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Tactical Productive Maintenance: A Targeted Approach to TPM

Sept. 11, 2018
Trying to achieve a 100% robust implementation of total productive maintenance (TPM) is more than just unrealistic – it can actually be counterproductive. Often companies could achieve better results by applying a more targeted, structured approach.

The concept behind TPM – engaging both maintenance and operations teams in a joint effort to improve the availability and reliability of equipment – seems straightforward and promising. Facilities that engage in TPM initiatives typically report some initial improvements in overall equipment effectiveness (OEE).

But TPM’s full benefits often are not realized for a number of years. As a result, many companies are unable to maintain the necessary momentum long enough to achieve the underlying culture change that is needed for a successful, enterprisewide TPM implementation. Eventually, day-to-day firefighting takes priority again, and the TPM effort loses traction.

Rather than focusing their attention on the broad implementation of a TPM system, such organizations often would be better served by focusing first on identifying the operational and financial improvements they need to achieve. With their objectives defined, they can then concentrate on those elements of TPM that will help them achieve improvements more quickly.

Establishing TPM Priorities

TPM engages the expertise of both maintenance technicians and production operators to review metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs), and then identify and drive the improvement actions that are needed to maximize machine availability and minimize the time lost to breakdowns and maintenance tasks. But relying primarily on maintenance and operations teams to drive the TPM effort often raises difficulties – particularly in the area of establishing maintenance priorities.

While the maintenance and operations teams possess essential operational knowledge and skills, they frequently lack visibility into the big picture of the overall operation. Often, line personnel do not know or understand the relative impacts that various machines or production units have on the business’s ultimate performance and profitability, so they are unable to prioritize those improvements that will have the greatest positive effect.

What is needed is a structured, data-driven approach to establishing maintenance priorities with an eye toward both immediate results and long-term value. This means moving beyond total productive maintenance to an approach that could be more accurately described as targeted or tactical productive maintenance. Such an approach prioritizes those TPM elements that will drive the greatest financial benefit to the company.

In order to focus on the broader financial benefits TPM can offer, the targeted or tactical approach factors in multiple viewpoints, with particularly strong input and leadership from the finance department. With the finance function as an active participant, the TPM team can begin to engage in a more systematic and wider-ranging initiative in which the overall objective is to improve business performance, not just install a TPM system.

Implementing a More Tactical Approach

With the goal of improving business performance in mind, the TPM team can begin to address the action steps necessary to achieve it:

Access and analyze critical data. Most of today’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems offer real-time data capabilities, but often this data is used primarily for planning and financial reporting purposes rather than performance improvement. In other instances, useful data might be scattered across several disconnected systems within the organization rather than being accessible from a single application.

The TPM team needs to go beyond summary reports and drill down into the details to find basic operating data such as individual machine downtime, the root causes of scrap, or performance records for a particular machine, production line, or business unit. In one recent instance, the TPM team at a large building materials supplier discovered that poor on-time delivery on one specific product line was having an outsized effect on overall profitability. By focusing its initiatives on this product line, the TPM team was able to drive a direct and almost immediate contribution to improved earnings – and establish the needed momentum for a broader TPM implementation to come.

Develop dashboards and accurate KPIs. Accessing data is only the first step. Next, managers must identify information that is genuinely useful to the performance improvement effort. Rather than relying on standard ERP system reports and dashboards, the TPM team needs to develop real-time dashboards that will isolate and pinpoint the data they need to drive results more quickly.

For example, overall machine downtime is obviously an important metric, but it lacks sufficient detail to be actionable. The details – such as downtime by production line, by work center, by shift, and by reason code – are where useful information can be found.

Using this approach, coupled with effective root cause analyses and segmentation methodologies, the TPM team at a major automotive parts distributor was able to identify which of its many work centers had both high labor costs and low OEE. By prioritizing these particular work centers the team was able to achieve a 25% improvement in overall labor productivity within a matter of a few weeks. Again, the objective was to improve performance, not just implement TPM.

Instill accountability and implement strong governance. A clear, structured approach with high-level management oversight can help organizations focus time, money and resources on those elements that will have a direct and measurable impact on business performance. In addition to high-level leadership, the effort also will require implementation of a strong accountability system.

Making the accountability regimen functional and permanent can be a challenge. It is not unusual for managers to tire of the rigor and discipline that are needed to continue actively searching for improvement opportunities on an ongoing basis. Maintaining this regimen will require regular reinforcement and leadership from the top.

Improve utilization of existing maintenance systems and IT capabilities. Most M&D organizations invest heavily in technology such as a computerized maintenance management system (CMMS), but they often fail to take full advantage of that technology. A thorough assessment of system utilization often reveals numerous new opportunities to use these tools more effectively to improve machine uptime and OEE.

For example, a recent analysis in one multibillion-dollar corporation revealed that its powerful CMMS was being used primarily as a work order system to create and track repair tickets. The system’s many other powerful capabilities – such as downtime tracking, real-time performance dashboards, standardized reporting, manpower, planning, and equipment reliability tracking – were accessed only rarely, if at all.

Identifying Improvement Opportunities

Which opportunities will generate the greatest value naturally will vary from industry to industry, from company to company, and even from plant to plant. It is impossible to prioritize until the basic data structure, transparency, governance, and systems issues previously outlined have been addressed.

But as those areas are addressed, it is possible to begin achieving measurable financial benefits from TPM in a matter of weeks rather than months or years. Addressing these concerns also can help remove some of the most commonly encountered stumbling blocks that impede effective TPM implementation.

Finally, this important point bears repeating: The goal is not just to implement or improve TPM – it is to improve overall financial performance. More effective and targeted application of TPM is the means toward that end.

By approaching TPM from this perspective, M&D organizations can begin to drive targeted, tactical improvements that will have a demonstrable, positive impact on financial performance. These results, in turn, can help the TPM team build and maintain momentum as it works toward achieving the long-term cultural change that will be necessary for TPM to take hold and thrive.

Bart Kelly is a principal in the business advisory practice for Crowe, a public accounting, consulting and technology firm that combines deep industry and specialized expertise with innovation. He can be reached at [email protected]. Ryan C. Silvino is a performance improvement manager at Crowe. He can be reached at [email protected].

About the Author

Bart Kelly

Bart Kelly is a principal in the business advisory practice for Crowe, a public accounting, consulting, and technology firm that combines deep industry and specialized expertise with innovation. He can be reached at [email protected].

About the Author

Ryan C. Silvino

Ryan C. Silvino is a performance improvement manager at Crowe, a public accounting, consulting, and technology firm that combines deep industry and specialized expertise with innovation. He can be reached at [email protected].

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