Become Lean With Total Productive Maintenance

Why TPM should be a part of your lean manufacturing arsenal

The costs and benefits of using total productive maintenance (TPM) go far beyond improved machine availability and more traditional manufacturing metrics. TPM, when done well, should contribute to the success of a spectrum of lean improvement activities — and improve trust and accountability in employees.

The goal of TPM is to decrease costly breakdowns, stoppages and equipment jams by proactively performing maintenance that increases machine availability. But why should you really implement TPM? To increase employee engagement with machine performance and reap the productivity benefits, say lean manufacturing experts.

TPM projects typically result in substantial overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) and plant performance gains during the first year of the launch, according to the Marshall Institute.[1] As employees are trained in preventive maintenance practices, a company can expect to resolve current machine downtime issues and avoid chronic machine availability headaches.

If you implement TPM, here are some key things to know, including how one manufacturer used TPM to become a proactive and lean organization:

Know your costs. Before launching a TPM initiative, be sure to appraise the resources and related costs your company will incur, advises Smartware Group, a Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMSS) maker, in the article “Weighing the Costs and Benefits of TPM Implementation.”[2]

Learn how to calculate mean time between failures (MTBF). MTBF performance is another metric for TPM-related performance improvements, notes the Marshall Institute. As unplanned machine downtime is reduced, a manufacturer can run more product, enabling it to decrease unit cost and lower its prices, providing a competitive edge.

Reduce machine downtime to zero hours. TexOps, a sports apparel manufacturer in El Salvador, used an integrated lean approach to target machine failures that were affecting 70% of the total machine downtime, according to a report by Productivity Inc.[3] Using TPM to identify and isolate the problem areas, TexOps targeted preventive maintenance and shortened downtime from several hours a month to zero hours.

Increase employee trust while becoming more productive and profitable. There were other benefits for TexOps, too. Blended with one-piece flow and Kanban practices, the new ways yielded even more crucial benefits: lasting change through increased trust and higher levels of employee engagement.

Return on asset performance helps fund the future. TPM helped reduce TexOps’ need for capital investments in new facilities and allowed the company to avoid having to hire new employees to make up for productivity losses. TPM, along with other lean approaches, enabled the company to stock away financial reserves to put toward reinvestment in new equipment that would help it remain competitive in the future.

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