Autonomous maintenance sometimes referred to as first line maintenance or operator driven reliability has become more popular in the last years. In Total Productive Maintenance as well as in RCM -Reliability Centered Maintenance- this pillar is extremely important in a mechanized production environment and it is a cornerstone in any effective maintenance program.
TPM as well as RCM have in common that they aim at preventing unplanned stops and other unplanned disturbances (for example quality defects). The keyword here: unplanned. The operator plays an important role by doing a number of activities that are:
- relatively easy to learn
- frequently done (minimum once per day)
- unplanned stops and disturbances are prevented
- operator involvement and knowledge level about "their machines" is improved
- less scheduling issues between production and maintenance
- more time for technicians to work on other maintenance tasks
TPM suggests the following daily tasks for operators:
- inspections and cleaning
- minor repairs / adjustments
- trouble shooting
- check of fixtures, bolts and nuts
- replace wear parts
A number of conditions have to be met for implementing this program.
The first line maintenance goals are:
- to organize the work between operators and technicians
- to increase knowledge, skills and operator engagement
- to improve machine reliability (predictability)
- to free up technicians so they have more time to work on revisions, overhauls and new machines
The method's strength is in the way daily activities are organized which also provides a boost for operators and technician in terms of motivation.