Maintenance and TPM and Continuous Improvement

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One of the bigger questions your maintenance staff will be asking about TPM is what’s in it for me? I get to train operators in doing portions of my job; operators get to do PM type inspections. What this means to me is my job is leaving and the operator is going to be doing it and I just showed him how. Why would I as a craftsman show any one how do what has taken me years to learn? What is in for me?

This is a tough one because you have to be doing this for the right reasons. I am going to assume that you are not overly staffed with maintenance in your facility and want to improve but use your resources wisely. That being said when an autonomous maintenance group starts an initial cleaning it is pretty clear where you need improvement for that piece of equipment. As the team begins to look at sustaining the improvements made a different look at how things are done begins to take place. For the most part a PM inspection an operator may be doing at this point is one that the maintenance department would not have the resources to do. It would be like bringing your car to your mechanic to have him clean it and do a pm check on it once a week. Nice thought but not a good use of your mechanics time and your money.

Many years ago an interesting path was developed and captured that can help explain what does maintenance have to gain with this process? During an initial cleaning a solenoid valve was failing. A review in the CMMS system showed this valve was a large source of downtime for this piece of equipment. It also showed as being difficult to work on and was not accessible easily. During the initial cleaning the valve was relocated, changed to a manifold style only requiring 4 bolts to change not removing of piping and wiring. This reduced the change time from 1-2 hours to less than 5 minutes. Great improvement.

Not satisfied the team added a counter to log how many times the valve cycled before failure and operator checks that included lubrication and draining air filter units. During this time the operator noted that while overall machine time was down dramatically due to improvements made. He contacted maintenance with evidence that the valves were failing before the expected time based on the manufacturer specifications.

Here is where an engaged maintenance group found that the valves were being repaired by a contractor and he was replacing the failed item and no more. The valve repair was brought back in house for the maintenance department to do. Maintenance went though training to do this function and initially a 50% increase in cycles was achieved.

Again through operator checks and logs came an interesting observation. Yes equipment uptime was at an all time record high. But there was differing Mean Time Between Failure among valves that were changed. It eventually was traced to different associates who did the rebuilding. The differences were noted in how the valves were rebuilt and a standard was written and trained to. Net results were a 150% increase in MTBF of this valve.

Net result of transferring some tasks that maintenance did not really ever do in the first place was: no loss of employment in the maintenance department, relocating a valve everyone had complained about, raising the skill levels of the maintenance department, and bringing in of contracted work. The teaming between maintenance and operators as the commercial says is priceless.


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6 Responses

  1. One other item I have seen with some maintenance departments is what I call the white knight syndrome. It is where the maintenance staff come in when the line is down to repaire the equipment. There were always pats on the back for those who did it and they felt they had done a great job. The reality is usually that the downtime created problems for the customer, the employees didn’t learn anything and the fix was more of a band aid than a true resolution. I have found that it takes time to change that culture.

    • Fascinating you should mention that. I call it the hero syndrome. I agree with your assessment of customer issues and learning nothing but didn’t I do a great job. I will confess until the light bulb turned on I was that guy. Equipment would wait until I got in or I would be called in and paid overtime. Most of the time I am sure it looked like I just placed my hand on the equipment and it was healed, but no one learned. Once I realized that to be truly successful I andother maintenanceassociateshad to make everyone a hero.We began to make real improvements,our department and facility began to move forward. My next post is about why we need to not support the hero or white knight syndrome.

  2. I know this is slightly off topic, but does anybody know of a good book or two on TPM? Most of what I have learned about TPM has been taught in person, or in tidbits here and there in many different books. Is there a TPM “bible” out there? I would really like to do a book club with some of the people here at work on TPM, but haven’t found a suitable book yet.

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