Earlier this year we began a TPM or “total productive maintenance” program in both the Heat Treat and CNC departments. A TPM program is an important step in our journey toward lean manufacturing, and ours is off to a great start.

TPM is a comprehensive, team based approach that enhances normal maintenance activities. It combines some of the duties normally performed by a maintenance mechanic with those of a machine operator. TPM is the first step towards “load leveling” or quick changeovers, both of which require a high level of machine availability.

Our TPM team consists of Don Doner, Brad Smith, and Dennis Helling with Matt Frost in CNC and Jerry Zak in Heat Treat. The project began with a thorough cleaning and review of the equipment to assess its condition. Any necessary repairs were made and a schedule developed for daily, weekly and quarterly maintenance.

To make the daily machine inspection easy to accomplish, we used another lean tool called “Visual Controls”. You’ll notice the very visible daily schedule on each CNC lathe, including photographs of each maintenance activity and a number on that part of the machine to guide the operator performing the maintenance.

Another visible aspect of our TPM program is the maintenance schedule board in both CNC and Heat Treat. Here you will find a detailed schedule of the maintenance activities that need to be performed each month and each quarter. Again, and in a very visible way, we can see that the necessary maintenance is done as scheduled.

Once the TPM program is completed in CNC and Heat Treat we plan to move to Hot Heading next. Please take a look at what the TPM team has done so far, you will be impressed.