TPM or RCM? Which should we adopt – the truth uncovered

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If I had a pound for every time I’ve been asked that question and for every time I’ve heard people defend one approach over the other, you wouldn’t have to read this article; I would be retired in a mansion in the Caribbean.

The answer for those seeking world-class maintenance, and the high levels of operational performance that go hand-in-hand, is you need both approaches. This is not a question of “either or” it’s a question of understanding how the two systems fit together to give you the optimum solution. Let me explain why.

  • First point, have you read these two books? Total Productive Maintenance by Seiichi Nakajima first published in English in 1988 is the only book you need to read to understand TPM; Other books produced on the same subject are just imitations or re-iterations of the same philosophies. Reliability Centred Maintenance (RCMii) by John Moubray, first published in 1991, guides you through the underlying principles of aircraft maintenance techniques and similarly, is the only book you need to read to understand RCM.
  • The strengths of TPM. The five pillars of TPM promote companywide involvement in maximising efficiency through involvement in maintenance and improvement activity.
  • The weakness of TPM. In Pillar 2 “Establish a thorough system of preventative maintenance for the equipment entire lifespan” the principle is sound but the methodology prescribed is very basic, it fails to convey the importance of establishing process functions and standards of performance, it doesn’t lead intuitively to the root causes of failure and provides no robust methodology for determining the best prevention methods and frequency of intervention. As a result, enterprises which establish TPM often engage in activities which add no value or worse, can be detrimental to equipment performance. It is, perhaps, not surprising bearing in mind that this book was published 3 years before the publication of Reliability Centred maintenance by John Moubray.
  • The strengths of RCM. A very thorough, scientific and robust methodology for identifying why processes could fail to deliver the required functions to the required standard of performance and the most appropriate technical solution and frequency based on a thorough appraisal of the failure mechanism.
  • The weaknesses of RCM. Many early pioneers of this process focused overly on a maintenance solution involving maintenance personnel and failed to understand the need to engage the entire workforce from management to operators in understanding, application and implementation of the system. Unfortunately, many see RCM as a maintenance optimisation tool when in fact it’s a platform for achieving Operational Excellence.
  • Our Solution; LeanRCM. In 2010, recognising the strengths and weaknesses of each of these two methodologies, EMS Cognito introduced the LeanRCM approach which combines all of the autonomous small-group activities associated with TPM together with the robust scientific failure prevention methods from the aircraft industry which go under the banner of RCM. Lean RCM delivers both TPM and RCM simultaneously giving an optimum solution for reliability employee engagement, autonomous maintenance and results.

 

 

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