TPM (Total Productive Maintenance) is a maintenance philosophy designed to integrate equipment maintenance into the manufacturing process. The goal of any TPM program is to eliminate losses tied to equipment maintenance or, in other words, keep equipment producing only good product, as fast as possible with no unplanned downtime.


Maintenance has traditionally been viewed as a separate entity outside of the manufacturing process. As companies began to identify the role of maintenance in the production process a gradual shift in thinking occurred. TPM emerged out of the need to integrate maintenance with manufacturing to improve productivity and asset availability. The culmination of change from a reactive/corrective maintenance environment to one that is based on preventative maintenance through predictive maintenance is the process of TPM.

TPM is used to drive waste out of the manufacturing process by reducing or eliminating production time lost to machine failures. The goal of any TPM program is to ensure that machinery and equipment is always available to manufacture products for the end customer. By minimizing rework, slow running equipment and downtime, maximum value is added at the minimum cost.

Successful TPM is a group effort where the entire organization works together to maintain and improve the equipment. One of the first steps in implementing TPM is forming teams that are empowered to improve the process. Flattening the organizational structure enables teams to address issues when they have the greatest impact – when they occur. As employees join TPM teams, operators are trained to perform routine maintenance items and assume an ownership role. Employees empowered to affect the process will typically be in a position to identify and create process improvements that would have normally been overlooked by management. An on-going refactoring of the process provides a method to implement improvements.

As maintenance issues are addressed and total productive maintenance programs implemented, the true value of TPM begins to emerge. Just as lean manufacturing relies on Kaizen or continuous improvement; continuous re-evaluation of the maintenance cycle allows for kaizen in maintenance programs. Root cause analysis exposes the underlying issues to be addressed. By addressing issues at the root level, problems can be eliminated.

As with any lean initiative it is critical to measure change. OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness) is a metric originally developed to measure the success of total productive maintenance programs by associating the Six Big Losses with three measurables: Availability, Performance and Quality. OEE enables organizations to benchmark and monitor their progress with simple, easy to understand metrics. OEE provides both a gauge for the success of TPM and a framework to identify areas that can be improved.


Equipment maintenance is a fact of life. Companies that understand this and use TPM to get the most out of their resources see:

  • Significantly decreased maintenance costs
  • Increased equipment availability and profitability
  • Improved teamwork and employee involvement

TPM provides the tools to turn maintenance programs into a competitive advantage.

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