Blog Post Is TPM really just a hidden agenda to get Operators to do the Maintainer’s Job
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Is TPM really just a hidden agenda to get Operators to do the Maintainer’s Job?

The whole philosophy around TPM centres on Teamwork between the Operator and the Maintenance Technician for taking shared responsibility for the health and reliability of their Equipment Assets, so we need to view and consider both roles together in order to define who does what-and hence the why, when and how?

I encourage the analogy that healthy equipment is just like a healthy body. In this scenario the Operator is the Nurse of the Asset (the patient) and the Technician is the Doctor (and occasionally the Surgeon in an emergency).

One way of describing the TPM Journey and the way in which a Maintenance Technician’s use of time and skill sets are progressively developed more productively- is to use the figure below.

TPM graph highlighting the different areas of attention

Experience shows that before adopting the TPM philosophy, a Maintainer’s time and effort is typically spent as 50% Breakdown / Reactive ,plus 30% Planned Maintenance /fixed interval, plus 10% Condition based /Predictive, and only the final 10% as Proactive / Design out.

By adopting the TPM ‘ways of working’ this use of time profile progressively develops to a more ‘value adding’ / productive role- typically over 3 years- to one of only 10% Breakdown / Reactive ,plus 15% Planned Maintenance /fixed interval, plus 50% Condition based /Predictive, and the final 25% as Proactive / Design out. The figures are relative rather than absolute -but in both cases add up to a 100%.

The biggest changes are

  • Breakdowns become a rarity, because of the ‘100 year fix’ mentality – to not only solve -but also to prevent re-occurrence of the issue by using 5 why’s,FMEA and A3 Problem solving tools
  • M’s have halved- Why? Because improved reliability means we can both extend the interval between PM’s and take out unnecessary PM routines
  • Why?- because they have shifted to a condition-based / inspection routine regime (including selective use of Thermography, Vibration monitoring and Oil debris analysis tools) –but also recognising that the Operator is the best condition monitor ever invented using their god-given senses of look, listen, feel, hear and touch via the Front Line Operator Asset Care checks (Autonomous Maintenance) that they have developed.-where the Maintenance Technician now becomes the ‘teacher’ of the way to do the checks -and the Operator the ‘pupil’. As such Maintenance Technicians train and encourage the Operators to become ‘Equipment Conscious’ to improve their understanding of the typical Front Line Operator Asset Checks(FLOAC)
  • This means that 25% of the Maintenance Technician’s time can now be devoted to designing out the equipment weaknesses as the ‘Engineer’ he was indentured for -rather than the ‘quick-fix’ person he had become, by having a ‘knee-jerk’ reaction to respond to the next ‘nasty surprise’ breakdown!

When I explain this I ask the rhetorical question –‘where would you prefer to use your skills?’- not in an arrogant way but by showing some empathy for their current daily hassle and miss-use of their capabilities
There’s a lot more detail of course –but this is the essence-and it’s worth reminding ourselves also to stress 3 factors that those Front Line Operator Checks.

a) probably don’t get done by anyone at the moment (so it’s not a hidden agenda to get the Operator to do the Maintainer’s job) and ….

b) do not involve using any spanners, screwdrivers- far less voltmeters !

c) are developed with both the Operator and the Maintenance Technician –Who also helps train the Operators to do carry them out via Single Point Lessons and Standard Work

TPM enhances -rather than dilutes- the skill sets of both the Operator and Maintainer.

Peter undertakes TPM workshops throughout the year in both the UK and Ireland with S A Partners.

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