A common reason for the failure of advanced technology to deliver expected gains is too much focus on the technology and not enough on how it will be used.
For example, technology to support condition monitoring is often presented by providers as a way to reduce downtime. The reality is that gains are only achieved when the digital alarm is underpinned with actions to respond to it. In addition, more alarms are not necessarily a good thing because a large number of poorly organized alerts can overwhelm human sensory and information processing capacity.
A countermeasure to this “Siren call” of technology is to link advanced technology selection to the steps of the TPM road map.
Although often presented as purely operator maintenance, TPM has the goal of “continuous improvement in effectiveness through cross functional teamwork”. At the heart of TPM is a process to engage production, maintenance and relevant support functions in working through a structured road map to firstly stabilise effectiveness (zero breakdowns) then optimise asset performance.
Underpinning the road map process, is research which highlights that only around 25% of downtime is due to poor inspection routines. Roughly double that amount of stoppage time is due to
- Accelerated wear due contamination or lack of lubrication
- Human error due to weak work routines, skill and knowledge gaps.
Without improvement to these 2 areas first, advanced condition monitoring is unlikely to deliver lasting gains.
The first phase of the TPM road map involves actions to establish basic condition standards, reduce equipment wear rates and prevent the causes of human error. In addition to reducing breakdowns, this also improves collaboration between production and maintenance, encouraging new thinking and innovation.
An advanced technology tool that supports this first TPM road map phase is the Digital Twin improvement glide path. That is used to compare actual performance against improvement glide path targets which have been set to track the gains from actions taken to improve:
- Basic Conditions,
- Work routines/compliance,
- Contamination control.
The improved quality of feedback from Digital Notifications can then be combined with the use of data modelling and machine learning analysis tools to support the development of understanding about how to achieve asset stability. That includes
- Clarifying the notifications that indicate Normal conditions and the response needed to deal with abnormal conditions.
- Providing recommendations for planned maintenance windows
- Providing suggestions for refining process parameters to deal with factors such as variation in material quality or environmental conditions.
Digital Notifications can also be used to coordinate
- Work instruction review cycles
- Change request progress
- Work completions
- Learning and compliance steps
At this stage, one of the real gains from combining the TPM road map with advanced technology tools is the clarity it provides on the impact of maintenance best practice on asset effectiveness, operational flexibility and total manufacturing costs.
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Ratcheting up Performance
During the next phase of the road map, the Digital Twin Glide path is used to define and optimise process capabilities to remove the causes of unplanned interventions.
This phase is characterised by actions to understand and eliminate the causes of minor quality defects. In addition to the increased time between intervention, the outcomes includes fewer defects, improved material yields, lower energy use and a greater understanding of the mechanisms that impact on process control.
The gains from the TPM optimisation phase extended time mean time between intervention for one manufacturer such that they were able to run additional night shifts during peak demand months without additional labour. That lowered inventories, increased material yields, improved flexibility to demand fluctuations and reduced development time for new products.
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The application advanced technology as part of a TPM programme could accelerate progress towards such gains from the 3 to 5 years taken to around half of that duration.