What’s the 'M’ in TPM?

It’s confusing, at times, when working with a number of sophisticated clients who are engaging my help to implement TPM because I see the same acronym used to drive change within organizations, but with so many different meanings. So I ask you, what’s the “M” in your TPM? The first time I asked this question, I got the strangest look.

11/15/2007


It’s confusing, at times, when working with a number of sophisticated clients who are engaging my help to implement TPM because I see the same acronym used to drive change within organizations, but with so many different meanings. So I ask you, what’s the “M” in your TPM?

The first time I asked this question, I got the strangest look. I found myself arriving on plant site at an organization that had been directed to “pilot” a corporate initiative colorfully titled “TPM.” I say it was colorful because of the variations in definitions depending on who you spoke with. In any case, there I was, coming to the plant nearly seven months after the initial kickoff of TPM and meeting with the plant manager for the first time. My role was to rebuild the change management effort and regain the focus on implementation within this organization to ensure that the pilot program was successful. The plant manager, although professional in his demeanor, was reluctant to have yet another consultant “help” him implement a program that he was directed to resource and manage. After all, he had a plant to run!

At this stage within the TPM effort, focus teams were actively re-engineering business processes such as planning and scheduling, preventive maintenance program development, root-cause analysis, operator care and other processes designed to manage maintenance labor and material resources. The plant leadership team, however, had become stagnate, demotivated and was continually challenging the need for change.

So, what was TPM supposed to do for this manufacturing facility? Was TPM intended to eliminate failures in order to improve plant capacity? Was TPM focused on reducing maintenance costs to drive greater profitability? Or, was the corporate TPM directive driven from a need to standardize business practices across multiple plant locations?

For me, the answer was simple: all of the above. However, my task was to determine what each of the plant leadership team members thought. What was their motivation, or demotivation, for implementing TPM? The responses I received, as you can imagine, varied but ultimately pointed back to four key drivers for change: machines, manpower, materials and money.

TPM and the world-class production system

For many companies, TPM is a sole improvement strategy to increase productivity while reducing the overall cost of manufacturing. However, this way of thinking is a catalyst for failure. TPM, although a very dynamic improvement strategy, is neither the beginning nor the end of the Continuous Improvement continuum. To be successful in implementing TPM, focus on: