MRO Q&A: TPM as a best practice?

June 5, 2012
MRO Q&A is a Food Processing series addressing maintenance, repair and operational issues in food plants.

Q: I have heard the term TPM (Total Productive Maintenance) as being the “best practice” for maintaining equipment. Can you help me understand what it is and how it differs from regular maintenance?

A: Over the past few decades there has been reactive, preventative and predictive maintenance. Each offered advantages over its predecessor. This is also true of total productive maintenance.
Total productive maintenance consists of the integration the concept of lean manufacturing into the manufacturing process.

It is common in many companies to charge employees with taking care of the lubrication needs for several pieces of equipment. It is also common that work requiring a tool requires a maintenance person to perform it. If there is a problem with a photo cell or controls, an electrician would be required.

Under the TPM philosophy, any of the work the operator is capable of -- and this varies by individual -- would be done by the operator; he would not have to wait for a different employee to come and fix the problem. Along with these activities, the operators are also responsible for the cleanliness and organization of their work area.

The TPM philosophy consists of three major components. These are:

  • Teamwork approach to increase Operational Equipment Efficiency (OEE).
  • Eliminating waste from the process of maintaining the equipment.
  • Improve the ownership/morale of the machine operators.

There are specific practices embedded in these components. The major practices are:

  • Autonomous maintenance (the equipment operator does much of the maintenance).
  • The practice of 5S (Sort, Set in order, Shine, Standardize and Sustain).
  • Planning all maintenance activities.
  • Technical training.

The benefits of TPM are directly related to the way you perform your maintenance today. TPM has many quantifiable advantages for many companies in the world, but it is only a benefit if it moves your organization forward. If you find you do not have the barriers that TPM is designed to overcome, no problem; just wait for “condition based maintenance.” It’s the next maintenance innovation.

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