How to Succeed in TPM Total Productive Maintenance Implementation

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How to Succeed in TPM Implementation?
By Enrique Mora



Thousands of companies in America have started a TPM effort. Only a few hundred have succeeded. Reasons for this are many, most of them only justifications. As we know, there are people who use more energy to find justifications for not accomplishing their goals than they do to achieve them. After some years of dealing with those who have not succeeded with TPM, I am convinced that the real problem when implementing TPM or any other lean manufacturing practice is cultural.

The old concept that power is about control and authority is still present in many plants. But today, many people are realizing that real power can only be achieved through leadership. No longer is secret-hoarding the formula for respect.

How can we develop the right leadership environment to support TPM? How can that valuable, traditionally wasted intelligence and creativity of our workforce become an active asset in our companies? Very simple: Listening. We need good, respectful, patient listeners to become TPM champions. Much harm has already been done to the morale of those operators and workers in general who at some point have been told not to touch the machines, not to state their opinions, and not to create new ideas for improvements on the process, materials or products. It is time for those good new leaders to recover the damaged wills of all our people and bring up their confidence and self-esteem.

Empowerment is the deal; trust, delegation and abundant appropriate training is the process; their ownership over the product, process and plant is the response.

TPM is based on the right training for all people to become involved and co-participants in the new global economy. Our maintenance technicians must also understand that by sharing their expertise with operators, they are contributing to that positive leadership environment. When the maintenance technicians have less to do with the cleaning, lubrication, inspection, adjustment and setup of the machines, they will be able to develop higher skill-demanding tasks. They will also be able to comply with the PM schedules, so frequently neglected, and find good ways to apply predictive maintenance, now with the advanced technologies that help us prevent breakdowns better than ever before.

Operators will have the opportunity to undertake their new role and become better prepared for the new labor market that has started requiring such backgrounds. They will also be working to increase their job security. It is a win-win situation for all of us. There is no doubt that the more we learn about the equipment, the better our chances to determine abnormal conditions as soon as they occur.

But there is more for those operators: Pride! Dr. William Edwards Deming used to rate this pride as the “basic right that workers have traditionally been deprived of.” When people at all levels of the organization are proud of what they are doing and contributing, the environment becomes more productive. Their work lives acquire a higher quality.

A few months ago, I had the opportunity to visit one of my customers. One of their great concerns was the high turnover rate of between 20 and 25% per month, which is typical of the maquiladora (see rectangle) industry . MaquiladoraThere was an impressive difference already being noticed in that area. After the TPM implementation, the turnover rate had come down to less than 5%, and the trend is toward further improvement. The reason behind this is the pride that those workers enjoy, seeing their pictures and names on the visual progress board, where all the graphics show how they have contributed to cut downtime and improve the cell’s productivity.

So, if we want to succeed with TPM, what we have to consider is this: the leadership environment, full respect for all people’s contributions, recognition and acknowledgement, and for real leadership to take the place of the old concept of authority. We must grow a new breed of supervisors who are conscious about their role as listeners, trainers and facilitators.

About the Author

Enrique Mora has been acknowledged by national publications for being a very effective TPM and Lean Manufacturing implementer. He has developed a bilingual (English/Spanish) website at, where he shares his expertise in the field. 






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This page last updated on

08/01/08 17:30











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