Junaid’s Learning from a TPM Workshop

Our friend S.M. Junaid sends us occasional dispatches from his experiences with applying lean and kaizen at his company in Pakistan. Recently he shared his learning from a TPM workshop.

An Operator’s Relationship to a Machine is Like Mother-Child Attachment

The machine is like your baby.You will treat your machine like a baby, observing its feeling round the clock like a mother as she observed her baby.

Why is the baby crying? Is it feeding time? Does the baby feel some pain in his body? Does he have a fever? If the mother does not understand the actual reason that the baby is uneasy, she will call the doctor.

This is just like a machine operator calling the maintenance man for their machine problem. When doctor comes to examine your baby he also asks some question about your baby to know the actual reason of his sickness. The same is true for the maintenance man who asks some question about your machine problem. The machine operator knows more than the maintenance man about his machine’s history and the most problematic areas of machine.

The moral the whole explanation is that for the operator know what is normal and abnormal with his machine during operation, it is only possible when he cleans his machine to inspection in order to inspect it. That is why TPM insists on operator empowerment. The operator should know what TPM expects of him, as a TPM-trained machine operator.

Guidelines for Machine Operators in a TPM System
• Cleaning as inspection
• Take responsibility with pride
• No profit or making money from dirty machine and work places
• Rust on machine is very shameful, like rust on your weapon
• If you want to destroy your machine leave out maintenance
• If operators not maintain his machine, this causes forced or accelerated deterioration
• Neglecting machine maintenance is like smoking for your health
• The shop floor makes the money
• Think before accident and break down
• Do maintenance of your machine before defect occur
• Do corrective action before dispatching your product

The mother-child analogy is a good one. Just as the intimacy of the parent-child relationship helps the mother or father become sensitive to the nature of the child, its likes and dislikes, habits and tendencies, allowing for better parenting as the child grows, the operator who has intimate knowledge of the machine is able to enjoy a long and productive relationship with it.

I have heard various updates to the definition of TPM which started as Total Preventive Maintenance and then became Total Productive Maintenance, more recently expanded to Total Production Management or Total Productivity Management to reflect an expansion of continuous improvement efforts enterprise-wide. Based on Junaid’s observations we can add the TPM definition of Total Parenting of Machines.


  1. Bharat Kumar Rao

    September 7, 2011 - 12:21 am

    Good Posting. Would like to learn more.

  2. John Santomer

    September 7, 2011 - 1:22 am

    Dear Jon,
    The analogy you’ve presented is very similar. But since we are into the subject why, not bring it more in the realities of life? It is normal maternal instict to care and love for her child, except of course if she was under the influence of some addictive foreign substance (which is also possible) and may turn the situations to more ugly images. What am I saying here? And not to be a harbringer of ugly facts (is this why we are called pessimists and cynical people?) but if we were to effect change for the better, we need to go and deal with the ugly nitty-gritty and open our minds within a humane approach. There are other external factors to consider outside the machine/operator which may be the cause of its current deteriorating performance. The question is, are we willing to embrace the change required to alleviate the situations and realize improvements? Sometimes a great many succumb to the easy way out of turning their backs, covering their eyes and ears and just go along singing a merry, happy tune. The journey to change is a long hard struggle – especially if one has to shake, jolt and pull numerous people along the way inhospitable to change and not willing to move from their comfort zones.Am I being cynical enough? Am I unreasonable?

  3. Owen Berkeley-Hill

    September 7, 2011 - 3:19 am

    As always I appreciate your thoughts. You are one of very few Lean philosophers rising above the perception that Lean is just a toolbox.
    The first is that TPM (in all its guises) focuses on the machinery and equipment, which I would consider an important, necessary but not sufficient factor for sustained improvements. Well, not unless TPM also stresses that by growing a TPM culture you are also including Total People Maintenance. I think the original meaning of TPM included this but the “toolbox” approach to Lean has to a large extent suppressed this.
    Lean is seen as being all about painful change. Why should it be painful unless Lean is being whitewashed over the typical “Command & Control” management culture? And this is where the limited definition of Lean as the elimination of Waste is misleading. Yes, it is all about the Customer and his/her perceptions of Waste and Value. But how you go about eliminating Waste or understanding and creating Value is the key. Do you employ expensive, external consultants who tell the workforce to just do as they are told and not think about it? Or do you get the workforce to do it for themselves, thereby learning and growing their knowledge of the organisation as a complex system,as Steven Spear has suggested?
    The former is perhaps easier to do and often requires less involvement of the leadership (“Don’t bring me problems, bring me solutions”), but it is questionable whether many of the improvements will be sustainable over the long term. The latter (right?) route is more difficult to get going, but is probably out of reach of most supervisors, managers and leaders, as their management philosophy still follows the Command & Control agenda of the Centurion in the New Testament.
    Dr Paul Thomas has suggested that the average manager usefully harnesses just 20% of the capabilities of his people. I’m not sure how this figure was derived, but conducting my own straw polls suggests this number is not a million miles from the truth. 20% is a shocking waste which I think borders on mental cruelty. Now, for argument’s sake, suppose this number is true. I’m sure there is very little opportunity to take pride in work as Dr Deming suggested. Do the workforce embrace change like a bunch of fluffy bunnies? I somehow doubt it. But what if everyone in the organisation was encouraged to tackle between 10-20 improvements a year? I stress “encouraged” not “tasked”. What if the CEO was open about his or her struggle and asked a junior for help as they had some knowledge? What if the CFO was seen on the shop floor or in the customer-service department patiently listening and watching how things were done, or the struggles to do them? What if the CIO “ate his own dog food”? I’m not suggesting everyone would embrace change with an evangelical zeal, but it might not be the haemorrhoid it is perceived to be.

  4. Saklain

    September 19, 2011 - 9:45 pm

    Very well article with innovative thought by Mr. S. M. Junaid. If this sort of relation creates between worker and machine then it will defiantly leads to decrease in maintenance cost.