Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) is a team-based approach to maximising equipment effectiveness by focusing operations and maintenance teams on eliminating lost operating time. It hails from Toyota, describing Toyota’s approach to, and techniques for, maximising equipment performance over an asset’s lifecycle. It was developed to engage all equipment ‘owners’ in the improvement of asset performance, providing a sustainable competitive edge over other manufacturers. It aligns with the application of Lean Manufacturing principles and has a strong focus on minimising waste.

There has been fairly limited use of some TPM concepts and techniques outside of manufacturing and we’ve seen mining as one of those slow adopters. The fact that TPM has been sold in the past as the ‘next big thing’ in maintenance improvement hasn’t necessarily helped. Poor implementation, or implementing only parts of TPM (eg overall equipment effectiveness), have meant that good short-term project outcomes have often not been sustained – not a true reflection of TPM’s potential.

The five pillars of TPM

TPM starts with equipment performance-related loss analysis, which forms the basis for applying the five pillars of TPM:

  1. Overall equipment effectiveness (OEE)– provides an overall equipment performance measure
  2. Autonomous maintenance– maximises first-level maintenance by operators
  3. Planned and preventative maintenance– places a strong focus on condition-based/predictive maintenance
  4. Effective training– looks at equipment function understanding, abnormality identification etc
  5. Early equipment maintenance– addresses design for reliability, design input by operations etc

From our perspective, TPM techniques are relevant to all asset or equipment-based industries. Mining is one such sector that can benefit because of the increased ownership and empowerment of operations personnel regarding the equipment they are responsible for, and the value of improved asset performance. Key TPM benefits include improved asset uptime and production rates, workplace safety, product quality and workgroup accountability.

Autonomous maintenance

Autonomous maintenance is an interesting element to briefly focus on. It reduces dependence on limited and expensive maintenance resources in two key ways:

  • Training operators to do first level (basic) maintenance inspections and tasks
  • Setting up equipment for easier, faster detection of emerging issues (eg making a developing oil leak more obvious)

For example, the TLC (tighten, lubricate and clean) process can be applied as part of autonomous maintenance. This involves a ‘deep clean’ of equipment, detailed inspections for defects, reviews of lubrication requirements and possible sources of contamination, checks on bolt torque status etc. Activities involve the equipment owner group and reinforce that cleaning and inspections are critical maintenance activities to identify existing defects and to ensure future defects can be identified prior to failure (some studies have shown that as many as 60% of premature equipment failures can be averted by effective application of TLC principles).

(L-R) Clean, painted equipment for easy issue identification; clean, labelled equipment for fast use; simple visual controls for quick monitoring; ordered equipment for repeatable processes

Collaboration is reinforced by making operations more accountable for equipment condition and performance, rather than the common operations team culture where they see their role as purely to drive equipment until it breaks before handing it over to maintenance.

Before you get started

Critical considerations for full and proper adoption of TPM relate to effective project planning, resourcing and collaboration with equipment owners. A TPM project requires a holistic approach on many fronts including leadership development, operations integration, maintenance strategy, reliability analysis, spares management etc.

TPM is not a quick fix and requires ongoing focus on sustainability mechanisms. However, it can be implemented in a phased approach over an extended period. Typically implementation requires a high-intensity work program through the initial months that gradually reduces support to a level that ensures sustainability over the longer term. For businesses requiring increased asset performance, the investment is worth it.

Effective implementation of TPM engenders cultural change in the way workgroups view asset performance and related roles. It also provides a foundation for a step change in long-term performance.

Please get in touch with us if you’d like more information.