On Results and Change the Culture Along the Way
One - Main
Change management article
Part Three - Change
how one company reduced equipment downtime
by more than 50% in less than one month
By Robert M.
Williamson, president of Strategic Work Systems Inc.
All too often, businesses try to improve performance
by “implementing” improvement programs. Unless these programs are focused on
specific measurable and observable results, they are short lived. Why is that?
Human nature clashing with the world of business. Getting people to quickly
embrace change while achieving sustainable business results can be challenging.
Well, here is a real down-to-earth success story that shows how to focus on
results and change the culture along the way. The subject plant is a very large
manufacturing facility that operates seven days, 24 hours. It is part of a
multi-national corporation producing a common product world wide. With many of
the traditional cost-cutting, down-sizing, and ISO 9000 programs well behind
them, they noticed little improvement in their bottom line. In fact, their
equipment performance and reliability was declining at a steady pace. Something
had to be done, but the cost of doing “something” was a real issue. They
asked repeatedly, “How can we be assured that this Total Productive
Maintenance/Manufacturing (TPM/M) approach will address the issues and give us a
significant return on our investment?” That’s the right question. They had
to see the methods and results without taking a massive leap of faith.
The approach they took was focused, rather than a wide-spread implementation.
First, they sponsored a day-long session to teach the fundamentals of TPM/M to
operations, maintenance, technical and plant management, including about 50
salary and hourly leaders. At the end of this session, a smaller group
brainstormed possible applications and approaches, keeping in mind something had
to be done to improve the performance and reliability of their equipment.
Within the next few weeks, they invited me back for a plant tour and meetings
with potential TPM/M starting points. They looked for signs of equipment
problems. They discussed equipment history and performance data. They looked at
the preventive and predictive maintenance methods. The shops and spare parts
conditions were reviewed. Lastly, they discussed plant process flow and the
constraints or “bottlenecks.” It was unanimous. There were two major
constraints, and the most troublesome was about to get worse after January 2000
because of market demands. In fact, there were four of these machine cells, each
one identical to the others. This was to be the TPM/M starting point. The
discussion also pointed to the next constraint to address when the first one was
After some preparation, the company assembled a “Pit Crew” to learn and
apply the elements of TPM/M to one of the four constraint machine cells. The
“Pit Crew” included a mechanic, an electrician, a lead operator, the
maintenance coordinator/planner, the area supervisor, the reliability leader for
the department, the department process quality technician, and the
area-manufacturing manager. If the reliability and performance of this
constraint was to improve, this was the group that had the responsibility and
the authority to do it.
Three days of “TPM/M Pit Stop” training included a blend of classroom
theory, case studies, demonstrations, and hands-on application. The group had
full access to the equipment each afternoon during the training. During the
hands-on portions of the training, real-time root-cause analysis was learned and
performed on all of the chronic equipment problems. With the root causes of poor
performance known, it was a matter of using the TPM/M learning to eliminate the
causes and then establish countermeasures to ensure they would not return. The
group then applied the proven practices and improvements to the remaining three
After one full month of operation, the bottleneck no longer existed. The
results to date: 89 percent reduction in downtime-causing contamination, more
than 50 percent reduction in unplanned machine downtime, and less operator
intervention to free jams. This new machine performance and reliability led to
increased production throughput of nearly 250 percent per shift of operation.
Additionally, work requests now have correct machine and part nomenclature and
work orders have meaningful information on the causes of problems. Operators
have visual procedures and guides to assist in performing their tasks. The Pit
Crew continues to meet weekly to address other machine issues and to complete
the remaining improvements. A return on the investment in TPM/M Pit Stop
training was conservatively estimated at 20 to one in less than two months
considering improved production throughput and reduced maintenance calls!
The key learning from this example?
Focus on results and change the culture along the
Build on the sub-optimized systems and methods
already in place.
Involve those who have not only the responsibility
but the also the authority to make the necessary changes.
Formally train the group using sound
adult-learning principles: Adults learn by doing and they learn what they can
apply to make their work easier.
Do things that make the equipment easier to
operate, easier to maintain, and easier to inspect.
And most importantly, focus on the constraints in
the process - the high maintenance cost, high maintenance downtime,
problem-prone equipment – equipment that if it improved would get the
attention of many people at all levels in the organization.
Oh, one last point: Not only did they improve one of four machine cells in
their plant within a matter of a few weeks, but there are nearly 150 similar
machine cells in the company, all with the same design and chronic
problems. If the company can standardize the minor equipment improvements alone,
just imagine that return on investment!
Thank you Strategic
Work Systems, Inc. for donating this change management article.
One - Main
Change management article
Part Three - Change