May 20, 2022


What Is Total Productive Maintenance (TPM)? (And Why Is It Important)

What Is Total Productive Maintenance (TPM)? (And Why Is It Important)

Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) is a comprehensive approach to facility maintenance that aims to achieve perfect production and eliminate unplanned breakdowns. TPM maintains and improves equipment reliability, production output, and product quality.

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TPM works with an awareness of six types of specific losses that can happen due to:

  • Total machine failure
  • Minor issues that may impact machine uptime
  • Adjustments to workflows and processes
  • A reduction in operating speed
  • A reduction in the yield of the machine
  • Defective products produced by the machine

“Getting operators involved in maintaining their own equipment, and emphasizing proactive and preventive maintenance will lay a foundation for improved production (fewer breakdowns, stops, and defects).”

Lean Production

History of Total Productive Maintenance

Seiichi Nakajima of Japan developed the TPM system. The Emperor honored him with an award recognizing his “dedication to improving the manufacturing industry.”

Nakajima based the system on his experience with maintenance best practices in Japan during the 1950s and ’60s. He came to understand that having a leadership mindset that engaged front-line teams in the general improvement processes was essential for effective operation.

In 1971, the Japanese company Nippondenso, a Toyota parts manufacturer, put TPM into practice. Soon after, Nippondenso was crowned winner of the first PM Award, now called the TPM Award, a TPM benchmark.

total productive maintenance

Objective of Total Productive Maintenance

TPM has a singular goal of achieving continuous improvement in the efficiency of machinery and equipment. TPM happens when the teams play an active role in maintaining and improving efficiencies.

Total Productive Maintenance is a key component of a quality management system which will only attain full efficacy when there is support from all involved teams and team members. With that support in place, accomplishing the goal of TPM is achievable. The objective of implementing TPM is to increase the Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) of machinery and equipment. With TPM implemented, the immediate benefits are two-fold. The causes of rapid deterioration are more apparent. At the same time, the environment allows operators to take ownership.

“TPM has multiple advantages. For one thing, it makes wise use of the limited R&D budgets characterizing many companies today.”


Total Productive Maintenance Tools

Many are probably thinking this all sounds great. They would love to be able to implement TPM in their businesses, but how? Are there any processes that could help? Fortunately, there are several total productive maintenance tools to aid in making your road to TPM an easier one to follow. Some of these will be tangible tools, some are simply effective techniques, and even some software. All different ways to help an organization achieve the tasks they’ve set out to achieve.

  • Inspection Cards. Colored cards are a great visual cue to keep inspection procedures up to date. Color-coded cards can help communicate the frequency of inspections. They also indicate who is responsible and what type of maintenance is necessary.
  • Tags. Much like the above-mentioned cards, these are another visual tool to share important information with operators.
  • Setting Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) Goals. Since—as mentioned above—the overall objective of TPM is to increase OEE, have a specific, measurable goal in mind. You can determine a goal by tracking and compiling the results of your OEE by shift for a month. Once you have your best results, multiply that result by each of the 3 OEE components, availability, performance, and quality, to calculate your best score. Your best score should be the goal you want to work toward.
  • Training Guides. Training is always an effective tool and the same is true for total productive maintenance training. Since TPM requires buy-in from the entire team, comprehensive training is an excellent way to achieve that.
  • TPM Forms. Standard TPM forms are a great tool for keeping all your information together.
  • Use a CMMS. Obviously, implementing a Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) like MaintainX will go a long way toward helping you plan and schedule all of your maintenance activities and procedures.
total productive maintenance

The 4 Steps of TPM

1. Raise Awareness

All organizations want to run efficiently. In fact, they want to avoid losses due to equipment failures, whether they are temporary or long-term. Implementing TPM means that losses are no longer hidden and consciousness—awareness—is elevated.

Assuming a business is running in a loss-free state where the OEE of all equipment and machines is at 100%, every machine would be fully operational at all times and produce perfect quality goods. To be clear, that’s where every business would like to get. But quite likely, they’re actually operating somewhere around less than 50% OEE.

Remember, the objective of TPM is to reach a set OEE goal. Set a realistic goal and work toward it gradually.

To calculate OEE:

OEE = Availability * Performance * Quality, where:

Availability = Run Time / Planned Production Time

Performance = Planned Production Time – Stop Time

Quality = Good Count / Total Count

2. Continuous Improvement

When tracking the current best results to set a goal, overdue maintenance is typically caught and carried out. Consequently, this part of the process is called the Total Clean Out, where everything is tidied up on the work floor. Once this is complete, the next step is the implementation of 5S. 5S refers to the five Japanese words (Japanese: seiri, seiton, seison, seiketsu, shitsuke; English: Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain) that represent specific guidelines used to manage and organize workspace to the point where it’s fully controlled and efficient. This is the state which makes quality production possible. The objective of S5 is for all workplaces to be organized and clean.

While 5s can work as a standalone process, it is much more effective when used alongside other Lean methodologies like KaizenLean Six Sigma, and Gemba. In fact, view the 5s process as a cycle. Because 5s relies on recurring tasks, these tasks need to be documented so that all employees can follow the standard cyclical process.

CMMS Brings Continuous Improvement

A CMMS streamlines process-based tasks, making it ideal for managing 5s processes. Using a CMMS like MaintainX helps streamline process improvement by providing a centralized platform to digitize, assign, and manage standard operating procedures–including your very own 5s.

With Total Clean Out and 5S out of the way, it is time to implement the first pillar of TPM: continuous improvement. By now, small teams from a variety of disciplines have been formed, and they are endeavoring to address anything that might be impacting their OEE. The teams formed are carrying out something called SGA or Small Group Activity. Consequently, the typical SGA team will generally have both mechanics and operators, not to mention quality inspectors and perhaps even logistic managers. Furthermore, when the group comes together, they develop a feeling of responsibility toward whatever machine or production line is under their purview.

3. Ownership

Once a team has reached a stage where they feel ownership or responsibility for the performance of their machines and equipment, something of a cultural shift occurs. Segregations of “I’m the operator, and you’re the repair technician” disappear. Consequently, now in place is a unit that realizes they share a responsibility toward the functioning of their equipment, regardless of their actual roles.

All have the goal of keeping everything running efficiently, and the SGA team will deal with issues that arise in line with the Pareto Principle. Otherwise known as the 80/20 rule, this is a concept that 80% of the effects will typically come from 20% of the causes. In terms of Total Productive Maintenance, this would mean that 80% of the losses are caused by only 20% of the machines.

Next, once the team has deduced what the 20% is or where the root causes lie, they will draft a proposal for resolution, typically including a cost-benefit analysis.  In any case, assuming a fix is approved and implemented, the SGA team can check to see if OEE had improved.

total productive maintenance

4. OEE is Improved Step by Step

Once those initial issues are out of the way, the team continues to deal with each new or existing problem. And each step moves toward improving OEE incrementally. These steps continue in a cycle, but overall this is just a single step toward TPM. There are eight pillars in TPM, and this is just the first. Let’s address some of these pillars.

Pillar 2. With the second pillar and the introduction of autonomous maintenance, the task of maintenance doesn’t rest solely with technicians. Without a doubt, everyone, operators, techs, and anyone with expertise, play a part in upkeep.

Pillar 3. This involves the preparation of schedules for both preventative and predictive maintenance.

Pillar 4. Importantly, training is necessary so that all employees are familiar with the principles of Total Productive Maintenance and continuous improvement and how it relates to their jobs specifically.

Pillar 5. Early management addresses the development of new processes or new machines. When purchasing new machines, part of the selection process should be the extent of methods of maintenance that will have to be carried out.

Benefits of Total Productive Maintenance

In brief, there’s no question that there are a number of benefits to implementing TPM, but let’s address just a few of them. Empowering employees is always a good idea, but allowing them to take responsibility for the maintenance of their own machines and productivity means a manufacturer can realize better safety, efficiency, morale, and satisfaction.

The Benefits of TBM

Safety. We mentioned the 5S approach above. If and when you’ve implemented all five—Sort, Set in Order, Shine, Standardize, and Sustain—there is no doubt that the work environment will be well organized, clean, and safe to work in. 

Thanks to TPM’s ongoing focus on preventative and proactive maintenance, workplace disorder is a thing of the past while the lifespan of equipment increases. A workplace that is productive and efficient is often a safer workplace.

Efficiency. A key component of implementing TPM is measuring Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE). As a result, a byproduct of achieving a high OEE is efficiency, as a company is working toward production lines that aren’t hampered by mechanical defects, breakdowns, or accidents.

Moral. In addition, for TPM to work, it’s necessary for it to be a complete team effort. In fact, there must be buy-in from everyone. And once everyone sees the benefits and improvements, those that may have been slow to adopt it, or even resisted it, will likely stop resisting. Employees are now empowered to care for their own equipment and take ownership of its upkeep. This can engender a feeling of pride employees may not have felt before.

Satisfaction. Accordingly, while all the above-mentioned benefits are important, the best benefit of a total productive maintenance plan would have to be customer satisfaction.


Remember the TPM Definition?

To summarize, it’s where the manufacturing process and equipment maintenance are combined. Despite its seeming like a complicated process, but isn’t necessarily so in practice. And the benefits far outweigh any initial complications.

Total productive maintenance is a holistic maintenance approach that improves productivity, reduces the risk of failure, and optimizes performance. Implementing a TPM program requires the active involvement of all workers and managers and is based on the principles of autonomous and preventive maintenance. TPM instills a culture of continuous improvement and efficient communication between teams. 

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Caroline Eisner
Caroline Eisner
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