Total Productive Maintenance (TPM)

Total Productive Maintenance (TPM)Takeaway: Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) is a process that maximizes the productivity of equipment for its entire life cycle and will extend the life of the equipment.


Evolution of Maintenance

How we approach equipment maintenance has evolved. TPM provides a framework for extending the life of equipment and improving reliability. It does this through the participation of all employees following a structured approach. TPM creates an environment that encourages improvement efforts in safety, quality, cost, delivery, and creativity.

The higher the demand on a piece of equipment, the more necessary it becomes to keep it running and working efficiently. It does not matter if we are dealing with construction heavy equipment or machinery used in a factory. We need a proactive approach to maintenance.

How we perform equipment maintenance has improved throughout the years:


History of maintenance

  • Prior to 1950: Run to failure was the predominant approach. Run the equipment until it breaks and then fix it. This is known as breakdown maintenance.
  • 1950 to 1960: Preventative Maintenance (PM) developed.
  • 1960 to 1970: Total Productive Maintenance introduced.
  • 1970 to now: TPM grows in acceptance and practice around the world.


Prior to the 1950s, breakdown maintenance was the dominant maintenance program. It is the most ineffective of the methods. We run the equipment and when it breaks… we fix it.

Preventative Maintenance programs focus on servicing equipment to maintain the machinery and its reliability. This is the maintenance system I see used most often. It is better than breakdown maintenance but it is limited in scope and effectiveness.


TPM, the Optimal Maintenance Program

The primary purpose of total productive maintenance is to improve the overall equipment effectiveness (OEE).  OEE provides the metric TPM will be measured against. In all equipment use, we need reliability. TPM provides a unique framework with set goals including:

Goals of TPM

  • Develop people who are equipment-knowledgeable.
  • Create well-engineered equipment: building in safety and quality.
  • Maximize equipment productivity as measured by Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE). As we learn what our losses are from (OEE 6 big losses), we use TPM to address them.
  • Create an environment where cooperation and creativity flourish to sustain the improvements.

One of the unique aspects of TPM is that it is autonomous. Equipment operators are given more responsibility, training, and control. In a conventional setting, a machine or equipment operator (this can be in a factory or the field with construction equipment) runs the equipment and when it breaks down contacts maintenance personnel. In contrast, TPM allows operators to perform basic maintenance tasks such as lubrication, bolt tightening, cleaning, inspecting, and minor repairs.

This approach is more effective at preventing breakdowns, maintaining reliability and extending equipment life.


Accelerated Equipment Deterioration

Natural equipment deterioration begins as soon as equipment is put into use. Deterioration occurs from daily wear and tear even though the equipment is properly maintained.

Accelerated equipment deterioration can be caused by:

  • Improper lubrication
  • Dirty, wet, or oily contacts
  • Wear from dirty moving parts
  • Overheating due to dirty, clogged cooling fans

TPM addresses these deterioration issues by providing training for operators (basic upkeep, lubrication, etc.) and by daily inspections. The operators are given a greater level of equipment ownership. Operators can identify abnormalities sooner and respond. We want employees to take pride in the equipment they use. Maintaining it reflects on them as they are given the ability to care for it through TPM.

This leads to improved operator skills and can drive many improvements.

With traditional maintenance, the maintenance department is responsible for all machine maintenance. Traditional maintenance won’t get rid of breakdowns and defects.

TPM eliminates breakdowns and defects by giving operators a central role in carrying out autonomous maintenance daily.


Corrective Maintenance

Corrective maintenance is another unique aspect of TPM. As those that use the equipment become more familiar with basic machine operation and maintenance, they are encouraged to identify improvements that can be made to the equipment. In lean terms, this would be called “Kaizen.”

The Kaizen Program allows for all employees to come up with improvement projects in a controlled environment. It provides a framework for submitting improvement ideas and driving them forward if approved.

Corrective maintenance may include developing better ways to lubricate equipment, finding longer wear parts, or improving some aspect of the machinery. There may be improvements to safety such as better ergonomics. I have seen equipment improved by such things as switching to high-wear parts, better lubrication methods, enclosed bearings, improved electronics, modified guards, etc.


Basic Steps to TPM

  • Begin measuring OEE. We can’t improve what we don’t measure.
  • Clean and restore equipment to like new. (As much as possible. This is like 5S+1 for equipment. We need to see problems such as oil leaks when they occur.)
  • Establish daily TPM tasks such as inspection using a safety pre-inspection sheet or electronic form. The inspection should take no more than 5 to 10 minutes. (check oil, filters, gauges, hydraulics, etc.)
  • Establish operator ownership of equipment. We take pride in ownership.
  • Provide basic training and resources. (including maintenance support and kaizen program)


Mobile Devices

Instead of mountains of log books and check sheets, mobile devices are perfect for managing TPM efforts. We want to record and track all maintenance activities. We need to know the average run time between part failures. We need predictability and baselines for improvements. Data collected can be used with engineering tools such as fault tree analysis and potential problems analysis.

Inspections can record needed information and be stored in the cloud for easy access. Real-time information needs to be captured and accessible to those involved in TPM efforts. Though operators are given more responsibility, we still need monitoring from maintenance experts and managers.  


Give It a Try

TPM provides too many benefits to ignore. It is becoming the preferred maintenance program for manufacturing and many other industries. It is worth your time and attention to check out. TPM is a program you can slowly initiate while letting its benefits sell itself.

Maintenance is evolving. Is your company taking advantage of TPM?

Recommended Posts