Understanding Total productive maintenance (TPM)

In today’s industrial world, there are some implementation organizations must endeavor to perform to keep them in good working standard, such the Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) and the Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE). The total productive maintenance TPM is a strategy that operates according to the idea that everyone in a facility should take part in maintenance, not only the maintenance team. This method uses the skills of all employees and helps incorporate maintenance into the everyday performance of a facility.

Today you’ll get to know the definition, importance, implementation, advantages, and disadvantages of total productive maintenance (TPM). You’ll also get to know the 5S and the eight pillars of total productive maintenance.

total productive maintenance TPM

Read more: Understanding plant maintenance


What is Total Productive Maintenance?

Total productive maintenance (TPM) is the process of using machines, equipment, employees, and supporting processes to maintain and improve the integrity of production and the quality of systems. It is a holistic approach to equipment maintenance that strives to achieve perfect production. That is, no breakdown, small stops or slow running, defects, and no accidents.

The industrial process emphasizes proactive and preventive maintenance to maximize the operational efficiency of the equipment. TPM introduced roles of production and maintenance, placing a strong emphasis on empowering operators to help maintain their equipment. The implementation of the TPM program creates a shared responsibility for equipment that encourages greater involvement by workers. When performing properly, it can be very effective in improving productivity by increasing uptime, eliminating defects, and reducing cycle times.

With the above-mentioned goal of a total productive maintenance program, it can greatly impact the organization’s overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) over time. To achieve this, everyone must bear preventive maintenance in mind, that is, eliminating the mindset of “we’ll fix it when it breaks” and turning it to putting machinery at the core focus of an operation and maximizing its availability. This is one of the importance of implementing the TPM program.

Using TPM to improving OEE can be done by forming small, multidisciplinary teams to address vital areas like preventive and autonomous maintenance, training employees who operate machinery, and the security and standardization of work processes.  Finally, the definition of Total Productive maintenance, focuses on the effective and efficient use of the means of production, that is, all departments must be involved. With the small teamwork, productivity is increase and downtime is decrease through equipment reliability.

Read more: Understanding overall equipment effectiveness

The 5S of Total Productive Maintenance TPM

The 5S of total productive maintenance strategy stands for sort, systemize, shine, standardize, and sustain.


The sort is recorded to know the most frequently used item and one’s that are not. Most frequently used items are to be kept close by and others should be stored further away. Organizing all assets in one place with an asset organizer template.


Each item should have one place of storage.


Shine here meant keeping the workplace clean, without this, problems will be more difficult to identify, and maintenance will be difficult for the employees.


The workplace should be standardized and label, in the sense that, creating processes where none existed previously. Finally,


All the above listed should be implemented continually. Once the foundation is laid, then the organization can think of originating the eight pillars of TPM.

Note: The total productive maintenance program was developed by Seiichi Nakajima of Japan in the late 1960s and 1970s. The process was built on eight pillars based on the 5S system. This 5S system is an organizational method based around five Japanese words and their meaning:

  • Seiri (organize): eliminating clutter from the workspace
  • Seiton (orderliness): ensure order by following “a place for everything and everything in its place”
  • Seiso (cleanliness): clean the workspace and keep it that way
  • Seiketsu (standardize): standardize all work processes, making them consistent
  • Shitsuke (sustain): constantly reinforcing the first four steps

Read more: Different types of maintenance culture for industrial purposes

The 8 pillars of Total Productive Maintenance (TPM)

The pillars of total productive maintenance deal with proactive and preventive techniques to help improve equipment reliability. The following are the eight pillars:

Autonomous maintenance:

The autonomous maintenance ensures all operators are fully trained on routine maintenance such as cleaning, lubricating, inspecting. With this, the operators have the feeling of ownership of their equipment and increase their knowledge of the particular piece of equipment. Autonomous maintenance also guarantees the machinery is always clean and lubricated. It helps the operator notice issues before becoming failures.

The maintenance process involves cleaning the machine to a “baseline” standard that the operator must maintain. Operators are trained on technical skills for conducting a routine inspection based on the machine’s manual. The operators set his or her own autonomous inspection schedule after training. Although there is a standard that ensures everyone follows the same procedures and processes.

Focused improvement:

Focus improvement is based on the Japanese term “kaizen,” which means “improvement.” This process requires improving functions and processes continually. It looks at the process as a whole and brainstorms idea for how to improve it. Small teams have the mindset of proactively working together to implement regular, incremental improvements to processes about equipment operation. This is the key for TPM. Different sets of team members will allow for the identification of recurring problems through cross-functional brainstorming. This will also help combines input from across the company so teams can see how processes affect different departments.

Furthermore, focused improvement increases efficiency by decreasing product defects and the number of processes while enhancing safety. This is achieved by analyzing the risks of each action. Also, focused improvement ensures improvements are standardized, making them sustainable and repeatable.

Planned maintenance:

Maintenance involves the study of metrics like failure rates and historical downtime and then scheduling maintenance tasks based on the measured failure and downtime period. Because there is specific time maintenance can be performed on equipment, one can schedule maintenance around the time the equipment is idle or producing low capacity, rarely interrupting production.

Furthermore, planned maintenance allows for inventory buildup for when scheduled maintenance occurs. This is achieved because you know when each piece of equipment is scheduled for maintenance activities, having the inventory buildup ensures any decrease in production due to maintenance is mitigated.

Implementing this proactive method can greatly reduce the amount of unplanned downtime by allowing for most maintenance to be planned for times when machinery is not scheduled for production. With this, inventory is planned thoroughly by giving the ability to better control parts that are prone to wear and failure. Some other benefits include a gradual decrease in breakdowns resulting in uptime, and a reduction in capital investments in equipment because they are being used to their maximum potential.

Read more: Maintenance in technical aspects

Quality maintenance:

The quality of maintenance being performed must be adequate, else the purpose of maintaining is useless. This maintenance pillar focuses on working design error detection and prevention into the production process. This can accomplish by using root cause analysis (specifically the 5S techniques) to identify and remove recurring sources of defects. The processes become more reliable when the source of errors or defects is proactively detected.

One of the most benefits of quality maintenance is to prevent defective products from moving down the line which could lead to a lot of reworks. Quality issues are addressed, and permanent countermeasures are put in place with targeted quality maintenance. Also, minimizing or eliminating defects and downtime related to defected products.

Early equipment management:

This pillar of TPM takes the practical knowledge and overall understanding of manufacturing equipment acquired through total productive maintenance. This knowledge is used to improve the design of new equipment. Equipment designed with the input of people who are used to it makes suppliers improve maintainability and the way a machine will operate in future designs.

In the design of equipment, ease of cleaning and lubrication, accessibility of parts, ergonomically placing controls in a way that is comfortable for the operator. Also, how changeovers occur and safety features. Implementing this approach increases efficiency even more because new equipment already meets the desired specifications and has fewer startup issues. With this, reaching planned performance levels is easier and quicker.

Training and education:

Operators, managers, and maintenance personnel are expected to have training and education in the field. Lacking knowledge about equipment can derail a TPM program. They are expected to carry every along with the TPM process and to address any knowledge gaps so purpose can be achieved. Operators should learn skills to proactively maintain equipment and identify emerging problems. Also, the maintenance team should learn how to implement a proactive and preventive maintenance schedule, and managers become well-versed in TPM principles, employee development, and coaching.

Safety, health, and environment:

When a safe working environment is maintained, employees can perform their tasks in a safe place without health risks. The management should ensure the environment makes production more efficient, and should not be at risk to employee’s safety and health. To achieve this, solutions introduced in the TPM process must always consider safety, health, and the environment.

One good advantage is when employees come to work in a safe environment each day, their attitude tends to be better because there is no worry about this significant aspect. Therefore, productivity will increase noticeably. Finally,

TPM in administration:

Total preventive maintenance should look beyond the plant floor by addressing and eliminating areas of waste in administrative functions. Which means supporting production by improving things like order processing, procurement, and scheduling. The administrative functions are often the first step in the entire manufacturing process, which is why they should be streamlined and waste-free. For instance, for processing procedures to be more streamlined, materials are available are quick as possible and with fewer errors. Also, eliminating potential downtime while missing parts are tracked down.

Implementation of Total Productive Maintenance (TPM)

Implementing TPM can be easily understood since you’ve undergone the 5S system and pillars on which the TPM process is built. How to implement the program can achieve in just five steps such as identifying a pilot area, restoring equipment to prime operating condition, measuring OEE, addressing and reducing major losses, and implementing planned maintenance.

Identify a pilot area:

Some questions need to be considered when choosing equipment for a pilot area; what’s the easiest to improve? (That is, selecting equipment that is easiest to improve and gives the chance for immediate and positive results). Secondly, Where’s the bottleneck? (Choosing equipment based on where production is clearly being held up, giving an immediate increase in total output and provides quick payback). The drawback here is that employing the equipment as a pilot means you’re using a critical asset as an example and risk the chance of it being offline longer than you like. Finally, what’s the most problematic? (Fixing equipment that gives operators the most troubles will be well-received, strengthening support for the TPM program). The issue here is that you’ll not have much immediate payback as the previous approach, and it may be challenging to obtain a quick result from figuring out an unsolved problem, resulting in loss of interest.

The best choice when implementing a TPM program for the time is the first approach, which is the easiest equipment to improve. Although one may choose to correct the bottleneck if he/she has some or extensive experience with total productive maintenance. This is because you can build temporary stock or inventory, making sure downtime can be tolerated, which reduces risk. Everybody in the business should participate in the pilot selection process.

Restore equipment to prime operating condition:

The approach revolves around the 5S system and autonomous maintenance. Firstly, TPM participants should learn to continuously keep equipment to its original condition using the 5S system such as organize, cleanliness, orderliness, standardize and sustain.  This can be achieved by:

  • Photographing the area and current state of the equipment and then posting them to the project board.
  • Clearing the area by removing unused tools, debris, and anything that can be considered waste.
  • Organizing the tools and components that are regularly used.
  • Serous cleaning the equipment and the surrounding.
  • Recording the improvement of the equipment and surrounding area and then posting to the project board.
  • The 5S system should be standardized and maintain its continuity.
  • Auditing the process with lessening frequency (first daily, then weekly, etc.) to ensure the 5S process is effective and being followed.

After forming a baseline state of the equipment, the operators should now be trained on how to clean equipment while inspecting it for wear and abnormalities. This can be accomplished by implementing the autonomous maintenance program. Creating this autonomous maintenance program is by developing a standardized way to clean, inspect and lubricate equipment correctly. Below are the items to address during the planning period for the autonomous maintenance program:

  • Identifying and recoding inspecting points
  • Increasing visibility where possible to help with the inspection while the machine is running.
  • Identifying and clearly labeling set points with their corresponding settings (some people put these labels with settings directly on the equipment).
  • Identifying all lubrication points and scheduling maintenance during changeovers or planned downtime (difficult-to-access lubrication points that require stopping the machine on the outside of the equipment should not be left out).
  • Operators should be trained to be aware of any emerging or potential issues so they can report them to the line supervisor.
  • An autonomous maintenance checklist should be created for all operator-controlled tasks.
  • Auditing the process with lessening frequency to ensure the checklist is being followed.

Measure the Overall Equipment Effectiveness OEE

The OEE of the targeted equipment should be track either manually or using automated software. Measuring OEE on regular basis gives a data-driven confirmation on whether your TPM program is working and lets you track progress over time. Every unplanned stoppage event should be categorized since the biggest losses regarding equipment are the result of unplanned downtime. With this, a more accurate look at where a stoppage is occurring is known and allocated. Also include an “unknown” stoppage time category for unknown causes.

Having data for a minimum of two weeks is recommended to get an accurate representation of the unplanned stoppage time. It also gives a clear picture of how small stops and slow cycles impact production.

Address/Reduce major losses:

After obtaining the data-driven snapshot of where your top losses are, it’s now time to address them. This step is accomplished using the previously discussed pillar of focused improvement or kaizen by putting together a cross-functional team of operators, maintenance personnel, and supervisors that can dissect the OEE data using root cause analysis, and identify the main cause(s) of the losses. The team process should look like this:

The loss based on OEE and stoppage time data should be selected since this is the biggest source of unplanned stoppage time.

Examine the symptoms of the problems, by collecting detailed information on symptoms like observations, physical evidence, and photographic evidence. Recording information while you’re at the equipment is strongly recommended and using a fishbone diagram to track symptoms is also essential.

The potential causes of the problems should identify and discuss with your team. Check the possible causes against the evidence you’ve gathered, and brainstorm the most effective ways to solve the issues.

Schedule planned downtime to implement the agreed-upon fixes.

Restart production and observe how effective the fix is overtime after been implemented. If it resolves the issue, make a note to implement the change and move onto the next cause of stoppage time. Else, gather more information and hold another brainstorming session. Finally,

Implement Planned maintenance

This is the last step of implementing the TPM process, accomplish by integrating proactive maintenance techniques into the program. It involves working off the third pillar of planned maintenance. Equipment that requires proactive maintenance should be chosen by looking at these three factors: wear components, components that fail, and stress points. Identifying stress points is mostly performed using infrared thermography and vibration analysis.

Secondly, use proactive maintenance intervals. These intervals can be updated as required, that is, they should be flexible and can accommodate change. For wear and predicted failure-based components, establish the current wear level and then a baseline replacement interval. You can now create a proactive replacement schedule of all wear- and failure-prone components once intervals have been determined. By achieving this, use “run time” as opposed to “calendar time.” Finally, create a standardized process for creating work orders based on the planned maintenance schedule.

Advantages and disadvantages of total productive maintenance (TPM)


Below are the benefits of TPM in their various applications.

  • Fewer breakdowns since big issues are more likely to be spotted early and machine operators can easily notice changes with their equipment.
  • Safer workplace because everyone keeps maintenance in mind. Problems are easily spotted and dealt with before becoming dangerous situations.
  • Better overall performance because everyone in the facility is keeping eye on maintenance, small fixes will stop going undetected.

The applications of the TPM program can impact the facility directly and indirectly. Below are the benefits of total productive maintenance in tabular form.


Benefits of Total Productive Maintenance
Direct BenefitsIndirect Benefits
Less unplanned downtime increasing OEEIncrease in employee confidence levels
Reduction in customer complaintsProduces a clean, orderly workplace
Reduction in workplace accidentsIncrease in positive attitudes among employees through a sense of ownership
Reduction in manufacturing costsPollution control measures are followed
Increase in product qualityCross-departmental shared knowledge and experience



The only disadvantages of total productive maintenance are that it involves thorough planning, focus, and discipline. However, the outcome is worth it.


Total productive maintenance (TPM) is the process of using machines, equipment, employees, and supporting processes to maintain and improve the integrity of production and the quality of systems. It focuses on the effective and efficient use of the means of production, that is, all departments must be involved. With the small teamwork, productivity is increase and downtime is decrease through equipment reliability. That is all for this article, where the definition, importance, implementation, advantages, and disadvantages of total productive maintenance (TPM) are being discussed. You also learned the 5S and the eight pillars of total productive maintenance.

I hope you got a lot from the reading, if so, kindly share with other students. Thanks for reading, see you next time!

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