Tuesday, October 05, 2010

TPM in Action

While recently teaching about Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) using the learn-by-doing approach, we were presented with a great learning opportunity. Our first task was to get our hands dirty in giving the selected machine a deep and thorough cleaning. This cleaning is not just to make the machine look good; we were inspecting the machine while cleaning. This deep cleaning process paid particular attention to those hard to reach spots not normally seen by the machine operator on a daily basis.

We did find many issues with this machine that required repair during this deep clean. This was also accompanied with many comments like “I never knew that before”, “What’s that?”, “I can’t believe how much dirt and chips were under here” and “No wonder it leaks, all the drain holes are plugged up.” There were several other comments made that would make a sailor blush and I’ll just leave it to your imagination.

In the middle of our partial disassembly of the machine to reach those places where the sun don’t shine, we found one major problem, a significant rip in the protective sheath of the main control wiring under the machine against the chip conveyor system. It would have never been seen walking around the machine under normal inspection.

With the wires unprotected and naked to the world, we have the potential of a major breakdown. Not only would a failure involving these wires cause a very expensive repair bill with significant downtime, we have the serious potential of electrocuting someone.

Preventing the loss of life is the highest of priority over any of the six big losses found in the OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness) metric.

After doing some root cause analysis, the team concluded the original poor design of the machine (thinner sheath material, plastic elbow joints and poor routing location under the machine) was the main root cause. After the new and improve material arrived the next day (thicker sheath and cast metal elbows), the team replaced the wire covering and re-routed the wiring to the back of the machine (instead of under the machine) making it free and clear of the chip conveyor system.

Our TPM approach included corrective and preventative actions by improving the machine design. The end result is a more reliable, more efficient, safer machine available for making parts.


Dan Markovitz said...

Good example, Mike. Although I usually talk about going through all the papers/reports/debris on your desk as a 5S exercise (rather than TPM), the purpose is similar: to reveal any hidden issues that might create real problems down the line. Whatever you call it, the exercise of really looking deeply into your tools has the potential to improve quality and performance.

Mike Wroblewski said...

Hi Dan,

As you pointed out, most of the tools of lean are to make problems visible. It's up to us to ACT to solve them.

Mike Gardner said...

It appears you have been spending a lot of time developing TPM systems recently, Mike. That's a good thing. As the example you gave shows, TPM is a powerful tool to not only improve equipment reliability, but to involve people in transforming their work. People who become familiar with TPM are much, much more responsive to and involved with future improvements. TPM is truly a tool for laying a strong lean foundation.

Mike Wroblewski said...

Hi Mike,

Yes, I have one particular client that is working on TPM to improve machine availability to better satisfy their customers. I agree it is a foundation of lean. They have done well with it so far.