Steps to Actionable Autonomous Maintenance

A strong characteristic of World Class Management was revealed to us this week on our Japan Trip. TPM as a tool set was clearly explained to our group and I wanted to share this with you to provide some value and insight gained into our Lean Benchmarking Tour in Japan. A tier one supplier to Toyota took our group through a number of steps to explain the meaning behind the tool of TPM (Total Productive Maintenance). World Class Management of TPM requires managers to be thoroughly informed about what managers really do regarding TPM. What works and what does not work? It was explained that as a manager, at any level of the business, you have to work on the business not in the business.

One of the common misconceptions of TPM is that you have to control the people rather than allow them to be creative. How can a program be creative if all we are concerned about is productivity? Productivity is a highly controlled focus, would you not agree? One of our tour stops was Sango, and they showed us how their managers rely on the creativity of their workforce. They stated that employees depend on managers to provide the right framework to allow workers to be extremely creative within the boundaries set by managers. Now, as managers, how do you set the boundaries for your workers? They answered that in a simple statement: TPM’s core creative essence is that it needs to be autonomous, and that if we go back to the true definition of TPM it is ‘Autonomous’ Maintenance.

Autonomy means that you have to give away control and power to allow future goals to be achived; this is empowerment at the core.

As managers, this changes the control factor because the idea of ‘autonomous’ changes the purpose of the manager from working ‘in’ the business to working ‘on’ the business. If we understand that we need to give autonomy to the development and ongoing program of TPM, as managers we need a different tool set to achieve this objective. Autonomy means that you have to give away control and power to allow future goals to be achieved; this is empowerment at the core. This means you have to develop training, educational, and leadership programs to achieve this goal. Nonetheless, as managers we need to focus on the means, not the tools, in order to be effective managers and develop programs based on principles, not rules or measurements. Let me give you an example out of the best book on maintenance I have ever encountered, entitled 7 Steps to Autonomous Maintenance.
The seven basic steps to ‘actionable’ autonomous maintenance are:

Do initial cleaning. Look, listen, and learn to detect signs of abnormalities while you clean your equipment inside and out.
Eliminate sources of contamination. Inspect the equipment to find the source of contamination and eliminate it.
Create a checklist for cleaning. Once you’ve cleaned, checked, and found characteristics o