Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) evolved from the maintenance practices of the 1950s and 1960s which emphasized traditional "breakdown maintenance” activities. The "if it ain't broke don't fix it" philosophy prevailed in most manufacturing organizations and preventive maintenance was usually limited to occasional lubrication. Many manufacturers believed that the cost associated with equipment downtime to perform scheduled maintenance did not justify the loss of production time. There was no clear linkage between non-breakdown maintenance activities and long-term productivity improvement or profitability. Plant personnel defined their activities and roles as operators or fixers with little in the way of crossover activities. Although engineering economics and disciplines such as reliability and maintainability engineering began playing important roles in American business, maintenance activities in manufacturing industries were still largely viewed only from the cost side of the profitability equation.
In the 1970s came the introduction of Productive Maintenance which recognized the importance of preventive maintenance, reliability engineering, maintainability engineering, and engineering economics in equipment design and operation. However, productive maintenance still relied on the traditional roles and responsibilities of operations and maintenance personnel, and did not focus on maintenance activities as an integral part of the larger manufacturing or process system. Enter Total Productive Maintenance.
TPM principles require active participation by everyone from production workers and maintenance personnel to engineering departments and top management. TPM draws from the behavioral sciences as well as the traditional engineering disciplines in creating a manufacturing environment in which preventive maintenance activities are viewed as everyone's responsibility. Operators no longer just operate and call the maintenance department when a breakdown occurs. They also autonomously perform certain routine preventive maintenance activities such as cleaning, inspection, lubrication, and running adjustments. Maintenance personnel are then free to employ their skills on higher level preventive maintenance activities and overhauls. Everyone views goals of zero breakdowns, maximizing productivity, and zero product defects as shared responsibilities.
The goals of a TPM program include improving equipment and personnel effectiveness, instituting autonomous maintenance by operators, developing a life-cycle approach to maintenance, and providing the necessary preventive, diagnostic and repair skills and techniques to employees. Implementing TPM is not an overnight endeavor. It may require two years or longer to achieve full results. Initial program implementation costs include training all personnel in TPM principles and to perform the new operator maintenance tasks. Other costs include restoring defective or malfunctioning equipment to proper working condition. The good news is that a full company-wide implementation of TPM is not necessary to derive substantial benefits. Although the cultural aspects of TPM should be promoted throughout the operations, maintenance, and management organizations, actual implementation of TPM activities and the measurement of results can be done effectively at an individual machine or production line level.
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