Total productive maintenance

Everything you need to know about TPM

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What is total productive maintenance?

Total productive maintenance (TPM) is a strategy that operates according to the idea that everyone in a facility should participate in maintenance, rather than just the maintenance team. This approach uses the skills of all employees and seeks to incorporate maintenance into the everyday performance of a facility.

A good TPM program starts with solid goals. Create awesome goals with this template

Who should participate?

Under the total productive maintenance philosophy, everyone from top-level management to equipment operators should participate in maintenance. But how? Each member of an organization can contribute in their own way:

Top management & reliability engineers

Management should be involved in TPM by promoting it as a corporate policy. Reliability engineers also need to be involved, as they can interpret the maintenance data stored in an organization’s CMMS in order to find relevant metrics and generate business insights.


Operators are the owners of a facility’s assets, meaning they need to take responsibility for the day-to-day maintenance of their machines. This includes the cleaning and regular lubrication necessary for equipment health. Operators are also expected to find early signs of equipment deterioration and report them, as well as determine ways to improve equipment operation.

Maintenance managers and technicians

Maintenance managers and technicians are expected to train and support operators to meet their goals and perform more advanced preventive maintenance activities. They are also expected to take responsibility for improvement activities that will impact the key performance indicators (KPIs) set out by reliability engineers. Read more about who is really responsible for maintenance, and how to leverage a CMMS to get to TPM.

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Advantages of TPM

When everyone in a facility is thinking about and contributing to maintenance, many aspects of the facility will change for the better. Teams employing a TPM strategy often experience the following:

Fewer breakdowns

When machine operators keep an eye out for changes with their equipment, big issues are more likely to be spotted early, before a breakdown occurs. This lets the maintenance team get on top of their PM maintenance schedule, rather than always reacting to emergency breakdowns.

Safer workplace

Technicians are much more likely to take risks when rushing to fix a breakdown, so fewer breakdowns generally mean a safer workplace. On top of that, when everyone keeps maintenance in mind, problems can be spotted and dealt with well before they become potentially dangerous situations.

Better overall performance

If everyone in a facility is keeping an eye on maintenance, small fixes will stop going undetected, which helps you move away from reactive maintenance and get backlog under control. It takes the pressure of small jobs off the maintenance team so they can concentrate on the bigger jobs, which increases the overall performance of your facility.

Understanding the foundation of TPM

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 and developing an autonomous maintenance plan. This frees up the maintenance staff to begin larger projects and perform more planned maintenance.

Eight pillars od TPM pyramid

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5S: What does each “S” stand for?

Each of these five things should be actioned in order to stand up a TPM strategy:


Determine which items are used frequently and which are not. The ones used frequently should be kept closeby, others should be stored further away.

Organize all your assets in one place with this asset organizer template


Each item should have one place—and one place only—to be stored.

Sort all your parts for critical assets and repairs with this parts kitting template


The workplace needs to be clean. Without it, problems will be more difficult to identify, and maintenance will be more difficult to perform.


The workplace should be standardized and labeled. This often means creating processes where none existed previously.

Standardize your work orders with this work order template


Efforts should be made to continually perform each of the other steps at all times.

Once the foundation is laid, then you can move on to establishing the eight pillars of TPM.

Serious about implementing TPM? Start measuring OEE

Total productive maintenance is a maintenance philosophy, but there are tangible KPIs that accompany it. One of the most important measurements of total productive maintenance is overall equipment effectiveness (OEE), which measures availability, performance efficiency, and quality. As such, equipment stopping, equipment working at less than peak capacity, and equipment producing poor quality products are all penalized when OEE is determined.

Learn more about OEE

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