and guide all the employees is extremely important.
Remember, just about all the employees at a facility are going to be directly impacted by this type of change. The front line employees often like this adjustment because it gives them more direct control and responsibility of their work environment.
Maintenance teams, on the other hand, may see this as losing some responsibilities so they may resist. Taking the time to show them that while they are giving up some simpler tasks, they are actually gaining some significant new responsibilities that will better take advantage of their unique skillsets should help to ensure a smooth adoption of TPM.
Depending on the size and type of the facility, it could take anywhere from a few months to over a year to fully complete the implementation of this strategy. When done properly, however, it will be well worth the effort.