Lean is about eliminating waste from any business process, not just manufacturing. However, many organisations that introduce a “lean thinking” approach to production environments pass over the opportunity to improve equipment reliability and the bottom line.

It is simply not possible to create a thoroughly lean production process without a robust plan to maintain equipment to the highest possible standards and performance levels. Our projects with clients over the years prove that is exactly what many organisations do!

In order to avoid this in your organisation, the following Top 10 tips will certainly help.

1. Use reliable overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) measures. You will be able to understand equipment performance and develop solutions to problems using the knowledge and experience of those closest to the process

2. Monitor performance: by the hour, day and week, align and calibrate the performance measures and how they are achieved

3. Develop a loss management capture process: record and identify where production time is lost through breakdowns, changeovers and stoppages. Feed this information into your improvement programme and develop strategies to reduce the time lost

4. Revisit your maintenance plan, look at the risk to the business and make sure you revise and adapt it as you go

5. Spares and poor availability have a dramatic impact on production. Drive out waste of waiting by having the right spares available

6. Root cause analysis: breakdowns happen, so when they do, analyse, improve, and develop countermeasures. Ensure the lessons learned are communicated in the production area. Toyota has the concept of the 100-year fix. Make sure you do not get repeat occurrences!

7. Repair the things that you know are not working correctly or not in perfect condition

8. Standard operating procedures: make sure operators are using the equipment in a consistent and correct manner

9. Operator asset care is a programme that has proven and measurable production improvement returns. Develop the skills and competence of operators so that they carry out basic maintenance and “set up and adjust” activities. Assign craftsmen to be responsible for specific specialist pieces of equipment

10. Finally, develop a culture of continuous improvement in equipment reliability and harness the knowledge and experience of your operators and production equipment specialists.

MCP Consulting Group offers a range of continuous improvement courses including Lean Practitioner, Problem Solving using RCA, OEE and Total Productive Maintenance. To support business best practice we provide a range of City & Guilds courses in our Technical Skills and Asset Management and Reliability training programmes. All courses are designed to bring about improved manufacturing capability and performance.

Paul Rodgers, Training Practice Manager, MCP Consulting Group

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