Top 5 Things to Know About Total Productive Maintenance

Total productive maintenance, or TPM, is an aspect of lean manufacturing developed by Seiichi Nakajima in Japan. TPM is sometimes confused with TQM (total quality management). Both practices aim to improve manufacturing processes and output, but while TQM is focused on increasing the quality of products turned out by a manufacturer, TPM focuses on increasing the productivity of machines used in manufacturing.

By training operators to monitor the condition of their machinery and to perform proactive, routine maintenance, the highest possible equipment reliability is attained. Here are the top five things to know about TPM.

The Eight Pillars of Total Productive Maintenance

  • Autonomous maintenance – machine maintenance done independently by operators who are trained in basic, routine upkeep.
  • Focused improvement – this pillar spreads the quest for continuous improvement beyond single operators to small teams who work together to improve equipment operation.
  • Planned maintenance – timing the maintenance based on anticipated machine failure/downtime statistics and scheduling the work to not impact productivity.
  • Quality maintenance – getting to the root cause of machine-based product defects in order to fix problems as early as possible in the production process.
  • Early equipment management – applying the insight gained through TPM to improve the design of new equipment.
  • Training and education – training operators, maintenance personnel and managers so that they cover all of the elements of a TPM program.
  • Safety, health and environment – keeping employee safety as priority #1 during TPM-spurred changes, so that productivity improvements are always led by a “safety first” philosophy.
  • TPM in administration – applying TPM to areas beyond the shop floor, to improve the productivity of front office functions too.

The Four Ways to Catch Early Signs of Machine Deterioration

As TPM adherents use and maintain equipment, there are four ways for them to notice and identify the early warning signs of a machine about to go tilt.

  • Use condition monitoring technology: sensors and gizmos which are designed to keep tabs on things like vibrations, the quality of lubricants, high operating temperatures or increased electrical resistance.
  • Be alert during autonomous maintenance. As operators do routine proactive maintenance on machinery, they can watch for telltale signs of impending problems and breakdowns.
  • Beware of slowdowns and glitches. Operators can help identify emerging mechanical problems by noting repetitive or increasing instances of machine “faults” or production run times that are suddenly slow due to lots of little equipment hiccups.
  • Watch for patterns during preventative maintenance. Operators can gauge a machine’s condition by noticing if increasing lubrication is required, if disposable parts are wearing out quickly, if machine setups take longer, or if seals, bearings, pumps or motors fail more often than expected.

The 10 Categories of Machine Condition Monitoring

For intense analysis, these types of monitoring can help pinpoint equipment problems.

  • Oil analysis/tribology
  • Vibration analysis/dynamic monitoring
  • Motor circuit analysis
  • Thermography/temperature measurements/infrared thermography
  • Ultrasonic monitoring/acoustic analysis/airborne ultrasonics
  • Radiography/radiation analysis/neutron radiography
  • Laser interferometry
  • Electrical monitoring
  • Electromagnetic measurement
  • Performance monitoring/observation and surveillance/process variable and performance trendingFor a deeper dive into monitoring, see Bryan Christiansen’s MRO Magazine article at

The Five Steps to Implement Total Productive Maintenance

When entering the TPM waters, take a measured approach by following these steps.

  • Identify a pilot area, such as a piece of equipment that will be the easy to focus on and improve. Start small.
  • Restore the equipment to good shape so that the program beings with a perfectly working machine that is simple to maintain.
  • Measure OEE (overall equipment effectiveness) by tracking time that is lost due to machine problems. Regularly review a chunk of this data – enough to include complete production cycles – to identify trends or repetitive issues.
  • Address/reduce major issues. Analyze the most serious instances found by the OEE measurement. Choose an issue to tackle first, dig in to find the root cause, and brainstorm to find the best solution. Schedule downtime for a fix and then assess whether the fix worked. If not, search for another root cause.
  • Start the planned maintenance program once the machine is back in prime working order. Plan the tasks to be done during maintenance, set regular intervals for the maintenance, launch the maintenance program and finetune the model as needed.

The Six Beers That Benefited from Total Productive Maintenance

Cervecería Cuauhtémoc Moctezuma is the brewing company behind Tecate, Tecate Light, Dos Equis Lager, Dos Equis Amber, Carta Blanca and Sol. In 2000, at its six plants in Mexico, the company implemented its own version of TPM – Mantenimiento Alto Desempeño (MAD), which translates as High-Performance Maintenance.

To learn how the Latin American brewery planned a complete TPM program, introduced it and rolled it out, and then tracked its success month-by-month and year over year, see the case study at