Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) is a continuous improvement program that focuses on improving the equipment in the production process by investing in maintenance programs, equipment enhancements, and employee training. TPM is a proactive process. It works to prevent problems from occurring, rather than responding to problems.
How Does TPM Work?
Traditionally, maintenance departments have been responsible for the working condition of equipment, as well as developing maintenance programs. TPM, however, requires all workers to be actively involved in maintaining the company’s equipment. Employees are trained to maintain the equipment they work with and to look for ways to increase the overall equipment efficiency (OEE), a combination of equipment availability, performance, and production quality.
This is accomplished by a rigorous preventive maintenance system that prevents breakdowns, eliminates defects caused by the equipment, and invests in low-maintenance equipment. Any breakdown that does occur is quickly addressed, and the cause is eliminated by improving the equipment, updating the equipment’s preventive maintenance, or by investing in new equipment.
Getting Started with TPM
Implementing TPM is a significant undertaking for any business. It is not a quick fix and can take several years to fully implement. TPM often affects the company’s organizational structure, production system, and employee responsibilities. The end results—increased productivity, improved customer satisfaction, and reduced costs—make TPM implementation a worthwhile goal for any company.
While TPM implementation may be different for every business, it generally includes:
Identifying a starting point
Gathering baseline data
Educating the workforce
Implementing a preventive maintenance program in the starting area
Expanding TPM to other parts of the business until it is implemented company-wide
As with any improvement program, TPM requires company-wide support from staff, including managers technicians, and operators.
Identifying a Starting Point
Initially, TPM should be implemented in a pilot area. Try to pick an area that needs immediate attention, whether due to frequent breakdowns, delays, idle time, or defects. Next, get an idea of the current state of the equipment and what can be done:
Which equipment needs the most attention?
Which equipment will be the easiest to improve?
What are the bottleneck areas?
What can be done to quickly improve the total output?
Once you have identified a starting point and the areas that can be improved, it’s time to gather data and get a concrete picture of the equipment’s OEE.
Gathering Baseline Data
Before TPM can be implemented, it’s necessary to understand how the pilot area’s equipment is performing. This will ensure that there is a baseline to work from so improvements can be measured. Three major types of information need to be gathered:
Availability: How often does the equipment stop working during production?
Performance: How often does the production process fall below peak efficiency?
Quality: How many items are manufactured that are defective or require rework?
Overall equipment efficiency (OEE) can be calculated with the following formula:
Availability x Performance x Quality = OEE
The industry accepted target is an OEE of 85%. This is considered "world class." However, the goal is to have an OEE as close to 100% as possible. Once the OEE is identified, it’s time to train the workforce so that TPM implementation is successful.
Educating the Workforce
Workers at every level of the business need to understand what TPM is, what it can do to improve the production process, and what is needed for it to be implemented. Training should also establish goals and policies that will govern TPM implementation. While there are many ways to train the workforce, the following methods are generally accepted throughout the industry.
Offer seminars and workshops: For management, training should include best practices for getting the workforce to participate in TPM. Workshops should introduce the workforce to common problems and provide best practices for overcoming difficulties. Equipment operators should receive special training, so they can maintain the equipment they use.
Offer facility tours: Several TPM teams should be created. These teams should tour companies that have successfully implemented TPM. Ideally, tours should walk employees through the process, highlight areas that were problematic, and outline how TPM was used to improve the production process.
Bring in a consultant: Consultants can provide unbiased feedback, point out problems that may not be apparent to employees, and help create an overall plan for implementing TPM.
Training is a continuous process in TPM. When equipment or maintenance standards change, employees need to be trained so that they can efficiently operate and maintain the equipment.
Implementing a Preventive Maintenance Program
The next step involves creating a comprehensive maintenance program for the pilot area, which requires:
Creating TPM teams that include maintenance technicians and operators
An effective maintenance program requires maintenance technicians and operators to work together and identify items that require maintenance. By working together, the teams can define autonomous maintenance items (things operators can do each day) and planned maintenance items (more complicated tasks that require trained technicians). This will help to clarify the responsibility of each employee and their role in TPM.
The preventive maintenance program can be simplified by using visual communication. Labels and signs can identify machines that need special attention, remind operators to perform daily maintenance, and communicate maintenance procedures. Meanwhile, labels can be used to mark the last time maintenance was performed, making it easier for workers to track maintenance cycles and identify machines that need service.
Next, 5S should be implemented in the pilot area. This tool will help organize the area by:
Removing items that are not used
Making work more efficient by arranging tools and supplies to support their intended uses
Making it easier to spot problems by keeping the area clean
Making daily and planned maintenance more efficient by standardizing processes and tool sets
OEE should be measured throughout the process. This interval between measurements will be different for each company, but in general, OEE should be measured each time a major step is taken:
Once operators begin performing daily maintenance
Once equipment is brought to its original operating efficiency
Once equipment or processes are improved to increase overall performance
Implementing TPM Throughout the Entire Business
The pilot area does not need to be perfected before TPM is expanded upon. Once the data shows that the OEE has improved, start looking for other areas that can benefit from TPM. When an expansion area is identified, implement TPM using the same steps that were used in the pilot area. Continue this process until TPM has been implemented throughout the facility.