Moving Forward from Basic TPM to Maintenance Excellence

Many years ago when Aero Gear began our lean journey, we began a TPM (total preventative maintenance) program. It was an exciting time in the business as we transformed the company to flow the product and established the TPM program to ensure we kept the equipment running in order to support the flow. It was the beginning of establishing a partnership between the maintenance department and the operators running the equipment. The operators began performing daily/weekly checks and kept the maintenance staff informed of any issues with the equipment. The maintenance staff would perform the more in-depth maintenance typically every 6 months as well as any other problems/breakdowns.

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This system has worked well for us for many years. As part of our Continuous Improvement efforts a couple of months ago we had a Kaizen in our maintenance department. The Kaizen started out as a 6S Kaizen, but soon led to discussions like “what is our vision for the maintenance department?” as well as “how do we do a better job predicting/preventing breakdowns?”.

These discussions prompted us to locate an industry expert to help us establish a plan to take our maintenance efforts to the next level. This past month the industry expert (John Kravonthka) came to our company to facilitate a 3 day training Kaizen called “Maintenance Excellence Training” with tremendous success.

The training session involved the maintenance department as well as selected members of the operations team. It was a combination of classroom and “hands-on” with the equipment on the floor and resulted in:

1.) Developing a maintenance vision
2.) Identifying and having a plan for critical equipment
3.) Established a Goal: Zero equipment stoppages – how does equipment fail?
4.) Developed lubrication excellence
5.) Metrics: Measure against World Class Maintenance
6.) Developed a go-forward plan/strategy

This event turned out to be much more than a training session. It was a highly effective Kaizen that will lead to better productivity, profitability and pride in the workplace. It became apparent to our team that maintenance should not be viewed as a “necessary evil” but rather as an opportunity to be more successful. The other lesson learned was that Continuous Improvement means pushing the organization to be better and not settling for status quo. There are always ways to improve and perform better, reflecting our corporate ethos of insisting on excellence, throughout the Aero gear business.

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