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Total Productive Maintenance. What is TPM?

The machine must produce to make money. To produce a quality product, it must be in the best possible technical condition, and it is in the interest of everyone in the company to take care of the condition of the machinery. As early as the 1940s, managers at the Toyota Group subsidiary Denso devised a series of techniques comprising the Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) methodology. It is referred to as “total productive machine maintenance” in Polish and is a component of the Lean Management philosophy, about which we wrote in more detail in our previous article.

What does TPM mean?

TPM is the organisation of a production facility’s work that improves production efficiency by involving employees at all levels, from operator to service and management. In this manner, we hope to maximise the utilisation of the machinery park’s production capacity.

Every employee must be adequately trained and involved in TPM activities. The machine operator is not only expected to operate the machine but also to be actively involved in keeping it clean and in good working order. He should pay attention to and report any symptoms indicating wear and tear (so-called autonomous maintenance). The mechanic, on the other hand, should not limit himself to just retooling the machine or fixing faults on an ongoing basis. He should be given a free hand to take decisions and actions that can improve the device. In addition, the planning of the plant’s operations by its managers must include the time needed for machine inspections and planned preventive repairs to avoid downtime caused by breakdowns.

This is what gave rise to the colloquial but extremely appropriate Polish meaning of the abbreviation TPM – “Towarzystwo Przyjaciół Maszyn” (Machinery Friends’ Society in free translation).

The objective of implementing TPM within the production organisation

The TPM methodology seeks to maximise machine fleet utilisation while minimising downtime-related losses. According to TPM, there are six primary losses in machine operation:

  • Breakdowns,
  • Idleness and minor downtime,
  • Defects and corrections,
  • Start-up losses,
  • Speed limitation,
  • Retooling and adjustments.

Total Productive Maintenance aims to consciously manage these unavoidable losses to reduce their impact on output. CMMS-class systems are one of the tools available to help with this task.

The OEE indicator provides a numerical representation of the machinery fleet’s level of efficiency (Overall Equipment Effectiveness). These three key factors are availability, performance, and quality.

According to the Lean Management concept, the following activities are included in the so-called eight pillars that serve as the foundation of TPM:

  • Autonomous UR,
  • Planned maintenance,
  • Improvement,
  • Training,
  • Health, safety and the environment,
  • Planning of new machinery and equipment,
  • Machinery fleet management,
  • Quality assurance.


Implementing TPM in a company is a major change in company management and employee thinking. The benefits of this are enormous and measurable (thanks to OEE):

  • Zero Defects Strategy – reducing planned and unplanned downtime to a minimum,
  • Maximum production capacity utilisation,
  • Productivity gains,
  • Reducing manufacturing cycle times
  • Decrease in production costs,
  • Enhancement of production visualisation,
  • Quality enhancement of the final product,
  • Enhanced capacity utilisation,
  • More effective production order management.



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