There is no concrete answer as to who first coined the term total productive maintenance and when it was first used; some say it is derived from American manufacturers decades ago, some credit the Toyota company Nippon Denso, and some consider Seiichi Nakajima to be the “Father of Total Productive Maintenance.” While the true origins of TPM may be debated, all three did have an influence on the system.
Like many other Lean methodologies and tools, TPM can be traced back to post-war Japan. When American manufacturers went to Japan following World War II, they went to study, learn from, and improve Japan’s manufacturing industry. Dr. W. Edwards Deming introduced statistical analysis in manufacturing and developed total quality management, or TQM, which became a norm for Japanese facilities, TQM is a management approach that promotes the improvement of processes, products, and services. Preventive maintenance was already being practiced in many facilities at this time, and when its role was examined in the context of TQM, it was clear there was a disconnect. And so, the concepts of TQM were reworked and modified to ensure maintenance is considered a critical component of the overall quality program.
Toyota Group company Nippon Denso developed these ideas further and introduced productive maintenance, the concept of autonomous maintenance, and quality circles with employee participation. Because of their developments, Nippon Denso won a distinguished award from the Japanese Institute of Plant Engineers and became the first company to have a TPM certification. Seiichi Nakajima then came into the picture in the 1980s. Nakajima, an officer with the Institute of Plant Maintenance in Japan worked to define the concepts of TPM and helped to implement it in plants all over the country, being dubbed the “Father of Total Productive Maintenance” along the way.