Understanding total productive maintenance and its benefits - Banner Image

Understanding total productive maintenance and its benefits

Toyota’s strength comes not from its healing process, but from preventive maintenance – Taiichi Ohno, Toyota Production System, 1978

Total Productive Maintenance: A brief historical origin

As with statistical process control, lean manufacturing, and many other revolutionary ideas of 20th-century manufacturing, the concept of Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) originated from Japan’s post-Second World War industrial renaissance. It was originally developed by Seiichi Nakajima, a Japanese Engineer at the Japan Institute of Plant Maintenance (JIPM) and an erstwhile interpreter of preventive maintenance expert George Smith (the founder of Marshall Institute). TPM rose in popularity after Nippon Denso, a Japanese automotive parts manufacturer, and then a supplier of Toyota (now part of the Toyota Group), started achieving massive success with its core principles in 1969. Western manufacturers soon took notice of this success and, already alarmed by the surging growth of industrialization in Japan, too began implementing TPM in their factories.

What is Total Productive Maintenance?

Mechanical assets are an essential feature of manufacturing units around the world. These assets help manufacturers perform a variety of functions like grinding, cutting, milling, and other processes that are vital in transforming the earth’s raw materials into usable products in a final or intermediary form. They are however susceptible to sub-optimal functioning and breakdowns. And when they break down, factories have no option but to halt production in some measure. Even a sub-optimal asset function can cause costly product defects which, if discovered in public circulation, may attract reputational damage and litigations.

The concept of Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) normalizes maintenance activities into the routine of every stakeholder on the shop floor. This allows performance flaws in machine assets to be detected quickly and maintenance executed well in advance of failure. TPM cultivates a culture of proactive, preventative, and well-regimented asset maintenance where every team member – from the manager right down to the machine operator – has a contributing role. The aim of total productive maintenance is to achieve ‘perfect’ production, devoid of machine failure, downtime, and product defects.

Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) is founded on the 5s methodology and has 8 supporting pillars – activities that manufacturing units can integrate into their workflows to improve the quality of their maintenance and operations.

The 5s methodology

Japanese ( English ) What does it mean?
Separate items based on their operational and maintenance usefulness; disposing of those that are not necessary
Set in order
Categorize and properly arrange the necessary items
Clean the shop floor regularly
Incorporate the first three elements into standard operating procedures
Ensure that SOPs are continually followed

In the next section, we discuss the 8 pillars of Total Productive Maintenance.

The 8 pillars of Total Productive Maintenance (TPM)

8 Pillars of Total productive Maintenance
  • Autonomous maintenance
  • Focused improvement
  • Planned maintenance
  • Quality management
  • Early equipment management
  • Training and education
  • Safety, health, and environment
  • Administrative aspects of TPM

Autonomous maintenance

The first pillar of Total Productive Maintenance, autonomous maintenance, bestows personal asset responsibility to every machine operator. Here, the duties of operators extend beyond just using machines to carrying out routine maintenance activities like lubrication and inspection. This keeps assets working in good condition and helps manufacturing setups to pre-emptively discover malfunctions.

Focused improvement

This TPM pillar emphasizes continuous improvement through collaborative, interdepartmental efforts. In this pillar, an ‘improvement team’ – representing each unit in the factory – works together and pools their collective expertise for improvement purposes. Derived from the Japanese word kaizen (improvement), focused improvement has parallels with modern internal audits/reviews, with its focus being on the safety of the plant and maintenance of assets.

Planned maintenance

A crucial benefit of autonomous maintenance (pillar one) is that it helps factories, via operator assessment, to estimate when maintenance is due. Planned maintenance has a similar theme, only here manufacturing units compare machine metrics like failure rates with its production history to determine the optimum time for carrying out preventive maintenance. Using machine metrics to plan maintenance also provides enough time to organize maintenance personnel, build up inventory, and stock up on spare parts that may prove difficult to source.

Quality maintenance

Machine breakdown may not necessarily be because of physical or human error, but can sometimes be caused by inadequate working systems. But while the former errors are often obvious, systemic errors take a lot more probing to deduce. In the quality management pillar, manufacturing units use root-cause analysis like the ‘5 why techniques’ to probe beneath the surface and remedy poor quality processes that may be contributing to machine failure.

The 5 whys illustrated

Why did the machine break down? Operator John Doe used the machine at operating speeds outside of manufacturer guidelines for several weeks

Why did operator John Doe use the machine at an un-recommended operating speed? Operator John Doe did not know the recommended operating speed

Why did he not know the recommended operating speed? He did not have access to the machine manual

Why did he not have access to the machine manual? The original manuals were damaged and the factory did not order a new one

Why were the manuals damaged and why did the factory not reorder? The manuals were paper-based and besides, the supervisor to whom operator John Doe had reported, couldn’t get hold of the manager. It was the manager’s responsibility to initiate the process of getting a replacement manual from the manufacturers

In this example, while the first ‘why’ would have placed the responsibility for machine breakdown solely on operator John’s shoulders, utilizing the five why technique shows that a lack of digitized manuals and collaboration tools – both systemic errors were actually the cause of the breakdown.

Early equipment management

This pillar demonstrates the importance of robust relationships across manufacturing’s supply chains. In early equipment management, the machine-related deductions made from improvement groups (pillar 2) and other information obtained across the TPM process, including the on-field usability/performance of the machines is relayed to the equipment manufacturers. This information is then used to improve the design of newer equipment to boost their performance and enhance the ease of maintenance.

Training and education

In this pillar, maintenance personnel, operators, and managers are provided with the knowledge and technical skills required for TPM to succeed. The operators are trained on how to inspect machines, and properly lubricate and execute all the aspects of an autonomous maintenance regime. The maintenance team learns how to interpret the technical terms in machine manuals, formulate preventive maintenance schedules, and maintain assets in compliance with the manufacturer’s guidelines. Managers, on their part, learn the pillars of TPM and their role in employee development and asset management.

Safety, health, and environment (SHE)

An organized working environment where there’s ‘a place for all things and all things are kept in their place’ is crucial for Total Productive Maintenance. Good housekeeping clears the shop floor of scraps, salvageable materials, and junks that can hinder a supervisor’s line of sight to mechanical assets. It ensures that spare parts, lubricating oils, and cleaning equipment have designated storage units making them easily accessible during maintenance operations.

Administrative aspects of TPM

The quality of office-based functions has a bearing on events in the field. The final pillar of TPM aims to improve field operations by reducing waste in administrative functions, for example, cutting down on inefficiencies in processing maintenance work orders and approving permits to work procedures so that maintenance operations can commence quickly.

Benefits of total productive maintenance

TPM holds numerous benefits for manufacturers. Here are 8 of these benefits, each corresponding to a pillar

  • It boosts worker’s morale through a sense of equipment ownership
  • It helps manufacturing units detect and eliminate inefficiencies in shop floor safety and maintenance
  • It eliminates a fire-fighting approach to maintenance and enables manufacturing units to maintain in a way that does not adversely affect production goals
  • It reduces waste, product defects and the far-ranging cost of poor quality
  • It enhances the quality of supply chain relationships, providing insight for equipment manufacturers to improve the safety, performance and ergonomic design of machines.
  • It bridges the knowledge gap on the shop floor
  • It promotes a clean and orderly workplace
  • It helps manufacturers boost their mean-time-to-resolution and other maintenance time metrics.

Why Maximl?

Maximl provides enterprise-wide capabilities for manufacturing sites to implement total productive maintenance in their plants. Our solutions provide tools to facilitate interactive and visually rich training, tailored to the requirements of each stakeholder. Besides, we automate data capturing and provide smart analytics for manufacturing units to analyze asset data and optimize the quality of their operational processes. We also automate the tracking and measuring of overall equipment effectiveness.

  • Rapidly process machine data in a convenient maintenance management system
  • Fast track the creation and approval of permits
  • Digitize maintenance checklists and paper docs
  • Quickly activate maintenance teams with our suite of enhanced collaboration tools
  • Improve communication and collaboration among focused improvement groups
  • Easily generate and approve maintenance documentation through standardized templates and e-signature capabilities

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