An Introduction to Total Productive Maintenance


If you work in the industrial world, chances are you’ve heard the term “total productive maintenance.” But you may be wondering what this ideology is and how it can benefit your organization.

What is total productive maintenance?
Total productive maintenance, or TPM, is a maintenance concept that believes industry workers should take an active role in continuously updating and fixing their own equipment, not just waiting until something breaks to practice maintenance. The Plant Maintenance Resource Center referred to TPM as being “the medical science of machines.” The idea is this — the same way people see physicians for yearly checkups, machines and appliances should be looked at regularly even if they seem to be operating well. TPM essentially combines the philosophies of preventive and proactive maintenance to create a mindset of constant improvement among an entire workforce.

According to, the goal of TPM is to prevent breakdowns, increase productivity and improve the quality of the product. TPM emphasizes equipment efficiency and often helps workers from both production and maintenance to come together as teammates. This improved communication among different groups of staff often helps facilities decrease cycle times and eliminate product defects.

The concept of TPM, which was created in Japan, requires complete workforce participation. Top level management needs to make the major decisions surrounding maintenance issues, operators need to take care of equipment on a daily basis and report damages and maintenance staff are supposed to look for areas to improve overall equipment effectiveness, or OEE.

How is TPM implemented?
The TPM model was created in the 1960s and involves multiple phases of implementation. Maintenance Assistant explained that the first phase of the program is called “5S” for the five keywords used to describe it:

  • Sort – Make a list of which tools are used most often and keep them close by. Relegate other non-essential items to storage.
  • Systemize – Every tool has a place, and every item should remain in its designated spot when not in use.
  • Shine – Keep all workspaces clean and clear of clutter so maintenance can be performed efficiently.
  • Standardize – Have standards in place for all these practices so you have a concept of quality to strive for.
  • Self-discipline – All workers should be vigilant about these maintenance concepts at all times.

Once your organization has completed the first phase of TPM, workers should start focusing on the eight pillars, or eight techniques for preventive and proactive maintenance:

  • Autonomous maintenance – The idea that operators are personally responsible for cleaning, lubricating and inspecting machines.
  • Planned maintenance – Organizations should use measured failure rates to schedule major important maintenance practices.
  • Quality maintenance – Instill the idea of error prevention into the production team and research the cause of common quality errors.
  • Focused improvement – Create small teams of workers and assign them responsibility for certain maintenance tasks.
  • Early equipment management – Knowledge of TPM should be used when selecting or constructing new pieces of equipment.
  • Training and education – Upper management should make sure all managers, personnel and operators have a strong grasp on the concept of TPM.
  • Health, safety and environment – Make sure the facility is a safe and healthy workplace.
  • TPM in administration – Implement TPM practices in managerial tasks.

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