Automating Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) - Cloud 9 Perception

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Total Productive Maintenance

Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) is an essential component of any successful organization. Few companies, however, completely understand the concept.

What is TPM?

Total Productive Maintenance is a unique way for companies to maintain equipment used for production. The system encourages teamwork by making every employee accountable for the machinery that they use on a daily basis. TPM carries the essential goal of keeping equipment in top working order but comes with the added benefit of improving overall production and increasing morale among workers. Employees given the opportunity to repair a machine are more likely to perform their jobs with pride and in a manner that contributes to the equipment's upkeep.

TPM, when properly implemented, also does the following:

  1. Avoids waste
  2. Increases product quantity without compromising quality
  3. Reduces company costs
  4. Decreases the likelihood of defective products being passed off to customers

Total Productive Maintenance is not possible without the cooperation of all employees involved. Such is the reason why working together is the concept's pillar.


Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) Total Productive Maintenance is often compared with Total Quality Management (TQM). Like TPM, Total Quality Management requires commitment from both executives and line workers. The production effort also calls for empowerment so that employees can work efficiently and present top-notch products that are beneficial to the customer.

TQM, however, places more focus on raising awareness about quality concerns across the organization than implementing a program to rectify the program. A manager informing his staff that thousands of products were marked substandard is the breeding ground on which TQM thrives. The supervisor would need to take things a step further by implementing a plan to deliver more sound products to operate in the realm of TPM.

Total Productive Maintenance has five cornerstone concepts that Total Quality Management lacks:

  • Product
  • Process
  • Organization
  • Leadership

Noticing a product's faultiness is only the beginning. A manager must look deeper into the process that employees follow when producing goods to discover why quality standards are so low. It is not possible to evaluate a company's standards for quality without also taking a look at the organization itself, and analyzing the corporation inevitably leads to changes in the way that leadership staff executes their roles on the job.

From this perspective, TPM can is a means to end for TQM. The quality of products increases when Total Productive Maintenance is implemented and sustained.

TPM In History

The concept of TPM came about in 1960, but its roots date back to 1951. It was in 1951 that the idea of preventive maintenance came to Japan from the United States. This form of sustainability separated the operators who used machines to create products from those mechanics whose sole job duty was to repair faulty equipment.

Nippondenso of Toyota implemented the concept in Japan in 1960 and soon found that preventive maintenance was not a plausible system in a large manufacturing setting that heavily relied on automation. While the operators were numerous at the Toyota plant, skilled mechanics capable of repairing machines were limited. Such restrictions led to a decrease in production as operators had to wait for technicians to fix the tiniest problems with equipment before proceeding. Nippondenso, in response to challenges created by the preventive upkeep structure, devised another plan.

The concept of autonomous maintenance was brought to the forefront when Toyota began training equipping every employee with the skills needed to make minor corrections to system failures. The purpose of the new structure was to increase productivity by making all members of a team responsible for the appliances that they operated on a daily basis. Although Nippondenso made all employees responsible for preventive maintenance, the company did retain its skilled mechanic sector to manage major repairs.

Nippondenso of Toyota's new structure became a model by which other companies patterned their production efforts. It is no wonder, then, why the company was awarded the first TPM certification along with a plant prize given by the Japanese Institute of Plant Engineers (JIPE). Today, Total Productive Maintenance operates by way of eight pillars.

The Eight Pillars of TPM

The eight pillars of TPM are as follows:

  • Focused improvement
  • Autonomous maintenance
  • Planned maintenance
  • Quality maintenance
  • Cost deployment
  • Early equipment management
  • Training and education
  • Safety health environment

Focused Improvement

Teams are presented with problematic equipment and challenged to come up with solutions in this stage of TPM. This pillar is most effective when a piece of questionable machinery is assigned to each group. A team given the sole task of finding solutions for the copy machine that loses power on a daily basis is more useful in discovering a solution quickly than a group tasked with the responsibility of solving the mystery of the malfunctioning copier and fax machine.

Autonomous Maintenance

This pillar hands the responsibilities of primary repair over to the operators. Instead of immediately calling technical services for a slow-booting computer, office workers are challenged first to delete files that may contribute to the machine's sluggish behavior.

Autonomous maintenance comes with the following benefits:

  • Increased concern and care for company equipment among workers
  • An increase in skill level as employees learn more about the intricate parts of the machines that they operate on a daily basis
  • Better operating machinery that leads to increased production
  • Major breakdown prevention as minor problems are identified more rapidly
  • More free time for technicians that may be used to update critical programs and equipment

Autonomous maintenance is entirely reliant upon the cooperation of non-managerial employees. Executives, therefore, do well to provide incentives to those employees who take this TPM pillar to heart.

Planned Maintenance

Planned maintenance is the carried out when engineers provide system updates as well as essential service to equipment. This component is essential to the overall structure of TPM for various reasons and comes with an array of benefits.

Corporations stand to save thousands when a technician discovers a major equipment fault in its infant stages. Not only is money saved in the area of repair, but the likelihood of lost sales and civil suits because of faulty products begins to decrease with scheduled maintenance.

Production efforts are also interrupted less frequently when major autonomous maintenance is implemented on a periodic basis. Technicians who conduct an overnight system upgrade every six months may save the office from a potential midday shutdown due to a system virus.

Companies also find that systems and equipment updated and serviced on a regular basis reaches its full lifespan, which means that less money is spent on new machinery prematurely. Periodic major overhauls also eliminate the need for expensive parts kept on hand in the instance of breakdown because engineers are tracking the progress of machine behavior with every checkup.

Quality Maintenance

Quality maintenance ensures that equipment is capable of detecting and pointing out errors in production to staff members. Microsoft Word's ability to highlight grammatical and spelling errors in a legal document is an example of quality maintenance in the office. A machine's buzzer that informs an assembly line worker of a missing piece to an automobile's engine is a case of the TPM pillar at work in manufacturing.

Quality maintenance is not just about identifying problems in production that lead to substandard work. The concept is also concerned with the process that leads to such results. Quality maintenance in TPM challenges workers to come up with solutions that lead to better products. The mission of this pillar is to generate a defect-free work environment.

The importance of quality assurance extends beyond the workplace and into the field. Companies lose millions every year because of poor quality. Quality maintenance ensures that a corporation's best efforts are at the forefront every time a product is placed on the market.

Early Equipment Maintenance

This TPM pillar utilizes notes taken from previous repairs to prevent future breakdowns. Factors considered in equipment maintenance include:

  • Cleaning inspection
  • Accessibility of equipment parts
  • Location of essential operating tools
  • Policies and procedures implemented when using machinery
  • Feedback from employees
  • Safety features

In many respects, equipment maintenance encompasses training as well as health and security measures. Executives cannot effectively offer educational tools and implement security mechanisms without first taking a look at what has worked and failed in the workplace. Equipment maintenance is a pillar that holds other TPM essentials together.

Education and Training

This element of Total Productive Maintenance is concerned with providing the tools needed for every employee to thrive. Booklets and workshops are two of many ways that an organization can educate its workers on proper ways to repair equipment and hence increase production.

Proper training gives executives the benefit of knowing that line workers will carry out the TPM model that the company has established. The pillar also adds the element of accountability that makes employees that much more responsible for the equipment that they operate on a daily basis.

Health Safety and Environment

All of the training and planning in the world can be derailed with one slip and fall on the floor. Such is the reason why the TPM pillar of health and safety is so important.

Workers who operate in a clutter-free environment are typically more productive than those employees working under difficult conditions. It is much easier to quality check writing pens when your attention is not split between inspecting the product and watching out for a swinging pendulum.

While managers set the tone for safety in an environment, it is up to the workers to maintain a workplace that fosters the protection of everyone. Total Productive Maintenance that focuses on health safety reduces the risk of fatalities and lawsuits.

Cost Deployment

Cost deployment is the TPM pillar that finds ways to lessen the amount of money spent on production. The element often breaks up large manufacturing processes into smaller sectors that are responsible for ensuring quality is delivered at minimal cost. The key to success in this Total Productive Maintenance element is identifying losses and turning them into gains. The process of cost deployment if often seven-fold and repetitive.


Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) is a supportive metric of Total Productive Maintenance that places the results of a process against its expected fruitfulness. The element is composed of three objectives and accompanies six losses by which a system is measured.

OEE goals in TPM are measured by the following objectives:

  • Availability where the percentage of time that a piece of equipment is available for production is taken into account
  • Performance where the success of a process is determined by its ability to meet pre-established targets
  • Quality where the finished product of a process is evaluated

The six big losses of OEE at it relates to Total Productive Maintenance are as follows:

  • Machine breakdowns
  • Losses associated with set up and minor adjustments
  • Minor malfunctions that temporarily halt production
  • Slow running equipment that prevents the line from reaching its full potential
  • Errors in startup
  • Defects in the finished product

The goal in Total Productive Maintenance is to eliminate all possibility of the six big losses of OEE. Such is the reason why an effective Total Production Management program pays meticulous attention to the OEE objectives to strengthen its eight-pillar program.

Total Productive Maintenance Implementation and Sustainability

Implementing and sustaining a Total Productive Maintenance program is just as important as identifying problems in a production process. A company can easily find itself in a worse condition than before if its follow-through is not strong. Implementing an effective Total Productive Management program that is sustainable is a matter of constant communication between managerial staff and line workers.

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