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The youngest among my blog readers may not understand what I mean with Total Productive Maintenance, this pre-Lean management approach to maximize machines and equipment effectiveness and aiming to improve companies’ performances.
TPM in a nutshell
In a nutshell, Total Productive Maintenance or TPM in short, originated in Japan, 1971. It was a participative spin-off of the american Productive Maintenance (a mix of maintenance policies to maximize machines’ availability and effectiveness), aiming to minimize all kind of losses by involving every department and everyone.
TPM had its heyday in the 1985-1995s in the western companies and failed to get mainstream despite the efforts to rebrand it Total Productive Management. The original name and much of the content, even so transposable to almost any activity, was too much linked to industrial machinery maintenance.
Total Productive Maintenance gave way to Lean Manufacturing and somehow got absorbed by Lean. TPM brought Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) indicator to the world, a still very popular KPI nowadays.
Industry 4.0 and Total Productive Maintenance 2.0?
My basic assumption for this prospective thinking is that industry 4.0 environments will be highly automated so that the human factor will have lesser impact on the machines / cells / lines /workshops performance. Conversely machines’ utilization will regain focus.
Performance is determined by market requirements, but it will continue to be a mix of responsiveness, speed (time to market, lead time… ) and quality, with a higher expectation for agility than today. Costs may come second when dealing with high customization.
Performance will be mainly driven by machines’ availability, speed and yield, the latter being roughly the right first time rate. In other words OEE.
Availability is key for agility and responsiveness. This stresses the need of preventive maintenance and quick changeovers. Preventive maintenance starts with daily cleaning and inspection in order to keep all equipment in operational state and detect any wear or damage early. Some equipment will probably also need periodic calibration and geometry checks to ensure accuracy e.g 3D printing.
These tasks may be passed to former operators now converted into level one maintenance technicians. Further more in-depth periodic inspection will also be required by more expert staff that can be either company’s own or third-party. This reminds of the ‘autonomous maintenance’ pillar of TPM.
TPM autonomous maintenance in 4.0 environment
Autonomous maintenance intent was/is to give operators greater “ownership” of their equipment in order for them to take care and use responsibly. By increasing operators’ technical knowledge of the equipment they use and entitle them to do the simple daily maintenance tasks, autonomous maintenance aim was/is to:
- ensure equipment is constantly well-cleaned and lubricated
- maintenance experts’ time is freed for higher-level tasks
- emergent issues are noticed and identified before they become failures
- enrich the job of production operators.
if operators showed interest and demonstrated capacities, they could be trained further and assist maintenance experts for more complex maintenance tasks and even take part in repairs and overhauls.
In a industry 4.0 environment, the content of this ‘autonomous maintenance’ pillar of TPM must be adapted to the new technologies. It could encompass data management, using the digital twin, simulate… and require digital literacy.
In a industry 4.0 environment the role of operators as machine feeder, unloader and tool fitter may be marginalized thanks to automation. The jobs for production operators as we knew them may diminish and new jobs will be created requiring different skills and abilities, but not as many.
I could imagine recycling some of the former production operators into ‘autonomous maintenance’ operators, but my guestimate is that one operator could take care of 5 to 20 3D printers. The operator-to-equipment rate compared to traditional manufacturing will surely shrink. Besides, everyone will not show the necessary capacity to evolve.
Can Industry 4.0 rejuvenate Total Productive Maintenance?
As for the autonomous maintenance my guess is that chances are good, even so it may need to be updated in a new 2.0 version fitting the new technical environment.
Focus will be on equipment because of the investment, because of managers in love with tech, because equipment performance will be the main driver for (a production) company’s performance, and for probably more reasons.
For the other 7 traditional pillars I am not sure. You’re welcome to share your own thoughts.
About the author, Chris HOHMANN