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Total Productive Maintenance definition as married to TPM.

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The close relationship between a successful TPM program and a successful marriage.

By Carlo Scodanibbio

Total Productive Maintenance (TPM)


Total Productive Maintenance: what is it?

After the honeymoon, the husband is silently appointed "house engineer and technician" and "house maintenance handyman", while wife has implicitly and explicitly self-appointed herself "chief domestic operator" and "principal chef-de-cuisine". When we consider that a similar, but much more serious phenomenon is happening from decades in industry, we can easily trace a common denominator.

All over the world, housewives capable of (and willing to) handling screwdriver and hammer, besides cooking spoon and sewing needle, are a minor percentage. Where does this phenomenon originate from? Where are the roots of this very diffused mentality?

With very few exceptions, all over the world industry is normally structured with a well distinct identification of two functions: the productive function (Operations), and the service, back-up technical function (Engineering and Maintenance). The scopes, the roles, the duties, the tasks and the responsibilities of the two functions are normally very well codified: the productive function takes care of producing products or services - the back-up technical function takes care of generally attending to the plant, the machines and equipment, necessary to the productive function to perform its tasks.

The overall result is well described by the name of the discipline which takes care of the 2nd Industrial Revolution applied to Plant Management and Maintenance: the name is Total Productive Maintenance (or TPM, in short)

The objectives of personnel belonging to the two functions are complementary but well distinct. This separation of roles has also originated and consolidated over many years a negative mentality, which can be summarized with the well diffused approach: "....I operate equipment, you maintain and repair it....."

Today we easily identify the roots of this mentality in the so called 1st Industrial Revolution, initiated by Adam Smith over two centuries ago with his principles of fragmentation of work and labor separation.

Reflections of these principles are at the basis of separation of duties between husband and wife, like in our little story, and can be found in any human, organized activity still today: weather commercial (like in a hair stylist saloon), social (like in a Country Club), or in the public sector (like in a Post Office or Government Department).

Many still adhere to Smith's principles of work fragmentation and specialized tasks, many other are already changing and moving into the so called 2nd Industrial Revolution: several Manufacturing Industries (the so called "World Class Manufacturers"). The world is changing again, and in opposite direction to Smith's ideas.

Something of this nature is taking place, within World Class Industries, also in their productive and maintenance functions. The separation between the two functions, so sharp for many decades, now is being re-sewed. The old approach "....I operate, you maintain and repair....." is being shifted into a new, comprehensive approach: "We are all responsible for our equipment and for the value it generates".

This implies, firstly, a very new vision of the two functions production and maintenance. They are now seen as integrated, interconnected, re-united by the common goal. Personnel from the productive department now have much wider, multi-skill tasks: they not only operate machines, but also attend to several basic maintenance duties, like cleaning, lubricating and bolting, previously assigned to maintenance personnel. Properly trained, and by attending to these maintenance tasks, machine operators become more acquainted with their machines. They know more about them, they understand better their principles of operation, and, most of all, they become like "human sensors" capable of detecting even fine signals of abnormalities in their machines, thus contributing to preventing their deterioration by reporting well timely on their status.

Besides, being knowledgeable about their machines, operators may contribute substantially to the solution of many productivity and quality problems originated by machines, and even to simple modifications to machines to upgrade their performance.

On the other hand, maintenance personnel, have now the primary role of making machine operators acquainted with machines by training them, and the essential role of co-operating close-by with the production personnel for enhancing the effectiveness of traditional maintenance activities and new ones as well (like Predictive Maintenance, Maintainability Improvement, and Maintenance Prevention).

The overall result is well described by the name of the discipline which takes care of the 2nd Industrial Revolution applied to Plant Management and Maintenance: the name is Total Productive Maintenance (or TPM, in short) - where the adjective Total signifies the two concepts of Overall Responsibility for Plant and Machines and Overall Effectiveness of Plant and Machines: the first achieved through intensive and new-deal co-operation between the two functions, production and maintenance; and the second achieved through the joint efforts of the two functions.

TPM is concerned with very high levels of performance of Plant, Machines, Equipment and, generally speaking, Technology - TPM is concerned with very high levels of safety related to Plant - TPM is concerned with new levels of performance of "People next to Machine", by assigning them new, wider and challenging tasks, roles and responsibilities, but also granting them higher possibilities of job satisfaction.

I like to say that, according to TPM principles, our housewife should be closer to her machines, more knowledgeable about them, capable not only of operating them, but also of attending to various maintenance tasks, and capable as well of detecting early signals of deterioration and wear, in time, before the matter becomes too serious...... and capable as well (and proud of) lubricating squeaky hinges and fixing leaking taps.

Dream or reality? The Total Productive Maintenance discipline is expanding very rapidly, world-wide. Will also housewives be affected by it?

Take the Scodanibbio ...

Author: Carlo Scodanibbio - Published by Business Industrial Network

About the Author: Carlo scodanibbio, born in macerata (italy) in 1944, holds an italian doctor degree in electrical engineering (politecnico di milano - 1970).
He has over 38 years of experience in plant engineering, project engineering and project management, as well as industrial engineering and operations management.

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