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TPM: How to Protect Million-Dollar Athletes and Production Machines

What does Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) have to do with the sports industry? 

Well, I was reading Men’s Health and saw an article that turned out to be a pro athlete TPM “how to” guide. (May, 2009. Major League Muscle.)

The piece was about Scott Boras, a sports agent who had set up a facility for his clients to improve their performance and increase the longevity of their careers. The agent understands a critical fact: that an athlete’s body is just like any other piece of equipment. He’s even quoted as saying:

From day one, the clock is ticking. Our job is to add as much time as possible to it.”

As the competitor ages, his body wears out, just like a big CNC (computer numerical control) machine, a computer, or a software package. A good agent, like a good manager, understands that regular maintenance reduces downtime and extends the life of the player (or machine). Both of these things mean more output and more profit.

As part of the agent’s program he trained his athletes to avoid specific injuries.

TPM: How to Protect Pro Athletes from Injury

TPM: How to Protect Pro Athletes

Why is that so important? Pro athletes have notoriously short careers, which can be ended instantly with an injury. So to combat those realities, Mr. Boras, in effect, implemented a pro athlete version of TPM. And the best part? Knowing how to extend careers and reduce injuries serves the needs of both player and agent, so both sides are committed to it.

Likewise, in a production area (whether on the shop floor or in an office) TPM serves the needs of both managers and frontline employees. Managers get higher output from processes and lower capital expenses; employees avoid the frustration that comes from inefficient or breakdown-prone machines.

Unfortunately, there is an up-front cost to TPM. Athletes have a very clear incentive, and thus a very clear commitment to paying that cost. In your company, the results of that hard up-front work may not be as apparent.

How does your company get commitment from its team so that employees will pay the daily cost of keeping equipment up and running?


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