Association for Manufacturing Excellence, Features, Manufacturing Experts

Making the most of it: Reactiveness to reliability

A common barrier to optimising your manufacturing facility’s productivity is the effective design, use and reliability of your equipment.

One of the most common barriers to optimising your manufacturing facility’s productivity is the effective design, use and reliability of your equipment.

Author: Tim Odokeychuk, president, AME Australia

Many of the operations I am invited to visit have obvious challenges towards keeping their plant and equipment safe and in the best possible condition to produce the best possible quality (let alone increasing its lifespan and throughput with deliberate improvements).

The evidence of less-than-desirable performance does not take a trained sleuth to uncover: volumes of idle work-in-process inventory are sprawled across the facility, team members are acting as triage staff and fire-fighters, and ‘Leaders’ invest more time in the continual rework of the production schedule and appeasing disappointed customers than solving problems and developing their teams.

Traditionally, you can categorise the losses resulting from breakdowns, issues with setup and adjustments, minor equipment stoppages, speed reductions, the reworking of defectives and losses at startup and shutdown.

Having reliability in your equipment resources is essential along your pathway to growth, not to mention a means to create stability for your team to invest their time in value-adding activities – which is what they’ve been engaged to do in the first place.

In other words, it’s not an option. If you find yourself in a reactive situation, it certainly doesn’t have to be or stay that way.

This vicious cycle can be avoided or broken if there is a deliberate effort made to address the root causes of the unplanned downtime, critical failures and lost capacity by diverting efforts from reactiveness to instead developing and protecting a disciplined process while resourcing the necessary focused improvements.

Back to basics – A need for a Total Productive Maintenance perspective

Many of you reading this would’ve heard the terms “proactive”, “preventative” or “predictive” maintenance.

These are of concepts and methods contained in the systematic approach of Total Productive Maintenance (TPM), which is a framework that holistically addresses equipment and maintenance management yielding several benefits.

The systematic approach of a TPM program promotes a culture of safety in the workplace by engaging operators to identify and addressing potential safety hazards associated with their equipment which they’re intimately familiar with and work with engineering and OEM resources to reduce their risk, if not eliminate them altogether.

Further to this, TPM helps to identify and eliminate equipment problems before they become major issues.

By implementing maintenance routines, identifying & removing potential failure points found from deliberate audits, leveraging visual management disciplines for schedule adherence and issue resolution, equipment reliability can vastly improve impacting overall equipment effectiveness (Availability, Productivity, Quality).

With greater uptime and reduced loss, more time is spent on meeting customer needs increasing throughput resulting in higher profitability. In addition to mitigating start-up, shut-down and changeover loss through effective TPM practices, routine & preventative maintenance activities will cost significantly less than major breakdowns.

Also, with equipment available and operating at peak efficiency, energy costs are reduced.From the 1960s, TPM has evolved to include a framework of eight pillars developed by the Japan Institute of Plant Maintenance (JIPM), each designed to address a specific aspect of equipment and maintenance management and ultimately providing a framework for improving equipment reliability, reducing downtime, and increasing employee engagement.

So, what are the pillars and what is the aim behind each of them?

1. Training and Education (TE)

Involves the development of employee skills and knowledge. By providing training and education to employees, they can better understand the equipment they are working with and take a more proactive role in maintenance and quality improvement. This often requires support from the Original Equipment Manufacturer or Subject Matter Experts who have deep experience with the technology being used.

2. Autonomous Maintenance (AM)

To perform routine maintenance tasks on their equipment to prevent breakdowns and reduce the need for specialised maintenance personnel.

3. Planned Maintenance (PM)

Involves developing a maintenance plan based on the actual and/or expected condition of the equipment. Activities are scheduled in advance and performed according to a plan that minimises downtime and maximises equipment reliability. This often requires its own production system to ensure part availability just-in-time.

4. Quality Maintenance (QM)

Involves the prevention of defects and quality issues through root cause analysis and the elimination of those causes through planned containments and countermeasures. This effort of continuous improvement to ensure quality from the perspective of the customer is essential for any manufacturer competing for growth.

5. Early Equipment Management (EEM)

Involves the design and development of new equipment to ensure that it is easy to maintain, reliable, and cost-effective. The goal is to minimise the need for maintenance by designing equipment that is less prone to failure.

6. Safety, Health, and Environment (SHE)

Involves ensuring a safe and healthy workplace for employees, as well as minimising the impact of manufacturing operations on the environment. By prioritising safety and environmental concerns, businesses can improve their reputation and reduce their risk of liability.

7. TPM in Administration (TPM in Admin)

Involves applying TPM principles to the administrative functions of the business. By streamlining administrative processes and reducing waste, businesses can improve their efficiency and reduce costs.

8. TPM in Engineering (TPM in Eng)

Involves integrating TPM principles into the design and development of new products and processes. By considering maintenance and reliability during the design phase, businesses can create products that are easier and more cost- effective to maintain.

For anyone, there’s a lot to absorb across this entire domain but you shouldn’t be overwhelmed as with most journeys, the walk before your run mindset is needed to take the initial incremental steps to build a foundation then expertise is needed.

Building up to effective Total Productive Maintenance

In an early career transformation journey, a few years into our efforts after settling some system-wide improvements into practice, we saw that adopting a holistic TPM approach as principles of engagement and improvement across our facility would be the next phase to raise our plant performance and flexibility.

An essential prerequisite of introducing TPM was stabilising our production system and investing in an improved layout for better material flow.

In the early days, ceasing mass firefighting gave us capacity to make a commitment to workplace organisation or 5S – ensuring that we had a system to engage everyone, everywhere, every day to ensure they had what they needed, when they needed it to perform their best and maintain standards that were foundational for their enjoyment in work.

When we were confident that this was maturing, we chose to take the next step with the introduction of TPM in a simple form – we provided basic training to create awareness of what it was, why it was important for us and was inclusive of everyone from the Senior Leadership Team, Line Managers and every Operator in the plant.

Theory does not yield benefit without practice however, so a small-scale learning-through-doing activity was done to gain an appreciation for where our actual equipment performance was as well as to develop an initial TPM introduction process that worked for us.

While doing this, we reinforced the commitment we were making by having site leadership involvement from the outset – imagine the sight of having a General Manager taking part in a planned machine tear down over a scheduled break to inspect, regreasing essential components and generating improvement ideas with operators in a plant of 500+ Team Members!

The early adopters in these small- scale activities became promoters of TPM because they simplified their work and improved their personal safety.

As it created an area where the ‘next majority’ can come to learn from, this was a strategy that played out well to then expand adoption of TPM across the plant.

Peer accountability played an enormous role in evolving the maturity of our TPM effectiveness. To continue the momentum, cross-area audits and sister- plant visits assisted in raising standards and sharing best practice across the broader organisation. It also helped with ensuring commitments were made and kept towards what progress would be on display the next time we came together.

From here, trusting that our team members knew their process and equipment the best, we ensured the “process owners owned their process” while we maintained the role of coaching and support and were able to spend more time on other pillars of TPM including improved equipment design and administrative improvements.

But this is one example and like most methods, concepts or frameworks, it is important to keep in mind that implementing a TPM program is not a one-size-fits-all solution.

Each manufacturing facility is unique, and the approach to designing, resourcing and building discipline for a TPM program should be tailored to the specific needs of the business and its context.

For example, a facility that operates 24/7 will have different maintenance requirements than a facility that operates Monday to Friday. A food & beverage business will have significantly different requirements to a metal parts manufacturer and again to those producing pharmaceuticals or medical devices.

Adopting TPM – Prepare the process, resource the activity, build in discipline

Creating TPM maturity also requires a long-term commitment and ongoing effort to maintain and improve equipment reliability. It is not a quick fix however the benefits of TPM far outweigh the time and effort required to implement and maintain the progress.

If you’re seeking to improve your plant reliability through TPM, Management must be committed to the program and provide the necessary resources, including time, funding, and personnel.

All areas and levels of the organisation need to be involved and there must be a shared reason for investing their focus and time into the journey – they must be trained and engaged in the program and the TPM team must be empowered to make decisions and implement changes as needed with clear guidelines that are set out in a project charter.

With your long-term commitment, the right knowledge and support, your team can successfully to work out of a reactive situation by stabilising its systems and augment its reliability, safety and team engagement through a holistic TPM approach giving you the edge to succeed on your pathway to excellence.

“The busier you are, the more you need TPM.” – TPM for Every Operator, Productivity Press / JIPM

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