What Is Total Productive Maintenance and How Does It Help in Equipment Effectiveness

In the 1950s, Japanese national Seiichi Nakajima developed a framework for the manufacturing industry and named it "Total Productive Maintenance" (TPM), which aims to reduce production and operating costs by eliminating waste.

Nakajima's TPM model didn't find much traction outside Japan until it was introduced by multinational automaker Toyota in the 1970s. Nakajima, recognized worldwide as the father of TPM, enabled Toyota to catapult its performance to the next level.

Toyota's implementation of total productive maintenance facilitated greater participation and engagement, enabled continuous improvement, and encouraged employees to leverage their expertise and knowledge for improving OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness).

The following article presents a comprehensive overview of what is total productive maintenance, the benefits of total productive maintenance, the 5s foundation of TPM, and its 8 pillars. 

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What Is Total Productive Maintenance?

A key component of Lean Management/Manufacturing, total productive maintenance embraces a comprehensive strategy for optimizing facility maintenance with the primary goal of eliminating resource waste, employee accidents, product defects, and unplanned downtime. These objectives are achieved through preventive maintenance, continuous training, and effective collaboration between production and maintenance personnel.

With equipment effectiveness at its core, total productive maintenance empowers equipment operators with skills training, proactive maintenance programs, and productivity benchmark assessments, so that they can fully take charge of the maintenance of assets assigned to them. Higher levels of workforce autonomy decrease over-dependence on breakdown/reactive maintenance.

What Are the Benefits of Total Productive Maintenance (TPM)?

By implementing and leveraging TPM principles, such as scheduling preventive maintenance tasks and involving machine operators to perform equipment maintenance activities, organizations can reap the following benefits of total productive maintenance:​​​​​​​

  • Minimal malfunctions of equipment
  • Elimination of unforeseen downtime
  • Enhanced performance and output
  • Lower operating costs
  • Cleaner and healthier work environment
  • Improved workplace safety due to stricter adherence to safety regulations
  • Intensified skill development
  • Greater employee empowerment
  • Higher collaboration and sharing of knowledge between departments and teams
  • Reduced risks of accidents
  • Better compliance with environmental laws and guidelines
  • Increased satisfaction among all stakeholders

What Are the 5s Foundation of Total Productive Maintenance?

The "5s" are the core elements of total productive maintenance, which serve as the foundation for TPM. When implemented correctly, the 5s help create a clean, safe, efficient, and organized workplace that boosts equipment effectiveness, improves efficiency, and reduces waste. The 5s of total productive maintenance are as follows:

  • Sort: Separate important tools, materials, and equipment from the less-important ones, and remove unnecessary items from the workspace.
  • Straighten: Organize everything that's important and make sure that they are always available at the right time and in the right place. 
  • Shine: Inspect and clean the workplace at all times, including tools and equipment, to avoid equipment breakdowns.
  • Standardize: Develop a framework and establish clear standards to facilitate the implementation of the above 3 Ss.
  • Sustain: Ensure long-term sustainment of the 5s methodology through continuous improvement and regular audits of safety regulations.

To set up a wholescale maintenance program, 5s should be applied together with the “8 pillars” of total productive maintenance listed below.

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The 8 Pillars of TPM (Total Productive Maintenance)

TPM consists of 8 pillars that mainly focus on preventive and proactive maintenance practices aimed at improving equipment performance and reliability. The 8 pillars of total productive maintenance are:

Autonomous Maintenance

The concept of autonomous maintenance refers to routine, preventive maintenance activities to be performed by operators, such as lubricating, cleaning, and servicing production lines. Giving operators a greater level of responsibility ensures early detection of equipment issues before they develop into critical problems.

Kaizen (Focused Improvement)

Kaizen, which means "continuous improvement" in Japanese, is a business philosophy that views productivity enhancements as a methodical and gradual progression. It promotes collaboration among teams for incremental process improvements and problem solving through cross-functional approaches, with the common intention of creating an organizational culture of focused, continuous improvement.

Planned Maintenance

Scheduled maintenance activities based on failure-rate datasets. Planned maintenance extends machine life, minimizes malfunctions, and reduces the risk of a breakdown.

Early Equipment Management

A process that capitalizes on existing knowledge of current equipment to develop improved and more efficient new machines. Having a prior understanding of the new machines in operation not only helps achieve optimized performance levels, but it also simplifies maintenance tasks dramatically.

Quality Maintenance

The primary objective of quality maintenance is to enhance production quality by eliminating the underlying cause of failures and defects. It focuses on making fault diagnosis an integral part of the overall production process.

Training and Education

One of the main goals of total productive maintenance is to provide continuous and adequate training to address the skills gap of all personnel. This ensures that the entire workforce, be it production managers, machine operators, or maintenance technicians, remains highly trained to meet TPM standards.

TPM in Office Environment

TPM is not just limited to production facilities - it also intends to improve office and administrative operations. Companies should keep in mind that the principles of total productive maintenance need to be adopted throughout an organizational structure, including offices, which will facilitate waste elimination and increase administrative efficiency in procurement, order processing, and scheduling.

SHE (Safety, Health, Environment)

The top priority of total productive maintenance is to offer a healthy and safe ecosystem for all employees. Planned maintenance activities eliminate the risk of mishaps, ensuring accident-free workplace environments.

What Is the Connection Between TPM and OEE? 

OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness) is a metric that scores the overall effectiveness or health of equipment, as a percentage, based on its output quality, availability, and performance.

OEE represents the Key Performance Indicator (KPI) of a total productive maintenance program. It supports TPM strategies by precisely tracking the progress, to help achieve the "Perfect Production" - optimized operation, no downtime, no defects.

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Forward-thinking companies are increasingly taking an approach to integrate total productive maintenance with Lean Management and Six Sigma methodologies to drive production efficiency, reduce downtime, eliminate waste, and deliver more value to their customers. Therefore, to fully implement the key principles of TPM, it is crucial to understand the overlapping concepts of Six Sigma and Lean Management practices.

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