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Total productive maintenance (TPM) is growing in popularity -- but while it offers many benefits, there are also many common mistakes that are easily avoided when getting started.

Total productive maintenance (TPM) has been gaining momentum as manufacturers work to incorporate lean manufacturing practices into their operations. TPM supports production and assets through a focus on assets, processes and employees. Lean Production states that it “emphasizes proactive and preventative maintenance to maximize the operational efficiency of equipment…[blurring] the distinction between the roles of production and maintenance by placing a strong emphasis on empowering operators to help maintain their equipment.”

The basic goals are:

  1. No breakdowns
  2. No small stops or slow running
  3. No defects
  4. No accidents on the plant floor

As you can see, the goals behind TPM address many of the challenges that manufacturers face when adhering to their production schedules. But while it promises many benefits – lower costs, improved employee morale and greater operational efficiency – it does come with a few challenges. In fact, Reliable Plant said that TPM is the most difficult lean strategy to implement. But while it may be difficult, knowing those challenges ahead of time can be a valuable strategy for a successful implementation, and it can even help you avoid those obstacles. Here are three of the most important areas to focus on when adopting TPM.

1. Cultural Change

With any new process, tool or approach to your maintenance routine, cultural changes will need to happen. For TPM, it involves a wide range of practical, actionable tactics. A few of the most important considerations include:

  • Obtaining buy-in from key stakeholders (this includes both management and technicians) at the outset of the transition
  • Creating maintenance strategies for any new equipment to avoid falling into reactive patterns
  • Ramp up expectations for preventative (PM) and predictive maintenance (PdM)
  • Establishing a formal code of conduct that sets expectations for how employees provide feedback and providing a set meeting for them to do so
  • Bridging the gap between maintenance and leadership to prove the value of the new processes

These specific strategies can add up to create a dramatic culture change that amounts to a revitalization of maintenance departments. For many organizations, maintenance is viewed as a “behind the scenes” contributor who is only there when something fails. As such, another culture change may involve changing the way that maintenance is viewed. Treating maintenance as a leading contributor to the business is a crucial step towards TPM success.

2. Inventory Management

Traditional warehousing and inventory management strategies often segregate parts and supplies from production areas. As such, we often see two extremes: Either a significant and costly amount of inventory overhead to avoid shortages, or no available parts when needed. These strategies can directly undermine lean operational strategies, including TPM. Establishing an equipment effectiveness management strategy allows manufacturers to:

  • Precisely measure what resources different assets require
  • Identify the best location to store parts and supplies to keep them out of the way, but easily accessible by maintenance and production teams
  • Establish a constant flow of materials to streamline operations tied to your PM and PdM schedules

Simplifying your equipment management process through either trimming excess inventory parts or ensuring that your necessary parts are on hand can save your organization valuable resources. Modern computerized maintenance management systems (CMMS) can be especially important when considering a more strategic inventory management strategy. A CMMS enables users to log part usage within accompanying apps, easily view inventory levels across multiple locations and receive alerts when supplies need to be replenished. This type of visibility into inventory levels makes it easier to establish more flexible, location-diverse parts and storage methods.

3. Continuous Improvement

Continuous improvement is one of the most valuable components for a successful TPM strategy. A TPM strategy will need to shift as business requirements, machine demands and employee skills changes, and they need to be constantly reviewed and revised as needed. TPM is not a set-it-and-forget-it strategy; instead, the effort requires a commitment to constant growth.

Benchmarking and performance analysis can greatly help you with continuous improvement. Manufacturers that can gain visibility into key performance metrics are able to constantly evaluate their operations and make small tweaks to processes, policies and cultural priorities accordingly.

Using a CMMS to Simplify TPM Efforts

All of these points – cultural change, inventory waste and performance management – form around a central idea of TPM: Manufacturers implementing TPM plans must remove silos within the business and promote integrated work strategies between distinct teams. A well-designed CMMS can go a long way with not only ensuring that your technicians are staying efficient and productive, but to also provide data analysis for other departments to see your success.

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