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TPM as a system to support your long-term sustainability and cultural transformation goals

By John Quirke, Partner

If you consider TPM (Total Productive Manufacturing) only as a tool in your continuous improvement toolbox you are missing a major opportunity.  TPM provides a core system and philosophy to transform the culture of your manufacturing operation and bring life to your aspirations of greater sustainable environmentally business performance.

What is TPM?

TPM is an aligned philosophy of “critical” asset optimization by engaging people and systems to deliver on business objectives, whilst constantly improving overall results.

TPM is an integrated core system that acts as an enabler to support the optimization of your teams and the assets they use in delivering customer value.


What does TPM bring to your sustainability goals?

There are ten key areas where TPM aligns directly with the enhancement of your ability to develop a deeper level of environmental awareness in your business.  These overlaps also create opportunities for deeper learning, engagement, and social accountability within your frontline teams.   Creating greater awareness with teams of overall processes effectiveness, it’s use of energy, raw materials and time is a start.  However, giving teams the skills, tools, time and levels of trust to make a difference brings engagement levels to a completely different level.

TPM also provides a framework to align sometimes disparate areas of focus such as EHS, CI, quality and engineering under a common objective of excellent effective consistent and sustainable manufacturing.

Below we have a gathered the ten areas where we see overlap between philosophy behind TPM and environmental sustainability.  However, there is an important caveat here.  You may be manufacturing in the most effective and efficient way possible but are you manufacturing a product soon to be relegated to the manufacturing dustbin of history.

Many products we see today may struggle for space in markets focused on sustainability, health, and resource conservation.  Everybody needs to consider the hard reality of pending legislative changes, resources constraints and consumer trends and their impact on the services and products they provide.

Your product of today maybe the six-inch floppy disc (remember them?) or the single use plastic bag of tomorrow.

  1. Efficiency and Waste Reduction: TPM focuses on maximizing operational efficiency and effectiveness by eliminating waste in manufacturing processes. This aligns with the sustainability goal of minimizing resource consumption and reducing waste generation, contributing to environmental conservation.
  2. Asset Optimization: TPM emphasizes the proactive maintenance and optimization of machinery and equipment to ensure maximum productivity. TPM also seeks to reduce and improve the maintenance process itself.  Increase parts life through improved design and reducing un-necessary oil and consumable usage. Sustainable businesses seek to optimize resource utilization, including machinery and equipment, to minimize environmental impact and promote longevity.
  3. Employee Involvement and Empowerment: TPM encourages employee involvement and empowerment through frontline operator asset care practices and single point lessons. TPM also creates an environment of equipment consciousness and learning.  Operators themselves identify and largely implement opportunities for improvement.  Engaged employees are more likely to contribute positively to sustainable business practices, including suggesting energy-saving measures, waste reduction strategies, and innovative solutions for environmental sustainability.
  4. Time: TPM focuses on the effective and efficient use of assets within organisations. With this laser focus, TPM identifies and delivers additional capacity within operations.  But what to do with the extra capacity?  Does the organisations produce more stuff? Maybe so.  But this treasure trove of capacity and time also provides opportunities for employee development, community support, R&D or more improvement activity?  Finding additional capacity gives a business choice in how time and resources can be used for the greatest positive impact.
  5. Continuous Improvement: TPM fosters a culture of continuous improvement, where teams strive for incremental enhancements in process performance, productivity, and quality. Sustainable businesses similarly embrace continuous improvement to enhance their environmental performance, such as reducing greenhouse gas emissions, conserving water and energy, eliminating waste, and adopting sustainable materials and practices.
  6. Quality Management: TPM emphasizes the importance of quality management to ensure products meet or exceed customer expectations. The focus is on delivering only what is needed when it’s needed by optimising flow and reducing inventory levels. Sustainable businesses often prioritize product quality to enhance customer satisfaction and promote long-term relationships, aligning with TPM’s focus on quality improvement.
  7. Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE): TPM utilizes metrics like Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) to measure and improve equipment performance. By maximizing OEE, manufacturers reduce resource consumption, improve productivity, and minimize environmental impact, aligning with sustainable business objectives.
  8. Long-Term Perspective: Both TPM and sustainable business practices emphasize long-term sustainability over short-term gains. TPM’s focus on preventive maintenance, employee engagement, and continuous improvement aligns with sustainable business strategies aimed at fostering resilience, reducing risks, and ensuring long-term viability. What a potentially powerful message could be presented where instead of reducing headcount due to greater levels of capacity and efficiency, an organisation uses this time to train and develop their employees and actively support the surrounding communities in which they operate.
  9. Life Cycle Thinking: As part of early equipment design and introduction good TPM programs consider the entire life cycle of equipment and products for optimal performance and maintenance.  A sustainable business adopts life cycle thinking to assess and minimize the environmental and social impacts of products and services now and in the future.
  10. Cost Savings: TPM initiatives often lead to cost savings through improved efficiency, reduced downtime, and optimized resource utilization. Sustainable businesses similarly seek to minimize costs through resource efficiency, waste reduction, and sustainable practices, aligning TPM’s objectives with financial sustainability.

Overall, the alignment between TPM and the aspiration of a sustainable business is strong.  Both philosophies share common goals of maximizing efficiency, reducing waste, empowering employees, fostering continuous improvement, and ensuring long-term viability while minimizing environmental impact.  By truly integrating TPM principles and philosophies into their operations, asset reliant businesses will contribute to their sustainability goals while improving overall performance.  It will also uncover the gifts of time, capacity, and innovation.

If you’d like to have a discussion on how we at S A Partners can support you with your TPM or sustainability programs please do contact me


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