Total Productive Maintenance is Better With Webalo!

Aug 31, 2023 7:14:00 AM . Julia Walsh

Unplanned downtime costs industrial manufacturers as much as 50 billion dollars every year. - Forbes

An average manufacturer confronts about 800 hours of unplanned downtime a year, according to a post from Forbes. This translates to about 15 hours of downtime every single week—a major cost that is also completely avoidable. Manufacturers need to move away from the “We’ll fix it when it breaks” line of thought when it comes to their plants and move toward a TPM or Total Productive Maintenance-based philosophy.

TPM has been around for a while, so it should already have been implemented in most manufacturing operations, right? Well, not quite, according to the below graphic from a McKinsey survey.

McKinsey highlights three major issues that manufacturing companies grapple with, even though 99% of the respondents in its survey pointed out that their organizations had undertaken a maintenance transformation in the past five years. Looking at Figure 1, it is easy to see that most companies are struggling with maintenance costs that are higher than the level of inflation. This struggle is worsened by a lack of capable maintenance employees and the unstructured nature of maintenance knowledge transfer.

While most companies fully understand the negative impact of downtime and want to prevent it, they are not able to achieve satisfactory results. Even though their intent is right, companies are missing a critical piece of the predictive-maintenance and TPM puzzle. And, like with most things in the Industry-4.0 era, the answer is digital, but more on that later. First, let’s try to understand TPM a little better.

TPM: It Has True Potential

TPM is a maintenance philosophy whose goal is, to put it simply, no downtime, no defects, no stoppages, and no accidents. It is based on 5-S, the famous Japanese theory of disciplined manufacturing, and extends this theory to equipment maintenance and process management. TPM relies on eight fundamental pillars for achieving operational excellence.

The eight pillars of Total Productive Maintenance outline how it should manifest in any given process. Autonomous Maintenance points out that equipment maintenance is the primary responsibility of the operator and not the maintenance engineers. It involves setting up a baseline or a standard for each piece of equipment’s operable condition, and it is the operator’s job to ensure the equipment is kept at that standard through an autonomous inspection schedule.

Focused Improvement is Kaizen based and focuses on small incremental improvements in the equipment’s operation. It aims to eliminate the root causes of recurring failures through cross-functional collaboration and reduces defects to improve product quality. Planned Maintenance is something that exists in most organizations. It is the scheduling of preventive maintenance such that it happens with the least possible impact on production and uptime. However, TPM demands that this activity is structured and reduces downtime as it is implemented. Quality Maintenance completely eliminates defective products from moving down the line. It involves the detection of defects and the elimination of root causes to prevent future defects, and it helps improve productivity while reducing COPQ or the cost of poor quality. 

Early Equipment Management utilizes the design-related knowledge gained through TPM activities to help suppliers design better equipment that would further boost productivity and reduce downtime as new machines replace old ones. This is an area that is missing from most maintenance processes. Tribal knowledge is required for it to be captured from TPM efforts and communicated to the relevant stakeholders, who may be situated beyond organizational boundaries. Training and Education, a critical pillar, focuses on enhancing the knowledge base of all individuals involved in a process, from workers to supervisors and from engineers to operators. Everyone involved must understand how TPM works and what needs to be done and when. The McKinsey survey referenced earlier points out that almost 45% of organizations do not have a structured way of sharing preventive maintenance-related know-how, and this might be one of the reasons why TPM projects deliver subpar results for many manufacturers.      

Safety, Health, and Environment, or putting employee safety first, is an absolute essential when it comes to TPM. Workers can perform better if they do not have to worry about their physical safety and can fully focus on the tasks at hand. Creating the right working environment noticeably boosts output. TPM in Administration is the final pillar. For TPM to succeed, every support function, from procurement to scheduling and logistics to store, needs to be a facilitator. Discipline has to go beyond the shop floor for an organization to completely eliminate downtime. Even a delay in receiving spare parts results in additional downtime, and this defeats the purpose of TPM entirely.

Webalo: Your Digital Partner in TPM Success

Implementing TPM can be a challenge for manufacturers if they do not have the right platform to help standardize processes, train employees, and capture the knowledge generated through maintenance activities. No matter how well-intentioned a TPM launch is, it will never be able to reach its full potential unless it is supported by the right digital tools.

Webalo is a frontline-workforce-optimization platform that can help implement TPM across complex manufacturing processes quickly, easily, and effectively. To begin with, it provides workers with instructions on what needs to be done and how, which makes it the ideal tool for training workers and capturing their observations and also for the cross-functional collaboration desired in an ideal TPM program.

Webalo Applications are active on all mobile devices, allowing personnel to be on the go while still performing tasks exactly as per the schedule and equipment-operation manuals. This mobility adds to the overall efficiency and speed of preventive and predictive maintenance activities. The platform also forms what is referred to as the Workforce Intelligence Center. This facet of the application allows an organization and its personnel to learn from each breakdown, each maintenance activity, and each shop-floor transaction as it captures and analyzes data to determine the root causes of issues, help reduce downtime, and implement total quality management. As an additional benefit, the data from the platform may be shared with equipment manufacturers to improve equipment design, which is another TPM imperative.

Webalo is a digital platform that encompasses the entire process, which makes it the ideal partner for TPM. Since it controls workflows, allows visualization, promotes collaboration, and issues notifications, it is fully equipped to deliver the speed, accuracy, and discipline that TPM demands. Webalo addresses all the issues pointed out in the McKinsey survey that explores why most companies are struggling with the implementation of TPM programs.

Webalo helps train workers, which means that even if personnel-joining operations or maintenance are not fully equipped, Webalo can train them on the job and help them learn from the knowledge gathered and enriched within the platform. The platform also connects people and allows them to collaborate both inside and outside the organization, which means faster resolution of issues and better analysis due to the platform’s cross-functional approach. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the platform allows for faster communication. Be it real-time alerts and notifications or simply the sharing of the right modified work instructions or schedules, the dynamic nature and intuitive design of the platform ensures downtime costs are reduced while OEE and other production KPIs are improved.

So, if you’re thinking TPM, think Webalo!