Lean Training Consultancy.


TPM Principles & Application

June 11th, 2011

Back in 2009, KCTS starting blogging about Total Productive Maintenance which has been a core system within KCTS since it started in 1998.

Read it again below:

TPM Principles & Application

What is it?

TPM means Total Productive Maintenance. TPM is about involving everyone in creating and sustaining the necessary standards in their own areas. The standards must continually challenge the organisation to get better results as fast as possible.

A number of techniques are used to get the involvement and change in standards which are needed to deliver better results.

The techniques are often shown as a “TPM Temple”. This demonstrates that the techniques all aim to reduce Losses & Wastes, often measured by OEE, and apply to any organisation no matter the structure or products. Each technique has a number of Key Steps which need to be done to get the involvement and change in standards which are needed to deliver better results. The techniques focused upon within this programme are:

•    Focused Improvement, also called Continuous Improvement or Kaizen
•    Autonomous Maintenance
•    Professional Maintenance, also called Condition Based & Planned Maintenance
•    5S, also called Workplace Organisation
•    TPM Loss & Waste programme including OEE, Overall Equipment Effectiveness

Other techniques which may be applied as part of TPM are:
•    Safety, Health & Environment, reducing accidents, illness & emissions
•    Training & Education, improving consistency and delivery of knowledge
•    Early Management, improving the way new products and process are introduced
•    Quality Maintenance, reducing quality problems
•    TPM in Administration, involving people who work in offices and helping change standards in the offices to deliver better results

TPM aims to reduce losses to ZERO. This can be an extremely tough target for some losses, but ultimately satisfying for the people where the losses occur when achieved.

When to use it?

Identification of the type of problem can help work out the plan on how to solve it. Autonomous Maintenance and Professional Maintenance can eliminate sporadic problems by getting reliability back into the process, the area or the activities. Quality Maintenance will improve reliability of the process further to reduce quality defects. Other parts of TPM that can eliminate chronic problems include Focused Improvement, 5S Workplace Organisation and Training & Education.

What does it achieve?

Ownership of problems is only possible when people within the area, or activity, where the problem occurs can be involved in its elimination. TPM focuses people on creating and updating standards to share learning and tackle common problems. TPM delivers results faster than tackling problems in an unstructured way.

TPM aims to reduce losses to ZERO.

Key steps:

1.    Visit the area, or observe the activity, and investigate the problem
2.    If the problem relates to Safety, Illness or Emissions, select Safety, Health & Environment techniques to eliminate the problem.
3.    If the problem occurs regularly, every shift or every day or every week the problem is Chronic
4.    Select Focused Improvement, 5S or Training & Education when there are Chronic problems
5.    If the problem occurs regularly, every month or every year or every few years the problem is Sporadic
6.    Select Autonomous Maintenance and Professional Maintenance or Quality Maintenance as an improvement tool when there are Sporadic problems.
7.    Visit the area, or observe the activity, and check the problem has been eliminated


•    Most people do not mind changing, but most people mind being changed. The way that people are involved is crucial and standards must be written by those who work within the area, or activity. These standards must be communicated and reviewed by the other people who also work within the area, or activity.


April 27th, 2011

Written by – Cordell Hensley, KCTS Consultant

How well do you listen? If you have children, you are probably good at ignoring sounds and even speech from time to time, they can drone on! But at the work place when we are discussing an issue or problem with someone or coming up with a solution once we have identified the problem how often do we really listen to what the other person is saying? Are we truly listening or is our mind working away, trolling through the old files of possible responses or answers to the points that are being raised?

Some may argue that a quick wit is a sign of intelligence, and it may be, but it can also be a sign of a lack of listening. How can you possibly listen to what someone else says and then immediately have a retort? If you are thinking of the specific response to the statement, then you are not thinking about what is actually being said. We’ve probably all heard about the ratio of ears to mouth, 2:1 and at some point in our lives we have probably all been told to use that ratio in our efforts to communicate, but how easy is it to do, in practice? And how important is it for a leader?

How much “lip service” do we pay to actually listening to people, really listening? How much time do we set aside to just hear what they have to say and then go away and ponder? Do we really need to have all the answers? Do we need to have them straight away? To me being a leader is not about having all the answers, often it is the exact opposite, being able to say “I don’t know”. But to be able to do this we have to be able to listen to the issues and understand what it is that people are saying.

Without listening there is no communication, just because I have a response doesn’t mean I hear what you said, I may have heard the words but if I haven’t internalised the meaning and understood it, really understood it, then it may as well have gone from one ear to the other.

Where is the Gemba?

April 7th, 2011

Gemba Symbol

Where we reduce the impact of the 8th Waste

Written by Cordell Hensley, KCTS Consultant

Gemba – is a Japanese term which means “the real place” – within Lean it is associated with the shop floor, in Japan it means so much more – a detective considers the crime scene the Gemba!

Interestingly, as an interim engineering manager sometimes the shop floor is a crime scene to me. When we have a break down and it is completely preventable (which all arguably are) then the place where the breakdown occurs is the Gemba in both senses of the word.

Going to Gemba is similar to (or even the same as) MBWA – “Management by Walking Around” a management concept introduced by Tom Peters in the early 80s. Both the Americans (Tom Peters – In Search of Excellence) and the Japanese (Toyota Production System) understand the value of being out on the Gemba talking to and engaging with people, finding out where the problems are and listening to what people have to say about what should be done. Why is it that we find it so difficult to “Go Look See” (Genchi Genbutsu)? Is it because we are not sure where the Gemba is? Or is it because we don’t want to engage with the people who can see the problems and will openly tell us; is that because we will then have to do something about it?

Going to Gemba is not just about walking around, it is about looking for opportunities, for identifying waste but probably the most important reason to “Go to Gemba” is to engage with our people to ensure that the 8th waste (yes there are eight) does not become the main cause of all the others! We need to have our people engaged and bought in to what we are doing. All the systems and tools and techniques in the world will not make a company lean or world class if the people who do the work are not bought in! We get that buy in from going to Gemba, talking to people and taking them with us on the journey.

The eighth waste is the under (or un)utilised creativity of our people’s minds – if we don’t want them to think and be creative, how can we ever expect to be successful? Don’t propagate the 8th waste by ignoring your most valuable assets (even if we count them as expenses). Get out to the Gemba, you might just find yourself surprised by how much your people have to contribute!

Individual Motivation Driven By Mutual Respect

April 5th, 2011

By Malcolm Newman, KCTS Consultant

I have recently carried different types of Health Check assessments on 2 similar but very different manufacturing operations; the one striking thing they had in common was the positive motivation of their employees.

In both operations there was a spread of people who had recently joined the operations to those with 10 or more years experience within the business.

Neither business was paying any more than the market rate, conditions in the plants were relatively safe, healthy and clean; but you would not describe them as particularly good.

Yet nearly all of the people I talked to were enthusiastic about their work. They were keen to show what they did and how they did it. They certainly did not have best in class Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) to help them explain what and how things worked.

The outstanding thing they shared was mutual respect.

The Management and Leadership respected people as individuals with knowledge and skills. The team members respected the Managers and Leaders for their position and responsibilities.

As I analysed there opinions and understanding of how thing worked I concluded that they listened to each other; when things were not working to plan or as expected  or they had ideas on improvements, they looked for and worked on solutions together.

There were no suggestion schemes or bonuses related to productivity as both managements considered this could be detrimental to quality and motivation. What both had was an openness to share ideas, the shifts supported each other with improvement ideas and they were not competing with each other.

Both operations went to considerable effort to communicate what was happening to the business, there were formal management presentations but most formal communication is through the immediate leaders but backed up by a visible and approachable management team who reinforced the values and policies of the organisation.

Both operations had faced challenges and knew that the external competition in their industry was tough. I think the thing that united these people and motivated them was that to survive and grow they had to do their best. What ever tasks they had to do they were aware of their customers needs and they did not intend to give the customer a bad or even slightly off specification product and they certainly did not like to see money being wasted. It all just makes common sense to them and as everyone in the team feels they are working together they enjoy getting the job done.

Thinking abut why they are so positively motivated I concluded that both operations are a great demonstration that true motivation comes from the way people are treated. Being done to by others as you would want to be treated yourself: Mutual respect.

Getting more results from 5S Standardise & Sustain

March 24th, 2011

By Paul Steven – KCTS Consultant

When working with a customer recently on 5S, they asked about taking the next steps after successfully completing 3S’s (Sort, Set-in-order & Shine) for the first time. In their eyes, all they needed to do was write up the standards on what to keep, where to keep it and how often to clean and that was job done. As I explained, the write up of such standards is very important but how were they to sustain, and even improve, these standards?

5S Standardise & Sustain

I explained my perspective to this customer, the Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle is a crucial element of sustaining all improvements. We must plan the physical changes and plan the documentation changes, just as they had, and then execute these plans. They had executed the physical changes and had yet to complete the documentation changes required for their first cycle of 5S. But once they have these documents, is that the end? Not when using Plan-Do-Check-Act, the Check-Act part requires us to review the results achieved from executing our plans and then act to attain more results, including better standards and better adherence to standards.

This had not been their perspective, but they were convinced once we discussed their next continuous improvement strategies. 5S has one of the best return-on-investments of any improvement strategy. This is in part due to its very simple conceptual model. This model can be applied to any area, real or virtual (such as when applying to IT systems rather than work places). The power of 5S is that you can continue to improve results without increasing the complexity of the model, no further training, nor confusion over tools, but merely focusing on more detail within the area.

The next steps for the customer related to fully integrating the changes across their 3 shifts. The people involved in the changes were from a single shift and whilst they had committed to the changes made, both physically and via the upcoming documentation, what about those with less involvement? Check-Act gave an opportunity for them to become involved, the next cycle could build upon the areas where they continued to have ambiguous or missing standards. This is what Standardise and Sustain is all about. We must create a baseline for further improvement.

They were persuaded that reviewing the standards was not failure but in fact part of the process. This change in perspective allowed the truth on some of the short-cuts taken to come out. The consultation method on items locations, which we had agreed before executing the plan, had not been as thoroughly used as they would have been preferred. They also noted that there was much that could still be found around the entire area to improve.

My customer is now excited that Standardising allows them this baseline to move forward and that Sustaining is all about supporting the next cycle of Sort, Set-in-order & Shine by capturing enthusing the teams to use and report their finding every day on the standards in their area. This data can came via audits or using people’s experience written onto Team Boards. Each team can find ways to improve the standards they use every day once Plan-Do-Check-Act is embraced.

If you would like to know more about delivering change everyday through your own people, please contact us here.

What Team Role Do You Play?

March 21st, 2011

By Cordell Hensley – KCTS Consultant

As part of my MBA programme I have several group or team tasks and assignments. As part of the KCTS training courses, we also split the delegates into teams for their projects. Working in teams has become a standard part of business and team dynamics have been studied by many. However, how often do we really think about these dynamics when setting up the team?

Team Working

Team Working

We are all different and diversity is something that should be valued and sought especially when constructing a team. We often think about the necessary skills for a project team in terms of; a craftsmen, someone who knows the methodology, an operator or two, maybe a specialist depending on the project, we might even want a project manager if the project is deemed to be that intense or risky that it needs someone with extensive skills in managing complex projects. All of these things are probably a normal consideration for most when constructing the team.

But what about the roles people play within the team? Not their specific knowledge or skills in terms of plant, methodology, or process but in terms of how they interact with others; the way they contribute to the team dynamic. Do we have a leader on the team? Or is it a group of leaders which may cause conflict because they all want to be in charge? Who is going to make sure that we finish the tasks and ensure they are done properly? Is somebody going to make sure that we have the necessary resources such as stationery, meeting rooms, food, sampling materials or whatever other items we may need? Who maintains the momentum when people feel tired and who will help to calm nerves and resolve conflict between the strong characters?

Sure all of these issues can be dealt with after the team is formed, and inevitably (or sometimes not) the issue will work out. But we should think about who will be in the team from the team dynamics point of view. What roles do people play within the team and how will that contribute or detract from the ability of the team to complete the objective. If we consider these issues as part of our team construction process then we will increase the likelihood of the team being successful.

If you would like to know more about team roles and how to effectively construct a team please contact us here.

Setting targets and personal milestones.

March 17th, 2011

Recently I participated in running a half marathon.  Before the half marathon I had been preparing, training regularly, eating the right food, drinking lots of water and generally trying to give myself the best opportunity to surpass my personal best target of 94 minutes, or 7 minutes and 10 seconds per mile.  To begin with I keep a training log, recording all my times, distance, feelings, diet, weight for training, then analysing the minutes per mile and the days between runs.  Previous to this half marathon, I had been running at a training rate of approximately 8 minutes per mile.  My personal best was achieved by running at a training rate of 7.5 minutes per mile.

To better my personal best, the evening before the race I established a ‘mental plan’.  I was busy learning my seven times table, as I set myself the target of running 7 minute miles’.  To achieve this I equipped myself with a digital watch and I was relying on mile markers around the course.  I started the race at what I believed to be a comfortable pace, unfortunately there were no mile markers until 4 miles so it was difficult to assess my initial ‘comfortable pace’.  I was surprised to discover though that at 4 miles my time was 28 minutes.  At this point I thought ‘great’, on time and I feel relatively comfortable.  I started to realise there were runners around me now who were at the same pace so I started to set myself some ‘short term’ targets of maintaining the pace by staying with them, at the same time my thoughts were also about ‘long term’ targets, and in my sights were some runners approximately 50 metres in front, who were maintaining the same pace as myself during this period of the race.  Setting these targets was important for me as they maintained my motivation and determination.  As I passed other runners this had a positive effect on my mental state.  I was almost counting the inverse – the number of people not passing me! As I achieved my targets this reinforced my positivity.  My intention was, that for the latter stages of the race, I would accelerate towards my ‘long term’ target.

My race upto 9 miles was comfortable to a degree, a little short of water, and I had some uncomfortable sores and blisters on both feet, but I was on target with 63 minutes achieved, and my mental state was one of remaining positive and determined.  Unfortunately after 9 miles my physical condition changed almost suddenly.  At the beginning of the race, I had altered my ‘mental plan’ at the last moment based on the weather conditions at the time.  I decided to wear an additional layer of clothing. This did not help with the lack of hydration as I was feeling extremely hot even on a cold, windy day at the end of February.  Anyway as I have mentioned my performance upto 9 miles was excellent, after 9 miles something happened to my legs – I lacked strength.  I felt I did not have the power to maintain the 7 minutes per mile rate, and rather than accelerate and power towards my long term targets, I had to settle for a pace for the last 4.1 miles at about 8.5 minutes per mile.  Mentally it was tough and demoralising seeing runners pass me, especially ones, in which a few miles earlier I had passed them – I tried to remain positive and determined as I did not want to stop.  I finished the race in a time of 98 minutes and 7 seconds, at a rate of 7.5 minutes per mile overall.

The one thing I enjoy about running is it allows me to think, without interruption.  Post the race I have reflected on my performance and when I began to think about my performance, and preparation, I began to make some comparison with how we perform and prepare for tasks at work, and how we feel.  What do we do when the going gets tough?  Do we change our plan and take the easy option?  Or are we persistent in following the plan? Do we try and maintain the same pace and injure ourselves, or do we adjust our objectives?

What did I personally learn?

1) I have the history and the data.  Was I realistic in setting my initial objectives?  I have to be more realistic !

2) I will not change my plan.  I wore an additional shirt.  This caused me to overheat.  Create and follow my race plan – pre, during and post.

3) Even when things become difficult try and remain positive and enjoy the small successes.

4) Don’t become arrogant – Past Success does not guarantee Future Success!

5) Continue to monitor, learn and review my performance – improve!

The next time I test my learning is on the 28th March for the Liverpool Half Marathon – lets see!

Have you created your Daily Schedule?

March 16th, 2011

Written By: Paul Steven – KCTS Consultant

Recently I have returned to classic Time Management as a way to improve my Value Added to Non-Value Added ratio. I found that I am lacking the self discipline to ignore the interesting but ultimately Non-Value Added activities that were part of my routine, I needed a system to help me. Of course, systems are consistent to my vocation as a Lean Consultant, so Time Management, and specifically my 100 Day Planning Handbook, became part of my daily life.



The first habit was to keep it with me, thanks to colleagues and customers I have not lost the physical handbook yet. Despite my efforts to leave it on my desk, in meeting or on public transport, I still have it with me all the time. Secondly, I had to get into the routine of ensure planning my days, reviewing my action completion, and even rating my days via the “Moodometer”.

This is now a consistent habit as I work on Week 4. My challenge this week is to use my Daily Schedule. This presented a dilemma, as working as a Lean Consultant, each day is different. Some days I may be delivering problem solving with a leadership team, but equally I might be teaching theory & practise to a mixed group, or participating in TPM activities with operators and technicians, or presenting to executives, or coaching leadership techniques one-to-one or even delivering e-learning to hundreds of participants. How can I write a Daily Schedule? Words of wisdom came from our MD, I should concentrate on the generic activities rather than the specifics to build my version 1.

I have blocked routine times for my regular NVAR activities and I am now realistic about my current Value Adding activities each day. I have my previous 4 weeks of data to judge my estimating skills. They started extremely over-optimistic but quickly became too conservative and now include minimum & stretch targets daily. So my version 1 Standard Diary is as follows:

  • Take kids to day-care (when not travelling)
  • Emails & planning adjustment
  • Electronic Daily Stand-Up Meeting (E-DSUM)
  • 1st Delivery of VA
  • Coffee, calls & mental break
  • 2nd Delivery of VA
  • Lunch with time outside of the factory/office
  • Emails & re-planning, plus administration (expenses, printing, postal)
  • 3rd Delivery of VA
  • Coffee, Twitter & mental break
  • 4th Delivery of VA
  • Coffee & mental break
  • Emails, Twitter, calls
  • Review of Delivery & Plan for Tomorrow


This is still version 1, but by using a Standard Diary I know I can experiment and improve or return to current-best-standard as needed. The question is whether I can keep the rigour of looking at emails only 3 times per day. If you’re using a Standard Diary, please let me know how you’re getting on.

Unlocking the potential of frontline managers

February 24th, 2011

Frontline managers should focus on coaching their employees to constantly improve performance.

Line managers direct as much as two-thirds of the workforce and are responsible for the part of the company that typically interacts with and defines the customer experience. In a majority of the companies I’ve encountered, the frontline managers’ role is in a capacity of relaying information from the top to workers; these managers keep an eye on things, enforce plans and policies, report operational results, and quickly escalate issues or problems. In other words, a frontline manager is meant to communicate decisions, not to make them; to ensure compliance with policies, not to use judgment or discretion. Their role is certainly not to develop policies or to oversee the implementation of improvements.

This system makes companies less productive, less agile, and less profitable. Change is possible; the key is a shift to frontline managers who have the time—and the ability—to address the unique circumstances of their specific areas; to foresee trouble and stem it before it begins; and to encourage team members to seek out opportunities for improvement.

Change at the front line

To unlock a team’s abilities, a manager at any level must spend a significant amount of time on two activities:

1. Helping the team understand the company’s direction and its implications for team members.

2. Coaching for performance.

Little of either occurs on the front line in many businesses. Frontline managers spend the majority of their time on administrative work and meetings. They spend far too little time actually managing frontline employees by, coaching them directly.

Even then, managers often aren’t truly coaching the front line. Much of the time they spend with frontline employees is involved auditing for compliance with standards or solving immediate problems (fire-fighting).

These systems are rooted in the early days of the industrial revolution, when manufacturing work was broken down into highly specialized, repetitive, and easily observed tasks. No one worker created a whole product; each did his task in the same place and the same way every time, maximizing effectiveness and efficiency. Employees didn’t necessarily understand the overall job in which they participated. Supervisors were usually people good at the work itself, employed to enforce detailed standards and policies, serving as conduit between workers and policy makers. Many manufacturing companies still use this approach, because it can deliver high-quality results on the front line, at least in the short term.

Attention to execution is important, but an exclusive focus on it can have insidious long-term effects. Such a preoccupation leaves no time for efforts to deal with new demands such as, higher production or quality, let alone for looking at the big picture. The result is a working environment with little flexibility, little encouragement to make improvements, and an increased risk of low morale among both workers and their managers.

Companies must fundamentally redefine what they expect from frontline managers and redesign the work that those managers and their subordinates do.

Changing the mind-sets and capabilities of individual frontline managers can be the hardest part. In my experience, many of them see limits to how much they can accomplish; some also recognize the need to restructure their roles but nonetheless fear change. The first step is to help frontline managers understand the need for change and how it could make things better.

The key is to help frontline managers become true leaders, with the time, the skills, and the desire to help workers understand the company’s direction and its implications for themselves, as well as to coach them individually. Such mangers should have enough time to think ahead, to uncover and solve long-term problems, and to plan for potential new demands.

A supervisor I met at a business that had empowered its team members gave perhaps the clearest description of the way frontline leaders ought to think: “I am a valued member of this company, I have responsibility to make sure my team has the right coaching to improve performance while contributing to the overall functioning and success of our operation.”

Leadership coaching is a learned skill; not something you are born with!

Elevation takes Delegation

February 22nd, 2011

Snowed Under?

Written by Cordell Hensley – KCTS Consultant

Last year I was fortunate enough to work within many companies, and within all of them I could always find leaders who would not delegate. There were many reasons but often it was a lack of trust.

Why don’t people trust those who work for them? If we don’t trust them, why do we employ them? How can we be successful without a good team? There are plenty of articles and research that suggest that without a good team; even the most talented managers & leaders will fail. So if we don’t trust our team to deliver, then we should look at why. I believe it is rarely the team itself, but the leader, the person who is struggling to delegate who has the issue. While there are plenty of people out there who cannot be trusted, most of us will only ever have to deal with a handful in our careers. The majority of people are capable and willing; we just don’t trust them enough or spend enough time and energy on developing them to become that dream team that we want working with us.

Frequently I find it is purely because leader hasn’t sat down and had any expectation discussions with these people, or even defined what they should be doing. If they fail to fulfil our expectations then we begin to mistrust them and do all the work ourselves. Sometimes we give them a bit of work to do, but our instructions are poor or unclear and then when they come back with sub-standard work, we feel we can’t trust them. I would suggest that in the majority of cases it is the leader who is truly the reason behind the lack of delegation.

If we trust our people, but don’t know how to delegate, then we have passed the major hurdle. Delegating is easy once we have trust. All we have to do is give clear instructions, sufficient resource (usually time) and ensure that the relationship is open enough that the person feels comfortable to come back and ask for further guidance or support if they get stuck. Likewise, if they complete the task and we are unhappy with the output, maybe we haven’t clearly defined our expectations.

Whenever we feel that we are unable to delegate it is easy to blame the people to whom we cannot delegate. Dario Manquez Jr. (CEO of MVM) said it all when he said “A leader must get things done through others, therefore the leader must have the ability to inspire and motive, guide and direct, and listen. That is all delegation is, getting others to do things that need doing. Good leaders do it and get elevated because of it. Poor leaders don’t do it and are stuck in the rut they have created for themselves. Which camp are you in?



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