By Vivek Bhachawat
Have you ever wondered what is missing in your manufacturing plant? Why are operational costs still high? What is causing redundant expenses in the production line? Why is it that TPM efforts are not succeeding in your facility? These questions haunt Operations Managers on a daily basis. The abovementioned problems exist in all facets of the manufacturing industry and some implications remain the same irrespective of industry, but vary as per the level of industrialization. Even in factories that have completely automated equipment, there might be similar problems to the factory that has a completely manual process. No matter how complex a production process is, it still requires at least these things, 1) Equipment/Tools, 2) Raw materials and most importantly 3) Human beings.
Worker and employee training have helped lower the costs related to human errors and have helped organizations develop an environment for learning. Raw materials are generally outsourced and the suppliers have to comply with strict compliance a standard, which assures the quality of raw material is acceptable. Equipment issues however are neglected in many organizations; these issues contribute heavily towards factory overheads and high operational costs. The reasons why TPM efforts fail in Organizations are the lack of correct monitoring systems, lack of correct metrics and lack of Organizational commitment. The above argument necessitates the need for a comprehensive, facility wide information system, which has the capability to monitor equipment and help reduce costs.
Having access to real time data from the equipment can be beneficial in a number of ways. It would help obtain a higher degree of clarity and transparency, it would help in better preventive maintenance efforts, it would help cut costs due to redundant maintenance efforts, and it would help increase the up-time of the equipment and thereby result in a greater throughput. But the application of such a system is a tricky job and requires an expertise in Operations management as well as Information Technology. If IT is not one of your core competences you need to choose a partner who has the desired skill set to give you the functionality you require, at reasonable costs and help you manage the resultant change.