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What is Total Productive Maintenance?

Total Productive Maintenance is a manufacturing led initiative that emphasizes the importance of people. It is known for promoting a "can do'" and "continuous improvement" philosophy. The modern view of maintenance (especially in manufacturing), is that it is all about preserving the functions of physical assets. This means protecting the ability of machines when carrying out tasks that serve the central purpose, of ensuring that our machines, are capable of doing what the users want them to do, when they want them to do it. These possible maintenance policies can be grouped under four headings:

  • Corrective-This policy means waiting until a failure occurs, and then remedying the situation (restoring the asset to productive capability), as quickly as possible.
  • Preventive-Users of this policy believe that a regular maintenance attention, will keep an otherwise troublesome failure mode at bay.
  • Predictive-Those who use this policy feel that rather than looking at a calendar and assessing, what attention the equipment needs, you should examine the "vital signs", and infer what the equipment is trying to tell us. The term "Condition Monitoring" has come to mean using a piece of technology, to assess the health of plant and equipment.
  • Detective-This policy applies to the types of devices, that only need to work when required, and do not tell us when they are in the failed state (for example: a fire alarm or smoke detector). These types of devices generally require a periodic functional check, to ascertain that they are still working.
It should be noted that apart from detective maintenance, the central problem that businesses have struggled with, is how to make the choice between the other three. This has led to the increasing interest within almost every industry in a strategy, which offers a path to long term continuous improvement, rather than the promise of a quick fix. This process is Total Productive Maintenance (TPM).

TPM stresses the importance of production and maintenance staff working together. It is presented as a key part of an overall manufacturing philosophy. In essence, TPM seeks to reshape the organization in order to increase its own potential. The bottom line is that TPM is concerned with the fundamental rethink of business processes to achieve improvements in cost, quality, speed etc. It encourages dramatic changes, such as;

  • Having a flatter organizational structure, with fewer managers, empowered teams, and multi-skilled workforce.

  • Constant and rigorous reappraisal of the way things are done. This is often with the goal of simplification.

  • It places these changes within a culture of betterment that is underpinned, by continuous improvement monitored through the use of appropriate measurement.

The principal measure is known as the Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE). This figure ties the "five big losses" to three measurable:
  • Equipment Downtime

  • Engineering Adjustment

  • Minor Stoppages and Unplanned Breaks

  • Time spent making reject product

  • Overall Waste

  • Availability (Time)

  • Performance (Speed)

  • Yield (Quality).

When the losses from Time, Speed, and Quality are multiplied together, the resulting OEE figure shows the performance of any equipment or product line. TPM sites are encouraged to both set goals for OEE, and measure deviations from these. Problem solving groups then seek to eliminate difficulties and enhance performance.

Many TPM companies have made excellent progress in a number of areas. These include:

  • Having a better understanding of the performance of their equipment (what they are achieving in OEE terms and what the reasons are for non-achievement).

  • Having a better understanding of equipment criticality, and where it is worth deploying improvement effort, and potential benefits.

  • Having improved teamwork, and a less adversarial approach, between Production and Maintenance.

  • Having improved procedures for changeovers and set-ups, carrying out frequent maintenance tasks, better training of operators and maintainers, which all lead to reduced costs and better service.

  • Having a general increased enthusiasm from involvement of the workforce.

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