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What is TPM

Total Productive Maintenance is a surprisingly effective approach to achieving World Class levels of Manufacturing performance.

It has delivered spectacular results in every major industry and is seen by many manufacturers as a cornerstone of their improvement strategy.

Here we will describe some of the key features of this approach.

If you have other queries about TPM which are not addressed here, please contact us directly with your specific questions.


What is TPM ?

TPM is a "Corporate Cultural Change Programme", originally developed in Japan by the Japan Institute of Plant Maintenance. It is an approach to radically changing the culture and performance of manufacturing operations through the application of structured toolkits - called "pillars".

It provides comprehensive techniques for changing the behaviour of personnel in order to improve the design, condition and performance of plant items.

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What are the objectives of TPM ?

TPM aims to achieve the 4 Zeros :

  • Zero Defects
  • Zero Breakdowns
  • Zero Wastes
  • Zero Accidents

In short, TPM aims to remove all sources of non-value added.

While it may seem impossible that the Four Zeros can be achieved permanently, many organisations have actually come very close through the application of TPM. What is absolutely certain is that implementing TPM will result in significant improvement in all of these areas, even if you do not achieve all Four of the Zeros.

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What are the pillars of TPM ?

TPM consists of a number of discrete toolkits, called the "Pillars of TPM"

The 8 Pillars of TPM

Focused Improvement
A rigorous process of continuous improvement based on the scientific method of understanding a system, measuring performance, preparing a hypothesis and investigating the hypothesis, developing a solution and verifying the effectiveness of the solution. The Focused Improvement process is driven by a Loss & Waste system based on Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE).This pillar provides the main tools for driving toward Zero Wastes, Zero Breakdowns, Zero Defects and Zero Accidents

Click here for Focused Improvement Training Courses
Click here for Focused Improvement Books

Click here for Treefrog Software's Loss & Waste System

Autonomous Maintenance
A seven step process to create Self Directed Work Teams (SDWT) by changing the approach to equipment care. Particularly effective at improving the underlying trend of equipment reliability, or where the availability of good quality maintenance personnel is limited. Concentration on good equipment conditions, cleanliness and lubrication during the early steps leads to high level of ownership of plant items amongst operating teams. This pillar is a necessary requirement for Zero breakdowns, and has an indirect effect in achieving Zero Waste, Zero Defects and Zero Accidents.

Click here for Autonomous Maintenance Training Courses
Click here for Autonomous Maintenance Books


Effective Maintenance
A step-by-step process for improving plant maintenance. Effective plant maintenance requires a mix of approaches to maintaining plant items - including breakdown, time based and inspection based maintenance, condition monitoring and corrective maintenance. However, manufacturing operations frequently utilise only one or two of these approaches, leading to high maintenance costs and low equipment availability. The Effective Maintenance pillar redresses this by achieving the appropriate balance of maintenance approaches to deliver optimum availability at lowest cost. This pillar is also a necessary requirement for Zero breakdowns, and has an indirect effect in achieving Zero Waste, Zero Defects and Zero Accidents.


Training & Education
Progress in the other pillars frequently identifies knowledge gaps amongst the workforce and management. For example, operators often do not understand the operating principles of their equipment, maintenance personnel may be unfamiliar with maintenance techniques such as "syringe lubrication" or condition monitoring approaches. Managers can be unclear of the exact plant performance required, or may need training in coaching techniques. All of these knowledge gaps must be filled if significant improvement is to be achieved. This pillar captures these knowledge gaps as they are identified, develops appropriate solutions for training and education (usually resourced and conducted in-house), and ensures they are delivered through a programme of structured development for the entire workforce.


Early Management
(or "Early Equipment Management", or "Initial Flow Control")
Once the first four pillars of TPM have been established, it is usual to find that significant improvements have been made to existing plant to make them more effective, more reliable and easier to maintain. The knowledge which has been developed to achieve these improvements is now directed toward the development, design and implementation of new plant items before they arrive in the factory. It is akin to a process of Simultaneous Engineering, but involves mining the deep, practical, knowledge and understanding of what makes for good production developed during the earlier pillars, rather than purely theoretical engineering knowledge. In this way, new plant and equipment should be capable of vertical startup, where they achieve their planned performance level immediately, rather than after a period of commissioning and bedding in.


Quality Maintenance
The Quality Maintenance pillar aims to achieve a production system which is incapable of producing quality defects. It builds on the work done during the first four pillars, and brings in additional techniques such as Poke Yoke. This pillar is the final step in the drive toward Zero Defects.

Click here for Quality Maintenance Books


TPM in Administration
As the other pillars deliver a constantly improving performance in the equipment, more and more of the problems which occur will be as a result of the administration of the operation. This could be in the planning process, resourcing, documentation or procedures, etc. This pillar takes the approaches used on the manufacturing processes and applies them to the administration processes.


Safety, Health & the Environment
This pillar ensures that all the improvements developed by the other pillars do not reduce the Safety, Health or Environmental performance of the organisation. It also ensures that the approaches used to achieve manufacturing performance improvement are equally applied to Safety, Health and Environmental issues.

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What is the role of Management in TPM ?

The TPM Pillars supply toolkits which have been proven to deliver improvement. However, Management must ensure that these toolkits are applied correctly, and where it is most appropriate to do so. To use an analogy, Management must ensure the organisation does not try and undo a screw using a spanner.

To achieve this requires three levels of activity from management :

  1. Decide Priorities

    Management must agree and communicate the strategic priorities for the operation. Whilst it is important to achieve all four of the Zeros, in a business environment there are frequently medium and short term issues which will define the order in which they are achieved. A Balanced Scorecard type approach, combined with a suitable Loss & Waste system based on Overall Equipment Effectiveness will usually be sufficient.


  2. Create a Structure to Manage and Control TPM

    Having identified and communicated the strategic priorities, Management must now ensure that all activities are geared towards them. This is done by creating a series of Pillar groups who control the detailed activities required to implement each pillar and an Overall Steering Group which co-ordinates the activities between pillars


  3. Coach Individuals, Support Activities, Communicate Progress and Success

    These are core management skills and essential for the success of any change programme. In particular, Management must be seen to be leading by example if any behavioural change is to be seen in others.

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