Team Celebrates Shingo Publication Award for TPM: A foundation of Operational Excellence

On May 19 in Orlando, Florida, John Quirke, Life Science Practice Leader at global consulting company, S A Partners, received the SHINGO Publication Award on behalf of the team for the book TPM (Total Productive Manufacturing): A Foundation of Operational Excellence.  John, along with business colleagues Andy Brunskill and Peter Willmott, are authors of the book which has been hailed as a key reference text in relation to operational excellence.

John Quirke who has been working with S A Partners for the past thirteen years commented:

“It is great to receive this honour from the SHINGO Institute who are recognised as an international benchmark for Enterprise Excellence.  It is also great recognition for the level of operational excellence that exists in Ireland too as, in writing the book, we drew on multiple projects from across the world.

At S A Partners we support businesses in Ireland, UK, Europe, North and South America and Australia with Enterprise Excellence, of which TPM is a critical part.  We are passionate about TPM as it is a mechanism that can drive improved reliability and asset utilisation for any organisation (not just manufacturing); it drives waste reduction, improves health and safety and enables employee engagement”

At a basic level, our approach to TPM is about creating an environment and culture that allows teams to understand the equipment they use and the processes they support in much greater detail.  The approach develops higher levels of equipment consciousness, where teams become more engaged with their work and improving that work.  Teams learn new skills and rekindle old ones that allow them to improve the way equipment and processes perform, eliminating waste, reducing cost and increasing output.

The book outlines a tried and tested 11 Step model which will support any organisation in delivering an excellent TPM programme.  Through the case studies interspersed throughout, the authors observed that those companies that successfully deployed TPM and sustained excellence were those that demonstrated a number of key mind-sets – all of which are outlined in the easy to digest book.  This includes illustrating how TPM can align with the systems thinking and ideal behaviors implicit in the Shingo Model™.

What sets this book apart is the focus on how to engage all employees in the TPM cycle of improvement, not just the maintenance team or engineering.  TPM is a foundational system that should be at the heart of every manufacturing and utility operation as it provides the reliability and stability required for successful and profitable value adding performance. 

At the awards ceremony in Florida, John gave thanks to his co-authors Peter Willmott, Andy Brunskill and the books designer Alex Everitt.

For more information on TPM or how we can support your organisation please do contact our head of TPM services

The book is available for purchase from AMAZON here

For more information, please contact:

Ailsa Carson
S A Partners
Phone: +44 (0) 783 222 3453

Some expert reaction to the book:

“This book will become a reference on how it should be done.  A paradigm shift to Total Productive Manufacturing that is long overdue.”

Greg Julich, Director Global Reliability, Pfizer Inc, USA

“I know of no other publication on TPM that comes close to the scope, detail and practical utility of this book, that is likely to become THE standard text on the topic.”

John Bicheno, University of Buckingham, UK

“The book provides a road map for success with practical guidance and first-hand case studies that help bring the model to life.”

Michael Hempton, Moy Park, UK


About the SHINGO Publication Award

The SHINGO Publication Award recognises and promotes writing that has had a significant impact and advances the body of knowledge regarding operational excellence.  The SHINGO awards are issued by the US-based SHINGO Institute whose mission is to promote the process of improvement by conducting cutting edge research, providing relevant education, performing insightful organisational assessments and recognising organisations committed to achieving sustainable world-class results.


– Ends –


About S A Partners

S A Partners is a leading global consultancy that delivers business transformation programmes.  They also deliver training, events and workshops to support organisations improve and achieve Enterprise Excellence. They are accredited by both the Shingo Institute and the Blanchard Corporation and have offices in the UK, Ireland, North America and Australia.  S A Partners was established in 1993 and is widely acclaimed by its customers for supporting them to drive change through people engagement and leadership.

Planes, Trains and Automobiles – Japan Lean Experience

This month I am putting together the final touches in preparation for my trip to Japan in April 2018, attending the “Japan Lean Experience” with my colleagues from Tokyo .

This will be my fourth week long homage to the spiritual home of Kaizen and Lean thinking, and I will be traveling with a small band of brothers from NZ seeking inspiration from the world’s leading practitioners of Lean Management.

Our variety of factory tours provide a perfect combination of education, exposure to best-in-class Lean practices, unique relationship building, in-depth tours, interactive discussion, and comfort.

In addition to the formal tours, there will be time to take in some sights and experience Japan culture and of course a ride on the bullet train!

The Shinkansen, or Bullet Train cruises at between 280-320KPH and is one of those experiences that is not to be missed. I confess that this for me is one of the highlights, and epitomizes what Japan is all about, efficient, reliable, high quality and on time!


Of course, we have the home of 5S, with everything in it’s place, and a place for everything, there is so much inspiration in their factories, offices and even around town!


Japan also has history and culture by the bucket load and there are some amazing things to see and visit whilst you make your way around.

I’ll be adding a few extra days to the tour and our group will take in some of the sights. A personal favourite is Kyoto, the ancient capital, and a deeply religious place.

It is also a place that brings home some of the things that mankind is not so proud of, the atomic bomb. I recommend a visit to Hiroshima for a poignant reminder of the horror of war and devastation it brings.


Finally, there’s plenty of great food to try and taste. I am pleased to announce that Japan has pizza and pasta and Hagen Daas ice cream, but the local cuisine is very special and well worth a try!

S A Partners will be running a one week study tour to Japan in the near future.

Japan Lean Experience – Tokai-Shin-ei Electronics

Back in 2009 I  kept a diary of my Japan Lean Experience and I recall that on our 4th day on the road, and after another great lunch at the Gozarase restaurant we travelled for about an hour to Ena-shi Gifuken, the home of Tokai-Shin-ei Electronics.

Tokai-Shin-ei design and manufacture printed circuit boards their factory is located in a small town in the foothills of the central ranges around Nagoya. Tokai-Shin-ei ‘s long standing President,  Yoshihito Takanaka, gave the initial presentation; he informed  us of his corporate philosophy, based on self discipline, employee involvement through Kaizen and a focus on customer value through Total Quality Management primciples.


During the Gemba tour it was fascinating, to see the high levels of workplace organisation and cleanliness. The 5S program was adopted in the early nineties, as part of Takanaka’s unique philosophy of developing self discipline across the entire work force which encouraged and sustained a highly clean and organized workplace.

TSK’s market is extremely competitive, and due to its remote location, they had focused on minimizing operating costs, by carefully maintaining and even improving the plant and equipment, to maximize the investment. The adoption of Autonomous Maintenance (TPM) has enabled machinery to last well beyond the normal expectations, hence maximizing the assets and return on capital.

One particular example highlighted during the tour was of a 19 year old machine, which has a normal life expectancy of 5 years!

The overwhelming impression of TSK is that of a dedication to Kaizen, they truly believe that everyone has a part to play in improving the operation for their customers on a daily basis. It is also important to remember that employing just over 100 people in this small town is a significant factor, they seemed proud of being able to withstand the years of fierce competition with one of the best reputations for quality and reliability.


5S is certainly a major contributing factor, and without doubt some of the best examples that you will ever see. This must see factory is an absolute highlight, and we are hoping to include a visit in our 2018 Japan Lean Experience tour!

S A Partners will be running a one week study tour to Japan next April.


TPM of a world class cyclist

Many of you will have seen the documentaries about Team Sky, following the record breaking Tour de France wins by Sir Bradley Wiggins win and Chris Froome. Team Sky take a holistic and systemic approach to looking after their riders and the team – it’s like applying TPM to people!

I recently read Geraint Thomas’ auto-biography which provides excellent insights into the Team Sky world of ‘marginal gains’ and the Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) of its world class riders.

Learning from experience – and especially mistakes is important in continuous improvement.  Everything is subjected to Plan > Do > Review in a systematic and systemic fashion.  The obvious areas for improvement are technological advances to materials, kit and equipment (e.g. bikes and helmets) and measuring and analysing rider performance, but personalised training plans, diet, clothing, bedding & mattress toppers, the team bus, warm down regime and recovery care are all subject to this scientific level of scrutiny.

Psychological ‘mind management’ support is available from Professor Steve Peters and the approach he has developed  – called ‘The Chimp Paradox’ – for example, time and effort lost on emotions and worrying is still a waste.

Famously, riders have stated ‘it’s not about the bike’ – the system that supports the world class rider goes much further than the bike.  Marginal gains come from everywhere. And many sports are now adopting this systematic approach to improvement!

So how do you look at your ‘production system’ and performance?  Any lessons from cycling?

Visit our events section to see what TPM workshops are planned.

Do corporate wide Business Excellence programmes hinder local site based CI activity?

Could such programmes be seen as the ninth waste?

I have had the opportunity over the last twenty years to get first-hand experience of head office (corporate) driven initiatives to support continuous improvement (CI) activity across a diverse range of manufacturing, research and service organisations. In my experience very few programmes actually achieve their set objective of creating and enabling a culture of continuous improvement across a global organisation.

This must be a painful bit of information for many centrally driven programmes, but in my own, and many of my colleagues experience it is a reality. So why is this? Corporations spend significant amounts of money hiring the ‘right’ people for positions in global CI. Organisations develop very beautiful and comprehensive training material, they fly CI representatives around the world to attend conferences, carry out benchmark assessments and review site programme activity. But when I asked our team, from their experience around the world, what would be the level of successful corporate programmes? The answer is less than 10%! Yikes!

So why is this the case? Over the next couple of articles we will review some thoughts on this, but here is a flavour of what we see and experience.

Cultural Disconnects
Local culture can be overlooked or even ignored. It is often presumed that local sites will adopt corporate programme structure, standard templates, tools and ‘CI’ language. This can result in poor localisation of training materials and approach. In the worst example I have seen of this, a corporately chosen training partner showed totally inappropriate pictures during a training class that basically blackened the corporate CI efforts on site.

As regards CI programme implementation there will be cultural nuances both in language interpretation, approach and capability. In some cultures the idea of a team and who should be on a team can be a topic in itself. Gender and class issues, while politically may no longer be acceptable, can still have influence within a business often most strongly held within the very management groups you are trying to influence.

Skewed Strategies and NDS
Corporate and site strategies can be misaligned. Local sites very often have a very different agenda to the global business strategy. As more and more sites are pitted against each other in a global ‘benchmarking’ network. The strategy for the local site becomes very focused….Survival. This may or may not be in the best interest of the whole but it can drive particular behaviours at individual site level. The technical term for this situation is NDS or by its colloquial term the ‘nodding dog syndrome’.

WSWP – Syndrome
Inadequate benchmarking and understanding as to where the site really is on their CI journey. This is where NDS (see above) plays a part. In poor examples I have seen, the head office questionnaire (paper or online system) arrives and the site must self-assess where they are as regards the corporate benchmark. Maybe at some time in the future the site may be visited for a reality check, but this is generally too late to provide useful guidance and focus for the business. Programmes have kicked off, projects have started and teams are ‘engaged’ however, most of the efforts at best may save some cost but have no really strategic benefit to the business.

Here also is where another corporate maladies kicks in. Those tasked with flying around the world to carry out on the ground benchmark assessments can often suffer from WSWP syndrome or ‘world smelling of wet paint’. The thing about the olfactory senses is that the more they are exposed to a certain odour the less it is detected!

Wrong Measures
Corporate programmes measured by bums on seats or number of Greenbelts, Blackbelts, Bluebelts or whatever you’re having yourself! There is little or no focus on joined up enterprise performance and leading measures. There can be little or token focus on the key behavioural indicators ( KBI’s), which should be the focus of any programme looking to influence culture within an organisation.

Enforcing/Supporting/Enabling Silo Thinking
Reinforcing silo mentalities embedded in the business can also arise from poorly structured programmes. This confusion usually raises its head as overt or covert turf wars around continuous improvement programmes. Questions like what role the quality department play in process control and risk management and prevention? Or what role HR plays in management and people and leadership development? Or who owns the one source of truth as regards data? We see many programmes focused on operational performance with token attention to overall enterprise activities. If I see another sales office whose continuous improvement activity revolved around stationary management I’m going to vomit on someone’s shirt!

Lack of focus on leadership behaviour – Do as I say not as I do
Senior leaders are not checked on inappropriate behaviours at both peer to peer level and in their interactions at site level. The big wigs must walk the walk and talk the talk.
In a culture that fosters a relentless focus on continuous improvement in every aspect of the business as a leader you must lead from the front, the trenches even. Sure people will fire at you, but the bullets tend to be emotional and often personal. You may need to accept a few hits. The unhelpful possibly destructive culture and behaviour that you as a leader are currently faced with, did not appear all by itself. It has been allowed to develop and grow under your watch. A bit of humility in accepting yes, approaches and behaviours were wrong and that we must change our ways, can go a long way towards taking the sting out of some of those bullets!
Wrong Measures (again!)

Corporate programmes driven by savings targets to bottom line rather than acting as the touch stone for cultural and behavioural development across the organisation. Targeted savings that come about by eliminating waste in all that we do-by adding value though proactive involvement – is a far more powerful and sustainable route to survival.

No Systems thinking
Little or no focus on systems thinking. Organisations often get little or no guidance on what critical systems must be in place and what their particular ‘flavour’ needs to be in their given type of business.

Wrong People
Yep this is a reality, sometimes we have the wrong people driving CI. In the ‘old’ days corporations selected their best executives/managers to drive CI. These individuals were destined for greatness. Their time in CI would give them an opportunity to spread their magic across the organisation. What we sometime see now are individuals often set up for failure, frustrated and disillusioned. They see the issues, the disconnectedness but the drive behind the programme withers and they find themselves out on a limb unable to influence the organisation at the appropriate level. The individual’s past glories are forgotten and questions are asked (behind their back of course) as to why is the business supporting this expensive central CI function that’s not really bringing results? Executive CI recruitment is a busy market place.

About this series of articles
If Continuous Improvement mentality teaches us anything it is that we much see the reality of our current situation. We put the truth on the table however hairy and smelly it maybe! Unless we can do that, our continuous improvement efforts are another waste. They waste our time, our precious resources and most of all they waste the voluntary discretionary effort of every employee who comes in contact with bad programmes. This is the very thing, the magic sauce, that successful organisations know is the essence of true enterprise excellence.
Over the next few articles we will explore each of these issues in turn and consider ways to counter their impact and avoid the ninth waste of Lean. Where possible we will showcase good case study examples from organisations who have got it right and are willing the share their learnings.

Maintenance Outsourcing – Recipe for Success

To view, use the download button.

If your company is considering outsourcing some or all of its Maintenance requirements then perhaps the following thoughts may provide some useful pointers and guidance.

As companies focus on the integration of customer value into all aspects of their value streams, equipment maintenance soon crystallises into a key ‘Enabling System’ within the organisation. As such any attempt to outsource or modify ownership and control of such critical business systems must be approached with detailed consideration.

This paper is written by both Peter Willmott and John Quirke.

Why not view our Total Productive Maintenance page to view more resources such as videos and case studies find out more.

Random but Reflective Ramblings of a Lone Consultant – No.1. Repair or Improve (looks a bit like Shirley)

So my first car was a 1978 Ford Cortina 1600L Saloon. Bought it in 1986 for £350- a month’s pay at the time 102,000 miles on the clock-3 careful owners. I was working for the DHSS and wanted to impress Beth from incontinent payments. Anyway after numerous rejections Beth eventually wore down and agreed to an evening out –a walk by the sea in Port Talbot and a chip buttie. The Cortina needed some welding-both sills had gone and the seat mountings were very rusty. Pay day arrived and I had the option of welding the Ford or buying a fancy new radio/cassette player for the car. I used my brain and obviously bought a cassette player to impress Beth. I embraced my feminine side and invested in a new tape of an emerging band called the Pet shop boys. Mam ironed my best Hawaiian shirt and it was off to pick up Beth. She emerged from her mother’s looking stunning in white cowboy boots, summer tanned legs, a blue rar rar skirt and pink and green stripped top. Beth was going for the full Pepsi and Shirley look (for our younger readers Wham’s backing singers) (for our younger, younger readers George Michael was in Wham and he had 2 girl backing singers) ….Beth looked a bit like Shirley).

Any way, I opened the door for Beth she climbed into the beast; she had a wrestle with the seat belt and eventually buckled in. I did a Dave Starsky, slide across the bonnet and climbed into the driver’s side. I flicked on the cassette-Beth was obviously impressed. The smell of my Kouros mingled with her Poison and the pine fresh magic tree made a heady mix in the car. Off we went through town and up Neath Road to Bryn. Neath Road is a 1.25 mile hill that takes the main road out of Maesteg to Port Talbot. Half way up the hill we encountered a Brewers bus doing about 15mph and belching black diesel fumes. I thought its time to unleash the power of the 1600 and further impress Beth. I changed down, waited for a gap and shot out to overtake the bus. To my side I heard Beth squeal- obviously she was impressed with my driving skills. I cut back in front of the bus and turned to give Beth one of my first best Carlos fandango smiles. Unfortunatly Beth wasn’t there, the rusted seat mountings had snapped and she had done a version of the frosby flop onto the back seat. All I could see was 2 White Cowboy boots, some suntanned legs and a pair of Marks and Spencer’s tangas size 10. I pulled in by the Golf club and helped Beth from her predicament.  Now this story doesn’t  end well, Beth decided she wanted to go home and I could keep my chip buttie, crap music and 70’s shirt. Two years later she married Ian from RMP glazing.

So what’s the point of all this middle aged rambling- Repair or improve. We see lots of business that try to create the ideal state, but pay no attention to the current state. I spent all my money on a pipe dream. I should have welded the Cortina and put the cassette in when the car was safe.  How many future states fail? In my experience it’s the majority. People all want the magic fix, but they do not address the fundamental problems within the organisation. Stability is a very dull subject, but the best Companies standardise before they Customise…..don’t try to build your fancy beach house on quick sand. Maps often look at issues and wastes. We need to examine what are the true causes of problems not just the effects. Kanban is the answer to all stores problems…what if its not? What if it’s the size of the warehouse, the purchasing team, the IT system? When mapping try looking at the way we try developing our systems, our people as well as the faults in the process.

So guess what I did next to the Cortina? Took out the passenger seat all together and invested in two new fogs lamps for the front. I had an invite to Beth and Ian’s wedding, took Natasha Davies who was scared stiff of cars and liked the fact she always had to travel in the back!

Lean in the Arab World

Lean is spreading to all corners of the world. In May of this year S A Partners’ Jeff Williams spoke at the prestigious OMAINTEC Conference and exhibition. This is the 11th International Maintenance conference in the Arab countries. It took place between 11th and 14th May in Jeddah. Jeff ran a very well-received workshop on outsourcing maintenance and was later presented with an award.