You’ll get the most successful TPM implementation when it’s part of a Plant Wellness Way program

Total Productive Maintenance or Autonomous Maintenance for reliability improvement and cost reduction are maintenance methodologies you can have in a Plant Wellness Way life-cycle asset management strategy. When a company adopts PWW they use the most practical, cost effective solutions to their reliability problems. TPM would be worth considering to help improve equipment reliability and plant uptime, but TPM, or operator driven reliability, is just one option to use to get lasting reliability growth in a PWW program.



Hello Mike,

I am trying to get a way around the management objection: “We are already using TPM (or any other asset management methods); it’s what we have decided to implement. We cannot take the Plant Wellness Way on.”

What can the Plant Wellness Way offer a company already using TPM?

Or from your experience, are there weaknesses in TPM that PWW can strengthen?

Many thanks, Abu



Dear Abu,

A well trained operations group properly applying Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) or Autonomous Maintenance (AM) has a lot of potential to do good. But both are a shopfloor based strategy and will not solve the systemic and life-cycle problems a company already has in their business causing the maintenance troubles which they are trying to address with a TPM program or Autonomous Maintenance.

TPM does not guarantee production success. You may not even get even much productivity improvement by using TPM. For sure and lasting big production gains you must fix your business system and its weak processes. That is something a TPM program cannot do.

The Plant Wellness Way (PWW) is about creating total business system and life-cycle excellence. It includes creating workplace excellence. You might recommend to clients who adopt PWW to also properly do a TPM program in their workplace, but only if it is the most successful productivity solution to adopt. As part of the initial Plant Wellness Way analysis you do on a client’s operation it’s very likely you will find simpler and quicker solutions than using TPM. TPM is a very difficult methodology for the average company to successfully do. We would always suggest simpler answers than trying Total Productive Maintenance or Autonomous Maintenance for high productivity. We leave TPM and AM as a last resort.

There is some background information you need to ask managers to learn how effective an existing TPM program really is!

  1. What is their Overall Equipment Effectiveness OEE? (If it’s below 90% they can still do a lot more to improve. Below 80% and they are in trouble.)
  2. Are they still having breakdowns? Which equipment fails and how frequently on each equipment? (There should be no breakdowns or forced stoppages due to equipment failure whatsoever!)
  3. How long have they been doing TPM? (If they have done it for more than a couple of years they should already have world class production performance!)
  4. Who in the crew is doing TPM? What training did they do for TPM? (If the TPM practitioners are the operators did they learn the necessary engineering and maintenance skills, otherwise they are not trained?)
  5. Is maintenance cost still too high? (If maintenance is still too costly, even with TPM in use, we can use PWW to review why that is occurring and solve their problems.)
  6. What is the proportion of maintenance cost to equipment replacement value (ERV)? (This is an indicator of excessive maintenance cost. It depends on the industry, but in process operations if the ratio is more than 2.5% it’s a poor result. World best maintenance cost to ERV ratio is less than 1% for process plants. PWW can get massive improvements in maintenance cost to ERV ratio in companies that adopt it whole-heartedly.)
  7. Do they have a big backlog of preventive maintenance (PM) jobs? Are the operators getting through all their preventive maintenance work before plant and equipment breakdowns happen? (Unless the PM jobs are done on time, and done properly, you will get breakdowns.)
  8. Is more than 5%-10% of their maintenance work emergency work? (In that case the TPM program and TPM practices in use are ineffective. They may not be doing the maintenance work that needs to be done, or they have missed important work needing to be done, or they are doing the maintenance tasks wrongly.)
  9. Are the highly skilled maintenance technicians doing precision maintenance on the operating machinery? (If precision maintenance is not practiced, or it is not done properly, companies will never get high reliability! TPM does not include teaching operators precision maintenance skills.)
  10. Are they using too many spare parts? They may not be having breakdowns, but they are repairing their equipment far too often. (It’s likely they are not doing the right procedures, or do not have procedures, or the procedures are wrong or incomplete, or the parts are not to design specification.)
  11. Take a look at the Total Productive Maintenance procedures used to control the work done on their equipment and see if they contain quality assurance checks, especially requiring measurements to prove accuracy. (If there is none or little work quality control required in the TPM procedures they will have a lot of randomness and variation in the work done by their people—much of the work will actually cause their equipment failures.)
  12. Ask to walk through the operation and look for yourself how good they really are. If it’s a dirty place and unkempt they need help, even if they are doing TPM. If they are fantastic then ask how they got to be so good and learn from them so you pass the TPM know-how to other operations in future.)

What other issues do they have in their operation not being addressed by their TPM program?

Many managers hope a TPM program will address all their plant uptime problems, but there are many, many business system issues and life-cycle related failure causes that Total Productive Maintenance does not solve.

  • Are there still problem items of plant suffering poor reliability or high maintenance costs? (In a PWW program you can do Reliability Growth Cause Analysis RGCA to eliminate the causes of the problems.)
  • Is their maintenance planning and scheduling process operating effectively to keep maintenance work backlog less than 4 weeks?
  • Are their parts procurement and stores management processes working 100% correct and efficiently so there are no stock-outs, late deliveries, lost orders, or forced reuse of old parts in their machines and equipment?

You need to find out the real truth by learning if the managers are making all the operating profits humanly possible from their plant and equipment. If the operation is not already at top performance and consistently delivering the best results humanly possible they will get new benefits by using PWW solutions. If they are doing all that is humanly possible, and the operation is highly efficient with highly effective processes, but they want more operating profit, then it’s time to talk about introducing new technology to improve their margins even more.

I hope the above thoughts help you. Ask me more questions if you need to.


All the best to you,

Mike Sondalini
Managing Director
Lifetime Reliability Solutions HQ


P.S. Find out more about Introducing Lean Six Sigma, 5S and TPM training PowerPoint presentations from our Lean and Quality Management Training Store where you can purchase them online.

P.P.S. If you require advice or input on a Total Productive Maintenance strategy, a TPM program, Lean Business Processes, Lean Manufacturing or Lean Improvement, please feel free to contact me by email at