What is Total Productive Maintenance (TPM)?

What is Total Productive Maintenance?

Total Productive Maintenance is a management practice that comprehensively considers all aspects of equipment upkeep, people’s behavior, and the production process, to achieve and sustain maximum equipment and operations efficiency.

What are the origins of TPM?

The TPM concept was introduced by an automotive components producer Nippon Denso (today “Denso”), the second-biggest member of the Toyota Group. In the 1960s, they were the first to implement preventive maintenance - a regular machine upkeep effort by specialized workers. But as they observed the growth in automation across their plants, they recognized the need to address maintenance more sustainably. Hence, Nippon Denso turned to train the machine operators to perform maintenance themselves (autonomous maintenance), cutting down costs and minimizing downtime.

Thus, together with the introduction of maintenance prevention - work on error-proofing the machines - Nippon Denso has created productive maintenance, later renamed TPM, centered around all employees working together towards machine conservation and keeping high-quality production flowing. Their implementation of it has become a baseline for other companies to draw from.

A metric commonly applied as part of Total Productive Maintenance is OEE - Overall Equipment Efficiency. It helps to analyze the true productivity of machines operating within a process.

How to apply Total Productive Maintenance?

TPM is based on the foundations of Lean 5S - a systematic effort to improve production through the following 5 actions, ensuring optimal working conditions for both the teams and the machinery:

  • Sort: remove unnecessary equipment from work stations,
  • Straighten: clearly organize the remaining equipment,
  • Shine: clean the workspaces to ensure safety and efficiency,
  • Standardize: make the above efforts staple policies for the team,
  • Sustain: keep up with all the established guidelines.

As an extension of these 5S fundamental principles, Total Productive Maintenance focuses on the following areas of maintenance:

Step 1: Autonomous maintenance

Autonomous maintenance means that operating personnel is empowered to carry out basic machinery upkeep, correct minor problems, and alert the specialized teams of issues outside their scope of knowledge. In the process, the operators become more tuned in to their workstation’s needs and health, they gain higher ownership of their impact on the process and are better able to foresee larger issues, as well as suggest improvements.

Step 2: Planned maintenance

As the above point suggests, not all of the maintenance can be done by the operators themselves. Both specialized upkeep and those actions that operators can perform for themselves can be planned ahead of time to minimize unforeseen downtimes. By keeping an eye on failure rates and past machine halts, you should be able to plan upkeep activities for exactly when they are most likely to be required.

Thanks to knowing each station’s scheduled downtime, you will also be able to produce the inventory needed for the process in advance, and avoid maintenance from impacting the entire production line.

Step 3: Kaizen - focused improvement

The idea of Kaizen is to tweak and enhance the process with every opportunity, forever. Rather than sitting down once every few months to see what could be done better, guide the team to spot any small improvement areas themselves, and work together to bring changes - then and there.

Focused improvement works best when your workgroups include members of various functional teams. Different perspectives and knowledge of those workers help create continuously improved processes that respond to everyone’s needs. Allowing the workforce to make improvements for themselves empowers them, removes repeating issues, increases productivity, and decreases waste and defects.

Step 4: Quality maintenance

Maintaining the quality of the produced goods with TPM goes further than just assuring the quality of the end product. Quality maintenance should help you ensure that the achieved quality is a result of ideal machinery conditions, set to avoid defects, and build the quality in, by default. Staying vigilant with regards to your machines’ state will let you steadily foresee problems and fix them as soon as they occur.

Quality maintenance, like all other TPM pillars, relies on machine operators’ efforts to both run them and sustain their top condition. Any actions aimed at minimizing potential defects and reducing their reoccurrence, i.e. Poka-Yoke or Root-Cause Analysis will make the operators’ task easier, and keep the quality of your products high.

Step 5: New equipment management

All the feedback and knowledge gained from machine maintenance and error-proofing that TPM assumes are applied to the process of new equipment design. This means that the moment that a new machine arrives on your production floor, it is already customized to your needs and prepared for common defects detection, as well as for your typical maintenance schedule and practices.

It allows for new machines to be delivering value quicker, more reliably, and to demand less setup time on arrival. The information and suggestions from the very people who will be working with the new machines are heavily employed in new equipment planning.

Step 6: Training

This aspect of Total Productive Maintenance is ensuring that workers across all levels have the information and skills necessary to perform TPM. Equipment operators need to know how to use and maintain their stations, specialized upkeep team members need an in-depth skill set to repair the machines, and managers must be able to effectively communicate with, coach, and discipline both other groups.

Step 7: Office TPM

Given that no production process exists in a vacuum, but is accompanied by administrative functions such as material orders, logistics, and large scale workflow planning, your production maintenance cannot end at the production floor, to be truly total. Office TPM means working towards decreasing waste in bureaucratic activities, streamlining processes adjacent to production, and encouraging process transparency and improvements across all departments.

Step 8: Safety, health, and environment

As an indivisible part of continuous flow in production, TPM works to ensure that the plant and offices are kept safe and accident-free. Total Productive Maintenance builds health and safety risk minimization right into the daily, standardized operations. Happy and well cared for workers are not only the pride of your business, but they’re also a crucial part in keeping defects low and product creation rates high.

Given that most countries’ regulations demand high levels of health & safety policies to be implemented anyway, you would do well to take a chance to align them with your remaining maintenance and Kaizen efforts.

What benefits does TPM bring?

Total Productive Maintenance allows you to achieve maximum equipment effectiveness through employee involvement. The team’s combined efforts will result in:

  • Fewer machine failures, making for higher overall productivity,
  • Safer working environment, creating happier teams, needed to allow the company to grow,
  • Fewer product defects, adding up to higher customer satisfaction and product reputation,
  • Reduced time and resource costs, thanks to minimizing production downtime.