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Focused improvement activities are activities developed by inter-functional teams or individually with the goal of maximizing the effectiveness of equipment and minimizing organization's losses and waste. It is one of the very important pillars of Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) which helps to dramatically decrease losses caused by equipment failures and guarantee their optimal functioning. This pillar of TPM is more focused on improving maintenance, both regarding how to do it and how to improve the performance. TPM is aimed at eliminating losses in the performance of machines. Just as in lean, TPM group losses by availability, speed, and quality losses with the same final number.

Focused Improvement is a technique combining data and measurement coupled with logical thinking and problem-solving methods to identify root causes of process variation and focus resources on eliminating them.

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Waste in TPM–Focused Improvement

In lean you may be familiar with the classical eight types of waste as shown by the mnemonic TIMWOODS (Transportation, Inventory, Motion, Waiting, Overproduction, Over-processing, Defects and Skills). TPM has expanded the concept of waste in lean to many more, and uses sixteen types of waste. These are sometimes grouped under availability, speed, and quality losses from overall equipment effectiveness (OEE).

Examples of these wastes include the following:

  1. Planned Machine Stop
  2. Unplanned Machine Stop (Breakdown)
  3. Setup and Adjustment Losses
  4. Ramp-Up Losses
  5. Minor Stops
  6. Speed Losses
  7. Defect and Rework Losses
  8. Shutdown Losses
  9. Management Losses
  10. Motion
  11. Line Organization
  12. Logistics
  13. Adjustments
  14. Loss of Energy
  15. Die Jig and Tool Losses
  16. Yield Losses


The Aim of Focused Improvement 

The vision of focused improvement is primarily to eliminate all possible losses related to the 6Ms of manufacturing: Measurement, huMan, Machine, environMent, Material and Method (6M’s) in order to improve safety and productivity, and reduce defects and production costs. This can be done by creating a continuous improvement culture with the aid of focused improvement techniques to achieve maximum productivity in terms of human resources, machines and material usage, resulting in zero accidents, waste, defects, and losses.

A research conducted by performance solutions summarized the pain felt by many manufacturing plants in terms of the losses in their operations. It stated that:

  • On the average, 31% of plants lose 20% of more of their hours and inventory to scrap and rework.
  • 41% of plants reported machine uptime rates of 70% or lower, leading to 30% losses in productivity for those organizations.
  • 31% of plants reported complete-and-on-time delivery rates of 70% or lower.

Focused improvement proves to be one of the strongest tools in reducing operational wastes, enabling everyone in the organizations to own the process. When everyone in the plant, especially those on the shop floor, is oriented towards that goal, huge success in terms of waste elimination is achieved. Using Focused Improvement to improve process performance and cultivate problem-solving culture allows every single person at every single level to be a problem solver.

Focused improvement helps build a zero-loss mindset into the workforce and a culture whereby everyone are constantly hunting for improvements opportunities and driving out losses.

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Focused Improvement Process Steps

  1. Collect Data: Always ensure to have data ratified to represent the problem and understand your starting point and baseline.
  2. Identify, Prioritize, & Select Projects.
  3. Ensure Equipment Is Restored.
  4. Establish the Team: This should be made up of key stakeholders from cross-functional areas of your business are more efficient in defining goals, determining solutions and enabling the overall success of our focused improvement efforts.
  5. Use the CAP-Do Process to manage the improvement cycle.
  6. Monitor and Hold the Gains.
  7. Document the Project using Kaizen Summary Sheet, Kaizen database etc.
  8. Celebrate Success.
  9. Replicate Where Applicable.
  10. Share Learning using Kaizen database, CI and Pillar SOPs etc.

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About the Author

Adebayo is a thought leader in continuous process improvement and manufacturing excellence. He is a Certified Six Sigma Master Black Belt (CSSMBB), Digital Manufacturing Professional and ISO Management Systems Lead Auditor (ISO 9001, 45001 & ISO 22000) with strong experience leading various continuous improvement initiative in top manufacturing organizations. 

You can reach him here.

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