For several years now, I have been very
familiar with the implementation of the lean manufacturing disciplines. I know of the
problems that implementers face and how these can be approached to fully accomplish their
On the other hand, we have seen
so much progress in machine designs, so many innovative systems, that our maintenance
crews are very much aware of the need to keep up with change.
This makes me think that it is
obvious that the most successful lean implementations begin with TPM. Total Productive
Maintenance starts by creating a very much needed bonding and cooperation between
maintenance crews and production operators, supervisors and management.
TPM is a discipline comprised of
most of the key ingredients of the Toyota Production System, now known as Lean
Manufacturing, such as:
- Total participation
- Employee empowerment
- Leadership environment
- Continuous improvement
- Development of ownership feeling
- Increased reliability
Once a good TPM program takes
off, the benefits start flowing to the whole organization. That is when a lot of people
start coming aboard. The participants feel encouraged and become familiar with
communicating their ideas, confident in the new listening attitude of the whole team.
In order to create the right
environment, we have to comply with the most elemental requirements:
Total commitment from the top
Appropriate diffusion of the
plan and its results.
Authentic empowerment and mutual
respect at all levels
I have experienced first hand
the benefits derived from this approach. The spirit of cooperation is growing constantly
after 2 years of the implementation stage. It is not unusual for operators to come up with
outstanding ideas to improve quality or cut-shorten-ease operations.
It is important to thoroughly
assess the needs of a plant to determine which discipline should be implemented
first, and to be open minded toward applying more than one discipline at the time.