Review of Operational Effectiveness, Part 7
In Part 7 of this series, I elaborated on the “human element” of operational effectiveness and demonstrated how different groups can impact our OEE. I introduced the contributions of  Seiichi Nakajima, author of TPM Development Program – Implementing Total Productive Maintenance, who tells us that there are five types of actions needed to uncover these hidden defects and treat them properly:
- Maintain basic equipment conditions by properly cleaning, lubricating and bolting.
- Maintain operating conditions that must be met for equipment to operate at its full potential.
- Restore deterioration because equipment slowly deteriorates over time and breakdowns occur as fatigues develop.
- Correct design weaknesses which require changes in equipment design.
- Improve operating and maintenance skills because many breakdowns are caused by a lack of skill.
In the final installment of the Operational Effectiveness series, I will explain the functions that must be performed by operators and by maintenance personnel to improve our OEE. As in all of the previous posts in this series, much of what I will be presenting is taken from my second book,  The Ultimate Improvement Cycle – Maximizing Profits Through the Integration of Lean, Six Sigma and the Theory of Constraints.
Functions of operators and maintenance workers
Nakajima tells us that “Breakdowns cannot be eliminated until basic assumptions and beliefs are changed, particularly those regarding the division of labor between the production and maintenance departments.” To this end, there must be a sharing of responsibilities between maintenance and production if we are to be successful at reducing breakdowns and losses. That is, there are functions that must be performed by operators and there are functions that must be performed by maintenance. Let’s review each of these functions.
Responsibilities of operators
- Maintain the basic condition of equipment (i.e., cleaning, lubricating and bolting).
- Maintain the basic operating condition of the equipment (i.e., proper operation and visual inspection of equipment).
- Discover deterioration of equipment through visual inspection and early detection of problems.
- Enhance staff skills in equipment operation, setup, and adjustment, as well as cleaning, lubrication, bolting, and visual inspection.
These responsibilities come under the general heading of autonomous maintenance. Although I agree with Nakajima’s needed functions, I also believe that operators must be trained in and given responsibility for basic problem-solving.
Responsibilities of maintenance personnel
- Provide technical support for the department’s autonomous maintenance activities.
- Restore deterioration thoroughly through preventive and predictive maintenance and overhauls when needed.
- Improve equipment maintainability to reduce the time required to restore equipment to normal operational level.
- Develop operating standards by defining and correcting design weaknesses.
- Enhance skills for things like preventive and predictive maintenance, condition monitoring, inspections, and overhauls.
Maintainability is critical to avoiding equipment downtime
Like operators, maintenance personnel must be trained in basic problem-solving techniques. One important, but often overlooked function of the maintenance department is improving the maintainability of the production equipment. Because production is aggressively trying to slash minutes and seconds from their processing and cycle times, any way that we can do this will result in a net gain in throughput, especially through the constraint. One way we can do this is to reduce the time required to make equipment repairs, adjustments, and changeovers. Maintainability is a measure of the ease and speed with which equipment can be restored to operational status after a failure or downtime occurs. Unfortunately, this aspect of maintenance is many times disregarded, resulting in precious production time being lost.
So, an important function of maintenance is to look for ways to reduce the time required to restore equipment after a period of downtime. This is especially crucial when preventive maintenance is being performed. In this case, maintenance should be using the same mindset during preventive maintenance (PM) that we use when we are making a changeover. That is, plan the PM, complete all external work offline while the equipment is running, and work to reduce internal maintenance time.
Coming in the next series
My next series will focus on the topic of continuous improvement in manufacturing. It’s a hallmark of the best leaders and best professionals in the industry, and it is a matter of knowledge as well as willingness.
Until next time.
 Bob Sproull, The Ultimate Improvement Cycle – Maximizing Profits Through the Integration of Lean, Six Sigma and the Theory of Constraints, CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group, 2009
 Seiichi Nakajima, TPM Development Program – Implementing Total Productive Maintenance, Productivity Press, 1989
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