The What and Why of Total Preventive Maintenance (TPM)

In a truly efficient organization, asset care cannot be the sole responsibility of the maintenance team. Total preventive maintenance recognizes that and offers a framework to expand the maintenance responsibilities across the production floor.  

An increasing number of manufacturers are trying to implement TPM in an effort to lower operating costs, reduce downtime, and improve Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE). Let’s see why.   

The essence of total preventive maintenance (TPM)

Total preventive maintenance represents an organized, standardized, and structured approach to preventive maintenance. What is unique to TPM is that it empowers machine operators to take on basic maintenance responsibilities. The idea is that people who operate the equipment can be upskilled to perform routine maintenance tasks on “their” machines.  

Total preventive maintenance is used as a synonym for total productive maintenance. They share the same acronym – TPM.       

TPM was developed by Seiichi Nakajima in the late 1950s. It lays out a robust framework that is represented by the 5S foundation and eight pillars you can see in the image below.

The structure of total productive maintenance - TPM pillars

Any implementation of total productive maintenance is doomed to fail if it isn’t built upon a strong foundation, which is achieved by employing the 5S methodology

The 5S system outlines best practices employees should follow to eliminate wasteful actions, standardize common procedures, and ensure that the working environment is always clean and organized.

When that is in place, the organization can start implementing the pillars. Each pillar focuses on optimizing a specific part of maintenance operations or quality management. This leads to the creation of company-wide proactive maintenance culture and the development of efficient preventive maintenance procedures.

Stopping at autonomous maintenance

The ultimate goal of implementing TPM is to get an organization as close as possible to perfect production:  zero defects, zero breakdowns, zero accidents, and zero waste. Reaching that level can take years of continuous improvement. 

Many organizations aren’t ready for such a commitment. However, they can still benefit from the core idea of TPM – involving operators in equipment maintenance. That is done by implementing the first pillar of total productive maintenance called autonomous maintenance.

In autonomous maintenance, machine operators take the responsibility for basic maintenance tasks like visual inspections, safety checks, cleaning, and lubrication. This frees up maintenance techs to concentrate on more complex maintenance tasks.

To learn more about how to implement it, check out our guide on autonomous maintenance

Pros and cons of using TPM

Successful implementation of total preventive maintenance:

  • Decreases the number of equipment breakdowns and production delays
  • Reduces the number of defective products and improves overall equipment effectiveness
  • Standardizes work according to industry best practices  
  • Leads to lean production processes and maintenance activities with minimal waste; lean manufacturing
  • Reduces operational and maintenance costs
  • Facilitates the sharing of knowledge and best practices throughout the whole organization

Operator errors are the root cause of many equipment failures. Making machine operators responsible for the assets they work with leads to a significant reduction in breakdowns caused by equipment misuse.

Of course, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. The above-stated benefits cannot be achieved without overcoming certain challenges:

  • Haphazard implementation of TPM programs can lead to big operational disruptions and can waste a lot of internal resources for insignificant gains
  • The organization needs a well-thought-out plan with clear milestones and responsibilities  
  • Getting everyone on board with the idea might require a lot of change management
  • Some upfront investment for employee training, maintenance software, and consultants might be required     

The scope of total preventive maintenance training

A strong total preventive maintenance training program has to be designed to let employees keep up with the organizational changes. 

When the processes are fleshed out, the company should create/update standard operating procedures and add them to an operation and maintenance manual (if they use one). 

Due to the nature of the TPM process, most of the training will be focused on machine operators and maintenance personnel. Training can be executed through a combination of classroom training and on-the-job (OJT) training. This provides a nice balance of theoretical and practical knowledge.

Some training might also be required for managers in charge of the process. Luckily, you can find plenty of online TPM courses with a simple Google search. Depending on the course, you will be introduced to basic and advanced concepts that are needed to set up a lean maintenance and production environment. And get some sort of TPM certification.    

Lastly, companies can turn to TPM consultants for help. They will guide you through the whole process by organizing seminars, training workers, and working with your internal team to eliminate waste and improve the maintenance programs and procedures. 

Relying on total preventive maintenance software

CMMS software is the best way to manage any type of preventative maintenance work. For a more holistic approach, modern CMMS solutions can also be integrated with an existing ERP system.

There are so many ways in which CMMS can be used to optimize maintenance operations. In the context of total preventive maintenance, it:

    • Is used to schedule, track, and organize all maintenance resources (work, labor, tools)
    • Offers instant access to procedures, checklists, safety guidelines, and other important documents
    • Keeps a detailed track of maintenance history for all physical assets, which is needed to make smart maintenance decisions  
    • Helps you track and forecast MRO inventory needed to keep a balanced stock
    • Helps you stay on top of your maintenance expenditures
    • Can integrate with condition monitoring sensors and predictive analytics for running CBM or predictive maintenance

If you are interested in testing Limble CMMS, you have three options:

Standing behind continuous improvement

Organizations that are not willing to change are discarded by the market forces. TPM is not the right solution for every organization, but many of the lean principles it preaches are. 

At the bare minimum, we should all strive for continuous improvement. Be it something bigger like deploying a digital maintenance solution, or something small like updating existing standard operating procedures – it doesn’t really matter – as long as we are moving forward. 

The most straightforward way to improve maintenance operations is by implementing modern CMMS software. If you are interested in how Limble CMMS can jumpstart the digital transformation of your maintenance department, contact us anytime.  

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