What is TPM

Guide: Total Productive Maintenance (TPM)

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Daniel Croft

Daniel Croft is an experienced continuous improvement manager with a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt and a Bachelor's degree in Business Management. With more than ten years of experience applying his skills across various industries, Daniel specializes in optimizing processes and improving efficiency. His approach combines practical experience with a deep understanding of business fundamentals to drive meaningful change.

Total Productive Maintenance represents a holistic and transformative approach to equipment maintenance, pivotal in achieving perfect production and maximizing operational efficiency. Originating in post-World War II Japan as part of a broader industrial redevelopment, TPM extends beyond conventional maintenance practices by involving every aspect of business operations.

This methodology emphasizes proactive and preventive maintenance, ensuring optimal equipment performance. By integrating TPM, organizations cultivate a shared responsibility culture, where maintenance becomes a collective effort across all levels, from top management to shop floor workers. The ambition of TPM is not just to maintain but to continuously improve, aiming for zero defects, breakdowns, and accidents through enhanced equipment reliability and a proactive improvement culture.

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What is Total Productive Maintenance

Total Productive Maintenance is an interconnected approach to equipment maintenance that aims to achieve perfect production availability of equipment by minimizing inefficiencies, accidents, and breakdowns. TPM is more inclusive than traditional maintenance methodologies; it involves every aspect of a business operation and is designed to maximize the effectiveness of equipment and the entire related production process.

Like most lean manufacturing methodologies, TPM was developed in Japan following the Second World War as part of industrial redevelopment. It was developed to address inefficiencies and improve productivity in manufacturing processes. The philosophy of TPM is focused on proactive and preventive maintenance to ensure that machines and equipment always perform at their optimal level.

TPM makes the maintenance of equipment a key part of day-to-day operations and not just an activity done in reaction to a breakdown or mechanical issues. This approach involves everyone in the business, from the top-level management down to the shop floor workers. By taking this approach it develops a culture where maintenance and care for equipment are a shared responsibility of everyone and not just the maintenance department.

A central goal of TPM is to achieve zero defects, breakdowns, and accidents. This is an ambitious objective that is focused on improving the reliability and effectiveness of equipment, enhancing the skills and knowledge of employees, and creating a proactive culture of continuous improvement (CI).

Core Principles of TPM

There are some principles that are core to TPM that comprise of Inclusive participation, Systematic maintenance, and continuous improvement.

Inclusive Participation

TPM encourages the participation of all employees in the business from top-level management to shop floor workers and machine operators.  This collaborative approach creates a culture of common ownership and responsibility to maintaining equipment and achieving maximum performance. This also has a result in reducing stress and pressure in the workplace, as when equipment is unreliable, there can be pressure to catch up to make up for lost time.

Systematic maintenance

TPM has a systematic approach to maintenance and covers the entire life cycle of the equipment. This includes preventive maintenance, predictive maintenance, and corrective maintenance. Think of this like a car where a new car will have a pre-planned maintenance schedule in the form of oil changes, and MOTs (vehicle checks). this helps maintain the reliability of the car and maintain the car’s performance.

Continuous Improvement

Another key principle of TPM is to emphasize continuous improvement of production and maintenance processes through small but consistent steps. This philosophy aligns with the Kaizen approach, a Japanese concept of continuous improvement.

The 8 Pillars of TPM

Within TPM there are 8 pillars that form the foundation of the methodology. Each pillar addresses a specific area of maintenance and improvement within the business. These pillars are designed to work together to improve the overall effectiveness and efficiency of production processes.  

Autonomous Maintenance

The Autonomous Maintenance pillar focuses on encouraging operators to take care of basic maintenance tasks, such as cleaning, lubricating, and inspecting their equipment. Occasionally, businesses have roles called “machine minders,” who are also part-time operators and take on this basic maintenance task which frees up resources of maintenance engineers to work on more advanced maintenance tasks.

Planned Maintenance

The next pillar is the planned maintenance pillar, which involves scheduling maintenance tasks based on predicted and known equipment conditions. The aim of this is to prevent breakdowns and ensure equipment is operating at its optimal performance level. This will require identifying all the elements that need regular maintenance to ensure consistent running performance, calculating the frequency of each element’s maintenance needs, and creating a regular schedule that is then consistently followed.

Quality Maintenance

The Pillar of Quality Maintenance aims to eliminate defects within products by maintaining equipment in optimum condition. This involves integrating principles of total quality management (TQM) into maintenance activities and focusing on understanding the connection between equipment conditions and product quality.

Focused Improvement

Another pillar of TPM is focused improvement; this pillar is also known as Kobetsu Kaizen, which targets specific losses with precise objectives. It involves teams working together to solve problems and improve performance. The focus is on reducing major losses and inefficiencies in the production process. Such as reducing the time and resources required for setup and changeovers, can significantly increase production efficiency. Focused improvement efforts here aim to streamline these processes, often using techniques from lean manufacturing like SMED (Single-Minute Exchange of Dies).

Early Equipment Management

Early Equipment Management focuses on the design and installation of new equipment with the goal of ensuring new equipment reaches peak performance quickly and maintains reliability over its life cycle. This pillar encourages the involvement of maintenance teams right from the equipment design and procurement stages.

Training and Education

Under this pillar, training and education are provided to all employees to enhance their skills and knowledge. This includes training and maintenance techniques, problem-solving skills, and an understanding of the principles of TPM. The aim of this pillar is to develop a skilled and adaptable workforce to sustain peak performance from equipment for all stakeholders involved.

Safety, Health and Environment

This pillar is dedicated to creating a safe and healthy working environment. It focuses on reducing accidents and environmental waste. Safety protocols, ergonomic practices, and environmental management systems are key components of this pillar.

TPM in Administration

Finally, TPM in administration extends the practices of TPM to administrative and support functions within the business. This includes applying the principles of TPM to processes such as order process, procurement, and office management. This helps to reduce waste in all administrative functions.

Each pillar of TPM plays an important role in achieving good Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) and a good level of operational excellence. If you are looking to implement TPM, we recommend starting with one or two pillars and becoming comfortable with the sustainment of them before gradually adding pillars, expanding to all 8 over time.

Implementation of TPM

Implementing Total Productive Maintenance in manufacturing should follow structured process to ensure it is implemented effectively which involves a series of stages. Each stage plays a critical role in ensuring the successful adoption and sustainability of TPM practices. Here’s a detailed exploration of each of these stages:

Step 1: Initial Evaluation and Plan


The first step involves three key elements assessment, analysis and planning. A comprehensive assessment of the current state of equipment maintenance and production processes is key. This includes collecting data and evaluating the existing maintenance strategies, equipment condition, production efficiency, and overall workplace organization and safety.


The data collected is analyzed to identify areas of improvement, recurring problems, and bottlenecks. This analysis is crucial in understanding the underlying issues affecting production efficiency and equipment reliability.


Based on the assessment and analysis, a tailored TPM implementation plan is developed. This plan outlines the specific TPM principles and strategies that will be applied, considering the unique needs and challenges of the organization.

To give you an idea, your plan may look like the following:

Phase 1: Autonomous Maintenance & Planned Maintenance

Objective: Implement autonomous and planned maintenance on critical machinery.

  • Action Item 1: Autonomous Maintenance Implementation
    • Timeline: Month 1-3
    • Responsibilities: Operators trained to perform routine checks and basic maintenance.
    • Expected Outcome: Increased machine availability and reduced minor stoppages.
  • Action Item 2: Planned Maintenance Program
    • Timeline: Month 1-4
    • Responsibilities: Maintenance team to establish a servicing schedule based on machine usage and wear patterns.
    • Expected Outcome: Reduction in unplanned equipment breakdowns.

Phase 2: Process Efficiency and Quality Improvement

Objective: Streamline changeovers and enhance product quality.

  • Action Item 3: Implement SMED Techniques
    • Timeline: Month 3-5
    • Responsibilities: Production teams to be trained in SMED techniques.
    • Expected Outcome: Reduced setup times and increased production efficiency.
  • Action Item 4: Quality Maintenance Initiative
    • Timeline: Month 4-6
    • Responsibilities: Operators to be trained in equipment calibration and quality control.
    • Expected Outcome: Improved product quality and reduced defect rates.

Goal Setting and Training

Objective: Establish specific targets and provide comprehensive training.

  • Action Item 5: Set Specific Performance Goals
    • Timeline: Initial Setup
    • Goals: Reduce machine downtime by 25%, cut defect rates by 15% within the first six months.
    • Measurement: Regular monitoring and reporting using KPIs.
  • Action Item 6: Regular Training Sessions and Workshops
    • Timeline: Ongoing
    • Responsibilities: HR and TPM coordinators to schedule and conduct training.
    • Expected Outcome: Enhanced employee proficiency in TPM practices and unified implementation.

Monitoring and Evaluation:

Progress will be monitored monthly against the set goals. Regular evaluations will be conducted to assess the effectiveness of the TPM implementation and to make necessary adjustments.

Review and Continuous Improvement:

This plan will be reviewed bi-annually, and feedback will be incorporated to ensure continuous improvement in the TPM process.


Step 2: Training and Awareness

Following the creation of a plan the next step is training and awareness implementation, which should have been part of your plan. To ensure the success of TPM training at all levels, it should be implemented to create awareness, stakeholder engagement, and successful implementation. This training should cover all the basics of TPM, the importance of proactive maintenance, and the roles employees will play in the TPM program.

For awareness programmes should be conducted to help stakeholders understand the value of TPM and how it contributes to the success of the organization. These programmes will build a culture of CI and a shared responsibility for equipment maintenance.

Step 3: Establishing TPM Teams

Cross-functional teams are formed to lead and facilitate the TPM implementation. These teams usually consist of members from different departments, such as maintenance, production, quality control, and even finance and human resources. Each team is assigned specific roles and responsibilities. These can include conducting routine maintenance, leading improvement projects, problem-solving, and monitoring the progress of TPM activities. Teams should be empowered to make decisions and implement the changes necessary for TPM. This empowerment is crucial for creating a sense of ownership and accountability among team members.

Step 4: Setting Goals and Targets

Finally to ensure TPM is on track and making a positive change in the business Goals and targets should be set and monitored over time. Key performance indicators (KPIs) should be identified as a measure of success. Common metrics used to track this include Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE), Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF), and Mean Time to Repair (MTTR).

When setting goals they should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bought making them (SMART) targets for these metrics. For example, if the current OEE metric is 77.5% you might target increasing to 80% in 3 months. These goals serve as benchmarks for tracking progress and evaluating the effectiveness of TPM activities.

An image of SMART targets

A system for continuous monitoring and reporting of these metrics should be established. This allows the organization to track progress, identify areas for further improvement, and make data-driven decisions.


Implementing TPM is a strategic journey towards operational excellence, enhancing not only equipment efficiency but also shaping a collaborative workplace culture. It systematically integrates inclusive participation, proactive maintenance, and continuous improvement into daily operations. TPM’s effectiveness lies in its ability to bring together diverse workforce elements, fostering a shared responsibility for equipment care and performance optimization.

By focusing on specific, measurable improvements and engaging all employees in this ongoing process, organizations can significantly reduce downtime, enhance product quality, and create a safer, more efficient work environment. The journey of TPM, characterized by its structured implementation and adherence to its core principles and pillars, leads to a sustainable model of operational efficiency and continuous growth.


A: TPM stands for Total Productive Maintenance. It is a maintenance strategy aimed at maximizing equipment effectiveness and involves a collaborative effort from all organizational levels.

A: While TPM originated in manufacturing, its principles can be applied to various sectors, including healthcare, warehousing, and services.

A: Unlike traditional maintenance, which is often reactive, TPM is proactive and focuses on preventing equipment failures before they occur.

A: Initial implementation may require some investment, but the long-term benefits like reduced downtime and increased productivity often outweigh the costs.

A: Yes, training is an essential component of TPM. Operators are trained not just to operate the machines but also to perform basic maintenance tasks.


Daniel Croft

Daniel Croft

Daniel Croft is a seasoned continuous improvement manager with a Black Belt in Lean Six Sigma. With over 10 years of real-world application experience across diverse sectors, Daniel has a passion for optimizing processes and fostering a culture of efficiency. He's not just a practitioner but also an avid learner, constantly seeking to expand his knowledge. Outside of his professional life, Daniel has a keen Investing, statistics and knowledge-sharing, which led him to create the website learnleansigma.com, a platform dedicated to Lean Six Sigma and process improvement insights.

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