What Is Total Productive Maintenance (TPM)

Total productive maintenance is a maintenance management philosophy that strives for total perfection no breakdowns, no defects, no accidents by positioning maintenance as a core, value-added function rather than a cost center. In other words, TPM reframes maintenance as a business advantage because of its potential to greatly reduce unscheduled downtime and lost revenue.

More importantly, TPM requires machine operators to get involved in maintaining their own equipment cleaning, regular lubrication, and basic inspection thereby turning maintenance management into a shared responsibility throughout the entire facility.

Another key characteristic of TPM is plant personnel must take greater ownership of their workspace and the equipment they use. Finally, continuous process improvement is another main tenet of a TPM program. This means consistently re-evaluating processes and procedures throughout the value chain and eliminating waste (anything that does not provide value to the customer).

Implementing a TPM plan can greatly increase your overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) over time. While TPM allocates jobs normally done by maintenance technicians to all plant personnel, it does not eliminate the need for a dedicated maintenance team.

Benefits of Total Productive Maintenance

Under the TPM philosophy, a reactive approach to maintenance is unacceptable. This means strategies like breakdown maintenance and corrective maintenance reactive maintenance strategies typically reserved for low-value assets or for cost-cutting purposes have no place in a TPM-adherent facility.

While a TPM strategy poses high upfront costs particularly in labor hours and employee training its upsides manifest in the long term.

  •  Less unplanned maintenance Unanticipated breakdowns are avoided by keeping machinery in good working condition through periodic inspections and maintenance.
  •  Reduced equipment downtimeBy preemptively inspecting and maintaining overall equipment effectiveness, repairs or replacements are likely to be less invasive and take less time.
  •  Minimized delays, breakdowns and production stops Clean, well-lubricated equipment is less likely to break down unexpectedly. Secondly, making basic maintenance tasks and inspections the responsibility of the entire facility rather than just the maintenance team increases the likelihood that defects will be detected in advance.
  •   Lower maintenance costs –  In the long run, reducing unplanned downtime with TPM can save organizations hundreds of thousands of dollars each year.
  •  Better employee retention and engagement A clean, hazard-free workspace where technicians have access to tools that are in good working condition is key to recruitment and retention in manufacturing plants.

8 Pillars of Total Productive Maintenance

There are eight pillars of TPM practices that organizations must put in place on a daily basis as they strive for total perfection. The pillars are based on the Japanese 5-S system below.

8 Pillars of Total Productive Maintenance

1. Autonomous maintenance. Operators are charged with monitoring the condition of their own equipment and work areas and upholding a “baseline” standard. This means fully training plant personnel on routine maintenance such as cleaning, lubricating, and inspecting. Standardization ensures everyone follows the same processes and procedures.

 2. Focused improvement (kaizen). Continual process improvement lies at the heart of TPM Sometimes, this involves getting small teams together to brainstorm ways to improve maintenance and production processes. Team leaders may also collect information from operators to prioritize preventive maintenance and other process improvements. The end goal is to combine input from across the company.

3. Planned maintenance. Planned maintenance is the process of scheduling preventive maintenance in response to observed machine behaviors, such as failure rates and breakdowns. These PM tasks and schedules are shared by operators and maintenance personnel. The point of planned maintenance is to minimize service interruptions by maintenance schedule  when machines are idle or producing very little.

4. Quality management. Quality management involves proactively detecting the source of errors or defects to prevent them from moving down the value chain. This approach requires root cause analysis to determine cause and effect rather than using temporary Band-Aid solutions. Preventing defective products from moving down the line eliminates the need for time-consuming rework.

 5. Early equipment management. Data gathered from previous maintenance activities can be used to ensure new equipment reaches optimal performance as quickly as possible (equipment is especially prone to failure at the beginning and end of its life cycle). Designing equipment with the input of the people who use it most allows suppliers to improve maintainability. Factors that equipment manufacturers should consider include:

  • Ease of cleaning and inspection
  • Accessibility of replacement parts
  • Increased safety features
  • Improving machine operability by ensuring they are comfortable to use

6. Training and education. TPM can’t be executed effectively without training operators on overall equipment effectiveness. Additionally, maintenance personnel may need to upskill as they switch from routine maintenance tasks to more high-value functions such as preventive maintenance and analytical skills.

7. Safety, health and environment. Implementing facility-wide safety standards is the linchpin of TPM. Any new initiatives introduced as part of TPM should consider employee health and safety.

8. TPM in administration.Supporting production by improving administrative activities like order processing, procurement, and scheduling to ensure they are streamlined and waste-free.

Total Productive Maintenance Examples

One of the main tenets of TPM is introducing new everyday routines for everyone from upper management to plant personnel that are geared towards continuous process improvement. Following are some examples of these tasks.

  • Machine operators do routine cleaning, greasing, lubrication, inspections, and replacing parts. They also identify and document inspection points.
  • Plant personnel clean their work area, removing unused tools, debris, and anything that can be considered waste.
  • Technicians organize the tools and components they use regularly for easy access.
  • Management provides training to operators to make them aware of potential issues so they can report them to the line supervisor.
  • Maintenance managers create an autonomous maintenance checklist for all tasks controlled by machine operators.

How to Implement Total Productive Maintenance With The Help Of A CMMS

MicroMain's CMMS software work orders feature

An organization can’t turn maintenance management into a business advantage without a proper software system that helps them track their maintenance budgets, create a preventive maintenance strategy, and optimize labor hours. Here’s how a CMMS can help.

Create and implement a preventive maintenance plan

Putting your most valuable assets on a preventive maintenance plan goes a long way towards reducing unplanned downtime. A CMMS enables you to automatically schedule inspections and work orders and assign them to available technicians so you can replace and service parts before equipment breaks down. Aspiring towards zero breakdowns, zero defects – the number one tenet of total productive maintenance – is impossible without a preventive maintenance plan.

Establish standards throughout your organization

Create a set of standard maintenance procedures technicians can follow when dealing with planned or unplanned maintenance. CMMS features facilitate this process by providing quick access to maintenance logs for every asset, a spare parts management system that controls inventory so you never run out of replacement parts, and centralized information about each asset (OEM recommendations, fault patterns, and maintenance procedures).

Gain insights into the effectiveness of your TPM maintenance strategy

Total productive maintenance is only effective if it improves your overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), otherwise, your efforts are for naught. A CMMS enables you to track data such as run time, downtime, ideal cycle time, and other key maintenance metrics that are also used to calculate OEE.


Total productive maintenance is a useful philosophy for organizations that want to achieve a higher ROI from maintenance spending and reduce lost revenue from unscheduled downtime. Achieving “total perfection” and instituting a culture of continuous process improvement is only possible if you are tracking key maintenance metrics and using historical data to evaluate and improve your processes and procedures.

An effective maintenance schedule should also include preventive maintenance for high-value assets, and there is no better way of implementing the right maintenance strategy than with a CMMS.

Related Resources

Importance of Total Productive Maintenance

TPM is all about improving equipment reliability by instilling employees with an ownership mentality in regards to the equipment they use. By holding machine operators responsible for performing basic maintenance tasks for the equipment they use, maintenance personnel can concentrate on high-value tasks. The most important byproduct of TPM is minimized downtime and extended equipment life cycles.

Ultimately, the goal is to minimize maintenance costs in the long run, while keeping maintenance costs as low as possible. The effectiveness of TPM can be measured in terms of Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE).

What Does TPM Look Like in Practice?
  • Training employees who operate machinery on how to inspect and repair equipment.
  • Forming small, multidisciplinary teams to do preventive and autonomous maintenance (operators maintain their own equipment)
  • Standardizing work processes

Total productive maintenance was invented by Seiichi Nakajima of Japan between 1950 and 1970 and was first implemented at Nippon Denso (now Denso) a company that makes parts for Toyota.

5S of TPM—-

Total productive maintenance is built on eight pillars based on the 5-S system. The 5-S system is built around five Japanese words and their meaning.

  • Seiri (organize): eliminate clutter from the workspace
  • Seiton (orderliness): organize the remaining items to enable easy access (“a place for everything and everything in its place”)
  • Seiso (cleanliness): clean the workspace and keep it that way
  • Seiketsu (standardize): standardize all work processes
  • Shitsuke (sustain): management and employees must work together to reinforce and sustain the first four steps and implement a culture of continuous improvement.

The goal of 5S is to create a clean and organized work order management as a foundation for the TPM pillars. In an organized work environment, it’s easier to find tools and parts, easier to spot impending defects/problems such as fluid leaks.

Total Productive Maintenance in Quality Management

TPM is closely linked with quality management because by having a clean workspace, increased equipment uptime, and lower maintenance costs, customers benefit from higher quality products and fewer production delays. Total productive maintenance is a crucial component of overall quality management. Quality management is the act of overseeing all activities and tasks in the production process to ensure a standardized quality of excellence.

Total Productive Maintenance in Lean Manufacturing

Lean manufacturing refers to the application of lean practices and principles to the manufacturing process. The lean methodology promotes the flow of value to the customer through continuous improvement and a people-first approach (prioritizing the needs of employees and customers simultaneously).

The lean methodology originated with the Toyota Production System which revolutionized manufacturing in the 1950s. TPM in the manufacturing industry dates back to this era as well.

Lean manufacturing is now used in software development in a discipline known as agile methodology. Some of the main tenets of lean manufacturing are as follows:

  • Eliminating waste: getting rid of anything that does not deliver value to the customer
  • Continuous improvement: learning what customers value and refining processes and procedures in response
  • Delivering quickly, getting feedback, and iterating: Manufacturers use the lean methodology to eliminate waste, cut costs, and reduce time to market— the very same goals of TPM. Waste can include unused inventory, underused labor/talent, or wasteful processes.

You can measure the effectiveness of TPM using an OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness) score – the gold standard for rating manufacturing total maintenance productive. OEE identifies loss areas, benchmarks progress, and improves equipment productivity. By taking into account all losses from breakdowns, slowdowns, and defective parts, OEE leaves you with a measure of truly productive manufacturing time.

OEE allows you to benchmark your facility against the industry and prove your total productive maintenance program is working. OEE is calculated using the three main reasons for productivity loss:

  • AvailabilityPlanned production time minus any stopped time caused by events that disrupt production
  • PerformanceIdeal production speed minus any events or factors that cause production to run at less than the ideal speed.
  • Quality All manufactured parts minus any defective parts that do not meet quality standards or require rework