What is TPM

What are digital work instructions?

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 digitization 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)

Request a demo

Did you enjoy what you read? The mlean TPM solution is very complete and efficient. Many factories all over the world are successfully using it. Request a demo. 

How to run a Kaizen Event successfully

How to perform a Kaizen Event

What is Kaizen?

We are pretty sure that if you are reading this blog is because you have heard talking about Kaizen. But what is kaizen? It is a Japanese word that started to be used in the master lessons of Deming and Juran during the development and recovery of Japan after II World War. 

Kai = change

Zen = for a better 

Kaizen = change for a better or continuous improvement

It is basically a continuous improvement process worked by team members in the Gemba. The result should be clear action plan in the short term and with low or zero cost. 

Why a Kaizen Event

Do you have unstable processes, weak standards and consequently random results?

We have learned that, in order to stabilize results, we must master Job Standardization (see Blogs on the subject, citing the 3 previous blogs).

Before starting a “Kaizen” Event, it is necessary to have a “Stable” situation, that is to say, we are already practicing the basic lean tools, which in themselves give us a very important contribution to Continuous Improvement, these basic tools are:

  • The 5 S’s
  • Standardization (visual Work Instructions)
  • Job Observation
  • Problem solving

Kaizen must go much further, it aims to break with what it is already in place, established, proposing ambitious objectives to improve our results (Safety, Quality, Productivity, Deadlines…).

Once the Kaizen is done, we will return to the instability of the new solution, therefore, the practice of the basic tools will lead us to the stability and to be able to start a new cycle of Kaizen improvement, that is why we say that improvement has no end…

The figure explains the Kaizen cycle:

How to run a Kaizen Event

Therefore, Kaizen:

  • questions the existing
  • sets ourselves ambitious new targets
  • carries out an in-depth analysis of the current situation from different angles
  • is formed by a multidisciplinary teamwork with the stakeholders involved in the project
  • executes a robust action plan immediately (or in the short term) and at the lowest cost

Kaizen principles

In order to participate in a Kaizen Event, the first thing you need is to have a state of mind open to change things and to question the established

Principles for success in Kaizen:

  • Getting rid of preconceived ideas
  • Do not look for excuses, look for solutions
  • Not defending the current situation, calling it into question
  • It is better to get it right quickly, than perfect later
  • If something is wrong, correct it immediately
  • Search for solutions that do not cost anything
  • Problems are the source of ideas
  • To find the real causes, ask yourself 5 times “why?”
  • The ideas of 10 people are worth more than the knowledge of a single person
  • We can always improve

And, in addition, continually think about eliminating waste:

  • Overproduction
  • Stocks
  • Maintenance
  • Production of defects
  • Non value-added operations
  • Inactivity
  • Useless movements

How to implement a Kaizen Event: Content of Kaizen Method

Organization and responsibilities:

    • Create a multidisciplinary team in which different actors skilled in the subject matter of the process to be improved can participate. These are the suggested team members:
      • A Kaizen event leader, who is familiar with the methodology, not necessarily an expert in the process in question, will lead the work shop.
      • Team Leader of the area: at least 1 (if possible 2 or 3)
  • Operators “upskilled (U) and/or trainers of trainers (O) according to the competency matrix ILUO”, of the positions that need improvement
    • One representative from engineering
    • A logistics representative
    • A maintenance representative
    • A quality representative
    • An ergonomics / safety specialist
    • Management participation in the presentation of the work shop for validation and recognition.
  • Kaizen Event planning:
    • The adviced time for this workshop is a maximum of 2 days, depending on the perimeter. The presence of all stakeholders is a must to be successful 
  • Preparation of the work shop:
    • An area must be selected by the head of the department, and following the improvement priority (derived from the strategic objectives – Hoshin Kanri).
    • Selection of the positions by the team leader and group leader
    • Information collection of the positions studied by the team leader
    • Preparatory observation (all participants)
    • Preparatory discussion with Team Leader operators
  • Define an improvement strategy and quantified objectives based on the problems observed and agreed with the management, some examples:
    • Reducing the number of trips (-20% operating time)
    • Elimination of 2 trunk twists (ergonomics) when picking up parts

Basic notions; it is desirable that all participants are knowledgable with them: 

  • The 4 principles of economy of movement:
    • Reduce the number of movements
    • Execute movements at the same time
    • Shortening movement distances
    • Make movements easier or ergonomic
  • Ability to identify non-value-added or wasteful activities:
    • Overproduction
    • Stocks
    • Maintenance
    • Production of defects
    • Non value-added operations
    • Inactivity
    • Useless movements
  • Improvement knowledge in the implementation of the job positions

Job observation:

  • The first step is the job observation at the shop floor (the Gemba), using different types of analysis for each job analyzed:
    • Analysis of the 7 types of waste
    • Operational sequences analysis (simplified timer)
    • Analysis of movements
    • Simplified ergonomic analysis (and safety)
    • Analysis of non-cyclical operations

Examples of the iKaizen mlean application to be introduced:

Analysis of the data collected:

  • Sharing the data collected:
    • It is a matter of pooling the data collected in the analyses and transferring it to A0 formats, usually by wallpapering the walls of a large work room. This will allow for group discussion.
  • Problems identification:
    • For each of the operating sequences of the job position:
      • We will record the details of each problem encountered, and provide a figure to it. Document Analysis of operating sequences
      • At this stage, we will never deep into a discussion of possible solutions. 

Preparation of improvement proposals:

We have identified, listed and coded the set of problems emerging from the various analyses.

The participation of all the members of the group is necessary through brainstorming. Everyone must participate, especially the operators present:

  • Each problem, taken in isolation, is the subject of a “5 why” analysis; the participants, once they have identified the root causes and have exchanged their proposals for improvement
  • For each improvement proposal, we will try to evaluate the gains (in terms of execution time, ergonomics …).

In addition, we will ensure that all improvement proposals will be based on the different improvement principles of each analysis carried out:

  • Principles of improvement of the 4 principles of Economy of Motion:
    • Example: If we have detected a problem with work with both hands simultaneously, or reduce the dead time of each hand to balance the left hand, right hand work.
  • Principles for improving movements:
    • Example: Bringing workplaces closer together, reducing distances, etc…
  • Ergonomics and safety improvement principles:
    • Example: Reducing stress by adjusting working heights or facilitating the choice of parts or tools.
  • Elimination of non-cyclical operations:
    • Example: Treat systematic anomalies (that lengthen the duty cycle) as a problem. Or reduce frequency operations
  • Principles for improving the balance of posts (if several posts are affected):
    • Example: Assigning each operator a complete process function or concentrating losses at the beginning or end of the process.

This phase will end with our list of identified problems, immediate (or short-term) improvement proposals and the expected benefits for each.

Execution of improvement proposals:

  • After reflecting on their feasibility, effectiveness and cost, the participants select the most appropriate among all the proposals. With the assignment of a person in charge and a commitment deadline.
  • Kaizen proposals that will be implemented immediately are separated from those that will not.

Testing, presentation and completion of the Kaizen event:

It is advisable to implement one or two trials to confirm the validity of the expected gains. In addition, we will have discussed the plan with the other actors who have not participated in the Kaizen event (other operators, Team Leader, Maintenance, etc…).

We will implement trials and action plans in the short to medium term. As we confirm the results, we will establish the new working standards and train all affected participants in the changes.

Management recognition of the team:

This is the leader’s moment, to show management’s commitment to continuous improvement. Recognize, not only the participation of the personnel, but also their contributions by describing problems or providing solutions. Show the need that the participation of “everyone” is essential to continue progressing towards sustainability. 

We are all important and we can all contribute! 

Digital application of Kaizen

As we have seen, the implementation of a Kaizen event requires the allocation of many resources, especially in terms of the number of people involved and a large number of documents. 

Especially the “bureaucracy” in compiling all the analyses in A0 formats. This forces us to move away from the Gemba and into a room far away from the posts in order to manage.

Today, with the mlean iKaizen application, not only are we paperless, but we can work directly on the Gemba, immediately see problems and deal with them quickly. 

Immediate benefits of the application:

  • Estimated time gain of 40% in the work shop (of each of the participants)
  • Immediacy and efficiency due to proximity to Gemba
  • We will avoid the loss of information associated with paper
  • We will ensure the capitalization of experience and traceability


if you have already the Basic Lean tools implemented in your factory and you want to improve event more, please Request a demo for the ikazen tool. 

Request a demo of our iKaizen Tool