The Prescription For Asset Management Excellence

Kevin Price, Technical Product Evangelist at Infor EAM, reviews how TPM, EAM and IIoT work together for asset management excellence.

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Think of total productive maintenance (TPM) as healthcare for your assets. TPM has gained recent attention in the plant maintenance industry, perhaps due to its past success in industrial manufacturing, construction, building maintenance and transportation.

If you have not yet adopted a TPM plan for your company, you may be wondering what it is and how it differs from traditional quality management or plant maintenance. 

The goal of TPM is to increase production while also increasing employee job satisfaction, similar to Total Quality Management, or TQM. Both emphasize employee involvement, but TQM also focuses on the output, or effect (quality). TPM concentrates on the input, or cause (equipment) — specifically, on keeping all equipment in top working condition to avoid breakdowns and delays. Maintenance is considered a vitally important part of the business, rather than a cost center.

We can use a medical metaphor to help illustrate the point. Think of TPM as a wellness team — doctor, nurse, and patient — all working for the overall health and well-being of the patient: the plant. In a healthcare scenario, this includes wellness checks, advice on healthy eating and exercise, and immediate attention to any health anomalies, with multiple professionals or specialists, from dieticians to physical therapists, contributing at different times. 

Applying that concept to the factory, the wellness team focusing on improving the lifecycle of equipment includes maintenance professionals, operators, and the equipment itself. As in a medical scenario, a positive “patient” outcome is the goal that drives all TPM activity. Anything that impairs the equipment’s capacity is a problem that must be solved immediately, since a reduction in output or performance could be catastrophic.

In the plant, cooperation among multiple people, across different teams, is essential. Considerable focus is on wellness and preventing delays or breakdowns. Identifying early symptoms is key. Intervention can happen early, preventing a full-scale breakdown.

Just as the human patient is responsible for his own healthy choices and communicating early-stage symptoms, the piece of equipment in a TPM plan also has a role. Autonomous maintenance of equipment by its operators is a core concept in TPM. In the traditional production/maintenance relationship, there has been an “I operate it, you fix it” mentality. With TPM, operators are empowered to take on more responsibility for routine maintenance of the equipment they know and work with daily. Maintenance professionals can concentrate on more strategic planning and essential tasks that require higher certifications. The result is a greater focus and likelihood of catching any issues early, before they have a chance to cause any major damage.

Using a best-in-class asset management solution, provides the intuitive platform to get operators involved in maintenance, as well as support other TPM concepts. The eight pillars of TPM are:

  • Autonomous maintenance. Operators are given a degree of “ownership” of their equipment, with responsibility for cleaning, lubricating, inspecting, and other routine maintenance.
  • Planned maintenance. Unplanned stop time is significantly reduced by scheduling maintenance tasks based on predicted or measured failure rates.
  • Quality maintenance. Quality defects are reduced by designing error detection into production processes, and applying root cause analysis to eliminate recurring sources of defects.
  • Focused improvement. Small cross-functional teams work together to achieve continuous improvement in equipment operation.
  • Early equipment management. New equipment reaches planned performance levels much faster since knowledge gained through TPM was used to improve its design.
  • Training and education. Everyone fills in knowledge gaps to achieve TPM goals. Operators develop maintenance and inspection skills; maintenance personnel learn proactive and preventive techniques; and managers focus on TPM principles as well as on employee coaching and development. 
  • Safety, health, and environment. Potential health and safety risks are eliminated, leading to the goal of an accident-free workplace.
  • TPM in administration. Extends TPM benefits beyond the plant floor by addressing waste in administrative functions such as order processing, procurement, and scheduling.

Having an asset management program in place means there is already some form of preventive maintenance, which is extending asset life and reducing unexpected downtime, while increasing safety. Deploying the software on mobile devices or a maintenance kiosk gives technicians the ability to take ownership of routine maintenance in a way that works for them on the job.

The Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) plays a role here as well. IIoT devices gather data from multiple sources such as equipment, computers, vehicles, mobile devices, and building automation systems. Multiple meters can be placed on critical equipment — just as a hospital patient is monitored for pulse, respiration, and other important indicators. Asset management software will analyze the IIoT data and automate work orders based on specified alerts.

The result of TPM + EAM + IIoT? Better decision making, greater accuracy, improved safety, increased uptime, and a more involved workforce.

Now that’s a diagnosis that everyone can live with.

Kevin Price is the Technical Product Evangelist at Infor EAM.

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