What is TPM?

TPM stands for Total Productive Maintenance (literally “total productive maintenance”) and is an industrial maintenance strategy. In other words, it advocates the idea that all factory workers should be involved in daily maintenance, rather than all responsibility resting with the maintenance technicians.

The origin of TPM dates to 1951 when preventive maintenance was introduced in Japan. The term TPM® was registered as a trademark in 1971 by the JIPM (Japan Institute of Plant Maintenance).

This type of maintenance ensures the expected availability and reliability of operations, equipment, and the system by applying the concepts of prevention, zero defects, zero accidents, and full participation of people. When reference is made to total involvement, this means that traditional preventive maintenance activities can be performed not only by maintenance personnel but also by production personnel, a trained and multi-skilled staff.

Maintenance has traditionally been seen as a separate and external part of the production process. TPM emerged as a need to integrate the maintenance and production departments to improve productivity and availability.

In a company where TPM has been implemented, the entire organization works on maintenance and equipment improvement.

How TPM works

Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) focuses on proactive and preventive maintenance to maximize equipment operating efficiency.

In turn, it eliminates the distinction between production and maintenance competencies by placing a strong emphasis on empowering operators to help maintain their equipment. 

The Japan Institute of Plant Maintenance (JIPM) developed a seven-step method aimed at achieving the attitudinal change essential to the program’s success. The steps to develop the attitude change are as follows:

Phase 1. Initial cleaning

In this phase, the machine is cleaned of dust and dirt, to leave all its parts perfectly visible. A lubrication program is also implemented, its components are adjusted, and the equipment is overhauled (all known defects are repaired).

Phase 2. Measures to discover the causes of dirt, dust, and malfunctions

Once the machine has been cleaned, it is essential that it does not become dirty again and fall into the same state. The causes of dirt, dust and irregular operation (oil leaks, for example) must be avoided, access to places that are difficult to clean and lubricate must be improved, and the time required for these two basic functions (cleaning and lubrication) must be reduced.

Phase 3. Preparation of cleaning and lubrication procedures

In this phase the two primary or first-level maintenance functions assigned to production personnel appear again: Standard procedures are prepared in this phase so that cleaning, lubrication and minor component adjustments can be carried out in a short time.

Phase 4. General inspections

Once the personnel have been made responsible for cleaning, lubrication and minor adjustments, the production personnel are trained to inspect and check the equipment for minor faults and failures in gestation phase, and of course, to fix them.

Phase 5. Autonomous inspections

In this fifth phase, autonomous maintenance, or operational maintenance, sheets are prepared. Checklists of the machines are prepared by the operators themselves and put into practice. In this phase, the real implementation of periodic preventive maintenance by the personnel operating the machine takes place.

Phase 6. Order and Harmony in Distribution

The standardization and procedure creation of activities is one of the essences of Total Quality Management (TQM), which is the philosophy that inspires both TPM and JIT. It seeks to create procedures and standards for cleaning, inspection, lubrication, and record-keeping that will reflect all maintenance and production activities, tool, and spare part management, etc.

A reference state will be determined in this phase so that the comparison between the current state of the machine and its reference state will be easy.

Phase 7. Optimization and activity autonomy

The last phase aims to develop a culture of continuous improvement throughout the company: all downtime caused by failures is systematically recorded, and hola analyzed and solutions are proposed. And all this is promoted and led by the production team itself.

The performance of audits in each phase will indicate the degree of progress, as well as the areas to which we must pay attention if the defined objectives have not been achieved.

Benefits of TPM

The main objective of productive maintenance is to maximize the effectiveness of the plant and the equipment to achieve an optimal cost of the life cycle of the production equipment. The main benefits would be the following:

  • Avoids wastage that occurs due to downtime caused by machine breakdowns.
  • It produces without reducing product quality.
  • Standardization in maintenance work is achieved and, consequently, improvements in productivity and costs are obtained.
  • Maximizes performance and worker productivity.
  • Fulfillment of delivery commitments to customers.
  • Delivering produced goods to customers without defects.
  • In addition, it values a safe working environment, free of workplace accidents.

Fundamental Pillars of TPM

The 8 Pillars of TPM

The 8 pillars of TPM are the fundamental basis of this methodology, each one of them tells us a route to follow to achieve the objectives of eliminating or reducing losses: such as Scheduled Stoppages, Production Adjustments, Equipment Failures, Process Failures, Normal Production Losses, Abnormal Production Losses, Quality Defects and Reprocessing. 

  1. Focused Improvement (Kobetsu Kaizen)
  2. Autonomous Maintenance (Jishu Hozen)
  3. Planned Maintenance
  4. Quality Maintenance (Hinshitsu Hozen)
  5. Maintenance Prevention 
  6. Maintenance support areas
  7. Polyvalence and skills development – Training & Education
  8. Safety, Health, and Environment 



FirstPillar – Focused Improvement or Kobetsu Kaizen

It is to find an opportunity for improvement within the plant, this opportunity must reduce or eliminate a waste.

Second Pillar – Autonomous Maintenance or Jishu Hozen

It is to re-integrate the operator’s work with that of the maintenance operator, in order to reduce waste. The operator is ready to do some basic maintenance, but basically he is the one who reports breakdowns properly, and performs adjustments, lubrication and basic maintenance.

Third Pillar – Planned Maintenance

It is to have a good preventive maintenance, this means to have a good data collection and excellent analysis; then to be able to plan the maintenance that will reduce costs and increase availability. To then implement predictive maintenance.

Fourth Pillar – Quality Maintenance or Hinshitsu Hozen

It is not only how much we make, but what products we can make, what tolerances we can work with, and how many defects are coming out in each process. Defects are caused by a machine problem, a material problem, a method problem, or an operations personnel problem. Therefore, it is important to integrate all of them to identify the cause of the defect.

Fifth Pillar – Maintenance Prevention

It is to plan and investigate new machines that can be used in our organization, for this we must design or redesign processes, verify new projects, perform and evaluate operations tests and finally see the installation and startup.

Sixth pillar – Maintenance support areas

Their functions must be strengthened by improving their organization and culture. To do so, a transactional value chain map should be applied to find opportunities and then launch projects to improve times and errors.

Seventh Pillar – Polyvalence and skills development

Training should be polyvalent, according to the needs of the plant and the organization, many of the wastes are due to the fact that people are not well trained, therefore the planning of the training of people should come out of the opportunities found in the performance of employees and operators.

Eighth Pillar – Safety and Environmental Management

We should have operability studies combined with accident prevention studies. All time and motion studies should have their safety risk analysis.

We must have management indicators that show concrete progress in each of these pillars, we must encourage motivation and thus achieve the objectives planned in each indicator.

How digitisation can help us in this cultural change

Maintenance management involves a significant documentary bureaucracy in many aspects, which takes time away from our operational staff. Therefore, we must take advantage of digitization to make the life of people in the company easier in Lean applications.

There is a huge benefit in time and resources with mlean applications, specifically for TPM, we recommend several:

  • The 5 S are for all the initial stages of cleaning, anomaly detection, and establishing baseline states.
  • TPM, a digital tool for global TPM management
  • Troubleshooting
  • Visual Standard
  • Performing audits and checklists
  • Others (add)

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