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Let’s recap: As noted in Part I and II of this series of discussions (see links below), the concept of engaging operators in the maintenance of their machines has met with mixed reviews since it rolled out as part of Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) in the 1980s. But, when properly, operators can provide the most efficient and effective form of preventive maintenance in a plant. The key to success, though, is to think in terms of operator “care,” rather than “maintenance.” That’s what TPM intended regarding the operator’s role. This type of “care,” however, must be carefully defined to focus on specific results as part of an overall equipment-improvement strategy. That’s where the Five Pillars of TPM come in.

When Total Productive Maintenance got underway outside of Japan, its basic principles often went unexplored and/or underdeveloped. Those principles, i.e., the “Pillars,” were intended to be INTERDEPENDENT, meaning each enabled and enhanced the others. They were not intended to be separate functions of a “maintenance” program. Note that the focus of TPM is improving EQUIPMENT effectiveness, which goes well beyond performing better maintenance. Here are the “Five Pillars.”

1.  Improving equipment effectiveness by targeting the major losses
(or causes of poor performance).

2.  Involving operators in routine (daily) maintenance of their equipment.

3.  Improving maintenance efficiency and effectiveness.

4.  Training to improve the skills and knowledge of everyone involved.

5.  Early equipment management and maintenance prevention design.

All too often, the roles and responsibilities associated with Pillar 2, i.e., operator care (or “autonomous maintenance”), became INDEPENDENT of the remaining Pillars. Autonomous maintenance was not designed as a stand-alone program, despite an unfortunate translation from Japanese. Unintentionally, two of 11 chapters of the out-of-print book Training for TPM – A Manufacturing Success Story, published by the Japan Institute for Plant Maintenance (JIPM), in 1986 (and Productivity Press, in 1990), set the stage for a stand-alone program called “autonomous maintenance.”

So, let’s recalibrate the second Pillar of TPM in context. The interdependence TPM’s Pillars starts with the first one involving DATA and the targeting of the “major losses or causes of poor performance.” Again, this is the Pillar that launched “Overall Equipment Effectiveness” (OEE) as the root-cause score card of equipment-performance problems. This OEE DATA should point us to problems, causes, priorities, desired conditions, roles, and responsibilities.

Now, consider the remaining four Pillars and how to “focus on results” (the desired conditions and priorities). Focus on ONE problem to eliminate using root-cause analysis tools and techniques. The results of a root-cause analysis should then lead to answering the following four questions:

1.  What role can operators play in eliminating the problem? The operators are
part of an equipment improvement team effort.

2.  Next, what can maintenance staff and systems do to eliminate the same problem?

3.  Then, what training do operators, maintainers, supervisors, managers, planners,
and others need to help eliminate the problem?

4.  Finally, what improvements can be made to the equipment in the future to reduce
the need for maintenance related to the problem?

The bottom line here is to deploy operator care as part of an overall equipment-improvement strategy using the INTERDEPENDENT Pillars of TPM, whether they’re labeled “TPM” or not. Please stay tuned for Part IV (next week). It will be a longer discussion with case-study details on the power of equipment-improvement teams.TRR


Click The Following Links To Read Previous Columns In This Series:

“Operator-Performed Maintenance (Part I): Benefits And Barriers”

“Operator-Performed Maintenance (Part II): Focus On Results”


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 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 bwilliamson@theramreview.com.



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