Can You Sustain?

John is excited about launching TPM (Total Productive Maintenance) and is seeing the benefits already.  Autonomous Maintenance (AM) is a critical TPM pillar.  John is leading two pilot AM teams and both are doing better than anyone expected.  Line efficiencies (OEE) are up by more than 10 points and downtime has been cut in half.  Rejected product is down and the first pass quality rate is at record levels.  The teams are working in a safe manner and these lines are delivering consistent results.

These metrics are almost too good to be true and John is a little concerned about being able to maintain this level of performance.   He thinks to himself, “We implement new programs and things go great but they just seems to slip away over time.”

The next thing he knows, John gets a call from the Maintenance Manager:  “John, what’s going on with the Line 2 Filler?  I hadn’t seen an emergency work order there since you started that AM team until a couple of weeks ago.  That filler has the most in the plant now.  That line isn’t running very well anymore.  Are the operators still doing their Autonomous Maintenance checks?”

John is able to quickly uncover the issue when he starts checking through the AM documentation.  New operators have been running this line and they have not been doing the checks.   John asks himself, “Don’t they know that these checks are critical to maintaining the filler? I better check to see if the Line 1 team is keeping up with their checks.”

John is glad to see that the paperwork is complete.  It looks like the operator checks are being done every day.  But when John checks the defect log he sees that the operators have not found any machine defects for a few weeks now.  “Shouldn’t they be finding some machine defects if they are doing the checks?”

John pulls the team together to do the operator checks together.  This time they find several machine defects.  John learns that the operators did not understand how important the checks are.  They had been rushing through the checks.

Many teams find it hard to sustain improvements over time.  What kind of issues have you seen that have kept improvements from sticking?  Have you seen teams that were able to make it stick?


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About Christian Paulsen

Christian Paulsen is an Executive Consultant with 20 years of Lean Manufacturing. Chris adds value to organizations by driving process improvement and bottom line savings. Chris intends to help others by sharing the lessons learned after a quarter century of operational leadership, marriage, parenting, and even longer as a Cubs fan. Your comments on this blog are welcome. You can also connect with Chris via LinnkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook in the right sidebar. Chris welcomes your comments. Christian's professional services are available by contacting him through LinkedIn (right side bar)
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2 Responses to Can You Sustain?

  1. Sometimes you have to do RCA on the operators themselves. While not understanding the criticality of AM may be a contributing factor, it may not be the root cause for them rushing through the checks. In non-world class facilities it is often the social environment, but also a minimum time requirement is helpful too. If they know they have to spend a minimum of 10 minutes, you are more likely to get at least that level of checks actually performed. If the rule is as soon as you are done, start product, and risk and rewards are all focused on production numbers… well you get rushed checks and on to the more immediate concern of getting the numbers for their shift. Kaizen works best when the reward is proportional to the value of the Kaizen, and so does AM.

    • Great points. RCA’s can lead to behavior that needs to be addressed one way or another. Standards which include estimated times can guard against someone going overboard (overkill), rushing through the steps, or not using the time well. Thanks for sharing.

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