A Quick History of Total Productive Maintenance

The major credit for the development of Total Productive Maintenance (TPM) goes to Seiichi Nakajima, an engineer from Japan. Nakajima developed TPM in the early 1970s as an outgrowth of productive maintenance––a hybrid of preventive and predictive maintenance and several engineering methods carried out through employee involvement.

Nakajima was instrumental in incorporating the best known evolving maintenance systems into one organized approach. Nakajima began studying American preventive maintenance in the 1950s. He learned of reliability and maintainability engineering, life cycle costing, zero defects, preventive and predictive maintenance, operator-assisted maintenance, and task teams. Nakajima then superbly combined these practices to create a highly effective process. As a result of his work, Toyota was able to significantly reduce equipment related problems in its movement toward Just-In-Time (JIT). By minimizing delays caused by equipment problems, Total Productive Maintenance is a key contributor in streamlining the flow of production.

In fact, George Smith, the founder of Marshall Institute, was at the forefront of maintenance improvement philosophies and best practices in the U.S and Japan. It can be said that George had a profound impact on the establishment and the philosophy of Total Productive Maintenance.

George was invited to Japan in the 1950’s to teach the principles of preventive maintenance.  His technical interpreter throughout his lecture circuit was none other than Seiichi Nakajima. George’s impact on Nakajima was credited in his first book on Total Productive Maintenance. Nakajima’s “Blue Book” was heralded as the first of its kind and was the blueprint for all such improvements.

Total Productive Maintenance has been implemented in Japan since the 1970s with over a thousand companies involved now. It made its way to the United States in 1985-86 through Tennessee Eastman, a division of Kodak, and Baxter-Travenol (now Baxter Healthcare).

Increasingly, more U.S. companies are seeing the value of Total Productive Maintenance (TPM)and have adopted it. 3M, Quaker Oats, Timken, Corning, Proctor and Gamble, Westinghouse, Lever Brothers, DuPont, Milliken, Texas Instruments, Motorola, GM, Exxon, and Ford are just a few such companies.

Marshall Institute has refined TPM through the years into Total Process Reliability (TPR). TPR is a more holistic approach to operational reliability and it also includes structured tools such as root cause analysis and PM optimization.

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