TPM and Plant Maintenance

TPM is short for Total Productive Maintenance and has been around for a while. Nowadays, the concept is often renamed Lean Maintenance, as successful Lean programs have given "Lean" a good name in many organizations. The goal is the same: disturbance-free production at the lowest possible cost.

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By Oskar Olofsson

What is TPM?

TPM is a manufacturing-led initiative that creates a collaborative approach among all stakeholders within an organization—particularly between operations and maintenance—in an effort to achieve production efficiency, uninterrupted operations and ensure a quick, proactive maintenance response to prevent equipment-specific problems.

The goal is to create a production environment free from mechanical breakdowns and technical disturbances by involving everybody in maintenance duties without heavily relying on mechanics or engineers.

Modernization and the ongoing automation in different industries have noticeably amplified the gap between operators and their machines.

Years ago, machine operators were limited to manning their respective posts. Whenever there is a mechanical trouble, operators would stop working and would call in the mechanics to fix the problem. Even with the slightest snag, operators would leave everything to maintenance for fear of making the problem worse, and besides they don't want to take on the mechanics' jobs.

On the other hand, the traditional mechanics could love the smell of a breakdown. They know that they have become indispensable specialists in the trade—they are assured of a stable job every time a fix is needed. So, the vicious cycle goes on and on, and the aftermath of which is immense amount of waste: man hours, production time, opportunity lost, and ballooning maintenance expense.

But with the adoption and adaptation of TPM, the vicious cycle has come to an end. Today, TPM. builds on the classical Japanese concepts of autonomous maintenance with process mapping for cross-functional duties.

Coupled with the right tools and training, T P M equips the operators the necessary skills to address mechanical or equipment-related issues. Calling the engineers and mechanics is no longer necessary since operators are already prepared and confident in dealing with the problems.

Undoubtedly, Total Productive Maintenance is one of the most effective ways to create a lean organization with reduced cycle time and improved operational efficiency.

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