Last month I described the Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) process and how companies can benefit from it. TPM involves creating a team charged with measuring machine performance, creating standards for preventive maintenance and inspecting equipment and keeping it clean. This month, I interviewed Justin Sponar, TPM coordinator at Flinchbaugh Engineering, Inc. (FEI) in York, Pennsylvania. In it, Mr. Sponar describes how this manufacturer of large transmission parts and shafts is using TPM to keep its machines in top operating condition.
When did you first initiate your TPM management program?
"FEI implemented its TPM program in January 1998."
What were your machine maintenance efforts prior to TPM?
"FEI always had a basic preventive maintenance system. Maintenance personnel would perform the typical tasks of checking all lubricants and oils, cleaning coolant tanks, checking backlash and repeatability of the axis and checking way wipers and covers. They would also periodically check wear items such as bearings, ways, ballscrews and belts."
Before implementing TPM, what was your experience with unplanned downtime?
"Unplanned downtime was charted on a percentage basis, based on the hours that the machines were scheduled for production and the amount of downtime accumulated. Our performance in this area was not good until we began our TPM program. In fact, a year after starting the program, maintenance costs dropped 27 percent, and they have dropped 8 percent per year since."
Describe your current TPM program.
"Machines are scheduled for TPM events up to one year in advance. The events may be different for different types of machines, and the manpower required varies accordingly. Everyone in the company is involved in TPM throughout the year, including office personnel and even our company president. A list is made available for everyone to choose an event in which they would like to participate. The production manager and TPM coordinator plan all the manpower assignments."
What results have you experienced?
"First, I must say we have a much cleaner shop—employees take more pride in maintaining the cleanliness of their area. The machines are now running at 95 percent uptime or better and are capable of holding closer tolerances than before we began the program. We like to say that we restore our machines to almost new conditions after they undergo a focused TPM event."
What are the biggest benefits from your TPM program? Were any unexpected?
"The biggest benefit was the reduction in maintenance costs along with the reduction of machine downtime. Morale from all the employees and daily cleaning from each employee has also been a huge benefit. We also drastically reduced our annual capital expenditures because our machines just last longer and perform better."
What was your biggest problem during the introduction process?
"Getting the buy-in from employees and perfecting the program to meet FEI's needs. You must have 100 percent, company-wide support. This means that upper management must believe in the program and support the coordinator. There is always some resistance to the start of a new program, but you need to keep reminding everyone of the benefits and rewards that can be achieved, such as lower costs, improved uptime and a more appealing shop. TPM is a must for companies to survive in a tight economy. For motivation, FEI provides T-shirts and certificates to employees who participates in TPM events."
What have you learned from introducing the TPM process?
I get to work with every machine in the shop. This helps me and participating employees learn more about the machines, so we can do a better job of keeping them running."
What would you suggest to others considering the TPM journey?
"Make sure that you have full support from upper management.
As Mr. Sponar points out, TPM can be an effective means of keeping your machines running. It does require commitment, and a successful TPM program will not happen overnight, but the benefits can be staggering and are well worth the effort.