Maintenance in the improvement of productive processes

August 14, 2020

Understand the relationship between Lean Manufacturing and Lean Maintenance, as the improvement of an organization’s productive processes.

Companies concerned with the sustainability of their business seek to optimize their production process in order to increase their productivity, guarantee competitiveness in the market, and increase their profits.


Every organization has its processes, and each one must seek the best strategy for these to occur efficiently throughout the entire production chain.

To make the production processes more efficient, i.e. to improve them, it is first necessary to understand all the organization’s processes and how they work (map them); then the best strategy to carry out the production process must be identified in order to achieve the best results (quickly and cheaply).

After this process modeling step, it is time to act and put the improvement strategy into practice!

The improvement of the productive process successfully imlemented brings to the organization:

  • Increased productivity and efficiency
  • Development of employees’ skills
  • Improved product quality
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Increased profit margin and higher return on investment (ROI)

One of the methodologies for improving production processes is Lean Manufacturing.


This management philosophy allows the company to reduce production costs and increase the quality of its products and services, eliminating waste from the production process.

Lean Manufacturing means maximum value generation using minimum resources. This is done by eliminating:

  • Processes that do not add value to the customer
  • Inefficiencies in existing processes
  • Variations in the pace of production

Among the advantages to the companies that implement it, Lean Manufacturing generates:

  • Production agility and flexibility (by creating a continuous production flow)
  • Increased production capacity
  • Savings in materials, energy and other resources
  • Improvement in the work environment
  • Improved customer service

It is noteworthy that within the Lean philosophy, there are techniques that can be applied to improve production processes.

One of them is Kaizen, focused on continuous improvement; another well known one is 5S, which has 5 steps to reduce waste and increase productivity and efficiency, and another is OEE – Overall Equipment Effectiveness, used to measure the productivity of the equipment used in production, in order to monitor the efficiency of the production process.

The OEE indicator is an important component of the TPM (Total Productive Maintenance) methodology. From this, one can see how the “lean mentality” is applied to several areas, such as maintenance.


Maintenance is fundamental in improving production processes. After all, those who work in maintenance know that it is expected to extract maximum value from the asset with minimum resources, isn’t that right?

Therefore, Lean Maintenance is a prerequisite for the success of Lean Manufacturing in an organization.

Efficient maintenance management can eliminate various forms of waste: in time, materials, and money. Some of the wastes that Lean Maintenance seeks to eliminate are:

  • Unproductive work – maintenance activities performed unnecessarily
  • Repetitive work – redoing tasks or performing additional tasks due to poorly performed maintenance
  • Waiting time – for parts, tools, workers or services to perform maintenance
  • Ineffective data management – lack of essential asset information; failure to control this information and collection of unnecessary information
  • Poor inventory management – excessive investment and unnecessary use of spare parts
  • Unexpected machinery breakdowns

In this way, lean maintenance has as its objective:

  • Decrease maintenance costs
  • Increase equipment productivity
  • Increase reliability

Lean maintenance has TPM as its base concept and its main objective is to avoid unscheduled downtime, by predicting failures or identifying them at an early stage, which affect the entire production process. This can be done effectively through predictive techniques, such as continuous monitoring of the assets.

Industry 4.0 technology solutions make it easier to implement lean maintenance by enabling:

  • Reliability-based decision making
  • Continuous monitoring
  • Optimization of the maintainer’s time to inspect equipment
  • Diagnosis agility
  • Reliability in data collection and analysis
  • Cost reduction

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