Total Productive Maintenance, or Total Productive Manufacturing, is a continuous improvement effort involving every aspect of a company. The concept requires abandoning a reactive management approach to process equipment failure and understanding that a maintenance program includes monitoring and improving equipment performance.

When TPM was introduced in our paint shops approximately three years ago, it was considered another new program that someone in management had heard about and wanted to try. It was assigned to one of our finishing engineers to implement with corporate council. The operations staff didn't want to assume any of the daily maintenance activity because they were already structured to have one person do all of that work. Needless to say, TPM was not initially embraced.

So the company decided to introduce TPM sequentially, starting in one plant before going to another. The team leadership would initially be the same, introducing the program and then transferring the activity to the plant's operations team. This concept worked; however, development time varied based on the commitment by plant operations leadership.

We now have up to three years experience in some of our plants, and the results have been very positive. We track and measure flow interrupters or downtime in the paint shop. We have documented a 90% reduction in lost capacity. We document "overall equipment effectiveness" and have exceeded our target of 90%. Our delivery of painted product to the assembly area has improved significantly and costs reduced. Our painting processes have been streamlined, providing an improved product flow and associated cost reductions. Based on the improvement in cleanliness and organization of the paint shops, inventory and accidents have been reduced. There is better operational team cooperation based on shared knowledge and common objectives. In summary, this has been a successful program.

It is a program that will continue to evolve, and additional benefits are expected. These results are due to the efforts of the paint shop operational teams and their leadership. The work culture in the paint shop continues to change and embrace daily equipment maintenance as part of operations.

A clear definition has been established to differentiate between daily operator tasks and preventive maintenance tasks performed by skilled trades. The operators use a visual system for determining what tasks need to be performed and at what frequency. This is done using a Heijunka board managed by the supervisor. A weekly, 15-minute board meeting is held to discuss specific tasks and improvements. The team also meets every two weeks for one hour to discuss larger issues and track improvement activity.

The supervisors and superintendents audit the Heijunka boards on their weekly operational tour. The flow interrupters are reviewed each day in the production meeting at the beginning of the shift. Knowledge-sharing is critical to the success of this program. A document-based program is used now; however, maintenance leadership is looking at a visual system similar to the operators' task board to complete preventive maintenance.

TPM is not just another program to be implemented; it is a cultural change for manufacturing that, when embraced by the entire operational team, can have a very positive end result.

The purpose of TPM is to eliminate waste and optimize product quality while reducing operational costs by eliminating unplanned process equipment failure.

This is not a new concept. What is new are all of the available resources to incorporate a program like this. A simple search on the Internet will generate many sites for investigation. Several institutes hold seminars, consultants are available, and there are many free technical documents and articles. Books provide training methods and case studies for analysis.

Paint shops vary considerably in the types of coatings and products that are generated. However, every paint shop can benefit from implementation of a 5S program and a structured approach to maintaining process equipment. For us, it was not easy, but it has been rewarding.