Why is TPM primarily seen and used as a maintenance module?

Many speak about TPM, but mean Autonomous Maintenance. How come? Why is TPM primarily seen and used as a maintenance module? Is it a lack of information?

In my experience there are 3 main reasons for this mis-understanding:

1. Total Productive Maintenance can easily be understood (in this translation) as a maintenance issue; Maintenance here should be translated as To Maintain so: To Maintain the Total Productivity of the equipment. Of course before you can maintain it, you have to get there…. Here comes the second misunderstanding:

2. Many start implementing TPM with the 7 steps of Autonomous Maintenance, the second pillar. Since most equipment had a lack of focus before TPM, a variety of maintenance related issues will pop-up. Most companies I know keep playing around in this pillar a long time, thus leaving an impression of TPM being ‘something around maintenance’. It is not unusual that companies somewhere in the 7 steps also start to include another pillar: preventive maintenance, which asks for heavy involvement of the maintenance department. If there is a lak of understanding about the real meaning of TPM, this is usually the point where TPM start losing its value, where it will become a ‘flavour of the month’ program.

3. And yes, it is certainly an ‘Informationsdefizit’; although not in the traditional meaning of the word. It is merely a lack of true understanding. Can I explain an Alien what ‘love’ is? I think so. But will he really understand what it is to fall in love, to love your child, to love your spouse? This is the real difficulty with TPM… Only a few really understand its deeper meaning; that it is not a program where you apply 7 pillars and follow some steps. Those are just guidelines, like the 10 commandments. To understand the real implications and the beauty of TPM even with a good ‘sensei’ (coach-teacher) it can take considerable time!

In the years, I have been reading Nakajima-san’s book about TPM 3 times, and every time I discovered new insights….answers only come when you have a question!

The lack of true understanding of the meaning of TPM, in my opinion, is the reason of many stalled TPM implementations…

Arno Koch

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