TPM – a how-to guide

ISE Magazine Volume : 50 Number: 4
By Tina Kanti Agustiady

Total productive maintenance can help your enterprise minimize the six main losses 

Total productive maintenance (TPM) is a holistic approach to equipment maintenance that strives to achieve near perfection in production processes. Autonomous maintenance (AM) is the process where operators are involved in maintaining their own equipment while stressing proactive and preventative maintenance.

TPM improves equipment operating conditions, enables the attainment of takt time at the highest possible machine effectiveness and sustains equipment at an optimal level of performance and reliability. TPM also lengthens the life expectancy of equipment, reduces or eliminates breakdowns, eliminates slow running or small stoppages and aims for zero defects and zero accidents.

Properly applied, TPM can engage your enterprise’s operators so they are 100 percent involved and committed. This article provides an overview, introduction and implementation guide to the autonomous maintenance piece of total productive maintenance.

Points and pillars

There are five distinguishing points to total productive maintenance. First, TPM is an innovative approach to maintenance techniques that optimizes equipment effectiveness through continuous improvement methodologies involving both product and service processes. Second, TPM establishes a world-class reliability-based maintenance system that uses proactive maintenance, predictive maintenance and preventative maintenance.

The third point is that TPM practices involve the entire equipment life cycle. Top management support is a key foundation for TPM. There needs to be buy-in at every level of the organization for TPM to succeed. Therefore, executive management needs to work in direct correlation with front-line supervisors, middle management and support functions. The fourth point is that TPM coordinates all personnel together through participation of key events and personnel, including suppliers, operators, engineers, vendors and maintenance personnel. Finally, TPM promotes and implements team-based activities at all organizational levels to strive toward the goal of zero defects and zero breakdowns.

TPM has numerous benefits. The positives include sharpening employee equipment-related knowledge and skills, improving internal communications, providing a basis for building teams and cooperation, establishing baseline equipment specifications, promoting easy auditing and diagnosing equipment, controlling variation of equipment and reducing defects, eliminating unplanned downtime, ensuring quality control and compliance, increasing overall equipment effectiveness and eliminating crisis management.


The implementation steps to conducting a TPM effort should be based on the following.

First, identify a pilot area. For a site with limited TPM experience and/or support, the best choice is usually the equipment that is easiest to improve. For a site with moderate or strong TPM experience and/or support, the best choice is typically the equipment that has been deemed the constraint or bottleneck. The key is to minimize risk by building temporary stock and otherwise ensuring that unanticipated downtime can be minimized. Teams often select the most problematic equipment.

Picking the most problematic equipment has some great pros, especially involving morale. Improving very problematic equipment will be well-supported by operators. Solving well-known problems will strengthen support for TPM with team members. However, if the problematic equipment is not the constraint equipment, your organization will receive less payback than if the improvement teams tackled constraint equipment.

And, of course, unsolved problems are often unsolved for a reason – it may be challenging to get good results.

The next step is to restore equipment. Equipment should be cleaned and ready for improved operation. There are two key TPM concepts here, namely 5S+1 and autonomous maintenance (AM).

It is imperative to initiate 5S+1 and then autonomous maintenance – never implement autonomous maintenance first. Always start deploying TPM after 5S+1 is implemented in the target area. The reason for this is because 5S+1 is the foundation for TPM because it creates well-running equipment. In a clean and well-organized work environment, tools and parts are much easier to find, and it is much easier to spot emerging issues such as fluid leaks, material spills, metal shavings from unexpected wear, hairline cracks in mechanisms among others.

The AM implementation steps that follow should be conducted by the team members who are operating the equipment:

  • Clean and inspect.
  • Eliminate sources of dirt and contamination and improve access.
  • Establish cleaning and lubrication standards.
  • Train operators to conduct general equipment inspections.
  • Conduct autonomous inspections.
  • Implement visual maintenance management.
  • Achieve sustainable continuous improvement.

Remember, autonomous maintenance is not a favor for maintenance. It has a great and valuable purpose. Autonomous maintenance will allow operators to perform daily checks, lubricate equipment as needed, replace simple components, perform minor repairs on machines and assist in solving problems.

In autonomous maintenance, the focus is on empowering the machine operators to detect early warning signs on machines. Then the operators can contact maintenance to request any necessary repairs or if the machine needs work that would take a longer amount of time or technique. Many autonomous maintenance tasks can be done quickly and on a daily schedule, including cleaning, inspection and lubrication activities.

Why autonomous maintenance?

The big question then is, why go to all the bother of conducting autonomous maintenance? Well, autonomous maintenance helps your personnel rapidly identify and resolve problems. AM establishes standards and stabilizes equipment conditions and stops accelerated deterioration of plant and equipment.

It divides tasks into those conducted by operators and those conducted by maintenance. Your enterprise’s operators are responsible for setting and maintaining optimal conditions, following optimal operating conditions and detecting and preventing deterioration.

Maintenance personnel, on the other hand, work on higher- level tasks, things like measuring deterioration, reversing deterioration and improving equipment design.

Without autonomous maintenance, organizations often don’t have basic conditions in place, operating conditions often aren’t followed, equipment deteriorates, equipment has design flaws and your personnel lack the appropriate skill sets. Implementing autonomous maintenance offers countermeasures to those problems.

The six main losses are Equipment breakdowns consist of the downtime lost due to tooling failure, unplanned maintenance and equipment malfunctioning. Setups and adjustments are setup changes, changeovers, adjustments made and piloting of the line (which often can be addressed through setup time reduction programs such as single minute exchange of dies). Reduced speed or speed losses are incorrect settings, equipment degradation and alignment issues that keep equipment from running at its theoretical maximum speed.

Proactive maintenance is the next step in TPM. It is important to integrate proactive maintenance techniques into the maintenance program and also introduce the next step of planned maintenance. Identifying components that are candidates for proactive maintenance is an important part of all equipment to be cared for. Establishing initial proactive maintenance intervals is also an important aspect to TPM. Finally, a feedback system for optimizing maintenance intervals will tie the entire system together.

TPM – a learning experience

This overview explained the benefits of total productive maintenance and gave your organization an approach to implementing the practice, especially the autonomous maintenance part, successfully. Leadership must also structure its TPM implementation to focus on total employee involvement. This is helped when leadership pushes decision-making and systems development down to the lowest levels of the enterprise.

Part of a successful TPM implementation relies on the organizational framework being carried out well. Identify champions from top management who will actively support the TPM implementation. Leaders at all levels should commit time to attending continuous improvement events and be ready to make quick decisions based on what they learn from the people implementing the TPM process.