the Technology Interface / Fall 1997
Abstract: Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) is a maintenance
program which involves a newly defined concept for maintaining
plants and equipment. The goal of the TPM program is to markedly
increase production while, at the same time, increasing employee
morale and job satisfaction. The TPM program closely resembles
the popular Total Quality Management (TQM) program. Many of the
same tools such as employee empowerment, benchmarking, documentation,
etc. are used to implement and optimize TPM. This paper will
define TPM in some detail, evaluate its strengths and weaknesses
as a maintenance philosophy, and discuss implementation procedures.
Examples of successfully implemented programs will be presented.
Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) is a maintenance program concept.
Philosophically, TPM resembles Total Quality Management (TQM)
in several aspects, such as (1)total commitment to the program
by upper level management is required, (2) employees must be empowered
to initiate corrective action, and (3) a long range outlook must
be accepted as TPM may take a year or more to implement and is
an on-going process. Changes in employee mind-set toward their
job responsibilities must take place as well.
TPM brings maintenance into focus as a necessary and vitally important
part of the business. It is no longer regarded as a non-profit
activity. Down time for maintenance is scheduled as a part of
the manufacturing day and, in some cases, as an integral part
of the manufacturing process. It is no longer simply squeezed
in whenever there is a break in material flow. The goal is to
hold emergency and unscheduled maintenance to a minimum.
TPM evolved from TQM, which evolved as a direct result of Dr.
W. Edwards Deming's influence on Japanese industry. Dr. Deming
began his work in Japan shortly after World War II. As a statistician,
Dr. Deming initially began to show the Japanese how to use statistical
analysis in manufacturing and how to use the resulting data to
control quality during manufacturing. The initial statistical
procedures and the resulting quality control concepts fueled by
the Japanese work ethic soon became a way of life for Japanese
industry. This new manufacturing concept eventually became knows
as Total Quality Management or TQM.
When the problems of plant maintenance were examined as a part
of the TQM program, some of the general concepts did not seem
to fit or work well in the maintenance environment. Preventative
maintenance (PM) procedures had been in place for some time and
PM was practiced in most plants. Using PM techniques, maintenance
schedules designed to keep machines operational were developed.
However, this technique often resulted in machines being over-serviced
in an attempt to improve production. The thought was often "if
a little oil is good, a lot should be better." Manufacturer's
maintenance schedules had to be followed to the letter with little
thought as to the realistic requirements of the machine. There
was little or no involvement of the machine operator in the maintenance
program and maintenance personnel had little training beyond what
was contained in often inadequate maintenance manuals.
The need to go further than just scheduling maintenance in accordance
with manufacturer's recommendations as a method of improving productivity
and product quality was quickly recognized by those companies
who were committed to the TQM programs. To solve this problem
and still adhere to the TQM concepts, modifications were made
to the original TQM concepts. These modifications elevated maintenance
to the status of being an integral part of the overall quality
The origin of the term "Total Productive Maintenance"
is disputed. Some say that it was first coined by American manufacturers
over forty years ago. Others contribute its origin to a maintenance
program used in the late 1960's by Nippondenso, a Japanese manufacturer
of automotive electrical parts. Seiichi Nakajima, an officer
with the Institute of Plant Maintenance in Japan is credited with
defining the concepts of TPM and seeing it implemented in hundreds
of plants in Japan.
Books and articles on TPM by Mr. Nakajima and other Japanese as
well as American authors began appearing in the late 1980's.
The first widely attended TPM conference held in the United States
occurred in 1990. Today, several consulting companies routinely
offer TPM conferences as well as provide consulting and coordination
services for companies wishing to start a TPM program in their
To begin applying TPM concepts to plant maintenance activities,
the entire work force must first be convinced that upper level
management is committed to the program. The first step in this
effort is to either hire or appoint a TPM coordinator. It is
the responsibility of the coordinator to sell the TPM concepts
to the work force through an educational program. To do a thorough
job of educating and convincing the work force that TPM is just
not another "program of the month," will take time,
perhaps a year or more.
Once the coordinator is convinced that the work force is sold
on the TPM program and that they understand it and its implications,
the first study and action teams are formed. These teams are
usually made up of people who directly have an impact on the problem
being addressed. Operators, maintenance personnel, shift supervisors,
schedulers, and upper management might all be included on a team.
Each person becomes a "stakeholder" in the process
and is encouraged to do his or her best to contribute to the success
of the team effort. Usually, the TPM coordinator heads the teams
until others become familiar with the process and natural team
The action teams are charged with the responsibility of pinpointing
problem areas, detailing a course of corrective action, and initiating
the corrective process. Recognizing problems and initiating solutions
may not come easily for some team members. They will not have
had experiences in other plants where they had opportunities to
see how things could be done differently. In well run TPM programs,
team members often visit cooperating plants to observe and compare
TPM methods, techniques, and to observe work in progress. This
comparative process is part of an overall measurement technique
called "benchmarking" and is one of the greatest assets
of the TPM program.
The teams are encouraged to start on small problems and keep meticulous
records of their progress. Successful completion of the team's
initial work is always recognized by management. Publicity of
the program and its results are one of the secrets of making
the program a success. Once the teams are familiar with the TPM
process and have experienced success with a small problem, problems
of ever increasing importance and complexity are addressed.
As an example, in one manufacturing plant, one punch press was
selected as a problem area. The machine was studied and evaluated
in extreme detail by the team. Production over an extended period
of time was used to establish a record of productive time versus
nonproductive time. Some team members visited a plant several
states away which had a similar press but which was operating
much more efficiently. This visit gave them ideas on how their
situation could be improved. A course of action to bring the
machine into a "world class" manufacturing condition
was soon designed and work was initiated. The work involved taking
the machine out of service for cleaning, painting, adjustment,
and replacement of worn parts, belts, hoses, etc. As a part of
this process, training in operation and maintenance of the machine
was reviewed. A daily check list of maintenance duties to be
performed by the operator was developed. A factory representative
was called in to assist in some phases of the process.
After success has been demonstrated on one machine and records
began to show how much the process had improved production, another
machine was selected, then another, until the entire production
area had been brought into a "world class" condition
and is producing at a significantly higher rate.
Note that in the example above, the operator was required to take
an active part in the maintenance of the machine. This is one
of the basic innovations of TPM. The attitude of "I just
operate it!" is no longer acceptable. Routine daily maintenance
checks, minor adjustments, lubrication, and minor part change
out become the responsibility of the operator. Extensive overhauls
and major breakdowns are handled by plant maintenance personnel
with the operator assisting. Even if outside maintenance
or factory experts have to be called in, the equipment operator
must play a significant part in the repair process.
Training for TPM coordinators is available from several sources.
Most of the major professional organizations associated with
manufacturing as well as private consulting and educational groups
have information available on TPM implementation. The Society
of Manufacturing Engineers (SME) and Productivity Press are two
examples. Both offer tapes, books, and other educational material
that tell the story of TPM. Productivity Press conducts frequent
seminars in most major cities around the United States. They
also sponsor plant tours for benchmarking and training purposes.
Ford, Eastman Kodak, Dana Corp., Allen Bradley, Harley Davidson;
these are just a few of the companies that have implemented TPM
successfully. All report an increase in productivity using TPM.
Kodak reported that a $5 million investment resulted in a $16
million increase in profits which could be traced and directly
contributed to implementing a TPM program. One appliance manufacturer
reported the time required for die changes on a forming press
went from several hours down to twenty minutes! This is the same
as having two or three additional million dollar machines available
for use on a daily basis without having to buy or lease them.
Texas Instruments reported increased production figures of up
to 80% in some areas. Almost all the above named companies reported
50% or greater reduction in down time, reduced spare parts inventory,
and increased on-time deliveries. The need for out-sourcing part
or all of a product line was greatly reduced in many cases.
Today, with competition in industry at an all time high, TPM may
be the only thing that stands between success and total failure
for some companies. It has been proven to be a program that works.
It can be adapted to work not only in industrial plants, but
in construction, building maintenance, transportation, and in
a variety of other situations. Employees must be educated and
convinced that TPM is not just another "program of the month"
and that management is totally committed to the program and the
extended time frame necessary for full implementation. If everyone
involved in a TPM program does his or her part, an unusually high
rate of return compared to resources invested may be expected.
1. Productivity Press, Inc., P.O. Box 13390, Portland, OR 97213-0390
2. Robinson, Charles J., Ginder, Andrew P., "Implementing TPM", Productivity Press, Portland Oregon, 1995.
3. Society of Manufacturing Engineers, P.O. Box 6028, Dearborn, MI 48121
4. Steinbacher, Herbert R., Steinbacher, Norma L., "TPM for America", Productivity Press, Portland, Oregon, 1995.
5. Takahashi, Yoshikazu, and Osada, Takashi, "TPM",
Asian Productivity Organization, Tokyo, 1990.