Autonomous Maintenance

[tweetmeme source=”leanisgood” service=””]Autonomous Maintenance, one of the 6-8 pillars of TPM. This is where most implementations I have seen or been a part of begin. I am sure you have heard the usual buzzwords of TPM is a culture change, it’s not a program, slogram, flavor of the current administration. Yes it should be a culture change and TPM should avoid all of the other partially successful quality initiatives that have been doomed in your facility. My first question is are you ready? Most would answer yes and question what I meant by that, but think a little deeper and look at what you are asking your teams to do and dive a little deeper.

An interesting question you may want to ask is why are you doing it?  What is your motivation and what is your management’s motivation? Do you want improvement in equipment uptime, improving maintenance effectiveness, cutting costs and maintenance staffing, the gazillion other reasons. IS your vision and your management vision the same? In interviewing for a position I nearly accepted everyone I interviewed with had differing visions of where the TPM philosophy would head. I had the last interview with the Plant manager who put it all in perspective for me in one sentence. “I don’t really care what you do; corporate says we have to do TPM.”  Not the vision I had in mind.

Can you support it? You’ve started an Autonomous Maintenance implementation which features operator involvement in the equipment. It can and should include maintenance task transfer to the operator. This all starts with an initial cleaning that should have generated large amounts of work orders that will need repaired in a short period of time. Many machine and lay out improvements that again generate large quantities of work for your maintenance group. Another issue that will come up will be training of the operator in new maintenance tasks and this would usually be done by the craftsmen in the team. During this time the craftsmen and maintenance department is thinking this TPM is not about “maintenance” it is about getting rid of maintenance. Why would a craftsman train an operator to do maintenance work what is in it for him? I am sure as you look at this the issues that will keep surfacing. Jumping into autonomous maintenance can be devastating to an organization by not being able to support the operator expectations presented by TPM. It can strap all of your resources to support one machine, it can stall out your maintenance group while they figure out how they are going to fit in with this “new program”.

Your organization needs to be ready for the TPM step. A consultant who had come to review our team progress in autonomous maintenance spent less than 5 minutes in our plant and made the statement “You do not have a strong PM program”. He said nothing more than that on the subject, praised our results and prompted us on how to sustain what we had achieved. It is clear TPM is not a “maintenance program” but to be successful you must develop your maintenance team to a very high level. With some very deep self review the team decided to do our best to sustain the work already done and head back to the maintenance group and develop them as the leaders of this process they should be. In all we lost about a year in doing this. We also cultivated the momentum that had developed on the floor continuing to make progress with the pilot teams. What we found is you cannot support a solid structure with only one pillar. We were lucky our relatively quick intervention worked and we were able to scaffold the teams up and built a very strong maintenance and operations group.

What is the culture of your facility? Have you developed any of the other TPM pillars or portions of them such as PM, Education, CI basics, 5S, etc? One company whose program I reviewed each area had to qualify for TPM. It was an honor to have the company come in and spend the time and money to develop your team. There was a need to pass audits at a very high level in PM, 5S, Standard work, among others in order to bring TPM to their group. So start asking questions and keep asking them to be sure you are ready.


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One Response

  1. Then it is on to Autonomous Maintenance Phase II (Taking Lean TPM to the next level) at

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