Total Productive Maintenance

Discover what TPM is, its importance, the pillars of TPM, and how to sustain the positive effects of implementing TPM in a workplace.

employees working together using a tablet

What is Total Productive Maintenance (TPM)?

Total Productive Maintenance or TPM, is a comprehensive performance improvement strategy based on the philosophy that all employees in the maintenance process should be included. Traditionally, only the maintenance team concerns themselves with maintenance, but with TPM, every employee is involved to improve a facility’s or organization’s overall performance.

Organizations and facilities strive to achieve “perfect production” in all their processes. And while striving to create perfect products with maximum efficiency is a great goal, it’s usually challenging to achieve. This is because there are always problems that teams encounter along the way that can affect efficiency and the overall quality.

TPM doesn’t claim to allow teams to achieve perfect production. However, it aims to get organizations as close to perfection as possible. TPM is built on the 5S methodology, a methodology used to bring downtime to zero, meaning that there are no delays are equipment malfunctions that affect product quality and efficiency.

Why Use TPM?

Traditional maintenance is usually reactive—maintenance is performed only when something breaks down or is in dire need of maintenance—which results to costs and downtimes that could’ve been avoided. TPM, on the other hand, is predictive. This means that organizations are constantly performing maintenance to ensure that teams and equipment are firing on all cylinders. While traditional maintenance can be framed as “putting out fires as they happen”, TPM ensures that fires don’t occur in the first place.

The first benefit of using TPM is that organizations can reduce costs. Performing maintenance whenever equipment malfunctions can be costly and take a lot of time. However, when equipment undergoes regular maintenance, malfunctions and issues are less likely to arise in the first place, meaning that unexpected maintenance costs are greatly reduced.

Since production is much smoother with TPM, product quality increases as well. This results in fewer customer complaints and higher customer satisfaction rates, which is always a good sign for a production team.

The goal of any business is to bring in more money than they take in. And since TPM helps reduce maintenance and manufacturing costs, it can affect numbers across the board.

But the benefits don’t end there.

Aside from the direct benefits of TPM, there are also some indirect ones. For example, as workplace operations and processes smoothen out as a result of TPM, employees, and workers are happier and more confident in their job. This greatly boosts morale and allows workers to perform better as teams.

On top of that, ensuring that all equipment works properly also reduces environmental impact. This is great as it allows organizations to comply with environmental regulations consistently. And if the equipment is working properly, workplace accidents and incidents are reduced, which creates a better environment for employees.

TPM brings many benefits to any workplace and wonders for productivity and efficiency. This is why companies in various industries apply TPM to their manufacturing processes.


A common example of TPM in the workplace is through regular inspections. When workers conduct regular inspections of equipment before and after use, they can ensure that all equipment is working fine before turning anything on. During this process, workers can also grease up and clean equipment regularly, which reduces the chances of machinery breaking down in the middle of operations.

Another example is management operators briefing employees on how to conduct their own inspections and check equipment issues. That way, it isn’t just the maintenance team checking up on equipment, so if equipment starts to malfunction, the employees report the issues right away and teams can take the appropriate measures to fix the issue.

Foundations of TPM

TPM is built on the 5S Principles, which is a part of the lean methodology. In the house of lean, 5S is the foundation upon which the pillars of TPM are built. This gives the pillars a solid foundation and philosophy to use as a launching point. The 5S principles include:

  • Sort – eliminate everything in a workplace that’s unnecessary
  • Straighten – fix all the necessary things in a workplace in an organized manner
  • Shine – regularly clean and inspect the work area to create a safe and sanitized environment
  • Standardize – create a set of standards for teams to follow when conducting the first three steps of 5S lean
  • Sustain –  consistently apply 5S lean in the workplace to ensure that the organization is constantly reaping the benefits

TPM is built on the 5S lean methodology. And once the team has an understanding of 5S, they are ready to start implementing TPM in the workplace.

The Pillars of TPM

Here are TPM’s pillars that are built on top of the 5S lean foundation. The pillars include:

Autonomous Maintenance

This process involves assigning tasks and routines to specific operators and ensuring that they understand what to do. This ensures that operators know about their equipment while also taking some weight off the maintenance team’s shoulders.

Planned Maintenance

This involves creating a schedule for maintenance routine based on the failure rate of different machinery. This reduces downtime and significantly brings down the risk of equipment breaking down at the wrong times and delaying the entire manufacturing process.

Quality Maintenance

This is the error prevention phase of TPM. It involves determining the common causes of errors and putting actions in place to prevent errors from happening in the first place.

Focused Improvement

With this pillar, managers can group large teams into smaller sub-groups that can have regular meetings and talks about how they can improve their processes. This is to ensure that constant improvement takes place within the workplace.

Early Equipment Management

With this pillar, teams are supposed to use the knowledge about their current equipment to create and introduce new equipment that can have tangible positive effects on productivity.

Training and Education

Teams must address any knowledge gaps that can affect the implementation of TPM. All employees need to understand the importance of TPM in the workplace and how to conduct it to improve operations.

Safety, Health, Environment

This pillar deals with creating and maintaining a safe and healthy work environment. As a result, accidents and injuries within the workplace are significantly reduced.

TPM in Administration

TPM isn’t just for manufacturing. The principles and pillars of TPM may also apply to administrative functions and can improve the performance of an organization from all fronts.

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Implementing TPM

Implementing TPM is an effort that requires everyone’s involvement. That’s why it’s important for companies to properly brief employees and managers on TPM, why they need to implement it, and the projected benefits of using TPM in the workplace.

However, the work doesn’t end with a singular orientation. On top of briefing employees, it’s important to understand that TPM is a constant process. So, teams should always strive to find the causes of common problems, and potential fixes and look for ways to consistently improve productivity, even if only by small increments.

Leon Altomonte
Article by
Leon Altomonte
SafetyCulture Content Contributor
Leon Altomonte is a content contributor for SafetyCulture. With his language degree and years of experience in content writing, he delivers well-researched, informative articles about safety, quality, and operational excellence. In addition to his professional pursuits, Leon maintains a creative outlet as a performing musician.