Lean implementation requires full organizational
involvement, and success often depends on the details. One of those
details is, without a doubt, the “wellbeing” of process equipment.
In order to assure a levelled production flow, all key process
elements, such as personnel, materials and machines, need to
maintain high availability. Availability, performance and
fabrication quality (which can all be traced back to the process
equipment in direct or indirect ways) becomes essential for
predictable and reliable adherence to scheduling and customer
Without adequate maintenance practices, such as TPM (Total
Productive Maintenance), the process will most likely fall short of
the overwhelming demands placed on it by JIT (Just In Time) and
“zero stock” philosophies.
Methodologies such as SMED (Single Minute Exchange of
Dies), Heijunka (levelled production scheduling) and Kanban (JIT
pull-flow production) all depend on equipment uptime and
performance. Deviations cause, as would be expected, wastes in the
form of delays, defects and inventory.
Maintenance is therefore a cornerstone for achieving the so
desired “perfect process” level. We can, of course, ask: What is a
perfect process? It is a process without “muda” (Japanese word
for “waste”), in which each step adds value, is perfectly capable, is
available and is exactly adequate for the needs. All the steps are
linked by continuous synchronous flow, pulled by customer
demand and levelled.