TPM or “Total Productive Maintenance/Management”
TPM is graphically represented by means of a honeycomb. The underlying symbolism of this logo is the following: honeybees live together in large groups, bee colonies or hives. Such a colony contains tens of thousands of industrious individuals who, in terms of lifestyle, livelihood and continuation of the species, are entirely dependent on the group. Each individual bee, or each smaller group of bees, is specially equipped to fulfil specific tasks and thus contribute to the growth and preservation of the whole. It is probably the purest form of cooperation… and therefore an ideal symbol to associate with ArcelorMittal Gent.
In everyday language TPM can be described as a management technique that wishes to involve all employees on the shop floor in the optimisation of the installations and processes (“Total”). Its objective is a dramatic increase in overall productivity (“Productive”). In doing so, it also involves the production personnel in cleaning and maintaining the installations (“Maintenance”). The ultimate result of TPM is an efficient company that delivers top performances in terms of productivity, cost efficiency, quality, customer focus, safety, environment, personnel satisfaction and so on. Because of the impact of this methodology, it has become more accurate to say that TPM stands for “Total Productive Management”.
TPM aims at achieving a breakthrough in all aspects of our business operations. For example: reduce production losses by a factor of 5, or bring the output of an installation from 97.5 to 99.5%. Naturally, each department or section must formulate its own breakthrough objectives. TPM provides the methodology for successfully achieving this, basing itself on eight pillars. In an initial TPM phase, ArcelorMittal Gent gave priority to the first four:
Combating losses: interdisciplinary teams analyse and deal with production losses on the installations they control;
Autonomous maintenance: teams of production operators and maintenance personnel assume responsibility for the installation’s maintenance activities (cleaning, lubricating, formulating improvement proposals, etc.), so that maintenance services can rather concentrate on continuous improvement;
Systematic maintenance: the existing system of systematic maintenance is further refined by weighing costs and benefits;
Improving operational competences: (customised) training is essential in order to achieve the first 3 pillars.
In 2003, TPM commenced in the hot dip galvanising lines and in the organic coating line in Gent. The introduction of TPM has led to a dramatic reduction in standstills, malfunctions and technical problems. Via performance indicators we measure the effectiveness and the efficiency of all our processes. One example may clarify how this works.
From time to time, an interruption does occur during the galvanising process (applying a zinc layer to the steel strip). This is not only annoying, but it also generates costs. Therefore, we are constantly measuring the period between successive failures. The MTBF (Mean Time Between Failures) is an indicator for the success of the efforts we make to eliminate unanticipated standstills and thus eliminate this non-conformity.
After the hot dip galvanising lines and the organic coating line, the rest of the company followed swiftly in the TPM roll-out. At the coking plant, for instance, TPM has enabled a 50% decrease in the number of failures since its implementation. Because the number of failures has dropped, the coking plant has been able to reduce the coal baking time by 10 minutes, from 18 hours to 17 hours and 50 minutes, thus increasing its annual productivity by 12,000 tonnes of coke.
In the meantime, virtually all departments of ArcelorMittal Gent are applying TPM.
TPM is an innovative method because the individual human being plays the leading role in the company story. TPM aims to bring about a fundamental change in the corporate culture that applies to everyone. All departments and hierarchical levels that start with TPM receive intensive training in order to become familiar with the TPM playing rules. In addition, several employees concluded a special TPM training programme and received a TPM instructor certificate.
TPM also nicely illustrates the four personnel values at ArcelorMittal Gent. Here are a number of examples:
Subsidiarity: no one knows an installation better than the person on the shop floor who operates it, so it is obvious that precisely this individual is capable of coming up with ideas for improving the reliability of the installation. The job of his superior is to encourage, guide and coach him.
Cooperation: teamwork and task integration are central elements of TPM. One of the pillars of TPM is autonomous maintenance, where independent or self-managing teams will gradually be formed which handle not only production tasks, but also bear major responsibility for maintenance, quality, safety, training and so on. This has a motivating effect on people because it gives them a better understanding of what their role can be in the company’s well-being.
Openness: sharing knowledge with colleagues is an essential condition to give cooperation every chance to be successful. Thus maintenance people will pass on their knowledge and experience to production people in order to allow the autonomous teams to function optimally.
Respect: TPM is based on the principle that you respect your working environment and that of your colleagues, but that at the same time you demand respect from others for your own working environment. TPM strives for a change in mentality whereby we no longer turn a blind eye to problems, but instead point out areas of improvement to one another.
The foregoing clearly shows that TPM perfectly combines the "top-down" and the "bottom-up" approach. It must be strict in its top-down supervision of the method, but in its concrete definition by the employees on the shop floor (bottom-up) it must be very open.
It is important to understand that TPM is not the umpteenth slogan or the umpteenth action plan with a beginning and ending date. TPM is never “finished”, nor is it a non-committal exercise: it requires a long-term commitment from all employees, but in the long run it certainly leads to greater involvement and more personal satisfaction. Moreover, this development fits neatly into the ArcelorMital strategy.
A number of ArcelorMittal sites, including Eurogal, Gueugnon and Desvres, were already applying TPM - and successfully so - since they won a number of prises from the Japanese TPM institute JIPM (Japan Institute of Plant Maintenance).
The hot dip galvanising lines were the first ArcelorMittal Gent department to win the TPM Excellence Award 1st Category. In the meantime, the organic coating lines, the coking plant, the cold rolling mill and ArcelorMittal Gent Tailored Blanks have all won an award as well. The hot dip galvanising lines have even won a second TPM award in 2008. And now the steel shop is heading for the TPM Excellence Award 1st Category.