Total productive maintenance (TPM) is best described as a Lean program that focuses on improving manufacturing through equipment, employees, and processes. During this approach, employees and machine operators strive to uphold and maintain machines and systems to attain perfect production through a series of structured steps. Though Total Productive Maintenance and Lean methodologies differ, these two systems are less competitive than they are complementary. Read on to learn about TPM, how it compares to Lean methods, and how these two initiatives can be used together to improve the efficiency of any factory.

What Is Total Productive Maintenance?

Total Productive Maintenance, or TPM, is a subset of Lean that uses eight pillars, or steps, to work toward achieving the goal of perfect production through preventive measures. Like other process improvements, TPM focuses on reducing downtime. Like Lean principles, the pillars of TPM empower employees to be proactive during day-to-day operations, taking responsibility for their workspaces—for example, ensuring regular machine upkeep so all equipment performs correctly and dependably.

There are six types of production losses that TPM addresses, which are:  

  • Unplanned downtime due to an unexpected breakdown costing production hours and yield plus labor and parts 
  • Setup and adjustment losses occurring during changeovers and shift changes 
  • Stoppage losses resulting from minor yet frequent maintenance issues
  • Productivity losses resulting from reduced machine speeds to prevent defects due to incorrect calibration or setup
  • Defective losses for output that must be reworked to spec or scrapped as waste
  • Equipment losses resulting from wear and tear that reduce machine lifespans and lead to additional replacement costs

Unlike Lean, which may include a variety of improvement steps, TPM relies on eight pillars to achieve success, including:

  1. Autonomous Maintenance: Routine cleaning, lubrication, and inspection of equipment by the machine operator freeing maintenance for specialized tasks.
  2. Focused Improvement: Appointing a group to troubleshoot failures and recommend equipment or plant modifications through organized Kaizen events.
  3. Planned Maintenance: Scheduled maintenance based on data that predicts the timing of the next failure by counting production runs, units, or another metric.
  4. Quality Management: Production processes and checklists that prevent errors and defects.
  5. Early Equipment Management: Implementing the principles of TPM on new machinery so that start-up time is efficient and maintenance is standardized from day one.
  6. Training and Education: Investments in machine operator education for managing complex equipment and training everyone to know their roles in TPM.
  7. Administration: Apply TPM to areas outside the shop floor to help eliminate waste and cut costs in planning and logistics or other administrative areas.
  8. Safety, Health and Environmental Conditions: Corrective and preventative actions that address unsafe situations before accidents or injuries occur.

Total Productive Maintenance Examples

Running a machine until a worn belt breaks or a nicked blade causes defects is not an option in a facility with a Total Productive Maintenance Program. This system focuses on reducing losses during production that result from faulty equipment or poorly maintained machines. Proactive maintenance, rather than reactive, is what TPM relies on to make unplanned downtime minimal. 

Examples of TPM in action at a workstation include:

  • Wiping off sealing blades to remove shrink-wrap buildup before it damages the equipment
  • Switching out a dull drill bit before it fails or slips and tagging it for re-sharpening
  • Lubricating belt gears on a schedule to prevent the line from sticking and causing timing issues
  • Noting anomalies that may indicate upcoming issues and increasing visual inspection
  • Checking output to detect flaws using measurement tools, barcode scanners, or visual checklists
  • Calibrating pH meters, scales, or other instruments to ensure environmental factors or wear and tear are not compromising workstation tools

Differences Between Lean and TPM Programs

Lean initiatives are often filtered by what will deliver better value to the customer while TPM considers more internal factors, such as equipment deviation or defective output, to spur action. Though both aim to eliminate waste, Lean tends to focus on big-picture inefficiencies while TPM offers a more granular approach. 

The three main areas where Lean and TPM differentiate include:

  • Scope: Lean principles can be applied across an organization’s departments, while TPM specifically focuses on systems to maintain and uphold production environments.
  • Emphasis: Lean focuses on eliminating existing waste by streamlining processes and TPM emphasizes proactive maintenance to stop waste from occurring in the first place.
  • Structure: Lean is more flexible and adaptable, responding to changes throughout the process, while TPM relies on following a framework of eight pillars.

Similarities Between Lean and TPM

Though Lean and TPM rely on different actions to achieve goals, each methodology offers solutions to streamline production and reduce downtime. Because several similarities exist between Lean and TPM, these two practices can be implemented together to target overall operations and zero in on manufacturing inefficiencies. 

Four areas where TPM and Lean are similar include:

  • Goals: Lean and TPM both seek to eliminate waste in all its forms, whether it’s production waste, time waste, or resource waste. 
  • Employee Involvement: Lean empowers employees to identify and solve problems, while TPM encourages operators to take ownership of equipment maintenance; both rely on employee input and buy-in for success.
  • Problem-Solving: Though the problems may be on a different scale, Lean and TPM both rely on root cause analysis (a common method in Lean, known as the 5 Whys), to drill into the issue and find the right resolution. 
  • Data-Driven Techniques: Both methodologies rely on data analysis to not only find where losses occur but to measure the area to determine the success of the initiative. 

Using Lean and TPM Together

If you’re a business owner or factory manager targeting waste reduction and production losses, you don’t need to choose between Lean and TPM to implement successful systems. Lean offers solutions to improve the entire process, from streamlining the receipt of raw goods to creating a workflow that moves the product from one assembly line to the next without backtracking. TPM ensures the individual packaging and manufacturing lines are up and running efficiently. 

To get started with Lean, TPM, or both, you’ll want to begin with 5S. The principles of this—sort, set in order, shine, standardize, and sustain—help maintain a clean, uniform workplace where new systems aren’t hampered by clutter or confusion. Plus, 5S often leads to improved safety which is a pillar of TPM and a necessity of any industrial environment. 

Visual Management Tools for TPM and Lean

Because Lean, TPM, and 5S are closely related, visual communication tools can be cross-functional. For Lean, floor arrows and workstation numbers provide navigational cues and process directions that streamline material movements to and from assembly lines. For TPM, 5S floor signs and tape organize machine areas so raw materials and tools are orderly and production steps are clear. When all of these visuals are working together, everything has a place, and unnecessary processes and miscellaneous items can be identified and removed. 

Here are some ideas for how visual tools can help sustain TPM and support Lean principles for reducing waste and optimizing processes: 

  • Designate color-coded floor tape to indicate inspection frequency (blue for Mondays, purple for Wednesdays, etc.) 
  • Use the established red tag process for 5S as a framework for removing clutter or tools and supplies in need of repair from the shop floor or an assembly line.
  • Apply custom machine labels to equipment to provide operators with setup notices and safety reminders, or to mark lubrication points.
  • Keep inspection and test records at each production line so an operator can efficiently log information to communicate with the next shift or document task completion.
  • Label production equipment and its placement using self-adhesive numbers or letters so setup is standardized.
  • Define zones near workstations using corner markers and floor signs for staging finished goods, raw materials, and so on.
  • Display custom floor signs with reminders to keep end-of-shift tasks and intermittent cleaning autonomous.
  • Label tools, carts, and other equipment for each work cell so items that require off-line maintenance can be properly returned.
  • Provide arrows, dots, and signs throughout the facility for warehouse workflow optimization in assembly locations, loading docks, and administrative areas.

Sustaining these improvements can be a challenge without visual cues. Invest in floor signs, tape, and labels to help your TPM and Lean programs start off right and build momentum toward long-term success. For more tips on using visual management tools in a warehouse or factory, visit our Resource Center.