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This is the third in an ongoing series of columns with the following theme: “If there were ever a time to get serious about lean manufacturing, it’s now. The vision of doing more with less of everything may very well be the new reality in our upside-down, post-pandemic world.”

In my June 6, 2022, column, “Lean Manufacturing: Where To Begin?” (see link below), I recommended a goal that RAM Pros can readily grasp: “Lean Equipment Management (LEM) for the most critical, most penalizing equipment-driven processes.” That, in turn, begins with a business focus. Here, we’ll be referring back to that column and discussion of equipment selected as the initial Lean Equipment Management focus and laying out the seven interdependent principles for achieving rapid, highly visible, and sustainable results:

1. Targeting major causes of poor equipment performance.

2. Engaging operations personnel in caring for their equipment.

3. Improving maintenance efficiency and effectiveness.

4. Training and qualifying to improve skills and knowledge.

5. improving equipment maintainability and maintenance-prevention design.

6. Winning with leadership and teamwork focused on common goals.

7. Building a Lean Equipment Management culture.

The most important success factor in Lean Equipment Management is to deploy these seven principles in an interdependent manner and in ways that change the culture around that equipment. As an example of this interdependence, the first principle (‘Targeting major causes of poor equipment performance.”) guides the actions in each of the other six. Then the first principle measures the effectiveness of the actions (and results) from those six.

Let’s dig a bit deeper into the “interdependence” concept.

Say the targeted equipment data suggests a few chronic maintenance problems that could be mitigated by assigning routine operator checks at both the start and end of shifts. Maintenance personnel should develop the procedures in concert with the operators and then train and qualify them to perform those tasks consistently and accurately. At this point, we have principles 1, 2, 3, and 4 working together.

Continuing with maintenance, say the targeted equipment data also suggests a few chronic problems that could be mitigated by upgrading several weekly preventive maintenance procedures; specifying a few more robust spare parts; and developing a new repair procedure for one of the components. Further steps include design of remote points to allow lubrication while the machine is running. In this phase, we’ve incorporated principles 1, 3, and 5.

But we’re not done yet. There’s more to undertake with principle 4. Training and qualifying staff to perform the upgraded preventive maintenance, follow the new repair procedures, and use those new remote-lubrication points can’t be overlooked. Despite the years of experience among maintenance personnel, the driving out of human variation, prevention of errors, and performance of new tasks right the first time, every time, is essential for sustainable LEM.

A quick, single-point training/coaching lesson on the reasons for specifying the new robust spare parts is also required for procurement staff (principle 4 in action). Principles 6 and 7 are overarching ones that serve to lead, direct, and engage the emerging LEM team in establishment of a new way of thinking, working, and behaving around the targeted equipment.

Next week, we’ll focus on leadership and teamwork in Lean Equipment Management.TRR

Click These Links To Read Prior Installments In This Series

“Is Lean Manufacturing Dead? Surely Not” (May 31, 2022)

“Lean Manufacturing: Where To Begin?” (June 6, 2022)

Bob Williamson is a long-time contributor to the “people-side” of the world-class-maintenance and manufacturing body of knowledge across dozens of industry types. His vast background in maintenance, machine and tool design, and teaching has positioned his work with over 500 companies and plants, facilities, and equipment-oriented organizations. Contact him directly at 512-800-6031 or

Tagsreliability, availability, maintenance, RAM, asset management, skills development, on-the-job training, supply-chain issues, training and qualification, professional development