What Is Total Productive Maintenance?

May 23, 2022

What Is Total Productive Maintenance (TPM)?

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.  


Total productive maintenance objectives are achieved by executing preventative maintenance programs, continually training technicians, and maintaining effective communication between maintenance and production personnel. The goal of TPM is to eliminate the following losses

  • Unplanned downtime
  • Personnel errors
  • Product defects
  • Employee accidents
  • Wasted resources
  • Labor efficiency  

What’s unique about the TPM philosophy? It empowers machine operators to take responsibility for the maintenance of their assigned assets by completing technical skills training, evaluating productivity benchmarks, and following proactive maintenance schedules. 

This high level of worker autonomy shifts maintenance staff from over-relying on reactive maintenance toward an ideal 80/20 balance with preventive maintenance best practices. This proactive approach results in reduced downtime, decreased major losses, and increased productivity. Organizations wanting to implement TPM must actively involve both maintenance and production personnel throughout the TPM process.

Total Productive Maintenance Workflow

History of Total Productive Maintenance (TPM)

Total productive maintenance is part of what’s known as Lean Manufacturing—a manufacturing process that includes operational practices, principles, and tools designed to eliminate waste without sacrificing quality. The concept dates back to the beginning of the 20th century when large-scale, assembly-line manufacturing was beginning to take root. 

Seiichi Nakajima, the founder of TPM, created a framework to eliminate all waste from the production process during the 1950s. However, TPM wasn’t recognized outside of Japan until automobile manufacturer Toyota became involved in the 1970s. With Nakajima’s support, a Toyota supplier took the Toyota Production System to the next level and delivered TPM to the masses. With the implementation of TPM, Toyota created a culture of participation, engagement, and constant improvement. All employees were encouraged to use their knowledge and expertise to improve Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) and reduce operating costs. 

Because of the Toyota factory’s pioneering role in popularizing TPM, the practice is often associated with the Japanese concept of kaizen. Kaizen is a business philosophy that prioritizes five elements: teamwork, personal discipline, improved morale, quality circles, and suggestions for improvement.

How to Calculate TPM

The best way to measure TPM is by calculating Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE)

OEE = Availability x Performance x Quality

Availability is measured as 100% minus the following:

  • Time losses related to equipment failure, 
  • Time losses related to adjustments and set-up, and
  • Time losses related to restarting work after breaks and weekends.

Performance is measured as 100% minus the following:

  • Time losses related to minor interruptions, and
  • Time losses related to speed (actual vs. optimal speed).

Quality is measured as 100% minus losses related to defects in production.

For example, say availability is 94%, performance is 95%, and quality is 92%, the OEE formula would yield: 0.90 x 0.95 x 0.92 = 82%. 

Ultimately, the goal of TPM is to bring OEE to 100% or to maintain equipment functioning at full speed, at optimal capacity, and without interruptions. TPM also prioritizes delivering products free of imperfections. 

The Benefits of TPM

In addition to increasing productivity and improving OEE, implementing a TPM program:

  • Minimizes equipment failures and unplanned downtime.
  • Enhances output and performance.
  • Increases customer satisfaction.
  • Improves safety and reduces the risk of accidents.
  • Makes the workplace cleaner and more attractive to employees. 
  • Leads to better adherence to environmental guidelines and requirements.
  • Reduces operational costs.
  • Helps teams and departments exchange knowledge, skills, and experience.

The 5 Core Elements of Total Productive Maintenance

The traditional TPM approach is based on the methodology of the 5S. The goal of 5S is to maintain clean working areas in the following sequence:

  1. Sort: Sort tools, materials, and equipment and eliminate anything unnecessary from the working area. 
  2. Set in Order: Organize and order the remaining items.
  3. Shine: Maintain a clean work environment at all times. 
  4. Standardize: Define clear standards for the first three tasks.
  5. Sustain: Make sure that the 5S system is sustained for the long term. 

These five core elements are used in combination with the Eight Pillars of Total Productive Maintenance to create a holistic maintenance program. 

What Are the 8 Pillars of Total Productive Maintenance?

These 8 pillars increase overall equipment reliability and performance:

  1. Autonomous Maintenance: Autonomous maintenance means training your equipment operators to perform routine maintenance tasks on their assigned machines. This helps each employee take responsibility for the cleaning, lubricating, and maintaining of their equipment with preventive maintenance. This level of personal responsibility ensures potential equipment issues will be identified before they turn into large problems. 
  1. Focused Improvement: Small teams improve processes and workflows through focused, continuous improvement. These teams help resolve problems by using a cross-functional approach.
  1. Planned Maintenance: Planned maintenance is scheduled, routine maintenance based on machine performance and failure-rate data. It aims to prevent unplanned downtime and eliminate breakdowns. 
  1. Early Equipment Management: Suppliers use the practical knowledge and experience of machine operators in the design of new equipment. This makes maintenance easier and helps achieve planned performance levels soon after the adoption of new equipment. 
  1. Quality Maintenance: Quality maintenance aims to improve overall production quality and eliminate defects. This is done by identifying the root causes of equipment failures and eliminating recurring issues. 
  1. Training and Education: Continuous training and education guarantees maintenance tasks are adequately executed at all times. Machine operators, maintenance technicians, and managers all need to receive sufficient training on the goals and standards of TPM. 
  1. Office TPM: Despite its moniker, total productive maintenance doesn’t only apply to production—it also aims to improve administrative operations. This is achieved by simplifying procurement, scheduling, and order processing. Office TPM guarantees that tools and materials will always be available when necessary.  
  1. Safety, Health, Environment (SHE): TPM aims to maintain a safe working environment for employees at all times. Safety comes first: improving production shouldn’t come at the cost of an increased risk of accidents. 

How to Implement a TPM Program

The successful implementation of a Total Productive Maintenance program can be broken down into seven steps: 

1. Announce the TPM program and Organize Training Sessions

Announce your intention to implement a TPM program and launch a training initiative. Clearly communicate the program’s objectives, benefits, and roles within it. 

2. Identify the Target Area 

To avoid overwhelm, focus on one piece of equipment at a time. The first equipment for which you’ll implement the principles of TPM can be either:

  • The easiest to improve,
  • The one that leads to frequent bottlenecks, or
  • The one that has the most problems.

The equipment that is the easiest to improve will give you quick results. If you don’t have a lot of experience with TPM, it can be an excellent starting point. This is also the lowest risk approach. Fixing equipment that often creates bottlenecks will instantly improve productivity. However, if it’s critical, this can be a high-risk strategy. It is suitable for organizations that have experience with TPM.

Improving the most problematic pieces of equipment is often difficult, but if it’s successful, it will guarantee wide acceptance from production personnel. Again, companies that already have experience with TPM are better equipped for this.

3. Bring Equipment to Its Optimal Condition  

This step involves restoring the equipment to its prime operational capacity by applying the 5S principles: 

  • Remove all unnecessary tools from the work area. 
  • Organize all tools and parts that you use.
  • Thoroughly clean both the equipment and the working area.
  • Take photos of the current condition of the equipment.
  • Perform audits to make sure the equipment is maintained in its optimal condition.

4. Implement Autonomous Maintenance

Provide sufficient training to machine operators, so that they can perform autonomous routine maintenance. Maintenance personnel may need to assist with training and supervision. Open communication between machine operators and maintenance technicians is essential for the success of TPM.

5. Track and Measure Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) over Time

Track Overall Equipment Effectiveness for this specific piece of equipment and compare it over time. Identify positive and negative trends and make further improvements as necessary. Unplanned stop time is the most common reason for drops in OEE. Make sure you address the reasons and perform root cause analysis for each occurrence. Collect data over at least a few weeks using a Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) to be able to track trends and proactively remediate issues. 

6. Reduce Losses

Aim to reduce losses, starting with the most important ones. With the OEE data, you’ll be able to analyze the most common reasons for losses. A dedicated team needs to identify symptoms and propose solutions. Implement the solutions during scheduled maintenance time. Analyze results once production restarts. Continue tracking OEE to assess long-term effectiveness.

7. Introduce Proactive Maintenance

Finally,  schedule planned maintenance tasks. Identify asset components prone to wear, stress, and failure. Define and implement maintenance intervals according to these needs. Create a work order process for planned maintenance tasks. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is the Difference between TPM and TQM?

Total productive maintenance (TPM) is related to another concept: total quality management (TQM). Though the terms are sometimes used interchangeably, they are not the same. Both TPM and TQM aim to achieve maximum production efficiency and quality while reducing losses. However, TQM prioritizes implementing evolving quality control procedures that adapt to changing customer demands and expectations.  Customer satisfaction is the most important objective of TQM. 

Alternatively, TPM is used to maximize output and efficiency. This objective is achieved by involving production operators in routine maintenance works. In both approaches, the quality of the end product is extremely important, which helps companies be more competitive. However, in TQM, customer satisfaction is the main focus, while in TPM it’s only one of several focuses. 

In both TPM and TQM, everyone’s involvement is crucial. In TQM, this is achieved through a singular focus of all departments, while TPM uses a multi-disciplinary approach and employs continuous personnel training. Although the exact origin of TQM is unclear, the concept was first introduced by the U.S. Navy in the 1980s. Today the process has largely been replaced by the ISO 9000 framework. 

What Are the Benefits of Total Quality Maintenance and Management?

TQM has numerous benefits besides improving product quality, including:

  • Improved competitiveness and adaptability to new markets.
  • Enhanced brand image.
  • Increased productivity standards.
  • Continued quality improvements.
  • Increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.
  • Reduced costs and losses.
  • Enhanced job security.
  • Improved production processes.


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. 

Caroline Eisner
Caroline Eisner
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