Understanding Total Preventive Maintenance: Meaning and Core Objectives

Understanding Total Preventive Maintenance: Meaning and Core Objectives

In an ideal factory or manufacturing facility setting, all equipment would function optimally at all times. However, that’s a distant ideal that’s often hard to reach for many organisations. Equipment and machinery failures occur, sometimes more frequently than anticipated.

This requires a holistic approach to maintenance activities. And that’s exactly where total preventive maintenance (TPM) comes into play.

In this article, we discuss the total preventive maintenance meaning in depth and explore its core concepts, objectives and techniques. However, it’s worth remembering that total preventive maintenance and total preventative maintenance are terms that are used interchangeably. For this reason, we’ll apply the same approach here.

So, without further ado, let’s get started.

Understanding Total Preventive Maintenance: Meaning and Core Objectives

What Is Total Preventive Maintenance (TPM)?

In the world of manufacturing and maintenance, a frequently encountered question is “What is TPM maintenance?” 

Total preventative maintenance is a holistic approach to managing repair and maintenance tasks in manufacturing plants. This strategy focuses on proactive steps that aim to avoid machine breakdowns and equipment failures while bolstering their effectiveness and reducing downtime. Ultimately, maintenance teams work as a well-oiled unit as they aim for perfect production with little to no downtime and asset breakdowns.

Of course, this requires a proactive approach. Through such an approach, organisations can experience massive benefits, which include:

  • Lower operating costs
  • Better operational efficiency
  • Empowers staff by teaching them new skills
  • Helps with overall business performance in the long term
  • Ability to meet customer quality and delivery requirements
  • Gives maintenance stuff more time to focus on value-adding work
  • Greater machinery quality and reliability with longer equipment lifespans


So, when it comes to what is meant by TPM in maintenance, we are talking about a highly specific set of maintenance techniques that are implemented in such a way as to ensure every machine in the production process will always do what it is supposed to.

All this, in addition to zero interruptions, no breakdowns, no accidents, no small stops or slow running, no defects, etc., contributes to a safe working environment.

This offers a total solution by encouraging production operators to handle routine maintenance tasks regularly. Shared responsibility for the equipment empowers engineers to work on more specialised tasks.

In addition to the fact that it’s a total solution in terms of all operators, engineers and maintenance managers being involved, it also concentrates on the total organisation’s production assets operating optimally at all times.

Core Concepts of Total Preventive Maintenance

A total preventive maintenance programme is not a haphazard approach to maintenance. Instead, it is a highly focused technique that requires a well-implemented strategy to work.

Total preventive maintenance approaches maintenance and manufacturing productivity from several angles. These include an emphasis on proactive measures and integration with continuous improvement.

Let's explore these pillars of autonomous maintenance, or TPM principles, in more detail below.

Emphasis on Proactive Measures

Before total preventative maintenance was established as a foundational principle for maintenance and repair work, it was preceded by reactive maintenance. The latter concept revolves around operators and engineers dealing with emergencies as and when they arise.

There were few, if any, measures put into place to help prevent breakdowns and machine downtime. As such, reactive maintenance was a backward- and not forward-looking approach that wasted considerable organisational resources. However, that all changed with the introduction of proactive maintenance strategies through planned maintenance.

Also referred to as preventive or preventative maintenance, this technique focuses on ways of preventing machine downtime, reducing costs, and improving operational efficiency and overall equipment effectiveness while streamlining production processes by emphasising proactive and preventive maintenance.

This is often achieved through the use of a computerised maintenance management system (CMMS). It enables maintenance managers to achieve quality maintenance through issuing work orders, managing inventory and spare parts, and working on preventive maintenance tasks, among others.

Overall, maintenance management software ensures that there is planned time and a special schedule for maintenance activities, often performed in conjunction with low production periods, to guarantee greater machine uptime without interrupting regular production workflows.

In this blog post, you can learn more about the benefits of preventive maintenance.

Integration with Continuous Improvement

Another core concept of total preventive maintenance is its integration with continuous improvement. A TPM programme is part of total maintenance, but this is never a fixed or static situation.

That’s because equipment and machinery will always need oversight to confirm maintenance is carried out at the right time, every time. In addition, for every month or year that a machine works (depending on the type), its value depreciates.

However, asset lifespans can be extended and optimised through accurate preventive maintenance as a holistic approach. Furthermore, the proactive or preventive maintenance approach should be one that is constantly being streamlined and refined, and this is where a CMMS proves useful.

As part of its extensive capabilities, a CMMS is able to produce insightful data, analytics and reports for ultimate decision making. This means that maintenance managers can quickly and easily see what’s working and what isn’t on every piece of machinery under their control.

When they’re able to make such observations, they can also improve their decision-making processes to optimise the machine’s efficiency without compromising other machines on the production line. Through continuous improvement, teams also play a more important role.

Job descriptions are no longer clearly delineated and separated, but rather, there’s a blurring of lines between operators and engineers. It means that everyone takes the right level of responsibility for all the machines in a plant. This can be very effective in improving productivity by increasing uptime, reducing cycle times and eliminating defects.

Finally and importantly, TPM preventive maintenance often aligns with overall business improvement goals. This implies that organisations rely heavily on preventative maintenance efforts as a total solution to help the organisation see strong returns on their investment and to ensure that profitability remains strong.

Objectives of TPM

A discussion of TPM's total preventive maintenance would be incomplete without mentioning this strategy’s objectives. They include the full avoidance of equipment failures and driving up equipment effectiveness.

Let’s investigate them further.

  1. Avoiding equipment failures altogether: Using a machine until it breaks down without carrying out any preventive maintenance activities is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it can void a machine’s warranty, resulting in a shorter machine’s lifespan.

On the other hand, the damage caused to the machine due to the breakdown is often much costlier to repair than if smaller preventive maintenance steps were taken in the first place.

That’s because machine breakdowns often require high-priced spare parts, time to place spare part orders, and, of course, the time taken to carry out the repairs. If machine maintenance is carried out according to a planned schedule, it’s much less likely to result in equipment failures.

A TPM process looks at avoiding such failures altogether by carefully considering and analysing every machine in the context of when it requires maintenance. This might include actions, such as lubrication, tightening of screws, etc. and then carrying out the necessary work to prevent future failures that are usually larger in scope and much more expensive.

Therefore, focusing on preventing measures to eliminate breakdowns and boost the lean manufacturing process is a fundamental objective of TPM.

  1. Driving up equipment effectiveness: TPM’s meaning in maintenance also has an additional objective, which is to enhance the overall efficiency and performance of machinery at manufacturing facilities and to maintain equipment through scheduled maintenance.

Involving all stakeholders in an organisation helps it prevent equipment breakdowns and failures, reduce downtime and optimise overall productivity.

Through an organised and standardised process and an organisation-wide commitment to TPM, maintenance personnel and equipment operators will have a stronger sense of combined responsibility. What is more, they will be aware of the challenges at stake and the steps required to mitigate any risks or equipment failures.

Some of the activities such maintenance personnel can handle include inspecting, cleaning, adjusting and replacing worn parts that help facilitate smooth machinery operations and prevent breakdowns from taking place. This is usually achieved through careful planning and implementing a TPM strategy.

Overall, the upside of this is the implementation of proactive maintenance techniques for on-time production schedules, no idle workers, no loss of output and no damage to equipment or products manufactured at the facility.

Lastly, TPM is used to assure organisations of a better understanding of manufacturing equipment, smoother maintenance activities based on preventive measures and ensure maintenance and reliability. This allows maintenance to proceed as seamlessly and efficiently as possible.

Total Preventative Maintenance (TPM) Techniques

Having mentioned that TPM follows certain techniques, in addition to exploring TPM maintenance’s meaning, we will now examine these techniques to help strengthen your understanding.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the core pillars of TPM as both a part of TPM in administration and as part of TPM root cause analysis.

  • Operator involvement: The previously sharp distinction between production operators and maintenance crews is fading. The reason for this is that with TPM, production operators are taking on greater responsibility. They keep an eye on the equipment they work with. Through issuing a work order, they signal when a fault is anticipated to occur or when a preventive maintenance task needs to be carried out. When there is cooperation between teams and when maintenance personnel take responsibility for the machines they control or operate, there is a greater impetus and a higher likelihood of preventive maintenance being carried out on time to prevent faults from escalating. This is where training and education play an important role.
  • Total employee participation: Apart from machine operators and maintenance technicians, implementing TPM correctly requires all staff to get on board. This includes executives, managers and engineers. When planned maintenance activities are prioritised throughout the entire organisation, this will lead to fewer mechanical breakdowns, improved machinery performance and reduced maintenance costs associated with fixing large equipment failures. TPM is also excellent for decision-making purposes. A CMMS can yield analytics and reports, helping determine if key performance indicators (KPIs) are being met and where greater efficiencies can be introduced through scheduled maintenance intervals. Overall, TPM should be looked at as maintenance that is a broader business issue and not only a team issue.
  • Focus on major losses: This involves addressing preventable machine and equipment failures through preventive and preemptive measures. It is about all efforts aimed at improving equipment reliability and reducing downtime. Examples include addressing any issues related to changeover time, minor stops, speed losses, scrap and areas that need rework. Because the cumulative impact of each of these issues can be significant, it’s essential to identify and minimise factors contributing to equipment inefficiencies. That’s why zero tolerance for inefficiencies is a major part of TPO.


Therefore, the goal of TPM is varied and requires concerted efforts in the sphere of preventive and autonomous maintenance and as part of monthly planned maintenance efforts for truly productive manufacturing time.

Preventive Maintenance with Fabrico

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The importance of scheduling preventive maintenance for manufacturing plants and facilities cannot be overemphasised. It’s a strategic approach that benefits the entire organisation, from worker health and safety to the business’s bottom line.

With Fabrico’s CMMS, every plant and facility can enjoy streamlined operations that introduce greater levels of operational and production efficiencies through its preventive maintenance service scheduling functionality. It makes maintenance seamless and effortless as an autonomous maintenance checklist takes care of all the details for you and your operators and maintenance personnel.

When you train operators to use this maintenance management software, you will never forget about an important maintenance task and you can get a measure of truly productive manufacturing. That’s because you can:

  • Create an autonomous maintenance programme
  • Generate recurring tasks
  • Enjoy smart scheduling of task frequency
  • View all periodic tasks
  • Analyse data via dedicated reports
  • Utilise an annual preventive maintenance plan
  • Ensure your maintenance schedule is being followed
  • Facilitate smooth maintenance and production
  • And so much more


All you have to do to take advantage of these preventive maintenance functionalities is simply get in touch or schedule your free demo. You'll quickly be able to see how predictive maintenance can help with your production and maintenance efforts. Our helpful team is at your disposal, ready to help in any way we can.


Overall, TPM is crucial for a manufacturing plant’s operations, productivity and facility maintenance through its holistic operational strategy.

This is crucial for organisations as proactive equipment maintenance brings long-term benefits through a planned maintenance schedule.

We encourage you to contact us for a consultation, demo or help with easy and user-friendly implementation today. Our team is ready to be of service to you.

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