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How to Implement Total Preventative Maintenance (TPM)

November 15, 2022

 by David Collins III

two manufacturing employees having a discussion

As mentioned previously, preventive maintenance is often an underappreciated part of manufacturing, and it is easy to ignore because it is not an immediate risk. If something is working, people tend to assume that it will continue unless something is wrong.

Total Preventive Maintenance in China

Total preventative maintenance strives to perfect production without breakdowns, small stops or slow running, defects, and accidents. TPM is a vital tool to achieve these goals.

The need for total preventative maintenance is clear in retrospect, and this is particularly true in China. Factories will often work equipment until it breaks rather than incur the costs and perceived delays of stopping production for maintenance.

Now that the need for total preventative maintenance is understood, we can discuss how to implement it. To do so, we will use an example from a previous client.

How to Implement Total Preventive Maintenance: 3 Steps

1. Start in pieces

Depending on how drastic the need is, it is typically best to refrain from implementing preventative maintenance throughout the factory. Instead, analyse the line as a whole and identify the key pieces of equipment that could cause the most problems if they break down. Start with those pieces and develop a plan to implement the changes throughout the rest of the production process using the lessons learned from the first. Doing so will maximise the impact of the changes.

MTG did this at a previous factory. We saw that the first steps of the manufacturing process set the stage for all further operations. The product had to come through injection molds and then be changed to meet specific requirements. Sometimes, only one additional process was needed to be ready for the end customer and other times, it was all six. If the injection mold broke down, which it often did, the whole line was down. Therefore, bringing the injection mold up to standard and implementing a total maintenance program was imperative to this factory’s success.

2. Bring to Standard

Machines must be brought up to standard before a total preventative maintenance program can be implemented. There is no point in maintaining poor equipment in its current state. The maintenance team needs to see what right looks like and base all the efforts on that. What that takes will vary depending on the machine and the resources and skills of the maintenance team. Sometimes the machine cannot be saved, and it is better to buy a new one. However, this is less necessary than you might think. A thorough cleaning and replacement of key components will often be enough to bring a machine up to its standard.

Another option is to engage the original manufacturer of the equipment. Since that company built the machine, they wrote the book on its upkeep. Many companies hire the original manufacturer for maintenance or rely on a 3rd party to perform routine maintenance. Either option is viable but is usually better for scheduled maintenance than immediate needs or small-scale efforts.

Once the machine is brought up to standard, that standard must be documented and included with the instructions. The instructions will be used to build the training for machine maintenance. All staff that use the machine must be trained on maintaining the machine, with additional training for the maintenance staff.

Regardless of your option or method, “go all out” on maintenance. Spend what needs to be spent in terms of time and resources to keep your equipment operating at top performance.

3. Go all out

When our founder, David Collins Jr., ran a Chrysler plant, he had the company’s lowest downtime and highest quality. He told me that the key was successful maintenance. The previous manager kept maintenance low and used the cash surplus to show that he could keep operations under budget. While that was true, production suffered.

David Jr. told the maintenance chief to spend whatever was required to perform all recommended maintenance and bring the machinery up to standard. The results were better running machines and better high-quality production. Saving money on operations is good, but reducing rework and customer complaints is better.

Final notes

Maintenance cannot be an afterthought. Instead, it should form the backbone of any successful manufacturing plan. While “perfect production” may be impossible, TPM can bring you close to that goal.


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Topics: Manufacturing Consulting, Manufacturing In China, Preventive Maintenance

David Collins III

David Collins III

David was a Senior Strategy Consultant for Deloitte, served in Iraq as a Special Operations Civil Affairs soldier, and as a Governance Advisor to the Afghan Government with the Department of State. At CMC, David advises clients on strategy and investments.

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