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Author The Right Ingredients:
Keys to Succeed Implementing TPM and Lean Strategies

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Just a few days ago I received a call from Mark Hoffman that made me think a lot... Let me share it with you...

Given the fact that only  10% or less of companies succeed at implementing TPM (and other Lean Manufacturing Practices, I would add), what are the main factors behind that success? Actually, Mark Hoffman is only interested on TPM, but my experience has shown me that it applies to all of the other practices as well.

What a good question!

All implementers want our projects to be a success. So, what are the factors that really help this to happen? We will also ask the opposite question: What are the factors that keep TPM (and other lean projects) from succeeding?

Positive Factors

  • Top management support is perhaps the concrete factor in the teams with good results. Some other positive factors will be:

  • Good training at all levels of the organization
    Let us remember: TPM and Lean Manufacturing disciplines, while technical, are more cultural. Everyone in the organization must receive a lot of information on the new culture. This awareness is crucial to get all the people tuned at the same frequency.  

  • Vision and Mission Statements should include concepts like: 
    Our people are the single most valuable asset in the company.
    All employees are our associates, or... are responsible for our success, etc. 
    All other actions will have to support such statements. 

    Management must be ready to complete the move all the way from the old image of "power from authority" to "respect and admiration from true leadership". 

    Job descriptions (at least for new hires) should also be adjusted to reflect the new culture.

  • A good PM program already in place:
    It is necessary to have a good Preventive Maintenance program in place, so that we count on clear identification of each piece of equipment and have some history. Also  helpful is any documentation that we find available on the performance of each machine and the chronic failures or problems.

  • Full information about equipment performance:
    To begin a project, we research all possible information about the actual, expected and designed performance of it. Some of this may be documented in work orders. I strongly recommend establishing a very good communication with the "owners". 
    That is the operator of the machine, the area supervisor(s) and/or manager(s). 

  • Good communication skills of the TPM coordinator or Continuous Improvement Manager:
    This is the key person in the success of the program implementation. The coordinator is in charge of creating a good image for the new philosophies. His/her mission is not only to train the implementer teams, but also to educate everyone else in the plant. He/she, has to become an expert in this culture and explain it to anyone who wants to listen. He/she must develop a creative broadcasting of the progress.

  • Full time person(s) assigned to those tasks:
     The lean philosophies require continual dedication and training. This person will have to attend a minimum of one seminar each year, (more than one if possible). Many companies fail when they decide to just split the time of someone who is already in charge of some other assignment or task.

  • Follow UP: 
    Once a project is delivered back to the "owners", we must be aware that TPM has just begun for that particular  machine or system. The other 99% of the success will depend on the permanent communication that the coordinator establishes with the operators. We must make it clear that we are there to listen to them, they ARE our customers. The few weeks following a project will be crucial in terms of creative improvements to the machine and its area. 
    This follow up builds up the confidence that our customers feel towards the project and the prestige of the program in general.

  • Passion! 
    Indeed this and most other activities must be supported by a passionate belief and dedication in order to really succeed.

From the previous lines we can also define some of the obstacles that the project finds just in the lack of support, dedication or discipline. Some other factors can also undermine the program:

Negative Factors:

  • Middle management:
    We have found that middle managers, supervisors, even some lead people, feel threatened in their positions by these changes. Again this is a matter of culture shift. These people must be shown the advantages of sharing their knowledge and responsibility with the production operators.

  • Maintenance Technicians:
    For years, maintenance has been conceptualized as a repairing force. Now we must focus on maintaining the equipment in normal operating conditions thus preventing failure.  Many of the technicians feel that keeping some technical secrets makes them more valuable or their jobs more secure. This is not true. Under the new way of conducting business, the more the operators get involved in the maintenance tasks, the better the technicians can apply their expertise to higher level operations. These include: equipment re-engineering, predictive maintenance, area re-designs, installation optimization, and facilities improvements. 

  • Concerned Production / Mfg. / Engineering:
    Must be made clear that TPM or other of these disciplines aren't an extra burden on production, manufacturing or engineering, but are instead, ways to ease the accomplishment of their own goals.

As we can see, the success of any lean implementation is for the most part a Common Sense application. Devote the time and effort to build the new culture and the results will show up immediately and at long term...


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This page last updated on

4 February, 2009 7:53









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