Lean Part 4: Total Productive Maintenance


If you are a business owner, you know that breakdowns in the manufacturing process can make or “break” an organization. Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) is a Lean system introduced to minimize that very issue.

Its overriding objective is the reduction and elimination of waste (equipment downtime, defects, wasted energy, labor inefficiency, etc.). By maintaining and improving the integrity of production and quality systems through the machines, equipment, processes, and employees, that waste is reduced or eliminated.

The eight pillars of TPM are focused on proactive and preventative techniques for improving equipment reliability:

  • Autonomous Maintenance
  • Planned Maintenance
  • Quality Maintenance
  • Focused Improvement
  • Early Equipment Management
  • Training and Education
  • Safety Health Environment
  • Administration

It is important to note that TPM is widely considered one of the most difficult of all Lean tools to implement. Not only is equipment maintenance an area in which most manufacturers fall behind, but TPM requires significant culture changes within an organization, immediately and simultaneously.

When businesses buy new equipment, proper maintenance procedures and schedules are often ignored or neglected before the equipment is run into the ground. The same equipment is repurchased after everyone stands around complaining. Rinse, repeat.

It’s a costly vicious cycle, considering the resources expended to keep production on track. How do you condition your entire staff to fully respect the manufacturing equipment and the products they produce? In order for TPM to be effective, the full support of the total workforce is required. Once implemented, however, the benefits are invaluable. They include: a safer working environment, improved equipment reliability, increased capacity, increased productivity, improved quality, and improved financial performance.

Below are just a few questions to ask yourself with regard to your business’ current operations to get you on the path to TPM:

  • Does your current staff treat and respect maintenance as a foundation of your processes, and not as an indirect cost?
  • How many of your maintenance activities are planned, and how many are unplanned?
  • Are maintenance activities specifically assigned?
  • Do you or your staff usually wait until something breaks down before scrambling to replace it (known as reactive maintenance)?
  • Do you hold periodic or scheduled maintenance to prevent premature wear and breakdowns?
  • Are oiling, greasing, and filter changing regular practices in your organization?
  • Do you hold periodic inspections to prevent equipment performance deterioration?
  • When equipment wears down or fails, do you analyze and determine its root cause to prevent recurrence?
  • Are equipment modifications and upgrades specifically assigned? Are they made a priority?
  • Are your components and equipment that do not require maintenance labeled or specified? Are those that do require maintenance labeled or specified?

Addressing these and several more questions will make for less waste, improved quality control, and smoother production practices. For more information on the application of Total Productive Maintenance or for help answering these questions, contact Business Development Advisor, Ralph Brown, at at 914-393-98765, or ralph.brown@hvtdc.org.