Total Productive Maintenance – TPM

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Total productive maintenance, or TPM, is a system that is used in many industries to attempt to maintain and improve the overall integrity of a production process as well as the quality of the systems. This is done to help keep machines, equipment, and work process up and productive as much as is possible, which will help to maximize productivity.

When properly implemented into a workplace, TPM will fully integrate the actual maintenance of machines and equipment into the overall manufacturing process. This is done to help eliminate unplanned outages, losses associated with maintenance, and making it so keeping machines in proper working order is no longer seen as an interruption of work. TPM utilizes the metric Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) to identify what manufacturing losses are affecting your production line the most.

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At first it may seem that putting a priority on maintenance will lead to more frequent outages to conduct the planned maintenance, that is typically not the case. Instead, the total number of outages is reduced, and the advantages of having the maintenance outages planned ahead of time results in significant increases in productivity.

The TPM Pillars

The total productive maintenance system is built on seven primary concepts, also called pillars. These pillars work together to help maximize system uptimes and ensure the right strategies are followed to get the most out of every system.

The TPM pillars, which are explained in detail below, are built on the foundation of full employee participation. When all employees are actively following the TPM strategies, it is possible to get exceptional results.

TPM Pillars

Autonomous Maintenance

The first pillar is autonomous maintenance, which means that the people who work on equipment and in work areas will be responsible for monitoring the condition of the area themselves. When they notice that something is becoming worn out or showing signs of damage, they will report it to the proper area in order to get it fixed right away.

While scheduled maintenance is important, and routine inspections are essential, nothing can replace having the people actually working on equipment every day when it comes to watching for problems. Someone who drives a high-low is going to notice when it is riding rough or having other issues long before problems would be discovered using normal maintenance techniques.

Focused Improvement

The area leadership teams will gather all of the information that is reported to them from the first TPM pillar and make sure that the issues are resolved in the proper order. This pillar is focused on making sure the right maintenance resources are working on the right things at the right times.

By addressing serious problems first, and working their way down to minor annoyances or issues that have no immediate impact, it is possible to focus all efforts efficiently. While it is ideal to address every concern immediately when it comes in, most facilities don't have sufficient resources to get this type of thing done. For this reason, using focused improvement techniques can help ensure everything is addressed properly.

Planned Maintenance

The third pillar is preventative maintenance, and is the actual task of addressing problems before they occur. There are many types of preventative maintenance that can take place, and facilities that have a strong focus on this pillar tend to have minimal downtime.

Creating a schedule of planned maintenance is the job of the team leaders, which they will then share with the front-line workers as well as the maintenance team. By keeping everyone informed of what is happening, and when, it is possible to ensure scheduled maintenance like this is minimally disruptive to overall production.

Process Quality Maintenance

Improving the processes that are used within the facility is another important part of this system. Implementing high quality procedures for all the work that is done will not only make each individual more productive, but it can also help to reduce the ware that is put on the machines and other equipment. Machines that do the same thing every time, and are doing it in the most efficient way possible, will have fewer problems than when each shift or even each employee is doing things a different way.


As with almost all workplace improvement programs, TPM is going to require that the employees are provided with sufficient education and training to understand what they need to do, and why. An effective total productive maintenance training program will include both initial education provided to new employees, and continuous improvement training to help the facility enjoy ongoing benefits.

Office TPM

This pillar involves all the different 'administrative' tasks associated with the total productive maintenance program in a facility. Gathering data and compiling it, issuing maintenance schedules, and much more can all help to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of the TPM process.

The information that is gathered, compiled, and saved should be shared with the rest of the company. Providing them with information can help the different teams to see how their efforts are contributing to the overall facility improvement. This pillar also helps to track data over time so it can be made clear just how effective the TPM system is in the facility.

Safety, Health, Environment

Implementing safety processes in a facility will help to further reduce downtime, and potential damage or other issues to machines and other industry resources. By focusing on the overall safety and health of the employees, the work environment will be better in many ways.

One of the most important aspects of this pillar is that everyone needs to remember that safety concerns are the most important. Even if a machine is only having minor signs of problems, if those problems could lead to an accident or injury, it should be placed at the top of the scheduled maintenance that needs to be completed right away.

Ways to Use Total Productive Maintenance

When working to implement TPM in a facility, it is important to know all the different ways that it can be used. The more a company knows about TPM, the more benefits that can be enjoyed. As with all strategies and methodologies like this, the results will be largely dependent on how much effort is put in up front to learn how it can be used best.

TPM in Manufacturing

Total productive maintenance is primarily used in the manufacturing industry. While it can be adapted for other work environments, manufacturing is where it works best and can provide the best results. Since manufacturing facilities have so many different machines and other equipment, using a good maintenance strategy like this is essential for avoiding downtime and improving overall production results.

Using TPM Lean Strategies

Total productive maintenance is considered to be by many to be a part of the overall 'lean manufacturing' methodology. This is because while the stated goals of TPM is to keep productivity up and improve maintenance in a facility, the end result is a facility that has far less waste.

When properly implemented, TPM will reduce waste in many forms including wasted time, wasted effort, inefficiencies, and even defects. While it will take a significant amount of work to properly implement the TPM methodology in a facility, the results can lead to significant overall improvements.

Some people believe that of all the different lean strategies used in manufacturing facilities, TPM is the most difficult to fully implement. This is because it has a direct impact on every employee in the facility as well as every machine and piece of equipment. Despite this, however, companies that have implemented this methodology successfully agree that it is well worth the effort.

Total Productive Maintenance Tools

It is technically possible to use the TPM strategies in a faculty without any expenses or other requirements. There are, however, many tools that can be used when implementing TPM into a facility to help improve effectiveness of the system. Using the right tools can streamline many processes and help generate better results than would otherwise be possible. The following are some of the different types of tools that many facilities use:

  • Inspection Cards - TPM inspection cards can provide a visual indicator of when something has been inspected, by whom, and what type of maintenance may be needed.
  • Tags - When a problem is found that needs maintenance, TPM tags can be applied to the area in question so that the maintenance team knows exactly where to go to complete their job.
  • Training Guides - There are a variety of different types of training guides available to help get employees up to speed with regards to how TPM should be used in the facility.
  • TPM Forms - Having standard forms that are filled out when completing TPM inspections or other related work is a good way to ensure standard information is gathered and kept. This can then be used to plan for long term improvements of any facility.

There are many different types of TPM tools that can be used in a facility. Some of the tools are made specifically to help with TPM, and others are more generic tools that can be used for many things, including TPM. Facilities looking to successfully implement these types of strategies can invest in these tools all up front, or add new ones over time, depending on budgets and other factors.


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