Total Productive Maintenance (TPM): An Overview

Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) is the strategy used to maximize equipment effectiveness through the active involvement of all supporting departments. The goal of Total Productive Maintenance is to improve the overall productivity – Zero Accidents – Zero Defects – Zero Breakdown – Zero Waste by optimizing the availability of equipment.

Modern factory

Key Takeaways

    1. What are the foundations of TPM?
    2. What are the benefits of TPM?

Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) is built on a “5S” foundation, with eight pillars supporting it. The beginning of a TPM program will focus on establishing the 5S foundation. This helps to organize and standardize facility procedures. Henceforth, bringing many benefits for both production and workplace quality.

The 5S Foundation of Total Productive Maintenance

Just like a physical structure starts with a grounded framework, building a strong TPM process requires a strong foundation in the form of the 5S principles.

5S - Sort
1. sort

The goal of this step is to eliminate clutter and clear up spaces that don’t belong in the workspace. This action involves going through all the contents to determine which are needed and which can be removed. Everything that is not used to complete a work process should leave the work area.

5S - Set in order

Ensure that all items are organized, and each item has a designated place. To be more specific, employees should organize all the items logically so they make tasks easier for workers to complete. This often involves placing items in ergonomic locations, where people will not need to bend or make extra movements to reach them.

5S - Shine

Shine is far beyond just pushing a broom around now and then. It involves routine tasks such as mopping, dusting, etc., or performing maintenance on machinery, tools, and other equipment in every part of the work area. For 5S to give the best results, each worker should take personal responsibility for their own working space.


Create a set of standards for both organization and processes. In essence, this is where you make rules for how and when these tasks will be performed with the first three S’s in mind. By writing down what is being done, where, and by whom, you can incorporate the new practices into normal work procedures. This paves the way for long-term change and development.

5S - Sustain

The 5S is not a one-time event but an ongoing cycle. This means the previous four S’s must be continued over time. Sustain new practices and conduct audits to maintain discipline. This is achieved by developing a sense of self-discipline in employees who will participate in 5S.

5S - Safety

In addition, safety plays an essential for every industry and should be incorporated into both the workplace’s culture and people’s mindsets. Unlike the first five steps, safety is not a sequential step. It must be considered during each of the other steps. This approach mirrors the RCR Company philosophy of “Safety Always”.

By choosing to implement 6S, instead of the standard 5S program, businesses can maximize space usage. As a result, increasing efficiency and improving the consistency in quality of equipment and personnel. Moreover, reducing injury rate, and heightening employee morale.

The 8 Pillars of Total Productive Maintenance

The complete TPM program is based on eight major activities called “The 8 Pillars of TPM”, designed to work together to increase efficiency.

1. Autonomous Maintenance

This is an approach where machine operators are given responsibility for basic maintenance tasks such as cleaning, lubricating, and inspection.


  • Give operators greater “ownership” of their equipment
  • Increase operators’ knowledge of their equipment
  • Ensure equipment is well-cleaned and lubricated
  • Identify emergent issues before they become failures
2. Planned Maintenance

This approach schedules maintenance tasks based on the historic failure rate of the equipment.


  • Significantly reduce instances of unplanned downtime
  • Enable most maintenance to be planned for times when equipment is not scheduled for production
  • Reduce inventory through better control of parts that are inclined to wear and fail
3. Quality Maintenance

This “pillar” focuses on the integration of defect detection and root cause analysis into the production process to identify and eliminate recurring sources of defects.


  • Reduce the number of defects and remove root sources of defects
  • Reduce cost by discovering defects early
4. Focused Improvement (Continuous Improvement – Kaizen)

Have small groups of employees work together proactively to achieve regular, incremental improvements in equipment operation.


  • Improve problem-solving capabilities of the workers
5. Early Equipment Management (EEM)

EEM uses the practical knowledge and understanding of manufacturing equipment gained through TPM to design new equipment.


  • New equipment reaches planned performance levels in a shorter time
  • Maintenance is simpler and more robust due to practical review and employee involvement before installation
6. Training and Education

Fill in the skills and knowledge gap through training of all workers.


  • Operators develop skills to routinely maintain equipment and identify emerging problems
  • Maintenance personnel learn higher-level skills such as proactive and preventative maintenance
  • Managers are trained on TPM principles as well as on employee coaching and development
7. Safety, Health, and Environment

Maintain a safe and healthy working environment without any hazards or injuries.


  • Eliminate potential health and safety risks, resulting in a safer workplace
  • Specifically target the goal of an accident-free workplace
8. TPM in Administration

Apply TPM techniques to administrative functions.


  • Support production through improved administrative workflow (e.g., order processing, procurement, and scheduling).

Benefits of Total Productive Maintenance (TPM)



  • Less unplanned downtime increasing OEE (Overall Equipment Effectiveness)
  • Reduction in workplace accidents
  • Reduction in manufacturing costs
  • Improvement in product quality
  • Increase in customer satisfaction
  • Increase in employee confidence levels
  • Growth in positive attitudes among employees through a sense of ownership and responsibility
  • Clean and orderly workplace
  • Pollution control measures are followed
  • Knowledge and experience are shared between departments

All things considered, Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) further develops the ideas of maintenance by involving all departments and personnel within an organization. With an organization-wide mindset focused on taking responsibility for the machines and equipment, even with limited resources available, increasing the overall performance of both the equipment and the people is achievable.

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