World-Class, Lean Performance in the SMEs - Small and Medium Enterprises - by Carlo Scodanibbio, Industrial & Business Consultant - Lean Management Consultant
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Carlo Scodanibbio
Industrial & Business Consultant
Lean Management Consultant

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Lean Disciplines:
Total Productive Maintenance

No industry, today, can perform any operational processing without equipment.
In the ideal productive concern, equipment should be operating at 100% capacity 100% of the available time, producing value.
Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) is the state-of-the-art discipline that leads, in a process of continuous, systematic improvement, towards the ideal target (0 equipment downtime, 0 defects and 0 safety problems).

Except in specific cases, where other disciplines (for instance Reliability Centred Maintenance) may be conveniently associated with TPM, today's small and medium enterprises can rely on the power of Total Productive Maintenance to ensure utmost Plant Performance.

Conceived primarily for the Manufacturing Industry, TPM and its core principles are well suited to the Project/Construction as well as the Service Industry.

TPM starting point TPM is based, first of all, on a strong "cultural" point.

When it was introduced, TPM was one of the first disciplines attempting to bury Adam Smith's principles of labour division.

The old, traditional motto becames rapidly obsolete, to be replaced by a "second industrial revolution" style motto:




"We are all responsible for our equipment and for the value it generates"


TPM operational structure In its traditional scheme, TPM involves all levels of the main enterprise's function, primarily the Production, Maintenance and Design/Engineering Functions.

Today's TPM involves also the Quality function, as well as the Product/Service Development function and the Procurement function.

As such, TPM is an integration-oriented discipline. Not only TPM is in favour of integration of functions, but it favours also integration of approaches and disciplines:


  • TPM marries for life Value Adding Management (more ») and its principles
  • TPM supports in full productivity and the main operational processing disciplines, such as Lean Manufacturing (more »), Lean Project Management (more »), and Process Engineering (more »)
  • TPM is a strong allied of Total Quality Management (more »), and contributes in full to the "zero defects" target
  • TPM is people oriented, and goes hand-in-hand with Total Employee Involvement (more »): by increasing people skills, knowledge and motivation - by stimulating the effective use of creativity and facilitating new styles of thinking, communicating and working - by enforcing participation and involvement at all levels and stimulating team-work - by re-distributing responsibilities evenly and by assigning challenges to people.
  • In general, TPM is a Lean Discipline under the Lean Thinking (more ») angle of view.


Well guided by Value Adding Management, and somewhat different from traditional TPM, today's TPM is primarily concerned with value generated by equipment, or by equipment and people together (as applicable).
Today's TPM focuses firstly on the productive process to assure that the right equipment is part of a value-adding/waste-free series of operations, and to assure (by deploying "classical" TPM approaches) that equipment contributes "totally" to the primary objective of value-generation
As such, a valid TPM program starts with a thorough, critical examination of each productive process, querying the value-adding status of each piece of equipment (or equipment and people) in relation to the process.


Why this "wider" approach in modern TPM, compared to traditional TPM?
Because industry is full of industrial mistakes. There are situations in which fantastic TPM efforts have been dedicated to machines (targeting at achieving optimal operating conditions and high OEE - Overall Equipment Effectiveness) that should have been not there in the first instance, or neglecting the waste associated with excessive manpower "around" those machines.
Traditional TPM focuses on individual pieces of equipment - modern TPM focuses on the process to which those pieces of equipment belong.

In doing so, all traditional TPM tools are utilised and applied if and when convenient and pertinent:

  • The classification of equipment-related Losses is still the same: the 6 big losses (breakdowns - set-up/change-over - idling & minor stoppages - reduced speed/capacity - quality defects - start-up yield losses) are seen and dealt with by traditional and modern TPM in exactly the same way.
  • The approach to determining the OEE - Overall Equipment Effectiveness is slightly different.
    In traditional TPM three main rates contribute to the OEE of a piece of equipment (or a line):
    - the Operating Rate accounts for breakdown and set-up losses
    - the Performance Rate accounts for idling/stoppages and speed losses
    - the Quality Rate accounts for defects and (start-up) yield losses
    Their product is the OEE of the concerned piece of equipment.

    In modern TPM two additional rates may/should be introduced when pertinent and/or beneficial:
    - the Safety Rate that accounts for safety-related losses
    - the Environment Control Rate, that accounts for environment/pollution related issues
  • The consideration of sporadic and chronic losses is identical. The approach to chronic losses fighting is identical.
  • The approach to fighting the 6 big losses is practically identical, with the exception of set-up/change-over losses, which are better dealt with by the Achieving Quick Change-Over discipline (more »).
    Apart from that, the approach to zero-breakdowns, zero-quality-defects, minimal idling/minor stoppages and achievement of optimal speed/capacity is identical.

    One remark is to be made in respect of optimal speed/capacity. Traditional TPM is mainly concerned with maximising speed/productive capacity of all machines - simply as a principle.
    Modern TPM is concerned with "optimising" speed/capacity.
    In fact, it is well possible (it happens very often in the Manufacturing Industry) that there is a productive un-balance between several machines positioned "in cascade".
    In such a situation, maximising all machines speed/productive capacity might generate wip - work-in-progress and overall processing waste.
    In strict association with Lean Manufacturing principles (more »), modern TPM targets at "stabilising" the overall process at the speed/capacity of the slowest machine in the cascade.
    This assures good Flow Production. Any different speed/pace would only re-generate un-balances, wip and waste (see also under Lean Manufacturing).
  • The autonomous maintenance principle is identical in traditional and modern TPM.
    The concept is to develop skilled equipment operators who, by performing basic maintenance activities ("intelligent" cleaning, lubricating, bolting, minor repairs, adjustments, inspections, etc.) become very knowledgeable about the machines they take care of, and capable of detecting even "faint" signals of deterioration at "early" stages. This assures "early" interventions and prevents deterioration from growing, accumulating and spreading.
    The autonomous maintenance concept is the "heart" of TPM, and creates new frontiers in the integration between the operation and maintenance functions.
  • Preventive Maintenance and, generally, the Maintenance Function, are seen under the same perspective by both traditional and modern TPM.
    Except for "technical" changes in the tools used, the organisation of the Maintenance Function is un-changed, as well as techniques of Maintenance Planning, Maintenance Standards setting, Maintenance Records, etc.
  • There is no difference also with regard to deploying "advanced" disciplines/techniques such as Predictive Maintenance (Condition Based Maintenance), Maintainability Improvement and Maintenance Prevention.
  • Same applies to Plant Management in general, including healthy concepts of Spare Parts Management, Cost Reduction Management, Life-cycle Equipment Management, and TPM Effectiveness Measurement and Monitoring.

In conclusion, modern TPM is just a development of traditional TPM under the pilot light of Value Adding Management (more »).

There are two main warnings to be given to SMEs aiming at bettering their overall plant performance:

  • TPM is a tool to be personalised for that enterprise by people of that enterprise, taking into consideration that enterprise's industrial culture.
    Anonymous TPM programs may fail, especially when "imposed" or implemented without "general" commitment (Top Management to begin with).
  • TPM is not a "magic wand" alone. TPM needs to be part of an integrated approach to Performance Improvement - as such, a TPM program should be launched in association with other key disciplines, primarily Quality and Productivity as well as People related disciplines.
    Moreover, a TPM program not guided by healthy principles of Value Adding Management may result "handicapped".
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