Total Productive Maintenance

What is total productive maintenance?

Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) is a maintenance strategy that requires total participation of the organization. This method maximizes equipment effectiveness by engaging multiple departments and including every single employee from top management down to the workforce.

Total productive maintenance workflow


TPM is an innovative concept in the manufacturing industry that evolved from the idea of preventive maintenance to adopt practices of productive maintenance, maintenance prevention, and reliability Engineering. What we now refer to as TPM, has become an ingenious approach to achieve overall equipment effectiveness by involving the workforce behind the machines (i.e. the operators).

The developments in TPM were first seen in Japan. Toyota was one of the first companies to receive TPM certification. The philosophy behind TPM was pivotal in achieving Toyota’s Just In Time level of service and reliability in their production facilities. Seiichi Nakajima, regarded as the Father of TPM, describes this philosophy in a quote: “TPM is the making of products through the making of people”.

Eight pillars of total productive maintenance

1) 5S - Sort, straighten, shine, standardize, and sustain

Just like a physical structure starts with a grounded framework, building a strong TPM process requires a strong foundation in the form of the principles of 5S. This is a workplace organization method that is simplified into 5 basic steps:

  • Sort tools, equipment, and materials to identify which of these can be discarded
  • Straighten and set things in proper order to reduce unnecessary motion and efficiently travel between working groups and locations
  • Shine refers to performing necessary housekeeping to clean up the work area
  • Standardize and schedule activities to systematically form the habits to keep the workplace organized
  • Sustain the process and principles for long-term applications

The 5S approach provides a systematic approach to cleaning the workplace, thereby uncovering underlying problems and challenges.

2) Autonomous maintenance

Maintenance tasks and caring for equipment should start with the people using the equipment. The empowerment of operators to work on small maintenance tasks effectively allows the maintenance teams to focus on more specialized assignments.

3) Continuous improvement

Also known as the Japanese term Kaizen, Continuous Improvement promotes the attitude of progressing towards zero losses and zero defects. Through small but continual tweaks to processes, the overall effectiveness and efficiency of the organization is developed.

4) Planned maintenance

Planned maintenance activities are essential to the prevention of equipment breakdown. Planned maintenance is performed by periodically evaluating the condition of equipment to proactively prevent deterioration and mechanical failures.

5) Quality maintenance

To ensure the satisfaction of the customer, manufacturing processes aim for zero-defect production. Standards for superior quality, and checks on whether the standards are being met, should be in place. The goal of quality maintenance is to identify any possible causes of deviations from zero-defect production.

6) Training

The idea of TPM is that everyone does their part to contribute to the overall productivity of the production process. In order to achieve optimum performance, and to build each member’s competence, proper training is required to equip each one with the theoretical and practical know-how of working with machines and equipment.

7) Office TPM

A key role that is often overlooked is the administrative department that works behind the scenes. Like the rest of the production teams and processes, the management and administrative functions are also subject to productivity improvement. Tins includes identifying and eliminating losses, and contributing to the overall performance of the plant.

8) Safety, health, and environment

The last of the eight pillars focuses on creating a safe workplace. The essence of this pillar is realized when actively applied to each of the other pillars. The successful implementation of this pillar will contribute to a secure and hazard-free workplace.

Example of total productive maintenance

The ideals encouraged by TPM is deeply rooted in the involvement of people. The main factor that drives its success is the proper attitude exhibited by management, maintenance staff, and operators alike.

A TPM success story occurred inside one of the largest beer brewers in Latin America, Cervecería Cuauhtemoc Moctezuma (CCM). The principles of TPM born in Japan in the 1970s are alive and thriving in all of the company’s six plants in Mexico.

Explaining the meaning of TPM and how CCM applies it within the organization, plant maintenance manager Manuel Sanchez says, “It means we are all responsible for guaranteeing the total effectiveness of the equipment — maintenance, production, top management, human resources… everyone.”


TPM further develops the ideas of maintenance and preventive maintenance by involving all departments and people within an organization. With a organization-wide mindset focused on taking responsibility for the machines and equipment, increasing overall performance is achievable even with a limited number of resources.