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Total preventive maintenance, or TPM, is a type of maintenance plan used in manufacturing and industrial settings. In general, it is a theory related to how tools, parts and machines used for manufacturing a given item are taken care of and maintained. It is designed to cut maintenance costs, reduce downtime, and improve and streamline production as well as customer service and support.
Under a total preventive maintenance theory, problems are dealt with on machines and manufacturing tools before a problem develops with the machine or equipment. There are several ways in which this is achieved. First, scheduled or routine maintenance is practiced. For example, just as individuals get their oil changed in cars on a regular basis to avoid potential problems, companies will have service performed on machines at regular and periodic intervals to ensure those machines have functional parts and anything else required for the machine to work at an optimal level.
Another aspect of total preventive maintenance is to replace minor parts before they cause major problems with the machine, or before the minor parts break and need repair. This is done in much the same way an individual would repair a faulty hose before it causes the engine to malfunction, or repair breaks before the breaks fail. The purpose behind this is not only to prevent the machine from developing larger problems, but also to prevent the machine from breaking at an inopportune time. If the maintenance is planned, then it can be timed in such a manner that it does not interfere with production. If the maintenance is unplanned however, the machine could break at a time when it is needed, resulting in inventory not being ready on time or in a shortage of goods produced.
Total preventive maintenance also involves training the employees who work with a particular machine or piece of equipment to be watchful of any potential problems or red flags that occur. The premise behind this aspect of total preventive maintenance is that those who work with a piece of equipment on a daily basis are best equipped to know when a problem is likely to develop or when a machine is performing at a less-than-optimal level. When the problem is reported promptly, it can be repaired or dealt with efficiently. The employees may also be trained in minor maintenance aspects of caring for the machine, such as in wiping the parts down properly or closing the machine down in a specific way that is less likely to lead to wear or problems.